Review for Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ - Part 2
I’ve been woefully slow in watching (and reviewing) Part 2 of the Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Series, despite thoroughly enjoying part one. Unlike the first half, reviewed here, I didn’t get in to the binge watch stride, and actually waded through part two as nature intended, an episode at a time. Despite this taking some time, it’s a great way to savour the series and enjoy it in bite sized chunks. Besides, I’ve been busy, dammit. Anyway, enough with the excuses and on with the review.
To reiterate some thoughts from my review of Part 1 of this excellent series, I’ve really been enjoying the old-school Gundam franchise, with thanks to Jitendar Canth, our neighbourhood anime expert, who was kind enough to send me both the Mobile Suit Gundam Movie Trilogy Box Set (a condensed re-telling of the original Mobile Suit Gundam Series across a trio of 2 hour ‘films’) and its immediate sequel, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, albeit Part 2 only. So it made good, logical sense for me to cover that sequel’s sequel here with Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ. This particular review is for the UK released Blu-Ray for part two only (episodes 23 to 47).
Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (‘double zeta’)was the third series to be released, airing n Japan in 1986, a mere 32 years ago, and very much picks up the series where it last left off, albeit with a slight change to character styling; a nudge away from the relatively primitive anime style of the first two series (which have a ‘Speed Racer / Marine Boy’ look and feel with very static animation) towards something closer to contemporary anime with more fluid movement. But it really is just a nudge. It still looks pretty old-school for the most part which is fine by me, and which remains part of its charm. In fact, I should say that the whole series seems to be a somewhat acquired taste. Either you enjoy its retro, space soap opera feel or you don’t. It certainly isn’t like much anime today, its narrative inching forward at a snail’s pace, propped up by bouts of mega mecha-action.
Unsurprisingly, Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off, with Judau Ashta, a so-called ‘New Type’ (who use instinct, rather than traditional training, to pilot giant flying mecha robots), and the whole crew of the giant ship Argama somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Judau needs to find a way to rescue his little sister, Leina, from Haman and the Neo-Zeons. He finally catches up with Haman in Dakar, where he frees his sister in the ensuing ruckus.
While he carries on the great fight, Leina contracts a mystery illness and an enemy mobile suit crashes in the very hut she is being nursed in, completely obliterating it. Judau refuses to believe that his sister is dead, especially as no body is found.
More bad news follows when the Argama leaves for Dublin and its crew learn that it is to be decommissioned. Not only that, Haman decides to launch an all-out, somewhat extreme attack on Dublin by crashing the entire Side 4 colony directly into the city. It’s genocide on a mass scale and signals a new low for Haman and her allies. In short, she must be stopped before she destroys all humanity.
The Argama crew rally round. Having witnessed the devastation caused by Haman throughout Africa, and now in Ireland, they know that they must end this thing once and for all. So they are sent back into space in a brand new ship, the Nahel Argama, and the stage is set for a final fight-off between the two opposing forces.
Of course, as with all decent ‘space operas’, lots of inconsequential things happen in-between, gently moving the story on. Whilst much of this could be termed melodramatic (lots of raw emotion here between characters and their motivation) there is also plenty of room for humour too (check out the cross-dressing in one episode) with generous lashings of mobile-suit mecha-battling along the way.
Image quality is excellent and it’s presented in its original 4:3 full-screen aspect ratio – though it's a high-definition version of an old show. Audio-wise, as in part one, it’s Japanese only with a choice of English of French subtitles.
There are very few extra features though there are some textless opening and closing sequences which use alternate music to the eventually irritating ‘not an anime’ refrain. (Dammit man – this IS an anime!).
Apparently, the second part ships with an art book although I haven’t seen this to comment. I like the idea though. For me, this hails from the halcyon days of anime and I love the now retro look and feel of the character designs as well as the mobile suits themselves.
There is no way that you would buy Part 2 of a series like Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ without having already purchased Part 1. In fact, it makes no sense to do so as the whole 47 episodes are one long story arc. But the fun of the series isn’t its narrative – it’s its vibe; easy to watch, goofy fun, very retro and full of mindless mecha-action. If that sounds like your bag then you’re going to love it. The truth is that, although the characters here are all very one dimensional and simplistic, and the story arguably a bit lame to spread so thinly across so many episodes, this is the very quality that, if you’re in the right frame of mind, makes it so effortlessly fun to watch. It’s certainly not as serious as some of the previous series and it unarguably descends to juvenile puerility on far too many occasions to ignore. But I for one like it for that. So sue me.