Part II  |  Part III  |  Part IV In the duration and post-airing of Destiny, one of the most 'controversial' issues was...

When Destiny Takes Over: Athrun x Cagalli (Part I)

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In the duration and post-airing of Destiny, one of the most 'controversial' issues was the absence of closure to Athrun & Cagalli's story. They were the favoured pairing in the Gundam SEED/Destiny franchise, after all.

GSD aired while I was a teenager and I remember the frustration with. The factors of SEED that appealed to me (romantic relationships between Co-ordinators & Naturals, pacing, plot, etc.) lacked in Destiny. The only up-side for me was the rekindled love for KiraxCagalli.

The following post is dedicated to AsuCaga in Destiny and will contain both opinions & spoilers. Chances are I will be glazing over a few things because I don't want to get into every detail for pace's sake. The remastered edition will be my reference for the most part.

I find this edition had better pacing and insight to their relationship. It also told their story in a rational way instead of the original, which did an injustice to it.

Please keep this in mind before opting to read.

Special Ending Clip

The image above is my favourite of the two. Both look wonderful and at peace with one another. This was how Gundam SEED ended in regards to the two. Following the war, Athrun decided to live with Cagalli in Orb as Alex Dino.

This was the start of problems. Going from Athrun Zala, ZAFT soldier extraordinaire, to a simple bodyguard by the name of Alex Dino was too drastic a change. 

Alex-Dino
Alex Dino

Even if Athrun was showcased as good natured in SEED, I'm 100% sure there was an ego there somewhere. Surely taking the identity of Alex Dino had its reasons but it did not do well for his psyche, especially when Athrun's contributions as a solider would've been more effective. 

He always was a soldier and in regards to skill, he was best at it. The problem with outing himself would most likely have to do with his ZAFT background.

On the other end of the specturm, we have Cagalli Yula Attha, the temperamental daughter of Orb's popular leader, Uzumi Nara Attha.

Cagalli-Yula-Attha
Cagalli Yula Attha

The downside of being a political figure is that one would be incredibly criticized if emotion, such as anger or tears was shown or rash decisions made. In Gundam SEED, these characteristics were unique to Cagalli. 

She had always let others know what she was thinking and lost herself to her emotions. She was a character foil to Lacus Clyne, who always kept her emotions guarded. 

In the aftermath of the war, Athrun and Cagalli stepped out of their comfort zone when they returned to politics- - as Alex Dino and Chief Representative - and tried to make the world a better place. I believe this is significant to why they became the way they did in Destiny: they didn't receive 'downtime' as Kira and Lacus had.

It's important to have a long period of rest following a traumatic incidence.

Most characters were emotionally scarred from this war, namely Kira - as can be seen in the end of the Gundam SEED OVA - and through isolation, he had the time to develop into a confident and mature individual. A large factor to his recovery was Lacus Clyne, who was emotionally strong from the beginning and supported him in the two years prior to Destiny. 

Again, Cagalli and Athrun did not have any of this, especially someone to assist with their inner conflict. It's always difficult to rely on another who is also struggling as a lot of attention is needed. An example of this can be seen with individuals who are fighting Depression.

Asucaga-earth-alliance-attack


The hindrance of such a mindset is being susceptible to manipulation. Unfortunately, both of them encountered this: Athrun in the form of PLANTs' Chairman Gilbert Durandel and Cagalli with the Seiran family. 

In the beginning of the series, Durandel awakened Athrun's inner conflict by saying:
A name reflects its owner's nature. But, what if a name is merely a fake? If something goes by a false name, wouldn't it mean that thing is fake? False by nature? Is that what it would mean? Alex... or is it Athrun Zala?
So it wasn't a surprise when Athrun departed from Orb. Athrun Zala had always been a citizen of PLANTs for the majority of his life. As a soldier, he had many accomplishments. There wasn't much he could do in Orb and felt useless. His father's ideals still lived on in many and the Atlantic Federation placed pressure on PLANTs.

There was hope that he could talk to the Chairman in order to avoid a second war.

This eventually led to Athrun enlisting in the army since Durandel acknowledged Athrun's capabilities. Durandel noticed the confusion in Athrun because at the end of the day, he was only 18 years old and lacked the experience Durandel clearly had, allowing for successful manipulation.

asucaga-remastered


Before he left for the initial talk with Durandel, he gave Cagalli a promise ring. With a cute goodbye (the version in the remastered edition being my favourite), they part, thinking it won't be long until they see one another again. It was a nice wrap up of the episode, showing us a time before their relationship goes through a rigorous path.

Following Athrun's departure, the audience learned Cagalli's resolve wasn't as strong as we hoped. After re-watching the first few episodes and paying attention to the dialogue in Orb's administration meeting, as well as reading The Orb Union's wiki page, I understood that the Seiran family had its own agenda from Uzumi's time. This left Cagalli in a tough spot because debating with all of them needed a strong resolve.

Her arguments weren't successful.

Then came along the controversial wedding, a decision Cagalli reluctantly agreed with.

Cagalli-yuna


I feel she gave in hopes of a better future for Orb, not for personal happiness, obviously. In her letter to Kira, she sounded very hesitant and trapped, not entirely sure what to do. This is what happens when one feels completely alone: bad decisions.

Poor Athrun was shocked after receiving the news.

It was after this episode that many fans joined either Team Cagalli or Team Athrun, blaming either or for events which included the both of them.

I don't think it's either or. Athrun, in episode 8, stated he understood the situation in regards to Yuna but 'doesn't like it'. It was here that I felt both of their priorities were not one another but something else.

In Cagalli's case, it was Orb. All in all, her decisions and inner conflict seemed to revolve around her father and his sudden death, his words constantly echoing in her mind. She hadn't moved on from his death and was overshadowed by his dedication to Orb. He was the only politician to sacrifice himself for his ideals. The pressure for her to do right for the country was tremendous.

For Athrun, it was finding the right path. Even in SEED, his intentions as a soldier were never his own, as Lacus pointed out. It was at the end that he found his motivation. This pattern was repeated in Destiny - I feel he is not what he could be or hadn't reached his potential yet.

Following the wedding, it was fascinating to see Kira becoming Cagalli's rock. Along with love for his sibling, he most likely saw the distressed Kira from two years ago in her, one who was unsure of himself and only joined the war to protect his friends. He was also one of the only ones to be so direct with her, to the point of worrying Lacus.

KiraCaga


Direct was what Cagalli needed and Kira knew it. So from this point on, he become her support and protection as she struggled to resolve treason and conflict.

KiraCaga-hug


Athrun, on the other hand, was completely oblivious to Minerva's departure, Cagalli's wedding and her kidnapping, only to be enlightened by Lunamaria. His reaction was amusing. 



Eventually all of it came together and hearing Freedom being the kidnappers (and breaking international law) gave him a sense of relief...or maybe a bit more confusion as to why Kira joined the fray. There was much he wasn't aware of.

And it is at this point that things truly become unfavourable for Cagalli and Athrun. 

This is where I end the first part as it feels like a natural stopping point. Please look forward to next week's Part II featuring Meer, Meyrin & lack of communication ;)





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2 comments:

  1. Hi there =) Thank you for sharing your analysis on Hibiscus. I must say, you have provided a fairly in-depth analysis about AsuCaga, as well as the series, so far. I look forward to reading more =)

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    1. Thank you for the comment and the compliments =) I just hope this helps the hate I've been seeing recently when it comes to these two ;)

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