It is Universal Century 0087, and the One Year War between the Earth Federation and Principality of Zeon is over. The Earth Federation has created an elite task force, known as the Titans, who are responsible for hunting the remaining Zeon forces. However, the power-hungry Titans have shown themselves to be no better than Zeon, spurring the creation of a rebellious faction called the Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG).
17-year-old Kamille Bidan lives in the colony Green Noa, home to a Titan base. Kamille gets in trouble after assaulting a Titan officer, an event that coincides with an attack led by former Zeon ace Char Aznable, now known as AEUG pilot Quattro Bajeena. When Kamille steals a Titan's prototype Gundam, he soon finds himself in the middle of the dangerous conflict.
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is, of course, the second installment in the Gundam franchise, so first off watch the original Mobile Suit Gundam beforehand. That should go without saying. Comparatively, this sequel not only lives up to its predecessor, but even surpasses it.
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam's tale is set seven years in the future after its prequel, and quite a bit has happened since then. In the One Year War we watched a brutal war between the Earth Federation Forces and the Principality of Zeon. Now, we watch as a tyrannical sect of the Earth Federation, known as the Titans, and the Anti-Earth Union Group,
a faction of rebels, duke it out. In the beginning of the series, we're sort of just quickly tossed into the middle of things, but as the story progresses things make more sense and it turns out fine.
Zeta's story is also a bit more mature, and becomes more developed than Mobile Suit Gundam's. There really is not a centralized antagonist, like Char in MSG. You could consider this a slight downfall, or perhaps even an improvement, because it's questionable whether or not Zeta would have felt a bit too dependent on the MSG story. So maybe you will feel like you're missing something, or you might be glad that it isn't just a rehash. But, as I was saying, the plot gets developed nicely as more obstacles, alliances, secrets, and politics are involved. Speaking of which, Zeta does an exceptional job at building up political battles, that aren't too simple, but that are still easily followable. Overall, Zeta tells a brilliant story that beats MSG's.
Now, here we go with the art and sound. My ratings on these are actually based on today's standards. If it was still the '80's, I'm positive the animation would be worthy of a perfect 10. But to still be given a 7 two decades later is remarkable. One aspect of the animation that I really liked was the nice use of camera splitting, for lack of a better name. It's something that isn't very popular in today's animation techniques I'd say. If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's when we have one image on the screen, and then part of it is split to display another image, or something pretty popular is when the screen is just cut in two with different images on top and bottom. Zeta definitely utilizes the best animation techniques available for its time.
Now, the sound is actually outstanding and very impressive. Most of the background tunes are made of magnificent orchestral pieces that capture perfect moods. The sound effects are of course a huge improvement from MSG, and they actually don't sound old at all or anything. The opening and ending themes are similar to the background music; really nicely made instrumental compositions. The voice acting is pretty much standard voice acting.
Now where to start with our Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam characters. This time the story follows a young man by the name of Kamille Bidan. He becomes a member of the AEUG aboard the Argama ship and is a valuable Gundam pilot. Like Amuro Ray, he is a Newtype. In the beginning he is somewhat of a whiny and foolish kid, but, no doubt about it, this boy suffers much more than Amuro did as an assortment of tragedies occur throughout the series. I'd say his character as the lead protagonist gets better developed than Amuro's as well. Speaking of Amuro, just about every character from the White Base crew have appearances. Some are more important than others, but it is nice seeing how the crew has all matured. Bright Noa and Char Aznable, better known as Quattro Bajeena in Zeta, are main characters as well, and Char himself gets much more developed as well. The characters of course deal with deaths, relationships, switching alliances, intense battles, and the like.
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam absolutely does not disappoint in enjoyment. Every episode is action-packed with awesome mecha and space warfare. It is a superb and fun watch all the way through, and it totally lives up to the greatness of its prequel. It is a joy to follow and gets seriously epic at the right moments.
Overall, it is remarkable how well Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam was pulled off after the spectacular Mobile Suit Gundam. Pulling off another marvelous show that not only lives up to, but surpasses the first is hard to do, but here it is incredibly done.
Even though this is a direct sequel to the first Gundam series, it primarily relies on a new cast of characters while other major characters like Amuro are now secondary and has a very small but significant appearance as well as Kai Shiden and Hayato Kobayashi. Despite this, little to no previous experience of the first Gundam series isn’t required to really follow the story though it is highly recommended to mostly understand Char or Quattro or whatever you want to call him. This series has a reputation amongst Gundam fans as being dark and gritty, and I can’t deny that. But I believe that
whatever is presented should not be found offensive since there is meaning to what happens in this series and helps progress it, but I don’t think that this quality alone should define the series.
Camille in comparison to Amuro in the first series is more idealistic and wants to fight because he hates the Titans and somewhat out of spite of his home life, while with Amuro, he just felt forced into the situation. And I think this series was what also helped make Char more appealing to the hardcore Gundam fan base because of the use of his character and I think his role really reflects what people think of him in real life as well. The Titans, the main antagonists are despicable and truly people you can hate. In a lot of animes, there are time you can sympathize and relate to their main villains, while in this anime, you really can’t for the most part though there are some notable exemptions like Four Murasame.
Of course being a 1986 release, the quality of the animation won’t really be that appealing in a modern sense. Rather than pointing out the obvious, there are really little to no flaws with the design and execution of the battles. Granted the color schemes of some of the robots are very flash in a 1980s sense, but I felt with the recent release of the trilogy, it shows that the quality of the design is still timeless like how recent game releases based on the first Gundam still demonstrates this quality in relation to that series. The costumes aren’t as spandex looking like in the first one and are more loose and realistic to military code, and the frames of the majority of the new mobile suits presented are sleek, retro, articulate, and tight.
The designs of the mobile suits also perfectly reflect the nature of the battles being fast paced and agile which is very true with Char’s Hyaku-Shiki, a mobile suit that really compliments his piloting skills.
My only exposure to the dub to this day despite owning the DVDs is playing the English version of Gundam vs Zeta Gundam for the PlayStation 2. The dub was intolerable and none of the actors from the first season reprise their roles who I thought were good. That’s all I have to say the dub. The Japanese track as most anime elitists and fans would naturally of course say is much superior. Sorry to sound like that, but I just think that’s how it is. Characters from the first Gundam series who come back reprise their roles such as Ikeda Shuuichi as Char, Hirotaka Suzuoka as Captain Bright, and Furuya Tooru as Amuro. But for the new characters, there are some excellent additions. Narutards to casual fans and new fans of Naruto will probably enjoy the charismatic and captivating performances of Inoue Kazuhiko the voice of Kakashi as Jerrid and Ohtsuka Houchu the voice of Jiraiya as Yazan. Inoue still retains a youthful voice, but in comparison to his role of Kakashi he is more emotional and naïve. Ohtsuka’s voice is still recognizable but as Yazan he is very sadistic.
And last, I’ll address the voice of Camille, Tobita Nobuo, also the voice of Tomo from Fushigi Yuugi, Domon from Flame of Recca, and Uribatake from Nadesico, is very multi-talented in his own right. Even though he is more adult in those roles, in this one, he is convincing as a confused and enraged teenager in relation to his situations. Moving on, the music is very energetic and captivating in a 1980s sense. It captures a lot of its atmosphere of romance, war, and hope. I especially feel this with the 2nd opening theme, Mizu no hoshi he ai wo komete. The ending theme hoshi no zora believe is very campy cutsey but I think it’s used to wind the audience down after seeing something crazy in the series. I don’t know, but I like it. The movie trilogy relies of Gackt for their soundtrack. The songs are good, but I’m not a huge fan of Gackt personally. The background music is very intense and appropriate to the gritty atmosphere of the series, which you’ll have to hear to believe, or play the Gundam vs Zeta Gundam game itself which is also appropriately used.
As you can dispute on a certain number of Gundam series, fans will not only argue that this is the best Gundam series, but one of the best animes ever which is something I can personally agree with. I strongly suggest you watch the TV series over the movie trilogy which I personally found disappointing which is another discussion for another time. But anyway, I think the story is very captivating and comedy and romance is used when appropriate. You can really truly feel the characters. The designs and battle sequences are high octane and the music is just incredible.
Zeta Gundam (Zeta) is considered by many to be superior to the original, Mobile Suit Gundam (MSG) as well as being Tomino’s masterpiece. I decided to watch Zeta right after being disappointed by MSG. In particular, I was interested to see if Zeta would be as dark and realistic as many fans say. Like my previous MSG review I will judge Zeta by today’s narrative standards as well as ignoring art and sound in the overall grade.
First off let me talk about the technical aspects. Animation wise it is definitely one of the better animated series of the 1980’s. I
was pleasantly surprised by the quality for a mid 80’s anime. Music used is more universal than that of MSG as they used many orchestra pieces, thus giving it an ‘era-less’ feel. However, the music is way too over done and in your face. Yes, we know this is supposed to be a sad scene, you don’t have to rub it in my face. With better animation, there should be some nice fast paced mecha action right? Well, they weren’t, many of the battles were very deliberate and slow. This confuses me to no end as to how the fight scenes were as slow and boring as MSG which aired 6 years before.
As for the story, Zeta suffers from the same problems as MSG. The episodes in Zeta are extremely standalone, build up, climax, and resolution all happen in one episode. So don’t expect cliffhangers and expect extremely disjointed episodes. Even in the 2nd to last episode there wasn’t any cliffhanger. The only thing keeping me going was the will to finish. In addition, I disliked how the new antagonists, the Titians, were depicted as too “black” or evil. Unlike, in MSG both sides are given screen time and both sides were extremely sympatric.
Now on to the characters, this is where Zeta loses most of its points. Kamille is what happens with you take all the bad parts of Amuro and amplify it several times over. If you thought that Shin from Gundam SEED Destiny was bad, then be glad you haven’t met Kamille. Kamille does whatever he wants with no concern for the greater good of the ship and people on the ship. Sure he’s a teenager, but someone that’s compromised the crew and ship so many times should never be in the cockpit of a Gundam, no matter how good of a pilot he may be. Not only is it him but, just about everyone seems to throw temper tantrums (except for Char and Amuro). The worst one would have to Katz, I swear I have never screamed at my monitor so much. In addition, the number of friends/lovers on opposing sides was way too high and becomes too hard to accept. Like with the whinny brats they over did it in this respects too. Zeta is filled with too much angst and not enough story or development to support it all. A real person has flaws, wants and desires, that is what makes us human. Zeta overdoes it in this regards by making them too selfish and flawed thus, makes the characters unrealistic and unlikable. I was literally screaming in joy near the end of the series when certain characters started to get killed off. However, I’ll have to give it to Zeta for not reverting to Char and Amuro as main characters as Gundam SEED Destiny did.
My last complaint, concerns the ending….what the hell was that!? I really can’t say much else without spoiling but it left me quite confused and dumfounded. I though they were going to continue the story in Gundam ZZ however, I heard it was very light in tone and inferior to Zeta Gundam.
Zeta Gundam suffers from the same problem as MSG in terms of episode continuity and pacing. The build up, climax and resolution all happen in one episode. It does feature some of the best animation of the 1980’s and very universal music albeit too overt. The characters in Zeta are filled with too much angst and there isn’t enough story or development to support it all. What makes it worst is that the characters are illogical and painful to watch.
If the original Gundam depicted a bloody war on an unprecedented scale, then Zeta Gundam shows the profound human breakdown that followed. Set eight years after the first series, the post-war reconstruction is shown to have badly failed. The Federation, once a system the heroes fought for, has been corrupted by a military unit fanatically devoted to Earth supremacy.
Arguably the central theme of the Gundam franchise is the struggle between Earth and the space colonies that orbit it. Zeta takes this concept very far. As newtypes (theoretical evolutions of mankind, meant for space) have evolved and research on them has advanced, a growing divide
has formed between them and normal people. This jealous paranoia turns the ruling Earth bureaucracy against its colonies, before they grow too powerful.
Kamille Bidan perfectly illustrates the rebellious, space-faring sentiment. His passion, continually whipping from bitter disappointment to righteous elation and back, transcends reason. Though his emotional depth includes a reserved quietness and easy-going nature, it is the extremes that contain the core of his being. Unlike Amuro, who fought to survive and protect what little he could, Kamille uses his Gundam as a means to many ends. It’s a weapon to strike down enemies of the Anti-Earth Union, and an ever-evolving representation of his powers as a Newtype. By extension, the Gundam is a symbol of the new humanity that touches upon the pulse of the stars, ready to travel the cosmos.
No raw power can connect without direction, the resistance finding theirs in an unwilling Char Aznable. Bright Noah and Hayato also return, this time older and more able to command. Amuro fights as well, in a crucial way, but his lingering guilt and stress limit participation. Most of the focus is put on new blood.
One of Zeta’s biggest flaws is how cheaply it treats characters. Some change sides at the drop of a hat, for trivial reasons, while others are killed unceremoniously. More alarming is that multiple girls are killed, resurrected, then swiftly killed again. There’s an in-universe justification, but I find the second deaths to be too quick, predictable, and all too lacking emotional resonance.
Similarly, the plot is treated with surprisingly little respect. Every single episode is guaranteed to have an arbitrary skirmish between AEUG and the Earth Federation. Typically this is the result of haphazard, overused actions like gundam high-jacking. The battles never have clear strategic meaning. Tactical command is non-existent in the face of random, dueling mobile suits. At worst, this can make the show feel like an excuse for formulaic drama coupled with obvious mecha toy advertisement.
I have to say that the show does a good job getting me excited about gundam. The cockpits close, the gears shift, the marching beats begins, and as the badass suit rises, we hear the bold announcement: “Kamille Bidan, Zeta Gundam... launching!” These takeoffs have an addictive quality. I don’t know when it was that they began standing out. I just know that, after enough exposure, I liked them a lot.
Moments like these are not created by the writing. For me, they’re captured by the audio. The soundtrack always suits the moment. When the aged animation forces long, occasionally ugly shots, music goes a long way to preserve the right feeling. Equally impressive is the Japanese voice cast, in particular Nobuo Tobita (Kamille) and Shuuichi Ikeda (Char). Char is very mysterious, so it is all the more cool that Ikeda can retain that while giving a very charismatic performance with huge amounts of screen-time. Kamille’s voice is probably one of the best for any seiyuu, ever. His character whiplashes from mood to opposite mood in the blink of an eye; this can go wrong in several ways, whether the actor cannot capture just how extreme each mood is, or is unable to create a believable transition. Nobuo Tobita wins.
I am a little guilty about liking Zeta Gundam as much as I do. It isn’t very well constructed, has old art, and feels like the creators made up everything as they went along. Considering many fans hype it as a masterpiece I should have been disappointed. But I wasn’t. As bad as it is in some respects, once things start moving the series succeeds tremendously. There is a complex, multi-faceted cast that averts boring anime characterizations. The mobile suits are highly detailed, coupled with unique, yet diverse character designs. The music is epic and powerful. Perhaps best of all, Zeta demonstrates a wonderfully tragic spiral away from sanity.
The ultimate fantasy for any anime fan is the anime crossover. How cool would it be if one of your favorite anime characters teamed up with another one of your favorite characters to make animated magic? Very, indeed. Let's explore some of the most creative anime crossovers of all time.
We’re closing in on the 40th anniversary of the Gundam franchise from when it debuted back in 1979 and fans around the world are going through a renaissance of material as Sunrise is collaborating with distributors to bring their crown jewels out for release.