Notes on G‘s Girls

When I watched G Gundam I was confused by my inability to pick out why Domon Kasshu should be Japanese. The other Gundam Fighters take on national characteristics, after all. He could, I suppose, be a ganbariya-san but I’d say every G character is that (including the villains and the horse). Then again, British novels about Brits interacting with foreigners don’t emphasise their heroes’ Britishness, they emphasise their heroes’ normality (as a contrast to Johnny Foreigner’s amusingly weird traits), so perhaps something similar is happening here. Or maybe I just missed some obvious clues.

Domon’s status aside, if someone were to ask (like Zero in the eighth episode of Geass R2) where the ‘Japaneseness’ in G Gundam is, I’d point to Rain.

I find Rain quite interesting (stop sniggering, you at the back): for much of the series she’s restricted to maintaining Domon’s Gundam, being a conduit for information in battle (a bridge bunny without a bridge) and being hot in a subdued, short-skirted way (unlike, of course, Chibodee Crocket’s busty bevy of assistants). As G draws to its close, however, she becomes much more tightly bound up in Domon’s story as her family’s entanglement in the Kasshu family’s own troubles is revealed. Then, of course, she becomes, um, literally tightly bound for several episodes as the final ‘Let’s Rescue Rain’ arc kicks in.

Rain pilots the Rising Gundam (pictured above). The Rising Gundam is an extrapolation of the samurai-stylings of the original RX-78-2: it wields a naginata and a beam bow. It’s also ‘Rising’, and about the sum total of my knowledge about Japan as a child was that it was ‘the land of the rising sun’ (East, burning red, &c). When Rain uses the Rising’s ultimate technique her clothing transforms from the sci-fi shrinkwrapping worn by Future Century pilots into something more traditional. (Actually, I have a feeling she’s the only character who appears in traditional dress.) So, at least to a relatively ignorant foreigner such as myself, Rain, not Domon, is the most Japanese-seeming character.

I don’t think I have an explanation for this, though I there are quite a few things in G Gundam that bemuse me. (Since shrinkwrapping the pilots’ bodies is part of the pre-battle preparation, why are almost all the pilots male?) Thankfully, I can distract your attention by changing the subject.

The background is UC Newtype-esque, but the bubbles are new . . .

Allenby is straight from the Gundam love triangle textbook, ‘a Four’ (and, more faintly, ‘a Lalah’) in the same sense that Zechs Merquise is ‘a Char': she has Four’s hair and even meets the hero in the same place, Hong Kong. Allenby pilots the famous, feminine Sailor Moon Nobel Gundam and she does so very elegantly. She embodies G‘s whole ‘communicating with your fists’ thing nearly as much as Master Asia does, except when her military handlers switch on her Gundam’s Berserker System, turning her into a self-destructive fighting machine incapable of communicating via her fists or indeed through any other means.

(And Neo Norway has a Viking Gundam. I’m sure my Scandinavian readers – I know there are at least two – are facepalming.)

I do wonder whether the Nobel Gundam is called the Nobel Gundam because during a G Gundam planning meeting someone wrote ‘Sweden’ on a big sheet of paper and the first thing that came to mind was the Nobel Prize, but intentions aren’t what I’m interested in, meaning is. There is elegant meaning to be found here: Allenby unites something associated with idealistic hope placed in the best of humanity, the Nobel Prize (I think we should accept the pun on ‘noble’ at this point, and Wiktionary says that ‘nobel’ is Swedish for ‘noble’), with berserk, artificially-induced battle-frenzy.

It is significant that Allenby’s frenzy is artificial: G exalts genuine, truthful emotion (this ties into ‘communicating with your fists’), but Allenby can’t choose when to RAGE, she RAGEs on demand. Again, Four Murasame but transformed by the touch of the super robot into a character more easily comprehended by me (and, therefore, probably also by children).

G really does like emotion. Although one segment focuses on Domon’s quest for a balanced calm which is more powerful than his usual rage, the closing story arcs revolve around strong feelings (‘His fist is crying!’, ‘Now is the time for your emotions!’) and the final battle ends with that memorable Sekiha Love-Love Tenkyoken attack: in this case ‘LOVE POWER’ really does ‘SAVE THE UNIVERSE‘ (or at least the Earth Sphere). This is unusually romantic for Gundam, and unusually upbeat too; hooray for super robots.

(Compare Gurren Lagann: the final attack of that story’s climax is powered by a sacrificial, homosocial transferal of energy from father-in-law-to-be to son.)

Interestingly, it is Allenby who explains Domon’s final problem to him: Rain isn’t a martial artist (despite her stint in the Rising Gundam), so Domon has to communicate with her verbally. Master Asia’s last breath (even more poignant for me after reading Steven’s remarks on ‘shishou’) marked the culmination of the ‘communicating with your fists’ theme, but also the end of fists’ usefulness and the end of the tournament which regulated the show’s violence; the final arc climaxes when Domon makes an everyday verbal statement (‘I love you’). G Gundam is one of the rarer parts of the franchise which isn’t directly critical of war (since the Future Century doesn’t have wars per se), but (intentionally or not) its final chord suggests that violence is insufficient.

[Credit is due to Deathkillz (???), who recently reminded me how much I enjoyed G Gundam]

18 responses to “Notes on G‘s Girls

  1. G Gundam is a lot more subtle in its anti-war sentiment than any other gundam, Master Asia’s reasoning alone is enough, which works a lot better for a show geared towards fighting. It’s also a bit better than Tomino hitting us over the head with a zaku screaming “WAR SUCKS!”

    And I do literally think that the producers through a dart at a map of the world to decide where Allenby came from. But Nobel Gundam is ten times better than other such greats like Tequila Gundam, Scud Missile Gundam, and the always impervious Nether Gundam.

  2. If you think about it the Mobile Trace System (IIRC) would be a better way to pilot a Gundam rather than the traditional stick and throttle.

    Nobel Gundam still seems to be to be an odd choice for Sweden it looked way more Japanese than Shining Gundam and Rising Gundam…given the magical girl overtones.

    Oh and for the record Allenby > Rain.

  3. I remember thinking Allenby was sexy. I also remember thinking Nobel Gundam was sexy, in the same way I found Mylene’s Sound Force Valkyrie to be sexy. By “sexy” in the case of the mecha, I mean “hilarious”. In the case of Allenby (and Mylene) I most assuredly mean “sexy”.

    I did not find Neo-Okusauer or Anna to be terribly sexy iin either sense, though, but Godannar’s appeal is generally lost on me (aside from the American pilots).

    And the pilots are all guys (except for Allenby) for two reasons: 1) this is the early 1990s and not the late 2000s and 2) IMAGAWA YASUHIRO.

    Let’s repeat number two for effect.

    IMAGAWA YASUHIRO.

    I rest my case.

  4. Rain being more Japanese than Domon is interesting to look at, especially Rain’s name. Lest “Rain” be more of a “French” thing (or what have you), wouldn’t it be anglicized into Rein? I guess if the creators literally wanted her name to be the western equivalent of naturally falling water, it would be Rain, then when transliterating into Japanese you may get it as レイn.

    You can probably assume that her name in Japanese isn’t their equivalent of rain, ame (雨), since dubs don’t usually translate the meaning of Japanese names, only the sound (though that would be pretty funny).

    Though Rain, complete in her traditional robes, may be more Japanese than Domon, I wonder if her name has any significance pertaining to East meets West since G does display quite the international arrangement of clichés (Viking gundam hahaha) and stereotypes

  5. @ Demian: How dare you insult the Nether Gundam, quite possibly the greatest Mobile Suit design ever animated? Fear its windmilliness . . .

    Alone in the metaseries, I suppose G is really set in a world where war is no longer a problem – that’s the point of the Gundam Fight, after all, and while it does have its flaws it seems to work more or less. Besides, everyone’s quick to unite when the Devil Gundam starts tentacle-raping the planet.

    @ Crusader: Good point; presumably it would take much more technology to make a Mobile Trace System work (as opposed to the usual levers and buttons, which I think we’ve more or less mastered already) but if you were going to have a humanoid robot it makes a surprising amount of sense.

    The Nobel Gundam is rather Japanese, if Sailor Moon is to be considered Japanese. Though Sailor Moon and the archetypal Swedish bombshell both have blonde hair, so the Nobel’s design cuts both ways there, at least.

    Allenby may be more attractive, but Domon x Rain 4evar.

    @ OGT: Interesting distinction in the terminology there. Does Drossel von Flügel unite both meanings of ‘sexy’? Godannar is one corner of the mecha fandom I’ve yet to descend into. I still can’t quite get over the story about the staff creating and selling doujinshi of their own show to finance the second season.

    Imagawa, eh? I still have to watch Giant Robo . . . incidentally, shouting directors’ names is a technique of debate brilliantly suited to G Gundam.

  6. Actually, I always thought the final attack of that story’s climax was more akin of the transfer OF the energy of the universe.

    Still, between father-in-law and son. I never really saw it that way. It was all so the endless spiral could spin on!

  7. @ lelangir: Sorry, didn’t see your comment there. Rain’s name in the Japanese soundtrack is definitely still ‘Rain’, or at least sounds to that effect, not the Japanese word for rain. It wouldn’t surprise me if the English word is the one meant, as the Rain-centric Turkey episode is full of rain.

    East-meets-west is a definite possibility. I suppose Master Asia’s desire to become ‘Super Asia’ might carry some kind of pan-Asianist sentiment, if one thought about it too much?

    @ xephfyre: I suppose ‘the energy of the universe’ is pretty accurate, given that the Anti-Spiral was wielding a big bang at the time. But it’s definitely a father to son-in-law thing – I thought TTGL was surprisingly unromantic.

  8. Well, G Gundam had the love power thing going on, while Gurren Lagann had a slightly different underlying theme to separate itself from the hotblooded anime of generations past.

    That is, the theme of the passing of time and handing off the torch to new generations.

    A bit unromantic, perhaps, but true to itself.

  9. True, the difference stems from a contrast between their underlying theme. I suppose G placed ‘passing on the torch’ as a secondary theme, culminating with Master Asia’s words in the forty-fifth episode: ‘Now you are truly the King of Hearts’ (or something like that). I can’t really remember how TTGL handled its romance and how sharply (if at all) it distinguished between LOVE POWER and Spiral Energy, though I’d suggest Nia is a (future-)classic Unattainable Girl.

  10. Well, Gurren Lagann definitely didn’t separate the Power of Love from Spiral Energy, mostly because of the way they thought up the concept of Spiral Energy in the first place.

    Long before TTGL, hotblooded anime (robot shows included) generally drew upon a general “fighting spirit,” or less commonly, the power of love, as a source of if not concrete power then at least personal, emotional strength.

    Somewhere in their brainstorming, Gainax tied these two ideas together under the idea of “the power of evolution,” Spiral Energy, the explanation of which is found in the series itself. I do suspect the romance aspect, throughout the whole of the series, is generally subordinate to the overall themes and ideas unique (for the most part) to TTGL.

  11. I have heard that G Gundam was one of the funniest and most facetious Gundam series ever created. It ran on hot-blood, right? Having said that, I never have watched it as yet. So many series to watch, so little time.

    Having my love of love power, however . . . hmm, this calls for a download. :P

  12. @ Dorian Cornelius Jasper: The evolution element is inventive. The only place I can recall something similar offhand is in Char’s Counter Attack (not exactly supers, I suppose, and not especially hotblooded), with Char hoping to force humanity’s evolution forwards by speeding up the colonisation of space.

    @ Michael: Definitely runs on hotblood, yes. I recommend giving it a try – it’s a very amiable story.

  13. I wish I could comment intelligently upon this… unfortunately my soul withered way back at the Viking Gundam.

  14. I think the final touch is the very existence of the ‘Equipped with boat and heat oars’ option.

  15. Haha… I remember G Gundam! [Insert 4 months late text]

    They had some pretty crazy gundams on that show; Cobra gundam, nether gundam, that one that looked like a fish gundam…
    Nevertheless, I LOVED THAT SHOW when I was a kid. I was like, what, in fourth or fifth grade back then? Wowza.

    And yeah I had a total girl crush on Allenby >___

    Oh, and, going along with what Crusader said:
    Allenby > Rain 4ever.
    And of course,
    Domon x Allenby… 4ever.
    Rain can go be a hoe somewhere in her suctioned G suit. Even if she is pretty… And skanky

  16. In a way, G is one of the few things I wish I had been able to see when I was a child too, actually. I really enjoyed watching it as an adult, but I think I would’ve enjoyed it more unconsciously when I was younger.

    I think the completely out-there Gundam designs are of the show’s real strengths. In fact, its very outlandishness really insulates it from a lot of fan criticism – compare the flak that a lot of AU Gundam gets for ‘just’ reworking UC stories. That’s not the kind of mud you can easily throw at G.

    I guess we’ll just have to agree to differ on Rain and Allenby.

  17. I’ve always seen Rain as the Japanese representative.

    Domon really is a representative of the colonies (early on) and Earth (later.) He’s not really tied to any country on purpose.

  18. Pingback: God, the Devil, and Imagawa Yasuhiro | We Remember Love

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