Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ first aired on Japanese television from March 1, 1986-January 31, 1987. The series was produced by Sunrise and was directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino. As of this writing, Sunrise is releasing the series on home video in North America through Right Stuf, Inc.
Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ takes place directly after the end of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. However, this series focuses on a primarily new cast. Bright Noa is among a very small group of characters to carry through to this series from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.
The new characters are led by Judau Ashta, who is one of several teenage junk collectors whose goal is to grab the Zeta Gundam in order to make a lot of money. But Judau, along with his friends, are recruited by Bright in order to take on Haman Karn and the Neo Zeon (formerly known as Axis Zeon). Judau is a loudmouthed kid, and he’s also a Newtype who can handle the Zeta Gundam; this is a major part of the reason why he and his friends are recruited by Bright. Judau’s friends include Iino, Elle, Beecha, and Mondo. Judau’s younger sister, Leina, also comes along. Roux Louka, an A.E.U.G. recruit who joins the Argama, also becomes an important character. Haman’s forces include Mashymre Cello (a goofy commander who has the hots for Haman), Chara Soon (a female mobile suit pilot who comes across as a nymphomaniac), and Glemy Toto (who becomes obsessed with Roux Louka).
After Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam had such a serious tone to it, the tone of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ starts out being much more light-hearted, which is a very distracting tonal shift between the two series. The first episode of this series is a “Prelude,” and it’s basically a recap episode to reiterate the story and various concepts from the previous two Mobile Suit Gundam series. If this wasn’t bad enough, though, there was also a section near the end that showed some of the scenes from the next episode, and this provided “spoilers” to the audience. Not only that, the “Prelude” also had some very cheesy quiz sections and the like, which utilized some very cringe-worthy mid-1980’s computer graphics.
Unfortunately, the tone of the first half of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ is so light-hearted that the villains are so goofy and over-the-top that it’s hard to take them seriously. Also, it was hard to care for a lot of the new characters at first because of how they were depicted.
But then, right around the halfway point, the tone shifts back to being more serious in nature. Some of the comedic elements from the first half remain, but for the most part, the characters act more seriously and the story starts taking on serious and darker tones. But it was laughable how the writers tried to change the villains from being over-the-top and goofy to suddenly being more serious or evil. For Mashymyre, he became “too enhanced,” and for Chara, she was “brainwashed.”
But the change in characterization wasn’t limited to just the Neo Zeon members. Two of Judau’s friends, Beecha and Mondo, also had inconsistencies in their characterizations. But of the two, Beecha’s constantly changing character was more glaring. He and Mondo didn’t take things seriously and defected to Neo Zeon at one point. When they come back, Beecha seemed to start taking things seriously, but then was back to whining and acting the way he had been prior to defecting. Of the new protagonists, Beecha and Mondo were the weakest and most annoying of them.
After I finished watching Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, I concluded that there were some interesting ideas and concepts for this series, but the execution for the series wasn’t terribly good overall. Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed this series more if it been more serious from the start. Maybe for the first couple of episodes there could have been a more light-hearted tone, but then the story could have become serious much more quickly. As it is, this series ends up being a bit of a mess, which makes it harder to enjoy.
While I won’t say that Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ is necessarily bad, I honestly believe that it’s the weakest of the three Mobile Suit Gundam anime series I have seen. I hope that at some point, if I decide to watch more of the franchise, that future installments will be stronger than Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ.