The Lady and the Unicorn

While watching Gundam Unicorn, I felt a some fantasy vibes concerning the Laplace Box, and The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry. From a universe that is decidedly hard sci-fi, the Laplace Box seems to possess a power that could only be described as magical, while the tapestry is oddly prophetic.

À Mon Seul Désir

This tapestry is wider than the others, and has a somewhat different style. The lady stands in front of a tent, across the top of which is written “À Mon Seul Désir” (obscure: according to my desire alone / by my will alone / love desires only beauty of soul / to calm passion). Her maidservant stands to the right, holding open a chest. The lady is placing the necklace she wears in the other tapestries into the chest. To her left is a low bench with bags of coins on it. The unicorn and the lion stand in their normal spots framing the lady while holding onto the pennants.

This tapestry has elicited a number of interpretations. One interpretation sees the lady putting the necklace into the chest as a renunciation of the passions aroused by the other senses, and as an assertion of her free will. Another sees the tapestry as representing a sixth sense of understanding (derived from the sermons of Jean Gerson of the University of Paris c. 1420). Other various interpretations see the tapestry as representing love or virginity.

(The Lady and the Unicorn, Wikipedia)

Free will! Something Audrey seemed to have had in short supply in the past, but now she’s learning. Understanding is a cornerstone of the Newtype theory. How about love? Virginity?

Oh, you.

The Lady and the Unicorn also references something interesting: earlier mecha shows like Gundam X and Eureka Seven have employed a package that the male protagonist comes across in the beginning: a young girl and a giant robot, both of them very special. X had the Gundam X, which could only be used with Tiffa’s Newtype power, while Eureka Seven had the Nirvash, which power Renton fully awakens with the help of Eureka. In this case, Banagher meets Audrey, someone very important to Neo Zeon (you’ll have to spoil yourself elsewhere for her identity), and this encounter pushes him to become the Unicorn Gundam’s pilot.

Banagher may not be in love with Audrey (at this point), but he feels a strong Newtype attraction to her. The desire to save Audrey is what makes Banagher worthy. This is what fuels him to take the Unicorn’s reins; not the allure of the Laplace Box, or even the Unicorn’s own destructive power. Only one who is pure can truly control the purest of mythological animals.

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9 Responses to The Lady and the Unicorn

  1. Great post!

    However, the first Gundam that provided super powers for and through its pilot is the Zeta. Can you say that Kamille is pure and innocent? Did he have a defining love or attraction that unleashed its powers?

    It was Four, but Four is distinctly different in my mind, from how Audrey seems to be, as much different from Eureka (more like Anemone).

    • schneider says:

      I was more attuned to the fact that Vist would’ve never allowed Banagher to take control of the Unicorn if he had arrived a day too early. At any rate, the Zeta operates on a different level.

      Anemone would be a closer match for Four, yeah.

  2. Crusader says:

    The only unicorn myth I am familiar with is that it’s a symbol of purity and chastity, and that it can only be tamed by a virgin maiden. Keeping in that line of thought that makes Banagher a virgin and a girl, well at least his name isn’t Kamille.

    The other way to interpret Banagher’s confession in front of his dad is that he is trying to get into Audrey’s pants… If true then the Unicorn accepted him because he was horny. I know that joke was corny.

    On a serious note the actual myth of the Unicorn is fitting given who Audrey is. But still after the advent of Charlie the Unicorn it’s hard not to poke fun at it. I’d always thought the guy getting the girl and the mecha was mostly due to the fantasy of guy gets everything. Hero gets the weapon, goes on a quest, and saves the princess that kind of deal.

    • schneider says:

      Unicorn is definitely more traditional in its approach than either Gundam X or Eureka Seven, which were much more character-driven (both featured a lot of bonding between the guy and the girl first, then the girl is taken away from the guy and now he’ll have to take her back).

      And yeah Charlie the Unicorn has rather ruined them Unicorns for me. At least this one is mechanical!

  3. I can’t help but feel that you are forcing the comparison just a little bit, because I know that Gundam X and Eureka Seven are 2 of your favorite shows :p but time will tell.

    Also, it’s almost impossible not to be spoiled for her real name, since that’s how she’s listed in the databases, lol.

    • schneider says:

      I might a bit, since Audrey never did encounter the Unicorn Gundam at all, but it was due to chasing her trail that Banagher managed to find the Unicorn itself. And I just like that trope a lot!

  4. Will of the wisp says:

    I know it is from the wrong unicorn tapestry, but can we start singing “I am alive!” yet?

  5. 2DT says:

    Oh ho.

    I haven’t seen Unicorn (and I’m being told not to yet), but this is an intriguing take. One show is an oddity, but two or three shows– that’s a trend!

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