Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ – Overall Review

Gundam ZZ Overall

The third series in Gundam history is definitely when it fell off of a cliff, thankfully redeemed by the movie “Char’s Counterattack”, released later. Double Zeta gets off to a poor start, then manages to pick up a bit before falling again, though thankfully never as low as it was to begin with. I commend Tomino for trying something different, but… yeah. Different isn’t always good! Anyway, let’s take an overall look at ZZ then!

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 (and 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 Overall 1

Yay! I remember just getting into Gundam and this was about the only picture of the ZZ cast on the whole internet, as it was pre-Dynasty Warriors Gundam concept art…

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…

Elpeo Ple (Chieko Honda) – Ple is a cyber-Newtype with strong psy powers, though has an extremely immature, child-like personality when not behind the cockpit of a mobile suit.

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 either injured or dead. Unlike the end of the One Year War, this war ended with the his opponents defeat, but a new enemy is already waiting to take advantage. In other words, no rest for the wicked…

Leina Ashta (Maya Okamoto) – Leina is Judau’s sister. She is young but is often more mature than her older brother…

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.

Haman Karn (Yoshiko Sakakibara) – Haman is the leader of Axis, now known as Neo Zeon. Technically the child Mineva Zabi is their leader, but as she’s too young her top aide Haman is really in charge. She wishes to control the whole Earth sphere, though she doesn’t particularly care for the people of Earth…

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 of his own…

Chara Soon (Hazuki Kadoma) – Chara is a member of Axis, and has a rather immature personality, made worse by almost sexual outbursts whenever she’s in the cockpit of a mobile suit…

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.

Plus more!

The Good:

Gundam ZZ Overall 2

One of the few really tense and dramatic scenes in the whole series…

For all its faults, ZZ does have some good moments sprinkled about. For starters, Judau is a different kind of lead protagonist, rather moody boy who “turns into a man” through war, he’s actually a cocky teen who never really changes who he is, just learns to be more responsible while still maintaining a good sense of humour. His strong bond with his little sister Leina, as well as his close friendship with his pals from his junk dealing days all help give him a more well rounded feel, rather than the usual loner type.

Speaking of “rather than the usual type”, the two female pilots in the series are far more well rounded as well. The bossy but kind Roux and the tomboy character Elle are both free from the “females must either be love objects or mothers” set up the previous two series had. In fact I really liked Elle throughout the series, she was a standout character to me, even if she was often put to one side in favour of our “hero” Judau.

Haman Karn, despite being the big bad all series, actually does very little combat-wise, but does have some great scenes with Judau, who she seems to have an affinity for. The confrontation between the two which ends with Leina getting shot and Judau losing his mind and attacking Haman with some sort of … mental attack that sends the cold-hearted leader running off in tears was a great moment. Their final showdown was good too, though a little odd, dialogue-wise. Haman was a major character left unexplored in Zeta, so she at least got a little bit of development and a good end.

Another major character that wasn’t too bad was Glemy Toto, who starts off as a complete comedy character who stumbles around in love with Roux, then ends up a serious leader of a splinter group from Haman’s Neo Zeon and takes her on with his special Cyber-Newtype squad. The fact that his more comedic story gets called back to when Roux is the one who kills him actually works, oddly enough. It’s a blatantly accidental benefit of the dramatic shift in tone, but there you go.

Other characters like Argama captain Bright Noa, who is still the voice of maturity and authority, Iino, the naïve friend, and the still mentally-fragile Kamille (with Fa) were all fine, never stood out (which is a shame for Bright and Kamille) but they didn’t do any harm. Kamille and Fa got a happy ending in the end, after all they’ve been through the past two series, so that was nice, I guess.

There were some big battles and scenes that were good. The aforementioned confrontation between Judua and Haman, that ended with Leina’s injury, lead to a tense showdown between Judua and Elpeo Ple, who up to this point was obnoxiously sweet but had felt threatened by Leina’s love for Judau, who she saw as her “big brother”. It all seemingly ended with Leina’s death, though as dramatic as that all was, it turned out to be false and that she was alive. I didn’t mind this at all, it was still a dramatic watch.

All the fights before, during and after the terrible colony drop that levels Dublin was the highlight of the series. Some great battles, visuals and Ple’s death was well done. It’s a shame the momentum couldn’t be continued further…

The final battle between Haman’s forces and Glemy’s forces, with the “Gundam Team” in the middle, was a good end, though wasn’t as well done as the Dublin battles. Judau and co. got a happy ending, which is fine, and it explains his absence during the next chapter of Universal Century Gundam…

The Bad:

Gundam ZZ Overall 3

So many things to hate in one picture…

It may seem like that’s a lot of stuff to like, but the whole first half of the series is pretty … well, crap. It’s either attempts at humour that fail, or really dull stories, or both. Mashymre and Chara, two antagonists who lead the “villain” part of the show for a quarter each, are just… not funny. Mashymre can be sort of amusing in a Sautrday morning cartoon, bumbling leader sort of way, but that gets old fast, and Chara and her over-sexualised, screechy voiced-ness is dire. They both given a more serious edge in the final few episodes, but too little too late there!

Just as bad are Beecha and Mondo, two of Judau’s junk dealing friends who come along for the ride. They spend most of the first half sabotaging the Argama, the ship with their friends and themselves on, because they think they’ll get a better deal with Neo Zeon… for some reason. Then they have a horrible time there and come back with very little punishment! Drove me mad! For the second half of the series they’re not so obnoxious, but it doesn’t get much better. The same can be said for Elpeo Ple, whose naïve childish nature grates on your nerves a lot, even if she does eventually get better and has a good send off.

Cold-hearted ace pilot Yazan Gable returns from Zeta, and soon turns into a running gag character, losing all his edge and danger and fumbling about with food in his mouth. Wow. Complete character assassination right there!

There are plenty of episodes that are either just… there (which happens in all Gundam series, to be fair) or are just dull. A pair of episodes focused on a “lost colony” that features two psychic sisters called Sarasa and Rasara was dull, which made it worse when they’re brought back towards the end of the series in a couple of episodes that were really crap again!

Overall Thoughts:

Gundam ZZ Overall 4

Hey look! It’s the ZZ Gundam, just in case you forgot about the whole show’s namesake…

Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ I always thought was a “show of two halves”, but after sitting down and watching it properly (on blu-ray no less!) I see that while it does get better with the third quarter, it then drops for a lot of the final fourth. Overall it’s an annoying experience, made more so by being in the middle of Zeta and Char’s Counterattack, two great slices of Gundam in any continuity. A likeable lead protagonist helps, but not much… Upon reflection I can’t see myself sitting through this one again.

2 Star Watch

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