When Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury ended earlier this year, it did so by taking a step forward in the franchise’s history that few other series had the chance to make explicit in their own prior examinations of queer love. But after parent company Bandai pushed back on what was, in the show, a textual affirmation, the series’ own director has pushed back in turn to remind us: those women are married, dammit.
Hiroshi Kobayashi, a director who worked on both seasons of Witch From Mercury, made the comments in an included booklet as part of the final volume of the series’ Japanese Blu-ray release.
Kobayashi’s comments, discussing the creation of the epilogue to the show’s final episode (via Automaton Media) explicitly describes that the events between the conclusion of the series and the epilogue see Suletta and Miorine wed each other. “I knew I was going to make an epilogue, but it was a while before I decided upon the exact number of years that should pass in-between,” Kobayashi says. “The ending itself follows [the Shakespeare play] The Tempest, and depicts Suletta and Miorine getting married and becoming partners.”
Once again, it has to be said that this is very clear in the actual episode itself, and not a potential interpretation of subtext. In the epilogue, Miorine is directly referred to as a sister-in-law by Suletta’s sister, Eri, and when Suletta and Miorine reunite in the final moments of the scene, shining silver bands on their respective ring fingers are highlighted with a glimmering sheen to bring them to the audience’s attention. They are intimate and close to each other in their presence, discuss their future together, and conclude the series by going to their home together. It takes an awful lot of bad faith to misconstrue the intent of the scene.
And yet, that’s what makes Kobayashi’s comment, in an officially released piece of merchandise, so important—because Sunrise (née Bandai Namco Filmworks) owners Bandai previously tried to misconstrue that intent. A comment during an interview in the July 2023 issue of Gundam Ace from Suletta’s voice actress, Kana Ichinose, where she referred to Suletta and Miorine as married, was removed from later print runs and a digital transcription of the interview after release at Bandai’s request. At the time, the company described the language used as “based on the speculation of the Gundam Ace editor” rather than an endorsement of the series’ own text.
“We would like you to enjoy the work by leaving it up to each and every one of you who have seen the main story [of Witch From Mercury],” a statement released by Bandai, apologizing for the need to correct the issue released at the time, concluded in part. The controversy prompted a vocal wave of backlash from Witch From Mercury fans from Japan and around the world, who flocked to the social media hashtag “#スレミオ結婚,” or “Sulemio Marriage,” referring to the couple’s ship name, and saw the move as an attempt to censor any official acknowledgement of what is, for now, Gundam’s most prominent queer romance story in the franchise’s four-and-a-half-decade-long history.
There is, somehow, still a chance that Bandai could push back on even this—just because these comments from Kobayashi are included in the official Blu-ray release of Witch From Mercury doesn’t necessarily protect them from being altered after the fact in future print runs. After all, Gundam Ace is an officially licensed Gundam magazine, and the controversy over the summer shows that Bandai was, at least then, willing to go through with this kind of censorship, and could be willing to do so again.
Hopefully the fact that these comments made it to print in the wake of that initial Gundam Ace controversy indicate that Bandai actually listened to the response over its attempts to play down what is still a historic milestone for Gundam—a moment that helped, as the company always hoped for with Witch From Mercury from the moment it was announced, bring the franchise back to a success and prominence at home and abroad it hadn’t seen in a long time.
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