June 21, 1994
Actually the question of why Linna tends to be less popular than the other members of the Knight Sabers is rather intriguing. After all, what is it that sets her apart?
Okay, a word of warning. If you are not interested in the deeper aspects of Bubblegum Crisis you will probably want to leave now. I've also been accused of being a bit too, shall we say long winded by one or two sources in the past.
You have been warned.
Are they gone? Good. Now to the business at hand.
What is it about her that seems to spark such, I don't know, call it disinterest perhaps. I've read a few of the fanfics, not all by any means, and it often seems Linna gets pushed to the back as it were. She is there for combat with her graceful moves and ribbons of death but other than that? I've even seen it in Adam Warren's Grand Mal. He doesn't even know what to do with Linna, of course it may be inadequacy on his part and not the character.
After some thought my original opinion was that she was the closest thing to a one dimensional character in the entire series.
Describe Linna in 2 words: Likes Money.
3 words: Really Likes Money.
4 words: Really Really Likes Money.
You get the picture.
But this simply isn't true. Linna has shown us more than just a capacity for greed in the series. She is loyal, strong, intelligent, trustworthy, etc, etc, etc. Admittedly she likes the cash but there is more to her than that.
So what else could there be?
Perhaps it is time to take a look at the other Knight Sabers, see if by examining them we can find out what it is that set Linna apart.
First Priss and Sylia. I put these two characters together because of the many parallels we can find in their lives and the number of similarities between them. I often think that Sylia and Priss are sisters of the soul, opposite sides of the same coin mayhaps.
First you have two young women who have experienced great tragedy in their lives. They both lost their parents, though Sylia lost hers one at a time I would almost expect that losing her father after her mother would be just as hard as it was for Priss to lose both of hers in the second Kanto quake. Also, if my math is right both were 12 when they lost their parent(s).
Second Sylia and Priss dealt with this, overcame it and went on. Both also picked, shall we say, less than healthy ways to deal with it. Neither of these women will ever be the poster person for mental health if you get my meaning. Priss with her self-destructive ways and Sylia with her untouchable facade. In a way they represents time bombs waiting to blow, and as such they are the Knight Sabers greatest flaw, IMHO of course.
Third both chose to master their respective fields. Priss, the master musician, Sylia, the master technician, or scientist.
When you find this many parallels between characters it usually suggests something. It's a nice bit of literary work, ne?
Any real differences between them might be best attributed to their upbringings. After all, had Priss grown up with Sylia's advantages, the money, the private schools, the universities, she would have been a different person in some respects. I wonder if she would have taken up classical music instead of rock? Sylia would have survived out on the streets, her will is too strong for her to not have but she would have lost that veneer of culture she presently has.
Priss and Sylia, opposites and yet the same as it were. Tragic heroines the both of them. Very nice.
And then there is Nene. Cute, innocent Nene...
Sorry, phased out for a second.
She is the one true, the one just Knight Saber. It's not the money that drives her, it is not a desire for revenge, but the desire to do what is right and good. Diogenes, get out of your tub, grab your lantern and book passage to Mega Tokyo. I have found your one Honest Person and her name is Nene Romanova.
Beyond that she is a foil for both Sylia and Priss. Shakespeare would have loved her I think. Put her next to either Sylia or Priss and you make their choices, what they have become, stand out like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, (paraphrase, Henry the eighth I think).
She also serves to represent a path not taken for both Sylia and Priss. Nene did not lose her parents to violence or destruction. She lived a relatively normal life, one of those truly intelligent people who school systems cannot keep up with. The overly strict and demanding parents that eventually made her run away from home (according the the Berkeley Journal of Anime.) There is something immature in Nene, not really a bad thing, it is represented in the child-like joy she often takes in things and her belief in the goodness of people. (Or am I just reading things into the character that aren't there?)
What if Priss and Sylia had not lost their parents? What if they had lived and had been their for their children? What would these two characters be like? A little like Nene perhaps? Maybe or maybe not. The point is that the possibility is there. In a literary sense Nene is one of the more important characters in the story.
So we have two very similar but yet different characters revolving around their foil, their untaken path. A literary trinity. Balanced. Perfect.
Then comes Linna.
For a while I believed my own, well not dislike but dissatisfaction with Linna was that she threw this perfect trinity right out the window. There are not three Knight Sabers but four. How do I put her in without ruining a rather beautiful bit of symbolism?
The answer, which surprised me to no end when I finally figured it out was that I don't. Linna represents humanity. Her character is Every Person. She represents the disorder so inherent to our race. Sylia and Priss bring anger and the desire for revenge to the Knight Sabers. They form the main impetus for the story. Nene brings ``the milk of human kindness'' to the group, balancing out the anger from Sylia and Priss so it never comes to dominate the story as it drives it along. Linna, Linna brings true humanity to the group. She does not fit perfectly within the literary trinity, she is chaos theory personified in that way.
So why don't we like her as much?
As Every Person is it because we see too much of ourselves in her? Things we would perhaps not like to see, to admit to? After all, Linna is like the classic under-achiever. She is intelligent, strong, she has will-power, she is healthy and she is attractive. (Like it or not humans have come to associate what is good with what is beautiful. If one is attractive then one has an advantage in how people see them and deal with them.).
So with all this going for her what does Linna at 21 have to show for it? A job as an aerobics instructor. A failed dance career. No real significant other in her life. This is made even more apparent when you compare her to the other Knight Sabers.
At 21 Sylia had formed the Knight Sabers, built an economic empire, she would have had to, and became a power, albeit a shadowy one, in Mega Tokyo. Priss has yet to reach that age but one can't help but think she will be successful. And Nene, assuming she doesn't die, (Why should she die, you ask? Does the name Ophelia mean anything to you? That's all I'll say.) will no doubt also be very successful. I'm just not sure which side of the law she will be on when she reaches that point. Master hacker Nene? Pirate on the high seas of information? Plunderer of data?
It sort of makes Linna's goals pale doesn't it. We all, at one time or another, have felt we have failed to reach are potential. Seeing it in Linna would no doubt make some people feel uncomfortable with the character.
There is also the fact Linna is sort of a gold digger. In BGC#4 we hear about her dropping a boyfriend, (the holographic sculptor wasn't it?) just because he didn't make enough money. Then there was the record executive mentioned in BGC#5 who was never heard from again. Guess he wasn't climbing the ladder fast enough for Linna's taste. Or perhaps when he couldn't help Priss's career she dumped him, that would be a nicer way to look at it.
A while back on raa Celia Stingray presented us with a delightful, insightful and thought provoking article about the possibility that Priss and Linna were lovers, based on a scene from BGC#3. If so then we have a progression of romantic interests for Linna, being dropped in rapid succession. I can almost see it, Linna, beginning to realize that Priss has a chance at super-stardom gets close to her. Then when she comes to the conclusion that Priss's career is not going anywhere she moves on to her next possibility, another artist, the holographic sculptor, or whatever.
Okay, before you reply nastily to this let me say I really don't think that Linna is a gold digger or is that shallow or cruel. I think Linna's main problem is that she sets very high, potentially unrealistic, standards. No one can meet up to them. She ends up going from one relation to the next. Kind of sad really.
Still, that sort of behavior is a key part of what has allowed humanity to do all that it has, both bad and good. By striving for the impossible we accomplish the improbable. Linna represents that. There was something I heard or read at one time, I forget where but it went something like this: ``Leap for the stars, oh, you'll never reach them but at least you got a better view of the area for a moment and a little exercise.'' If Linna does indeed represent this part of humanity she brings this very important aspect to the Knight Sabers.
So, does this answer the question of why Linna seems to be the least favorite Knight Saber? That people don't like seeing their own flaws reflected in her? Maybe. And then again, maybe not. The matter is open to debate. I'm hoping it will be. A good literary argument is always fun.
Disclaimer: This is all based on my own opinions and thoughts and as such should be taken with a grain of salt if not an entire salt lick.
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Brian Edmonds <firstname.lastname@example.org> April 26, 1998