Saturday, January 07, 2006

Gundam Seed Destiny Final Plus


So, honestly, this show is really what prompted me to start this blog: I needed a place to vent.
If you haven't been following this show, this probably won't make any sense to you whatsoever. Oh, and I suppose I'll just put a "SPOILERS AHEAD" warning here, because I'm going to presume that somebody somewhere may happen to stumble across this post and be annoyed that I had the gall to presume that they had already seen the series. So here you go: SPOILERS AHEAD.
The consensus is that this show is a (not so) glorious trainwreck (see here, here and here for examples.)
It's still a very much talked about series though, most of the characters are wildly popular, and it will probably end up making ass loads of money for Sunrise and Bandai, but all the faults of this series can be traced back to production, specifically direction and writing.
Somewhere along the line the decision got made to shift the focus back to the original Seed characters and leave the new characters dangling. If that had been their intention all along, it was executed really badly. R.O.D. the TV is, in my mind, the standard for mixing old and new characters. Fan pressure has been cited as a reason for the shift, (don't remember which forum(s) I read this in, but I'm sure a Google search will turn up something) but considering the production schedules, I don't know how much of a factor that really was.
This might have been forgivable if story was good, but it wasn't. I got the impression that they really didn't know where they wanted to go with the story, and they didn't really handle any of the characters well. (Plus having to come up with a scenario where all the main characters get new Gundams, because there's merchandise that HAS to be sold.) And while I understand that complex, sophisticated politics and international relations are of little interest to anyone except me, if you're going to use nation-state relationships as plot devices, I expect some coherence and believability.
Rather than rant on about the bad writing in general, which I could probably do at length, in the spirit of "I'd like to see you do better" I will share how I would have handled Cagalli's story, since that's where I think they got it the most wrong. (Which is actually the point of this post, btw, and by extension this blog.)

**Warning: If you haven't seen the show this you may want to skip this entirely.**

OK. I'm going to pick up roughly around the time Kira rescues Cagalli from marrying Yuna. Although, I'd like to point out here that if her father wanted her to take a leadership position, you think he might have had the foresight of having an advisor or two evacuate with the rest of the country way back in Seed. (Just because of the added tension it would bring, I would have made this advisor someone slightly older than Cagalli, with whom Cagalli's father was having an affair, but that's just me.) I find it hard to believe that with all the support she enjoys from the military and the citizenry that no one stepped up and tried to advise Cagalli in the interim between Seed and Destiny, she's pretty much left to fend for herself and as result gets herself caught in the Seiran's trap. Though, for my purposes, I'll suppose that the marriage/rescue was planned in advance as a way to expose the Seiran's naked power grab, and not the result of a leaving a lamb, unprotected, in the midst of a pack of ravenous wolves.
In this scenario, the first thing Cagalli does upon setting foot on the Archangel is call a press conference, declaring herself as the official Orb representative and a government-in-exile. (This also has the added effect of making the Archangel an official Orb vessel, which they essentially were anyway.) Since one of her sticking points was the treaty with the Earth Alliance, she can also declare that null and void, which will be important later.
This has the short term effect of splitting public opinion and weakening the Seiran-led government's legitimacy. Cagalli, then will have to keep herself in the public eye in Orb in some fashion, (weekly/daily press conferences, underground media campaigns, etc.), because the Seirans counter would be a massive smear campaign highlighting Cagalli's abandonment of the country, the razing of Orb under her father two years ago, and her obvious lust for power.
I'm going to presume that the Seiran's proceed to honor their agreement with the EA and send their forces along to hunt the Minerva, with Yuna as commander-in-chief as written in the show. Since it was a very unpopular move among the military as written, the divided loyalties we saw expressed become key when these forces encounter the Minerva at the Dardanelle straits.
The Archangel would be shadowing the Orb fleet in my vision and move to intercept just as the two sides are facing off. Cagalli appears in the Strike Rouge and makes a speech about her visions of and dreams for Orb and concludes with a command/plea that those who wish to follow her stand behind her and place Yuna under arrest.
This is where 90-95% of the Orb forces present defect to Cagalli, (since they weren't thrilled about fighting at the EA's (or Yuna's for that matter) beck and call, this gives them an out) thus effectively ending the battle before it really begins, and altering the course of the series dramatically.
Cagalli now has a fleet behind her, giving her government-in-exile a lot more legitimacy. The next step would be to return to Orb with said fleet and demand the Seirans step aside, in other words, stage a coup.
With the fleet behind her, and her popularity among the soldiers, sailors, generals and admirals, the rest of military follows Cagalli, which pretty much ensures the coup's success. Since Orb is not a democracy (it looks like a hereditary oligarchy to me) and probably doesn't have any guarantees for due process, I'm sure the Seirans will probably be spending the rest of the series under house arrest of some sort. (It may not be a completely bloodless coup, only because I imagine the Seirans will have at least a handful of loyalists, but given the sheer numbers amassed against them, any resistance will be extremely short lived.)
Cagalli again reiterates that all treaties and pacts negotiated by the Seiran government are null and void in her first press conference since gaining control of Orb. This removes Orb from the Alliance but doesn't ensure it's neutrality. (Djibril will be pissed.)
So, in the spirit of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" I would have Orb solicit PLANT for mutual defense pact or counter-alliance, and in another bold stroke have the real Lacus publicly support such a move with several public appearances and appeals to the people of PLANT. (Actually, now that I think about it, I would have Lacus endorse Cagalli on day one, which finally gives Gilbert a legitimate reason to assassinate her as she's more influential than he is and undermines his authority.)
Gilbert's refusal to negotiate such a pact with Orb would be political suicide, as he would be forced to explain convincingly why he refused help, when the rest of the world seems to be against them, (and Lacus-sama said it's a good idea). I can't imagine him not being removed as Chairman if he insists on going it alone after that. So this, in effect, puts him in check.
Orb allying with PLANT also opens the door for other countries that may have been strong-armed into the EA to break their agreements, especially if they also solicit an alliance with either Orb or PLANT, which they would be foolish not to.
At this point we could end up back at square one as there is an uneasy tension between the different factions but no one wants to get their nose bloodied. Or the tide could turn completely against Djibril and the EA much sooner than it did in the series, especially when news of the EA's brutality gets out.
I haven't thought out how the series would go from here, or if it even needs to, but you can see from just Cagalli's actions, how the rest of Destiny wouldn't happen in quite the way it actually did. For one, the political choices above have the potential to neutralize both Djibril's "final solution" and Gilbert's world domination desires. Thus, bringing the conflict to an end before it gets out of hand. Which I think satisfies the desires and aspirations of most of the cast, old and new.
Other differences, or observations: The hunt for Logos could still happen, but it would be clandestine, perhaps that's the task Minerva's given, which would still put them at odds with Neo and the druggies. (So, Shinn and Stellar's story could continue, though I'd probably drop the Neo as Mwu angle as I thought it was superfluous.)
There's little need for Meer in this version, as Lacus public appearances become key in securing Orb's and PLANT's safety, though Gilbert's desire to remove Lacus could lead to his undoing, if the plan to use Meer is discovered.
Once a mutual defense pact is signed, and Gilbert's secret ambitions are thwarted, there is no Minerva vs Archangel, no Kira vs. Shinn, and thus no Kira/Shinn flame wars on every anime forum in existence.
Shinn would mature, Rey would be forced to develop a personality. Kira would stay in the background, Lacus won't have to develop an army in secret, though she'll still probably end up in a leadership role in PLANT, since that's really the only way she can ensure her vision of the future. Talia wouldn't throw her life away for a man who was clearly delusional and leave her son an orphan. Lunamaria would develop into a great pilot on her own and discover the joys of yuri (remember, I'm writing this.;) and Meyrin would step out of her sister's shadow when she's promoted to XO. And finally, Athrun would develop into an effectual leader, as his thinking and logic is positively reinforced.
(I can't tell you how many times when Athrun would say or do something that I thought was totally right only to have the writers, through the rest of the cast, slap him around as if he were an imbecile. He was clearly the one-eyed man in the land of the blind and they made him suffer for it. Ugh.)
Of course, my outline here fails for the simple fact that it doesn't address the need to introduce new Gundams which is really the whole point of the series now, I think.
Oh well. If I didn't like these characters so much, I wouldn't have started this blog, so in a way I'm glad Destiny was such an horrendous mess of a story. Thank you Gundam Seed Destiny for sucking so much. Though I hope the rumored third Seed series will be better, I'm not optimistic. I'll still watch though, because as evidenced by the above, I obviously care too much.

NOTE: I found the picture for this post in the AnimeSuki Gundam Forum's "Ridiculous Pictures" thread a couple of months back. No idea who did it, but it, too, would make for a much better show than the one we actually got.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Zyl said...

Interesting counter-factual. Though I'm not entirely sure if Cagalli could have resisted pressure to sign a treaty with the EA due to anger at the Junius 7 drop. Also while the gov-in-exile is a good idea, traditional gov-in-exile requires a core leadership like a shadow cabinet, followers and a host state (e.g. de Gaulle and his Free French forces in the UK) - one person is hardly enough. On military coups, my own view is that successful coup d'etats are not spontaneous but meticulously planned from within.

But I agree with your views in general - Cagalli should have been much more active and take the initiative like Lacus the Fugitive Dissident in GS. The scripting should have been much more sophisticated - what we got ruined Cagalli as a character and degraded the series.

And as much as I've complained about GSD, I boughts loads of Lunamaria merchandise. T_T I'll still probably watch the Feb OVA and will at least try out the third SEED series if it comes to fruition.

Sun Jan 08, 02:07:00 PM EST  
Blogger Serge said...

If Cagalli and her followers are planning a coup, I don't think it matters if she resists the signing or not. All that can blamed on the Seiran's and swept under the rug after a successful coup.
And yes, Cagalli could not have pulled this off completely on her own, as I mentioned, I envisioned at least one personal advisor, in addition to her other support (Kisaka, et al) and friends among the Archangel. Running an underground media campaign would require people on the ground in Orb, as well. Though I'm not necessarily sure on the need for a host country, if we want we can always say that that Norwegian country that Cagalli's father was from could recognize Cagalli and offer her a safe haven.
I wouldn't feel too bad about all the Lunamaria swag. It's OK to like a character even if her writers have no idea what to do with them. I'm that way with Ryoumou from Ikkitousen. Awesome character, badly written.

Sun Jan 08, 03:00:00 PM EST  

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