Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (Kidou Senshi Gundam Double Zeta), is the third series in the highly successful Gundam anime franchise. A direct sequel to the vastly popular Zeta Gundam, Gundam ZZ marks a major departure from the tone of its predecessor, despite being (unusually for a Gundam series) a direct sequel. Picking up mere days after the conclusion of Zeta Gundam, Gundam ZZ's first half is rather light-hearted and generally upbeat, especially after Zeta's Darker and Edgier story. According to reliable reports, it was an attempt to restore Gundam's reputation as a children's series and family entertainment, and its director Yoshiyuki Tomino is said to have made it as a reaction against the incredibly bleak ending of Zeta Gundam. Unfortunately, this resulted in Mood Whiplash, and the entire series is generally frowned upon by the more serious fans who enjoyed Zeta and were expecting more of the same.Remember, people, that this is what usually happens if you let Tomino do two shows back-to-back.However, the series eventually undergoes Cerebus Syndrome and becomes much more serious; this is generally considered to have improved the quality. This is at least in part due to the fact that, partway through the production of ZZ, Tomino received permission to make Char's Counterattack, thus necessitating major changes in the plotline of ZZ. The series eventually ends in typical Gundam style, though without repeating the ending of Zeta Gundam.Gundam ZZ was also one of the mainstay titles of the UC Gundams when it comes to Super Robot Wars though it's starting to fall behind, as it hasn't been in a game since Alpha 3. During the announcement of Super Robot Wars Z2, Terada let it slip that Bandai and Sunrise have something big in mind for ZZ, but what exactly this is is not known. As it turns out, ZZ will be returning in Super Robot Wars OE (though with OE's episodic nature, ZZ may not return straight away) and at the end of Z3, the Gundam crew stops to rest at a certain colony called "Shangri-la"...Gundam ZZ is currently being legally streamed by the new service "Daisuki", and it is available on both "Daisuki's" official site as well as their Youtube Channel. It will be getting a more formal, "official" release through RightStuf International on DVD in the future.
This contains examples of:
Ace Pilot: Somewhat less common than in most Gundam shows (few of the AEUG's aces survived to appear in ZZ, while Neo-Zeon never had many aces in the first place), but by the end of the series a new crop of them has risen up so that they can wipe each other out in the final battle again. Also amusingly played with somewhat with Judau and his buddies. While they grow to be aces in the end, the first time any of them pilot a mobile suit, they can do little but flail around.
Awesome, but Impractical: Gundam ZZ itself has a built in Wave Motion Gun with a tremendous energy demand. After firing it, Judau's lucky if he can squeeze another minute of life out of his beam sabers. After that, he's kaput.
Even more Awesome, but Impractical, in that said Wave Motion Gun is mounted in the head, which is usually one of the first parts to be shot/cut off, unless a Mobile Suit is completely destroyed. Whoever thought of mounting such a powerful weapon in the most exposed part of the machine clearly didn't think it through properly...
Everything about ZZ Gundam, really. Its weapons are powerful, yes, but it's a complete energy hog (the Hi-Mega Cannon is just the worst of this). It can transform and separate into three separate planes, but the combination of those two systems leaves the entire thing structurally weak and prone to malfunctions. It's also a maintenance nightmare with all its non-standard parts. No wonder the design was never mass-produced.
Ax-Crazy: Ple is repeatedly proven to be a psychopath as are several other previously harmless villains.
Beginner's Luck: Hilariously played with when Judau first pilots Z Gundam. The first battle between him and Mashmyre is basically the latter getting so confused with Judau's flailing around that he let down his guard and got his mobile suit's arm cut off. The second fight's almost the same.
BFG: The ZZ's double-barreled suit-powered beam rifle certainly counts.
Then there's also its Hi-Mega Cannon, which is arguably the most powerful suit-mounted beam weapon ever used by a Gundam (or possibly any mobile suit period) in the Universal Century. Its power is about the same as the ones carried by battleships, or more.
BFS: The ZZ's hyper beam sabers; both in size (as long as the Gundam itself) and in power.
Suffice to say, the ZZ is rather big on lots of things...
Big Bulky Bomb: When the ZZ is strapped with bombs because Beecha thought it would be a good idea to try to humiliate Judau so that he could look better.
Call Back: The Tigerbaum arc retreads many of the goofier aspects of the first half of the series, complete with the dreaded Moon-Moon people, a gang of kids trying to steal the Gundams, Mashymre's return to prominence and even classic mobile suits from the original series to underscore the theme of revisiting the past. This is all in aid of showing off Judau's Character Development, underscored by Haman and Sarasa's comments about maturity and loss of innocence.
Cargo Cult: The Moon-Moon people and their Gaza-D worship (or at least a reasonable facsimile of one).
The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: At one point, when the location of the Argama is fortuitously revealed to him, the Wrong Genre Savvy fruit-bat Mashmyre deduces that there's a traitor aboard the Argama. He's Right for the Wrong Reasons; he thinks that it's because his chivalry and nobility on Shangrila Colony won someone over, but actually it's because some of the kids dragged along on the Argama want to get the hell out.
Colony Drop: The Dublin drop is the first one, chronologically speaking, since Operation Stardust; production-wise, it's the first one witnessed in its entirety. It is a Gundam series, after all.
Cool Bike: The Mega Rider, a Sub-flight system that Judeau and the gang use while on earth. The Zeta and ZZ straddle it like a giant hoverbike.
Char Clone: ZZ is the only televised UC Gundam series to not have a dude with a mask running around, due to Char's absence. Elements of your standard Char Clone can be found in Glemy and Mashymyre, though.
And then its successor, the Nahel Argama, which is, by design, a Call Back to the original White Base.
Combined Energy Attack: During the final battle, Kamille Bidan gathers the spirits of the dead to reassemble Judau's ZZ Gundam, then empower his High Mega Cannon for a massive attack against Haman Khan. It still isn't enough to defeat her.
Oh, and Judau also ends up with Roux, who is 17 years old.
Enemy Mine: Defied, then Double Subverted. Judau refuses Haman's plea to ally with her against Glemmy Toto, but the Nahel Argama still focuses on fighting their mutual enemy anyway, and their forces generally avoid clashing unless Judau's specifically launching an operation against Haman's assets.
Face-Heel Turn: Whilst the Earth Federation was already a bit iffy in Zeta Gundam (they did, after all, create the Titans), this is the show where they finally stop giving a damn about their citizens, leaving the AEUG and Karaba to fight Neo Zeon alone.
It's not so much that the main body of the Federation didn't care but rather they were physically too weak to take on Neo Zeon. It is probably important to note that the AEUG is technically a faction within the Federation.
Falling into the Cockpit: Actually closer to Trying To Steal The Cockpit And Sell It For Scrap, but the end result is the same. Also happens literally sometimes.
Glass Cannon: The ZZ Gundam, which combines enormous firepower with structural weaknesses that the AEUG spent pretty much the entire Neo Zeon War trying to fix.
Go-Go Enslavement: Leina Ashta gets this treatment from Glemmy. Considerably creepier since she's ten.
Note that he wasn't dressing her up in fetish clothing, just fancy dresses of the sort a high-class girl would be expected to wear, so not quite as creepy as it sounds.
Groin Attack: In episode 16, Judau is delivering a speech while standing on a handrail. Elle, who's annoyed with him for calling Beecha and Mondo traitors, comes up and smacks one of his legs so he slips and lands crotch-first on the railing.
"In becoming mature we take on a kind of darkness and lose something beautiful within ourselves."
Gundam Vs Series: Judau, the Ples, and their respective MS were included in Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam as extras; as a result, Marth Debuted in Smash Bros. came into effect when GvZ was brought to America. The crossover games have featured Judau (in both the regular ZZ and Full Armor version), Haman (in her Qubeley), Elpe Ple (in her Qubeley Mk-II), Ple-Two (in her Mk-II and as a boss in both the Psyco Gundam Mk-II and Queen Mansa), and Mashmyre (in the Hamma Hamma in Gundam vs. Gundam Next and the Zaku III Kai in Extreme Vs.), while Full Boost added Roux's Zeta and Elle's Gundam Mk-II as DLC. To the fandom's chagrin, the series' representative map in the Extreme Vs. sub-series is Moon-Moon.
Honor Before Reason: Judau starts acting like this in the second part of the series, to not have to kill people when he could help it.
Human Shield: An unorthodox heroic version. Beecher captures the Core Fighter, with Roux in it, and uses it as a shield against Glemmy, knowing that Glemmy won't have the will to shoot Roux. Roux is not amused.
I Know Mortal Kombat: Even invoked: If a character is a noob at piloting a mobile suit, fear not: undergoing simulation training will turn them into aces afterwards (see Beecha, Mondo and Iino for one).
Improbable Age: Judau Ashta is officially 14 during the story. To put this in perspective, he's already living without adult supervision, and working full-time to support his little sister. Before he gets embroiled in a war and becomes a Gundam pilot.
Info Drop: Gundam 0080 and Gundam ZZ provide Info Drops for fans trying to figure out when exactly the Universal Century takes place. The former has a newspaper that reads "Monday, 14 January 0080", while the latter has Axis proclaim itself Neo Zeon on February 29th 0088, which means 0080 is a leap year in which January 14th falls on a Monday. The original series and Zeta Gundam both suggested that the calendar changeover happened in 2000, but these pieces of information were quietly retconned out in the Compilation Movie versions.
Interservice Rivalry: As often happens with Zeonic forces, the various commanders of Neo-Zeon at best don't get along and at worst are at each other's throats, often to the point of shooting each other down over leadership squabbles. This is before Glemmy launches a full-scale Enemy Civil War.
It Gets Easier: Fourteen year old Judau can't even close Zeta Gundam's hatch in the first episode. By the eleventh episode he's already killed six people. True to form, his killing of enemy soldiers is given almost no treatment at all.
Knight of Cerebus: A weird case with Cecilia. She herself is a fairly good person at heart, but the story arc dealing with her is the point when the series stops fooling around and starts to be a serious tale by killing her off along with the series' Goldfish Poop Gang. The worst thing? None of the main characters know about it.
Actually Judau does know after watching the whole thing and trying to stop her from doing so — but apparently, he keeps quiet about it afterward. (Considering that Cecilia was a sort-of love interest for Torres, though, can you blame him?)
Haman also counts since the show becomes darker when she enters the scene.
La Résistance: The AEUG, sorta. After Zeta they had the theoretical support of the Earth Federation, but by that point the Federation didn't have much support to give, so they're still largely on their own against Neo Zeon.
Latex Space Suit: The pilot suits, as normal for a Gundam series. It should be noted, though, that UC Gundam Normal Suits prior to F91 are a lot bulkier than what most people are used to in fiction. The thickness of the material is probably about 1/4 or 1/3rd of the space suits NASA uses today, and it's definitely not latex.
Les Collaborateurs: When Neo-Zeon arrives on Earth, the Federation's top leaders bend over and join them at a party, trying to cut the best deal they can with their new spacenoid overlords. Leina calls them out on this.
Lighter and Softer: The first half, especially when compared to its predecessor. Despite what the Fan Dumb wants to believe, Tomino was responsible (as he put it in later interviews, he saw that Zeta was dark and depressing and felt that anime should be happy and uplifting, so he deliberately made the start of ZZ silly to counteract Zeta's dark ending). The latter half is more serious, but there's still some campy moments.
Lightning Bruiser: Plenty, though the gold medal goes to Glemmy's final superweapon, the Quin-Mantha. It's basically a super-Qubeley, a towering, Nigh Invulnerable behemoth with the firepower of a battleship squadron and the manoeuvrability of a suit half its size. The heroes only manage to beat it by convincing one of its pilots to switch sides and sniping the other one while he's outside the cockpit.
Macross Missile Massacre: Gundam ZZ can accomplish this, as can certain Neo-Zeon mecha (especially the Zssa, which is badically a walking block of missile launchers).
Mêlée à Trois: The last story arc combines this with Enemy Civil War. At one point, La Vie En Rose goes in to temporarily ally with Chara Soon's forces against Glemmy, while Judau tries to infiltrate Core 3 and kidnap Mineva Zabi.
Mythology Gag: As with the two shows before it, ZZ has an episode named "Reentry to Earth". However, unlike the first two shows, ZZ's "Reentry to Earth" actually only leads up to the actual "Reentry to Earth"-episode. It seems like Bandai got the titles swapped around a bit...
No Delays for the Wicked: Neo Zeon's efficiency (or, at least, outward appearance thereof) is what gets the Earth Federation's leadership to side with them.
No Sympathy: Roux starts yelling at Judau when he's in the middle of a Heroic BSOD over his sister's apparent death and just wants to sit alone in the Core Fighter's cockpit. Even Beecher thinks she's going overboard.
Passing the Torch: Captain Bright leaves Beecher in command of Nahel Argama, and later departs in the launch for logistical reasons. He isn't remotely surprised or displeased when the Gundam Team steal the ship; at this point, they can use it better than the AEUG hierarchy could.
Poor Communication Kills: If Judau and Glemmy had been able to communicate about Leina's injury, they might have been able to cooperate and get her to a doctor instead of fighting each other and dropping a mobile suit on her house. She survives either way, but man, Judau, talking would have helped.
The Remnant: Lots of 'em! The most clear-cut example is the group of Zeon soldiers on Earth (who have been hiding out in the desert for eight years after their side lost way back in Mobile Suit Gundam[!]), but Axis/Neo-Zeon were originally Zeon soldiers who fled to the asteroid belt rather than surrender. In a rare heroic version, the Argama and crew are the remnant of the AEUG as a whole, who suffered a Pyrrhic Victory at the end of Zeta Gundam but continue to fight against Neo-Zeon.
Right for the Wrong Reasons: When Chara watches Ple Two interact with Rutina, and later sees Rutina interacting with Judau, she thinks that Glemmy is behind some kind of scheme. Glemmy is making his move against Haman, but Rutina and Judau have nothing to do with that.
Running Gag: Hatches always getting stuck open in the middle of a fight.
Scunthorpe Problem: Judau's surname is "Ashita", which has created some problems on forums such as GameFAQs. Apparently Bandai got around this by removing the I from the official translation.
Shipper on Deck: A darker-than-average example. Later in the series, the Argama crew began to seriously consider the pros of a Judau/Haman relationship... because they were quite aware that she was a ruthless and exceptionally dangerous dictator, and would happily take any weapon they could get to stop her.
Shout-Out: Judau's outfit in the latter half of the series looks surprisingly like a popular Shonen Hero of that time...and his haircut doesn't help. If you hadn't guessed, he looks like a young Kenshiro.A Back To The Future Delorean can been seen in the background of the streets of Tigerbaum.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Haman tries to get Judau to join her. He refuses even though "she smells nice".
Later averted, to underscore Judau's Character Development. At one point, when Judau rejects her latest recruitment speech, he takes the time to listen to her point and respond calmly, instead of shouting at her and running away.
So Last Season: Generally averted. There are several mobile suits shown that date back to the One Year War, but they tend to be piloted by experienced aces who can fight on the same level as the Gundam Team despite their obsolete gear.
Space Amish: For a period of a few episodes, the heroes found themselves on a colony that had suppressed all technology — despite being a space station. If you're wondering how that worked, they had a small, trusted council run basic maintenance, whilst otherwise trying to keep their lifestyle as low-tech as possible. Despite the obvious drawbacks, it worked out pretty well for them.
Spell My Name with an "S": Worse than most Gundam series, due to its lack of official English translation. The worst offender is Elpeo/Elpie Ple/Puru. Supposedly, her official Japanese-English rendition of Elpeo Ple is a play on the name of a magazine featuring small girls called L People (ie., change the spacing in her name and it becomes El People), but some people don't consider this enough of a counterbalance to the fact that that name looks wrong in English. And just try saying Ple.
Gundam Unicorn seems to have cleared this up: her name is pronounced "Elpie Pull" in English. Fitting, as it retains the pun. The spelling remains a bit contentious (as some advocate leaving it "Elpeo Ple" to match sources, while others want to just straight up spell it "Elpie Pull" for the sake of clarity).
It's also fitting, in that "Pull" is what they shout when they launch targets in front of skeet shooters, reflecting how utterly expendable the poor girls are.
Super Robot Wars: Another mainstay of the series which has appeared in a lot of the games. It's taken something of a breather, apparently because Sunrise had plans for it, but Kazuki Yao's advancing age and inability to pull off his trademark yelling may also be a factor.
Terraforming: The ecological situation on Earth has become bad enough that humanity is now having to do this to its own home planet. For instance, Europe is now covered in artificial rainforests to compensate for rampant desertification.
There Are No Therapists: Averted. When it becomes obvious that even with her Psychic Powers, Ple is so unstable that she's more trouble than she's worth, the first thing the Argama crew do when they get back to civilization following the Africa arc is to get her into therapy.
How Judau kills Rakan. It involves a dozen or so missiles, a beam rifle to the face, and finally slicing his suit into little pieces with the ZZ's beam sabre. Given how hard to kill the guy had been in their previous encounters, it was probably necessary.
Obliterating Glemmy with the Zeta's beam rifle, meanwhile, was definitely not necessary (he was on foot at the time), but it was the closest weapon to hand.
This Is Reality: The opening theme song is "Anime Ja Nai!", meaning "It's Not a Cartoon".
Probably meant to be ironic, since ZZ was, prior to the creation of G Gundam, the absolute cartooniest entry in the Gundam saga.
It was actually, according to Tomino, a shot at Zeta Gundam which he felt was over the top serious. That's going to cause a shitstorm in the fandom.
Too Dumb to Live: Emily again... firing on an enemy that was retreating is a good way to convince them they should kill you.
Took a Level in Badass: A non-character example - the AMX-011 Zaku III, one of the deadliest mass-produced suits of the Neo Zeon War. Yes, really.
Transformation Is a Free Action: No, it is not. Many battles feature the Neo-Zeon troops shouting "Shoot that thing down before it forms the Gundam!", and the Gundam Team often has to cover ZZ while it's combining. Some battles are dragged out because the Neo-Zeons are being successful in not giving Judau a moment to breathe and get the transformation going.
Unstoppable Rage: After Leina gets shot, Judau's sheer fury is enough that every vaguely Newtype-sensitive person in the city feels it, and Haman (who's at ground zero) runs for her life.
Villain Song: The second opening doesn't bother hiding the fact it's being sung from the perspective of Haman about Judau.
Vitriolic Best Buds: The Gundam Team spend more time bickering amongst each other than they do fighting the enemy. Iino, as the Only Sane Man, is mostly exempt; Judau tries to stay above the fighting, but often causes it.
War Is Hell: As usual for a Gundam series. ZZ makes it part of its Cerebus Syndrome - things get less and less fun and silly as the Neo Zeon War takes its physical and psychological toll on the characters, and despite a happy(ish) ending, it's clear that the survivors are going to have some lasting scars.
Weak, but Skilled: On the one hand, Rommel's unit are Oldtypes who are fighting Judau in the Zeta with outdated Zaku mobile suits. On the other hand, Rommel's unit are veterans of the One Year War who know how to fight intelligently; even as outdated as they are, the unit still manage to put up more of a fight than any previous opponent. (It helps that Judau has never fought in a desert before.)