Moo's Review of Gundam Wing: Why Did I Hate Relena Peacecraft So Much?
She was a made-up character! Yet, I hated her. I hated her way more than I hated any real people. And I wasn't alone. A whole bunch of other teenage girls on the internet also hated her. We had fan-clubs of how much we hated her. I even wrote a grade 10 essay about why Relena sucks, titled “I Hate Relena”, despite never explaining to my TA what a Relena is. Which I'll explain in a bit! But first, you'll have to agree that you'll listen to the ramblings of my 15 year old self from the early 2000's. After that, 35 year old me is gonna offer her some sympathy. I hope it'll bring you amusement!
Welcome aboard! I'm 15 year old Moo! So excited to have you here! Relena Peacecraft is a character from an anime called Gundam Wing. Let me tell you about Gundam Wing. Gundam Wing is this super cool anime on YTV (Canadian broadcast channel). It's about teenage boys in giant robot suits fighting in outer-space. It has a really cool theme song! And it's really over the top! And it's like, really deep! I don't get a lot of it but I love it anyway! Because there's multiple hot guys in it. Well technically they're boys 'cause they're only fifteen. But whatever! There's five of them, they're all handsome, they all have tragic backstories, and they all have hot-guy voices. There's Heero, the stoic guy who wears bike shorts, who pilots a white red and blue Gundam, called "Wing Zero". There's Duo, the funny guy who wears a priest's outfit, who pilots a black Gundam called "Death Scythe". There's Trowa, the mysterious guy who is a sad but handsome clown, pilots an orange Gundam called "Heavy Arms". There's Quatre, the sensitive guy, who wears pink and plays the piano, pilots "Sandrock", which he calls his "dear friend". And there's Wufei, the wildcard bad boy, who wears tanktops and calls women whores, pilots "Nataku", a Gundam he named after his wife who died in a war.
To my understanding, Gundams are not weapons to harm but weapons to defend. BUT, they're like, the MOST powerful weapons of all time. They're the most giant of robots in a world with already giant robots. And whoever can pilot them is a total genius. And there's lots of exciting battles. But I can only watch so much space wars before it gets boring. Instead, I like to imagine myself as Wufei's super beautiful ghost girlfriend. And you know what, I'm not gonna stop at Wufei! If I'm a ghost I might as well be girlfriend to all of them! Why not? But I won't get into details 'cause this article is not about that. I just want you to know, my ghost self is super beautiful.
See that guy in the tank top? Yeah, I know. Totally hot. They're all hot. Have you seen an anime guy that's not hot? Oh my God. I also like that they have homoerotic friendships. Quatre and Trowa obviously love each-other. And Heero and Duo do, too, probably. I mean. Hello? Stoic cute guy meets funny cute guy? Enemies turned friends? Frequently engaged in banter? This is the stuff romance is made of! But just as we get excited about that, FREAKIN' RELENA shows up. Ugh. She's SO lame. She's a rich pretty girl. She wears pink. She's obviously the love interest. Hate her already! Her family has lots of power and money in space or space colonies. Her last name is Peacecraft so she's out here, talking about peace, crafting peace. She doesn't have a Gundam. She talks in a monotone voice and wears boring skirt suits with BROWN loafers. And she's totally insane and weird! In the first episode, Relena invites Heero, whom she just met, to her 16th birthday party and Heero, being a cold-blooded killer trained to kill, tells her: “I'll kill you”. In a later episode, in the middle of a Gundam battle, she comes out of an airplane to shout: “Heero! Come and kill me!” And you know what, he doesn't kill her! Why? 'Cause he loves her? Ugh! It makes no sense!
Thank you for reading that. I'm back to my present-day self. I hope you enjoyed the rant of my younger self. Thirsting after anime characters is weird, but whatever. Hating an anime character however, is probably an outlet for much more deeply-seated emotional problems. But that's too depressing to get into... Instead, I want to speculate about why Relena is the target. My obsession with the boys is not unfounded. The Gundam pilots were pretty much marketted to us teen girls as a boy-band. You could buy official posters of them wearing jeans and partying, doing fun things that have nothing to do with the show itself. But the show also kept pushing Relena as this idol figure that we should fall head over heels over. That didn't go nearly as well. Nobody liked her, not even the guys. I think it's because there's almost no skin showing. There's a music video of Relena frolicking around in a field surrounded by cute animals, in a terrible safari outfit. It's as if the producers were saying “Look! This girl is so pure and charming even the lions like to cuddle with her! You should like her!” And that made me mad. I remember flipping through the dictionary to find words that sounded more angry than "angry", like "animosity", and putting them ill-fittingly into the high-school essay about how much she sucks.
Now that I'm 35, I've calmed down a bit, hopefully. Perhaps the show was just bad, and I misplaced all my frustration onto Relena. But there are other snooze-inducing females and I didn't hate them. What is it about Relena that made me hate her? And how come everyone else hated her, too? I decided to re-watch an episode of Gundam Wing to find out.
Oh boy, Gundam Wing is not a very well-written show. It's hard to ignore this. But for the sake of being on the same page as 15 year old Moo, who watched it without irony, I ignored the plot holes and immersed myself as best as I could. It turns out, Heero actually really does attempt to kill Relena early on. He shoots at her. If it's not for Duo jumping out of nowhere to shoot Heero, Relena would be dead. Here comes the part where I think made me turn on Relena: to the temporarily debilitated Heero, Relena displays a totally absurd act of kindness. She protects him with her body and even rips her dress to bandage his broken arm. Heero and Duo are completely dumbfounded. And as an audience member, so am I! Who does that? Most people would just run! Or at least be astonished that they barely escaped death? This makes zero sense! She must be blinded by handsomeness that she's lost her mind. My 15 year old self, who sees Heero as a boy-band member, who does not put herself in the position of his character in this case, says: She doesn't deserve him! She should be a lot more charming! She should be funny! Or have magical bunnies or sparkles shooting out of her or something! But no, she has nothing. She is just.... KIND? BLEGH! That's so boring! She doesn't entertain me and her total kindness makes me so uncomfortable I wanna run!
It's been suggested that Relena represents optimism in the show. And I can see that. It's a very boring, non-sparkly non-spicey kind of optimism. Much like the act of maintaining it in real life. She's the only person supporting peace in a world where everyone is going nuts with their fancy robots. I remember the characters saying stuff like “I fight for peace! I love peace! This is the last battle that I'm fighting and then there will be peace!” (or something or other.) But Relena tells others to stop fighting without using any weapons, putting herself in danger without the means to harm them. She's actually totally brave. If she were a real person, she'd be that guy who stood in front of a tank at Tian An Men Square. Or Mother Teresa, or Mister Rogers, or Mother Teresa and Mister Rogers's daughter. It's not important because she's not real. But I think it shows that perhaps, what we hate in fictional characters is not necessarily what we'd hate in real life.
Maybe I'm overthinking it. Maybe we just hated her because it was fun. Maybe we just hated her because she wears too much pink. But maybe it wasn't Relena, maybe what we really hated was the idea of someone not retaliating at violence. Maybe what we really hated was that fighting for peace is so vulnerable, and so boring, and it goes against our desire to have fun. In the context of Gundam, if they stopped fighting, how would we watch more cute boys in big robots be homoerotic with each-other? How would we imagine ourselves as their ghost-girlfriends? All I'm saying is, I don't think Relena Peacecraft deserves the hate given by my ragey teenage self. I'm sorry Relena. You're not so bad. But I still have a beef with your safari outfit.