"What is 'Gundam', anyway?" This simple (?) question is answered in our forty-second casual weekly column just for new fans!
by Ema Baba
What slithers along the depths? A super-simple intro column for new Gundam fans!
We're back with Part 42 of what makes Gundam Gundam.
You can see our previous coverage of what makes Gundam Gundam
, and this week we're back with another Gundam standard!
One of the best things about Gundam is its woman pilots, streaming over the battlefield with all the beauty of a shooting star. At times their light is soft and comforting, at times strong and forceful, and at times it silently glimmers with a deep sorrow.
In part 42, we bring you "Women Pilots" (Part 3)!
Gundam's women pilots grow as characters through the twists and turns of fate!
Soma Peries (Mobile Suit Gundam 00)
A pilot and officer in the Human Reform League (HRL) military, known for her beautiful platinum locks.
A product of the Super-Human Institute Labs, which sounds like a more fitting home for bald professors or mild-mannered reporters, she's a designer baby genetically engineered for life in space (← in ways that aren't necessarily overall improvements), and holds the scarily-impressive and impressively scary designation "Super-Soldier Number 1." She pilots a Tieren Taozi customized for super-soldier use (← so pink, yet so beefy!)
She shares a deep connection with Allelujah Haptism, another product of the Super-Human Institute who is now a Gundam Meister for the private military organization Celestial Being (CB) which seeks to end all war via armed intervention, and just like Allelujah's occasional shifts to a bloodthirsty personality known as Hallelujah, her own indoctrination has produced a split personality that at times is "Ms. Peries", at times "Soma", sometimes "Marie". When Allelujah, taken prisoner, calls her by her true name (Marie Parfacy), she's thrown into a panic. Making this even more complex is that Allelujah, during his time at the SHI, was in fact first given a name by her (previously, he was referred to only as "Subject E-57".)
Soma's quantum brainwaves (used both for evasion and piloting) clash violently with Allelujah's, and when the two first draw close on the battlefield, she's thrown into an almost berserker-like state. (← sounds like an FCC violation...)
While the "Soma" personality, instilled by the Institute, is cold and impersonal, when HRL commander Sergei Smirnov takes her under his wing as part of an anti-CB special forces squad, she begins to show hints of emotion, and eventually comes to treat Sergei as the father she never had. Sergei takes young Soma in as if she was his daughter as well, and eventually offers to adopt her... But the heartwarming story takes a twist here, as Soma, reassigned to the Federation's independent security force A-LAWS, declines due to her own insecurity over her roots at the SHI.
Perhaps just because she heard her true name from Allelujah, her gentler "Marie" personality surfaces, and she joins Allelujah in Celestial Being. However, but when Sergei's biological son Andrei (an A-LAWS member) shoots Sergei down in front of her the shock brings super-soldier Soma back to the forefront.
Pursuing revenge for the only father she ever knew, she takes the GN Archer into combat in hopes of meeting Andrei, but in the final clash with Ribbons Almark's Innovade forces, her "Marie" personality once again returns. (!)
While her affiliation drifts from the HRL to the Federation, then the A-LAWS, and finally CB, Soma (and Marie!) possesses a strong determination that can't be shaken, even by Allelujah's and Sergei's attempts to keep her away from the front lines.
In the end, she comes to an understanding with Andrei, letting him know how his estranged father really felt (and showing just how much she thought of Sergei as her own father.)
Afterwards, she and Allelujah depart on a journey, with her finally able to live peacefully as Marie again.
While misfortune found her many times, in the end, she and Allelujah made it through in the end. It's really a story of being saved, and finding yourself, through the power of love.
Louise Halevy (Mobile Suit Gundam 00)
A girl from Spain in the AEU, who studied as an exchange student in the Japan Special Economic Zone. Scion to the Halevy fortune, she's cheerful, spirited, and maybe a little bit spoiled; however, when Nena Trinity, youngest of CB's Team Trinity siblings, takes one of her outbursts a little bit too far and obliterates a Halevy family outing, Louise loses her parents, her family, and even her own left arm, plunging her into deep depression.
Consumed by her grudge against CB, who took her family and her arm, she uses her inheritance to fund the A-LAWS, and joins them as a mobile suit pilot. Suffering from lingering after effects of her exposure to GN particles (a type of fallout produced by Gundam-type mobile suits' GN Drives,) she's required to take a regular course of nanomachine treatment (← delivered by some seriously huge pills...) in order to prevent cellular degeneration, but a condition of access to the nanomachines is that she become a soldier in the private army of Ribbons Almark, leader of the Innovades. (In truth, the nanomachines themselves are also an experiment by Ribbons in creating an artificial Innovator.)
While she'd met the protagonist Setsuna F Seiei in the past (and never gotten along very well with him,) she was far more friendly with his neighbor, astroengineering student Saji Crossroad, and dreamed of working alongside him in space.
However, when she learns that Saji had been involved with Celestial Being and the Gundams, she feels betrayed and turns completely away from her past, dedicating herseld to the A-LAWS. While she eventually finds vengeance against Nena, it does nothing to calm her inner demons, and her mental state continues to degrade.
As a side effect of her medication, she has become an artificial Innovator, and falling completely under Ribbons' control, her attempts on Saji's life are only halted by a sudden turn for the worse of her condition. However, Setsuna's Trans-Am Burst (a wave of GN particles triggered by Setsuna's awakening) snaps her out of her brainwashing shortly before she manages to sacrifices herself, and lets her see just how hard Saji has been trying to return her to her old self. With her cellular degeneration cured as well (Trans-Am Burst therapy?) the two take up a quiet life of recuperation. (See? A happy ending!)
Once again, a story of being saved, and finding yourself, through the power of love. Love is strong! Have faith! And someone please save ME with the power of love! And maybe something else too! Cash! Dinero! Moolah! Money! (Moneymoneymoneymoneymoney... *echoes*) ...Okay, the two aren't all that related, but...
And with that, we've completed our third look at women pilots!
Oh, isn't Gundam just so fascinating?
Well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, that's it for this week. Next week we'll be taking another laid-back look at what makes Gundam Gundam!
Scriptwriter. Troublemaking scenarist.
Learning more every day to teach you about the fun of Gundam!