Why I Love Lacus Clyne ('Mobile Suit Gundam SEED' and 'Gundam SEED Destiny')
It's not the pink hair, I swear.
Of all the Gundam series available, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED—and its sequel, Gundam SEED Destiny—seem to be the least popular among North American anime enthusiasts. I personally enjoyed the episodes I managed to catch on YTV back in the day, and noticed that much like Gundam Wing it feels more targeted toward female viewers. I say this partially because "mecha" franchises like Transformers are usually thought to be mostly boy territory.
The other reason is that SEED has something that makes it instantly stand out from the crowd upon first sight: its aesthetic. Of course, anyone can enjoy whatever art style they want, but considering how mecha series are typically drawn, I'd never have guessed that this one would forego the gritty look, favouring lucid colours and gorgeous character models instead (though nearly everyone looks the same with different hair—it's a little on the nose).
Looking a little deeper, SEED also promotes human vulnerability in spite of its futuristic war theme. The literal poster boy is our protagonist, Kira Yamato, who'll cry at the drop of a dime.
Jokes aside, it's actually great that we can sympathize with what these characters are going through because they frequently show emotions that prove they aren't just killing machines following someone else's orders.
There is a greater cause in question, but although I'd love to detail my thoughts on the series as a whole I'll have to shelve it for another time because there's a rather unique character warranting my attention first, and that's Kira's second girlfriend, Lacus Clyne.
I see that Lacus isn't particularly cared for in forums, especially regarding her relationship with Kira, but I'd like to offer another side to the argument that she's just an emotionless "nice girl" trope with an unrealistic view of politics.
When you're introduced to a character like her, the first thought that comes to your mind is probably, "oh great, another manic pixie dream girl with pink hair." Being a childlike pop singer seems like an out-of-place concept in this story, and I can understand that sentiment. But lo and behold, there's more to her than meets the eye.
Lacus is sort of like Star Wars' Padmé Amidala, if she had a normal love life and didn't have to, you know, die for the plot's sake. Considering her pacifism Lacus surprisingly makes a lot of sense when philosophising about the paradoxes of war and peace.
She has her ideals, sure, but she hits the nail on the head with the fact that nobody can be "forced" into combat, only willed, not to mention that using weaponry can never be peaceful if the rinse and repeat button will just keep getting pressed. If only more people adopted this mindset—literally and figuratively.
But even if she wants to see the best in every situation, she knows she needs to be prepared for anything. As a skilled commander and delegator, her usual kindness can turn into cold calculation if it means completing the mission successfully. It's not a light feeling, but considering that she lost her father in an attack she had to get over her naïvety and buckle down for everyone's sake.
It's easy to forget that Lacus is supposed to be a regular girl with a singing career. The extent of her good nature—and vocal abilities—knows no boundaries, and she even likes to play with her many Haros ex-fiancé Athrun Zala gifted her (such as Mr. Pink, pictured above left) when she's left alone. Although her position could be seen as beneficial in garnering support for her cause, it never feels like a contrived marketing ploy to satisfy an agenda.
That's because she's as geniune as she is pretty to look at. Lacus has a charismatic fire to her, but it never tires her to act as a support system for others when they need it, especially Kira. Her patience, understanding, and encouragement are ultimately what bring the two so close, since he shares these traits himself. They don't have an overly passionate relationship, no, but they don't need one. They're perfectly content with modest embraces and level-headed conversation.
Lacus is the kind of girl Kira needed to develop a degree of maturity to be around. She doesn't necessarily undergo a character arc; she's already capable of maintaining her independence and often appears to know the right way to go about things, but the subtleties in her resolve after her father's tragic death do nevertheless speak volumes to her mental fortitude.
There's nothing wrong with having a character to look up to, even if you feel you can't entirely relate to them. I'm sure many of us have role models we've never met, and don't know what they have to endure behind closed doors in order to stay so put together.
I also really like that she's able to remain friends with Athrun even if their arranged engagement was broken off. In our world where hard feelings get in the way of everything, this is incredibly refreshing and even hopeful to witness. Their care for one another is believable throughout the series, although it's unclear if there were ever any romantic feelings there.
On his end, perhaps, because he did feel guilt over the breakup. I wouldn't say she was faking it to fulfill her expectations, but her natural bond with Kira was palpable from the start and it frankly overshadowed their dynamic.
Still, what you see is what you get with Lacus. And that's ultimately what I love about her. She shows you exactly what she's feeling, composed as she may be, and she doesn't allow anything to bring her down or (completely) taint her. The lesson here is that no matter how difficult it is to uphold your values, you must believe in yourself to find a way without losing who you are.