“In The Name of Peace” & What is Moral in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (OWLS Blog Tour) | Fujinsei
Hello, my dear folks! I hope that you enjoy my post for today.
“Disruptors” Blog Tour
“To disrupt” has a negative denotation, but rather than looking at the verb in a negative light, we are going to use the verb in a positive way. It’s like the word “protest” which has positive and negative connotations depending on the perspective of the person.
Disruptors: An individual or a group disturbing a system or social norms/conventions that they believe is destroying what is morally right.
This post will be a little different from the other posts in this blog tour because I’m not going to discuss “disruptors” in a purely positive light. Just like in the real world where there’s no pure good or pure evil sides, “disruptors” is a complicated subject consisting of a delicate balance between good and bad. In this post, I will discuss “disruptors” in a more human light where actions and feelings change depending more on personal experiences and values, rather than a single universal purpose for good. But since the topic of this blog tour demands me to use this word positively, I chose instead to emphasize the positive influence of the process of “disrupting” and its results rather than the actual “disruptor” agents. This is because I believe that people change. One may start out good but then turn into a monster, and vice versa. I think it’s more important to focus on the process of change itself and the results of said change, rather than on the original people who caused disruption.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of my favourite Gundam series, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, which first aired on October 2007. That’s why I’m so excited to write about this series for my turn in this blog tour. I’ve watched some Gundam anime before, but it wasn’t until Gundam 00 that I got hooked and decided to call myself a Gundam fan.
Unlike what’s common in other series where the “disruptors” are portrayed as the heroes fighting for freedom against systemic oppression, the “disruptors” in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 are essentially portrayed as terrorists. It’s an interesting, not to mention very ironic, portrayal that confuses the boundaries of our morality as viewers.
The Reality of Endless War and Battle for Dominance
The setting is an Earth depleted of fossil fuels. As a result, humans turn to solar power which can be accessed by three orbital elevators. These elevators are each controlled by the three world superpowers: Union (North American region), AEU (European region), and Human Reform League (Asian region, including Russia). Since solar energy is theoretically limitless, it should’ve been able to fuel the economic and industrial progress of all countries in the world. This is not the case, however. Since the 3 superpowers (Union, AEU & Human Reform League) control the elevators, it’s only them and their allies who benefit from abundant solar energy, while their enemies or nations they consider insignificant are left poor and war-torn. Also as expected of technological advancements, extreme religious groups are formed resisting solar power technology, claiming that it threatens what their gods promised them. This resulted in decades of “Solar Wars” that are still battering the poorest of nations.
Then comes the “disruptors” in this anime, Celestial Being, formed for the purpose of eradicating all wars in the world and uniting humanity. Celestial Being is a private military organization 200 years in the making, and is primarily armed by impressive Gundam machines piloted by the most-skilled Gundam Meisters.
Eradicate all wars. Unite humanity. Celestial Being sounds noble, right? Or are they?
Using “War” to Eradicate All Wars
The main issue is with Celestial Being’s method in achieving their purpose. They send their Gundam Meisters to “intervene” during wars by annihilating all parties involved regardless of who is in the right or wrong, demonstrating their military superiority in the process. This in turn becomes a deterrent to nations not to declare war against each other because they make themselves Celestial Being’s targets of attack. This extreme method of instilling fear through military prowess and violence against all nations is, if you think about it, not that different from terrorists whose principle is to “punish” others who don’t follow their beliefs.
Basically, Celestial Being declares war against the entire humanity, threatening to mercilessly annihilate anyone who dares disturb the peace. This great paradox of using warfare to end all wars is the main driving force of the anime’s first season. And for a short period of time, they succeed in uniting humanity, as the 3 world superpowers unite to form the United Nations Army to fight Celestial Being’s superiority.
Blurring the Lines of Morality
Like what I said at the beginning of this post, Gundam 00 portrays Celestial Being (the “disruptors) not as the “heroes” supported by the oppressed but basically as “terrorists” who’ll punish you if you threaten the “peace” they’re protecting. I think that this divergence from common rebel tropes in other series, where the rebel is hailed as the hero of the oppressed against the evil authority, is a perfect reflection of the complexity of the wars our real world is experiencing today. In fact, I had to take a break every couple of episodes while watching because I just felt too disturbed by the similarities I noticed between the conflicts in the anime and some of the situations in our real world right now.
As a result, I felt torn about which side to support. On one hand, I admire Celestial Being’s sense of justice and support their vision of a peaceful and war-free world. However, their method of merciless annihilation to achieve their ideals is just too extreme, bloody, and not humane at all. On another hand, I’m disgusted by the greed of the world superpowers in hogging the wealth and security gained from solar power while the rest of the world are left poor, hungry, and in constant mortal danger due to endless wars. However, I also understand their sentiment of protecting their way of life and their resistance in accepting the authority of a suspicious organization of unknown origins claiming to desire peace through violence.
Watching Gundam 00 questions your morality. Is it acceptable to punish and kill for the sake of peace? Does the results justify the means? Is real peace ever attainable? Or is it just an illusion? What is moral? Who decides what’s morally right or wrong? Is it morally right to say you disapprove of war when you’re not even doing anything to stop it and your government is bombing other countries? Is it morally right to turn a blind eye to the horrors of poverty-stricken war-torn countries, not even realizing how fortunate you are to have a place to live, food to eat whenever you’re hungry, and the security to walk down the streets without the fear of bombs falling from the sky?
Are “Disruptors” Good or Bad?
And the Power of Understanding, Tolerance, and Communication
For the purpose of this blog tour and also based on the anime Gundam 00, I’d say that YES, “disruptors” are good in this case. Although later in the series Celestial Being is discovered fallible and prone to internal betrayal and conspiracy, it catalyzed its reorganization into a more sympathetic group that are less extreme than their original methods (apparent in the second season). Celestial Being as “disruptors” may not have succeeded in achieving their original purpose of total eradication of war, but they nevertheless succeeded in slowly demonstrating the importance of the value of understanding.
I would say that the most important message this entire series has to offer is that understanding and tolerance are more effective in preventing wars and achieving peace than using violence. This is especially true since a portion of humanity’s population are evolving into what are basically superhumans called “Innovators”. Understanding and tolerance are important to prevent discrimination and war between these two species.
This is once again demonstrated in the Gundam 00 film A Wakening of the Trailblazer, where an alien ship heads to earth and of course, the first reaction of humans is to destroy it. At the climax, however, it’s revealed that it only takes willingness to communicate to the aliens and understanding them in order to end hostilities. It’s a beautiful film, a perfect exclamation point to an emotional and moral rollercoaster of a series.
Saying all of these, however, I’m not saying that all “disruptors” are good. Like how I described Celestial Being in this post, there is no clear-cut and correct method to “disrupt” a system or social norms because one’s “morally right” may not be the same “morally right” to another. Depending on your personal beliefs and values, a “disruptor” may be a hero or just a brutal terrorist to you. Understanding, tolerance, and communication are perhaps our best hope in achieving peace, regardless of our differences.
I hope you enjoyed my post. I also hope that even for just a bit, it made you realize the importance of tolerance and acceptance of our differences, which are the driving forces of our group OWLS.
Thank you very much for supporting us OWLs in our first ever blog tour. All of us are passionate in spreading our message within the fandom, and I hope that you continue to support us from here on. If you are interested in learning more about OWLS or are interested in becoming an active member, click here. Have a great day. Take care. Cheers!
Free to be ME,
Arria (OWLS Secretary)
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Originally published at fujinsei.com on January 13, 2017.