In the anime community, it’s debated whether Gundam Seed, a spin-off from the original Gundam franchise, is a brilliant drama or a brilliant rip off. I liked it and wanted to see more of it so, I was eager to get my hands on the sequel, Gundam Seed Destiny. Unfortunately, even among avid fans of the series the sequel hasn’t received high marks. I started renting it and at just about the halfway point in the series, I’ve quickly found out why this series is one most fans would like to sweep under the rug.
I could rant about how the new main character, Shinn, earns the hatred of the audience by insulting and verbally abusing favorites from the old cast. Or I could talk about how it seems like someone hit the reset button on characters from the original cast, deleting past character development. I could, but I want to focus on the female characters. Point blank, the new female characters are pretty pathetic. Like most of the new cast in general, these women feel thin on real substance and heavy on stereotypical or just plain boring traits. I have a number of complaints to tackle here so, let me break it down.
A Love Pentagon?
First and foremost, the ridiculous fan girls and what I like to call the “love pentagon.” Out of the handful of new female characters, three of them seem fixated on one guy, Arthrun, for nothing but superficial reasons. As a result, the girls act like fools and a stereotypical rivalry forms among them. Want to see lots of scenes of cartoon girls glaring and getting huffy at each other because of a guy? Look no further! Gundam Seed Destiny is an all-you-can-stomach buffet of it. If story writers insist on forcing one of these awkward and overused scenarios of love triangles and rivalry between girls over a guy, I wish they would at least put a little more effort into it. I don’t get great feelings of romance from any of the girls but rather shallowness and a sense of spontaneous, “Cute guy…I saw him first!”
On top of all that, it’s very clear that the guy they’re all flocking around is in a serious relationship with a girl from the original cast (bringing the people involved in this mess up to five) and isn’t interested in any of the other girls in that way. He doesn’t want their attention. So, what does that make the girls look like? A trio of pink-haired vultures
Wait. I’m Supposed To Actually Fight? I Thought I Was Here To Look Pretty.
There is one slight improvement regarding the female characters over the original series, but you can guess there’s a catch. Gundam Seed and its sequel’s action revolves around war and the military; the main male characters are soldiers on the front line, but for the most part the main female characters stay out of battle.
In Gundam Seed Destiny, however, a couple of female soldiers join the guys on the battlefield. Sounds good, right? Too bad the show has managed to botch it up so far.
The two in question are Lunamaria and Stella, both of whom make me what to throw a pillow over my head whenever they’re on screen. In addition to being one of the three pink-haired vultures I talked about, Lunamaria has so far played a very lackluster role on the battlefield by either becoming a liability by not being able take care of herself or playing no significant role. She’s the weakest member of an otherwise male team. Stella, the only female soldier on the enemy side, also is the weakest link of her team as she is mentally unstable and prone to panic attacks. This is like a lot of action manga/anime I’ve seen; they throw in a couple of female combatants amongst a crowd of male ones, but seem adverse to depicting competent female combatants who are at least half as good as the weakest guy. But don’t worry, Lunamaria and Stella look great in their military-issued uniforms with miniskirts!
A Love Interest From The Stone Age
Stella, Stella, Stella. As soon as she opened her mouth and spoke in the third-person, I knew we had a problem. We’re not talking about third person speech patterns that make her sound like she’s trying to be royal or even cute, we’re talking use-as-few-words-as-possible, caveman-like speech pattern. Sadly for us, she happens to be the love interest of sort-of main character Shinn so she pops up a fair amount. Almost halfway through the series and Stella has yet to utter anything moderately interesting or intelligent. While I felt that a number of the girls from the original series had things to say that added greatly to the plot, the most Stella adds are things like, “No! Stella doesn’t want to die!” or “You’ll protect Stella?” Did I miss something? Is the main love interest really a five-year-old?
That leaves Stella with three traits — she’s cute, emotionally messed up, and vulnerable. Say hello to a modern damsel in distress. Unlike traditional damsels, she can fight, but she’s exceedingly weak and needy emotionally and I feel like this is used to give the guy, Shinn, an opportunity to play hero. In fact, the first time the two love birds have a conversation (I’m using that word loosely with Stella) occurs because Shinn had to rescue her…after she was dancing on the edge of a cliff. That’s the mark of intelligence. Granted, the male lead gets to know his love interest after rescuing her in Gundam Seed as well, but she is intelligent and made a major impact on him through her words that gave him something serious to think about. Stella, on the other hand, gives her potential love interest a scratch on the face during a panic attack, a few vague sentences, and fan service. Oh yeah, and someone who wants Shinn to protect her.
As you can tell, this series just isn’t cutting it for me. Compared to the few other series I’ve seen in the Gundam franchise, Gundam Seed had some of the best female characters. In contrast, its sequel has some of the more boring and annoying ones. I still have a little more than half of the series to go, but I have to say I don’t have much hope. This one looks like it’s going to crash and burn.