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Gundam Seed: Seed of violence?

Today’s cartoons are replete with violence. Under the guise of freedom of expression cartoons carry increasingly mature themes and increased violence in order for them attract an increasingly jaded audience. The days when cartoons could be entertaining and wholesome are gone. Cartoons today present death and violence as glorious even desirable. Worse, young impressionable children who see and idolize these characters will grow up thinking violence is the solution to their problems. This paper will discuss how violent cartoons, specifically anime, can lead to children having violent tendencies.

In the early days of Cartoons, violence was limited. Popeye could be Bluto senseless with one punch but only after consuming his all-important spinach. Even the fight scenes took up no more than a fraction of the cartoon’s time. He Man was the all-powerful master of the universe, and his might sword could cleave rock and steel at ease. Yet never in the whole series does he actually slash a person with it nor does kill anyone despite his tremendous strength. The G. I. Joe’s and Cobra warred all over the world and lasers, missiles and other weapons were capable of rendering mass destruction on their environs.

But, they rarely seem to be able to hit each other’s bodies with these weapons. Despite all their gear the only injury they can inflict on one another is a punch here or a kick there. Physical injury much less death was a taboo. Only for robots like Transformers is it ok for the characters to actually suffer damage from weapons. After all they can be easily repaired later. Horde troopers from Shera can be destroyed but only because they were only machines. In today’s cartoon death is prevalent. For this paper I will focus on the Anime Gundam Seed Destiny specifically the version shown on Canadian cable TV.

Unlike the heavily watered down version on Cartoon Network, the YTV version has very few editor and little censoring. The climactic five final episodes are of interest. In that series young children as young as Fifteen are asked to fight manipulated and abused by the adults. Meer Campbell, an imposter posing a Lacus Clyne finally has a nervous break down and claims she IS the real Lucus. Attempts by Athrun to snap her out of it fail and he is forced to abandon her to escape. When the real Lacus and Meer finally meet up Meer’s bodyguard shoots Lacus and instead ends up killing Meer.

After Meer dies Chairman Durandal calls for the implementation of the Destiny plan which entails genetically modifying each future individual to make them incapable of violence. To eliminate any protests he uses a super weapon known as Requiem against his enemies slaughtering them wholesale. Here we are treated to images of an entire fleet getting destroyed and people bloating then exploding as if they were hot air balloons spreading their viscera all over their ships right before the ship itself explodes. If the annihilation of an entire fleet wasn’t bad enough the surviving forces on both sides rise up for a final apocalyptic battle.

Both sides have super weapons called Gundams which wreck holy havoc on their lesser mobile suit or MS cousins. MS after MS is destroyed in a futile effort to combat the Gundams. The MS and the pilots fall with gratuitous abandon in testament to the power of the Gundam. Eventually nearly all the MS and other lesser weapons are destroyed leaving the Gundam to fight duels against equals like Knights of Chivalric times. When the duels between the giant robots and warships is resolved the victorious Archangel crew enter Durandal’s fortress and justly execute him for his crimes against humanity and for daring to try and subjugate the world.

With the enemy leader dead the war is over but at tremendous cost. Nearly all the armies on both sides are annihilated it would seem that the war was indeed a war to end all wars. While I am not an impressionable 10 year old child I too was moved by what I just watched. Seeing giant robots slaughter each other in an orgy of violence amid the dazzling fireworks display of their hi-tech weapons was quite an impressive sight. I could not help but wonder what it would be like if I too had a Gundam of my own. Imagine, I would have the power to literally crush under my heel those who messed with me.

No longer would I be subject to traffic cops or curfews. However, I would not be an accurate test of Gundam Seeds impact on a child so I asked my eight year old neighbor to watch it with me. Sure enough after seeing the cartoon he was running around like a hyper active child on speed. For several days later he was pretending he was Athrun Zala on board the Infinite Justice slaying Zaft Mobile Suits left and right. Actually I rather regretted the experiment because the normally quiet boy was now giving his babysitter a hard time. When he is told to behave he responds with “I’m Athrun Zala son of Chairman Zala, you can’t tell me what to do”

Worse, he carried his Gundam mentality to his play with other children. I actually saw him one day chasing a female playmate calling her “Stella! ”, one of the villains from the series. It took some time out and a long lecture from his mom to set the poor kid straight. I know he’s not alone. Today many parents are both working and are not able to stay home and care for the children. Instead the kids must look to Television for their role models. Today’s cartoons do not give a very good role model at all. We can not ask children to watch people kill each other in cold blood and expect them to be sensitive to the feelings of others.

Gundam Seed is in fact rather benign. In that series death is still treated with some respect. Major Characters who die are still treated to a funeral of sorts. Early in the series those who perform the killing show remorse and regret for their acts. Until they are desensitized by the violence they feel around them and they too become merciless killers in their own right. Other cartoons are don’t even have that.

References

Sunrise. (March 9, 2007 to present) Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny. Tokyo, YTV Canada Fleischer, Max (July 14, 1933) Popeye the sailor man, Hollywood, Par

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