Retro : Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (1985)
Zeta Gundam, the sequel to the very first Gundam, is one of the most popular series of the franchise. The delayed success of the first series and its films allows the author, Tomino, to be freer in what he does on this series than on the first, hence a production in the right line of his older but darker and free from the last remains of the animated super robot that dominated production so far. There are quite a few characters in the first series, but this time the point of view is reversed: the faction that we followed in the first Gundam of the name is now an enemy faction.
Exemplified by Char character who rival in the first Gundam, becomes the hero’s mentor in Zeta. This materializes well the non-Manichaeism of the series: we are here in military science fiction where two and three factions tear each other apart, with each side of the humans, on each side of the dramas, the victims. This is one of the highlights of the series, a point that already existed in his predecessor and that we find through (almost) all Gundam: we want to show that the war is ugly.
Zeta Gundam is a rather dark series, culminating in an apocalyptic finale that leaves a bitter taste. We also linger a lot on the psychology of certain characters, including the hero, Kamille Bidan. His character, and the evolution of it over 50 episodes, personally has me much more, and apart from some rather incomprehensible gaps, it is a character frankly successful. Another outstanding character is that of Four, who participates very much in the evolution of Kamille, and whose storybows remain among the best in the series. What these two characters live for me remains one of Zeta’s great successes.
To speak a little more technical, the thing that strikes at first in Zeta is the quality of its episodic construction. Each episode almost tells a story in itself, and the narrative content is in fact quite dense: a single episode actually seems long by all that it contains, and yet certainly not annoying thanks to the rhythm and the present tension . No excessive use of cliffhanger, action or dialogue too stretched: the fact that we can not be bored in episode 50 is a real quality of construction that must be recognized Zeta Gundam, and found All in all, quite rarely. Another good point of Zeta Gundam is his graphics. The sets, the colors are doing really well, which is added to a chara-design still effective – certainly a style now quite retro but very good. It is more at the level of its animation that the series shows a little its age. It is obvious in the scenes on Earth and especially in the interactions of the characters (battles with bare hands, etc) which are not of a great success: on this point it seems to me that the series was, already at its time, not at the tip of what was being done. The scenes in space do better, on the one hand because the absence of gravity simplifies the task and allows some facilities, on the other hand because of course, the space battles are all the artifices and techniques that allow from recycling and not much, to ensure the show.
Zeta Gundam is a very good animated. I can not declare myself a fan, because he did not know how to touch me as hard as he could, the fault of the drama not always mastered and a plot not enough put forward. But the set of themes and the treatment of certain characters and certain passages really excellent certainly make a series to see, its episodic successful construction supporting everything.