Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: Movie Complete Collection
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Universal Century 0087, the Titans, a bellicose faction among the Earth Federation Forces, grows powerful and tyrannical, even using poison gas to suppress a civil unrest. Dissident soldiers from the same military stand against them, forming a resistance group called the AEUG. Kamille Bidan, a civilian student, gets entangled in this conflict when he accidentally steals the Gundam Mark II and joins the AEUG, running away from his home space colony. Then he begins to fight along with Char Aznable, a former Zeon ace pilot who has infiltrated the Earth Sphere for reasons of his own.
This feature trilogy is derived from the critically acclaimed anime series "Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam". With enhanced animation and theme songs by GACKT, a J-pop superstar, its theatrical release was a sensational box-office success in Japan! Highly recommended for all anime and sci-fi fans.
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First off, I am not new to Gundam. I've watched all of Mobile Suit Gundam, Char's Counterattack, War in the Pocket, 08th MS Team, Stardust Memory, Gundam Wing, Endless Waltz, 00, X, Turn A, Igloo and Unicorn. Every other series (except Zeta, Double Zeta, F91 and Victory) I watched enough episodes to determine I wasn't interested.
I wanted to experience Zeta Gundam, and I chose to go with the movie compilation over the original TV series because I no longer have the time to dedicate to a 50-episode series. I'm not sure that this was the right decision. I'll get straight to the point: It was all kinds of confusing.
Trying to boil down 21-22 hours of TV series into a 5 hour movie trilogy just doesn't work that well, even when a lot of the original scenes are re-done. The problem is that, while you can easily read a summary or watch a recap, trying to watch massively cut scenes that are presented as a coherent story is stupendously taxing on the brain. Even if you know where you came from while watching a scene in the Zeta movies, you're not likely to be given even the briefest moment of reflection before you're suddenly in a totally different location and a new plot point is shoved into your face, accompanied by dramatic music saying, "Stop thinking, pay attention to THIS scene!"
Of course, trouble keeping up with the plot can be solved by hitting the pause button or pressing back for the previous scene. The director made sure that the main plot is all there. What can't be fixed, however, is the brutally truncated human story and character development. If you are like I was and haven't seen Gundam Zeta, you will be frequently wondering things like "Who is this person?", "Why are those two pissed at each other?" and "What happened to so-and-so?"
The end result is that I now know what happened, I know who the important people are, I enjoyed sopping up the Zeta suits/tech, and I was impressed by the new animation (especially the well executed battles). But watching this trilogy was strenuous and ultimately left me feeling nothing for the characters other than "Oh. So that's how it ended." Not a very fulfilling experience.
So, if you haven't seen the original Zeta series, or ESPECIALLY if you aren't familiar with Gundam, I highly recommend you don't watch this yet. If you *have* seen Zeta, buy it now. I'm positive you will be blown away by the new animation.
Considered a favorite among 80s mecha and gundam fans for it's complex politically driven plots, great characters and cool mobile suit/mecha designs which are still considered cool looking and iconic even 20 years later, Zeta Gundam was my first introduction to the gundam franchise and still one of the favorite series. Once again exposing characters to the horrors and brutality of war, unlike the original MSG, this series turns the original on its head by making the Earth Federation the villains with their brutal police force, the Titans, and the rebels, including former MSG villain Char Aznable, known as the AEUG, as the heroes. This 50 ep series climaxes in a final battle that costs all the characters far more than anyone expected.
In 2005-6, Tomino decided to give Zeta Gundam the original MSG film treatment by creating a new trilogy of films based on the sequel with a big difference. While the movies used the original story and some of the original TV footage, some of it was replaced with all new updated animated sequences and new scenes with dialogue rerecorded by the original voice cast (whenever possible). As a result you get a somewhat disjointed visual look when the films switch from older footage to newer, but all in all they are still good compilations.
The first film uses about 40% newly animated footage and by the third movie its closer to 70% new footage. I assume for production reasons they didn't reanimated the entire films from scratch, but still it would have been nice knowing that they could.
Animation and visuals aside, there are some cool new OP and ED credit themes performed by jrock fan favorite singer Gackt, who, unbeknownst to many, despite his rock star status, is actually a pretty hard core gundam fan and allowed his inner geek to come thru by performing music for the movies, and they actually work pretty well. The majority of the film score still retain the original symphonic soundtrack of the original TV series, which is well done even by today's standards.
Now here is where some fans of the original TV series may take issue. The loss of many key parts of the story can be considered unavoidable when you try to condense 30 hrs of story into 6, but certain scenes that were critical to the Zeta Gundam storyline were omitted from the movies (like Char's speech at Dakar) and others were radically altered (like the ending). Also character development is changed in someone because of the altered sequence of events. Still these movies are great to watch, if possible, watch both the TV and movies and decide for yourself which ones you like more.