Welcome to a review of a movie that I’ve seen at least a dozen times by now and still see new things every time. Yes, I am jumping over a lot of Universal Century Gundam things to get to this review. I know that, but I really want to talk about this film. Here are my reasons for doing that. The first one is that 2019 is the year that the gundam franchise turned forty years old so this is textually ok. Another reason is that I saw this film at the movie theater’s again and I want to talk about it, ok? Finally, this film is about the end of an original saga and considering that another decade ended yesterday, this film represents the end of the old and the start of the new. I know that I don’t have to justify why I do things on my on blog, but doing it this time felt important. This is one of Tomino’s master works that deserves to have more discussion.
It’s hard to talk about Char’s Counterattack without at least some context, so let’s throw in some for those not in the know. This film takes place 14 years after the original Gundam series, UC 0079, in what is called the One Year War. It featured a battle against the Earth Federation and The Principality of Zeon who rebelled for independence. This is where Amuro Ray got his gundam, became the famed Gundam pilot, and started his reign as a life long foe of Char Aznable. Seven years after Zeon’s defeat, Neo Zeon’s appeared in what called the Gryps conflict, UC 0087 which is Zeta Gundam. That is a three sided fight against two parts of the Earth Federation and Neo Zeon. This is where Char and Amuro worked together until Neo Zeon, lead by Haman Karn, took over the playing field. The result of which is what Double Zeta Gundam, UC 0088, is about. In those seven years, Neo Zeon has lingered around which is what Londo Bell, lead by Mobile Suit Gundam’s Captain Bright Noa, tried to find and destroy. Too bad it didn’t work.
A lot of Universal Century Gundam’s problems come from the appearance of new types. Basically, New Types are psychic beings who are considered the evolved form of humanity. They have the ability to connect with other new types instantly which is how the preferred method of them existing is supposed to be. Unfortunately, new types are used by Zeon and the Earth Federation as vehicles of more powerful weapons. There is a considerable amount of research on both ends on how to create artificial ones for war needs. All for faster fighting and conflicts. At the center of this movie, Amuro Ray is the only new type for Londo Bell, While Char himself is a new type that is dating the head of the new type laboratories. New types play heavily into this film. Also there are the mechs who used some psuedo science and special particles in order to work. We will get to those, but not in as much details here.
Char’s Counterattacks takes place in UC 0093 and starts off with Char Aznable leading the Neo Zeon forces and threatening to drop more and more asteroids on Earth to set it in a deep freeze. Well, not threaten. The beginning of the film features an successful asteroid drop because Londo Bell failed at repelling it. Amuro’s current mech wasn’t powerful enough to fight against Char AND Londo Bell is a force that is too small to completely deal with all of Neo Zeon’s threat. Still, with the threat of Neo Zeon forces dropping an even larger asteroid named Axis on the Earth for it’s final deep freeze for a very long time. A lot of the film is about how that happens before the final Londo Bell and Neo Zeon battle or Amuro Ray and Char Aznable fate to end all fights. That’s hard to do in two hours, but Char’s Counterattack makes it work. Clunky Tomino dialogue and world building aside of course.
One of the many things that Char’s Counterattack is setting up the reason why Neo Zeon is allowed to function at the greater capacity that it is. It’s pretty easy to say that the Earth Federation is corrupted and full of tyrany and leave it at that, but there is so much more of that here. But it has something to do with what the Earth Federation is doing and the culture of Zeonic independence filling the colonies. The Earth Federation and the colonies have been at odds because the Feddies rule them from Earth and never considering the colony’s points of view at all. Of course the colonies would hide forces from Londo Bell. Londo Bell are considering the good guys to us, but to the colonies they are only seen as cops from the Earth Federation. Why would the colonies reveal any of their secrets to people they think of as enemies. Different perspectives are built into this film in a wonderful way.
There is also something worse to consider here. One thing that a later Gundam series by the name of Unicorn runs with is that there is a hidden force that wants the war between Earth and Neo Zeon to happen. This is a conspiracy after all. When I first watched this film, everyone in the Earth Federation felt too genuine and trusting to Char Aznable and Neo Zeon in their dealings. Consider the fact that Anahiem Electronics is the company that produces mobile suits for both sides, there are signs of larger things in the works here. War is profitable and as long as they can make more money, then who cares about humanity. Amuro Ray and Londo Bell vs Char Aznable and Neo Zeon are only toys when it comes produce more and more money. The universe of the Universal Century really is incredibly screwed up but wonderful to explore.
That leads to the main conflict of this film, Amuro Ray with his Nu Gundam and Londo Bell vs Char Aznable with his Sazabi and Neon Zeon behind his back. Now this is a fairly blunt set of ideals between these powerful aces. Amuro Ray is the patient type who says that human kind should find it’s own way to evolving. Char Aznable is the take it into your own hands kind of person who wants humanity to evolve now. Their ranks sort of represent their points of view in a way too. I mean, Amuro Ray has been apart of the military for a while and is only a Lt.? I guess he has patience with his rank. Meanwhile, Char Aznable grabbed power himself and can do whatever he wants despite being held back to how people view him. If you ever wonder who won in the end, the film allows the people of Earth to answer it in it’s own way.
I really do love how this film captures it’s characters when aging them. For instance, Amuro Ray started out as whiny kid when he first took the pilot seat in the original series. He didn’t like fighting, but was forced to in order to survive. Eventually, he found resolve by fighting for his family. After losing it year later, here he is back on top of everything once again. He’s matured, but there is still that tenacity in Amuro that pushes him for fighting for peace. He’s an ace pilot with a strong set of ideals. Char Aznable has a similar but different journey. He was always self motivated to do whatever he wanted, but eventually learned to let other people work along side him until that was all broken for him. Now, he’s doing everything himself again.
There is so much here to all of that this though. We also see that exploration in power in both of them that effects their personalities. Amuro Ray has a somewhat strong relationship with Chan, an engineer on his ship, who he really does seem to have affection for. Still, he has a crush on Lalah Sune that he killed in the one year war which has been affecting his dreams. Amuro Ray tries to be normal, but in the end really knows that the only person he has a strong relationship to is Char who is his alternative here. All of this shows how flawed of a human being he is despite trying to be good. He’s weighed down by his past even though he tries to live in the present. He’s my favorite gundam pilot because he is so human and relatable.
On the other side of the coin once again is Char Aznable who I feel has never felt attraction to anyone. He’s only attracted to power itself, which he why Lalah Sune was important to him. She was powerful enough for him to maybe consider her as a mother figure. So yeah, Char Aznable is a bottom who wants to be a top. Over the course of this film, he only says and does things to get what he wants. He pretends to live up to his father’s ideals to make Neo Zeon happy with him. He also lies and says things that female characters want to hear so they fight for him. Quess, Gyunei, and Nanai are victims to his lying to create a rebellion. He says Amuro as a threat because Amuro isn’t using his new type powers correctly according him and Amuro must be defeated.
This leads me to the tragedy of the side teenage characters in this film. We have too of them, Quess Paraya whose father is apart of the Earth Federation Government and Hathaway Noa who is Captain Bright Noa’s son. They are both tragic point of view characters in my eyes even if they seem annoying at first. Quess is a legitimate new type who has been used her entire life for one reason or another. Her parents never treat her that well because she is a new type know it all that neither of them understand and then Char Aznable sweeps her away so he has another weapon on his side. She dies a tragic death. On the other hand, Hathaway Noa lives, but is strongly effected by Quess’ death because he has a teenage crush on her. He goes out of his way to make it on the ship in the last battle to meet up with Quess and Hathaway loses her in the end. All the worst tragedy here to the side characters.
I really liked how both sides filled out the ranks of their sides. We already know Bright Noa so we get to see more of his drama with his family like Hathaway. Mirai is still on Earth with their daughter after all and he wants her to live. Plus, Mirai’s ex husband was there which was interesting. He even played a role in handling money in the film. I also like how both sides had a female ace to keep with the tradition of having strong female pilots. Keyra on the Feddies side had a small rivalry with Rezin from time to time which was fun. They never got any screen time together besides their first fight, but I’m glad it happened.
Char’s Counterattack is such a beautiful film. All of these characters art style followed the 1980’s Universal Century art designs and characters who appeared in the series previously were appropriately aged up from their previous appearances in Zeta Gundam and Double Zeta Gundam. I also really love the color designation and designs between Char’s ships and Londo Bell’s ships because each side was given their appropriate personality. I also love seeing the Londenion colony on screen even if that was obviously cg. It was nice seeing where colonies have aged since they first appeared in the original gundam series too. The small time we spent on one made it feel alive and wonderful. The animation on our characters themselves from their faces to moving in zero gravity was wonderful. There was so many things righ with this film on this perspective. You can almost see everything in this film breathe.
Of course, the mecha wear great! I realize that the Nu Gundam and Sazabi are massive evolutions from the original gundam and red Zaku, but both of those are needed to show how these characters have grown from their original states to how they are now in their 30’s. Characters can age people. Same for the grunt mecha in the backgrounds. All evolutions from the GMs, Jegans, and Zakus, Geara Dogas, I also really love how space ships are flown around and movie, the sense of space each mecha has while being in space and fighting each other, and how the action just flows beautifully. There is obviously a wonderful amount of time spent on giving us all sense of space and flow. The older series did this too, but with a movie focus and budget, you can really feel it here. I also like how you can feel all the important mechanical movements and when parts are cut off mecha too. I just love how this film looks. All aspects have aged well here.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack is a wonderful masterpiece of a film in a lot of ways. It’s character dialogue can be somewhat questionable and clunky, but the meaning behind it all was what made it all work. I really love this film because it’s just so well put together and thought out. Newer watches will probably be completely confused by a lot of elements in the film because it is the end of a saga after all, but there is enough context in the series to get you bye with some questions here and there. I know this because dad went with me to watch it and he seemed to enjoy it even if he didn’t fully know or understand all the plots and characters. Context really does help a lot sometimes to give you the full experience. So yes, easy solid for me. I am kind of planning on when I want to watch this one next.
Just to let you all know, one of my major goals is writing about more gundam on my blog this year. I don’t plan on watching everything. Right now, I am mostly thinking about watching the original series, Build Fighters, Gundam F91, and some UC side series set around the one year war. I’m going to save Zeta Gundam for next year if I’m still blogging. Originally, I wasn’t doing this of my own dumb reasons of being done with this blog when I write about all gundam. Yeah, that’s stupid. There are so many other shows out there waiting for me to watch. I can survive without them if I ever complete all of them. If I don’t, then oh well.