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Kidou Senshi Z Gundam
Serving as sequel to Mobile Suit Gundam, Zeta Gundam is set seven years later as teenager Kamille Bidan joins with a resistance movement called the Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG) to combat the influence of the Titans, a corrupt faction of the Earth Federation seeking to suppress resistance to Federation influence on space colonies. The AEUG are led by the glasses-wearing Quattro Bajeena, in reality a reformed Char Aznable seeking to halt the corrupt Titan influence after he is able to wipe out the Zabi family in the original Gundam series.|
Our new male lead, Kamille, is a bit of a mixed bag compared to Amuro from the original series. On the one hand, we are shown the emotional trauma he goes through from trying to comprehend the scope of the war he is fighting in as he loses loved ones or those he grows to care for get exploited by the Titans for their personal gain in the ongoing conflict. This makes his character more relatable than Amuro in certain facets as he struggles with and tries coming to terms with the scale of the conflict he is entangled in whereas Amuro did not have as much personal baggage to deal with in comparison. On the other hand, his more idealist bent and impulsiveness did grate on my nerves at points as his rushing into action and angsting usually made connecting with him difficult.
Besides Kamille, many of the major characters do get a good deal of fleshing out to explore their personal beliefs and how they are impacted by the AEUG/ Titans conflict. A good number of the major players from Mobile Suit Gundam return to take on supporting roles and each are affected from their experiences from the One-Year War in varying capacities such as Quattro/ Char feeling the weight of pressure from fulfilling a leadership role in the AEUG, Amuro still recuperating from years-long combat fatigue, and Katz (one of the war orphans watched by Frau in the original series) struggling to comprehend the reality of war as a teenage pilot. The series also explores some of the victims of the corruption of the Titans as they employ brainwashing and genetic manipulation to manipulate some characters in fighting on their behalf and the psychological effects of these tactics are shown with their use on the artificially-created Cyber Newtypes. The characterization is not all deep as there are some relevant characters that exist mainly to be irredeemably evil among the Titans and to eventually be killed off.
In terms of plot, Zeta Gundam explores the struggles of the AEUG aboard the Argama as they fight the Titans within space and on Earth. The conflict between the two continually escalates with the Titans making new mobile suits, exploiting enemy weaknesses to get an upper hand, committing worst atrocities to the civilian populace than the Zeons, and defying Federation authority to do whatever they like. The series offers some surprise twists in its storytelling that help shake the show's plot and character development up, including the return of a major enemy faction from the original Gundam series. Otherwise, it does follow a number of the typical storytelling tropes we would expect of many later Gundam titles that include a high death count, Newtype gimmicks being milked, a mid-series Gundam upgrade, and clash between normal and enhanced humans. While the series finale offers a shocking twist ending after the Titans are dealt with, Zeta Gundam had ended inconclusively due to an enemy threat still being at large and would continue on in the critically panned Gundam ZZ.
While the visuals to Zeta Gundam are quite outdated compared to modern anime titles, the animation is improved from the original series with not too many animation errors and less rough details with scenery and character designs. Still though, the series does resort to animation shortcuts with still shots and reused animated frames being an occasional sight within the show.
While having some hiccups in its storytelling and character exploration, Zeta Gundam is still one of the better quality offerings of the Gundam franchise as it offered more darker story developments and introduced new story elements and concepts that would be reused for later Gundam titles. It is a worthwhile watch if you are a fan of the Gundam franchise or mecha anime in general.
Last updated Saturday, September 03 2016. Created Monday, February 27 2012.