This week I’m taking a look at a the first part of a trilogy of compilation films adapting one of the shows that was in the running for Greatest Science Fiction TV Series: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.

Cast & Crew

Bin Shimada as Paptimus Sirocco
Nobuo Tobita as Kamille Bidan
Shuuichi Ikeda as Quattro Bajeena/Char Aznable/Casval Deikun
Daisuki Gouri as Bask Om
Kazuhiko Inoue as Jerid Messa
Masako Katsuki as Reccoa Londe
Nirotaka Suzuoki as Bright Noa
Maya Okamoto as Emma Sheen
Satomi Aray as Fa Yuiry
Tohru Furuyu as Amaro Ray
Yoshiko Sakakibara as Haman Karn
Nobuyuki Hiyama as Hayato Kobayashi
Toshio Furukawa as Kai Shiden
Rumiko Akai as Frau Kobayashi
Daisuke Namikawa as Katz Kobayashi
Kouji Totani as Kuricon Causler
Mayumi Asano as Lila Milla Rira

Written and Directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino
Music by Shigeaki Saegusa and Gackt
Animation by Sunrise

Available from Amazon.com (Film, Trilogy Box Set)

The Premise

In the aftermath of the One Year War, the Earth Federation formed the Titans, a special ops group tasked with rooting out remnants of Zeon’s forces. In practice, the group stamps down on any space colony that attempts to demand equal rights to residents of Earth. Standing against them is the Anti Earth Union Group, lead by Quatro Bajeena, who is secretly former Zeon ace pilot Char Aznable – who is also secretly Casval Deikun, heir to the founder of the Republic of Zeon, before the founder was assassinated and the nation transformed into a fascist state by the Zabi family.

Caught in the middle of this is Kamille Bidan. After he is harassed by the Titans, Kamille joins the AEUG, leading to Titan field leader Bask Om having Kamille’s parents killed, and Kamille swearing vengeance against the Titans.

High Points

The new animation for this film is gorgeous. The narrative adjustments for the film also fix some of the characterization problems the original show had.

Low Points

This is a compilation film, so it uses footage from the original series, in addition to new footage animated for this film. The transitions between the old and the new are jarring. This isn’t helped by the fact that the film is made with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio in mind. Consequently, the older animated footage have had the top and bottom of the frame chopped off, making the framing somewhat clunky. This also leads to some scenes where we have dialog shots that go from old footage, to new footage for something where the old footage wouldn’t work (like someone standing up), and then returning to old footage again.

Scores

Originality: This is an adaptation of a TV show, incorporating footage from that show. While there are some changes, the overall beats are the same. 3/6

Animation: The old footage (about 2/3 of the film) doesn’t hold up well compared to the new stuff. The new animation, however, is fantastic. 4/6

Story: The film does a good job of getting across the important information, without leaving anything important out and cutting only stuff that was nice to have in the show, but wasn’t essential.

Production: The sound design is good, and Gackt’s new songs for the film were very well done. 4/6

Emotional Response: Kamille is a lot less annoying here than he was in the TV show. However, as someone who’s seen the original show, I do generally know who is going to die in advance, so the emotional response is blunted somewhat. Further, because this is a compilation, characters who got more screen time before they’re killed in the show get that time trimmed, blunting the impact of their deaths further. 4/6

Acting: The cast is very good. Some actors, like Akeda as Char, are returning to roles that they made famous. Others, like Hiyama as Hayato, fit into their recast roles quite smoothly. 5/6

Overall: A good start to a trilogy 19 years in the making . 5/6

In total, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation – Heirs to the Stars gets 30/42.