|12:21 am - Gundam Wing: My dive into politics|
"With high expectations, human beings leave Earth to begin a new life on space colonies, however, the United Earth Sphere Alliance gains great military powers and soon seizes control of one colony after another, in the name of justice, and peace. The year is After Colony 195, Operation Meteor, in a move to counter the Alliance's tyranny rebel citizens of certain colonies schemed to bring new arsenals to the Earth disguising them as shooting stars. However, the Alliance headquarters catches on to this operation..."
For a lot of you on my f-list, this intro probably sounds incredibly familiar. It's the opening narration to the anime Gundam Wing. Today on a whim mixed with a pin of nostalgia I downloaded the first few episodes of the anime. Although I have the entire DVD collection at home, I didn't bring it with me to university. As soon as I heard the first sentence of that narration, strangely enough, I felt tears in my eyes. Gundam Wing holds a special place in my heart, and I think it will for all my life.
It was back near the end of grade 8 that I started watching Gundam Wing. It was being broadcasted on YTV (a channel in Canada made for kids) and I remember back then, that my mom used to be so against me watching violence (generally it was violence in movies, like those slasher movies, but back then being a kid I thought it spanned to anything with fighting in it) that I would secretly set the VCR to record the show and then watch it when she wasn't home. Before Gundam Wing, the only other animes I had seen were Sailor Moon (first 2 seasons), Pokemon, Digimon, and Cardcaptors, you know, the kids stuff that they broadcasted over here which had all gone through editing and deemed appropriate for kids. For some reason, this anime drew me in. It was complicated, and unlike any other tv show or movie I had ever seen there was no clear good and bad, all the characters were human, there were no monsters. Unknown to me, the first episode I accidentally caught on TV and proceeded to watch was in actuality the first episode of the series, but even then, I was extremely confused as to what was going on. This was also the first anime that introduced me into the world of politics. Being a story based around war, peace, and all the politics in between, suddenly I realized that outside of my happy bubble of a home, there's another world out there.
About a week after I entered high school, September 11th happened (when the Twin Towers in New York got hit by the airplanes). Amongst all the confusion and fear that resulted in the aftermath I continued watching Gundam Wing while keeping an eye on the news reports. Slowly, something strange started to happen. As I watched Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre and Wufei blast down buildings in the show, the images began to superimpose themselves onto the images broadcasted on the news almost 24/7 back then of the planes hitting the Towers. I can honestly say this was the first time the political wheels in my head started turning after being unused for almost 15 years. In the show, I saw the story from the side of the gundam pilots. In reality, I saw the story on the side of the governments. If in the show, those pilots had their reasons for what they did and are hailed as heroes at the end, then what's to say that those who plotted to bring down the Towers didn't have their justified reasons and are hailed as heroes by others somewhere else on the planet?
It's almost a cliched saying these days that grown-ups lie to kids about how wonderful the world is. What's even more maddening is that often grown-ups don't make an effort to lie, but simply neglect to tell kids about the other side of the world. For me, it took an anime to start my journey into exploring what really went on in this world that I blindly lived in for 15 years. I am very grateful that I accidentally happened upon Gundam Wing that night and decided to keep watching. It was one of the shows that made me change my dream of 17 years to become a biologist and pursue a career in politics. On the other hand, I wonder, if I didn't happen upon the show that night, or I simply changed the channel after a 5 second glance, how long would it have taken me to discard my childish disillusions about this world I live in?