This is Relena Darlian/Peacecraft. I am sick of having people judge me when I say she is my favourite anime heroine. The moment those words fall from my lips it’s as though 80% of the Gundam Wing fandom has judged me unworthy of their ears and decides I am non-existent. So, after years, here’s my bit on this. I’ve been building this soapbox for years.
literary or dramatic character who undergoes an important innerchange, as a change in personality or attitude
Relena is easily the most dynamic character in the whole of Gundam Wing. It is often said by her dissenters that she is a pink car riding, prep school going, brat. You know what? At the beginning of the series she was. That's what makes her so amazing. Unlike Heero, or fan favourite Duo, who is a more static character, during the course of the show she matures, grows, and changes a lot.
When we first meet Relena is upset with her father for the fact that he is a busy man and that she feels his work out-shadows her in importance at times. How is this not a normal mindset for a 14 year old girl whose father is a high ranking politic official? However, despite her upset when he has to leave during her birthday party, she does not harp on him. She simply bids him farewell and that she understands. There is no whining, clinging, fist-banging girl as the fandom often paints her to be.
An irritation of mine has always been people who associate Relena with her fangirls. Yes, even in canon she has fangirls. She is a friendly, polite, and rich girl at a private school - It’s to be expected. As that friendly girl she offers the new transfer student an invitation to her birthday party. It’s an act of kindness to reach out as an ambassdor, like her father, and welcome someone to a place they have never been and try to make them feel comfortable.
Then that act of kindness is ripped in two and Heero says those infamous words. “I’ll kill you.”
Relena is such a baby because she got teary-eyed when a boy ripped up her invite, boohoo. No. I think it’s understandable to be upset when someone basically shoves your hand away like you are diseased and embarasses you in front of everyone you know. It’s not a nice feeling to be disregarded for the first time by your peers, especially when you are already emotional about the subject due to your relationship with your father. Seems a fitting place for some teary-eyes to me.
But you know when she doesn’t have teary-eyes? When Heero threatens to kill her. Relena doesn’t scream, run, or try to alert anyone to this threat from a strange boy she saw wash up on a beach, try to self-destruct, and then beat down some medics before taking their ambulance. She keeps it to herself and decides to deal with it herself. Moving on to face Heero, eye to the barrel of his gun, and simply raise an eyebrow when he won’t shoot her.
I think it’s safe to say that watching your father die in front of you, knowing that the item you held in your hand moments prior was at fault, would be scarring to any 15 year old. Not to mention that with his dying words he tells you that you are not his daughter, but the daughter of a monarch from a fallen country that he once served. Seems a bit much to take in at once.
Yes, she gets unhinged a bit from it, leading to our next subject, but can you really blame her for that? Really?
But Relena’s a pacifist! Wrong. The girl who goes after Une is Relena Darlian. This is the girl whose father was murder, who watched him die, and who is broken about it. This is not yet the girl who takes on her birth family’s name and begins to preach their views. Relena attacks Une before she ever lays eyes on the Sanc Kingdom and before she ever utters a word about Total Pacifism.
And can I mention her aim? She blew that rose, the symbol of beauty and purity, right off of Une’s chest. Had Une not moved, that shot would have gone straight through her heart.
THE SANC KINGDOM
Meet Relena Peacecraft, Princess of the Sanc Kingdom and political activist. At this point Relena has taken on her birth family’s name, country, and philosophies. She returns to Sanc and attempts to rebuild it, govern it, and preach the ideal of Total Pacifism to the next generation of world leaders. Here is where many people begin to criticize her for having foolish ideals or for being a hypocrite. However, her ideals are not truly her own, she may have adopted them and be preaching them, but it is not as if she sat down and made them all up. Relena has now lost two families to the chaos and is doing her best to keep one of them alive through her.
As for being a hypocrite, I must say that during this time Relena does not once ever pick up any sort of weapon. Weapons are used to protect her, but against her order and with the knowledge that she would be very upset about it. Noin hides every mobile suit in Sanc away from Relena’s eyes.
QUEEN OF THE WORLD
Do you remember why Duke Dermail made Relena the Queen of the World? He was worried about her influence and decided to put her under his thumb instead.
What does Relena do? Turn the tides of the Bureaucrats to her ideas, eliminate world borders, and founds the World Nation in hopes of eliminating war brought on by boundary disputes.
Does it work? Not really, but it puts an idea of peace into the heads of the citizens of the world. It’s enough that Heero is intrigued and further prolongs his mission to assassinate her.
THE PRINCESS AND THE SOLDIER
I’ll be honest, I find that most Relena dissenters are also avid 1x2 shippers. I think, personally, they feel threatened by her character and thus try to make her out to be someone awful. But, as the creators of the show have said, Wing is not about romance, so let’s recap the Heero and Relena relationship without our shipper goggles on.
Heero and Relena are pillars of strength to each other. They understand one another. Heero believes Relena to be stronger than him due to her ability to hold so strongly to her convictions and Relena believes Heero to be stronger than her due to his ability to take action and do what he says he will.
But, omg, she begs him to come kill her. Psycho. Relena yells off a cliff for Heero to come kill her, yep. Is she insane? No. It’s her way of trying to get him to come to her. He’s promised he will kill her, so she knows that this threat is one thing that connects them. It’s her way of trying to lure him from battle. Yelling it off a cliff is a bit strange, but really, she was doing it out of emotion and desperation. It wasn’t as if she expected Wing to drop from the sky and Heero to pop out and say hi.
Here is a defining moment for Relena, the very end of the series. She’s moved on with her life, gone back to the Darlian name, taken on a normal political job trying to bring the colonies and Earth together, and even gone so far as to show her mental changes physically by cutting her hair.
We see Heero has snuck onto her plane, left her a teddy and a letter of some sort as a birthday gift, and what does Relena do? Does she read the letter, cling to it, and go off to find Heero? No. She calls out to him and rips that letter right in two. She’s telling him that she’s not that girl she was a year ago when they met. And she’s not. She’s not.
Relena’s role in Endless Waltz is, admittedly, small, but it is highly important. She spends the majority of the OVA having been kidnapped by Mariemaia. However, it is important to note Mariemaia’s realization of Relena’s importance to the people of the world. It is also Relena who is the first to put any crack in the young girl’s sociopathic shell.
Endless Waltz also contains another turning point for Relena. The realization that pacifism is imperfect and that one must fight for their beliefs, even if those beliefs are peace.