Gundam 00 was one of the most vile and despicable shows to come out of Japan in recent years. I see Gundam AGE as a response to and a renunciation of the ideas in Gundam 00. Let’s put aside for a moment my blinding hatred of Setsuna F. Seiei and the fact that Gundam 00 simply sucked, and look at the main themes of Gundam 00 and how Gundam AGE renounces each.
Social Darwinism and Eugenics
A common theme of all Gundam shows since the UC era has been the idea of newtypes. In Gundam 00, they are called innovators: people who have surpassed ordinary humanity with extraordinary capabilities to live and to fight in space. They can fly among the stars, while the oldtypes are doomed to crawl on the surface of the Earth.
Newtypes are always tempted to think that they are superior to the oldtypes. They have the best piloting skills, after all. But the UC series thoroughly debunked this theory and spat on the newtypes’ pride. Take Amuro Ray the prototypical newtype. Despite his acumen at piloting, he is an utterly broken person. He is cowardly, foolish, combative, and generally makes a fool and ass of himself. By the end of the show, he learns a little humility.
Gundam 00 explores the same issue: newtypes that believe they are superior to oldtypes. But instead of casting down the Newtypes from their pride, Gundam 00 confirms their superiority. After all, it is only the innovators who can glow pink, float naked in space, and truly understand one another. Some of humanity will evolve and move into space. Some won’t, and those who can’t will be left behind on Earth to crawl on the ground and die. Setsuna F. Seiei is truly a superhuman who is genuinely superior to the rest of the human race. Especially in the movie when he becomes an alien. We have a name for this sort of theory, where certain humans are inherently superior to others and more worthy of life: social darwinism.
Social darwinists believe that the strong should overcome the weak. Those who don’t adapt are unfit for survival. The poor, the hungry, the sick and the weak? They should go die so that humanity can evolve and better itself. This is the thrust of the Aeolia plan and Celestial Being’s ultimate agenda: to leave humanity behind and develop a superior race to spread its seed throughout the stars.
Gundam AGE calls out this ideal for the hideous monstrosity it is. Lord Ezelcant’s plan is identical to Aeolia’s in many respects: he has carefully selected (as in, natural selection) a superior people in order to bring an end to war.
But all of Ezelcant’s plans are worthless, and deep down, he knows it. The reason he wanted to create Eden is for his son, who died of the Mars death rays. His son was not selected. He would have been left behind to fulfill Ezelcant’s vision. And in order to build Eden, Ezelcant has killed countless more like him, both Vagan and Terran.
Unlike Ezelcant, Kio realizes and accepts the futility of building Eden through meeting Lu. In the vision of Eden Ezelcant sends to Kio, Lu is sitting there with her brother. But Kio knows that Lu could never reach Eden. She was poor, meek, sick and hungry. She was not chosen. And Kio knows that a heaven which excludes Lu can only be a hell.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
— Matthew 5:3-6
Gundam AGE’s second strong rejection of social darwinism comes for Asemu. Asemu is not a newtype. His father believes he will never amount to a great pilot since he has not inherited his father’s trans-human capabilities.
But Asemu does it. With nothing but hard work and perseverance, he becomes a superpilot. As a mere human, he kicks all the newtypes’ asses. Asemu doesn’t let himself be defined by the circumstances of his birth. The newtypes rage in stunned disbelief as a mere human brings the mighty to their knees.
Our next moral fallacy follows directly from the previous one. If a superior race exists, it clearly follows that the members of the master race can and should guide their lessers to a brighter future. Hence Gundam 00’s enthusiastic embrace of authoritarianism.
In fact, some people are so vastly superior to the rest of humanity that they can continue to guide the human race hundreds of years after their death. In Gundam 00, Aeolia Schernberg and Celestial Being’s pivotal role in guiding humanity is seen as a Good Thing. They are the only ones who can see where humanity is headed, and know what’s best for everyone else. An enlightened despot will lead humanity to the brightest future, and is humanity’s only hope for survival.
In Gundam AGE, Flit Asuno and Lord Ezelcant are both authoritarian. Flit teaches Kio to hate the Vagan, and believes the democratically elected government is weak and corrupt. He should be in charge. Lord Ezelcant is in charge, and leads the Vagan who follow him with unwavering loyalty.
Yet Gundam AGE exposes the “ideas” of Gundam 00 for what they are (crap) because neither leader is enlightened. Flit is filled with a blinding hatred for the Vagan. Ezelcant commits untold atrocities against his own people. Authoritarianism was never all it was cooked up to be.
This final idea follows from the previous two. If a superior race authoritatively leads humanity, than they can engage in just wars for good causes. Celestial Being, for example, fights a war with the stated goal to “end war.”
This idea is so stupid on its face that it barely even deserves comment.
But Gundam AGE once again steps up to the plate and renounces it for the vile filth it is. Both Flit and Ezelcant, members of the master race, fight a war that they believe is just. Flit wants to exterminate the Vagan. That his war is not just, but despicable, doesn’t require explanation. Ezelcant, like Celestial Being, fights a war to end war. But he does so by sacrificing people like Lu and murdering countless innocents. If it means Lu has to die, than peace isn’t worth fighting for.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell.
— Mark 9:43-47
tl;dr Setsuna F. Seiei is Hitler, Kio is Jesus