Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam comes to its grizzly and depressing conclusion! Yes, it’s well known now that creator Yoshiyuki Tomino fell into depression during the course of Zeta, leading to the extremely dark ending to the series, and … yep, it is that, but is it still enjoyable, in a sick, “realistic war scenario” kind of way? Let’s find out!
The Titans are pointing the Gryps Colony Laser at the AUEG’s base of Granada, forcing the latter’s hand, making them do anything to survive… even form an alliance with the traitorous Axis Zeon forces…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Kamille and Haman connect through the Force… I mean, through their Newtype abilities, sorry.
Kamille Bidan (Nobuo Tobita / Jonathan Lachlan-Stewart) – Kamille has become a powerful Newtype pilot, one full with loss and regret for all the lives he’s taken since he’s been forced into this life. Just one more push and the war will be over, right?
Quattro Bajeena / Char Aznable (Shuichi Ikeda / Tom Edwards) – Char is now the figurehead of the AUEG, and he wants nothing more than the Titans defeated, even if that means going back to Haman Karn on his hands and knees… maybe.
Bright Noa (Hirotaka Suzuoki / Dave Kelly) – Bright is the commander of the Argama and one of the AUEG top brass. Big deciding conflicts aren’t new to him, but he hopes to come out of this one with a ship in one piece…
Fa Yuiry (Miyuki Matsuoka / Angie Beers) – Fa is an old friend of Kamille who also got sucked into this lifestyle. She spends most of her time looking after the orphan kids on board, but she can handle a mobile suit if necessary…
Emma Sheen (Maya Okamoto / Lisa Christie) – Emma has come a long way since defecting from the Titans, and is now the ace pilot of the ship known as the Radish, piloting the Gundam Mk.II. Still, in the middle of war, it can take more than skill to survive…
Katz Kobayashi (Keiichi Nanba / Sean Broadhurst) – Katz is a rather confused teenager, full to hope and love for the enemy pilot Sarah Zabiarov, and full of anger and resentment towards his own leaders… Hmmm… this isn’t going to end well, is it?
Jerid Messa (Kazuhiko Inoue /Ethan Cole) – Jerid has spent pretty much the whole Titans-AUEG war being kicked in the crotch repeatedly. He lost best friends, close allies, two love interests and more to young AUEG ace Kamille Bidan, and got nothing in return. Is this final battle a chance to turn things around?! … Nope.
Paptimus Scirocco (Bin Shimada / Jonathan Love) – Scirocco is an extremely charismatic and clever foe, as well as a powerful Newtype. He plans to take control of the Earth Federation and guide it like a God… at least until a strong woman comes along to lead them, or something…
Haman Karn (Yoshiko Sakakibara / Valerie Howell) – Haman is the leader of the Zeon remnants from Axis, and also a powerful Newtype. She wishes for her old ally Char to return to Zeon, but she’s also willing to do anything to advance her cause…
Bask Om (Daisuke Gori / Noah Umholtz) – Bask is the head of the Titan’s military assets and takes great pleasure in killing large amounts of innocent people, even if it doesn’t really serve much purpose. In other words, he’s bad.
Reccoa Londe (Masako Katsuki / Meredith Taylor-Parry) – Reccoa was a member of the AUEG who betrayed them and joined up with Scirocco as he was the only man to treat her like a woman, or something. She’s angry at men, and I think… She’s just gone nuts.
Yazan Gable (Hochu Otsuka / Corby Proctor) – Yazan is an ace pilot for the Titans, but is unique in that his skills rival that of a Newtype, but he actually possesses no Newtype abilities whatsoever. He takes great pleasure in his killing…
Rosamia Badam (Kayoko Fujii / Jennifer Bain) – Rosamia is a Cyber-Newtype, and as such is extremely mentally unstable. She is once again in the hands of the Titans, and will no doubt be used as a tool once again…
Sarah Zabiarov (Yuko Mizutani / Maizun Jayoussi) – Sarah is a fiercely loyal follower of Paptimus Scirocco, her undying loyalty even withstanding her newfound love for Katz Kobayashi of the AUEG.
Plus many more!
Kamille during the big showdown with Scirocco.
Well, let’s start with the obvious: the death toll. Now, this isn’t a good thing, per say, but it does make for compelling viewing when the writer just throws his hands in the air and says “screw it!” and almost suddenly applies realism to a far-fetched series. A few deaths occur before Episode 49, but the majority happen in the final two episodes, which cover the final battle, and so many of those deaths are the former ace pilots being taken out in a simple manor. As if all the top tier characters have suddenly no more of a right to dodge gun fire than any other mobile suit pilot out there in space. It is legitimately thrilling to watch, not that I’d want all my series to be like it (that would be depressing alright!). If I did a rundown of characters in a mythical Episode 51 it would only feature Kamille as a mental vegetable, Fa, Bright, Char, Haman and Yazan. Everyone else is dead, and Char wouldn’t be featured as he’s presumed dead, so… Yikes.
The final battle of the final battle, if you will, comes down to Kamille and Char facing off with Scirocco and Haman, and it’s a thrilling battle. They fight in the barrel of the Gryps Laser, then escape in time for it to be used (by the AUEG to wipe out a good chunk of the Titans fleet, so… bit of a “we’re no better than they are” grey area there…) before splitting off into Haman against Char and Kamille facing off with Paptimus. Haman wants Char to rejoin Zeon and is actually upset when Char is seemingly killed, where as Scirocco is just pure unpleasantness and gets killed when the souls of the dead help Kamille to fight back against the “Man from Jupiter” and his strong Newtype abilities. It shows how powerful (and Force-like) Kamille’s Newtype powers have become, but it also soon shows how its not strong enough as Kamille’s mind gets hit by some sort of Newtype mental attack from Scirocco’s dying anger and he gets the mind of a confused child. The series ends of Fa crying as Kamille spouts gibberish about beautiful stars and such… it’s… yeah, depressing as hell, but memorable, you’ll have to give it that!
The story of the young Katz is also … well, depressing. He accidentally kills his love Sarah when she takes a shot the teenager meant for Scirocco, then later his quest for revenge is cut short when he’s randomly shot down by Yazan in the final battle. During Kamille’s intervention by the dead, Katz’ spirit once again tries to convince the spirit of Sarah to stop protecting Scirocco, which at least sort of works, but… Yeah. Emma is killed and willing gives her “life force” to Kamille, and people like Reccoa and poor old Jerid are also offed in the battle as well, with Jerid’s last words being along the lines of “Kamille!! If it weren’t for you-“, which probably would have ended with “I could have actually been happy” or “I wouldn’t be about to die”. Either way… Poor guy.
So that’s Episodes 49 and 50, but what about the other six? Well Episodes 43 – 45 see Haman betray the Titans and ally with the AUEG, including the capture of the Gryps Laser and the destruction of the Titan base known as “The Gate of Zedan”. It’s good stuff, especially the “will she, won’t she” with Haman picking sides. Episode 46 sees Earth Federation / Titan leader Jamitov get killed by Scirocco during the chaos of a meeting between those two, Haman and Char Aznable, and again it’s a great watch.
47 and 48 are basically just cleaning up some left over baggage before the final battle. Bask is killed and Rosamia is also given her send off, once again the tortured soul of a Cyber-Newtype is put at rest by Kamille, who then responds to Char’s asking if he’s alright with “Of course I’m alright, I just killed someone. Isn’t that what Newtypes are here for?” Which was an interesting character path to go down, it’s a shame Tomino went in another direction.
Scirocco at the end of the big showdown with Kamille.
To be honest, not a lot. I mean, you can say that the ending was too dark, and I’ll easily see your point. I wouldn’t want any other Gundam series to go that far off the scales, but as a one off it makes for interesting viewing. Baring in mind that Victory Gundam still remains one of the few Gundam series I’ve never watched, and apparently that suffers from a similar bout of Tomino depression-lead darkness, but as I write this I don’t mind Zeta’s ending as a uniquely stark reminder of the horrors of war.
Oh, and Katz was still annoying, right to the very end. He didn’t have a Kamille-like settling down period, he was just full on annoying. Same goes for the orphan children. As if they couldn’t be any more out of place, this dark finale comes along! … okay, and Reccoa, who thankfully didn’t appear that often, still spouted nonsense in the final battle when talking with Emma. Still don’t know what she’s all about…
Haman leaves the final battle unscathed, ready to take her place as the lead villain in ZZ.
With 42 episodes of build up, Zeta Gundam manages to pay it all off with an unforgiving final battle that sees more character deaths than you can shake a stick at. Would I want this to be a common theme? Hell no, that would get depressing fast, but as a one off example of the true risks of being in the middle of a battlefield (and how unlikely it is that all your mates would keep coming back with you) it works as a piece of dramatic story telling, with some really good mech battles in the final episode to boot!