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In many ways, Char's Counterattack strikes me as the Star Trek: Generations of the Gundam franchise. It kills off one of the most memorable characters in anime history (two if you count Amuro), and never manages to seem more than a big-budget episode from the series it spawned from. Which is not to say that Char's Counterattack is a -bad- movie, just that it could have been much better.
Lets start with the bad: Quess. Quess manages to take the absolute worst qualities of Kamille Biden and turn them up to eleven thousand. She's clingy, a sociopath, annoying, a sociopath, stupid, a sociopath, vapid, a sociopath, shallow, and lest we forget; a sociopath. She adds nothing to the story, and her sortie in the Alpha adds nothing to the final battle aside from making Hathaway commit murder after she inevitably dies. The angst she causes Hanai puts me in mind of a woman worried her husband is getting too intimate with a blow-up sex doll, which would likely have made that sub-plot -less- annoying. The other Axis Ace Pilots (to use the term lightly...) exist entirely to be irritating, and their deaths are so sudden and abrupt it feels as if the writing staff were champing at the bit to get rid of them and move on as soon as physically possible.
So what is good about Char's Counterattack? Well, the fight scenes are pretty awesome. The animation is very slick, and only gets better as the movie progresses. Once all the supporting assholes are out of the way, Char and Amuro get an appropriately gritty no-holds-barred Battle Royale that proves beyond doubt which of the two is the superior soldier. The interaction between the two is also the highlight of the movie, perfectly showcasing what made the pair so famous in the first place. Char manages to be both a first-class bastard and inherently sympathetic person at the same time, and it is easy to see why he still has so many people rooting for his side to this day. The irony of the movie is that if he'd stuck to using his intense personal charisma as a weapon instead of sortieing in a mobile suit, he'd likely have charmed people off earth sooner or later anyway.
In conclusion, Char's Counterattack is much like other entries into the Gundam franchise, such as Destiny. If one can manage to look beyond the superficial annoyances, there are gems to be found. They just share a spotlight with the turds.
Some of my major gripes with the movie except for those you mentioned are among others, it's choppy and uneven pacing (It feels like it was taken from something longer and chopped up to make it fit in two hours). Much of the plot make flat out no sense, especially the characters. And finally that flat out coop-out deus-ex machina ending, and my reading up on it only making it worse.
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