Saturday, July 30, 2005

Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (Kidou Senshi Gundam DOUBLE ZETA)

Genre: Action / Mecha
Parental Guidance Recommended
1986 Sotsu Agency, Sunrise, Bandai Visual. Screenshots by GPlus.

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Shunichi Sakurai's Description:
The oppressive rule of the Titans has ended with the Gryps War. But with the Earth Federation weakened and the AEUG (Anti-Earth Union Group) heavily damaged, Haman Karn's Axis forces set their plans of a Neo Zeon empire in motion. The AEUG flagship Argama has to go to the run-down Shangri-La colony in Side 1 for repairs, where it finds its unexpected hope for the coming Neo Zeon War...

(47 Episodes)

Inconsistent. >>> by Shunichi Sakurai
Gundam ZZ (read as "Double Zeta") is a direct sequel to Zeta Gundam; its events happen immediately after the 50th episode of the older series as it was intended to be a second season of the immensely popular Zeta.

With Camille Bidan out of action, Char Aznable missing and not enough pilots for their mobile suit force, the Argama is in an especially vulnerable position to potential enemies. One of its threats is a band of junk collectors from Shangri-La, a bunch of kids led by 13-year-old Judau Ashta who tries to steal the egendary Zeta Gundam and sell it for profit. Capt. Bright Noa's knack for sensing innately gifted pilots leads him to invite Judau and his friends to become part of the Argama and join the fight against Neo Zeon.

This effectively describes what ZZ is: it's Gundam for kids in 1986. While Zeta was brooding and sinister, ZZ is comedic and light-hearted, and this can be disconcerting for fans of the previous series. Indeed, many Gundam fans consider ZZ a poor show.

The first 18 episodes are full of Judau's bumbling use of the Zeta Gundam, Beecha and Mondo's prattish treachery and Axis Capt. Mashymre Cello's quixotic foolishness. While I think some of the slapstick was necessary--after all, these are kids playing around with mobile suits as if they were toys--I also think ZZ went a bit overboard, rendering some adult characters stupid as well. The irritating traits of some characters (Beecha's selfishness, Emary's over-acted affection for Bright and Chara's weirdness, especially) just don't go away, and not everyone grows up in the end.

Principal Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino stepped in in the middle of the series to rewrite the story, to make it fit in with his plans for the Gundam movie "Char's Counterattack." The improvement is noticeable, but it also means ZZ is inconsistent with its tone as it turns macabre under Tomino's pen. To his credit, the latter half of ZZ lends itself to the genesis of some Gundam OAVs nicely ("0083 Stardust Memory" comes to mind in the desert) and introduces a nice conflict between Haman and Glemy Toto, a Neo Zeon officer with ulterior motives.

Visually ZZ is a little more refined than Zeta; the more prolific use of color is a welcome improvement and the animators put a bit more effort in making in-between frames to the benefit of smoothness. The music is so-so, but I liked the opening themes "Anime Janai" and "Silent Voice."

Despite all the craziness, I still like this show, and it explains the events gap between Zeta and Char's Counterattack quite well, with a good plot. However there are many aspects where a little more attention to detail would have worked wonders for the show as a whole.

Individual Rating: Art: 7; Story: 4; Characters: 5; Sounds: 7

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