!!Some spoilers for Gundam Seed and Gundam 00 1 & 2!!
In the anime world, who doesn’t know the popular franchise “Gundam?” This saga has spanned over numerous series and is still going, but today I’ll be looking at Lacus Clyne and Marina Ismail from two of the more recent series, Gundam Seed and Gundam 00*. There will obviously be similarities in two series from the same franchise, but I was particularly struck by the close circumstances these female leads share yet how different of an impression the two characters made on me. Lacus and Marina both hold political positions, both advocate for peace through understanding and talk in times of war, and both spread this message of peace through song. They also both end up having some influence on the lead male character. So, let’s compare these two!
In Gundam Seed, viewers are introduced to Lacus Clyne, a girl who screams stereotypical female anime lead; she’s pink-haired, sweet and smiley, and seems like a bit of an airhead. I was concerned at first, but Lacus turned out to be a lot more than the cotton candy substance I thought she would be.
Lacus lives in a world divided between two people–one of normal humans and one of humans who have been genetically modified to perform better. There are hard feelings and prejudice between both groups and this has led to war. She is a modified human fighting for peace and understanding between the two groups. Between her fame as a singer and her father’s position as a powerful politician vying for peace, Lacus is an icon and has many followers, using her singing career to spread a message of peace. Some people–especially politicians–see Lacus as naive and impractical. But it becomes clear that she is one of the strongest women to appear in the series, leading people toward peace with a sharp mind and clear position. When the politicians decide on more violent options, Lacus has the strength to stand her ground and take action for peace, even after the government deems her a traitor. She holds power with the people and ends up leading a faction devoted to nurturing the relationship between the two groups rather than kill each other.
In Gundam 00, Marina Ismail is a newly crowned monarch in an economically poor country torn apart by war in an unstable world. She is a pacifist and wishes to keep her beloved country out of war now that it is finally at peace. However, Marina is politically inexperienced; she grew up in a normal household and, by a twist of fate, was tracked down by Parliament and asked to govern because of her lineage. Perhaps because of this and her rather meek personality, she actually does come off as somewhat naive rather than simply idealistic. I also just don’t feel that Marina got the same amount of respect as Lacus, by politicians or citizens; people may have liked her, but I’m not sure I’d use the word “respect.” Later, Marina does inspire people with her song of peace, but it felt like she held less power than Lacus and therefore, her influence was more limited in comparison. In addition, while Marina ends up a target several times because of her position or associations, besides singing, I never felt she made any independent move or important choice like a strong leader might. It doesn’t have to be leading an army of rebels, but just some bigger attempt to rally a movement for peace.
When I compare these two, neither one is bad, but Lacus makes a stronger impression. While both women are kind and struggling for peace, Lacus comes off as a strong-willed woman who will make it happen. Marina wishes for peace profusely, but looks meek and never felt like someone who one could rely upon to get things moving. Her song of peace has influence, but her efforts pale in comparison to Lacus’. Thus, despite first impressions, I have to give Lacus the prize for taking action and becoming a true leader.
*(Keep in mind that this comparison is based solely on the content in Gundam Seed and Gundam 00 Seasons 1 & 2. This does not include content from Gundam Seed Destiny or the Gundam 00 movie.)