Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

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Amion
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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Amion » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:14 pm

Nikkolas wrote:It's been almost two years since I started my Gundamathon and experienced most Gundam series. To recap briefly, I largely disliked 0079. I liked nobody on White Base except Kai. The best characters were the Zabis and they're in like, 5 episodes out of 41 or 42. Then I went onto -8th MS Team. It was a bit better - very different from MSG. Much more natural I felt. Still nothing special though.

It was Zeta when the Gundam Magic hit me. From Episode 1 and onward, I was enthralled. For one thing, Kamille is amazing. In the first episode alone you just have to sit back and marvel at how absolutely nuts this kid is. So Kamille makes a very strong first impression as essentially a teenage rebel on steroids. Yet he's far from uncaring or unkind. We get to see how, with the proper instrudction and guidance, he becomes a better person. I've seen it argued Kamille never loses the "essential mentality' he held at the beginning ie. his black-and-white ideas of morality. Can't really blame him though - the Titans are evil and Kamille wants to stamp them out to protect people. On a similar note, I've always been fascinated by Kamille's condemnation of Haman. He treats her like a demon of purest darkness and malevolence. Yet I hear in ZZ, its resident Newtype MC finds Haman to be sympathetic.

Anyway, in short, Kamille grows up and it's great.

Secondly, there's Char aka Quattro. I never liked MSG Char. I was constantly waiting for this amazing character people ranted and raved about but he never came. He was kind of just a petty jerk who was more than happy to abandon his mission of Kill All Zabis because he found a girlfriend.
But in Zeta, you see a marked shift in his motivations and interactions. There's much to discuss about how much of "Quattro" was real. It's intentionally ambiguous and that adds to the character's appeal for me. I personally think Char was legitimately trying to be a better person, to help guide Kamille and humanity to something greater. The problem is, not only did everything fall apart, it was possibly too late for him. "Quattro" was just another mask, just like" Char" is. This mask was nicer than Char but Casval is far too damaged by this point to truly change.

Speaking of tragic characters, Zeta has a lot of those. One I absolutely love is Four. Kamille and Four's relationship, to me, is everything that Amuro and Lalah's relationship wasn't. Kamille and Four interacted more, they had some things in common, Four got some real characterization and development.... Don't come in here and tell me Lalah was some prostitute Char rescued. Maybe that's true but I don't remember them ever talking about it in MSG. Original Gundam loves that - it explains everything in side material. Whereas in Zeta, Four's reasons for being with the Titans are spelled out very clearly and are very easy to understand and sympathize with.

Also Four had an amazing theme song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTp-D3GXREA

In fact, another reason to praise Zeta is its fantastic score.

Another tragic character - albeit a rather controversial one - is Reccoa. I don't hate Reccoa like so many do. She betrayed the AEUG for very selfish reasons but many AEUG people were AEUG people because they were selfish. Many people fight in wars, not for ideals or something abstract like that, but because a loved one was killed or they lost their home or something else. Wars are not fought just for principles.

I was kind of thinking of making a thread on this but since this one exists, I'd like to ask fellow Zeta fans what they think of something.

This occurred to me when a person elsewhere made the accusation that Kamille never really becomes a 'nice guy" and treats the other AEUG members like dirt. In response to this I jotted down Kamille's general interactions with the others to disprove the claim. It made me realize something...

Just who did Kamille care most about in the AEUG?

While Quattro was Kamille's mentor of sorts, I don't know if I'd ever say Kamille had a strong affection for him.
At one point I believe someone makes a comment that Kamille thinks of Emma like a mother. She promptly rebuffs that claim. I kind of agree with her.
To me, perhaps it's because we get to see Kamille's anguish over her defection, but it always felt to me like Kamille had a special fondness for Reccoa. From my memory, he was typically nicer and more respectful towards her than anyone else. If anyone was potentially a surrogate motehr fr him, I thought it be Reccoa. They had the closest "emotional bond" when it comes to Kamille and an adult.
Char's a character who's brilliance can only truly be measured by looking at the life he lived, and comparing its various stages and eccentricities therein. Char from MSG still exhibits traits from Quattro, for instance. He fell in love with Lahlah, yes, but she started out as a protoge like Kamille, and was a Newtype. His whole life was an internal battle as to whether he should succeed his father or just hide behind his various masks, and the first moment of indecision is with the Flanagan Institute's discovery of Newtypes, which tied in with Zeon's beliefs.

As for Kamille, I think he got along with Reccoa and Emma. He seemed to have more emotional care for them, and to some extent Apolly, than with most everyone else.

I do believe he hated Wong Lee, but that's a no brainer, and the feeling was mutual. :P

I'm actually on a rewatch of Zeta right now. I'm enjoying much more than my last one. Maybe it is only me personally, but I feel the story richness shines more. Perhaps I've simply matured enough in my appreciation to understand the naunces involved with the story, and why it grabbed me the first time.

There's so much subtlety strung into the background, detail in both behavior and the surrounding environment. The artwork itself is grand and perfect, the animation is pretty much the only real flaw I see as far as visuals go, and that's no flaw given the time in which it was drawn.

Comparing Zeta to other series I'm also currently watching, I've noticed that Fafner Exodus has some striking similarities in its first episode. I watched Winds of Jaburo (Still my favorite gundam ep title ever) and the first episode of Exodus last night, and was surprised with how closely related their music score was at certain points. I think there's some similar themes with out to make a deep, mature story in both of them that takes careful consideration and time, not to mention patience, to pick through. It all just snowballs, starting out inconsequential and ending with fantastic weight.

One nitpick in my rewatch is the action. It feels like watching the same fights from Exodus or Iron Blooded Orphans. The same style and flare is there. No shounen shouts and wacky poses that arrived in G Gundam and never quite left until IBO. There's depth and tactics displayed continuously through the early battles of Zeta, and while I believe they take a nosedive during the Earth Arc, and don't really return the same way later on, its still worth taking special consideration to note why so many of us loved Tomino's way of directing fights. Even if the physics don't always match up, they are broke subtly, rather than in flamboyant disregard. Suspension of disbelief is at its best when the laws are bent instead of broken.

I fully believe that if Zeta's animation were as fluid as IBO, the two would be extremely close in the ways the fights are choreographed.

Oh my. I never meant to say all that. :oops:
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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by GVmanX » Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:24 pm

What y'all've said about Reccoa has made me think. I've hated her since finishing the show nearly seven years ago, but I wonder now if I haven't been too tough on her. I need to rewatch it soon. Hell, I don't even remember a Qubeley being in the show.

Some of the characters that really struck with me from Zeta Gundam were two of its villains: Bask Om and Yazan Gable. I can't really say what it was about Bask that drew me to him other than his character design and voice, but I was always glad to see him on-screen. Maybe it was how bad of a bad guy he was, and I just couldn't get enough of him.

Yazan, though, always gave me the vibe that there was something truly good in him, deep down, but he just loved fighting so damn much. The scene where he lets Reccoa go comes to mind. (I read frequently that he was a seminary student, but this is one of those things that, much like Lalah being a prostitute Char rescued, exists in the MSG expanded universe.)

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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by DragoMaster009 » Tue Dec 01, 2015 2:14 am

Slightly off-topic, but any thoughts on the manga Zeta Define?

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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Yaminoseigi » Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:50 pm

In my opinion the reason why Zeta Gundam were held in high esteem is because at its time in it shows that that mecha anime can be more than just toy commercial. in 1980s among the trend that anime were just glorified toy ads for kids, Zeta Gundam was able to prove Mecha anime can have engaging complex story and intense robot fights at the same time. Maybe 0079 begins the gundam series but Zeta is the one that cements the reputation of Gundam series, shaping the series to one of the biggest successful Japanese franchise in the present. Along with Takahashi's works, Zeta also the forerunner of the Real-Robot subgenre of mecha which influence many mecha series after the series finished airing.

These are couple of reasons why i think Zeta are famous while other generic mecha in its time were forgotten

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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Dustman » Fri Apr 08, 2016 2:26 pm

Hello, I registered here today because I recently thought quite hard about this series and have reached something of an epiphany that I feel I must share in hopes of altering and enriching discourse. In advance I'd like to apologize and warn affected parties ahead of time that I am going to discuss some unpleasant subject matter and that I additionally apologize if it comes across as provocative for common discourse on this site. I will attempt to preface the relevant passages so that you can decide if further analysis will be a bit too much for you to stomach. With that said, the topic of discussion I would like to raise is in regards to Reccoa and why I believe that she is deeply misunderstood by the fans.

Admittedly, I've never quite understood the controversy surrounding her. From my first time experiencing Zeta Gundam, I found the show's expressed progression of miscommunication, self-entrapment and desperate rationalization that she fell in to be highly compelling from a psychological perspective. Zeta's characterizations have a coldness to them. They are not without their humanity but as a stylistic choice they are held at a distance. Motivations are rarely exposited with certainty and heated conversations appear to come from isolated world views that cause an unusual friction in the flow of dialogue. This contextual alienation and the choice to put the colliding, reactionary egos of its characters at the forefront seems to evoke feelings of resentment in many viewers. Such is the case most virulently for a personality as damaged as Reccoa.

I think I understand somewhat where people are coming from when they say that they hate Reccoa. Her demeanor is cold and closely guarded, her actions and proclivities appear selfish and so superficially her later rationalizations are all the more convincing. But it is crucial to understand that these are defense mechanisms. Especially later in the series where she crosses moral horizons, her guilt is always made instantaneously clear only to quickly be buried under shallow rationalizations. The further she drifts from returning to the AEUG with a clean conscience, the more fervently she must lie to herself and push away the people who love her to avoid the shame of answering for the things that are tearing her apart.

Explained in one term, Reccoa's pathology is self-destruction. Curiously though I think what audiences react more strongly to are the feelings of betrayal experienced among the AEUG. The reason I find this curious is because it is misguided empathy. The AEUG are not pained because she sold them out but instead because they genuinely love her. They know her well enough to know when she's lying but they are powerless to help because she always deflects and pushes them away. This was true even when she was with the AEUG... before she met Scirocco.

There is an overwhelming culpability that Scirocco shares in Reccoa's downfall that I think is overlooked and underestimated by many. Much like Char abusing the emotions of a pubescent child and turning her into a killing machine for his own gain, it disturbs me that fans are blind to or are even willing to excuse these kinds of behaviors in the case of a more sympathetic character. However, Scirocco is a true sociopath. Worse, he is a man with immense powers of empathy inherent to an awakened Newtype who simply does not have any desire to share and utilize it for the good of others. This contradiction is what makes him so frightening as a villain and is why he is able to abuse people with such ease.

It is around here that I must return to my earlier warning. I apologize again if this analysis ends up being considered needlessly provocative or even if it is perceived as reaching for an obscure context. But all the same I feel this observation must desperately be considered in the interest of understanding this show's themes.

For an abusive relationship to exist, one must abuse and the other must be abused. These roles can be fluid and mutually toxic but in the case of Scirocco and Reccoa it is self-evident that it functions in only one form. In this context, a person must be preyed upon. A serial abuser identifies traits of insecurity and can then insinuate their self into a person's life. The kind of person must susceptible to this kind of personality has probably been in many abusive relationships in the past.

Reccoa's last words, cryptic and mystifying in their full meaning were "Men think of nothing but fighting and can only think of how to use women as tools. Or if anything else, how to humiliate a woman!" The meaning of these words, especially the second part never quite resonated with me until I recently rewatched "The Jupitris Infiltration" and the pieces fell into place.

In retrospect, Reccoa exhibits low self esteem as well as many traits of a survivor with unaddressed traumas. This may not strictly be the result of fatigue from war as she displays extreme insecurities around men. We first see a manifestation in her disdain at Kamille's hormonal gaze as she departed for Earth and then cold reactions to incidents such as sexual harassment by Titans officers on board the Juptiris. Where she would later vie for Quattro's validation and affection through reckless self-sacrifice, Scirocco knew immediately to assert himself and to make her cower. As the power dynamic becomes more obvious to me, the discomfort she displays throughout that entire episode has chilled me to the bone.

This is never explicitly put to text perhaps because of the show's timeslot or maybe in the interest of artistic restraint but with these realizations I have come to sympathize with Reccoa far more and have come to consider her to be one of Zeta's most misunderstood and tragic characters. She is a prime example both of the show's excellent, multifaceted characterization but also of the dissonance the show sometimes holds in connecting with the average viewer. I fell like I have more that I could discuss about this or a great many other things in the show but I should perhaps stop here as I've already made possibly my most unique observation and have gone on much too long for an inaugural post. All the same, I'll be happy to discuss my theories on this further if there's anything that anybody else would like to question or refute!

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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Amion » Fri Apr 08, 2016 6:49 pm

I think most people stopped seeing Reccoa as pitiable or misunderstood the moment she ordered millions of people murdered. She's definitely a tragedy by the classical definition.
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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Dustman » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:04 pm

Amion wrote:I think most people stopped seeing Reccoa as pitiable or misunderstood the moment she ordered millions of people murdered. She's definitely a tragedy by the classical definition.
Again, I struggle to understand where emphatic wires are so crossed on developments such as this. Inadvertently, I feel this is a mischaracterization of the scenario and respective struggles of that episode as she was far from being in complete control. It was not an order she oversaw, but an order given by Bask Om to prove her loyalty to the Titans by having her gas the colony herself.

Ending up on the Titans itself was an accident that she had intended to use as an opportunity to investigate Scirocco [...], drawn by psychic imprinting. This was obviously a lie to justify getting close to him for her own sake but it is of a continuing trend where she puts herself into dangerous situations that she may not be able to return from. Even still, there was no reason to believe that she would ever end up going so far over the edge and the show makes it abundantly clear that she hesitated right to the last second, believing wholeheartedly that the AEUG would finally swoop in and save the day.

But they did not. Even her immediate reaction to her own actions was clearly distraught with the realization that she had finally entered into a situation that she could never return from. Even if it was covered up with anger at the AEUG for not being able to stop her, even if she said that being with Scirocco is what she really wanted anyway, all of it was so obviously a defense mechanism. As a viewer, I don't feel that it is necessary to forgive her actions to understand her downfall and to sympathize with her. It is a tragedy in the classical sense but it is a tragedy also because it is the downward spiral of a good person becoming the pawn of forces beyond their control.

((It's a couple days too late to notice this post in review, but I am so embarrassed by how carelessly I framed this argument and how stupid I must have looked for it. As only my second post, I was anxious to respond to the first reply that I received and I ended up hastily mischaracterizing the events of the series. I know that this is revisionism, but I've deleted an especially inaccurate keyword that I somehow used without being called out for it. Other than that, I have left the rest of this post exactly as it was upon submission. If you are starting this thread from the top down, I'm so sorry that you had to see this and I hope that you can tolerate my presence here just long enough to see my wits and recollection slowly begin to sharpen. I promise, there's a point to this! Really!))
Last edited by Dustman on Mon Apr 18, 2016 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Amion » Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:42 am

Just because she wails and screams inside about what she's doing, it doesn't change she did it, and found herself there to start with. I do feel for her in that horrible moment she realizes what's about to happen is now unstoppable, unless she shoots the gas container herself. It's a moment of sudden fear when she realizes there will be no chances to bluff, no hope of return beyond that moment. It's one reason I like her character arc. It's frustrating but an excellent characterization of a tragedy. I empathize with her moment of unintended truth, but don't feel sorry when she's gone, as echoed by Emma's final statement to her.

I believe that's mentioned in paragraphs above in this thread.
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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Dustman » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:33 pm

Amion wrote:Just because she wails and screams inside about what she's doing, it doesn't change she did it, and found herself there to start with. I do feel for her in that horrible moment she realizes what's about to happen is now unstoppable, unless she shoots the gas container herself. It's a moment of sudden fear when she realizes there will be no chances to bluff, no hope of return beyond that moment. It's one reason I like her character arc. It's frustrating but an excellent characterization of a tragedy. I empathize with her moment of unintended truth, but don't feel sorry when she's gone, as echoed by Emma's final statement to her.

I believe that's mentioned in paragraphs above in this thread.
I find this perfectly rational as an understanding of surface events but that isn't the point I wish to express. I believe that there are greater themes at work in this story that interconnect, overtly and subliminally. What I worry about is that there is a trend among fans to only empathize with clarity during those heightened moments of drama and then dismissing the arc as forgone and being all that it appears.

What I propose is that Reccoa is instead perhaps far more complex than that and deserves the analysis even if it seems reaching. I tiptoed around explicitly saying so due to learned sensitivity and how speaking about such things may affect others but in plain terms my belief is that the show implicitly suggests that Reccoa was repeatedly abused by men both physically and emotionally. Many of her behaviors are similar to defense mechanisms and it explains her low self esteem and attraction to controlling personalities such as Scirocco (who I must again emphasize was a high level Newtype who frequently used his abilities to psychically manipulate others via hypnotic suggestion).

Indeed, it seems to me that one of Zeta's major themes is about the mistreatment of women in general. I've seen this interpreted as the show having contempt for its female characters but I believe it to be more complicated than that due to the time it was made. Even in the mid-eighties, Japan was struggling to adapt to changing gender roles. Zeta features a spectrum of personalities that explore this on a cellular level, from Fa whose strength is nurturing yet is single minded in pursuing a piloting career to be acknowledged by Kamille, to Emma who is motivated for all the proper reasons and is shy to divide her responsibilities with needless sentimentality and romance.

The atmosphere of the Titans is far less forgiving. Aside from being predominantly male and only handpicking masculine women like Emma or Mouar, they are shown to systematically dehumanize young women like Four and Rosamia as tools of conquest. In fact, it actually was a recurring theme for some time that Tomino portrayed his most monolithic evils as hostile to women. Amandara Kamandara, the Titans/Scirocco and most notably Fonse Kagatie who hijacked a well meaning, matriarchal new age religion and perverted it into a brutal military state. Even Char Aznable ultimately ended up seducing a pubescent girl and using her for destruction because he found her annoying and considered her a useful idiot. (In spite of how much fans still loved this version of Char and were taken in by his charisma, this should perhaps tell you how far Tomino wanted us to think that he had fallen!)

The Titans as an allegory for abuse is palpable to me most of all because they use bait such as restoring their memories to ensure their emotional dependence. But Scirocco above all else seems to be positioned as Zeta's most wicked entity. He doesn't brainwash women the way the Titans do with medical science. Instead, he uses his powers to pry open their souls and to exploit their insecurities via false compassion. He does it to Sarah who devotes herself like an enamored child and is too young to know that she is being taken advantage of and then later does the same thing to Reccoa who knows she is being used but increasingly has nowhere left to turn.

As the show reaches its climax he even becomes a lightning rod for all the grudges of the deceased as Kamille uses their power to kill him, directly foreshadowed and paid off visually as he had previously told Reccoa that she may pierce his heart if his feelings proved to be a lie. As such, I firmly believe that we are meant to despise Scirocco for initiating Reccoa's downfall and for holding her captive. However the inciting incident that makes her unable to return to the AEUG is perhaps cause for dissonance as it was instead ordered by Bask Om, making her fully responsible for her own actions and obscuring Scirocco's implication. I find this irrelevant in somehow diminishing my enjoyment of the scenario due to its strengths in execution (she even gets to kill Bask for payback!) but if I were to pin where sympathy for her and audience resentment for Scirocco could have both been increased, this most certainly would have been it.

Anyway, I've exhausted myself again. I hope what I'm saying is at least passably insightful and that I've related it with clarity. I just think there's much more to this show than what I've seen made of it and find it frustrating to dismiss certain elements. I would consider Zeta to be a very well made series and worthy of further investigation. I certainly always find myself learning more about it on each viewing, that's for sure.

((I promptly edited this post for syntax and grammar shortly after submission))

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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Amion » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:49 pm

While I agree that Reccoa can be sentimental, there's only so far your average person is going to go for someone willing to become a mass murderer. She was hardly hypnotized, she did what she did because the ultimately chose it. Sure, Scirocco is at fault for seducing her, but that doesn't absolve her in the eyes of viewers as a tragic, evil character.

As for Quess... yeah... the reason most* of the fandom don't disapprove of Char's manipulation of her is because they'd do the same as he did. I still haven't watched the japanese version, but her voice actor made her utterly unbearable. In a series or OVA, maybe that would be different, but not a shorter movie focusing on old characters. She needed to burn...

*Internet hive mind consensus, usually not the most accurate nor forgiving entity
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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Dark Duel » Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:02 pm

I utterly despise Quess, whom I find to be the feminine form of Katz at his most irritating, only even more annoying. But I still disapproved of Char's actions throughout CCA, especially his manipulation of Quess...all because, when it comes down to it, he's still butthurt that Amuro kicked his shiny pink rear-end in combat 14 years earlier. It's petty and infantile, as motivations go.
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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Dustman » Thu Apr 14, 2016 5:54 pm

While I agree that Reccoa can be sentimental, there's only so far your average person is going to go for someone willing to become a mass murderer. She was hardly hypnotized, she did what she did because the ultimately chose it. Sure, Scirocco is at fault for seducing her, but that doesn't absolve her in the eyes of viewers as a tragic, evil character.
With all due respect, I've acknowledged this. I identified it as a failure of intent and execution for why she garners less sympathy than she should but that is NOT me saying that she must be vindicated or forgiven by the audience. As it is written, her fate is of her own making. I don't disagree with this.

I also don't mean to say this condescendingly but I think that you are fundamentally misinterpreting my arguments because I do not actually care about Reccoa. I mean, I've made it pretty darn clear that I do but this is strictly as a case study! It's my fault for predicating our dialogues on her but the points that I have been trying to lead into are a discussion about the show's gender politics, the implicit portrayal of abusive relationships and indeed, the related science behind Reccoa's downfall and its failure to resonate more deeply with so much of the viewership.

I'm sorry if this comes off as uninvited confrontation. I truly do appreciate that you respect the show's integrity but I think that we're circularly locked on a discussion of surface text. I do not care about whether or not Reccoa is a good person. I am not trying to convince you otherwise. The discussions that I am desperate to pry open are not about that. I want to propose and extrapolate on themes of gender roles and abuse. This is a construct that the series is saturated in to the point of acidity. My argument about Reccoa is not finding greater sympathy for her but in putting aside reductive assessments of surface text so that we may have a greater understanding of why her arc turned out the way it did and why it is underestimated in its complexity.

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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Amion » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:02 pm

If it's about the gender inequality thing, then no, we don't have anything to argue about, I don't guess.

And I fail to understand your reasoning, Duel, and I'm not going to argue. There's been too many threads on it to do any good for either of us.
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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by excalibur2008 » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:10 pm

Dark Duel wrote:But I still disapproved of Char's actions throughout CCA, especially his manipulation of Quess...all because, when it comes down to it, he's still butthurt that Amuro kicked his shiny pink rear-end in combat 14 years earlier. It's petty and infantile, as motivations go.
And fits with Zeon's decline.

First they're a some what major power trying to conquer the Earth Sphere, then they're a terrorist group desperately clinging to their past glory, then a rebuilt minor power still trying to conquer the Earth Sphere and pretty much only doing well becuase the Earth Federation is recovering from a civil war, then they're Char's petty vengeance instrument, finally they're back to terrorist group desperately clinging to their past glory with some convoluted scheme that feels more like trying to go out in the blaze of glory before they're rendered totally irrelevant in 4 years.

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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Dustman » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:28 am

Amion wrote:If it's about the gender inequality thing, then no, we don't have anything to argue about, I don't guess.
Yeah, I'm sorry I didn't notice and clarify this any sooner. I do actually have more sympathy for Reccoa than you do but I'm not about to say that anybody is wrong for feeling that she deserved to die. I seriously can't argue with this but it does bother me when her arc is then snubbed by the audience because they so rightfully despise what she did.

If it's of any interest to you or anybody else, I'd like to try and start over a bit in streamlining my analysis of this arc. I think we've reached an understanding on where I may or may not have been coming from so I'd like to straighten the yarn and have us approach things a bit closer to how I intended.

Essentially, I'm trying to understand why this arc exists. Everything in Zeta Gundam is interconnected. There are thematic relationships everywhere we look. Characters are portrayed objectively, as pathological and reactionary. We are not given intimate detail about their motives or psychologies and are often left to decipher them using a broader context.

But when it comes to Reccoa, there is something to this one tragedy and its response that feels decidedly disproportionate to me. That is because hate her as we may, hate her as we must, hate her for what she did, Reccoa is not Katejina Loos. She is still the same human being that she was before she gassed that colony.

And because I can not stress this enough: I have NO intentions on pardoning her, nor do I want to argue why it was collateral manslaughter or why she may have just pressed the wrong button and made a boo-boo. She killed thousands of people in one fell swoop and that is unconscionable. But it is also part of what makes her downfall so beautifully written. And the reason why it is so astonishingly beautiful is because we get to see how a normal person, how somebody who already has a lifetime of emotional baggage and defense mechanisms will end up dealing with the guilt of doing something so catastrophically heinous. And what a lurid sight that is to behold.

So no, her arc is not a forgone conclusion after that point. It is reductive to simplify it down to no more than a person becoming evil just because the plot wills it and it is shortsighted to assume that her continued survival is just to prolong the satisfaction of having her die. If that were the case, if she had truly become Scirocco's pet, then we would never have those fleeting moments of vulnerability. What we are actually seeing, what the story is trying to relate to us, is a person who can never return home. A person who has lost all sense of autonomy and who is increasingly unable to escape from her captors because of the emotional control that they have exerted by making her an accomplice.

((Fair warning to all that it may concern: this is about to get very real. Please abandon this post all together if you start to sense any red flags.))

This is where I tried to explain the concept of losing control. It is where I first began talking about Scirocco and the preposterous notion of Newtype hypnosis. But it's not preposterous and was in no way intended to be a scapegoat. It is a reference to Scirocco's psychic abilities, how he is able to impart himself on a person's psyche and make them submit through suggestion.

You must think I'm crazy but this is a thing that actually happened. He used it the moment he met Reccoa. He caught her spying on the Jupitris. He sized her up immediately, almost intuitively knowing who she was and why she was there. He came closer, he towered over her. He caressed her hair as she trembled in fear until she couldn't take it any more and slapped his hand away. She had done this before to a Titans officer who tried to grope her only a few minutes ago but Scirocco didn't miss a beat and he slapped her back in the face even harder. He then forced her to submit to him by asking her name. And she gave it to him. Not a codename, her real name.

Are you perhaps beginning to see what I mean when I keep mentioning that this relationship is textbook abuse? Can you not empathize with the terror of a woman on her own in hostile territory, being cornered by this creepy Jim Jones wannabe and surrounded by men who have demonstrated no concern for boundaries? To have your life and your body be suddenly put into such mortal jeopardy until... being allowed to escape as though nothing happened?

Does that not count as mind games of the highest order? Why is it that as the episode ended, she couldn't get him out of her head? Is it not made even more horrifying that he is a Newtype and that no matter how closed off you are even to your closest friends, that he can read your emotions like an open book?

There must have been so many confused emotions racing through her head. To have this awesome presence both humiliate you and even convince you to submit your identity to him and then turn on a dime and reward you with the courtesy of somehow escaping to safety. You may not have even noticed this episode before having it contextualized like this but THAT is what initiated the events that followed. It is irrefutably there that meeting Scirocco is the catalyst that caused Reccoa to become mentally unhinged.

"But why was this enough to affect her like it did and why should it matter?"

Because Reccoa is a survivor. Because she has been there before. Many. Times. Before. But Scirocco is different. Scirocco... cares about me. He is compassionate. He says he loves me and that he only hits me because I had it coming. He says he will provide for me. He even says he will let me be his equal. And I have nowhere left to turn because all the people I love actually hate me now and it's all my fault.

...do I really have to say anything more about this?

Dustman
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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Dustman » Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:49 pm

I have some further observations to go with the last post. As opposed to appending them with an edit, I think they're substantial enough to justify a complete follow up.

As sort of a final word on my theories regarding the narrative and thematic constructs surrounding Reccoa, I want to now prove them without a shadow of a doubt. To do this, we will compare its context as it is presented in A New Translation.

First off, I'm actually fairly amazed that I hadn't remembered this film series sooner than I did as I may be one of its bigger fans. I can't value them too greatly as a faithful compression of the original story but I do love them for providing a new perspective and for sometimes complimenting the source material with new scenes and character interactions.

Speaking in particulars, there's something beautiful about seeing the characters of the AEUG in more sentimental framing. I found it especially joyous to discover Kamille and Fa's relationship being portrayed with a newly reciprocal nature. I loved seeing Emma dote on Kamille and I adored her moment with Henken where she coached him on his table manners.

It is moments such as those where I appreciate the fact that these movies exist. There is a complimentary nature to them that I think adds more to the experience that is Zeta Gundam than it could ever take away in straying from the original outline.

In fact, for anybody who had misgivings for how the story was told and how in ended, who resented the tone and hated the characters, I can not recommend seeing them highly enough. It is through their newly discovered warmth and humanity, an underlying sensitivity for the needs of its audience, that I think that a bond can be formed with its characters and where a perspective for the original story can be allowed to grow without the impediment of emotional friction. If you haven't seen them before, you should give it a chance. Who knows, you may end up liking them!

That said, to bring our expectations a bit more down to Earth, the movies are still deeply flawed. Although they are a masterpiece of re-editing and re-contextualizing old and new footage into a fluid narrative, the content omissions do still end up causing subtle imbalances that can only be explained through intimate knowledge of the TV series. There are two characters who suffer uniquely for this: Jerid and Reccoa.

Jerid suffers purely through a reduction in screen time and for the exclusion of killing Four at the Newtype lab on Kilimanjaro, initiating Kamille's downward spiral into cynicism. This was an appropriate change for averting some of the show's darker themes, but by further omitting his actions at Dakar, they also neutralized his significance in becoming an embodiment of the Titans. His presence later on, promoted as a direct agent of Jamitov, serves less as a subtle attempt to groom an ideologically pure alternative to Bask Om's unrestrained brutality, and instead like he has become a nameless fanatic following Mouar's demise.

Reccoa, on the other hand, suffers even more as a higher priority of the original narrative.

First, let me start by saying that I have yet to really explore one other, extremely important facet of her development. This would be her relationship to Lt. Quattro.

This relationship is the most commonly cited cause for her defection. As I have already explained, this is not quite the case. What we are seeing during the mission to make contact with Axis, is the disastrous collision of two separate subplots.

I always see people overlooking or forgetting a key factor of Quattro's character development: He was a Zeon spy.

Char had once again become the very mask he wore. As when he began the original series as an agent of vengeance, he began Zeta Gundam as a conspirator in Haman Karn's conquest of the Earth Sphere. But like meeting Lalah and becoming convinced about the value of Newtypes, Char's goals fell by the wayside when he met Blex Forer and joined the AEUG.

I think it is obvious to everybody that Char and Haman were romantically linked in their time at Axis. But in the interim, Char had forsaken her. And though the extent to which he became involved with Reccoa is unclear, he once again lost sight of his priorities the moment he was to join forces with Haman, steward of the Zabi legacy and of the gravity enrapturing his soul.

To this end, Char had once again neglected a relationship to the opposite sex. At a time when Reccoa was still struggling with her encounter on the Jupitris and required emotional intimacy, Char wouldn't so much as make eye contact. Even when she took a bullet for him, he paid no heed and immediately prioritized chasing Haman before being redirected by Kamille.

Now, please take all of my previous analyses of her story into consideration. Visualize the sequence of events from infiltrating the Juptiris to the failed diplomatic mission to Axis and that final, desperate cry for attention when she sortied with an injury and was abducted by Yazan. Really think about the contexts, the emotions that lead to each increasingly poor decision.

Next, imagine how strange things would have been if she had never met Scirocco. What if he never had the chance to impose upon her the way that he did? What if she was then inexplicably pulled by his presence upon seeing the Hambrabi that he personally designed? Imagine if she were never ordered to gas a colony by Bask Om and could have returned to the AEUG with a clean conscience at any moment.

Finally, lets conclude this experiment by realizing that nothing she did makes any sense.

This is how A New Translation portrays her downfall. Not as the result of an intricate, emotionally complicated sequence of events, but as sexual frustration that could only be satisfied by an Adonis whose pheromones are so potent as to permeate the vacuum of space. A villain who is so peripherally threatening that he accidentally brainwashed a woman into abandoning her friends and wholeheartedly joining the Cult of Paptimus-sama.

Nowhere does A New Translation screw up a subplot as deeply as it does with Reccoa's defection to the Titans. While the movies often compensated for the omission of content, it is here that they made no such effort aside from avoiding instances of mass murder. Although it deliberately keeps the story from going into as many extremes as it did, it somehow makes Reccoa even less sympathetic.

And this is where I think that my points are proven, where it becomes irrefutable that there truly is a far deeper narrative to this than what is often acknowledged. Likewise, it is a testament to the influence that Scirocco had in motivating her desires and causing her to be so susceptible to the temptations needed to pull that trigger. It is without these necessary elements - and only then - that she was truly nothing more than an irrational, self-serving traitor.

Again, I surmise that Reccoa is not Katejina. She did not join the enemy by choice but by circumstance. Although it is rational for fans to despise her, a nuanced perspective is often lost in the intense emotions that her arc provokes. I have already entertained this possibility, but if I were to do any one thing to change this to emphasize the show's subtext, I would have had Scirocco order the gassing of the colony instead of Bask Om. Though I admire the complexity of her internalized guilt, I am certain that by having him play a more overt role in separating her from the Argama, it would have been a great service toward having him punished in the way that he was - pierced through the heart by the grudges of all the women that he and the Titans had systematically abused.

I could go on for days about this series. There's so much more to unpack and I love it for that. If any of you would like me to continue on with anything about Katz or Sarah, please say so because I've got a few points to explore about those as well. (Please say yes, I'm having too much fun with this.)

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battletech
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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by battletech » Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:23 pm

As I said in the post about 00, TRY, IBO and Membranes of the Split Cour I love this stuff. I can't speak for everyone else but I would love to read more.
"The souls of Man are weighed down by gravity." - Char Aznable
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.-Clarke

Dustman
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Re: Zeta Gundam: Why is it so great?

Post by Dustman » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:05 pm

This one's a lot more challenging in the ideas that it covers and I've been working at it on and off for the last couple days. While I am demonstrably attached to Reccoa, I hold no such sympathy for Sarah or Katz. However, like all things Zeta Gundam, there are still patterns in the story that we can identify.

This is going to be much, much denser than anything I have posted previously. It took multiple drafts to really organize my thoughts and to present them with as few diversions as I have. As always, I hope you will bear with me and will entertain that which I have to share.

So then, as a logical extension of Reccoa's story being one of a woman drawn to abusive personalities, let us begin with her direct parallel: Sarah Zabiov.

Sarah is not a victim. She has no underlying traumas for which Scirocco can control her. Her role in this relationship is not just that of a hopelessly infatuated teenage girl, but as a true believer in the Cult of Paptimus-sama.

She is so devoted, so simplemindedly awestruck by Scirocco's charisma, that she will do absolutely anything to make him happy and to be praised for her efforts. And although she is emotionally no more developed than a child, she is well aware of her womanhood. Her body is a tool which she can use to seduce men for the benefit of other men.

Unlike Reccoa, who is but a mere pawn in the ambitions of men, Sarah is a willing participant in propagating a much larger system of exploitation.

That system comes full circle in how she deceives Katz.

It is worth noting that, as a matter of perspective, Katz is almost entirely remembered for the last eight episodes of the series. I'm not exaggerating. Prior to this, Katz was a balanced character who often made up for his reckless behavior by ultimately benefiting the mission.

However, all of those instances come with subtle caveats that added up over time. In fact, it was a recurring failure of the adults that Katz was rarely punished for acting out. It is a fair assessment that he was spoiled rotten and that his behavior ended up reflecting this.

But then why does a character like this exist, other than to infuriate the viewer? Why does he strike such a nerve and why is he so good at making us hate him? Well, this is because, for lack of any better explanation, he is meant to be us.

Katz is every child and young adult who grew up watching the adventures of Amuro Ray. He was there when Ramba Ral infiltrated the White Base, he got to explore the cavernous terrain of Jaburo and he narrowly escaped the crossfire of A Baoa Qu. And just like how fans of the first series were able to relive their favorites moments again and again in syndication, Katz was able to revisit his glory days by piloting mobile suits - glorified toys! - at his father's war museum.

This is a child who was too young, or perhaps just too far removed from reality to have fully understood the themes of the original story. To Katz, those days on the White Base were a great big adventure. And although he lost his real parents, was under constant threat of Zeon attack and saw many people die, he came out of it with a loving foster family and his own personal Superman, Amuro Ray. But because he was a child, because he couldn't have possibly understood the horrors of having to fight a war and to battle with one's own insecurities, he has a very twisted perspective on Amuro's accomplishments.

Katz is every child protagonist born into the privilege of legacy. He has experiences that are beyond the scope of any other child, is naturally talented and is destined for greatness. And yet, Katz is none of those things. He's not even the main character. He's just a naive child, and his ability to get away with bad behavior isn't because he is inherently special but because he is provided for.

Such is the case for Amuro, who is empowered to overcome his traumas and to rejoin the battlefield through the expectations of others such as Kamille and Char, but especially through the idol worship of Beltorchika and Katz. For this, he rewards Katz with the gun that he carried during the battle of A Baoa Qu. Amuro's gun, an overt symbol of personal legacy and of adult responsibility.

This artifact is a subtle, recurring motif as a companion in Katz's adventures. It is his licence for greatness, the thing that sets him apart from everybody else. If he is to be the emissary of Amuro's legacy, then it is justified that he should live up to those expectations with the utmost bravery and resourcefulness.

And for the most part, his efforts pay off. He stowed away on the mission to infiltrate Von Braun, but with Amuro's gun, he is able to rescue Kamille from an unexpected encounter with Jerid and Mouar. Though he maintains his composure, he is bothered that he lost it to Jerid and is unable to leave without first taking it back. Despite his bravery, he is dependent on the licence it gives him to play the hero.

However, he does not let this incident go to his head. He was injured in the process, and despite the AEUG being able to retake Von Braun, the mission is a failure due to the number of civilian casualties. Katz expects punishment for his actions but he is consoled for his clear embarrassment with being injured and his guilt for complicating the operation.

This could have been a valuable learning experience for Katz but the next episode would be the cause of his undoing.

Because Katz has always been provided for, he has never been knowingly exploited and made to look like a fool for it. Prior to meeting Sarah, he has always been able to trust people. But he has also always been able to trust women in particular.

"That woman! That woman!" he stammers, indiscriminately unloading Amuro's gun into the void of space as she departs. And through being taken advantage of by the first girl he ever really felt a sexual attraction to, Katz's faith in others is wounded, but so too is the way he perceives the opposite sex and the relationship that he shares with it.

After all, Katz is still a child, but he is also a man and men are not expected to have their sexuality exploited. Or, to make my point explicit in its meaning, a man is not supposed to have an expected power dynamic turned so completely as to feel like a woman. For what this says about societal relations, I'll leave that to you. But to Katz, if you can't even trust a girl as fair and innocent-looking as Sarah, then who can you trust?

But he recovers. In the next episode, for helping Emma and Kamille during the incident on the Zeon ghost ship and being rewarded with the G-Defenser, his self esteem rebounds. And in later saving a colony from being gassed by the Titans, he becomes a genuine hero!

It is within this rediscovered sense of self worth that all goes well for him. That is, until diplomatic relations are reopened with Axis.

IUpon learning that Quattro bowed his head to Haman Karn, Katz begins to become unhinged. He is infuriated, unable to comprehend that one of his heroes, who fought the Zabi legacy in the last war, would willingly reduce himself to this, to be subservient a woman like Haman. How can you excuse such a thing! Like all boys his age, this so-called "adult reasoning" eludes him and is not much more than hypocrisy.

However, this is also not much more than a veil of rationality for wounds that have been torn open.

Have you perhaps ever noticed how fixated he was on Haman? How she became a conduit for his aggression? It's because Katz knows that you can't trust a woman like her. He knows that you can not expect women to keep their promises and that they will betray you when it suits their needs. He knows that Haman Karn is evil because she is just like Sarah Zabiov.

And it is upon meeting Sarah a second time that the supernova begins. Because no matter his resentment, no matter how cynical he has become, Katz is still deeply infatuated with her. But like Amuro before him, he has fallen for a girl who has already resigned her fate to serving an older man.

So then not only is Katz weak to women, he is inadequate in the presence of other men. Despite forcing himself to become stronger, he is still just a child. He is undesirable and this additional humiliation turns to obsession. And it is in this mania that he deludes himself into thinking that if he were to kill Scirocco, Sarah will finally come to her senses, forgive him for killing her lover and throw herself at him with open arms.

Katz is able to believe this because, based on his own experiences with sexual desire, he has inevitably concluded that women are defined by their relationships to men. He can not fathom that her reasoning is genuine, that she is truly with Scirocco by choice. Though it is true that he is using her and that Sarah really does like Katz, it does not cross his mind that she has told him "No" and that this is where he should back off.

That lack of boundaries is reflected in text every time that he pursues her, departing in the G-Defenser without permission. Because just like everything else in his life, Katz has decided that if what he wants won't just throw itself at him, that he will be vindicated in taking it for himself. Just like with the Mk-II, just like the G-Defenser, every time he doesn't ask for permission and takes the things he wants, he always ends up proving he was right all along. And if nothing else, he is let off the hook, never to learn any lesson other than that he can get away with doing it again.

In his childhood dream of being Amuro Ray, Katz never fathomed the hardships that he had to endure. The only lesson he learned from watching Amuro was that he could do anything he wanted and would always end up being praised for it if he did something heroic. And by never advancing beyond that phase of stealing the Gundam because only he should have it, Katz was all the more doomed in meeting the same exact same fate as his hero: Killing the woman he loves as she threw her life away to ensure the safety of another man.

It is as such that Katz becomes particularly loathsome. He makes us angry because he is a reflection of ourselves. Not we, specifically, but the average viewer who learned nothing from the stories that they were told, nor of the world around them. But also to the person who festered in jealousy and tries to take what isn't theirs, who blames their inadequacies on scapegoats, and indeed, the people who blame women for rejecting their terms and conditions.

No sooner than the following episode did Katz learn nothing from this, marauding on a battlefield with a death wish and suddenly internalizing Haman Karn for being the source of his troubles. But can we really call that last part inexplicable?

Haman is not an accomplice like Sarah, nor is she a pawn like Reccoa. She isn't demure and she doesn't tie her hair in cute little pigtails. She isn't motivated to serve a man and she likewise doesn't even want to have to service a child. Haman Karn answers to nobody and she will crush anything that stands beneath her.

And to a boy like Katz, whose needs have always been served, that's the most frightening thing he can possibly imagine.

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