While the original Gundam did revolutionize the mecha genre shifting from superhero robots to more real robots that are used as a tool for war, it wasn’t without a few snags. Anyone who has read a little into the history of Gundam will know that the original series was almost cut short due to its low ratings, but was able to complete its run albeit with less episodes than intended. What could have been the franchises end was miraculously saved with the help of bandai creating a toy brand, as well as reruns and theatrical releases that would garner a larger audience and later spur a sequel known as zeta.
Zeta takes place several years after the one year war that took place in the original Gundam. While the war may have ended conflict still occurs out in space in the form of the Titan and the Anti-Earth Union Group or the A.E.U.G. the titan a group sprouted from the earth federation forces with the task of hunting down zeon remnants, but they overstep their bounds and eliminate anyone who they deem a threat such as the gassing of 3 million people because they protested against earth. It’s because of these actions that the A.E.U.G was formed to fight back against the titans and stop further atrocities.
While this is all happening the main focus of the show is on Kamille a young boy living in one of the space colonies where some of the titan pilots were doing some of their training. through a series of contrived circumstance Kamille gets in a confrontation with the titans which in the end leads him to stealing the new mk-ll gundam, and joining the A.E.U.G. Most of the episodes that follow are Battles that the A.E.U.G has with the titans. Because of his zeta also falls into many of the trappings of the original gundam. With so many fights one after another it starts to feel tedious with no down time to have something to juxtapose the fighting and make it much more rich and rewarding. Even with some of the downtime it does have it’s usually minimal and quickly overshadowed with more action.
Take this as either positive or negative about the show, but I felt that the scale of the conflict had gone down compared to the original gundam. Zeta felt like a small skirmish between two groups as there was no explicit or implied size of both forces leading me to believe that the battle was mostly between a few ships on both sides. It’s true that most of the original gundam was focused on just the white base and crew making the scale also small. However it was for the purpose that they would be a decoy while the earth federation builds up their main forces which gave the sense of scale that payed off in the end. Instead we have an ending that leaves more to be needed as not much closure was done.
This is more of a personal thought, but i honestly liked the gundams when they transformed into space crafts rather than the actual mech itself. While yes, the mechs are the main draw of the show and offer more versatility in combat. Most of the fighting happened in space and while on earth they were still most of the time flying about which have off the feeling that if they were switched it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
I think the real thing that broke the camel's back for me were the characters. Just like with the story it was mostly action with little bit in the way of developing and fleshing out characters. What also hurt the show was that almost all of the characters never had this presence to them that i should care about. It was rather striking when one of the pilots died, and the show made a scene about it with music and everything even though i had no idea who it was, and to only realize it was apolly, a character who was practically there from the beginning but never given any screen time to even be a support character. The enemy side is actually given more screen time for more specific characters, but even with that they still come across as 2-dimensional villains with little to sympathize with, which at least the original gundam got kind of right.
But not all the characters are bad. Kamille is a mixed bag of doing things with no reason, but also a person with emotions making him a tad better than amuro. Cha- I mean Quattro is a very cool dude who serves as a decent mentor to kamille and some other new pilots. Some of the characters from the original show come back with some suffering from character rewrite for better or worse and with the benefit of being the former cast already have some presence. Finally my favorite character from the show being emma who was the most developed character from the show. As she switches sides for very obvious reasons that also serve as her motivation to fight while at the same time continues to be an interesting and dynamic character throughout the rest of the show.
Production wise Zeta is far more superior than the original show. The mechanical designs for the mechas and space ships look more machine like rather than plastic toys in the original show. The character models look more well defined and are animated a bit more well. It’s just an over all more well defined and polished work. The soundtrack for the show is more orchestral than before but it loses that zany pop that the orginal show had before. The voice acting is a little less jarring mostly due to the fact of better equipment that the studio was able to use.
It’s odd that people consider this angsty or grim when i personally found the entire show to be rather dry. I still have more criticism for this show, but as of now this is getting rather lengthy. It was a show that had a lot of potential, but fell short of what it could have been