In Universal Century 0088, the Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG) has emerged victorious in its war with the Earth Federation's Titans at the cost of devastating losses. Neo-Zeon, the third faction in the war formerly known as Axis Zeon, remains as powerful as ever. Led by Newtype Haman Karn, Neo-Zeon has been implementing plans to take over both Earth and the space colonies.
The AEUG flagship Argama heads to the Side 1 colony Shangri-La for repairs. Living in the colony is Judau Ashta, a 14-year-old junk dealer who is struggling to make enough money to put his younger sister through school. Upon the discovery of an escape pod containing a former Titans pilot, Judau and his friends are quickly led to the Argama in hopes of stealing a mobile suit which they can sell for a fortune. However, with the arrival of a Neo-Zeon ship seeking to defeat the Argama, Judau and his friends are dragged into to a conflict that will bring them across space and Earth.
This is a direct sequel to Zeta, but not only as that, I think of them as one big series itself despite the opposite nature of the first half ZZ that no reviewer should over look when reviewing this anime. Apparently some of the audience, executives of Sunrise and Bandai, and Tomino’s wife thought that Zeta was way too dark and gritty which is something many fans thought was what made that series distinguishing. Plus Tomino even felt bad about the nature of Zeta and thinks anime should make people happy. Then again, he was going through a depression. While with the first half of
Double Zeta, he makes it very campy and childish. It’s pretty bad to the point where it has driven fans away from the show. Granted it is annoying, sorry to bring this as a spoiler, but it eventually goes back to the dark and gritty nature of Zeta, which I thought was enough to redeem itself. Thankfully this transition gives opportunities where the characters will develop and they become likeable. But I think you should understand Tomino’s mentality and approach to things to truly appreciate the story and characters.
The contrast of this anime is a little brighter and the designs are more neon in a very 1980s manner. Especially the hair styles and costume designs. It’s just more childish to truly make it more cartoony in comparison to Zeta and thus being more kid friendly. And of course some of the battles in the beginning are more comedic and ridiculous and untradtitional of what you can say is Gundam, though not as cheesy or over the top as G Gundam of course. But it’s nice to see that the Zeta Gundam, and other suits from Zeta are still in use and present, but they don’t have the same charisma which is a bizarre way to describe it as they did in the first season. But I do think the Double Zeta is pretty nifty and it’s bulkiness and style brings another kind of likeable distinction mostly because it’s different. But the battles eventually go back to the quality it had in Zeta and what most hardcore Gundam fans would like.
Some of the music is also of course more campy and childish though it still retains some of the background music from Zeta Gundam. The first opening theme, Anime Janai is very ookie and geeky, but despite that, I naturally have to agree that it did compliment the nature of the series at that time, but still went well with the presented imagery. But the 2nd opening theme, Silent Voice where the series gets better is more traditionally of something you’d rather hear in anime. It’s very high spirited and intense and energetic.
The seiyuu cast is still top notch. Yao Kazuki, the voice of Jedau sounded a little old for a 14 year old and the childish nature of his character. He was also the voice of Iketani of Initial D, Takeda from History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi, and Fei Long in Street Fighter II V. It’s hard to take him seriously in a more comedic role and as an early teenager. And I enjoyed the voice of Sakakibara Yoshiko as Harman. She had a passion and charisma to her character as well as this intimidation to her voice. So I got nothing much to complain in the voice acting department.
Just like One Piece, this series takes a while to get into and get into a certain pace to truly appreciate it. I don’t think the initial episodes despite how insulting it was after going through Zeta should not refrain you from watching the whole series since it does redeem itself. I was only able to survive and enjoy the series because I gave it that chance. Afterall, this isn’t Gundam SEED Destiny, which is what I personally found as the worst Gundam series of all time and got progressively worse. Anyway, I say this is something more for the likes of dedicated Gundam fans, and not necessarily for casual anime fans. Just give this series a chance.
It gets a lot of bad press. "Worst Gundam Ever" is a common phrase when ZZ comes up in conversation. However. I'm going to go and stand out on a lonely, creaking limb and say I liked it. Say I liked it better than Zeta. Now let me tell you why...
The main difference between Zeta and ZZ is that a majority of the main characters are teenagers. Judau Ashta - the protaganist and pilot of Gundam Double Zeta - isn't interested in piloting or fighting at all in the beginning. When the badly damaged Argama lands at
their colony, he and his friends are simply interested in the Gundam for its scrap value, as they have been left to fend for themselves while their parents have presumably gone off to (or died in) the war. His younger sister Leina worries about him sacrificing his education to earn money and doesn't like him hanging around with the somewhat inscrupulous Beecha and Mondo. Along with feisty girl Elle and unassuming Ino, Judau and his friends get caught up in the activities of the Argama during their attempts to rob it, and form the core of the series from beginning to end. While it's hard to warm to them all at first, you can't help but feel happy for Beecha as after doubts about the war and attempted defection, he finds his calling as a Captain rather than a Mobile Suit pilot, or get caught up in their personal battles when grief causes Mondo to have no thoughts except revenge.
The idea of the Cyber-Newtype is carried on from Zeta in the guise of Elpeo Puru. A young girl similar to Four Murasume and Rosamia Badam, Puru can go from child-like over dependance on Judau to ace pilot bent on destroying him. My main problem with the cyber-newtypes in Zeta was that firstly I felt that having Four, Rosamia and Sarah was overkill, and that they could have been combined into one memorable character. Secondly I never really felt very much for them (which also made it hard to empathise with why Kamille did) as they never got much screen time. Puru however spends a lot of time with the main characters during the middle of the series which gives her character a chance to develop much more than Four or Rosamia did.
Haman Karn is back again as the main antagonist of the series, along with the new characters Glemy Toto, Mashymyre Cello and Chara Soon. Mashymyre is the first foe Judau and friends face - initially almost a comic relief character, a chivalrous villain who refuses to play by anything other than the rules for the sake of his hopeless infatuation with Haman. Indeed, this is really the only thing which saves the untrained (and inept) Judau from death in the early episodes. Later we see a different side to Mashymyre when he is the architect of a colony drop on Dublin. Chara follows a similar (but more sympathetic) path - possesed of particularly overt sexuality she is always a source of humour, but there is also the feeling that something is not quite right in her mind - a personality split which makes it equally likely she will behave in a fun-loving or cruel manner. Glemy Toto, Judau's main nemesis, we see first as he too naively enters his first Mobile Suit battle, and watch as power gradually comes to corrupt him utterly. Sadly he never gets the kind of character development or sympathetic scenes that Jerrod Mesa got in Zeta, which makes him a weaker character as we never really learn what (if anything) drives him to make the decisions he does.
I enjoyed Zeta Gundam, but I often found myself picking holes. The most pervasive problem I had was the short lived and duplicated storylines. For example; Someone develops feelings for an enemy. Someone is kidnapped. One episode later they escape. Wait, they've been captured again. Kamille meets Four. She's gone. Here she is again... etc. With ZZ some of the same ideas are there, but they are slowed down to a speed which actually allows for some character development. Leina is kidnapped by Glemy and is gone for 10-15 episodes, and Puru joins the Argama and stays for a good 20. Chara and Mashymyre dissappear completly to be returned towards the end only when they are relevant, they aren't kept around needlessly or killed off and replaced with yet another generic villain.
As with all Gundam series, ZZ has it's tragic moments. But it picks them carefully and neither milks them for pathos nor glosses over the characters' emotions making them seem cold. People suffer, some moreso than others and some cope with loss better than others. The ::slap:: "get over it, this is war!" attitude to emotion seems to have gone - indeed Captain Bright even says at one point, when berated for the fact that the main characters still behave like kids; "I gave up trying to make them anything else." Which seems to be as much a lesson that the writers of ZZ have learned as he has.
I can understand why people react badly to ZZ at first. The first few episodes on the Shangri-La colony have a lot of humour in them - they don't take themselves seriously and even gently parody ideas from previous Gundam series. Quite a contrast to the dark final episodes of Zeta, but Tomino has said that it was his intention to cheer the audience up, as he felt that more of the same would depress them. And that's perhaps it, the fact that Double Zeta feels more hopeful than it's predecessor, not afraid to have a little fun along with the war and the tragedy, has endeared it to me.
The black sheep of Gundams UC timeline starts off horrible with its comedic approach, but almost reaches Zetas quality of dramatic storytelling in its last third. Especially the second half makes it a must watch for any Gundam Fan, as important political UC relevant events take place. If you want to have a complete understanding of the UC timeline ZZ is quite important to watch (Haman Karn is one of the most intimidating villains in the franchise). The cast of likable characters makes it also very enjoyable.
Art Animation 7/10
To me there will be 3 types of people who will watch ZZ.
1.Those who enjoyed the angst of Zeta
2. Those who didn't (Me)
3.Those who have never watched a UC Gundam series before
To the 1's I say: This may not be the series for you as it is very lighthearted and sometimes campy from the beginning and doesn't really lose touch of these roots as it grows from it.
Tot he 2's: I sympathize with you, and say that you will most likely enjoy the fresh characters and their passion in what they do.
To the 3's I say: Why are you starting
here? Go watch the original Gundam or at the very least Zeta. Please.
The long of it:
So as you may or may not already know, this series is the 3rd in the Universal Century (UC) Timeline. With the ending of Zeta very... grim, we reach a more light a and fun series with our protagonists.
According to some this first part of the series is hard to get through, to others it is a very good up turn from the Zeta. To me I think this is a great addition to UC timeline.
All throughout the Gundam franchise, angst has been hanging over the heads of all the characters, death of loved ones, betrayals, doubts of living through the next battle. And while this does help add depth to characters, this in retrospect however means that to tell a good story no one can be properly happy.
ZZ topples this idea with spirited fun and characters with good growth and change throughout the series. And while some characters don't grow they still are enjoyable to watch as they exhibit the humanity that people can show throughout war without having to regress into some sort of puddle of angst and sorrow for however long.
In terms of technical stuff, the art is what you'l expect and is well done; Sound is well placed and used; And the story is a very interesting one to say at the very least with characters that can be very tragic.
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