# Strength of Character (Gundam Seed 18) A man is known by the company he keeps - perhaps *Gundam Seed* wants us to know Cagalli. This episode spends the first third dealing with the attack on the town and its aftermath, and devotes the remainder to a surprisingly long set-piece battle. In many ways this is the flipside of the previous episode: as a robot show it works. The burning town driving them forward, the warband makes their bold but futile attack, losing several of their number before Kira arrives to rescue them in a nice reprisal of their first encounter. The power levels are perhaps a bit iffy - has Kira really improved so much that he can win against three opponents, one of them a named character? - but it's heavily implied that this is at least partly some superpowered crazy side Flay has awoken in him. Most of all, Kira's astonishing ability is simply necessary to the story that this show wants to tell, and in that sense I'm willing to go along with it. But where this episode falls down is that the emotional stakes simply aren't relevant. Big and flashy the battle may be, but I found it impossible to care about the outcome (except possibly for Kira himself - but tonally he's clearly never at risk). We barely know any of the rebels, even Cagalli herself, much less the kid who's killed. Wartfeld's lukewarm destruction of the city - thematically interesting as it is - leave us unsure who to sympathize with, especially when the rebels are portrayed as, well, stupid. If nothing else this scene is a reminder that the things many people clamour for in war stories - moral ambiguity, asymmetry, mistakes on both sides - don't always make for emotionally engaging fiction. Ultimately all this serves what I'm sure is its narrative purpose - it puts Cagalli into a position where she can reasonably join the *Archangel*, without being seen to abandon her comrades. But the fight still feels a bit pointless, particularly given its inconclusive outcome - a problem that I seem to recall will plague the remainder of this arc. [Home](/) <div id="disqus_thread"></div> comments powered by Disqus