Bandai Namco raked over the coals for downplaying lesbian marriage in hit Gundam anime

Mobile Suit Gundam's Suletta and Miorine
(Image credit: Bandai Namco Filmworks)

Bandai Namco has put itself in the crosshairs of the anime community by downplaying the relationship between the openly married female leads of last season's hit series Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury. 

This backlash started over the weekend after the official Witch From Mercury and Gundam Twitter accounts shared a statement addressing comments in a new issue of Japan's Monthly Gundam Ace magazine. To put it simply, voice actor Kana Ichinose discussed the marriage between series leads Suletta and Miorine, only for Bandai Namco to have mention of marriage removed from the final issue and rush out a statement insisting that their relationship is up to interpretation. 

The key bit of the accompanying statement (machine translated from Japanese) reads: "We would like to leave it up to each and every one of you who have seen the main story to understand and interpret it, and we would like you to enjoy the work." 

There are a few reasons that Bandai itself is in the hot seat. The name is often associated with Bandai Namco Entertainment specifically, the video game publisher behind the likes of Armored Core 6, Elden Ring, the Tales games, and many more franchises. But the company consists of multiple subsidiaries including production and publishing arms well beyond video games. 

The Witch From Mercury was made by Bandai Namco Filmworks/Sunrise, and Bandai holds the rights to Gundam in general; it recently announced the impending shutdown of the Overwatch-like game Gundam Evolution, for example. 

Monthly Gundam Ace is technically overseen by Kadokawa, which Bandai has worked with for well over a decade. However, the explainer published after fans noticed discrepancies in the magazine's physical and digital issues is signed by Bandai Namco Filmworks. Anime News Network reports that Bandai checked the interview, after a Monthly Gundam Ace editor who assumed the two characters were married, and requested the redaction, though the change never made it to the print version of the mag. 

Nobody has clearly explained the reason for the redaction beyond the vague substitute description of Suletta and Miorine's relationship, so it's thus far been attributed to the conservative values and LGBT marriage laws prevalent in Japan as well as other markets where The Witch From Mercury is available. The speculative reasoning is that Bandai was seemingly willingly to undermine its own story if it meant avoiding a legal or censorship dispute elsewhere. 

Anime fans are no stranger to nebulously defined relationships, especially in LGBT stories. The thing is, the relationship between Suletta and Miorine is not nebulously defined. Without wishing to spoil too much, their marriage is a central plot point throughout the entire series. 

The image above is taken directly from the pinned tweet on the series' Twitter account and features the two leads holding hands wearing wedding bands. In an opening episode, Miorine skewers the idea that two women can't get married. They refer to each other as brides multiple times. One character goes so far as to refer to themselves as being an in-law due to the marriage of the two. 

Short of someone following them around with a big neon sign that says "gay," it truly couldn't be any clearer. As a result, many fans of the anime, which was received so well that it helped give the Gundam franchise one of its best years ever, have responded to the publisher's decision with equal parts scorn and sarcasm across multiple communities and platforms.  

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Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.