Posted by psgels on 28 January 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Whoa. I really thought that I’d be handing a higher rating for this series when I first started watching it. I really liked the original Mobile Suit Gundam, and this one promised to be even better. With much more solid production-values, an epic plot and all the elements that the modern Gundam series have as well, I really thought that I’d love this series, but in the end I enjoyed this series a lot less than I thought I would.

But first things first: every Gundam-series I’ve seen so far has its own parts where it’s excellent at. For Zeta Gundam, it’s its sense of location. It takes place in a setting where vehicles have yet to be able to breach the speed of light, and so it takes a while for people to get from A to B. Battles are also highly dependant of their environment, and so battles in the middle of a bunch of mountains are going to be completely different from those that take place at sea, inside a city, in outer space, etcetera. Especially the first half of this series has many varied battles, that make you want to keep watching because of this.

The problems with this series stem from the fact that it too suffers from the flaws that plague every Gundam Series, only here they’re much, much worse and much, much more stubborn. The adult side characters of this series are pretty interesting, but the teenaged male lead Kamille just keeps on whining over and over: he keeps poking his nose in other people’s business, hardly ever stops preaching his cheesy ideals and yet he’s an awesome pilot and mecha designer due to the simple excuse of being a genius Newtype.

And even when the guy does shut up, the creators make sure to replace him with yet another impulsive teenager who ignores orders and refuses to listen to others. In the second half, this becomes so bad that the teenagers literally take over the show, and the plot nearly stops moving because too much airtime is focused on all the different teenagers in this series (what happened to the adults anyways?) getting angsty and emo over each other.

This series really doesn’t have much to offer otherwise, unlike other Gundam series. The politics are pretty basic. We’ve got a bunch of sides who oppose each other, but hardly any time is spent on fleshing out the different sides. The character Quattro, for example. He’s a pretty important character in this series (the most important non-teenager one, in fact), and his political views basically are that he wants to get people into outer space. After fifty episodes, however, I’m still not sure why the guy feels that way, and what made him support these views. We are hardly given any insight into his motivations, nor the situation of the people on earth.

As usual, the anti-war themes are also prevalent in this series, but unfortunately in the end, the message simply turns into “THOU SHALT NOT KILL”, without the creativity and complexity that I’ve been used from other Tomino works. The major themes in this series were already overdone at the time when the series aired, let alone right now.

I’m not really sure what happened here. While this series must have been “the bomb” when it first aired, I think it didn’t age too well, or I simply didn’t like it as much as other series. And this isn’t coming from someone who only likes anime from after 1995: I personally loved the original Mobile Suit Gundam, which looked much older than this one, and now that I’m looking back at it, the flaws I mentioned here when I reviewed it seem pretty insignificant right now, and it’s a great example of how a great mecha series should be done. It really captured the essence of the despair that you can feel on the battlefield, while Zeta Gundam… just features a bunch of people fighting for fifty episodes. It’s a good show; some of the adult characters are really nice to watch, but the series isn’t that good.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 7/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 8/10

17 Responses

  1. Camario says:

    No surprise, if you read my previous comment on one of your 00 reviews, I have to agree with you there. ;)

    Zeta Gundam is good, but not as much as most people claim it is. I also continue to prefer the original series, in movie form at least.

    I’m not the biggest fan of 00 in the universe but I do think it’s doing a lot more, so far, with its elements than Zeta did, even if there’s some undeniable influence in certain areas.

    The Zeta series is famous because of how dark it gets and the resulting death toll, which was probably the highest for a Gundam at the time until Victory surpassed it many years later…but I wonder if you noticed at least a couple of characters who seemed to die only to survive or come back at a later date. To die again, perhaps, but still…

  2. DT says:

    Im curious to read your opinion on Char’s Counterattack. Oh, and if you thought the teenagers got annoying in this show, then you should definetly stay away from Double Zeta

  3. Phelps says:

    You should really go watch Turn-A Gundam. It’s almost certain you’ll love it.

  4. psgels psgels says:

    DT: Yeah, I’ve heard the stories about Double Zeta, but do you need to have seen it in order to fully appreciate Char’s Counterattack?

  5. Kraker2k says:

    ZZ Gundam is really different to most UC Gundam shows, it has a really laid back and slapstick plot line for the first half of the show. By the end, the second Neo Zeon war has been won by a group of teenagers called the “Gundam Team” with no adults involved whatsoever.

    You don’t need to watch ZZ Gundam to understand Char’s Counterattack. The only reference that is made is during a speech Char makes where he mocks Haman(and what she did in ZZ Gundam) in one small line.

    CCA is basically a continuation of MSG and Zeta with Amuro and Char being the main characters again.

    But reading your qualms over Zeta make me think you won’t enjoy CCA much (I know I didn’t) it has the same flaws as Zeta with too many teenagers whining, while the adults behave very irrationally from their previously established personalities.

    The only character that really stays true to himself throughout MSG>Zeta>ZZ>CCA is Bright.

    If you want a truly great Gundam experience from the UC saga, watch the 0080 War in the Pocket and 08th MS Team OVAs.

  6. Shippoyasha says:

    Psgels, you were being way too nice with the score.

    Like you said, the sense of location seems to go awry later on. The whole Zeon thing at the end just made no logical sense whatsoever (ooh, let’s bring in a third faction for the laughs and giggles!), and the WHINING is epic.

    The writing is just misogynistic (women are relegated into what a sexist would view women to be. Even the women themselves talk about themselves in the constraints of their sex!) and it often is pedestrian.

    I never really liked the UC Gundams other than the original and 0080 and 0083. Zeta was just a ramble and a half. Just a silly, silly show, even by mecha standards.

  7. Keith says:

    If you’re not sure why Quattro wants people to move into space, CCA will clear this up for you immediately.
    I enjoyed Zeta immensely when I saw it, but maybe that’s just because I’m a big mech fan, where I can see you’re not so much. I can understand why you didn’t like it so much, though. Tomino has ALWAYS been awful with developing characters. Even Turn A, as good as it is, never stops it’s characters from being very one-dimensional. I suppose I just have an easy time at ignoring those flaws in favor of the logistics and sense of realism the UC Gundam shows have.

    ZZ is something you can easily skip, though I still recommend it, despite how frustrating the first quarter of it is. It’s an interesting watch just for the sake of going “WTF am I watching?!” It also actually has an extremely strong finale, seeing as one of the antagonists actually DOES get some great developement.”

  8. Camario says:

    It’s rather likely psgels will like Turn A, at least in theory, although I wouldn’t know if there’s any set watching order in place right now.

    I watched that show without finishing most of the other AU series but also after going through most of the UC.

    Keith: “Even Turn A, as good as it is, never stops it’s characters from being very one-dimensional.”

    Perhaps many of them are, but they were still treated quite well and some do have a couple more layers than you’re giving them credit for.

    Even then, the show generally has better development than Zeta did and the ending, while not perfect, is a lot more satisfying.

  9. Archer says:

    i have watched 24 or 25 episodes of Zeta and for me it is one of the best mecha anime,you do say that the 2nd half is quite bad so i am curious to see if this shows quality will really decrease that much,i have to say that Kamille is not really one of the characters i like in this anime,his attitude can be annoying at times but Char/Quattro remains my favorite character,anyway i think those flaws you mentioned won’t be so important and i will enjoy this classic anime to the end

    btw the one punch/slap per episode,corporal punishment if i can call it so,mostly Kammile being the one who receives it,was kinda funny at times mostly because they used it so often

  10. Brandon says:

    Kamille isn’t a good pilot and mecha designer because he’s a Newtype, it’s because he designed junior mobile suits and did alot of junior mobile suit training most of his life because he didn’t like his name which was too feminine and activities such that involved mobile suits interested him because they proved his masculinity. Also, his parents were talented mobile suit designers which is where he got his own potential from. In the end it’s just his interests and genetics combined.

  11. Perrin4869 says:

    The image with Reccoa and Scirocco is pretty spoilerish, don’t you think?

  12. Saki says:

    I have to agree about Turn A Gundam. It is rather exceptional in the Gundam universe. Definitely the Gundam series I love best. Judging from the ones I have watched that is… I haven’t finished watching Zeta.

  13. shmince says:

    Just so you know,Zeta Gundam is a universally accepted classic.You’re in the minority buddy.Just so you know…

  14. xian hui says:

    a lot of people claims Zeta gundam is one of the best series. Honestly, i did not find it much entertainning as the sstory goes on, it get boring comparing to gundam seed. The biggest problem that i found in this series is the storyline is too scattered. Briefly, it is just acceptable 5.8 out of 10.

  15. char_az says:

    Hellow!

    I love your site, It is a pleasure to visit.

    I have added your site to my site.

    Please link my site to your site.

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  16. 92Chughes says:

    Kamille is %99.99 of the reason I hated Zeta Gundam, the other %.01 was the absolutely silly ending, that was not even hinted at as possible even once, earlier in the series, but every point you have made has been valid as well… God I hated this series.

  17. Brent says:

    GINY FORCE RULES!
    GINY FORCE RULES!

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