"Men are perhaps born to fight each other. And women are perhaps fated to be their tools."
— Reccoa Londe
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (Kidou Senshi Zeta Gundam) is the second, arguably darkest (though Unicorn might be heading that way and Mobile Suit Victory Gundam gives it a run for its money), and arguably most well-received, installment in the Gundam franchise. The original sequel to Mobile Suit Gundam, Zeta Gundam's story follows wangstyTeen Genius Kamille Bidan, who joins the rebellion AEUG out of hatred for the Federation. Following the One Year War, the Earth Federation has created a special, elite branch of the military to police the space colonies and prevent anything like the One Year War from happening again. Unfortunately for all involved, this group, the Titans, are oppressive, corrupt, and elitist, believing that those born on Earth are inherently superior.Zeta Gundam features a much older and mature new cast; however, is supported by many characters from the original series such as Captain Bright Noah, Amuro Ray, and Char Aznable wearing a Paper-Thin Disguise as Quattro Bajeena.In 2005, a series of movies began which remastered the series' animation and added new animation as well. In addition, the story was given a new, Lighter and SofterBittersweet Ending that apparently retcons Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ and possibly Char's Counterattack, if not the entire rest of the Universal Century timeline, out of canon, if not for Tominoexplicitly saying it's just an Alternate Universe retelling of Zeta.Zeta is a mainstay in Super Robot Wars, being in every game until Judgement, where after that all UC was excluded from the handheld titles, but reappears in Z and Another Century's Episode R, as well as returning UC to handhelds in Z2. During its intial run, Zeta had the highest rating of any Gundam series before and since. The show continues to be extremely popular in Japan, and its model kit sales continually get near the top of the Gundam lists.Now has a character sheet.
Anti-Villain: Jerid Messa is a Jerk Ass, but if he does come to care for someone else aside of himself, he does so very deeply, and seeing him cry when he loses those persons makes you Cry for the Devil:
Armor Is Useless: Actually something of a plot point. With the widespread use of beam weaponry, conventional armour became largely... well... useless. This resulted in the advent of 'movable frame' technology, where mobile suits were no longer made of big blocks of metal, but freely-moving armour plates over a flexible, agile 'skeleton'. Not only did this boost their manoeuvrability tremendously, but it eventually led to suit engineers figuring out that you could contort the frame into a non-humanoid shape if you wanted... and thus the Transforming Mecha was born.
Finally averted with the PMX-003 The O, which was simply too big and tough for beam guns to make a dent in its armour. Paptimus Scirocco's engineering genius probably helped, too.
Armor-Piercing Slap: Not only Bright, despite what Fanon says. Emma also has something to say about this, slapping Fa twice in the same scene. In the first few minutes, Kamille already gets slapped obviously by a teacher of his.
Artistic License - Physics: Subverted in episode 3: The Titans send an MS with a white flag to the AEUG. At first, the flag seems to be flapping...in space. But after it lands on the Argama, there's a shot of the flagpole which shows a set of gasjets de-activating.
Ascended Extra: Subverted with Gates Capa who appears in Episodes 42 and 48, and then disappears without a trace. He doesn't die. He's just... gone.
Tomino's original plan was for him to be accidentally killed by Rosamia before her final fight with Kamille. Why this was cut is unclear.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Colony Laser. Despite its huge power, the firing angle can't be controlled too precisely, and its loading time is quite long, so getting a direct shot on a target in the middle of a fight would be difficult.
Awesome But Practical: The Zeta Gundam super powerful robot mode with enough output to use a blaster and even a cannon. Complete with super-fast waverider mode to help get in and out of battles, achieve re-entry, and even assist others with re-entry. Helps keep pace with all the transformables the Titans were steam rolling out.
Black and White Morality: The AEUG are probably the most heroic faction in all of UC Gundam while the Titans with a few exceptions like Jerid, Mouar, Sarah, and Reccoa are portrayed as group of Smug Snakes and Axis Zeon is shown to be only slightly less worse than the Titans.
Boring, but Practical: The Methuss, probably the weakest and least polished of the AEUG's mobile suits, goes on to lend its transformation mechanisms to a variety of superior models like the Guncannon Detector and ZII from the Mobile Suit Variations line, and the ReZEL from Gundam Unicorn.
Scirocco's third mobile suit, the PMX-002 Bolinoak Samaan. It's the least striking of his designs and probably the weakest, but it's equipped with a sophisticated surveillance radome which entirely justifies this trope - it's intended to gather information and report back, not engage in protracted conflicts.
On the character side, there's Gates Capa, the third and last Cyber-Newtype. He's a stark contrast to Four and Rosamia - while not nearly as powerful as either of them, he's also immune to the mental breakdowns both ladies are cursed by.
Broad Strokes: A New Translation to an extent. Many of the story's events still happen over the course of the films, though not quite exactly in the same way it did in the original show. But the most significant departure, however, is the ending that has Kamille surviving his battle with Scirocco in one piece.
Can't Catch Up: Fa, always trying to keep up with the other female pilots and managing to do it only once. To be fair to the girl, the Methuss isn't the best suit and Fa was still skilled enough to survive.
And on the other side of the war, there's Jerid. He gets more mobile suit upgrades than any other pilot, but no matter what the Titans give him he can't compete with the Zeta Gundam.
Cartwright Curse: Between Jerid and Kamille, Mouar, Lila, Four and Rosamia are killed off. The first three get killed off by their Love Interest's rival, and the last is simply killed by Kamille to prevent her from destroying the Argama.
As a point of interest, this is just one of the reasons Kamille and Jerid become rivals. If one hadn't been born, it's entirely likely that the other would have lived a happier life.
Celebrity Resemblance: Yazan is apparently modeled on Sting, specifically his role as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in Dune (which came out the year before Zeta); Yazan's famous turtle tattoo is likewise a nod to Sting's album "The Dream of the Blue Turtles", which came out the same year.
Chick Magnet: Paptimus Scirocco. He manages to end the series with a harem of Newtype women ace pilots, most of which had defected to his side. He basically makes bishie charm a newtype power.
Kamille gets a bit of this as well, with Fa, Four Murasame, Rosamia, and arguably Emma...
Cliff Hanger: Kamille's mind is crushed by Scirocco, and even though the Titans have been defeated, Axis Zeon has not. Thankfully, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ gave us a proper conclusion.
Clingy Jealous Girl (Beltorchika Irma has all that it takes to be one, but since she is about the only girl to fall for Amuro in Zeta, this doesn't characterize her fully. Fa also is a bit like this.)
Compilation Movie: Three of them... produced twenty years later; the show is that popular.
Darker and Edgier: Compared to the original Mobile Suit Gundam, which was already pretty dark in itself. Zeta has been called one of the darkest Gundam series ever made, topped possibly only by Victory Gundam. Its darkness is at least partially what makes it a fan favourite.
Dating Catwoman: Katz tries that with Sarah. It... doesn't work, to say it lightly.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: The episode where Reccoa is captured by Yazan, it seems like the entire scene is that of a woman getting raped/being beaten and enjoying it. Rather, Reccoa seems to stand for abused significant others who are totally trapped into Stockholm Syndrome.
Dodge the Bullet: Jamitov dodges a pistol shot from Quattro when they accidentally meet at Kilimanjaro.
Downer Ending: Although Kamille succeeds in destroying Paptimus Scirocco for good, but in turn his brain gets fried as a retaliation as well. The evil Titans are finally annihilated for good at last, but save for Fa and Bright, all the other heroes of AEUG die a horrible death, and Haman Karn successfully gives Zeon a rise to its former power, shadowing the future of Earth once again.
The Compilation Movies changed this to a Bittersweet Ending: Yes, most of the cast still die. Yup, there's still alot of bloodshed. However, Kamille doesn't get mind-fried, we see other characters reacting to the news (which includes Amuro, the Kobayashi family and Mirai), Haman retreats and arranges for Mineva to go to school on Earth, and the last scene is of Fa and Kamille hugging in space happily.
Dubtitle: On the original Region 1 DVD release. Subsequent re-releases fixed this.
Enemy Civil War: A covert one. Scirocco and his followers disrupt the Titans leadership from within, and Scirocco ultimately kills them and takes over the group.
Eva Fins: the Rick Dias, Hyaku Shiki, and several other mobile suits sport large back-mounted fins. Justified as Wing Binders, extra limbs to aid in AMBAC.
Even Evil Has Standards: Scirocco, who starts the series as The Starscream, opposes the actions of his overlords Jamitov and Bosque, and even sends his pawn Sarah Zabiarov to disrupt one of their plans. Granted, it was for self-serving purposes...
( Reccoa might be a traitor, but she was real happy to kill Bosque as soon as she could. In fact, more than one Titan was NOT pleased to see the effects of the mass gassings: Gady Kinsey even gets a CMOA for managing to bullshit his way out of one and living to tell the tale.)
Yazan, the resident Blood Knight, is disgusted by Smug Snake Jamaican's cowardice. He arranges his death shortly afterwards.
Evil Counterpart: Reccoa, to Emma. The differences in their motives for defecting from their respective factions give a very poignant demonstration of the difference between following your heart, vs. simply following your feelings.
Scirocco to Kamille as well. They're both ambiguously autistic, mobile suit engineering geniuses, and powerful Newtypes. The difference between them is compassion - Kamille is driven by it, while Scirocco has none of it.
Evil Is Bigger: The Psyco Gundam, Psyco Gundam II, and anything designed by Scirocco will subscribe to this trope.
Executive Meddling: The original opening and ending themes couldn't be used for foreign versions because composer Neil Sedaka retains a copyright for them.
Foreshadowing: Quattro tells Roberto in the first episode that his overconfidence will get him killed some day. Halfway through the series, he underestimates the new Assimar mobile armor, and gets killed.
Grand Theft Prototype: The AEUG stealing three Gundam Mk. II early on is the first example of this trope in the series. Notably, their original plan was to take just one, and Kamille's use of this trope allows them to nab all three.
"Believing a sign of Zeta/Beyond the hard times from now"
Also, sing along: "Oh, I can't help believe in you..."
Of course the way it's actually sung sounds more like "I can't help believing you", which is very fitting for a show where nearly all of the female characters get lied to or even outright manipulated by their love interests through the course of the series.
Green Aesop: Played with. For a straight example, it's mentioned that any more nuclear detonations on the Earth's surface could cause irreparable damage to the Earth's ecosystem. Other than that, whenever a character is promoting an environmentalist agenda, it's a rhetorical position that's tied in with Zeon Deikun's spacenoid ideology (which holds that humanity should leave the Earth for the space colonies, evolve into Newtypes, and bring an end to warfare), rather than an end in itself.
I Did What I Had to Do: Bosque Ohm tells Reccoa at one point that the Titans want a peaceful Earth Sphere, and their extreme methods are a result of impatience. However any possibility of a spark of goodness is extinguished when he laughs maniacally after firing the Gryps Laser for the first time, killing an entire colony worth of civilians.
Idiot Ball: Used liberally to justify many of the deaths at the end of the series. Such as Henken sacrificing himself and the rest of his crew in order to save Emma, his crush. She, naturally, died later anyway, after getting her suit's engines trashed, barely making it back to the ship, and then launching again anyway, still engineless.
Jamitov Hyman, full stop. If you have any doubts, just rewatch Zeta and ask yourself why he does the things he did. He must have been high.
Karmic Death: Jamitov and Bosk are both killed by people they tried to manipulate, can been seen as overdue payback for their manipulations during the Delaz Fleet incident. Scirocco was also killed by Kamille when he used the latent powers of various women, including his subordinates, for a final attack with the Zeta.
Kick the Dog: Jerid does this during the evacuation of Jaburo, attacking his comrades just so he can board the escape plane.
Scirocco is named for the powerful Mediterranean wind.
Zigzagged with the Methuss. Most people think it's a reference to Methuselah because it kind of looks like a bent old man, but it's actually supposed to be "me-tasu", Japanese for "many-eyed". The five-eyed mobile suit design that eventually became Yazan Gable's Hambrabi was originally meant to be a support mech for the Zeta Gundam piloted by Fa, using its supernumerary eyes to act as an artillery spotter for it's Hyper Mega Launcher. Tomino (or possibly somebody else on the creative team) decided it was too sinister-looking for one of the most unambiguously good characters in the series to pilot and handed it over to a gleeful Yazan "I'm gonna violate you" Gable instead, sticking the poor girl with the diminutive yellow rustbucket we all know and love, but for some reason they kept the name.
Mecha-Mooks: The Titans have an extraordinary array of suits, but the humble RMS-106 Hizack is the most common and iconic. Being based on Mobile Suit Gundam's legendary Zaku II helps, too.
Mêlée à Trois: Titans vs. AEUG vs. Axis Zeon. This situation was so memorable that homages to this set up appear numerous times in the franchise as a whole.
Mentor Ship: Jerid crushes on Lila, who's teaching him a few things about piloting. Lila is okay with the idea and uses it as a carrot to help turn him into a real soldier. She dies before this goes anywhere.
Mildly Military: A dark variation. The Titans, being a State Sec organization, have no respect for any military protocol that isn't their own; Bright Noa is beaten half to death for trying to bring them into line.
Milestone Celebration: The Zeta Gundam movie trilogy was released to celebrate both the 20th anniversary of the show, and the 25th anniversary of the Gundam franchise.
Mind Rape: Scirocco hits Kamille with one of these as he dies.
Also implied to be a part of the training for the Cyber Newtypes. Considering what happened to Four and Rosamia, it's very likely.
More than Mind Control: Scirocco's modus operandi seems to be this. In addition to his immense reserves of personal charisma he can use his Newtype abilities to influence the emotions of others, as seen with Reccoa in Jupitris Infiltration.
No Accounting for Taste: Amuro's relationship with Clingy Jealous Girl Beltorchika baffles both Char and Kamille. Subverted in that Amuro knows all this very well, and is only involved with her because she provides an excuse for him not to go back into space - which, after all he went through in the original series, he fears considerably more than sacrificing his personal freedom.
And also, after being Put on a Bus, Beltochika's clinginess is toned down when she briefly reappears as a HotIntrepid Reporter in episode 37, and even earns a CMOA by recording a brutal Titans skirmish, which lets Char show the world how horrible they are.
Non-Indicative Name: Despite being called the Anti-Earth Union Group, the AEUG is in fact a faction within the Earth Federation.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Yazan's Crew. After the general incompetence of Jerid and Adol's doomed attempt, it comes as quite a shock how brutally efficient Yazan, Dunkel and Ramsus are.
Not Too Dead To Save The Day: In the final battle between Kamille and Scirocco, the spirits of the dead Newtypes join forces with Kamille. Sara, however, still stands for Scirocco, but is taken aside by Katz.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Char. Has a lampshade hung on it when Haman outs Char in front of the rest of the AEUG. While all the other present AEUG members seem shocked by the revelation, Kamille's reaction is basically just to say "Yeah yeah, real big surprise there." Probably because he saw Hayato confronting Char with the infamous letter.
One should keep in mind though, that the disguise is only paper thin to the viewer... the AEUG is genuinely surprised, since Char normally wore a mask during most of the One Year War, so there are only a handful of people who know him by looks.
Given Char's penchant for Red (Quattro always wears red and initially pilots a red mobile suit) and his piloting ability, it probably still counts as a paper-thin disguise.
The Plan: Scirocco pulls these off with frightening ease. Jamaican... not so much.
Playing Both Sides: Axis is allied with both the AEUG and the Titans at the same time, and they end up on top after both sides are exhausted.
Reality Subtext: According to backstage rumor, Reccoa and Scirocco were at least partly based on seiyuu Maria Kawamura and character and mecha designer extraordinaire Mamoru Nagano, who were the other two thirds of a Love Triangle Tomino was involved in during production. They got married, actually, and still are.
Zeta seems to be a veritable lightning rod for backstage drama. There's also the infamous recasting of Four in the compilation movies, allegedly due to a Casting Couch arrangement between Yukana and the director, as well as Rosamia's much reduced role as a result of the casting director having been married to her original seiyuu and then divorcing, resulting in her being replaced by a less experienced actress.
Red Shirt: The AEUG's Nemos serve this purpose admirably.
Renegade Splinter Faction: The Titans to the Earth Federation. Once they were exposed by the AEUG, the group goes full renegade.
Retcon: The third Compilation Movie gives us a Bittersweet Ending instead of the original Downer Ending: Kamille survives the duel with Scirocco more or less unscatched and is reunited with Fa and the rest of the Argama crew. Also, additional footage includes the reactions of characters like Amuro, Beltochika, Fraw, Retsu, Kikka, Mirai, Sayla and Kai.
There's an even earlier example of this: originally, all the fancy stuff the Zeta did (like the mile-long beam saber) was just Kamille's raw Newtype power. Later on it was retconned that the Zeta has a device called the biosensor that amplifies Newtype powers and causes incredible phenomenae.
Though his theft of the Mk-II is directly responsible for the circumstances that lead to his mother's death.
Smug Snake: Jamaican Danigan, from the Titans, and Ben Wooder.
Spell My Name with an S: One of the worst offenders in anime history - pick any character on the cast, and you're guaranteed to find at least three different variations on his or her name. Special mention goes to Quattro Bajeena, whose last name has been romanized in a very... interesting way on occasion - see some of the Gundam video games for the PS1 to see what I mean.
As for mecha, the Psyco Gundam gets mistakenly identified as Psycho Gundam a lot; the name is a contraction of "psychic communicator", not a descriptor of its unfortunate pilots.
Super Robot Wars: This is one of the mainstays of the series and has appeared in most of the games. The movie remake series debuted in the spinoff game, Scramble Commander the 2nd and made its traditional debut in one of the most recent games, Z. It's returning for Z2.
Terrible Trio: Yazan's crew are a particularly competent and scary example.
Team Mom: Emma Sheen and Reccoa Londe. Fa is also a bit of this towards the Bratty Half-Pint orphans, though she only takes up the Team Mom mantle full-time in Double Zeta.
Teen Genius: Kamille was famous for winning several suit design contests before going to the AEUG, and in fact he actually designed the Zeta Gundam.
Theme Naming: Scirocco likes naming his custom mobile suits after deities. Pallas Athena is named for the Greek war goddess, Bolinoak Samaan is named for a Mesopotamian god, and The O is a play on Theo, a name derived from the Greek word for 'God'.
The Other Darrin: Is what happened to the dub after the original MSG cast took a strike.
The Starscream: Paptimus Scirocco, who actually succeeds in his plans and supplants the big bads Jamitov and Bosque.
This Is Gonna Suck: When the Hyaku Shiki takes a shot for Kamille and are forced into an uncontrolled re-entry, Quattro comments, "I don't think this is gonna end well."
Too Dumb to Fool: Possibly "too oldtype to connect" (or "too crazy to care"), but Yazan shakes off the Newtype images projected from Reccoa as being illusions.
Took A Level In Bad Ass: Let's see, Jerid did eventually come to even footing with Kamille in some parts of the show and eventually became a personal body guard to Jamitov. Also Kai became freaking James Bond! Hayato got a level too, he pretty much become a cool and confident Team Dad for Karaba on Earth.
Transforming Mecha: The Zeta Gundam and the greater majority of Mobile Suits; in fact, Zeta still holds the record of having the largest percentage of transforming robots in the entire saga.
Paptimus Scirocco's Messala is in fact the first transformable mobile suit ever seen in a Gundam series.
The official English spelling of Quattro Bajeena in Japan is Quattro Vagina.
As bizarre as it sounds, this may actually be Theme Naming. The disfunctional, controlling relationships between men and women are a major theme of this series, made explicit by Reccoa'sFamous Last Words. Three of the most disfunctional, controlling main characters having names based on female anatomy actually kinda fits.
While Jamitov and Quattro might be theme naming, Gundam Historica 11 confirms The O is named for Theo, a name which derives its meaning from the Greek word for God.
As far as this series goes, it may as well be renamed Newtype Always Dies. Recall that that last person mentioned is NOT a newtype, and keep in mind which young girl survives ZZ... Also kind of note how they die. It seems becoming a Newtype gives you an inescapable urge to leap in the way of dangerous objects if you're Ho Yay or female.
Victory Guided Amnesia: In a borderline and probably one of the most sad examples of this trope, Kamille gets Mind Raped by Scirocco in the finale, not only making him forget everything that had ever happened to him, but also dimishing his mental capabilities, making his mental state somewhere between a vegetable and a young child.
Weak, but Skilled: Most of the Argama crew, and the AEUG in general, didn't really have too many ace pilots. Most of the pilots were at best, average. Yet, Fa held her own in the Methuss, Roberto actually had some really great kills early on, and Apolly managed to save the day a few times, most notably sacrificing himself for Fa and bringing the Zeta Gundam to Kamille.
Wham Episode: Literally happens when Katz slams into a piece of space debris and dies. This begins the mass culling of the cast in the Kill Them All ending of the series.
To be fair, any sane person: (which Rosamia decidedly is not) would also be afraid of colony drops. The difference is that the poor girl panics over them even when there's no logical reason to think one's going to happen.
This gets hilarious in Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden, where the first time she does this, it's completely justified, just not in the usual way. (To elaborate, the thing falling from the sky was gonna be a lot worse than a colony.)
Worf Effect: Char, ultimately. Despite being one of the most experienced pilots, piloting two of the most advanced Mobile Suits in the series, he is usually knocked out or suffers damage. Hell, despite being arguably a better pilot than either Haman or Scirocco, he can't score ANY decisive blows on them.
Char has more experience than Haman and Scirocco, but the two of them are both stronger as newtypes, and their respective mobile suits were each superior to Char's Hyaku Shiki. Also, they initially double-teamed him, and by the time Kamille entered the fray Hyaku Shiki was already heavily damaged.
Yandere: Just about any woman who encounters Scirocco, but most notably Sarah and Reccoa.
You Are Not Alone: In a very depressing way of playing this straight, Emma tells this to Kamille at the very start of the last episode. The depressing part about this is that up to that point, Kamille has lost his mother, his father, his lover, his (sort-of) little sister, and almost all of his friends and comrades. To top it off, Emma says this while dying. The important thing to note is that Emma is completely right - the Zeta Gundam's biosensor, coupled with Kamille's newtype powers allow him to channel the powers of the dead to defeat Scirocco once and for all in the finale.
You Keep Using That Word: Rick, as in Rick Dom, actually comes from the word "reconstructed". The Rick Doms were Doms which have been reconstructed with vernier jets to work in space. The Rick Dias, on the other hand, is not a reconstructed version of any mech.
Your Cheating Heart: Franklin Bidan, Kamille's father, has a mistress named Margarita. Everyone, from Kamille to Bask Om, brings her up in the few episodes before he dies.