10 Kinds of Gundam Pilots
This is just for fun everyone. The Gundam series is the main reason why I’m drawn to anime. Being a pioneer of the real robots genre, they are a breath of fresh air from their overly advanced super robot counterparts. Realism, unique mecha designs, and improved storylines are the selling points of the series, which explains why the series is still here after 30 years. The legacy of RX-78-2 (the original Gundam) lives on through ASW-G-08 Gundam Barbatos (Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans), the latest of the long line of legends.
And then there are the pilots.
My first exposure to the series was during 1996 or so, when I first saw the ultra-cool New Mobile Report Gundam Wing, or simply Gundam Wing. Being used to the stereotypical heroes of western cartoons and the light hearted protagonists of Dragon Ball Z, the characters here made my jaw drop. Being a robot themed anime, I was expecting a childish story. But no! The pilots here are some of the most twisted pieces of work ever seen in anime at that time. They are less like Goku and more like Vegeta. My first thought after watching the first few episodes were, "I got to see this." Basically, that was the day I became an official Gundam fan. I followed the series up to the present, where the demonic mobile suits of Iron-Blooded Orphans came charging in. Critics once said that the human pilots of the Gundam world is what makes the series, and I agree. They are flawed, decisive, heroic, twisted, and weird sometimes. And through the years, I kind of noticed how the pilots follow a common mold. Below are 10 kinds of pilots the Gundam universe has produced.
1. The Hero
They are not exactly perfect. In fact, they are portrayed as being quite flawed in the series. They could be nerdy, meek, and antisocial. However, they could be decisive, self-giving, and strong in the end. They are mobile suit pilot prodigies, gifted individuals with the natural skills for piloting. One is even skilled enough to design his own suit.
In the whole series, they are the basic mold for the lead character (almost). A good example of this character are the pilots of the U.C. timeline, Amuro Ray to be specific. Kira Yamato of Mobile Suit Gundam Seed is a recent addition.
2. The Homicidal Emo
Okay, I admit it, these are my personal favourites. They are a fairly recent invention though, introduced to the series in the mid 90s. Unlike the heroic pilots that preceded them, theses are the antithesis of Amuro Ray. Violence is their most distinguished trait and they are mostly cold and stoic. These guys started life either as child soldiers or as an operative, and they have no problems killing people. They might be twisted on the outside, but they are fiercely protective on the inside. They are known to be loyal to their friends and display an innate kindness.
Heero Yuy of Gundam Wing is a good example of this character. Then there is Setsuna F. Seiei, the former child soldier of Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Recently, we were introduced to the Devil of Tekkadan, Mikazuki Augus, the lead pilot of Iron-Blooded Orphans.
3. The Cool Cat
They are the type of person you want to hang out with. Unlike most of the pilots here, they are casual, almost normal in the sense that they could get along well with others. They seem to have a cool demeanor, and are sometimes laid back in most cases. Though well-humored, trying to get on their bad side is not a good idea. And like the rest of the pilots here, they are more than capable in combat.
Who could forget the Shinigami Duo Maxwell from Gundam Wing? He is easy going but deadly in the cockpit. Gundam 00 gave us the Lockon Stratos twins (Lyle and Neil Dylandy). They were the life of Celestial Being, until someone gave them a Gundam.
4. The Weirdo
Okay, anime has a knack for producing pretty unconventional fellows. This series is no exception. Weird, and sometimes disturbing, characters keep popping out. Admittedly, it’s not a bad thing either. They have made the series more interesting by adding variety and their uniqueness to the cast. These oddballs could come in many shapes. They might be a nameless sociopath, an overly disturbed chick, or an experimental subject with a conflicting personality.
Being a breeding ground for deranged pilots, we get one from the Wing series. Trowa Barton has the same murderous tendencies as Heero, but having no name and choosing to be a circus clown made him stranger. The Seed series seems to be producing its own brand of weirdoes, and Stella Loussier is an unbalanced example. And lastly, we have Allellujah Haptism, the pilot with dual personalities from Gundam 00.
5. Char Aznable
His clones are ever present in the Gundam world, and no series would be complete without a masked antagonist in red. They have one purpose in mind, to make a rivalry with the lead character. Yes, they all based on the beloved Char Aznable, but that doesn’t mean they are all the same.
They could be honourable, fierce, manipulative, obsessive, or anything else depending on the story. Listing down all the characters would eat up most of the space here as they are basically are part of series themselves.
6. The Mass Murderer
Mobile suits are weapons of war, so you can expect total annihilation when they are around. And when these weapons fall in the wrong hands, we got a genocide waiting to happen. Unfortunately, the Gundam world is home to people who take pleasure in killing. They could range from a vengeful orphan to a terrorist leader.
As expected, the Wing series has an entry. Quatre Raberba Winner started as a kind hearted soul who ended up blowing up space colonies after seeing his father get murdered. Ali al-Saachez also qualifies as a certified maniac, having burned a country with his Gundam.
7. The Badass Princess
Who says that anime is sexist? Well, more than once have women been objectified as a curvaceous sex symbol. But we can’t deny that anime has produced some empowered and strong female characters that rival DC’s Wonder Woman. And in the Gundam world, women are portrayed as being just as capable at mobile suit piloting as the men are. Plus, they have deadly skills with weapons or their bare hands.
We have a number of female pilots in the UC timeline, Roux Louka and Christina Mackenzie in particular. And although I don’t like the Seed series that much, I love the formidable Cagalli Yula Athha.
8. The Annoying Bastard
As much as I love the series, I got to admit that it has had some pretty annoying characters. They are typically overly emotional, stubborn, overrated, immature, or simply hated. Nothing is perfect, even a legendary anime icon like Gundam has downsides. I’m just thankful that these characters never go near the scale of how annoying the EVA pilots can be.
In the UC timeline, many fans hated Kamille Bidan because he is immature. And the reason why I’m not that excited with the Seed series is because of the collection of big babies there. And the king of them is Shinn Asuka, an angry, stupid cry baby who turned many fans off.
9. The Macho Man
These are the physical type. Honourable and strong, they are the knights and samurais of the Gundam world. Among the pilots, they exceed in hand-to-hand fighting. One even saw weakness as an embarrassment. As anime characters, they are a traditional shonen type. While in imperfect in some ways, they are determined. They may occasionally adopt a more serious demeanor.
Domon Kasshu is a breath of fresh air from the more traditional pilots. He is a manly character with his martial arts skills. In the Wing series, Chang Wufei scared a lot of mobile suit pilots with his piloting and kung fu skills.
10. The Girly Man
What do you expect? This is anime and we have a lot of androgynous fellows here. Characters could adopt a traditional bishounen design with mildly girlish features or be completely indistinguishable from the opposite gender. They might be girlish on the outside but they are still manly on the inside. From the way they talk, move, and sometimes bully their subordinates, they are certified males. And there is nothing sissy about their piloting skills either.
I’m still wishing that Tierra Erde of Gundam 00 was a girl. He actually looks good in a gown. And Loran Cehack from Gundam Turn A always gave me the creeps with his looks.