Short Answer: Gundam SEED Destiny has three main characters and those are Kira Yamato, Athrun Zala, and Shinn Asuka. Some people might tell you out of bias that it’s Kira Yamato. Some might say that it’s Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala. Some may also say that it’s Shinn Asuka. However, none of them are particularly wrong.
Keep reading to find out why writer Chiaki Morosawa and director Mitsou Fukuda made three main characters instead of one!
To find the answer let’s first have a brief talk about Gundam SEED Destiny and then from there, let’s dive deeper to get the the main reason why there are three main characters.
What is Gundam SEED Destiny about? Is Gundam SEED Destiny a sequel?
Gundam SEED Destiny is the sequel to Gundam SEED but it can also be a stand alone story. There might be bits and pieces that you might miss but it would be easy enough to google them if the show itself doesn’t explain them later on.
In Gundam SEED, the main protagonist was clear. It was Kira Yamato. A character that we meet from episode one. The main antagonist at the start of Gundam SEED was also clear. It was Athrun Zala. Kira Yamato’s childhood friend. However, in the later half of Gundam SEED, Athrun Zala leaves ZAFT and joins Kira Yamato’s cause. The main antagonist of Gundam SEED then becomes Rau Le Creuset, a brilliantly written character who is behind the escalation of the previous war.
Gundam SEED Destiny Summary. Is there a difference from Gundam SEED?
Being a sequel, there are many obvious differences from episode one. Examples include new characters like Shinn Asuka. There are also new Mobile Suits as well as a new PLANT supreme chairman, Gilbert Durandal, who unlike the previous PLANT supreme chairman, is a calm, collected and rational person. The biggest difference of Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny is regarding the main protagonists of the show.
Let’s talk about these characters one by one and why they are main characters of the show.
During the first Earth Alliance – PLANT war, Shinn Asuka was a teenage boy who was living a peaceful life in the neutral country of ORB. However, when ORB became a battle field, his entire family got killed. This event was so traumatic that it broke Shinn. We can see this as in numerous episodes in Gundam SEED Destiny, he is seems as someone who allows his emotions to take control of him. If it weren’t for his outstanding skills, he would have been killed in action by losing his cool, not thinking rationally.
The death of Shinn Asuka’s parents however did give Shinn a reason to join the war. He felt that the war had taken everything from him and that there was nothing left for him, and since he was a Coordinator, he should do his part and join ZAFT and help end the war.
Personality and Beliefs
Even during his introduction in episode one, Shinn is seen as an arrogant character. He does however have the skills and capabilities to back up his arrogance. He is after all a red coat Mobile Suit pilot of ZAFT. Although Shinn may be arrogant, he is not particularly a bad person by heart, and since he has the power to do so, he won’t hesitate sometimes to disobey orders from his superiors or even captain to do as what he deems to be correct at the moment.
For the entirety of Gundam SEED Destiny, we can see that Shinn is still broken from the death of his family as he is often seen lying in bed using his late sister’s phone. He does however receive mental ease from the words of the PLANT supreme chairman, Gilbert Durandal and later in the show, Athrun Zala and Kira Yamato.
Shinn’s story in Gundam SEED Destiny is always there for the most of it. He is a protagonist for the first half of the show along side with Athrun Zala. For the first half of Gundam SEED Destiny, the story revolves around these two characters. Their past, present, and as well as their beliefs. Shinn Asuka, being a member of ZAFT, holds true to the words and ideals of the PLANT supreme chairman. He fights with all his might to bring the war to an end.
As the story goes, Shinn is a character however who cannot see the war for himself. He can only see it as others describe it for him. He is easily persuaded by the words of his comrades and of the chairman. Due to his traumatic past, words of wisdom from Athrun Zala and Rey Za Burrel echo in his heart. However, Athrun’s words are not enough to sway Shinn into making him see the war for himself.
In the second half of Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun Zala betrays ZAFT again, joining forces with Kira Yamato. The story’s main protagonists at this point are now Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala. Making Shinn Asuka the main antagonist along with PLANT Supreme Chairman, Girlbert Durandal. When Athrun betrayed ZAFT, Shinn took that betrayal personally because when Athrun was still a part of ZAFT, he was someone, for a time, that Shinn respected and looked up to, even if the two of them did not see eye to eye most of the time. Shinn took the betrayal personally as he felt he was loosing someone again, this time a comrade.
For the most part of Gundam SEED Destiny, Shinn only fights for ZAFT and for the chairman. Something he does not have that the other main characters have is the ability to think for himself and look deeper at what he really is doing and what he is fighting for.
Athrun Zala is the son of the previous PLANT supreme chairman, Patrick Zala and is a main protagonist in the first half of Gundam SEED Destiny. Unlike Kira and Shinn who are both quite emotional characters, Athrun Zala is a calm and collected. In Gundam SEED Destiny, we see him start off as a body guard for Cagali Yula Athha under the name of Alex Dino. Among the three main characters, Athrun Zala is the one who is more careful about his actions and is the one who uses their head more. However, he is also the one who tends to questions himself more.
In episode 28 of Gundam SEED Destiny, a fight between ZAFT, Earth Forces and ORB happens with ORB siding with the Earth Forces. However, in this fight, the Archangel and the Freedom intervene with the primary objective of only stopping the battle. The Archangel and the Freedom have no intentions of killing anyone but have the full intention of stopping the battle by disabling both sides.
Athrun Zala, being a former ally of the Archangel and Freedom, hesitates in the battlefield. He cannot find it in himself to point his gun at former comrades and current friends. However, being a ZAFT soldier and F.A.I.T.H. member, his actions cause damage to his ship and to his mobile suits. Had he performed at his best, The Minerva might not have sustained as much damage and the Saviour might still be in one piece.
After the fight, Athrun Zala is found by Shinn Asuka sulking on top of the hull of the Minerva. We can see Athrun contemplating the war, the words of Cagali’s father, the words of Gilbert Durandal, the words of his own father, the words of Kira Yamato, and the words of Shinn Asuka as Shinn tells Athrun to pull himself together.
During the first few episodes of Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun Zala is still the same person as he was in the second half of Gundam SEED. In the first episode, we see him siding with Cagali Yula Athha, however, when Junius seven fell on Earth, Athrun Zala’s heart was again unsure on where it belonged and what it is it should fight and protect.
In the first half of Gundam SEED Destiny, we get a lot of episodes where Athrun questions himself on what is the right thing to do. He later decides to join ZAFT again and while fighting for ZAFT, he is seen as someone who is loyal to the cause. Just like Shinn, he joined ZAFT to help bring the war to a quick end. However, when Kira Yamato and the Archangel kept intervening with battles between ZAFT and the Earth Alliance, we can see Athrun Zala being swayed by the words of Kira Yamato.
Later on in Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun Zala realizes the true nature of PLANT supreme chairman Gilbert Durandal and tries to convince Shinn that the chairman is not the man Shinn sees him as. Unable to persuade Shinn and his other comrades, he decides to defect to the terminal. An Organization made up of members of the Clyne faction and other Naturals and Coordinators who share the beliefs of Kira Yamato and Lacus Clyne.
Taking all that into consideration, Athrun Zala, forms his own beliefs as he sees fit along the way. This is one strength he has that the other main characters do not have.
Athrun Zala being shown in episode one up until the end of Gundam SEED Destiny shows significant development along the way. In the first half, we see Athrun as someone who did not want to have anything to do with war anymore. When he was introduced, he was simply a body guard of Cagali Yula Athha and a civilian of ORB. He was not part of any military organization of any country.
However as the story progresses, he joins ZAFT which is also necessary for the growth and development of Shinn Asuka. While serving ZAFT, Athrun takes command of the Mobile Suit pilots of the Minerva. Shinn Asuka does not really like this however he does learn things from Athrun, both skills in fighting and in philosophy.
In the later half of the Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun Zala is the only person who cannot follow orders obediently and quietly. Later when he defects to the terminal, Shinn Asuka receives it as a great shock. However, when Athrun and Shinn meet on the battle field on the last episode, Athrun’s words strike Shinn harder than anything the war could throw at him.
With his mind rattled by Athrun’s words, Shinn began to attack Athrun blindly. However, when Lunamaria decides to block Shinn’s path to Athrun, Shinn does not stop. Athrun’s words shook Shinn so much that he could no longer tell friend from foe during the final battle.
In Gundam SEED, Kira Yamato is the clear protagonist. However, in Gundam SEED Destiny, he isn’t really a protagonist until the later half of the show. In the first half, Kira can be seen as someone who is so tired of war and death that they decide to live in an orphanage near the beach where life is slow and peaceful.
In the first half of Gundam SEED Destiny, Kira was so passive about the current events that he might have not taken action earlier on if an attack on Lacus Clyne was not ordered by the PLANT supreme chairman, Gilbert Durandal. Kira being the ulitimate Coordinator, defeats the assassination team sent for Lacus Clyne. He then decides to be more active regarding the current events of the war.
His decision, along with Captain Ramuis of the Archangel, cause confusion in the battle field. However, being the same Kira Yamato in Gundam SEED, he continues to do what he deems is right. Athrun Zala, who is now a soldier for ZAFT, keeps telling Kira Yamato to leave the battle field, his interventions do not help accomplish anything for either side. Kira simply stops the fight by being an unstoppable force.
In Gundam SEED Destiny, Kira Yamato still believes that Naturals and Coordinators can live in peace. Kira Yamato does have the personality to listen to others but insists on what he believes rather than considering both before coming to a conclusion on what is right.
Sometimes, Kira Yamato’s beliefs on what is right is influenced by his emotions. Although not as emotional as he was in Gundam SEED, Kira Yamato is still an emotional person. I mean any person would be emotional when war time is upon them. However, if you are a Mobile Suit pilot, and you are in battle, it would probably be best to not cloud your mind with your emotions.
An example of Kira Yamato doing something out of emotion is when Kira kidnaps Cagali Yula Athha from her wedding, solely for the reason that it did not seem right with him. Despite Cagali’s reasoning towards Kira, he doesn’t take it into account and the story progresses without the marriage ever happening as Cagali later learns of the true nature and intent of Yuna Roma Seiran and his family.
Although he played the main protagonist in the entirety of Gundam SEED, Kira Yamato’s absence in the first half of Gundam SEED Destiny allows the spotlight to shine more on Shinn Asuka and Athrun Zala. Kira Yamato’s absence also allows growth for Athrun Zala because starting from when Athrun joined forces with Kira Yamato in Gundam SEED Destiny, his actions have always been influenced by Kira Yamato’s beliefs.
In the first half of Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun Zala even visits Kira Yamato on Earth to discuss what he thinks is going to happen and what he thinks of the PLANT supreme chairman. Kira, however, does not give an answer that satisfies Athrun, leading him into joining the ZAFT military.
Although Kira Yamato starts getting screen time at around episode 10 in Gundam SEED Destiny, It is only in the later half of Gundam SEED Destiny when Kira Yamato becomes more active in the war which leads to more growth for Athrun Zala and Shinn Asuka. Even though his interventions allowed Athrun and Shinn to grow as characters, Kira Yamato himself does not show much character growth. He is still the same Kira Yamato we know from the later half of Gundam SEED.
As each of these three characters’ stories affect one another, as well as having significant screen time on the show, and have big roles in the progression of the story of Gundam SEED Destiny, that is the reason why we can say that these three characters, Shinn Asuka, Athrun Zala, and Kira Yamato, are main characters, with Shinn Asuka being a special case as he becomes the antagonist in the later half of Gundam SEED Destiny.
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