When talking with a friend of mine recently about heroes, I was reminded of one particular character that I didn’t really like all that much when I first met her, but who I grew to love and respect down the road.
Relena Darlian. A female character that seems rather typical, if a tad spacy, at first. When I watched Gundam Wing for the first time, her ability to ignore a gun pointed at her and address Heero on equal terms was interesting, but I didn’t put much stock in it at the time. And her statements in the movie, such as “hatred will only breed more hatred,” seemed hopelessly cliche to me. And, yes, it is cliche in a way. It seems overly simplistic. But having a few more years to my name I can say with confidence that it is also a hundred percent true.
As I’ve mentioned before, heroes need to be more than people with a mission statement. They need to be able to take all the consequences that come along with that stance. And, say what you will about her love of pink outfits, Relena does just that. Over and over she sticks by her resolve to not take up weapons (she only uses a weapon once near the beginning of the series, but once she decides to drop weapons she never picks them up again), often putting herself in harms way as a result. And she does not force others into her beliefs. Though she denies having weapons of her own in the Sanc kingdom, she allows others, such as the Gundams, to stick by their own methods. Even after her kingdom’s collapse, Relena refuses weapons. She doesn’t hide one on her person to kill the leader of the Romefeller Foundation (although she certainly had the chance to do so). In fact, she only joins the Foundation because her own people were suffering. In other words, she didn’t bat an eye when consequences for her decisions were upon only herself, but she refused to drag others with her uselessly. She later confronts her brother in space and faces the killer of her foster father, all without a single weapon. Again, she had chances to end things. Yet she knew killing was wrong and refused to give up what she thought was right. But even when negotiations failed, she stayed where she was, in harm’s way, doing what little she could.
And, if her character wasn’t clear already, Relena takes her beliefs one step further in the movie. She stands before a pointed gun and states bluntly “I am prepared to die.” Again, on the surface that seems cliche, but think about that. How easy would it have been to stay quiet and stay down? To not stand up? No one would blame her. She couldn’t fight in any normal way, after all. Yet, even though she had no chances to live through the event, she still stood for what she knew to be right. She knew what would likely happen and she had no regrets.
So while it may not have been as cool as piloting a Gundam or dropping a grenade in the middle of the room, Relena is by no means as “girly” as she first appears. In fact, one might even say she had more courage than any other character in the series. Heroism doesn’t always “look cool,” but it’s certainly something to respect and look up to.