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DunkyHarwood

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Zeta Gundam: Final Impressions

21 JAN
2011

Here I have collected my thoughts on one of my all-time favorite anime series Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.  This isn't intended to be a formal review, but I still tried to organize it as best I could.

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is the direct sequel to the original 1979 Gundam series, Mobile Suit Gundam.  To get the most out of Zeta Gundam, you will first have to watch the original series, which serves as a great introduction to everything in the Gundam franchise.  Zeta may not appeal to everyone as it is among the few Gundam series aimed at an elder audience, but that is the type of anime I enjoy most.  Zeta is often hailed as the definitive #1 Gundam series, and for good reason.  In terms of the story and storytelling, Zeta by far has the most depth of any Gundam series.  Not to mention, Zeta also has great artwork, well-choreographed action sequences, memorable settings, and likeable characters going for it as well.  But what makes this anime so revolutionary and timeless was its realistic take on mecha warfare.

“With its new, realistic approach to giant robots, Gundam changed the face of mecha anime and split the genre into two. Single-handedly inventing the "Real Robot" sub-genre, Gundam forced all of its predecessors to be redefined as part of the "Super Robot" subgenre.”

Personally I feel that most Gundam series and movies are not-at-all worth watching (at least 75% or more of them), so every time I start a new Gundam series I have my doubts.  However, as I mentioned before, Zeta seems to get praise from every direction, so I decided to find out for myself just how good it truly was.  Needless to say, I believe it deserves every bit of praise it receives.  Zeta blows every other Gundam series out of the water.  Turn A Gundam certainly gives it a good run for its money (in some aspects anyways – most notably in its music composition, music implementation, and imaginative artwork), but Zeta is simply on a much grander scale.  The single greatest mecha anime of all time in my opinion.

Zeta Gundam is a true anime legend.  Never before have I experienced a mecha series so ambitious and so believable.  This is an anime that will please any fan of realistic combat, practical war strategies, or even realistic science-fiction elements.  Zeta has an interesting take on humanities’ inevitable fate of being forced to live life in space.  Much of this series takes place in areas of low gravity, and I was amazed at how well movement was depicted these areas.  The couple of low gravity shootouts were enough to put a huge smile on my face.  Even the single-man jetpacks they used from time to time felt realistic in every sense.  As far as the mecha battles go, the land and space battles had completely different feels to them, just as you would expect them to.  So what I am trying to get at here is that that each episode was tremendously detailed; Zeta Gundam may very well be the most detailed series of the 80’s in existence.

Now while the original Mobile Suit Gundam series is easily the most action packed anime I have ever seen in my life, Zeta Gundam is probably the second most (the second half in particular is non-stop action).  So what if I were to tell you that, not only is Zeta insanely action packed, but it also comes with some of the most powerful and elaborate battle sequences you have ever seen in anime?  You probably wouldn’t believe me, right?  Well if this catches your interest, then I highly suggest you try it out.  Zeta Gundam is the ultimate action anime, there is none higher.  But great action isn’t all this series has to offer, Zeta also tells an epic war story which accurately depicts the great losses, bravery, and betrayal that are brought about during times of war.  Unfortunately, this anime never delves too deep into the political side of warfare, but what Gundam series does?  Instead, it focuses more on how war affects individual soldiers and their state of mind.  All in all, this was a truly powerful series, I can’t even count the number of times my jaw dropped in amazement.  I am positive that I will be re-watching this series for the rest of my life.  A true masterpiece if I ever saw one.

As for my dislikes:  Most of the main cast (on both sides of the war) go unscathed one too many times.  Compared to the original Mobile Suit Gundam series, there are far less deaths of the main pilots and main commanding officers.  However, the fact that they don’t die as often does help build up their character and personality, a double-edged sword I suppose.  Another downside is that the first half wasn't quite up to par with the second, but maybe I will feel differently when I re-watch it.  And finally, the biggest issue I had with this anime was that the main opposing forces, known as the Titans, were often made out to look like the bad guys.  Sure, the Titan’s as a whole held selfish ideals and were only involved in the war for their own self-benefit, but that doesn’t mean that nearly every Titan soldier would be in full support of what their leaders are trying to accomplish and that they should always wear an evil look on their faces.  A more fair depiction of what enemy soldiers are truly like can be found in the original Mobile Suit Gundam series, this was in fact a big part of why the original was so gosh darn charming.

Differences between the English and Japanese versions:  Many people might not be aware of this, but the English version of this series is very different from the original Japanese version.  One major change, or enhancement rather, is the addition of many new sound effects.  The new sound effects make for a far greater experience during every single action sequence, and there are plenty of action sequences let me tell you.  Another big difference was that a few of the Japanese voice actors had a tendency to over dramatize their performances, I didn’t appreciate the fakeness.  So essentially, the English dub does a much better job of drawing you in.  If you were unfortunate enough to have watched Zeta Gundam in Japanese, it may be in your best interest to re-watch this series in English.

Click here to watch:  Zeta Gundam's English Intro

 

If you have no plans of watching the original Mobile Suit Gundam series and wish to jump straight to Zeta Gundam, then you should probably understand what a Newtype refers to beforehand:

“A Newtype is theorized to be the next stage of human evolution in the fictional Gundam universe. This minor but groundbreaking metamorphosis is usually expressed as a heightened mental awareness, the result of an evolutionary adaptation to life in space.”

You may also be interested in reading what the back of the DVD case has to say:

“The original Mobile Suit Gundam changed the face of anime with its realistic deptiction of a future war waged with giant robots.  But with Zeta Gundam, the sequel series from director Yoshiyuki Tomino, the Gundam world took on a darker and more adult dimension, laying the foundations for a science fiction saga that has continued for more than two decades.

In Zeta Gundam, we see the future world of the Universal Century through a dark mirror.  Having defeated the Zeon menace, the Earth Federation has itself become cruel and oppressive.  A new generation of Gundam mobile suits is created not to fight for peace, but to punish the enemies of the state, and yesterday’s villains must become today’s heroes in order to balance the scales of justice.  And when a young civilian named Kamille Bidan is caught up in the rebellion, he little suspects the price he will pay in the fight for freedom."

Thanks for reading.

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