Fa Yuiry from Zeta Gundam is a Badass

Fa.Yuiry.587181

No, she’s not what immediately springs to mind when one thinks “badass female character”. She’s not sexy-in-leather, dodging bullets, doing somersaults, and beating up guys twice her size with waif-fu, but consider this:

Fa fought in the Gryps War and survived a show in which more than half of the main characters, including all but three women, died.

She did so piloting an experimental mech that’s generally considered inferior to the post-Mk II Gundams many other characters flew.

She wasn’t military or para-military like Emma or Reccoa or the Titan gals, but she volunteered to fight for Anti-Earth United anyway and fought bravely.

She not only put up with Camille when he was going through his Giant Robot Hero angst and reined him in some when he needed it, she stayed with him to take care of him when he became a disabled vet on the losing side of a war.

So, where is all this coming from?

I’d seen this just before another thread I was in about bad girls and best girls spiraled off into a Gundam tangent:

Credit to this juxtaposition by @KateVsTheWorld

gail killing joke

guybrush

Now, I have mixed thoughts of my own regarding the Killing Joke (TL;DR, it’s overrated and I understand why Moore himself is critical of it), and this isn’t the place to address Gail “Women in Refrigerators” Simone’s comments, but it was what got me thinking about Fa and the context surrounding her as a “badass female character”.

Zeta Gundam is a show that not only has a lot of female characters, it has a lot of female characters who have horrible stuff happen to them. Yes, you can claim that some of them were there to give male characters motivation (that a woman who was a better pilot than him could take an interest in him but then be killed in an MS battle by a kid he’d gotten into it with really messed Jerrid up), but they’re all very rounded, very complex, very real-feeling characters that many viewers had deep attachments to.

zeta gundam women

From pink hair to the right: Dies in sequel, lives, dies, dies, dies, dies, lives, lives, dies, dies, dies, lives.

  • Mouar and Lila (teal and blonde next to her) are both talented officers and pilots who die in fights with Camille.
  • Four (turquoise on the right) is emotionally abused by the researchers at the Murasame institute and eventually dies in battle.
  • Ditto Rosamia (purple/pink in the middle).
  • Sarah (salmon on the left) is emotionally (and probably sexually) abused by Scirocco and dies in battle taking a bullet for him.
  • Emma (second brunette from the right) nearly makes it to the end of the war, but dies in the last battle.
  • Reccoa (red-head next to Emma) dies in the last battle too—Reccoa fans are few and far between, though, because no one likes a traitor.
recoa

TFW Hypergamy Intensifies

Lest you think that the show was just particularly brutal to women, keep in mind that it would be easier to list off the main/major male characters who lived than rattle off all the ones who died. (Camille, Yazan[villain], Bright, Amuro, Astonage, and Char[though it’s left ambiguous, highly implied that he died, and he’s nowhere in ZZ], and the last three all die in Char’s Counterattack.)

In a story where none of the good guys die, the cute long-suffering girl-next-door girlfriend of the hero who gets to pilot her own robot every now and then is comic relief at best and obnoxious wannabe eye-candy at worst.

But in a story where anyone can die, and they often do, there’s something to be said of the character who can fight, survive, and still retain something of herself when it’s all over and go on to be a personal hero to those closest to her when she’s not fighting.

So, yeah, Fa Yuiry is a badass.*

Fa & Camille

*: And Best Girl. Sorry, Four, but teenage me was wrong about you. Get you a girl who will forgive you for liking Four and take care of you when you’re a disabled vet.

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Z – Zeta Gundam (but not actually)

Born in Shadow suggested that I make Zeta Gundam my post for Z. The problem is, there’s nothing I could say that Born in Shadow hasn’t already said better.

Except for a warning to those who want to check it out. Don’t get the US DVD release: it’s got a garbage translation, it doesn’t have Neil Sedaka’s awesome theme music, and the names, which had been fairly standard in the fan community and in video games for 20 years, get all mucked up. They couldn’t get the original US dub VAs back, either, but whether or not that’s a bad thing is debatable. Also, despite this being the best Giant Robot Anime Ever Made in the history of forever and there will never be another Giant Robot Anime to ever come close to being as awesome as Zeta Gundam (with maybe the exception of Gurren Lagann), you should be warned that it ends on a cliff-hanger, with the story picked up right where it was left off by its sequel ZZ Gundam, which was absolutely terrible. “Surely it can’t be that bad, I mean, it’s the sequel to Zeta Gundam!” You’re wrong. Whatever is the worst you can imagine, it’s worse. The characters who didn’t die in Zeta Gundam get relegated to second class comic relief characters, and the characters who did die get replaced by a team of Power Rangers. The first major villain pilots a garbage mech made of garbage. It only goes downhill from there.

If you can accept the catharsis of an open ending and are content to deduce the events occuring between Zeta Gundam and Char’s Counter Attack for yourself (it’s not hard) you will be much better off.  Don’t let ZZ being terrible discourage you!

Anyway, my real A-to-Z post for “Z” will be up later today!

P – Paptimus Scirocco & the PMX-003 “The O”

There were several villains at the head of several factions in Zeta Gundam, but one of the most impressive was the dashing Paptimus Scirocco. While the Jupiter Fleet was a relatively small faction during the Gryps War and the conflict for supremacy over the Earthsphere and Space, they had a number of huge advantages which made them a deciding factor in the outcome of the various arcs that came together at the end of Zeta.

"Ladies, have I mentioned I will let you use my experimental prototype mobile armors?"

“Ladies, have I mentioned I will let you use my experimental prototype mobile armors?”

The Jupiter Fleet had been absent, on their mission to mine Jupiter gas, during the One Year War. They arrived back in Earth orbit at a time in which their strength would be sufficient to act as “kingmaker” among the battered warring factions. Scirocco uses this to pull a major coup and and become the defacto head of the Titans. Most importantly, Scirocco was a brilliant mech designer who developed ultra-high-powered custom Mobile Suits optimized for use in Jupiter’s gravity well. Needless to say, these mech are big and fast and monstrous. The PMX-000 Messala, the PMX-001 Pallas Athena, and the PMX-002 Bolinoak Sammahn were all forces to be reckoned with, but were eventually handed down to the various female pilots Scirocco had seduced to his cause. Why? Because he had The O.

"Why Hello There!"

“Why Hello There!”

The O was big and bulky looking, but the thing was fast, tough, and fought like a damn Asura with its quad beam sabres.

The O had a fusion reactor with 1840 kW output, 1.57G max thrust, 4 0.39 MW beam sabers, and a 2.6 MW rapid recharge beam rifle. It was equipped with an advanced psychommu bio-feedback control system.

Spoiler: even though the hero is able to beat this thing, it manages to fry his brain and turn him into an invalid in the process.

G – Gundam

There were a lot of things I could have gone with today for G, but I just had to go with Gundam. Despite all of its flaws, warts and blemishes, I’m a huge fan of Mobile Suit Gundam and the Universal Century setting.

Gundam was one of the first entries into the ‘real robot’ sub-genre of Giant Robots. This meant that rather than being made of magic and unicorns, the robots were basically giant multipurpose humanoid tanks used for construction and warfare. Of course much of the animation in the earliest series still reflected that of super robot shows (fully flexible joints, full human range of movement) because that’s what animators of the day had to draw on. The later UC OVAs tend to reflect the ‘real robot’ aspect of the mechs more accurately; these are big cumbersome machines that clod along while carrying giant machine guns and battleship grade beam cannons. In fact, the biggest mechanical advantages the original RX-78-2 Gundam had over the Zeon mainstay mechs were significantly thicker armor that could resist the Zaku’s 120mm machine gun shots and carried a beam rifle with the output equivalent to a small battle cruiser.

A good show is always defined by its villains. During the One Year War, we’re given the Principality(sometimes Duchy) of Zeon, a bizarre pastiche of outerspace Jewish Nazis. The Jewish aspect and its political connotations is often shoved under the rug. Prior to the standardization of the proper names, Zeon was more often than not Romanized as “Zion”. It’s not pronounced Zion the way that your typical American rube might pronounce it, but it is pronounced the way you’d pronounce it in Hebrew. So you have a space Zionist movement of space colonists who have declared an independent homeland for Spacenoids and screw everyone else. In Zum City, the capital, the Zabi family palace is fronted by two grand columns depicting the Iron Cross and the Rising Sun. So, wow. Zionist Space Nazis.

Yep, looks pretty Nazi to me!

Yep, looks pretty Nazi to me!

Much like the Nazis of WWII, Zeon’s major downfall was a combination of squibbling between generals that reflected the Wehrmacht, SS and Luftwaffe’s inability to effectively coordinate with one another and the expenditure of resources on flashy military prototypes rather than maximize the efficacy of mass production units. And they’re also bad dudes who aren’t afraid to commit some pretty heinous atrocities in the name of independence. Which again is why more recent releases of the older series have attempted to put distance between the series and the original connotations of Zion.*

This kinda got away from me here… Oh, right, real robots.

One  significance of Gundam, as opposed to a lot of other giant robot shows, was that ultimately the Hero’s actions contributed only in minor ways over the course of a fairly large war. White Base was almost never involved in any significant strategic operations throughout the One Year War until the Federation was already pressing its advantage in space against a retreating Zeon. The Gundam served as a distraction for Zeon to send its ace pilots and/or politically dissident commanders to chase after and keep them out of various intrigues.

There are a LOT of games out there that cover events in the One Year War. And a LOT of them are pretty bad, though all of them are lovely little snowflakes that hold special places in my heart. The best description I’ve ever read of Journey to Jaburo (or any game, really) was that it was like “pushing a Tiger II through the Ardennes with a toothpick”. One of the games that gets some pretty unfair slag, because it was Nintendo Hard, was Zeonic Front. Of all of the games I’ve played, though, nothing has better captured the feel of the Real Robot genre than Zeonic Front. I’ve heard it described as Rainbow 6 with Robots, but not having played Rainbow 6, I really couldn’t say. Though to be clunking along towards checkpoint Bravo only to be shot and blown to hell by that tank hiding behind a cluster of trees because you were looking for bigger threats with radar rather than checking infrared heat signatures? That’s the kind of giant robot stuff I’m talking about, and even in frustrating death, I feel strangely satisfied. Also: I wonder if I’m the only person who noticed that the one black pilot is the only guy who gets stuck piloting a Zaku I for the entire war?

*: It should be noted that no real or perceived antisemitism in Mobile Suit Gundam would prevent Neil Sedaka from composing the awesome opening songs for the much-better-than-the-first sequel, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.