Welcome to another Gundam SEED Destiny Doubletake! Each post, I dive into an episode or two of SEED Destiny and present two “takes” from it — two commentaries on plot or character points that stood out to me. I then explore each point from two perspectives — a fan’s perspective and a fiction writer’s perspective.
Frongi, Gundam DEE CORe... LAUNCHING!
Big Take — Crashing A Wedding
Rather than put sleazeball Yuna in his place, Cagalli chooses to marry him, sacrificing her own happiness for the sake of politics and Orb’s protection. She writes to Kira to alert him of her decision. In the letter’s envelope is also Athrun’s engagement ring, which she asks Kira to return for her whenever Athrun arrives back from the PLANTs.
She then gets dolled up to marry Yuna despite feeling miserable... except at the altar, Kira crashes the wedding. He busts in with the Freedom, steals his sister from her husband-to-be, and takes her back to the Archangel — which has just launched again for this operation.
Reaction as a fan: CAGALLI, I GET THAT YOU’RE ONLY 18 AND STRUGGLING WITH THESE POLITICS. But even so, if you were going to make the decision to marry Yuna after all.... I don’t care how much of a prisoner you were in your soon-to-be-in-laws’ home; if you found a way to write to your brother, you COULD HAVE FOUND A WAY TO CONTACT YOUR BOYFRIEND AND TELL HIM WHAT WAS GOING ON. How grossly COWARDLY of you to break up with him without a single word, when he left you TRUSTING YOU, and it seems like you still love him! I want to SMACK YOU — but luckily I don’t have to, because here is Kira Yamato RIGHTFULLY BUSTING UP YOUR AWFUL WEDDING. I don’t normally support kidnapping women without their consent — but I’m going to allow Kira this wholeheartedly and THANK HIM PROFUSELY FOR DOING IT.
I also want to mention how much I twitched when Kira opened his cockpit, pulled Cagalli inside with him, then proceeded to piss her off by commenting on her nice dress. Listen — I shipped those two the moment they met in SEED and started interacting throughout that Desert Tiger business. Cagalli was a great alternative to Flay Allster at the time, and I loved the chemistry she and Kira had. When the show pulled a Luke and Leia on me, I LOST IT and was bitter for a while. Having to watch them banter again in this episode while looking like the world’s hottest couple TWEAKS ME OUT A BIT, OKAY?! (Apparently I’m STILL bitter.)
Reaction as a writer: I’m proud of Kira’s decisions and irked by Cagalli’s, but I see why Cagalli chooses what she chooses. She pulls a martyr act because she decides the world is more important than herself. (Who hasn’t done this in SEED to some degree? Athrun has done this; Athrun’s the king of it.) Good characters make choices. Even if the choices seem like stupid ones to me, the point is, they’re still acting and moving forward. I can’t fault Cagalli or the writers too much. And at least — even though Kira did “rescue” her — the writers didn’t make Cagalli a typical damsel in distress. She can’t exactly be a damsel in distress if she isn’t helpless; she isn’t helpless if she chose to put herself in her crappy situation and then fought against being rescued. Props for that.
Take 1 — ZAFT Uniforms
Athrun rejoins the Minerva as a member of FAITH, learns about Cagalli’s “kidnapping,” and interacts a bit with Shinn and Lunamaria.
Reaction as a fan: Words do not describe how bad I feel right now that Athrun’s in the dark about so many things. THIS POOR GUY. But it’s fantastic to see him back in that red uniform. The ZAFT elite red uniforms are awesome. They make EVERYBODY look amazing — except Lunamaria’s version of it sucks, with the shorter jacket and the miniskirt. I don’t have any strong takes on her character yet — but she seems knowledgeable and personable enough, and not like an airhead, so what on earth is she doing trying to fight in a miniskirt when literally every other ZAFT military woman wears the standard uniform jacket with pants (or a long pencil skirt, like with the green uniforms the CIC pigtail girl wears)? Shiho Hahnenfuss of the Joule Team wears the regular red uniform and looks amazing in it, so...? Maybe Lunamaria just cares extra about looking traditionally feminine? But she got on the pigtail chick’s case for buying beauty products....
Reaction as a writer: I am overthinking it. Lunamaria is in a miniskirt because the Japanese made this, and because Gundam caters largely to a male fanbase. The Japanese like to put their young women (and young anime women) in miniskirts. Plus, GASP, there are already so many strong women in the Cosmic Era universe.... We can’t have too many or we’ll upset the patriarchy, so we’d better offset the strength of at least one by turning her into a sex object. We’d better have Lunamaria bending down and providing an almost-panty-shot at the same time she goes nerd-mode and asks Athrun about his Savior Gundam’s capabilities — otherwise certain male viewers might notice she’s intelligent/into tech and feel threatened. CAN’T HAVE THAT, NO — SO IT’S PINK PLEATED MINISKIRTS, SO REALISTIC IN A MILITARY SETTING. Stella gets a miniskirt too, hooray!
I try to call these things out whenever I see them, that’s all. For the record, SEED is pretty inoffensive, at least compared to other giant robot shows. (All I have to think about is Kallen from Code Geass piloting her Gurren to gain perspective about how bad objectification can get when it comes to women in robots.... Or, even more extreme, Zero Two from Darling in the FRANXX.)
Take 2 — Phantom Pain
Auel mentions that he, Sting, and Stella are part of the 81st-something-or-other — and the person he mentions it to gasps, runs away, and cries, “Phantom Pain!”
Reaction as a fan: FINALLY. CLEAR ANSWERS ON THAT FRONT.
Reaction as a writer: So "Phantom Pain" means Neo and his Earth Alliance ship full of drugged up Natural children. Neo is — knowingly or unknowingly, not sure yet — under the thumb of the Blue Cosmos. Thank you for some clarity, Destiny writers. But... Neo is Mu La Flaga; you are not going to convince me otherwise at this point. Why is Mu La Flaga working for extremists? I am sure the writers have a reveal planned that will explain why eventually. And I’m fine waiting for as long as it takes... but it had better be a good explanation when it comes. Mu La Flaga as we saw him last in SEED was not the type of character to support Blue Cosmos, never mind support the Earth Alliance when it’s being stupid. What on earth has happened to him?