Part two of my thoughts on Witch from Mercury as Blue and I watch it together for the first time. If you haven’t watched it, beware: there be spoilers in these parts.
So about the squashed tomato…
If you remember, at the end of my One Shade of Grey video about Bandai Namco, I ended with the joke of me shouting, “Suletta! What did you DO?!” I wrote this because I was spoiled to the after-credits scene in episode 12 by proxy of Gundam fans on Twitter. However, I had zero context for why this was such a harrowing moment– I mean, it’s not even the first brutal death by a mobile suit’s hand that I’ve seen. I worried that it might lose some of its weight by the time I got to it, knowing it’s coming.
I was wrong.
If anything, I think the suspense of how we would eventually get to that point made it worse. It felt like I was watching a train about to derail and was unable to stop it. As Lady Prospera’s motivations and intentions became clearer, I could tell why the tomato paste scene was going to hurt. And it didn’t hurt any less when it finally happened.
The show has symbolism speckled throughout, some of it more obvious than others. I often wondered when Miorine was shown caring for tomatoes, specifically, if that was meant to be some sort of precursor for the exact way that someone met their end in the season’s closing moments– if the red paste explosion would lead to her retreating from her vegetables of choice. If her reaction to Suletta’s actions is any indicator, I think that’s definitely going to happen in season two.
But the canyon is wide between Miorine’s and Suletta’s reactions to this pivotal moment. Suletta is carefree to the point of being a sociopath, while Miorine is so traumatized that you’d think she hadn’t just seen the attempted murder on her father and the deaths of others around her before this. Not that anyone’s reaction to death in real time follows a strict adherence to some unspoken expectation, but both girls seem to be outside the bounds of what’s expected. Miorine’s reaction in particular strikes me as odd, though, considering that this school she goes to centers itself around the maintenance, development and use of mobile suits in a combat sense. And, again, I can’t state this clearly enough: she just saw someone attempt to murder her father, tried to bandage his wounds, then saw someone else attempt to murder her father and also her.
Suletta, on the other hand…
Prospera f***ed her daughter up.
I mentioned this before, but I could tell that Prospera wasn’t the Mother of the Year candidate she seemed to be. While that’s not exactly a startling take, the question of how Prospera’s dark side would eventually manifest is still (much like the tomato explosion since I knew about it in advance) suspenseful.
Because we saw her as Elnora in the prologue episode, we’re led to believe that her vengeance– the reason why she hides behind her mask– is separate from and even on behalf of Suletta. In many similarly structured shows, we’d likely be on a one-way track to the inevitable conflict between the parental figure wanting to do war crimes and the still-young-and-sheltered protagonist fighting back. But I don’t think that’s what this show is going for. At least, not in a traditional sense.
See, Suletta loves her mother, and she loves Aerial. She treats them both like family. Like equal members of the family. And while that makes sense for a four year-old, it comes off as rather… unhinged in a sixteen year-old. We’re frequently shown that Suletta isn’t well adjusted socially, so that tracks, but the fact that Prospera– her mother— never puts any effort into dispelling that notion makes it clear that she believes it, too. When she says “both my daughters” in reference to her flesh and blood creation and her mechanical creation, as equals, it’s not to appease Suletta. Suletta learned it from her.
When Prospera says that she “would never leave you,” the camera has her facing Aerial for a reason. While I don’t know what her plot is just yet, I’m confident in saying that Aerial is her true “daughter” in an emotional sense. Not Suletta. After episodes 11 & 12, Prospera has really given me Gendo Ikari vibes, and I’m starting to wonder after ruminating on the show for a bit if that’s intentional: if her sweet, understanding and supportive facade is just the motherly opposite of Gendo’s role as an uncaring and pragmatic father figure for Shinji. (…Oh my God is there a human being in Aerial??)
Evangelion references aside, the heartbreaking ending for me isn’t the hand slap. It’s the step into blood that Suletta takes, both figuratively and literally. The poor girl witnesses real death in real time, and while her mother DID save her, she didn’t console her like a mother. She manipulated her. I don’t think any of this is by coincidence or lack of communication. Prospera said what she needed to say to push Suletta into the role of a killer that she needed her to be. Because let’s not forget: she wants Miorine’s father dead, too. She’s not a part of this plot to assassinate him, but she’s absolutely using the Aerial– and her real, actual daughter– as a means to that end.
She did, after all, simply point at enemies on a screen and end their lives at just four years old. I think Prospera understands something about her connection to Aerial that we don’t yet, and much like how Shinji Ikari was the only one who could pilot Unit 1, Suletta, for whatever reason, is the only one who can pilot Aerial to its full potential. (Gasp! Eri! Aerial! How did I not notice that until typing this paragraph?) The way that her playful attitude with blood literally on her hands mirrors her four year-old self it gut wrenching. That kills me much more than the hand splat itself.
I like Miorine now.
In the first six episodes, I honestly wasn’t sure if I even liked the show’s deuteragonist. Part of it was that Blue and I weren’t sold on her dub casting. (Blue’s first response after hearing it was, “Yep, that sure is the “I’m the serious girl” voice!”) But after she’s had more time to shine and let us see past her rough exterior to an even rougher interior, I’ve decided I actually like her a lot.
Her strengths don’t lie in anything that aids in combat. At least, directly. Her talents for managing, planning and acquiring knowledge that had been alluded to in episodes before finally bring some results in the fundraising ball. And they continue to shine as she takes on the task of creating Gund-Arm Inc. I think the visual of her and Suletta covered in spray paint is an important cue to Miorine’s conviction: she’s often portrayed as above the happenings at this school, what with her desire to leave for Earth and/or just grow her tomatoes and tell people to shove it. That one little scene hammers it home that she understands the task ahead of her, accepts the challenge, and takes ownership of it. Literally, yes, but figuratively, too. She’s no damsel in distress.
That’s what makes it so painful when she unwittingly sends Suletta spiraling over a feeling of no longer being needed. In Miorine’s mind– pragmatic, logical and forward-focused– she realizes that she can’t depend on Suletta as much as she has been up to this point. She delegates, remains diligent, and is too distracted by her goals to realize that Suletta is hurting. Suletta, meanwhile, is too insecure and too poorly adjusted to social norms to say what’s hurting her out loud.
That entire episode made me so sad, guys.
War is coming.
I don’t know a single thing about season two besides the fact that the show is only two seasons long. So it’s not exactly a stretch to assume that we won’t be going back to the comfort of the school setting much in the coming episodes. I think that episode 12 was the point of no return. The murder attempt on Miorine’s dad (whom I can’t remember the name of and I’m not looking it up to avoid accidental spoilers), the disparity in Miorine’s and Suletta’s reactions to Suletta’s first (teenage) kill, Nika’s betrayal and getting caught, the building tension between Earth and Space, Guel’s whole arc culminating in killing his dad, and whatever the f*** Prospera is planning, all of it leaves the narrative momentum moving forward, and a daily school setting just doesn’t work for that.
I want to know what has Earth and Space hating each other. (The fact that Earth uses bullets and Space doesn’t is a neat detail, too. Space needs to use their resources to survive in space; Earth has, like, air and land and stuff.) I want to know what Elan’s plan is. I want to know what they’re building up to with Guel– I didn’t even stop to talk about him because there was too much else in the show I liked. But damn was that last fight of his brutal. Now I feel kind of bad for hating the guy before.
And I’m itching to know how Prospera will become the antagonist. I just… feel like she has to. Miroine’s father stopped being the antagonist the moment he gave his daughter his blessing for the company. The other figures who tried to off him clearly have goals in mind, but none of them are central characters important to both of our protagonists except Prospera. She has to become the primary antagonist, right?
I feel like there were a lot of little things I wanted to talk about while watching the show, but the jam-packed finale has me forgetting a lot of the smaller details in favor of broader strokes. So I’m just gonna bullet point some stuff I remember:
- Miorine chasing her groom down Scooby-Doo style in low gravity before punching her in the gut.
- “Suletta forgetta.” She finally felt comfortable enough to joke with the gang. That’s so goddamn heartwarming. Character growth!
- The legs Suletta crouched on with a helmet on; God, why is she so adorable.
- The genuine misdirection when the show built up to Guel’s comeback, with Team Earthian needing a pilot and him just happening to bump into Suletta… only for him to decline. You cheeky show writers, you.
- Nika being the heart of the team who seems to understand everyone on an empathetic level, contrasted by her obligation to Shaddiq to help in what turned out to be a violent assassination attempt that nearly got all her friends killed.
- Oh, also, f*** Shaddiq. Bitch stole Azura’s hairdo and I hate him.
- New Elan? You suck so much more than old Elan.
- F*** you too.
- Prospera taking off her arm and presenting it to Suletta as a display of “what you understand doesn’t scare you, but what they don’t understand does”. In a vacuum, that’s a very sweet moment, but it’s lived rent-free in my head because I feel like under the surface that scene is trying to tell me something else about Prospera’s warped world view. Considering she treats a mechanical construction as her ‘daughter’, is her ‘arm’ meant to signify something…? Is this just Bionic Commando?
- Seriously I feel like I should talk about Guel more. Why am I not talking about him more. Dude killed his dad.
Of COURSE a miscommunication makes them sad.
None of these characters are gonna be allowed to be happy in season two, are they?