# Lethal Weapon (Gundam Seed 05) Action! And not before time. There are many strands to *Gundam*, but the most fundamental is very simple: giant robot fights are cool. And while this iteration is not the hardest of sci-fi, the 3D tactics shown are at least somewhat plausible, adding up to some quite satisfying fight choreography. Admittedly we already see a powerful beam weapon that undermines the more interesting physical combat - something that will come to mar the late-series fights, and especially those of the sequel series. But a more important flaw is already starting to make itself apparent: teenage drama and philosophising can stretch effortlessly to 50 episodes (just look at *Kimi ni Todoke* or, heck, *Haruhi*). But a combat show - really any show where conflicts are genuine and fundamental rather than miscommunications - immediately runs into problems: to make fights meaningful, losing must have consequences. If defeated enemies simply return next week, we're reduced to the silliness of e.g. *Star Driver*, *Pretty Cure*, or even *Pokemon*'s Team Rocket - at best we get a fun episodic show, but no sense of meaning or progress. If we introduce a new opponent every few weeks, we get a different problem of meaninglessness: there's no time to characterize these opponents fully. Sports animé love tournament arcs, which at least allow a "big boss" opponent to build up by defeating others, and give a plausible justification for why our heroes would be facing several different foes in a row. But in a show that's intended to be "real" there's usually no reason for the bad guys to be fighting each other, so we tend to end up with a story of an overarching evil organization represented by a series of relatively unimportant individuals. Taken to the extreme we get e.g. *Noir*, where the protagonists kill dozens of opponents each episode - but this necessarily reduces those enemies to faceless mooks. *Gundam Seed* is trying to walk a third path, that of recurring rivals who improve in step with each other. It fits well with Kira and Athrun's dynamic - they're mirror images who grew up together before one simple choice pulled them apart, to the extent that they're now on opposite sides of the battlefield - there's a real "there but-for-fortune go I" feeling to some of their interactions. For Mu or Rau to suddenly power up would be implausible (and instead we'll see both start to take more of a back seat as the series progresses), but it makes sense for Kira and Athrun to pace each other, and Athrun's colleagues can just about be sweput up in that. But again this is one of those things that works better in a sports animé than in a story that's supposed to be life-and-death. The fundamental problem is the one highlighted by Yzak - the ZAFT forces went out with four suits against one, and failed to kill Kira (and not because Kira killed all, or even any, of them). Even once, this is stretching plausibility, and I fear several iterations are in store for us. Though for now it must be said that the show is conscious of this problem and trying to avert it with the coming storyline, pulling Rau, Athrun and the gang out of the action with barely-plausible politics to give us a few episodes of breathing room as the Earth forces' own politics come into play. I've honestly forgotten what happens in this mini-arc, so we'll see what Artemis has in store. One thing I didn't pick up the first time around is some more subtle characterization - or perhaps fanservice. Throughout the battle and its aftermath, as the four ZAFT pilots are intercut making various contributions, Nikolai only ever says one thing - "Athrun". Playing to the fangirls? Either way it's ironic that he would be characterized more than Yzak or Dearka, and the opposite of the way I remember things working. Maybe memory has been too harsh on this show. Or maybe not harsh enough. We'll see in the coming weeks. 44 episodes to go. [Home](/) <div id="disqus_thread"></div> comments powered by Disqus