Fatphobia is still prevalent in Japanese culture. While there will be the occasional piece of media that pushes against it (sometimes in flawed, yet well-meaning ways), Japan is still predominantly a place where “thin” is in. That’s what makes the presence of fat characters in Gundam: The Witch from Mercury noteworthy; it features multiple characters who are portrayed not as comic relief or even fetishes, but as just cool and admirable in their own right.
The first is Feng Jun, a woman who on the surface is a smuggler but is in actuality an agent of the Space Assembly League, a governing organization in The Witch from Mercury. She’s cunning, savvy, and capable in a rather matter-of-fact way, and her body is never shown as a hindrance. As the show progresses, it becomes clear that she cannot be pigeonholed based on any expectations.
The second is Kennanji Avery, a veteran mobile suit pilot renowned for his skills in battle. Seen as a thinner fellow in the prologue, by the time of the main story, he’s put on some pounds. But while he doesn’t look the same as he did in his younger days, his subordinates all look up to and trust him, and he’s shown to possess a sharp mind and an athletic body even if it doesn’t appear to be the case. He fights against the notion that “fat” automatically means “physically unfit.”
The third is Lilique Kadoka Lipati, a first-year and fellow classmate of the heroine, Suletta Mercury. Defying conventional thinking about girls her size, Lilique is described in her official profile as being quite popular. One episode even has another girl start trouble with Lilique because her boyfriend tried to ask Lilique out. It is incredibly rare to have even a few characters have a thing for the “fat girl,” let alone giving her a popular reputation for making people fall left and right.
What’s notable about the way The Witch from Mercury portrays these three is that their size is neither diminished nor put out as some kind of circus display. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with being really into larger people, what this anime does is push their attractiveness beyond the boundaries of fetish territory. They’re all charismatic in different ways, as if they’re all unique people with different personalities and histories, even if they have similar body types. It’s ultimately about respect, and I can truly sense that from how Feng, Kennanji, and Lilique make such powerful impressions.