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Episode 1: The Black Gundam

 

Review by Chris Guanche

Original Review: June 11, 2000

New Review: August 5, 2021

 

Summary

 

In UC 0087, Quattro Bajeena (aka Char Aznable), Apolly and Roberto pilot Rick Dias mobile suits near Side 7. Quattro asks Apolly how he’s doing, and Apolly answers that the cockpit is a bit different, but he’ll get used to it soon. Roberto boasts that they survived the One Year War without instruction manuals, and Quattro comments that such overconfidence could prove costly some day. Inside Side 7’s Green Noa 1 colony, teenager Kamille Bidan decides to skip karate practice with the excuse that he’s sick. He runs into team captain Mezun Mex outside and offers up an excuse, but Mezun slaps Kamille across the face hard enough to knock him down. Kamille then runs away, and Mezun comments that he doesn’t look ill. Kamille ignores his friend Fa Yuiry as she calls out to him. He tells her that he’s skipping practice and tells her not to say his name so loudly so that people won’t know that it’s Kamille. At an electric car rental station, Fa criticizes Kamille for skipping practice to go back to the spaceport, but she comes along for the ride anyway. Kamille and Fa board a linear car at the station, and she criticizes him for chewing on his fingernails. As the linear car travels along the outside of the colony wall, Kamille looks out into space and experiences a strange sensation when he spots three streaks of lights. Nearby, Quattro experiences the same sensation and wonders if it’s being caused by Amuro Ray or Lalah Sune. After the linear car reaches the spaceport, Kamille spots the space shuttle Temptation, which makes a direct flight from Earth. Fa isn’t impressed, and Kamille explains that the ship is captained by Bright Noa, a One Year War veteran. She asks if he’s a Newtype, and Kamille answers that he must be since he captained the White Base during the war. Kamille heads to another part of the spaceport and spots several members of the Earth Federation Forces’ elite Titans task force. A young Titans officer hears Fa calling out to Kamille and comments to Kacricon Cacooler that Kamille is a girl’s name, but it seems to belong to a guy. Enraged, Kamille rushes past the security checkpoint and punches Jerid in the face, causing him to fly backward due to being in zero-g. Two other Titans officers ask if he’s picking a fight, and Kamille shouts that there’s nothing wrong with being a man and having that name. Kamille then punches two Titans, but he’s finally restrained on the ground by two MPs. Kamille tells Jerid that he shouldn’t have said what he did, and Jerid responds that he’ll treat Kamille like a man and kicks him in the face. Elsewhere, Quattro approaches Green Noa 2, a colony built from Zeon scraps and rumored to be a secret Titans base. He’s surprised by the complete lack of response to his presence and lands on the colony. After opening a hatch, he enters a shaft and fires sticky sealant to restrain two workers. Quattro then attaches a jetpack to his normal suit and infiltrates the colony on foot. Quattro blasts open a door to enter the colony proper and is greeted by the stink of heavy pollution.

 

Quattro flies through the colony interior and uses a camera to take photos of various points of interest, including a mobile suit and a dock where a battleship is under construction. Quattro decides to leave after taking enough pictures and nearly has a midair collision with the Gundam Mk-II as it flies through the colony. Quattro pulls out a pistol to defend himself and flies back in the direction he came from. The Gundam Mk-II gives chase and fires its vulcan guns, but Quattro is too small a target to hit. Quattro evades the Gundam Mk-II and returns to the service corridor, where armed men open fire, nicking his arm and damaging his camera. Quattro returns to the Rick Dias to escape the colony, and as he flies away he sprays the wound and applies a bandage to his normal suit. Outside Green Noa 1, Apolly deploys a wired observation camera and spots the Gundam Mk-II flying through the civilian area. Apolly relays the news to Roberto and tells him to inform Quattro, so Roberto takes off. Inside the colony, a Titans officer named Matosh interrogates Kamille and asks him if he knows about the Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG). Kamille says nothing, and Matosh looks through Kamille’s file, noting that he’s won the Homo Avis Tournament twice, along with this year’s Junior Mobile Suit Tournament. Matosh comments that Kamille’s grades are good enough for military service and then asks why he would pick a fight with the Titans if he wasn’t in the AEUG. Matosh says that the AEUG’s ideas of creating an independent government for the space colonies is a lie, and they’re just a worthless group like Zeon. Frustrated by Kamille’s silence, Matosh tells him he can stay there forever and leaves the room. Kamille looks through a glass panel into space and feels another strange sensation, but he thinks he’s imagining things. A lawyer walks into the room and tells Kamille that he’s free to go, commenting that he’d be held for four or five days if he was a Spacenoid with no ID. Kamille asks what a Spacenoid is, and Matosh is annoyed that Kamille is talking now. Kamille explains that he felt intimidated, so Matosh throws a file folder at him. Kamille then jumps over the table and punches Matosh in the face. More MPs come in to restrain Kamille, and the lawyer tells him he’s blown things now. Matosh hits Kamille in the stomach multiple times, and the building rocks suddenly when the Gundam Mk-II crashes into it. Matosh flees, and Kamille uses the confusion to escape from the MPs. He runs through the building and is spotted by his mother, Hilda, but he ignores her and runs outside. He overhears the Titans saying that Jerid caused the accident, and he feels another strange sensation. Kamille then steals a jeep and drives away just as Bright pulls up in another jeep. Jerid exits the cockpit and sees that a written apology might not be enough for this incident. As another Gundam Mk-II arrives, Kamille drives through the base’s entrance and is shot at by a guard. Kamille jumps out of the moving jeep and rolls into the ground, wondering what he’s going to do now. In space, Roberto reports to Quattro and fires a signal flare to contact the AEUG flagship Argama, which in turn opens fire on Green Noa 1 to blast a hole in the colony.

 

Commentary

 

The opening episode of the second Gundam series contrasts between showing things that are different from the original series as well as things that are similar. The approach of Quattro’s Rick Dias to Green Noa 2 closely resembles the Zaku II infiltration into Side 7, down to opening an outer hatch and having a stray tool float out. We also see Quattro directly performing the infiltration to learn about a Gundam, compared to him initially sending his soldiers to do so in the first series. When Quattro escapes and dodges the Gundam Mk-II’s vulcans, he notes that he’s too small a target, which was also true when he escaped from the Gundam in episode 2 of the original series. In terms of what’s different, the Earth Federation has flipped from being the “good guy” organization (relatively speaking) to now being antagonistic through the fascist Titans. Kamille, at this point, is quite different as a character from Amuro - less awkward and socially isolated, but also filled with deep-seated anger. Picking multiple fights with the Titans is an incredibly stupid thing to do, even as far as teenagers go, but there is more going on than just Kamille being triggered by Jerid making fun of his feminine-sounding name. There’s another contrast in that even though this series doesn’t start with open war like the original series, tensions are still high. The difference that six years can make is also evident in Zeta Gundam’s noticeably higher animation quality. Overall, this is a solid opener for the franchise’s first sequel.

 

Overall Rating

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3.5 out of 5 stars
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Zeta Gundam Episode 1 Zeta Gundam Episode 1

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Buy the collection (eps 1-25) on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon
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