Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack(This is looooong. I apparently had a lot of thoughts on this one.)
Almost done with the Universal Century Gundam rewatch experiment I started earlier this year. To be honest, this film is a lot better than I remember it being. The 1988 animation seriously holds up, as do the mechanical designs (which I noticed were by Gainax). Despite running only a DVD copy of the film, it looked fantastic when upscaled to a supposed 1080i on my TV.
What can be most appreciated about the film is that the teams involved in realizing the visuals of the film took into consideration that not everything in space needs to be oriented the same way. Not only were ships and scenes inside of ships presented upside down, but they realized that if a mobile suit is using a rocket sled, another mobile suit could attach to the same sled on the other side. Combat, unfortunately, still featured mobile suits orienting themselves such that they were face-to-face and toe-to-toe, but I suppose constantly spinning humanoid robots would not only be difficult for viewers to track but also needlessly difficult to animate.
As for the story, the premise just doesn't make enough sense. Char Aznable has taken over Zeon and wants to drop a giant asteroid on the Earth to force humanity to abandon the planet - not only for the planet to "heal" but also because he believes that humanity will evolve when forced off of the rock, as a few spacenoids have evolved into Newtypes. However, this is a drastic shift after he played on the heroic side in Mobile Suit Gundam Zeta
, even getting along quite well with his rival, Amuro Ray. That series didn't portray any particular antagonism toward people living on Earth but rather toward the Earth Federation and the militant Titans who were treating those living in the space colonies as second-class citizens of the Earth Sphere. The last third of the series even had him actively opposed to and fighting Zeon. His suddenly being in charge and planning the most massive genocide in history is inconsistent with his previous character development.
There's one odd moment in the film that stands out. After literally buying the Axis asteroid from the Earth Federation, Char walks over to a window and thinks, "Amuro, I'm doing something wicked. Sense my presence." He knows
he's doing something terrible. It's like he was beckoning Amuro to him to stop him, but he seems to present himself as quite justified in his actions throughout the rest of the film. It's another thing that doesn't make sense in a truly excellent film.
Well, excellent for people who like science fiction mecha stories and are already familiar with Gundam lore. This is not a film for people who haven't at least seen the original series. But this is definitely the best Gundam film out there. To be fair, it's one of only two films released that aren't compilations of TV episodes. (The other being the 00 Gundam
film, which I think is underrated.) It's 2 hours well paced and plotted.
• Rumor has it that Gyunei was originally supposed to be Kamille (from Zeta
). He would be a Cyber Newtype by necessity, as the enhancements would have repaired the damage done to his mind. I can't see that working very well, as Char would probably care a bit more about him and not send him into battle. Plus, at that point, you might as well include Judau (from ZZ
) so that you could have all of the protagonists there.
• Char had a problem with Cyber Newtypes in Zeta
. Why the hell would he have paid to have someone enhanced? I guess desperation.
• Meeting Quess should have convinced Char that Earthnoids are evolving. She was an Earthnoid who became a Newtype. Again, some things in this film don't make sense!
• 9 named characters die in this film. One of those character deaths wasn't appreciated when I previously watched the movie because I didn't quite realize it was a crewmember who had been around for two entire TV series. The character was never quite major, but the longevity (and the fact that the cause of death was friendly emissions) makes the death quite impactful.
• Patience and compassion wins over rash extremism. Amuro wins two simultaneous victories in the end.
• I couldn't recognize Mirai, who looked pretty much the same in both the original series and Zeta
). I guess the bangs were the indication that this was the same character (http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/gundam/images/a/ac/116_1_48.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120210120332
• The portrayal of women in this film sucks. Mirai and her daughter are included just so we have an on-the-ground perspective of how bad things have gotten on the Earth. Quess is just a fangirl for the two lead characters and comes across as annoying and needy (and stupid). Nanai is a great example of a strong character who can stand up to Char, until her last several scenes of the film in which she is reduced to crying over the fact that Char's "life is leaving him." There are two women pilots who aren't given much to do and then die. And then there's Chan, who may have helped design the Nu Gundam but also decided it was wise to take a damaged Re-GZ out and not pay attention to how closely a friend was standing...