East Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch of Mercury on the desire for personal revenge through the means of giant robots? Yes. Are these the gender dynamics of space exploration defined by the economy rather than the environment? Yes. Is it about space lesbians? Let’s hope so. But right now, it’s also about an anti-capitalist queen who slams the souls of wealthy jerks.
This week’s episode of The Witch of Mercury“Unseen Trap”, deviates a little from the Utena-esque politics of dueling at her luxury school for mech piloting corporate scions (the queer vibes between Suletta and her newly acquired fiancé Miorine, thankfully, remain) to shine a spotlight on the world the Asticassia School of Technology is preparing his students in a way that we haven’t really seen in the show yet.
This is not driven by Mobile Suit combat, as the series has been so far, but by a conflict largely between the “Earthlings” – the natives of humanity’s homeworld – and the ” Spacers” – people who were born and live in humanity’s fledgling space colonies. While there were nuances (much of Suletta’s antagonism to her classmates is driven by the fact that someone from Mercury, home to a small group of miners mining precious resources in dangerous and debilitating conditions, is considered a “peasant”, “Unseen Trap” makes this much more explicit both on the macro scale of the world beyond Asticassia and on the micro scale divisions between the haves and have-nots of the student body.
We first see him at school, where a student training exam in Asticassia’s “Demi-Trainer” suits sees Chuatury Panlunch (one of Sulleta’s few potential allies at school) fail when his robot’s screen camera is sabotaged with a timed spray. Chuatury, affectionately known (despite her abrasive demeanor) as Chuchu, is revealed to be the leader of the Earth House of Asticassia, one of several factions among the school’s students that are otherwise dominated by groups formed around the companies that finance and control the school, and the descendants of these companies. When Suletta, herself a Spacer – ostracized by her comrades after her surprising loss to top duelist Guel Jeturk not once, but twice – comes to Earth House to seek teammates to help her take part in her own examination of piloting, we learn that Chuchu is savage; the antagonism towards Spacers is due to the horrible way she and other Earthlings in society are looked down upon.
Chuchu and other Earthlings are treated by the Spacers who have turned the solar system into an economic powerhouse as disposable labor, unworthy of inheriting the lavish efforts of space colonization, efforts achieved only through the land work. We see him at Earth House in Asticassia, where the Earth students are given a ramshackle shed to mend their costumes and live in, rather than the lavish surroundings where we briefly see other students. We see it in the news stories scrolling through their televisions, showing mobile suits of some of the most powerful companies in the Benerit group that control Asticassia engaging in violent repression against landworkers protesting against labor violations committed in the name of capital. spacious.
Dividing this great socio-political conflict on Earth against the colonies is no stranger to Gundam—this has long been a central theme of the franchise – but making it explicitly about the evil of capitalism, and beyond the layer of class conflict, is something the franchise has otherwise left on the thematic periphery, instead of make it as textually explicit as we see here.
It all coalesces into the most brutal acts of violence in Witch of Mercury so far. When the same Space girls who sabotaged Chuchu’s Demi-Trainer use the same trick on Suletta during their re-examinations – not because Suletta is just a Mercury “bobo”, but because she deigned to s associating with Earth House – Chuchu watches furiously as Suletta slowly collapses, trying to work through her costume being blinded before sobbing her heart out to Miorine over her comms. Noticing the two girls watching their prank from afar and cackle happily, Chuchu jumps off his own Demi-Trainer, rushes towards them, and, well…
This is brutal. This girl’s body just flops, like she got a mental blue screen of death all of a sudden. The fight between Chuchu and the second girl is equally brutal, catching Suletta in the crossfire in a gruesome punch, and ultimately leading to Chuchu and Suletta bonding, but also both having to retake their exams. piloting.
It’s amazing that a series that has so far given us some excellent powerful action scenes – ones that extrapolate the violence inflicted on the humanoid forms of its mecha to its larger themes of abuse, or as in this same episode the horror of seeing these mech turned towards human targets – is able to show its most brutal action yet in a single punch, from one young girl to another, echoing the fury of Witch of Mercuryis the greatest class conflict.
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