A very disturbing thought was projected onto my person the other night whilst talking with a dear friend of mine over that wondrous program known as ICQ (available at http://www.icq.com I do believe... it's been 3 years since I snagged it. Makes me think I should check for updates one of these days) who shall remain nameless as she'd kick my arse for finding out that I mentioned her as being the driving force behind this roaring, rambunctious flame of an essay. So what you're most likely thinking is, "Andy, just tell us what the hell this disturbing thought that was projected onto your person was." Alright, I'm getting there. Have some patience.
She told me that Quatre was one of Gundam Wing's more worthless secondary characters.
After I'd pried my head out of the nice indentation it had made in my solid oak desk from slamming repeatedly into its surface, I asked her to explain herself. And you want to know what she said? She said, and I quote (via the miracle of copy/paste - but this has been edited for your reading ease), "He's a crybaby who wears pink and a weakling who's Gundam doesn't kick ass. He doesn't know how to fight."
I was stunned. So I did the first thing I could think to do -- I got the hell offline and raced over to W-sama's house to revisit my tapes that she stole from me 3 months ago to watch and see exactly what my dear unnamed idiot of a friend was thinking when she said that horrible statement.
After watching, I came to a realization that there are probably others who think the same. And after browsing a bit online, I found that my sinking suspicion was true. Many people out there think that Quatre's a wuss for many of the same reasons that she gave me.
And, believe it or not, I came to an understanding of why these poor unenlightened people would think this and bypass a wonderful shrine dedicated to Quatre Raberba Winner, one of the most human/most developed/most intriguing/most powerful/most worthwhile characters in Gundam Wing, for a pissy little page about Trieze/Zechs/Wufei coupling that had only one crappy fanfic and 3 low-quality pencil sketches to its name. It's because, well, it's almost kinda understandable if you look upon him shallowly.
Wish me to explain? Then explain I shall. Just bare with me.. this will drip with sarcasm. I'll retort everything later.
1) He's a crybaby.
Alright, so Quatre is undoubtably the single most emotional person in Gundam Wing. He is the only character to have actually come to tears more than 3 times. And, come on! The little tiny things he cries over! His beloved Sandrock, the Gundam he's spent the last 2 years of trials and tribulations with, activating its AI programing to let him off before self-destructing and therefore saving his life?! He sobbed over the sacrifice of a machine. What a wuss! And crying because he's slaughtered thousands of people! Damn, is this guy worthless or what?!? And because he was single-handedly responsible for the supposed death and later on utter amnesia of his best friend! And because he watched his father get smushed and crispily burned into paste! What kind of man cries over little things like that, for god's sake?!?
2) He wears pink.
Well, no matter how many times I've fiddled with the settings on my TV (and on W-sama's TV... she has a big screen... I'm slightly envious. Slighty = equivalent to the slightly in 'The Salton Sea is slightly larger than a puddle'.), that damned shirt has always been pink. So it's true. It's pink. Or, as W-sama says, it's 'rose' or something. I don't know. I didn't know that there's varying shades of pink. I'm a guy. Don't knock me for not knowing that there's actually 45 different shades of pink or something.
3) He's a weakling.
Alright, so this I can actually see and agree with. I mean, come on! How can he be considered as anything less than such? He can't bend bars with his bare hands like Heero Yuy (Hell, I don't think Master O, who's built like a WWII tank could, but that's besides the point. We're talking about Quatre). He has a very, very feminine voice... of course, that can be atributed to the fact that he has a voice ACTRESS. Ai Orikasa did a fabulous job portraying him. Yes, we're talking the original Japanese version, not the American dubbed version which makes me want to hurl into a nearby toilet with what they've done to Quatre, Duo, and Zechs. He has those obnoxiously big eyeballs, too, that take up almost a sixth of his face. And he's very well dressed with ironed kahki pants and dress shirts. Yep yep. No masculinity there. Fuckin’ femenine as hell. Therefore, he must be a weakling, right? Yep yep. Ahem. Yeah. (all you women out there taking offense to this, please don't hurt me... as said, this portion of my essay is in pure sarcasm...)
4) His Gundam doesn't kick ass.
That's the absolute truth. Just check the damned machine stats! I mean, come on... of all the damned Gundams, Sandrock and Heavyarms sucked hard. Wing kicks Sandrock's arse. Zero makes Sandrock reel. Epyon makes Sandrock look comparable to a friggin' Aries. PITIFUL!!!
5) He doesn't know how to fight.
Yep. He doesn't pull a gun on every person he meets growling "Omae o korosou." Nor does he laugh manically and scream, "Come along on a one way journey to Hell!" Nor does he whip a machine gun around and silently blow his target to smithereens. Nor does he scream "NATAKU!" and turn his enemy into shrapnel. He talks a lot. He talks to Dorothy after she skewers him. He talks to those who would oppose him. He asks for those he's facing on a battle field to surrender. So he doesn't know how to fight. Um... 'kay.
AND NOW FOR MY SNAPPY RETORTS!
1) He's a crybaby.
Alright. Quatre is an emotional person, as stated before. However, is it wrong to have emotions? Furthermore, is it wrong to express emotions? Actually, I see this as being one of the biggest faults in the character of Heero Yuy and in Nanashi/Trowa Barton/Triton Bloom. Not having the ability to express your emotions does not succeed in making you a stronger person, but rather hinders your ability to coexist with the world around you. We'll note that both Heero and Triton (sorry, but I prefer to mention him this way when I'm writing essays about GW) have a rather large lacking in the area of friends and followers. Quatre, the emotional twit, on the other hand has 40 soldiers willing to sacrifice themselves for him and the entirety of the political and business world backing him. Alrighty. And why is this? Not for money nor for prestigue to the Maguanac soldiers follow him. IF THEY WERE FOLLOWING HIM FOR THIS, THEY WOULD HAVE FOLLOWED THEIR ORIGINAL PLANS WHEN THEY FIRST TOOK HIM CAPTIVE AND RANSOMED HIM BACK TO HIS FATHER AS A HOSTAGE!!! That's right. They'd captured Quatre and were planning to use him as a bargaining chip for which to deal with his father. Am I lying about this bit of information? No - check out the Episode Zero magna on Quatre. So did they do this? Obviously, NO. And why not? Because he's a human. Because he has emotions. Because he won over their hearts with his very human emotions and the fact that he is able to express himself. Because he's a person and not a machine. So is it really a weakness that Quatre has the PURE ABILITY to express himself through tears? Hardly. Does it make him any less of a man that he cries? Well, let's think about what he cries over. People being slaughtered needlessly in a war that he helped create. His sole companion and steadfast partner through the chaos of war, his Gundam, self-destructing without him. His father being killed by those he so cared about that he gave all he was to protect and serve them without thought to his own person. His best friend being nearly killed at his hands, then losing who he was to memory-loss caused by lack of oxygen and hypothermia from floating in the vast, cold vacuum of space. And now we remember that Quatre is 15 friggin' years old. Ya know, personally, I'm a guy... and it took a helluva lot less than that to get me sobbing at fifteen. I cried over my friends getting killed in a car accident. I cried when my grandfather passed away peacefully in his sleep. So the fact that Quatre has the sheer humanity to shed tears does not make him a wuss, nor does it make him worthless -- it simply proves that he's more caring and more human than nearly anyone else in the entire series.
2) He wears pink.
Well... I can't say much about this one. Maybe the animators ran out of color choices. Maybe they intended to make him look flamboyantly gay so they could make their advertising posters for Blind Target ("Trowa and Quatre's Secret Meaning!" (laughs) Love that ad... so indicative of yaoi suggestions...) and hook him up with Trowa, as Japan is very into the shounen ai thing (shounen ai – literal translation is "Boy’s Love," for those of you uneducated folks out there). Maybe he just likes pink. This has no bearing on making him a worthless secondary character... hell, Tamahome of Fushigi Yuugi has worn much worse (cringes, recalling the Country-western motif they dared to draw him in in the holographic-backed playing cards) but he never has his worth as a lead character or his masculinity challenged. I don't know... maybe it just makes him stand out and get noticed more... yeah.
3) He's a weakling.
Excuse me! He can't be a weakling. Alright, so physically he's not very imposing. Hell, so physically most would be more afraid of a frothy-mouthed chipmunk than Quatre Raberba Winner. BAH! We aren't talking physical strength here. This is not what makes a worthwhile lead character. If that were so, Master O would have been the main character of Gundam Wing, as that guy can probably shove a butter knife through a sheet of Gundanium. We're talking strength of character. And Quatre has that in surpluss. Why do I say this? Well, just look at him! He constantly fights for what he believes for, despite the pressure from his father and his inheritance to not do so. He sees his views as correct, and NEVER deviates from them. NEVER. If my Dad were to tell me to quit doing what I was doing and were half as serious as Winner-sama was with Quatre, I'd drop whatever I was holding and beg forgiveness. But Quatre doesn't do this. And Quatre's going stright opposite of the direction his father wishes him to take. Instead of following the righteous path of pacifism to achieve peace, Quatre chooses instead to fight to bring about peace. And despite everyone fighting against him to change his direction, he doesn't do so. AND THERE'S MORE! I'm not finished yet. Let's also look at the fact that Quatre hates killing, hates fighting, and generally hates the idea of anyone being in misery (this also affects him not upon the level of being an emotional human but also as being a newtype, hypersensitive to the psychowave patterns around him that carry the emotional status and wellbeing of those within his vicinity... but that's covered in the Newtype essay). Yet after every defeat and humiliation that's handed to him, after every murder and battle, after every scream of hatred that's thrown in his face, he gets back up out of the dust with a slight smile on his face and keeps his innocent belief that this will all end favorably in the end. THIS IS NOT WEAKNESS. This is the most incredible strength that a human being can have.
4) His Gundam doesn't kick ass.
This statement is completely true. In comparison to the rest of the Gundams in Gundam W, Sandrock and Sandrock Kai are right along Heavyarms and Heavyarms Kai in having the weakest overall stats of all the Gundam-crafted mobil suits. Hell, the Virgos are actually nearly equivalent to Sandrock. But since when does the strength of the machine reflect the strength of the pilot? Personally, I see the fact that Quatre, with the less maneuverable/less fighting-capable/less quick Gundam Sandrock, is able to keep up with Wing Zero, Deathscythe Hell and Altron which are FAR SUPERIOR to Sandrock in EVERY fashion save armory, that this shows that he is, in fact, a FAR SUPERIOR pilot to all others. If you don't believe me, then you need to rewatch the few eps when Quatre got himself into a MS other than Sandrock. Do we remember Wing Zero? I remember Wing Zero. I remember Wing Zero taking out scores of MDs by itself. I remember Wing Zero obliterating colonies without a problem. I remember Wing Zero easily staying on par with BOTH Vayate and Mercurious, which were piloted by the "indominable" Heero Yuy and Triton Bloom. I remember that the only reason Mercurious got CLOSE to Wing Zero was because Quatre was watching Vayate slowly gear up for explosion and panicing over Triton's state. I remember that Wing Zero was STILL able to EASILY shake Mercurious off when Heero had him pinned. Now let's remember the Mercurious verses Wing Zero when Heero was taken over by the Zero system. I remember that Mercurious had ONE ARM. And Quatre was STILL able to battle Heero, who was in a PERFECTLY REPAIRED WING ZERO, on EQUAL GROUND! This screams "Ye holy sh*tballs, Quatre's one helluva pilot" to me. Thus, is he weak and worthless? Heeeeeeeeell no. The fact that he's able to pull HALF of the crap he pulls with his mechanically inferior Sandrock proves that he's anything but.
5) He doesn't know how to fight.
If everything I've pointed out before this point doesn't prove that he indeed is one of the BEST fighters amongst the Gundam W crew, I can't help you in realizing that he does. The reason he talks is that he DOESN'T WANT TO FIGHT. He wishes for peace. And he'd much rather have a peaceful solution than having to systematically turn every enemy mech he encounters into sparkling confetti. He'd much rather have an enemy surrender than having to take more lives. This is not weakness, nor is it inability to fight. This is strength and an unwillingness to fight, decreeing that instead of leaping mindlessly into battle like all of his companions that he should instead seek to end a conflict before it begins by peacefully finding an alternative to guns and destruction. He knows how to fight. He simply doesn't want to.
If Quatre were a worthless secondary character and thus unnecessary to the plot, he would have been removed early in the series or not have received as much air time as he got. His airtime is approximately equivalent with Heero's. Also, if he were a worthless and weak secondary character, he wouldn't have been the single most prominent character (and center of the storyline) in the Blind Target magna series.
Why Quatre needed to be present and thus couldn't be discarded as an unnecessary secondary character:
If Quatre weren't present, Dorothy would never have relinquished her battle-happy heart and would have striven to continue the Eve War with all the materials that were still present for the WF to utilize.
If Quatre weren't present, the Gundam Boys would never have teamed up to defeat the WF MDs.
If Quatre weren't present, Triton would never have regained his memories, nor would Triton have ever escaped the Zero system.
If Quatre weren't present, Heero would never have been broken out of the Zero system.
If Quatre weren't present, Wing Zero and the Zero system would never have been built (remember - HE BUILT THEM! From the blueprints on the Winner family's computer system that were left there by Instructor H!)
If Quatre weren't present, the Gundam team would never have blasted back into space.
If Quatre weren't present, Trowa may have never joined with everyone else.
If Quatre weren't present, there may have very well been no end to the Operation Meteor/OZ/Romefeller/Eve War. Indeed, it may have never began, and Operation Meteor may have proceeded as planned -- a wretched end for earth and the colonies!
A worthless secondary character? Hardly. If nothing else, Quatre Raberba Winner was one of the most necessary and foremost lead characters of the entire series.