Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam – Episodes 1 – 13 Review

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My sort-of-in-order watch through of Universal Century era Gundam continues, sadly skipping the OVAs (as I may as well wait for a possible blu-ray release…) and heading straight for Zeta Gundam. I haven’t watched the show in nearly 10 years, but I still haven’t forgot never really liking Kamille, and it seems for good reason! Let’s take a look at the opening chunk of 13 episodes, shall we?

Synopsis:

The year is UC 0087, 8 years after the One Year War, and the Earth and its colonies are in dire straights as the Titans, an elite task force of the Earth Federation designed to hunt down Zeon remnants has began to ruthlessly kills anyone demanding equal rights for the space citizens in cold blood, among other horrible abuses of power. A rebel group called the AEUG (Anti-Earth Union Group) are trying to beat them back to Earth, but are having little luck.

Kamille Bidan is a civilian teenager and amateur mobile suit pilot whose parents are engineers working for the Earth Federation and the Titans. While travelling to the Green Noa colony to meet his parents, Kamille is insulted by and strikes a Titans officer named Jerid Messa. Following an AEUG attack on the colony to capture a trio of Gundam Mk-II mobile suits undergoing field tests, Kamille takes the opportunity to steal Messa’s Mk-II to repel the attack and follows Quattro back to the AEUG mothership Argama, starting a journey he’ll never forget…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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It’s a Gundam! … Mk.II …. Screenshot.

Kamille Bidan (Nobuo Tobita / Jonathan Lachlan-Stewart) – Kamille is a young boy who is training to use mobile suits, and has … a rather large problem with people making fun of his name for sounding like a girl’s name. When I say large problem, I mean SERIOUSLY large problem.

Quattro Bajeena / Char Aznable (Shuichi Ikeda / Tom Edwards) – The former Char Aznable is now working once again to fight the Earth Federation, this time under a new name (well, technically that was the case in Zeon as well…), and he’s definitely on the “right” side of the conflict this go around, as the Titans continue to be, quite frankly, evil. His sunglasses means no one can tell he’s Char Aznable, which makes just that tiny bit more sense than Clark Kent’s regular glasses doing the same job…

Bright Noa (Hirotaka Suzuoki / Dave Kelly) – Bright Noa is still a loyal member of the Earth Federation, but as the special Titans force continues to get more and more power and control in the Federation, the more he’s treated like crap. Maybe time for a switch?

Fa Yuiry (Miyuki Matsuoka / Angie Beers) – Fa is a friend of Kamille who cares for him a great deal, but also finds him immature and annoying (and boy she’s not wrong there!)

Emma Sheen (Maya Okamoto / Lisa Christie) – Emma currently works for the Titans, but she’ll soon discover the true nature of the group she’s apart of, a truth that may change her mind for good…

Bask Om (Daisuke Gori / Noah Umholtz) – Bask is in control of the Titans’ main forces and is generally a heartless dick. He willingly signed off on a plan to gas thousands of innocent colony folk purely to “send a message”.

Jerid Messa (Kazuhiko Inoue /Ethan Cole) – Jerid is a member of the Titans, and has aspirations to become top-brass. A seemingly random encounter with a boy called Kamille will change his life, and wow… it won’t be for the better by the time his story is told…

Paptimus Scirocco (Bin Shimada / Jonathan Love) – Scirocco is a powerful New Type who has spent a long time away mining the clouds of Jupiter. Technically still a member of the Earth Federation, Paptimus sees himself as far more than that…

Reccoa Londe (Masako Katsuki / Meredith Taylor-Parry) –Reccoa is a member of AUEG who specialises in covert infiltration. She plays the tough girl act well…

Kai Shiden (Toshio Furukawa / Scott Roberts) – One of the heroes of the One Year War, Kai has since become an investigative reporter. His is currently looking into why the Titans are abandoning the Jaburo base, as well as giving intel to the Earth-based resistance group known as Karaba.

Plus many more!

The Good:

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“Is that Char? … No, he’s wearing sunglasses. Can’t be.”

Much like the previous series, Char Aznable is the most interesting character here. As Quattro he has the power and charisma to lead them, but he prefers to take orders and help out as a pilot. When Kamille joins the crew he can tell his Newtype potential and soon becomes a mentor figure to him (God help him…) In general I like how logical it all is, as the villains this time round are the Earth Federation, so it’s not like Char has switched sides or anything, and he’s still dead set on having everyone leave Earth and all that jazz. Plus… he’s still plain “cool”, and his new gold Hyaku Shiki mobile suit is pretty damn awesome, as immature as that sentence sounded.

I also like Bright Noa’s story in this first chunk of episodes. He’s still with the Earth Federation, but when Bask plans to do evil (as he tends to do!) Bright objects, and is then beaten half to death by some Titans because this was a Titans op and he has no sway. Unsurprisingly Bright switches sides, though instead of joining the Earth-based Karaba, he goes into space to join the large AUEG force instead, and of course ends up being the commander of a White Base-like ship, completely with annoying young hotshot Gundam pilot.

Speaking of Bask and his evilness, I really have to laugh at just how overboard it is. I mean, he willingly gassed a whole colony,  and in order to regain some mobile suits he lost to Kamille’s thievery he kidnaps the kid’s mother, puts her in a glass pod in the middle of space and then lies to his pilots about what’s in it so they willingly shoot it if any enemy gets near to it (which ends up happening, right before Kamille’s eyes). All the time he has a permanent smirk on his face. What a perfectly detestable cock.

As for other new characters, Emma Sheen and her betrayal of the Titans is good, but otherwise she’s a pretty personality-less pilot. Not bad enough to go in “The Bad”, but pretty bland. Reccoa is also pretty lifeless, but at least her spying skills and interactions with the now-journalist Kai were good. Scirocco (who I completely forgot we ever saw this early) is also a great arrogant villain, though in this case he’s not so upfront and evil as Bask and the Titans, but instead the kind of manipulative villain who can get away with a lot more if he so pleased. He’s also bigged up as being a powerful Newtype even this early on, which sets the scene nicely for the finale a long way down the road…

Finally we had Jerid. One of the only things I remember about my first watch of Zeta all those years ago was how sad Jerid’s story is, really. He wants to be good, great even, but he soon gets into a rivalry with Kamille, who is too naturally good of a pilot. Even in this group of 13 episodes he’s responsible for losing the Gundam Mk.II units to the AUEG, and sees his love interest Lila and his good friend Kacricon die in front of him either directly or indirectly by Kamille’s hands. Each time he swears revenge, each time he keeps failing and hating himself for it… and it’s only going to get worse for him…

While the first chunk of episodes is a mixed bag with no clear plot apart from the obvious introduction to the new political landscape and characters, they are overall entertaining, apart from the protagonist (see below!) Then there is a small set of stories on the Moon which includes a good battle on the surface outside of Von Braun City before we get the first major operation: the AUEG’s attack on the Titans’ (ha, attack on the titans… No, wait… no that’s not really funny) main base of Jaburo, or former main base, not that the AUEG knows this going in… It again has some good moments, including the reintroduction (briefly, sadly) of Kai and some good battles. Jaburo is nuked by the Titans in an attempt to trap their enemy, which is another case of the Titans ignoring the rules to suit themselves (nukes having been banned in the early stages of the One Year War). It also leads to Char and Kamille being stranded on Earth, leading to a fun mini-arc up next featuring Amuro Ray!

Speaking of Amuro, we get a brief glimpse into his new life during these episodes, where he’s been kept under house arrest purely out of fear for his Newtype powers. Amuro has lost his edge during this time, and it’s quite sad to see…

The Bad:

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Oh yeah, Kamille and a HARO robot… that’s quite the obnoxious Gundam duo!

Let’s get this out of the way: Kamille Bidan is not very likable. In fact, he’s extremely annoying and only gets slightly better, if memory serves. He’s no Amuro, who also started off annoying but actually became a good character in the end. Whiny and likely to throw a temper tantrum at the drop of a hat… I mean, in Episode 1 where he jumped over a barrier and punched Titan officer Jerid in the face for overhearing him joke about his girly name… Jesus. Overreact much? That’s just the tip of the iceberg, these first 13 episodes are full of weird fits of anger that result in him storming off for seemingly no reason. Just… not a good thing for the central figure of your show to be like, and it does drag the show down quite a bit in these early, really bad attitude phases.

Overall Thoughts:

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Hey look, it’s the Argama… and also very clearly the only non-blu-ray picture out of the four…

There is a lot to like about how Zeta Gundam sets up the new landscape and shows how some of the surviving characters from the original show have, or haven’t, moved on with their lives. Some new characters are quite bland but are served with good introduction storylines, but the core problem of the opening episodes is Kamille, and given he’s the lead protagonist, that’s not a good thing. It’s a very bad thing! Still, there are a lot more episodes to go, and I do believe he gets better later on, so… let’s hope my memory is correct, for the sake of my sanity.

3 Star Watch

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