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.