What Do Nancy and Kira Yamato Have in Common?

No, the title is not a lead-in to a bad humor post.

Like many anime fans out there, I have issues with Gundam SEED Destiny and how it effectively sabotaged the SEED plot with nonsense and a complete and utter lack of direction. Think Code Geass R2 and Gundam 00 Second Season ruined their respective prequels? While I might disagree with you there, I can see easily how you can hold that opinion with the big thematic shifts that happened between seasons. Even then, they’re nothing compared to what Destiny “achieved.”

I have a whole laundry list of complaints about Destiny, but there’s one in particular I want to focus on, and that’s the show’s treatment of Shinn Asuka. Shinn from the start of Destiny was meant to be the main character, with returning character Athrun Zala in the role of older and wiser mentor of sorts. However, as the series progressed Shinn slowly slipped out of the spotlight, replaced gradually by Athrun himself and then eventually Kira Yamato, the hero of the original SEED. Now Shinn is a very abrasive character. I know I’ve used that word a number of times before, but Shinn is the real deal. He’s pig-headed, ignorant, fueled by equal parts petty vindictiveness, trauma, and some sense of justice, and is overall the kind of guy who, if you told him the war he was fighting was wrong, would yell back at you, “OH YEAH?! WELL MY FAMILY’S DEAD.” It’s easy to see why people would prefer Kira or Athrun over him, but at the same time I can’t help but feel that it was a crime to shift main character focus to that extent. It felt disappointing because they could have done so much more with him. It felt wrong.

As much as I dislike the idea of switching up main characters mid-series though, I realize that it is not all that uncommon in animation and comics, let alone anime and manga. Before Tezuka created Tetsuwan Atom, he created Captain (Ambassador) Atom, a story where Atom was more of a side character than anything else. Similarly, the newspaper comic Nancy was originally known as Fritzi Ritz before the introduction of Fritzi’s niece, who would eventually take over the entire comic (as well as the title) and relegate Fritzi to that of a side-character-as-parental-figure.

Both Tezuka and Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller saw the writing on the wall and realized just how much better and more popular their works would be when they pushed aside the old protagonist, and while I can accept that, I can’t quite accept what happened to Shinn. The fact that it used a character who was already a main character in a previous series made it seem like they were taking two steps backwards, and just trying to turn SEED Destiny into a retread of the original, instead of actually making a sequel.

In the end, it really all just comes down to doing whatever might get you a better or more successful work, but changing up your heroes has just as much, if not more of a chance of making a story worse than it does of making it better. One outcome as we saw with Destiny was that the constant shift in focus detracted to the story as a whole,  which resulted in both the plot and the characters sputtering about. On top of that, it happened within a TV series that had a set amount of episodes and probably a decent amount of story written beforehand, and while 52 episodes seems like a lot, it doesn’t compare to the long, long serial run of something like Nancy, and it doesn’t make a sharp division between stories like that of Captain Atom and Tetsuwan Atom. In better hands or in  a looser storytelling environment, the Shinn->Athrun->Kira shift may have been enjoyable, but sadly that was not to be.

Oh, and don’t get me started on what they did to Cagalli.

4 thoughts on “What Do Nancy and Kira Yamato Have in Common?

  1. I really don’t like Shinn, but I think Kira had it bad, too. This was a character who wiped the floor with everyone that it wasn’t funny at all. I liked him back in SEED, but it would’ve made sense for Fukuda et al to hold him back, like how Amuro appeared in Zeta but didn’t steal the spotlight from Kamille. Now I can’t stand him either!

    Also, A Certain Man Who Makes the Impossible Possible…


  2. Ironically, every time Destiny’s storyline comes up in some other material (mostly video games), Kira always gets painted as kind of a dick. Or at least kind of stupid. Shinn and Athrun wind up looking like the reasonable ones, and often kick his ass. Go figure.


  3. Pingback: Aikatsu! and the Challenges of Protagonist Succession | OGIUE MANIAX

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