The show was created and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, with character designs by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, while the series’ mechanical designs is split among Kunio Okawara, Mamoru Nagano, and Kazumi Fujita.
The series was originally aired on Nagoya Broadcasting Network and its sister ANN stations between 1985 and 1986. Between 2005 and 2006, the series was reproduced and compiled into a movie trilogy, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation. Though still directed by Tomino, it involved many changes in the original storyline.
Main article: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam episodes
The year was UC 0087, seven years after the end of the One Year War. After the events of Operation Stardust the Earth Federation created an elite task force, the Titans, to hunt down Zeon remnants. The overzealousness of Titans members led them to brutally eliminate anyone demanding equal rights for spacenoids. Two rebel groups, the Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG) and Karaba, emerged in opposition of the ruthless Titans.
Kamille Bidan was a teenage civilian whose parents were engineers for the Earth Federation and the Titans. He had a confrontation with Titans officer Jerid Messa while travelling to the Green Noa colony to meet his parents. Quattro Bajeena led an AEUG attack on the colony to capture three Gundam Mk-II mobile suits that the Titans were field-testing. Kamille stole Jerid’s Mk-II unit to repel the attack and followed Quattro back to the AEUG ship Argama. Bask Om ordered the Titans to take Kamille’s parents as hostages to force him to return the stolen Gundam Mk-II units. Unaware of the hostage plan, Jerid mistakenly kills Kamille’s mother. This was the final straw that broke the camel’s back, pushing Kamille to join the AEUG.
As the conflict with the Federation and Titans escalated, Kamille found himself washed along by the tide of war, meeting people from all sides, including artificial Newtypes, leaders of Anaheim Electronics, and brainwashed Titans members.
The AEUG launched a full-scale assault on Dakar, where the Earth Federation was assembling. This marked the beginning of the Earth Sphere civil war. Quattro finally admitted before the Earth Federation court that he was Char Aznable and presented evidence of the crimes commited by the Titans, including a G3 nerve gas attack on a defenseless colony. The court ruled these actions illegal and backed the AEUG in hunting down Titans leader Jamitov Hymem.
Having lost the support of the Federation, the Titans turned to the Zeon remnants, now regrouped as Axis Zeon, in hope of forging an alliance against the Federation. Axis Zeon leader Haman Karn contacted the AEUG instead, offering to side with them against the Titans in exchange of control of former Zeon Colony, Side 3.
Axis Zeon’s Jupiter Fleet commander Paptimus Scirocco assassinated Jamitov. He set his sights on the Titans headquarter colony, Gryps, which had been modified into a devestating colony laser. Kamille defeated Scirocco with the MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam. The AEUG fleet sunk Scirocco’s flagship and most of the Titans fleet. Kamille, however, suffered mental trauma as a result of the final battle, surviving the war with mental instability and amnesia.
Both the AEUG and Earth Federation suffered heavy losses during the war that came to be known as the Gryps Conflict. This made them extremely vulnerable to Axis Zeon’s return.
Director Yoshiyuki Tomino crammed his frustrations into Zeta Gundam. In an interview with Anime News Network, he explained that he made the series to tell the viewers, “Hey, watch my new Gundam, youngsters. Why are you not so lively like them in Z?”
He expressed mixed feelings about Zeta Gundam. He disliked the series and believed he should have ended the story in the first TV series. However, Zeta Gundam was a modest economic success, and paved the way for more Gundam series that grew into a huge franchise.
A majority of the series background music was written by Japanese composer Shigeaki Saegusa. The melodies of the two opening themes and sole ending theme were written by American pop singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka. The first opening song used is called Zeta – Toki wo Koete (Z・刻をこえて Zeta – Transcending Times) which was performed by Mami Ayukawa, and used for the first twenty-three episodes. Zeta – Toki wo Koete was based upon the song “Better Days are Coming” from Sedaka’s 1972 album Solitaire. The second opening song used is entitled Mizu no Hoshi e Ai wo Komete (水の星へ愛をこめて From the Aqueous Star with Love) and was performed by Hiroko Moriguchi, this second opening song is used in episodes twenty-four to fifty. The song “Mizu no Hoshi e Ai wo Komete” was derived from an unreleased song entitled “For Us to Decide”.
The sole ending song used for the series is called Hoshizora no Believe (星空のBelieve Believe in the Starry Sky) which was sung by Mami Ayukawa. “Hoshizora no Believe” was adapted from the song “Bad and Beautiful” from the 1976 album Steppin’ Out. In addition to the opening/ending songs an insert song was also made called Gin’iro Doresu (銀色ドレス Silver Dress?). This song is sung by Hiroko Moriguchi and is used in episode twenty.
The opening and ending songs differed for the North American release version as opposed to the original. The opening song used is called Zeta no Kodō ~ Zeta Gundam (Ζの鼓動～Ζガンダム Zeta’s Pulse~Zeta Gundam) which was composed by Saegusa, while the song used for the endings entitled Gurīn Noa no Shōnen ~ Arata na Sekai (グリーン・ノアの少年～新たな世界 Boy from Green Noa ~ A New World) was also written by Saegusa.
The songs used for the three movies that came out of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam were all performed by Gackt, and were compiled and released on his tribute album 0079-0088. The first movie Heirs To The Stars uses two songs; Metamorphoze is used as the opening song while Kimi ga Matteiru Kara (君が待っているから Because you’re Waiting) is used for the ending. The second movie Lovers uses just one new song called Mind Forest for the ending song. Mind Forest is also featured on Gackt’s album called “Crescent”. The final movie made Love is the Pulse of the Stars uses two new songs. Love Letter is used as an insert song followed by the song Dybbuk which is used as the ending song.
The series was first aired in Japan on Nagoya Broadcasting Networking between 2 March 1985 to 22 February 1986. It consisted of a total of 50 episodes.
The show has been placed on rerun on the anime satellite television network, Animax, across Japan and later its respective networks worldwide, including East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and other regions.
In 2004, after almost 2 years of delays and failed television and merchandising deals, Bandai released a limited edition Zeta Gundam boxset with dubbed English and original Japanese audio tracks. The English dub was done by Ocean Production’s Blue Water Studio based in Calgary in Canada.
Due to Bandai not having rights to the theme songs outside of Asia, the opening and closing sequences were altered. The English subtitles were criticized as inaccurate and appear to be based on the script for the English dub, rather than a direct translation of the original Japanese script. Bandai corrected the subtitles to a properly translated version for later DVD releases in 5 cases with 2 discs each. The box-set includes pencil sharpener collectibles and a 48-page booklet and poster. Each DVD in the Bandai Region 2 release contains five episodes.
On October 11, 2014 at their 2014 New York Comic-Con panel, Sunrise announced they will be releasing all of the Gundam franchise, including the Zeta Gundam TV series and movies in North America though distribution from Right Stuf Inc., beginning in Spring 2015.1
In celebration of Gundam’s 25th anniversary (and also the 20th anniversary of Zeta Gundam), the 50-episode series was compiled into a movie trilogy called Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation. According to Tomino, the movies were created to fix some of the problems he identified in the television series and to bring it into a 21st-century context for a new generation now experiencing the increasingly commercialized series, such as Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. The first movie, Heirs to the Stars, opened on May 28, 2005, followed by Lovers on October 29, 2005, and Love is the Pulse of the Stars on March 6, 2006.
The compilations digitally remastered the television series of Zeta Gundam with new footage. Around 33% of Heir to the Stars was remastered footage, with 70% for Lovers and almost 80% for Love is the Pulse of the Stars. However, several major plot events from the TV series were either edited or removed to allow the films to flow more smoothly, unlike Tomino’s previous Gundam film compilations. Likewise, the fate of some characters in the television version were entirely changed, notably Kamille’s — in the original, his final battle renders him into a vegetative state, while he remains physically and mentally fit by the end of the movie trilogy. In addition, mobile suits belonging to the Gundam timeline, but designed after the television broadcast of Zeta Gundam, were also placed into the movies.
Shigeaki Saegusa’s musical score from the TV series was reused for the films, with the addition of new songs by J-pop artist Gackt. A music video for the first film’s opening theme “Metamorphoze” featured Gackt singing inside a mobile suit cockpit during battle.
Majority of the original TV voice cast returned to reprise their respective roles. Yō Inoue, who died in 2003 – was posthumously credited, as an archived recording of her voice was used for a cameo appearance of Sayla Mass in the third film. There were some changes to the voice cast – namely Yukana replacing Saeko Shimazu as Four Murasame, Satomi Arai replacing Miyuki Matsuoka as Fa Yuiry, and a few others. This change sparked controversy among fans, who suspected that Yukana used her relationship with sound director Sadayoshi Fujino to land her role.2 The films were a box office success in Japan.3
In 2006, Bandai Entertainment acquired the rights to the US release of the A New Translation movie trilogy, originally slated for release on June 22, 2010 but was later changed to July 6. The series and movies have been out of print, following the closure of Bandai Entertainment.
The review website Mania.com gave the anime an overall ‘B+’ rating, regarding it as “one of Yoshiyuki Tomino’s greatest works.” They stated that the “lack of an A/A+ is that this is recommended for fans who are already familiar with the Universal Century storyline,” recommending that audiences view “the original movie trilogy” first before watching Zeta Gundam.4 The reviewer Chris Beveridge of Mania.com gave certain volumes of the series a full ‘A’ rating, describing the last ten episodes as being “the huge payoff episodes” where “you can almost feel the characters being rushed around a bit and moved through the paces. But at the same time, it all comes so fast that it’s simply enjoyable to watch so much happen and change so quickly.”5
A manga adaptation of the series was released by Kodansha under the Comic Bon Bon label in 1994, three volumes were serialized. An official manga remake was also made entitled Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Define (機動戦士Ζガンダム Define Kidō Senshi Zēta Gandamu Define?). This remake was written and illustrated by Hiroyuki Kitazume and serialized in Gundam Ace in June 25, 2011.
In 1985, Bandai released a special board game based on the series. Designed for two to four players, Mobile Suit Gundam: Take Off MKII has a paper map and 12 miniatures of various AEUG and Titans mobile suits, plus game rules and mission files.
Kidō Senshi Z-Gundam: Hot Scramble followed in 1986. the first Gundam video game for home consoles, Hot Scramble featured first-person and side-scrolling stages. this would be followed by a 3D-fighting game, Mobile Suit Z Gundam, for the Sony PlayStation in 1997. Featuring remastered cutscenes from the series, it comes on two discs, allowing players to experience the series from the viewpoints of Kamille and Char. Bandai later added the series’ mobile suits as part of Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs Zeta Gundam in 2004.
In addition, Tecmo Koei and Namco Bandai have included the series in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam franchise ever since the first game was released in 2007.
Main article: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam cast
- Kamille Bidan …. Nobuo Tobita / Jonathan Lachlan-Stewart
- Quattro Bajeerna/Char Aznable …. Shuichi Ikeda / Tom Edwards
- Amuro Ray …. Toru Furuya / Brad Swaile
- Bright Noa …. Hirotaka Suzuoki
- Hayato Kobayashi …. Kiyonobu Suzuki
- Jerid Messa …. Kazuhiko Inoue
- Bask Om …. Daisuke Gouri
- Yazan Gable …. Houchu Ohtsuka
- Paptimus Scirocco …. Bin Shimada
- Emma Sheen …. Maya Okamoto
- Four Murasame …. Saeko Shimazu
- Haman Karn …. Yoshiko Sakakibara
- Beltorchika Irma …. Maria Kawamura
- Reccoa Londe …. Masako Katsuki
Main article: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam crew
- Directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino
- Written by Hajime Yatate
- Music by Shigeaki Saegusa
- Character design by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
- Mechanical design by Kunio Okawara, Mamoru Nagano, and Kazumi Fujita
- Art direction by Junichi Higashi
- Official Websites: Anime, A New Translation I, II, III
- Subtitled episodes on Daisuki’s YouTube channel
- Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam on Wikipedia
- Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam on Anime News Network’s encyclopedia
- Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam on the Internet Movie Database
- Anime Academy Review: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam at the Wayback Machine (archived February 9, 2012)