Genre: Action / Mecha
Parental Guidance Recommended
Credits: Sotsu Agency, Sunrise and TV Asahi.
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It is UC 0087, eight years after the end of the One Year War. The Earth Federation is now run by an oppressive military unit called the Titans. Ruling with an iron fist over the Earth and the space colonies, a silent resistance has begun to ferment in the bowels of space in the form of the AEUG (Anti-Earth Union Group). With renewed conflict comes the loss of life, the sense of despair and a set of new heroes to usher in the future...
The best Gundam series ever? Maybe... >>> by Shunichi Sakurai
This direct sequel to the original Mobile Suit Gundam opened to great fanfare in 1985, which led to the re-release of the underrated original series. I had great hopes for Zeta, particularly because I had heard so much good press about it and I had witnessed the greatness of the original. Did it deliver?
Zeta is marked by the reversal of fortune. While in MSG the Federation was the protagonist, it has now become the corrupted enemy and the story follows former Zeon ace Char Aznable's exploits—now working under the pseudonym "Lt. Quattro Bajeena." Much of the original White Base crew makes its reappearance, including hotshot Newtype Gundam pilot Amuro Ray, but they are relegated to supporting roles for the real stars of the show: the crew of the AEUG battleship Argama. The fighter role Amuro left is succeeded by young Newtype pilot Camille Bidan, a hot-headed juvenile delinquent with a problem with authority and a dislike for his feminine name. Under the tutelage of Quattro, Camille fights the Titans, finding a rival in Lt. Jerid Messa and the ambitious Newtype Paptimus Scirocco.
Much like the original series, character development takes center stage in Zeta. Dissent in the ranks in particular has been played up more in this series than in the original, with defections happening on both sides. Zeta has a much darker tone too. In the first few episodes we are witness to Camille's parents being killed, and instances abound where officers are punched in the face for no apparent reason other than "discipline." We see that even the AEUG is not as honorable as it seems, and that war tragedies have a way of coming back to haunt those who survive.
Despite airing six years after MSG, Zeta surprisingly doesn't improve too much in terms of visuals. I suppose in keeping with the tone of the plot, a darker color palette has been used, but after a while I did get bored of seeing the same garish colors on screen. MSG had no such problem with color monotony. Zeta's animation is slicker, but not as much as I am led to believe—Macross easily looks better. The music has become more purposeful though, lending a sense of high tension to mobile suit battles.
So was this the best Gundam series ever? For me I find the original more to my liking, followed by Gundam SEED. Zeta is still a great title to watch though—one not to be missed for fans of the original Universal Century saga.