# Look Back in Anger (Gundam Seed 01)
I've read of two departures from the animé scene in the last couple of weeks: TheFluff's very public cutting of ties with the community, and a friend's much quieter decision to give it up. I'm a long way from following them - only yesterday I visited some old friends to watch a show, and my own weekly animé nights go from strength to strength - but it's as good a reason as any for a moment's reflection.
I got into animé relatively late; I'd watched a handful of movies in high school (borrowing DVDs from my local library - my family never had Sky), but it wasn't until university that I really started to acquire and watch animé the way we now recognize it - which means in 2015 it'll be 10 years since I started. So I've decided to rewatch (the HD remake of) my first "proper" animé series: *Mobile Suit Gundam SEED*.
*Seed* was popular in its day but not exactly respected; it was seen (at least in my circles) as a fangirls' show, or simply as a *Wing* knock-off, and the much-maligned sequel (which I won't be rewatching) cemented its ignoble place in history. But it's a show I look back on with fondness, partly because I wasn't troubled by comparisons to other Gundams. (That will still be the case; I dropped *00* early on, and while I enjoyed the *War in the Pocket* OVA, I haven't even started any other *Gundam*. I might pick up *Build Fighters* and/or *Unicorn* at some point during this series). 50 episodes is a big commitment in this day and age, and I'm slightly nervous that it might turn out to be, well, not very good (as when I returned to the BBC's *Bugs*, which was the coolest thing ever when I was 10, but holds up poorly nowadays). Even the first time around, I'm pretty sure I watched some of the later episodes at increased speed, and came close to skipping some of the launch sequences.
But hopefully it's still the show I remember. Perhaps I can even begin to rehabilitate it, to introduce a fresh generation to the wonders of- well, wait and see. Either way, it should be an adventure - or at least, something to make me think.
In a bit of synchronicity, I'm also returning to *Fate-Stay Night*. My introduction to animé is entangled with the lesser-known visual novel medium; in the next year (2006) I played the newly-translated *Tsukihime*. Due to various reasons I completed the first two routes of *F/SN* but never the third. I might mention how that's going in some of my posts.
But for now, *Gundam Seed*. It starts... pretty well, actually. Opening with a narrated backstory is never an ideal choice, but this show makes the best of it, giving a light sketch of events, a loose impression of the variety of nations in its world, the *Gundam*-standard "war is hell" slant present but not overbearing.
And then we get what I see now as a decoy genre; ten minutes in which this show pretends it's going to be a high-school drama. At the time I didn't have the context that would let me pidgeonhole a show, so all this effort went straight over my head. To be fair, from what I recall this show has a fair amount of teen drama, even in the more actiony parts later on. Some hints are already dropped - Kira's crush on Flay, Cagalli's introduction (a character who I don't remember being involved until much later - and I don't think she's even named here), the flashback to Kira saying goodbye to Athrun as a child - a bold move when we haven't even seen him with his helmet off until the concluding scene of this episode, but one that works out.
And then roll credits, with the music still rising in the background, catching this wonderfully conflicted mix of horror and promise that's really *Gundam*'s signature tone. Actually one of the best things about this whole episode is these classical background tracks, conveying emotion much more effectively than any amount of tears or rhetoric. It's something you can pay attention to on a rewatch, start analysing these background parts rather than being swept along, and so far I like it.
If we're talking about negatives, one thing that doesn't hold up so well ten years on is the gender balance (which, to be fair, is an issue that modern shows have too). Seeing soon-to-be-revealed-as-Captain Ramius in disguise as a hangar monkey is a fun contrast, and she shoots (to kill - one named attacker dies, though that's barely touched on on-screen) with the best of them. But our hero *physically forces Cagalli into a shelter*, regardless of her wishes, and while I know she'll get some action later, right now it grates, and highlights this series' distinct lack of female mobile suit pilots. If a series wants to tell a story about men doing man things, I don't usually have much of a problem with that, but a show that makes a point of having strong female characters and then forces them into uncharacteristic support roles is still irritating.
But if there's one thing that ten years of animé has taught me, it's to have the serenity to accept Japan's entrenched sexism. Honestly, the reputation of this show had me starting to doubt my teenage self. So it's good to find that, at least for the first episode, the show is better than I remember it.
Long may that continue. One down, 48 to go.
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