# A Strange Game (Gundam Seed 19) On paper this is a bridging episode - filler even. There are no robot fights, no real plot developments (buying new munitions could easily be done offscreen, or even ignored entirely), and the "villains out shopping" gimmick is implausible at the best of times. Sure, Wartfeld gets a chance to expound on the show's themes - human development and the avoidability of conflict - but he's not saying anything we haven't heard already. And yet somehow it manages to be utterly compelling. Indeed this is one of the few episodes I remembered clearly from 5+ years ago. Partly it's that the conceit, for all its ridiculousness, feels genuinely tense. ![](/asg1.jpg) Partly it's the gratuitous fanservice. But mostly, I think, it's the characterization. Wartfeld is this mass of contradictions but somehow consistent about it; at the very least, this particular act fits his personality perfectly. Cagalli clings to her anger because it's the only control she has - Wartfeld's "if you didn't talk, you'd be the perfect woman" is crasser than the way the resistance idolises her, but both are coming from the same place. Not that control always works out for *Gundam* characters. I'm currently near the end of *Iron Blooded Orphans*, where the princess-type character starts the conflict - only to find the exigencies of war push her further into a particular role. *Gundam* has always been anti-war, and one side of that is the belief that no-one (or very few people) actually wants it. This necessarily leads to a certain weakness of character - people don't want to fight but have let themselves be swept along with it - just as Kira has in this series. One could argue that's realism at work, but it doesn't make for great viewing. Kira, then, is the weakest link here. An episode or two ago I was talking about how interesting his conflicts were - but that only holds if we can see them. Today he feels like a blank slate (or the notorious self-insert harem lead archetype) that the plot moves around - not helped by what's hard not to read as a totally unnecessary attempt to set up a love triangle with Cagalli. Everyone worrying about his mental state was one thing; everyone worrying about his love life is quite another. ![](/asg3.jpg) And yet somehow, it didn't matter. There were a bunch of clever allusions and callbacks here - Kira is again surprised that Cagalli is a girl, their dialogue mirroring the first time they met. La Flaga (very much the flamboyant womanizer who never actually does anything) is unwilling to make an issue of Kira's fraternization when really it's Ramius who's being hypocritical. Flay cleans out the Gundam cockpit just in time for Sai to jump in - do we think perhaps he might have hesitated if it had been more lived in? Nah, probably not. It's Sai. ![](/asg2.jpg) [Home](/) <div id="disqus_thread"></div> comments powered by Disqus