Mamerto Adan is a feature writer who is back in college once again. Science is one of his many interests and his favorite topic.
In the Gundam franchise, SEED and IBO were known by their love-hate relationships among fans. The disdain for IBO deserved a separate piece, but the hate on SEED is understandable. To be fair, Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny are great series, and terrible at the same time. Sure, it got great character stories and suit designs, but the SEED/SEED Destiny prose is not for everyone. I thought it was overly emotional, up to the point that characters became irrational with their actions. And I think it got a bad mix of drama and action, where one overpowers the other.
Then, there is the plot armor.
Yes, we all know it. The main character Kira Yamato kept flexing his invincibility throughout the show, from surviving a high temperature re-entry, escaping an explosive murder attempt by his friend, to rising from the wreckage of his nuked vehicle after being skewered by the crazy Shinn. Most of the time, we all want our hero to survive until the end of a story, but I got to admit that a glorious end is preferable than illogical survival. An overly invincible protagonist is simply a turn-off to fans who want to connect with a more human hero. But I do wonder sometimes if Kira’s reputation of being overpowered is really deserved, as plot armors were celebrated traditions in most shows. After all, we need a larger-than-life hero. Making the protagonist too vulnerable could also turn off fans. Hence, we skimmed the Gundam universe for guys and girls who displayed unusual resiliency and checked if they got thicker plot armors than our boy Kira.
Kira’s Invincibility Revisited
Before everything else, let’s do a quick recap on how Kira defied the Grimm Reaper many times. During the first few episode of Gundam SEED, it was made clear that Kira Yamato was someone special. Being a genetically engineered Coordinator meant he has enhanced human capability unlike the Average Joes. This explained how he survived being fried alive in his suit during the heat of the reentry.
Fans could understand that, but as the show moved on, they were left confused on to what extent being a Coordinator made him invincible. He ended up surviving lethal encounters that killed his fellow Coordinators without suffering lasting damages. I mean he came out with just minor injuries from two mobile suit explosions!
And did I mentioned that despite having no military trainings, he could match other battle-hardened Coordinators in a mobile suit duel?
Special Mention; Lady Une and the Bratty Mariemaia
The plight of these two Wing princesses deserves a special mention, as their lucky escape from death could happened in real life.
Lady Une is an imposing woman. She basically redefined what being a meganeko is by discarding the cute and innocent demeanor and adopting a ruthless persona. During the start of the Wing series, bodies fell-down once you gave her a pistol. I mean just look at what she did at Relene’s adopted father? And she also pushed a man from a plane before shooting him and threatened to blow a whole colony. She did have a change of heart, and saved the Wing pilots from asphyxiation, but she got caught and paid for it. The girl was cornered and got shot in the b***, with the bullet exiting her back.
Fast forward to Endless Waltz and we have this annoying kid that so reminded me of some millennials. Mariemaia was sold as Treize’s daughter to the public by that old psycho Dekim. In the events of the Endless Walts, they managed to execute a smooth occupation of Earth, until the Gundams appeared with Wing Zero blowing their shelter. After receiving an all-powerful and enlightening Bright slap from Relene, Mariemaia came to her senses, but she got shot when she saved Relene from Dekim.
Somehow, Mariamaia reminded me of Une in many ways, which explains why she ended up in her custody by the end of Endless Walts. And both survived life-threatening injuries that could easily send a person in the morgue. After she was shot, Une went into a coma, only to awaken with no lasting harm. Mariemaia on the other hand recovered quicker, and she only needed a ride in a wheelchair.
In real life, their injuries are survivable given that there is a quick and competent medical attention, and a lot of luck (if the bullet missed an organ). But in the case of Une, she just walked away from the hospital fully recovered, and even flew with Wing Gundam to space. And maybe the script simply called for Mariemaia to live despite that seemingly fatal gunshot wound she got.
The Immortal Patrick Colasour
Surely this list won’t be complete without a guy with an active plot armor as part of his character. I just notice that Patrick Colasour’s main role in the Gundam 00 universe is to serve as a jobber for Celestial Beings and other more competent pilots. To make the big boys look good, they provided a loud, egoistic, womanizing, and dimwitted adversary to beat up, and Patrick played his role well. Getting creamed by Setsuna in the first episode was just the start. Throughout the series, he kept losing major engagements against Celestial Beings, Innovators and ELS, but what’s amazing here was his ability to stay alive. He managed to survive getting shutdown, and being blown, thus earning him the somewhat sarcastic nickname “The Immortal Colasour.”
Obviously, if you want a sparring partner for more dangerous characters, you need an indestructible lad. That’s probably the reason why he was granted the honor to wear the plot armor, while the fans never minded it. Again, the plot armor is part of his character, plus he is more likeable than Kira and we need a side story with him in the lead.
The “Unstoppable” Maganac Forces
In the Gundam world, the mysterious and otherworldly protection of the Plot Armor will activate if a protagonist will hijack a low-class grunt suit and bring it to battle. And suddenly, this suit will become more durable than usual, up to a point where it could wreck more advance suits.
But you probably never heard of overpowered grunt suits, until you see the Wing series.
Yes, Wing again. Plot armor is a usual occurrence in the Gundam world, but Wing is a possible heavy user. Gundam SEED’s Astray is an advanced grunt suit, but throughout the series, it was never presented as overly powerful. Just ask the chicks who got roasted alive when their Astray got shot. But in the Wing series, we got a squad of unusually powerful mecha unit that put the mobile dolls to shame.
What’s great about being Quattre Winner is that he is wealthy enough to own a private army. And he must have overflowing funds to afford such talented pilots and durable suits. And those WMS-03 Maganac suits are indeed durable. They are robust enough to withstand the harsh desert environment, and even surpassed the Leo in performance. Each Maganac suit are customized, but I kind of wonder to what extent these suits were enhanced. The Corps now counts as the most overpowered private army in the Gundam World that will make the Tekkadan cry. They never suffered casualties, and we later saw them giving the more advanced mobile dolls a run for their money.
But again, maybe Quattre has a well-funded R&D that helped with the suit improvement. Or his army was genetically enhanced, or they are just lucky to have Sandrock in the lead. But what’s sure here is with an overpowered private unit watching his back, Quattre never needed the other Wing boys anyway.
Shiro Amada, the Man with the Ball
And back then before the Wing and the SEED, the Gundam world was already flexing its plot armor when a pilot defeats a Zaku, with a Ball.
The RB-79K Ball Type K wasn’t anyone’s idea of an effective mobile weapon, and it wasn’t meant to. But somehow Shiro Amada used one to bring down a Zaku. He was saving a GM pilot Terry Sanders Jr, and a Zaku was on the way, but with nothing but Ball, that Zaku became history. His Ball ended up wrecked but Shiro escaped.
Okay, Shiro Amada was the lead character of a highly realistic Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team. Realistic, in a sense that it’s more real than most of the series, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t prone to plot armors (as the Ball encounter showed). Shiro was presented as skilled soldier and had a knack for improvisation. So good that one scene showed him dodging a canon fire before firing back with his launcher. Fast forward to Gundam 00, a blast from a mobile suit rifle has enough force of a bomb, and Shiro should have been incapacitated by that missed shot. But again, with a plot armor in your arsenal, you could surely catch a grenade and live another day.
Andrew Waltfeld, the Wolverine knockoff.
My first reaction when I saw Andrew Waltfeld is that “hey it’s Hugh Jackman!” And seems that he also has an extreme healing factor. His skills as a soldier in the desert earned him the nickname “Desert Tiger”. His unit of choice was the agile LaGOWE, a beastly suit that he piloted with his lover Aisha. But He should realize that bringing your sweetheart with you in the battlefield was always a bad idea, as there is a strong chance that you may not see each other again. And this became clear when they encountered Kira in his Strike Gundam. The overpowered Kira in his plot armor was a terrible omen from the start, but they proceeded to fight him and got blown in the end. We thought that Andrew was history, until he rose from the dead to join the fight with Lacus Clyne.
Now, how he survived his exploding unit was anyone’s guest. Before his machine blew, he was last seen hugging his sweetheart Aisha, and how come he stayed in one piece as his lover became history? The scene was probably an omen to the fans, that up ahead they will see more absurd plot armor in SEED.
Mu La Flaga, the Second Kira
And here’s another unexplained survivor of vehicular explosion. It seems like the creator of SEED had a fetish for blowing things up, as we saw a lot of unfortunate souls being reduced to atoms. Many got blown, but only few resurrected. But as the pretty girls of the Astray Gundams perished in their units, one man suffered a similar fate, but mysteriously survived.
One could only ask “why” or “how”. Make no mistake about it, Mu was a great character, and many fans saw his sacrifice in the end of SEED as heroic. But if his suit got wrecked, with his helmet floating in the debris, how did he survived and stayed in one piece. That deadly beam won’t just injure, it will incinerate.
Plot armor really does strange things in the series, though in the end it sounds laughable rather than impressive.
Heero the Masochist
Gundam Wing might be a heavy user of plot armor, but SEED/SEED Destiny were masters of impossible escapes. Going back to Wing, the preferred form of survival here is from severe physical injuries. Lady Une survived a deadly chest trauma, but that was nothing compared to the superhuman ability of Heero Yuy. It was implied that Heero had great physical stamina, even though he was not exactly an enhanced human. And he had a penchant for falling from great heights, like how he survived a drop from a building and mended his broken bone himself. But his unmistakable display of plot armor was when he self-destructed his Wing Gundam, got thrown, suffered head injuries and several broken bones, but came out completely healed after a few episodes.
And an exploding machine the size of a Gundam won’t just throw you away.
The force of the blast will rip you apart. You will be peppered by shrapnel and there is no way anyone will walk out alive from such a drop.
But since he is the lead character, the plot armor always come in handy. Unfortunately, Mikazuki never had the honor.
But Kira Still Beats them All
We have seen it all, from gunshot victims, to surviving a free fall. But still they can’t beat Kira’s feat of getting out alive from two explosions. It seems that their absurd survival skills pales in comparison with Kira’s epic plot armor. Exaggerated is the main word here.
And in the end, Kira’s reputation of being absurdly hard to kill was well deserved. And yes, it never made SEED and SEED Destiny look good to the fandom either.