This season had the second halves of not one, but two very LGBT-ish anime from Bandai/Sunrise, and a lot of worry about whether these would be able to stick the landing. Let’s start with the mecha series: Mobile Suit Gundam: Witch from Mercury, Season 2. There will be some spoilers.
When Witch from Mercury last left off, Sulletta had saved Minorine and her classmates from a terrorist attack (in the process squashing one of them like a bug with the hand of Gundam Aerial right in front of Minorine), Guel Jeturk had (unknowingly, until the last minute) killed his dad in the heat of battle and had been captured by those terrorists, and Minorine has come to realize that Sulleta’s mom (and her prospective mother-in-law) Prospera is up to no good. So, everyone is in a pretty rough spot. Thankfully, the second season handles a lot of that reasonably well.
A lot of this season is basically driven by a lot of the trauma that came out of the last season and characters coming to terms with that and growing. In a way, it’s the show showing the lie behind Prospera telling Sulletta “If you move forward you gain two,” by showing that she told Sulletta that with bad intentions, before showing Sulletta demonstrating the truth through her own personal growth. Then, in turn, the other members of the cast – Minorine, Guel, and even Elan (both Prime and version 5) – show their own growth because of this.
It’s also interesting to see Witch from Mercury getting in dialog with some of the plot elements of Evangelion (instead of just the tone). Particularly, in this case, the idea of Prospera as a sort of Gendo Ikari figure consumed by grief, whose loved one’s spirit (Yui for Gendo, Eri for Prospera) is locked inside a mech (Unit-01 for Gendo, Gundam Arial for Prospera), playing a massive political scheme with numerous more powerful factions with the ultimate goal of bringing about potentially catastrophic destruction for the purpose of just getting their loved one back.
It makes Sulletta a very interesting counterpoint to someone like Shinji, in that she’s clearly written as being autistic coded, but in a socially gregarious way – Sulletta embracing her friendships with the members of Earth House, and ultimately showing romantic feelings for Minorine (even if the show being in a 5 PM time slot means that they’re not willing or able to show them kiss or otherwise take more intimate steps beyond handholding). By contrast Shinji, as much as Rei is, is still emotionally withdrawn and hesitant to reach out to others.
To be clear, this show gets pretty dark before the end of the series. One of the major elements of the middle of this season has the school subjected to what is effectively a mass shooting with a giant robot, with even more civilian casualties than the battle that went out of control in the back half of the first season. This is on top of Prospera and an Eri-controlled Aerial doing a pretty big deal war crime on Earth around the same time. Before that there’s Guel in a war zone trying to get a dying kid to safety, not knowing enough to realize that the kid’s basically already dead.
Yet, the show manages to pull off an ending that feels hopeful, optimistic, and cathartic, that also feels earned. The victories we see feel narratively earned, and the joy of our characters (especially the queer ones) works. This is no “happily ever after” cop-out, there is still work to be done in the world of Witch from Mercury to get to a better, more equitable future, but steps are going in the right direction, though there’s a lot of work. Because if you run away or stay put you may keep one, but if you move forward – though it will be hard work – you’ll gain two.
Witch From Mercury is available on Crunchyroll. The series isn’t available physically yet, however, Bandai has a bunch of merch available on their website, as does RightStuf. Buying anything from either of those links helps support the site.
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