Original Post: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 02 Unmasked
I think the writer of Unicorn is really trying to link Zeon to WW2 Imperial Japan, and not Nazi Germany as many Gundam fans usually see it. And he’s doing it in a way that to me seems very obvious and direct, unlike Tomino who was more covert about it. In Tomino’s shows, there was the Battle of Solomon, which I thought was analogous to WW2′s Pacific war around the Solomon Islands. In Fukui’s episode 1 of Unicorn, we have a Neo-Zeon soldier saying “Space belongs to the spacenoids!” which is analogous to Japan’s WW2 slogan of “Asia for the Asians!” which was a message that opposed the colonization of the non-white world by white Western nations.
And in Episode 2 of Unicorn, Full Frontal tells us that the space colonists of the Federation had no ability to vote. All their leaders were appointed by people in the Federation. In other words, by white European imperialists, as it was in the various colonies found in Africa and Asia and elsewhere. Finally, episode 2 and 3 will take place in Palau, which is a mining colony in space. In WW2, Palau was a Japanese mining colony in the Pacific, and there was a big conflict there between the US and Japan. There’s going to be a big one in the Unicorn show too.
Before Unicorn, I often suspected that Gundam’s resonance with segments of Japan’s population was due to their ancestors’ participation in WW2, and how Japan’s younger generations have various paradoxical opinions about that. I believed that the reason the usual main character of Gundam was a Federation pilot, and either a spacenoid (Amuro, Camille, Banagher) or of Japanese background (Uraki), was supposed to appeal to the Japanese public’s sense that the modern Japan is allied with American side of things, despite the fact that the spacenoid cause is supposedly championed by Zeon (imperial japan). To me, Unicorn really proves my suspicions.
So basically, Gundam’s appeal to the Japanese public has to do with how post-War Japan is in a kind of cultural conflict with WW2 Japan. Zeon is Imperial Japan and all its brutality. And some of its more noble sentiments. (Did you know that Imperial Japan advocated the passing of the Racial Equality Clause in 1919? Black American groups became fascinated with the possibility that the Japanese empire would somehow liberate the non-white world from Western European control.)
Spacenoids are the people who were taken over by the white Western powers. The Federation is America’s military protecting Western European imperial politics. I feel like Unicorn’s writer (Fukui) saw this pattern and really cemented it in. Who knows if Tomino intended much of this though, or Fukui and Tomino ever even met. And I don’t get the impression that the people who really Nazified Zeon in MS IGLOO were ever talking with either Fukui or Tomino.