Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives. He also has a martial arts background.
I could spend all day bragging how the Gundam franchise contributed much, not just to the anime world, but to pop culture as well. But we could all agree that it crawls with unexplained oddities as well. It’s an anime after at all, so expect a lot of weirdness in the show. The thing here is that a lot of erratic moments in Gundam seem to mean nothing. In anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion, and in some underrated series like Ergo Proxy, unique, strange and unsettling imageries have deeper meaning, even their suggestive scenes. Though in the case of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Hideaki Anno admitted that religious symbols in his series are just there for show.
And going back to the Gundam universe, we see female soldiers taking on a fully armed mobile suit in revealing bikinis, an underage pilot being assaulted by a naked officer in the bath, a suicidal child soldier giving death threats to his admirer, adult scenes that offered no development to the show, plus much more. The villains even have strange kinks themselves.
Again, the problem with those oddities is that they have no meaning, symbolisms or anything that will add depth to their series. At some point, people noted that they were the just results of an angry Tomino, or just fanservices. And just to show you how weird things could get, unfortunate pilots in the series were chosen to don female attire. The fans are divided if they will laugh or not.
The World of Traps
Crossdressing, from western shows, Saturday morning cartoons to Japanese anime is always done as a comedic act. People simply find straight guys running around in skirts as funny. It was the staple of Looney Tunes, with Bugs Bunny dressing up to fool and make fun of his adversaries.
Japanese anime gave a different twist.
Crossdressing is always regarded as funny, but it gave birth to what fans know as “traps”. You know, those guys that dressed up so well that no one will suspect that they are guys until they strip-down. And the fans felt “trapped” or fooled. Good examples are Hime Arikawa from Himegoto and Noriko from Fushigi Yugi.
Overall, it’s hard to take crossdressing in Anime seriously, as they are meant for comedic effects. Mostly, crossdressing are the stuffs of light hearted anime. And guys running around in skirts are hard to digest if we see them in serious and drama filled series.
With Mobile Fighter G as an exception, the Gundam series are all about violence, drama, and with less humor. The series was meant to taken seriously, sort of to bring out its anti-war message. But again, random scenes that induced fits of laughter made us question such seriousness. What the hell are they thinking when they made them dress up?
Judau's Clandestine Mission
It all began in the U.C. era, when a bloke Judau made that scene.
Compared to other Gundam protagonists of that period, Judau wasn’t a hero figure. Nothing special could be said on this guy, except that he is Judau. He worked as a junk dealer to give her sister a better life, and many times he attempted to steal the Zeta Gundam. Eventually he became a remarkable mobile suit pilot, and his life made a turn for the better. In fact, his newtype power was comparable to Char Aznable.
But my friend joked that he was best remembered not through his piloting skills, but during that bizarre infiltrating scene. He was tasked infiltrate Tigerbaum, but no one must recognize him. Hence to hide his identity, he donned his infamous disguise. A pair of fake b***s, a tight-fitting dress, and wig. In short, he dressed up as a girl for the commando operation.
Tomino, the maker of the Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ could have chosen a more appropriate disguise for our 14-year-old boy. Instead, they made him look like an underage, but busty girl. But then, Judau was tasked to enter an abode filled with perverted colony leader. Hence disguising yourself as a trap made sense. We have to admit that the disguise was pretty convincing, and officially he was the first trap in the Gundam universe. It was just hard to unsee the image of Judau in wig and dress, while wielding a submachine gun.
And in the end, the scene was meant for gimmicks, nothing deep or meaningful.
Loran in Gown
Until Gundam 00 came out, the already girlish Loran had earned a notoriety among the Gundam fandom. Loran herself was an antithesis of a traditional Gundam pilot. Turn A Gundam gave us a less emotional lead character, which was miles away from the UC era pilots. And this was the 90s, when overly macho and brutal characters came out ranging from Domon, to Heero. Even Garrod himself was known for his own brand of machismo. And here we have Turn A, presenting a dude that looks like a lady!
Well, that was Loran Cehack’s selling point. He was unique for being the most girlish Gundam pilot (until the fans saw Gundam 00). And if being girlish is not enough, we saw Loran in gown and becoming his alter ego Ms. Laura.
That episode became a legend, and it earned itself a place in the Gundam history. It Judau was the first Gundam trap, Loran was the best girl. Many fans joked that Loran was even prettier than previous Gundam girls. And they are not lying. Again, we are not sure what went inside the head of Tomino when he made Loran wear a dress. But then, Tomino was also responsible for giving us the crossdressing Judau, and it was probably a reference to Gundam ZZ. And believe me, Tomino wasn't having tantrums back then.
Loran was the queen for some years. Until the fans saw something bigger.
Tieria, the Biggest Trap
Gundam 00 was the homage to the somewhat action filled Gundam Wing. After the emotional Gundam SEED/SEED Destiny, seeing a series with more booms and brawls was a breath of fresh air. And like Gundam Wing, the show featured a large cast of bishounens. And one of them was so pretty, that fans questioned his gender. But then, Innovades were meant to be genderless.
For the fans, it was official. Tieria Erde just wrestled the best girl title from Loran. And like Loran, Tieria was prettier than previous Gundam girl (eat your heart out, Lacus), and he even beat the busty Gundam 00 ladies. Just to balance his character, Tieria was made to be stoic, selfish, and somewhat brutal, complete with masculine voice just to make him manlier. It only turned him into male version of a tsundere, especially to Setsuna.
And then came the unforgettable episode, when fans caught him dancing in revealing dress, complete with realistic looking b***s. Fans went head over heels out of laughing, as they never expected such scene from a supposedly serious anime. Obviously, the crossdressing episode earned its place in the Gundam lore, and people probably remembered Tieria not for being a pilot, but because of the fateful night.
And of course, no one was sure why the people of Gundam 00 did that. We have a feeling that it got to do with female fan service.