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Ha Ha, It's a Gundam

October 16, 2009

     Now, as you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t updated in a while.  That’s because I’m studying in Japan at the moment.  So I’m not really reading any comics.  I am, however, reading manga and watching anime, so when I have time, I’ll talk about that instead.

     After the bloody mess that was Zeta Gundam, Tomino Yoshiyuki, the great creator of the Gundam franchise, did what he normally does after such a show: he made a comedy.  The sequel to Zeta Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, takes place almost immediately after the end of Zeta, with the Argama docking at a nearby colony, Shangri-La.  However, despite the fact that it takes place in the same universe, with some of the same people, and in the same situation, everything’s a lot sillier.  The main protagonist, Judau Ashta, and his motley crew, which includes his sister Leina, his various friends Ino Abbav, Beecha Oleg, Elle Vianno, and Mondo Agake, and later, Roux Louka and the former Neo Zeon Newtype, Elpeo Puru, are a lot less of a “dramatic” cast as that of Zeta Gundam.  In fact, the show opens with Yazan Gable, one of the few survivors of the last show, getting Judau and his friends to steal the Zeta.  And all chaos insues, involving oranges, a complete lunatic of a Zeon commander named Mashymre Cello, a bunch of junkyard sellers, and many bad decisions.  In the end, Bright Noa believes that Judau and his friends have the potential to be Newtypes and keeps them on the crew of the Argama.  Now, the Argama must face off against Haman Khan and her Neo Zeon forces, and Judau must navigate his way through the horrors of war and rescue his sister once she is kidnapped by the enemy.

     Now, Gundam ZZ has a fairly bad reputation among Gundam fans for its humor.  However, Zeta Gundam is considered to be one of the best series, and that was trash, so that should show that Gundam fans aren’t necessarily right about it.  In fact, Gundam ZZ is significantly better than its predecessor, though nowhere near as good as the original Mobile Suit Gundam.  It still falls victim to one of the main problems of Gundam, which is the recycling of various plot elements and character types, a problem upon which I will elaborate in a later post.  However, it does that much less than Zeta Gundam, especially with far less “tragic Gundam women.”  That is a term I will use from now on to refer to female characters in the Gundam franchise who either start out as villains or later become villains and have some sort of romantic relationship or close relationship with the main character.  We’re expected to feel sorry for their dilemma of love versus duty, or whatever variation on that subject a given character has.  Examples include Lalah Sune, Four Murasame, half the female cast of Zeta Gundam, Elpeo Puru, Stella Loussier, and Anew Returner.

     Despite the sillyness of the show, which does wear off after a while, the characters are actually rather likable.  Beecha and Oleg are lovable rogues (who admittedly are occasionally annoying), Leina is sweet but a tad feisty, and Judau is the best Gundam protagonist since Amuro, since he isn’t angsty in any way and is in fact quite friendly.  Some of the pointless bickering can get obnoxious, and the ridiculousness of the show (like Mashymre’s obsession with his rose, or Chara Soon’s boobs and bi-polarness) can wear on the nerves, so it’s clear why this isn’t the best Gundam show.  In addition to the problems of the balancing of humor and seriousness, there’s the character assassination of the main villain: Haman Khan.  Admittedly, this is not as big a deal as the other issue, but Haman Khan is taken from being the manipulative bitch of Zeta Gundam (where she was one of about three actually good characters) to being a woman who could be good, if only Judau could get through to her.  They even hit at a potential romance between the two, despite a rather large age gap between the two.  I liked that Haman wasn’t at all tied down by any romantic crap, so she was a truly strong female character.  Therefore, this hurt the quality of the show for me.

     All in all, Gundam ZZ is a fun romp and final conclusion to the original Gundam trilogy.  The voice acting is absolutely top-notch, as one would expect from Japanese seiyuus (especially Judau’s seiyuu, Yao Kazuki), and considering the time period, the animation is quite good.  The music is forgettable, as is generally the music from most anime, save only the infamous opening song, “Anime Ja Nai,” or “It’s Not Anime,” which fits in with the goofiness of the first half of the series.  Personally, I find Anime Ja Nai really obnoxious, but whatever.  At any rate, if you just can’t stand Gundams and humor, don’t watch this show.  But it’s a really good time waster and a decent addition to the Gundam saga.  I’d watch this over Zeta Gundam any day.

Story: 7.3      Animation: 7.7      Soundtrack: 7.4      Voice Acting: 9.0      Overall: 7.6

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