Zeta Gundam: A New Translation: “Heir to the Stars”
AKA: Z Gundam I
Genre: Mecha, Drama
In the year Universal Century 0087, the colonies are again in unrest. The Titans, an elite military arm of the Earth Federation rule the colonies with an iron fist, ruling them with a regime of cruelty and violence. The A.E.U.G (Anti Earth United Government) are plotting a civil war to eliminate the cruel regime, it is during this civil war that seventeen-year-old Kamille Bidan finds himself in the cockpit of a Gundam, discovering the cruel realities of war. (Note, Heir to the Stars is a compilation movie of Z Gundam 1-14).
Z Gundam’s original strength back in 1985 was its mind blowing, deep storyline. A story filled with love, hate, angst, politics and war. Much of this is retained within this new format, but summarising 14 episodes (Roughly 280 minutes) of storyline into a 90-minute movie means that the story is going to be what is most damaged in the transition of TV to movie.
There are many vital moments of this story that are either grossly understated or even completely written out for the sake of this compressed format. One of the most interesting scenes, which foreshadow future events that appear much later in the series, is entirely eliminated as it is contained in the early moon arc (which was entirely eliminated). This is an example of the small details, and strong development, which are eliminated, mostly in the name of including some mobile suit battles (Although excellent ones). Although I will cover the mobile suit battles in the animation department, I will say that the elimination of some episode did manage to make the Re-entry battle midway through the movie a much more exciting affair.
As before mentioned, the character development took a very severe hit with the compressed format, though that does not mean they are now completely undeveloped. Kamile and Jerid’s bitter rivalry is still well explored, as is Emma Sheen’s adoption of the A.E.U.G way of thinking.
But anybody who has viewed the Z Gundam series will see many of the critical character development moments are missing. As well as this, some characters are entirely eliminated, such as Wong Lee, the cold hardline founder of A.E.U.G who showed the viewer just how much of a child Kamille really was. Lyla, Jerid’s girlfriend is reduced to roughly three scenes.
Possibly the only two characters outside of Quattro and Camille who did not have a dramatic role reduction were Amuro Ray, who’s role seemed to be inflated in his proportion of airtime within the movie (From a minor supporting role to almost a third male lead). And Paptimus Scirocco, who’s deceptive three scenes from the series again foreshadow things to come.
Art/ Animation: 6/10
The reason such a poor score is given to the movie is the dramatic inconsistencies of the animation. The main selling point of this movie is that it digitally restored the animation from the TV series, and the new footage.
The digitally restored animation is a really excellent clean up, and makes the animation quality something of around mid nineties anime (compared to it’s release date of 1985), it is still only a little better than the clean up the animation received from Bandai when it released the DVD boxed set.
As for the new footage, it looks completely out of place in the movie, as the animation here is amazing, and some character design changes (such as Kamilles much more brightly coloured hair) give the movie a much more inconsistent feel.
The mobile suit battles (well those that were redone) are an excellent treat for those who have seen this anime before, and are a good machine to get those who are only into “new” anime to see some of what most hardcore Gundam fans consider being the best of the franchise. There is little to complain about here, except that it was not all the battles that were redone, in fact only one battle was completely redone, the rest had some redone bits thrown in.
It seems Bandai was on a very tight budget in doing this movie, as the new footage makes the movie look much more inconsistent, perhaps I am asking to much, but this would have been much better had they have bothered to actually redo the animation for the entire movie.
Voice Acting/Music: 8.5
This is the one aspect of this movie that retains most of the best parts of the original product while updating it for a modern audience. The new major theme for the movie, Metamorphoze, by Gackt seems to be much more fitting for the dark ambience of the series compared to the 80’s pop opening and closing themes which seriously marred the TV series.
Within the movie, there is mostly new music although one or two old familiar themes rear their heads, although the most fitting theme (that of the Titans) was sadly eliminated, even though it probably best reflected the dark ambience of the Z Gundam saga.
As the entire cast returns to voice their characters, the voice acting is extremely familiar and well loved. It is rather amazing that none of the voices seemed to have aged much after twenty years.
Despite the rather large drawbacks on each aspect of the movie, overall it was not to bad a viewing experience; this will be a pleasurable treat for Z Gundam fans, and a good way of viewing the best anime out there on a budget.
Although I can’t recommend enough that if you can afford or get your hands on the TV series, than it is worth it, as this movie removes much from the series, and if rumours are true about the following two movies, only more is going to get cut. Had this movie been like the previous Gundam Trilogy (Each running a little over 2 hours) maybe it would have turned out better.