Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ – Episodes 1 – 11 Review

Gundam ZZ P1

It’s time to take that tentative step into the world of Gundam ZZ (pronounced “Double Zeta”, for the record!), a show wildly inconsistent in its tone, though sadly for this first chunk of episodes, the tone is actually consistent…ly bad. I don’t mind a more light-hearted approach, but I do mind it when it’s not done very well! So let’s resume our look at the Universal Century timeline of Gundam by taking at look at ZZ’s first eleven episodes…

Synopsis:

After the devastating losses from the battle at Gryps, the Argama docks at the Shangri-La colony to unload the injured and resupply. Meanwhile Titan pilot Yazan Gable’s life pod is discovered by a group of greedy junk-dealing teens, and the forces formally known as Axis, now known as Neo Zeon, are already making their move in the vacuum created by the war between the AUEG and the Titans…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Gundam ZZ P1 4

Judau and Iino ponder “What exactly is a rock?”

Judau Ashta (Kazuki Yao) – Judau has grown up in the harsh slums of Shangri-La, having to look after his little sister Leina when their parents left. He now spends most of his time with his fellow struggling teens, collecting old junk and mobile suit parts in order to sell and get enough money to send his sister to a good school.

Roux Louka (Naoko Matsui) – Roux is a pilot on the La Vie en Rose docking station, who is in line to be transferred to the Argama when it eventually reaches them…

Elle Viano (Eriko Hara) – Elle is a member of Judau’s junk dealing group, and the only female of the lot. She has a crush of Judau, but is far too tomboy-ish to let anyone know about it…

Beecha Oleg (Shingo Hiromori) – Beecha is the arrogant and overbearing member of the Shangri-La junk dealers, and although he often treated like the leader (mostly by himself and his hanger-on Mondo) it’s clear everyone really follows Judau…

Bright Noa (Hirotaka Suzuoki) – Bright has made it through another war, and this time with his ship intact, though most of his crew is either injured or dead. Unlike the end of the One Year War, this war ended with the Titan’s defeat, but a new enemy is already waiting to take advantage, meaning no rest for the wicked…

Fa Yuiry (Miyuki Matsuoka) – Fa is rightfully concerned about her life-long friend and love interest Kamile Bidan, who was mentally damaged in the final chapter of the war with the Titans. Upon their arrival at Shangri-La, Fa is heads straight to the nearest hospital…

Iino Abbav (Masami Kikuchi) – A shy and timid member of Judau’s junk dealing group, he is blindly loyal to Judau, and will follow him through think and thin.

Mondo Agake (Kozo Shioya) – Mondo is happy in his role of sidekick to Beecha, who he sees as the real leader of the junk dealing group that also includes Judau.

Mashymre Cello (Kenyuu Horiuchi) – Mashymre is a high-ranking recruit within the Axis forces, now known as Neo Zeon. He has been given the task of bringing Shangri-La under their control, and given his fierce (and I really mean FIERCE) loyalty to Haman, he is convinced that failure is not on the cards.

Glemy Toto (Tsutomu Kashiwakura) – Glemy is a young recruit who is looking forward to his first mobile suit battle under the command of Mashymre. He comes from a very upper-class and refined family, and has a few secret hobbies…

Yazan Gable (Hochu Otsuka) – Yazan, the man who took great pleasure in killing his foes while on the side of the Titans, got a blow to his ego when he had to eject from his mobile suit during the final battle at Gryps. His escape pod soon wonders into Shangri-La space, where some young junk dealers are looking for a score…

Plus more!

The Good:

Gundam ZZ P1 2

The Zeta Gundam and the Hamma-Hamma do battle… a battle that will probably end with some sort of jokey thing happening, but hey-ho… They still look cool!

While there is a lot that just doesn’t land in this first batch of episodes, I will say that Judau himself is a breath of fresh air compared to the more… realistic and immature lead characters in the previous two series. His jokey, carefree attitude is entertaining, and his relationship with his sister keeps him grounded enough to still feel like a regular person. Likewise, the polite Iino and tomboy Elle are both fun characters to follow, and Judau’s sister Leina works as the sweet, naïve child. Roux, when she makes he debut, is also a refreshing change from the usual lead female characters in that she’s a capable pilot and has a bit more of a laidback attitude, rather than being a super-strict, stay-at-home (or stay-at-base, I guess) moody love interest.

I also like how this series happens literally directly after Zeta, with Kamile being wheeled off on a stretcher and the Argama crew generally still reeling from the Gryps conflict as they dock with Shangri-La. I also like how quickly Bright realises that Judau is a Newtype after having seen similarly-aged kids become ace pilots twice now. Everyone is worried but Bright instead immediately wants them as crew members, both because he’s short on pilots and because he’s seen it all before… twice.

Episode 10 sees the introduction of the ZZ Gundam, which is quite the record for introducing a new suit, something that’s normally done mid-series (unless it’s a fresh series entirely, obviously!) but this works as soon Judau’s friends start piloting the older Gundam models and they form a sort-of Gundam team, so they brought out the new suit early for that eventual purpose.

The Bad:

Gundam ZZ P1 3

Mashymre, undoubtedly moments away from flashing back to when he talked to Haman…

What’s bad? Pretty much everything else! Ignoring episode 1 (which is literally just a recap episode, so unimportant that the blu-ray release didn’t even bother cleaning it up…) these ten episodes are full of attempts at slapstick humour, a lead villain who comically fails and generally acts like an idiot, and those annoying war orphans Shinta and Qum saying and doing silly child things.

The main offender is the villain side of things. Not only does Mashymre Cello and his constant flashbacks to when he talked to Axis leader Haman get old extremely fast, but the fact that he actually looks quite “cool” as a bit of a stereotypical arrogant villain and I love the look of his mobile suit, the “Hamma-Hamma”, so it just ends up feeling like a waste seeing him make a stupid decision, have those around him roll their eyes and know he’s wrong, and then see him botch it before making excuses (probably with another Haman conversation flashback).

Glemy Toto debuts in this batch of episodes, though he doesn’t have any serious undertones here, he’s just purely a gag character who is super-upper-class and falls for Roux, even after she betrays him. I’m not saying he eventually turns into a super serious villain or anything, but he does eventually gain an edge, much like the show also does, eventually…

Still on the villains, Yazan Gable was a proper nasty piece of work in Zeta Gundam, but here is reduced to being a complete comedy character. Episode 2 isn’t too bad, he teams with Judau and his junk dealer pals and tries to steal a mobile suit, but when he kills someone the junkers turn on him… by throwing fruit…*sigh* Anyway, after that he soon turns into a comedy hobo, doing simple tasks for food and getting angry at those damn kids while chewing on a piece of meat. Bizarre decision, and one that makes me wish he’d have been among the many casualties of the Zeta finale.

While I like most of the new cast, Beecha and Mondo are just unpleasantly arrogant and extremely short-sighted. In Episode 10 they decide to leave the Argama because they were happier as junk traders, so contact Mashymre’s ship and give them their position, and then sit on top of the Argama and shoot the dummy asteroids the ship was using to protect itself… what a couple of idiots! They talk about loyalty but put all their friends in danger so they can jump ship, and most annoying this is that Judau, Iino and Elle all find out, but not only do they not turn them in (out of “loyalty”) but they give them free reign of the ship which leads them to do it again in the following episode! Jesus…

Episodes 2 – 8 are all on Shangri-La and all involve Judau ending up piloting the Zeta Gundam and beating either Mashymre or some random “comically overweight” junk trader, sometimes with Yazan. They’re not very good, and when Judau and co. agree to go into space as new Argama crew it’s a sigh of relief that the show might start doing something new. Sadly 9-11 still focus on Mashymre and his crew fighting the Argama, just in space, but still, it’s at least a little different…

Overall Thoughts:

Gundam ZZ P1 1

I was going to put “A literal passing of the torch”, but… they’re not literally passing a torch between each other, so… “Judau meets Kamile”… that’ll do.

Gundam ZZ gets off to a … poor start. Trying of focus on slapstick comedy while also dealing with the fallout of a war with a high death toll is a very odd mix that just doesn’t work. Mashymre and his gag character ways fail to do anything other than get old really fast, Yazan gets his character assassinated, and Beecha and Mondo are pretty damn awful. Judau and the rest of the new cast are a lot more enjoyable than I remembered (from 10 or so years ago, when all I had was poor fansubs, admittedly) but that only really saves this chunk of episodes from getting a 1…

2 Star Watch

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