Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

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Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by Fall_Ryan » Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:53 pm

So, this isn't something we see covered much in the Anime, the differences between cultures and people on earth as they stand now seem to have been fairly well bridged under the Earth Federation. How was this achieved? Through education and equality, or through opression? Very little attention is given in the Anime as to where people (on Earth) are from, How exactly did a pale redhead named Rosita end up in South East Asia, for example? Was there a major land re-distribution program that spread various ethnicity across the world as opposed to concentrating them in their homelands?

In 0080, 0083 and Zeta, English signs are used for most things- so is it fair to assume that English is the official or de-facto language of the entire earth sphere? What has become of the other common world languages like Spanish? The whole earth-bound elite thing also begs the question- were the first spacenoids selected by their monetary or criminal status? Certainly the side's seem predominantly Middle Class. (I haven't seen enough of the slums throughout the anime to comment on them.) The Earth seen in MSG is surprisingly rural and low-tech considering the reasons for the exodus to space, why is this?

What is the status of religion? We know the basis of Zeon's nationalism is based upon earth-worship and freeing the earth from human interference. Was part of the reason the EF managed to unite the world under one government a decline in religion? And, are people still proud of their ethnic or national heritage? Is an American still proud to be an American? Is a Texan still proud to be from Texas (and those other, lesser 49 states.) Do the Japanese still act Japanese? Is a Frenchman still a Frenchman and an Englishman an Englishman? Or has the homogenized world government also broken these boundaries?

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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by TheGundamMKII » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:43 pm

Double Zeta touches on this a little, as there is an African independence movement that allies its self with Neo Zeon. They talk about wanting to end domination by Western powers (they refer to all Europeans as Frenchman,) and you also see some practicing Muslims stop for noon day prayers. (though I'm honestly not sure how accurate this portrayal of practicing Islam...)

From the bits and pieces of conversation that comes up between characters across the main series, it sounds like the EF wasn't too selective about who they shot into space. I think some of the old folks who evacuate on White Base grumble about how they were forced to emigrate IIRC.

English does seem to be the common language of the Earth Sphere, since it's the language we see letters and signs written in. (...though sometimes very badly.)

It may be that the inter-mixing in Space makes culture ambiguous at best. Some colonies do seem to be centered around a geographical theme or culture; like Texas and Tigerbaum, but many look very generic.

In short, it's really hard to tell if there is any predominant religion, culture or ethnicity in space. Even less is shown of the Earth, and it seems to me that perhaps the poorest were left on Earth, along with anyone who wasn't forced to emigrate.

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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by reeoyuy » Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:35 am

Fall_Ryan wrote:How exactly did a pale redhead named Rosita end up in South East Asia, for example?
Kiki Rosita is common name for Indonesian or Malaysian. As for pale skin and redhead, I blame it on anime style drawing :P
TheGundamMKII wrote:(though I'm honestly not sure how accurate this portrayal of practicing Islam...)
Not accurate at all. If everyone pray on the street then there's no reason to build a mosque. The prayer call is authentic though.

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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by TheGundamMKII » Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:28 pm

reeoyuy wrote:Not accurate at all. If everyone pray on the street then there's no reason to build a mosque. The prayer call is authentic though.
I'm honestly not surprised.

Well, Gato talks about God being on his side. Perhaps he's a semi-religious man?

I wouldn't say that religion is a total non-player in space or in the UC, but it probably doesn't have the sociopolitical power it does in our time.

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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by Dark Duel » Sat Oct 01, 2011 6:52 pm

I don't know how relevant to the topic at hand it is, but having rewatched Unicorn episode 3 recently, I felt I should mention the conversation between Banagher and Marida in the church at Palau.
Seems that certain elements of the colonies regarded the ideology of Zeon with a sort of religious fervor - Marida refers to it as a "new light that replaced God".
Kind of interesting.
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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by 2NA Fish » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:52 am

Language was brought up briefly in the Zeta novels. One of the spaceships Char is on is called "Tobu", the Japanese word for "Fly"(as in "Fly me to the Moon"), and it's explained that Japanese, just like Eskimo language, is a language unfamiliar to Char. The implication is that Japanese is a rarely spoken language in UC.

Another interesting point in this is that "tobu" is a verb, thus is a rather strange name for a spaceship. You wouldn't call a spaceship or MS something like "Run", or "Eat", or "Destroy".... Destroy Gundam... What a silly name. This could be a jab at people naming things inappropriately in foreign languages that they don't understand.

There's also that episode of First where some Zeon soldiers are spying on the Feds, and one of the Zeon soldiers tells the other one not to talk because his Zeonic accent would give him away. Can't remember which episode it was.

On the subject of religion, am I allowed to bring up Moon Moon? :lol:

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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by TheGundamMKII » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:27 pm

I brought up Tigerbaum, so I suppose you're allowed to bring up Moon Moon. XD

I can't believe I'd forgotten about Banagher and Marida talking in that little church. That would probably be a great example of how religion has changed with the migration to space.

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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by Dark Duel » Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:11 pm

Well, I'd forgotten all about it too, but I rewatched that episode just last week, and being the Marida fanboy that I am, the line stuck in my head for a few days.
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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by Antares » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:27 am

Skirting the obvious ban on religious talk, one could assume that those feeling oppressed might turn to religion for the moral certainties it provides, as Unicorn can be seen to suggest. I suppose the usual lack of religion in the forms we recognize is in part because of the way the Japanese see religion. Also perhaps it is seen as a private thing in Japan. As such, aside from Gundam00, religion is not really brought into the storyline. Vague references to God don't have to speak of a particularly religious overtone in the character in that sense. But we are, as always, free to hypothesize on this. ;)

While UC and CE alike have their respective independence movements, and even in UC I believe the Feddies are more like political (well, partially military) body than anything else. So I would expect that people who belong in the Federation still would identify first and foremost with their immediate surroundings. A person from Dallas is a member of his community, then a citizen of Dallas, then a Texan, and then American, and then finally a Feddie, probably in that order. This is more or less how people are wired and I don't think any Gundam show makes the case that it would change.

Signs in English yet they speak predominantly Japanese. Fancy that. :) Maybe we could chalk it up to "things the production team hasn't really bothered with". Even Babylon5 seems to show English as the de facto lingua franca for business. It's mostly for our convenience. :)
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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by Kyuzo Aoi » Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:11 am

reeoyuy wrote:
Fall_Ryan wrote:How exactly did a pale redhead named Rosita end up in South East Asia, for example?
Kiki Rosita is common name for Indonesian or Malaysian. As for pale skin and redhead, I blame it on anime style drawing :P
TheGundamMKII wrote:(though I'm honestly not sure how accurate this portrayal of practicing Islam...)
Not accurate at all. If everyone pray on the street then there's no reason to build a mosque. The prayer call is authentic though.
More like Rosita is a Filipino surname, and Rosita is a Spanish name/surname, and if you encounter someone with a Spanish surname, chances are she's from the Philippines.

BTW, I say the culture in UC, and in AG {AGE}, world culture is more globalized, yet ethnicity persists. It's the same thing in other Gundam worlds except perhaps in Turn-A.

And I tell you, having a Japanese as the lead guy in a Gundam series like Amuro sells because Gundam is a Japanese show intended for the Japanese audience. Japan has still a healthy dose of patriotism despite World War II. It's the same in America; you wanted an American lead to identify with the target audience.
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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by sweet-d » Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:10 am

I thought Amuro was Canadian and I know his mom is Japanese but I'm not so sure about his dad.
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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by TheGundamMKII » Wed Oct 05, 2011 5:32 pm

Amuro isn't Japanese, at least not in any obvious way.

Many of the main Gundam pilots have dubious ethnicity at best. The only people I can think of who are overtly Japanese are Hayato Kobayashi and Shiro Amada. Koh Uraki probably fits in there as well.

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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by Brave Fencer Kirby » Wed Oct 05, 2011 6:32 pm

Amuro is ethnically half-Japanese. His father is Japanese, but his mother is either American, Canadian, or Mexican, depending on who you ask.
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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by 2NA Fish » Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:56 pm

Back to religion, both Moon Moon and UC seem to point to the idea that as humans migrate to space, they'd create new religions and customs to suit their new environments. We still see new cults and things spring up from time to time, and chances are that won't change after we migrate to space.

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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by Fall_Ryan » Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:57 pm

Thanks for all the replies guys- I kinda drifted away from my own thread for a couple days there. Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny and what not. I'm definitely not current, I have yet to see any of Unicorn, nor have I seen ZZ or much of the TV version of Zeta (did watch the film version). In the Anime, some characters are obvious as to heritage and some aren't. Some I simply imagined as being from one nation or another. Blonde hair and blue eyes makes me see Char and Sayla as descendant from Northern Europe. While for some reason, attitude perhaps, I see Sleggar as a American. Frau? I don't know of anyone that names their child "woman." So I'm at a loss, as with Bright Noa(h?). Was Ryu Jose of chilean descent? (Because Chile has a surprsingly large number of Japanese.)

/that ramble.

I'm going to specifically talk to Antares here-
Skirting the obvious ban on religious talk, one could assume that those feeling oppressed might turn to religion for the moral certainties it provides, as Unicorn can be seen to suggest. I suppose the usual lack of religion in the forms we recognize is in part because of the way the Japanese see religion. Also perhaps it is seen as a private thing in Japan. As such, aside from Gundam00, religion is not really brought into the storyline. Vague references to God don't have to speak of a particularly religious overtone in the character in that sense. But we are, as always, free to hypothesize on this. ;)
Didn't think of a forum ban on relgious speak, don't think it applies either since we're talking about the Anime. Good points about Japanese Attitudes towards religion and how it's a private matter.
While UC and CE alike have their respective independence movements, and even in UC I believe the Feddies are more like political (well, partially military) body than anything else
In the 0080-0083 era (I'm talking when the OVA's were made, not that specific time frame in universe) Federal equipment was marked UNT-SPACY (United Nations of Terra, Space Navy?) , the Doctor that Al talked to worked in a building marked as United Nations, this kind of thing makes me see the Earth Federation as analogous to the United Nations, however the unified military definitely has a singular mindset and culture. It certainly bears no resemblance to the Blue-Helmeted UN Peacekeepers, though it may have before the re-armament after Zeon declared independence.
So I would expect that people who belong in the Federation still would identify first and foremost with their immediate surroundings. A person from Dallas is a member of his community, then a citizen of Dallas, then a Texan, and then American, and then finally a Feddie, probably in that order. This is more or less how people are wired and I don't think any Gundam show makes the case that it would change.

I brought up the Texan thing simply because of how nationalistic (And I mean, considering themselves Texans first, then Americans) they tend to be. :D This isn't something we really see, to my knowledge, in the Anime. But then again it isn't really necessary for an entertaining television show is it? I'm interested in the idea, such as in ZZ with the African Liberation Front, of regional revolutions- either from nationalism or the belief that the Earth Federation as a unifying body was leading the earth to disaster. (It'd be easy to argue that the EF was, in fact leading the people of earth to disaster.)
Signs in English yet they speak predominantly Japanese. Fancy that. :) Maybe we could chalk it up to "things the production team hasn't really bothered with". Even Babylon5 seems to show English as the de facto lingua franca for business. It's mostly for our convenience. :)
But that's the point- for a Japanese audience the show is in Japanese. Average person doesn't want to read subtitles! But, the signage, vending machines, stuff like that were illustrated in english, that to me means that English is the per-dominant language. But it's hard for me to believe that other language would disappear.

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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by Black Knight » Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:41 am

Bright is British.

The UNT Spacy thing is much more a result of the similar markings in Macross, particularly since Kawamori designed the Gundams for 0083.

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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by Antares » Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:17 am

Fall_Ryan said:
I'm interested in the idea, such as in ZZ with the African Liberation Front, of regional revolutions- either from nationalism or the belief that the Earth Federation as a unifying body was leading the earth to disaster. (It'd be easy to argue that the EF was, in fact leading the people of earth to disaster.)
Right. Well, I think all Gundam stories have succumbed to the great power blocs -way of organizing the various political entities on Earth. Gundam00 had a few, CE had a few, UC had a few. Mostly the voices of dissent came when there was a unifying entity like EA in CE ar EF in UC (gotta love them acornyms!) and the actual power rested with a single power bloc. For example the frying of Josh-A in Gundam Seed was massively costly for the Eurasians, while a tactical victory for the Atlantic Federation. So the unifying political structure is often, if not always, seen as a preamble for oppression (Gundam00 Earth Union created A-LAWS).

Admittedly it doesn't look like any Gundam shows gives a particularly optimistic view of a one-world-government. And indeed, in almost all shows EF or EA have been heaping on wars/atrocities by the barrelful (which doesn't mean their adversaries acted all rosy). I don't think the disagreements have been about anything else than power-politics, though.
But, the signage, vending machines, stuff like that were illustrated in english, that to me means that English is the per-dominant language. But it's hard for me to believe that other language would disappear.
I'm hypothesizing again, but I think they production crew settled for English as the lingua franca of signs and so on (not that good English at times), and speak Japanese because, well, it's their show. I don't think the shows actively try to make a stand on establishing a global "common" language. So I don't think they're as such arguing that other languages would have disappeared. No development in our history is showing we're going that way either. You try get away with English outside the city center in e.g. Madrid, and you'll be out of luck mighty fast. And I doubt any degree of European integration will make them speak German or French either. :P

On a separate note, Firefly at least tried to be a bit more original with this idea, combining Mandarin and English into the hybrid "space language of the future". Something like that might be feasible a) as an actual hybrid language between dominant commonly spoken languages and b) as a language used in a TV show that doesn't alienate viewers (who don't like to read). :)
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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by sweet-d » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:25 am

Fall_Ryan wrote: Was Ryu Jose of chilean descent? (Because Chile has a surprsingly large number of Japanese.)
Well I'm not sure if Ryu Jose is of Chilean descent he definitely is of Latin American descent. But he's definitely not Japanese he's black as far I know. Also Sayla found him very attractive. :lol:
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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by Android raptor » Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:44 am

I agree that English is probably the de facto language of government and business, but on a personal and community level I'm sure plenty of languages are spoken in the Universal Century. I wouldn't be surprised if many people in the Gundam world are at least somewhat multilingual. For example, in my nonsense I have Ghinius using English around his subordinates, coworkers, etc, but when speaking privately with Aina or Yuri (or he wishes to curse someone under his breath :P) he uses Russian. That seems to be his implied national background, and if his parents are fairly recently descended from Russia I'm sure they'd teach both that and English to their kids. He probably also knows bits of other languages too based on his education, but that's neither here nor there.

I think Michel Ninorich's letter being in French more or less proves that kind of thing happening is canon.
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Re: Ethnicity, Language, Religion and Nationalism in UC

Post by harotype » Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:06 pm

The WB crew have their backgrounds listed in the official materials, all as "of ~ descent", even for Earthnoids like Bright.

Amuro - Japanese. (obviously much less so than Mirai and Hayato, but he was also born in Japan. I'm not sure if that changes just because they moved his hometown to Prince Rupert in the movies)

Bright - English. yay movies.

Mirai and Hayato, we covered.

Kai - Puerto Rican

Ryu - Argentinean, actually, though that doesn't mean he can't be mixed-race

Frau - German, and it doesn't just mean "Mrs.", it's used to refer to any mature woman as opposed to a(n immature) girl, and also means "wife". make slightly more sense in regards to her relationship with Amuro now?

Sayla - French, and debatable as to whether this is just her cover identity, or true. Zeon Deikun was an Earthnoid after all.

Sleggar isn't covered but he's basically your stereotype, almost caricature of American...

This extends to a slight extent into Zeta with things like Fa being clearly ethnic (though blue-eyed) Chinese and Emma being referred to as... part-Asian and religious in the novels, I think?
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