Z – Zeta Gundam (but not actually)

Born in Shadow suggested that I make Zeta Gundam my post for Z. The problem is, there’s nothing I could say that Born in Shadow hasn’t already said better.

Except for a warning to those who want to check it out. Don’t get the US DVD release: it’s got a garbage translation, it doesn’t have Neil Sedaka’s awesome theme music, and the names, which had been fairly standard in the fan community and in video games for 20 years, get all mucked up. They couldn’t get the original US dub VAs back, either, but whether or not that’s a bad thing is debatable. Also, despite this being the best Giant Robot Anime Ever Made in the history of forever and there will never be another Giant Robot Anime to ever come close to being as awesome as Zeta Gundam (with maybe the exception of Gurren Lagann), you should be warned that it ends on a cliff-hanger, with the story picked up right where it was left off by its sequel ZZ Gundam, which was absolutely terrible. “Surely it can’t be that bad, I mean, it’s the sequel to Zeta Gundam!” You’re wrong. Whatever is the worst you can imagine, it’s worse. The characters who didn’t die in Zeta Gundam get relegated to second class comic relief characters, and the characters who did die get replaced by a team of Power Rangers. The first major villain pilots a garbage mech made of garbage. It only goes downhill from there.

If you can accept the catharsis of an open ending and are content to deduce the events occuring between Zeta Gundam and Char’s Counter Attack for yourself (it’s not hard) you will be much better off.  Don’t let ZZ being terrible discourage you!

Anyway, my real A-to-Z post for “Z” will be up later today!

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13 responses to “Z – Zeta Gundam (but not actually)

  1. Thanks for the shout out! I will disagree with ZZ though. It’s definitely no Zeta (and what they did to Yazan was…awful) but I enjoyed it after the first 10 or so episodes. I can’t really blame Tomino for wanting to do something a little more light hearted after Zeta’s rather oppressively downbeat ending, but I do agree the beginning of ZZ is just weird. It’s trying so hard to be funny, but doesn’t manage it at all.

    Still, I think it redeems itself by the end of things (though it takes its sweet time getting there). I feel its a series that had a fair bit of reworking behind the scenes, since Char was originally going to be a major part of it. There is an episode where a lot of characters have a bit of a jarring change of character, and I think that was Tomino going “Oh, I’ve got my Char movie? Guess I have to rework all of this.”

    Which is about the point I thought the story picked up, incidentally.

    • The only parts of ZZ that were redeeming to me was how it followed Fa and how she was handling Camille’s incapacitation; she’d always been devoted to him and cared about him despite him treating her like crap a lot of the time, so it was good to see that he’d maybe finally learned to stop taking her for granted. I think the worst sin of ZZ was making the characters we’d grown to care about largely irrelevant. If the new cast had been likable (or at least been characters in the same genre), I think it might have been forgivable.

      They also changed to a more super-robot setting in that the Argama was no longer a small part of a larger conflict; everything seemed to center around them and the rest of the world was gone when they weren’t around.

      Admittedly, when Judah’s sister(?) was kidnapped, things did take a bit of a turn, but while it got better, it never got good, or at least not good enough.

      Also weird: the recurring Neo-Zeon joke villain canonically being the most powerful newtype in UC continuity up to that point.

      • I can see where you’re coming from. I liked seeing that Camille and Fa had their own issues going on, since I thought he had it worse than some of the people who, well, died in Zeta’s ending.

        I agree with the cast swap. I wasn’t overly pleased that the survivors of Zeta were shoved into the background, but I did come to like Judau and his “I’m not putting up with anyone’s crap” attitude.

        When I watched ZZ I thought the same about how Argama centric things were. I just figured that after the whole dust up with the Gryps Conflict, no one was in a position to do much of anything. Except Neo-Zeon which had pulled back from the bulk of the fighting around the Colony Laser. I suppose I rationalized it as the Argama just being in the right place to launch a (suicidal if not for plot shields) attack on Neo Zeon.

        I’m not sure what you mean about the joke villain. Do you mean Chara Soon? I didn’t think she was more powerful than Scirocco’s whole “lol just going to make you forget I exist” and his dying madness infusion.

        In the end, I still think it’s better than Victory Gundam, so I suppose that does help it out somewhat hah hah.

      • I was thinking Mashimar. I kept expecting him to toss his rose and say “Ole!”. Never saw V gundam, though I’d really wanted to; I’d played the old SNES Beat-em-up; it wasn’t translated, but there seemed to be a lot of still-scenes of people crying and bleeding in between levels.

        I’ve got to say, the best thing to come from ZZ was probably in one of the live action Hana Kimi adaptations that my girlfriend has; when one of the characters finds out that the person he has a crush on is actually a girl, someone walks in on him singing to himself “Homo ja nai” to the tune of the ZZ OP.

      • V Gundam is Zeta Gundam’s grimness cranked to 11. But it’s about as silly as ZZ gets at times. Overall, it’s weird and has awkward tonal shifts constantly. People bleeding and crying could be a subtitle for that series. Imagine the death toll of the end of Zeta, but every 5-6 episodes.

        I don’t really remember much of Mashimar being a newtype until after the newtype conditioning he went through. Even then, I recall him dying along with a slew of other Zeon folk in their civil war.

        Hah hah that live action bit sounds pretty great.

      • Oh, yeah, Mashimar died pretty hard, but he went out with a crazy flare of light and everyone’s reaction was pretty much “You truly are the king of kings! :O”

      • Hmm I’d have to watch it again. I thought it was Chara Soon that went out like that, but I guess not.

        Given how many prototype suits were getting thrown around in that fight, my money is on experimental generator hah hah

      • Yeah, she went out in a crazy newtype explosion too, but I feel like there was more comment on Mashimar. Newtypism got pretty over the top in that show, if I remember.

    • Well, the problem is that ZZ was written as a direct continuation or 2nd season. Zeta ends with half the cast dead and one of the two villain factions moving in to take control of the Earth Sphere in the wake of the devastation left from the confrontation between the Titans and the Anti-Earth United Group (who, despite the name, were the goodguys).

      • I remember when my wife and I watched Escaflowne together. It was the first time I’d seen more than the first couple episodes, and I actually enjoyed it for the first bit — building up to the second half.

        Then the writers decided to switch up the romantic couples for something bizarre — which may have been all it took to ruin the entire second half of the series. Yeah, actually I think that was it.

        It was such an asspull that I hated the entire second half.

        Gurren Lagann wasn’t much better post-timeskip and the ending is a cop out. Screw the morals, we have ratings!

        –Dither

      • I actually enjoyed both of those shows, despite their flaws. Escaflowne was a coming of age type thing, where the female protag’s girlish crush was bouncing back and forth between the two dashing young men she was suddenly introduced to until she realized she didn’t have to define herself by her love interests and she could live her own life. The fact alone that it was a robot show with a female non-pilot protagonist made it interesting enough to be worthwhile to me.

        As for Gurren Lagann, the time-skip and thematic changes make sense when looking at the show as a deconstruction of the giant robot genre: Kamiya represents the golden ‘heroic’ age of giant robots, and his death ushers in a darker period (corresponding to Gundam’s ‘war is hell’ approach that ran through the 80s and early 90s), while the post-time-skip is a criticism of navel-gazing occidentalism that had crept into the genre starting with Eva. The cop-out ending was the show saying ‘screw it all, enough of this introspective angst, robots should be fun and awesome!’

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