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.