kidou senkan nadesico 3

First, watching my old Nadesico DVDs is painful for me. Crappy ADV overlays make Ruri cry. Second, if you don’t know what happens in Nadesico 3, go watch the entire series. Immediately. Stop reading this and go watch.



As for episode 3, it’s only one of the top 25 anime episodes of all time with Bebop 5, Kenshin 56-61, and Rozen Maiden 5 also in the top 25. However, the reason for this post goes back to Mai Otome 18 (an episode that won’t make top 25 of anything except maybe “Top 25 Episodes Written by Hungover Sunrise Scriptwriters”) where Kuro and I disagreed on the impact of Aoi’s death. I still consider her “death” (if she really is dead, given Sunrise’s spotty record) a tossaway death like any random marine assigned to SG-1 or any red shirt ensign beaming down with Kirk. Maybe not that throwaway, be definitely not in the same class as Gai’s death in Nadesico 3. For a truly great anime death, I think four things need to take place, and I couldn’t think of another anime death as great as Gai’s in this episode to illustrate:

1. The death must alter the personalities of the cast for the rest of the series. The more people the death effects, the better. For Gai, the whole fricken’ ship was devastated by the loss, with Akito taking it the hardest. He inherits both Gai’s love of Gekigangar, his sense of justice, and his will to fight. Akito’s friendship and his subsequent loss of Gai shapes his demeanor for the rest of the series. Then Gai’s death keeps giving: after Nadesico finally reahes the Jovians, they meet Tsukumo Shiratori, who is a look-a-like to Gai. Not only does he perk up the crew after his arrival, Haruka falls in love with him. But… fateful symmetry strikes and Tsukumo dies pretty much the same way Gai does… except clutching onto Gekigangar PVCs, he’s holding a wedding ring. Gai’s death set the stage for Tsukumo’s, and both dramatically alter the characters that survive and fight on. Of course, everyone is constantly reminded of Gai, especially since a similiar demise occured in Gekigangar. This is a death the effects everyone up until the end of the series and keeps on causing issues, and, in my mind, is what makes it a great anime death.

2. The character must be signficant, and the loss has to be signficant. While Gai has only been in a few episodes, he’s had a much greater impact on Akito than Mwu had on Kira at the start of SEED. For one, it was Gai who lead the Aesti squad, it was Gai who trained Akito, and it was Gai who got the crew addicted to Gekigangar. He had an important role… just like Mwu with Kira… but I viewed him as a Fokker to Akito’s Hunter at the time (since SEED was still, oh, 7 or so years away… damn, I feel old). I didn’t expect Gai to die. I expected him to fight on with Akito, and back when I first watched Nadesico, I never expected his death… and it was a major, “OMFGWTFBBQ” moment as he spoke that famous line and Watashi Rashiku played on. As a naive, fledging fanboy, I was shocked. (When I was typing out the post for Anime Blog Quaility Rating, as I typed out “Nadesico,” I just knew I had to write this post. If anything, for Gai.) The suddenness and shock and awe of Gai’s demise, in my mind, is what makes it a great anime death.

3. The death has to be sudden rather than melodramatic and drawn on. For example, if Megu died on Rozen Maiden, it’s not a complete shock. The poor girl has a fatal heart disease and her only hope for salvation is a piece of junk. Gai, though, died because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He wasn’t a social commentary. He didn’t command pity. He wasn’t saving lives with his death. He was just unlucky. It’s not a fitting end for an l33t Aestivalis pilot to perish… I mean, guys like this… they should die protecting the mothership from a beam cannon blast, shouldn’t they? There’s no honor. No closure. No satisfaction. He didn’t protect anyone. He didn’t save anything. He didn’t die a hero. And that’s probably why it had a huge dramatic effect on me… he was robbed of a hero’s valiant death that we’re all used to seeing, like the kind that has a servant keeping her master’s secret to her grave. There’s nothing melodramatic nor noble of Gai’s death… the death wasn’t designed to invoke pity… the death was designed to drive the story and characters. A plot death rather than a pity death, in my mind, that makes a great anime death.

4. Finally, the dead must stay dead. Nothing cheapens a death than bringing the character back… this is something Sunrise (*cough* Mr. Impossible *cough*) excels at.

“I’m sorry, Miss Nanako, looks like I won’t be able to take you to the beach like I promised.”

11 Responses to “kidou senkan nadesico 3”

  1. I must rewatch Nadesico now! Comparing Aoi’s death to Gai’s death, really is no comparison. Gai was a driving force the entire series, even though his passing occurred in episode 3.

    This post gets 5 out of 5 Gai Super Napalms!!

  2. I was shocked & taken aback, too, when Gai died – and best of all, that’s when watching Nadesico went from “this is an interesting bit of anime history and kind of fun too” to full immersion & commitment. It reverberated. That’s how to make a story stick – the irreversible must happen!

  3. What there was a Nadesico 3? I remeber a Gekiganger 3 but there was only one Nadesico with some sort of movie. At any rate it is true that Gai had a great death if death can be considered “great” in any way… It is true what you say Gai had a realistic death in the sense that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Still I disagree that Aoi’s death was a throw away like you say. It’s been a while since SG-1, but I still remember the red shirts of the days of yore when Shatner wasn’t singing and Nimoy was Spock. Red Shirts died in groups Aoi died alone at the hands of mere animated mortals, not some cheesy special effect or a styrofoam rock. You say Aoi’s death was honorable? She died for what? Protecting a kid that may or may not be the true heir? The same kid that uttered “let them eat candy,” the same kid that has brought misery and despair to to an entire kingdom. A kid that presided over a government that wasn’t even for the people for over a decade, since no parliament means government not by the people. Granted that Gai’s death had a greater effect than Aoi’s. Gai died for nothing Aoi died for something, whether it was honorable or for no good reason is for each veiwer to decide.

    You stated that a “great” anime death should have an effect on the whole cast. What kind of effect do you mean, should the surviors then enter a morass of self pity for an unbearbly long time or should they come to some sort of realizaton of some truth? If the death causes a flood of self pity and self loathing then I don’t think it counts as a “great” death.

    You say that Gai’s death does not beg for pity, but it seems to me that you do pity it by using words like “robbed.”

    In regards to brining back the dead I can think of worse ways to cheapen death.

    -When you were born you cried and the world rejoiced. Live so that when you die you rejoice and the world cries.

  4. Hmm..will hav to rewatch nadesico..
    on a side note though, which arc r u referring to in rurouni kenshin?

  5. Claude…

    56-61 of Rurouni Kenshin was Kenshin vrs. Shishio fight, and the aftermath. Great!

  6. man i miss nadesico , its suh a great anime i put off watching the last 5 eps casue i did not want it to be over and yes i sheeded a tear when it did i do with alot of the animes i like , yes i am a male and yes i cry when anime ends and i lvoe comedy romances and or like AMG! and i am gonna go watch this anime again it was so good and maybe berserk god loved that to

  7. R.I.P Gai

    He was awesome.

  8. You’re right, there’s no comparison between Gai’s and Aoi’s death. Gai was barely introduced at all, and his death was more of an ironic sidekick of the “passionate burning hero” stereotype than something with a serious impact.

    I mean, Jason, get real. He died in episode 3 IIRC. By then, no viewer got to make any serious connection to him. When I watched it, I had a short “wtf, for real?” moment, and I agree that I felt some pang of sadness. And that was it. Let’s move on, people. If anything, this was one more incident of the zany Nadesico humor, but NOT intended to be a scene of real impact.

  9. Mentar, I don’t think it was a zany Nadesico moment. Re-watch the series… it was one of the serious moments of the show and watch how the scene is presented. There’s no joke. It’s definitely a different mood. There’s just Gai, lying on the floor, muttering his favorite line from his favorite anime, and then the ED rolls. His death had a big effect on everyone, and he continues on (like Tupac) after this death.

  10. Jason, I understand what you mean, and maybe I expressed myself poorly. Of course, this moment is delivered in a serious shokku-kind of way. And as I said, it DID make me feel sad too – for a moment.

    My point is that 3 episodes are way too short for a viewer to form a big attachment to a character, at least too short for me. Also, before his death, he was clearly seen as a weirdo and oddball by the rest of the crew with his Genkigangar tick, with the exception of Akiko. Look at how over-the-top it was delivered BEFORE, and then, after, when the Genkigangar cult blossomed more and more. THIS wasn’t serious at all, and THIS is what I referred to with “zany Nadesico humor”.

    Nadesico has many very hard swing-back scenes where a positive-joking-comedy style atmosphere is brutally tossed into hard drama (before it reverts again). But I have difficulties to classify the drama tidbits as high-impact ones, because they are too instant-random and mostly undeveloped (from 0 to 100). If I had to list my personal “best anime deaths”, the Gai scene wouldn’t show at all. Aoi on the other hand might make the top20.

  11. Y’know, this post *MADE* me download Nadesico. I’m still trying to make my brain accept the “WTF!!!-ness” of it for now, or I do wonder if it’s the horribleness of the version I’m watching *coughoverlaycough*.

    Anyways, his death was quite abrupt and unexpected, but he’d still not be on my “Top Anime Death’s” list.

    The beauty of Aoi’s (assumed) death, is how she conducted herself before resigning to the decision to leap off that cliff. By showing her resolute loyalty to Mashiro before she jumped by not revealing her, and with Mashiro watching on in shock as she realises that she’s the cause, it was a great and dramatically done (assumed)death.

    But as for the whole purpose of her death in terms of the whole plot…. yes unfortunately, I *do* agree with you that Sunrise made her (assummed)die quite uselessly.Maybe I didn’t really make it that clear :P.

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