It's hard for any anime to pick up the mantle of the masterpiece 'Z Gundam', but ZZ Gundam does a fine job doing so. In Universal Century 0088 the AEUG, weakened after their victory over the Titans, has to deal not only with the rising power of Axis Zeon, but of the loss of Camille Bidan, their greatest pilot. Their flagship the Argama docks at Side 1's Shangri-la colony, where new pilots such as the spirited Judau Ashita, Elle Viano, and Lu Luka pilot the AEUG's new mobile suits, including the powerful ZZ Gundam. Haman Khan returns from Z Gundam as the regent of Axis, and new villains such as knight-wannabe Mashmyre Cello and Glemmie Toto, one of Gundam's best developed characters, also prove to be interesting additions.
The show itself can be split into two distinct halves. The first half is rather campy and has plenty of comedy, none of it subtle. This has given it an unsavory reputation among purists as totally lacking depth and merely a kiddy pleaser. Yet as the story progresses the mood begins to seriously darken, and the issues the series takes up include ones rarely seen in the franchise, such as racism. When the show gets to space, the action intensifies, all building up to the final, climactic duel between Haman and Judau.
This show, relatively unknown in America, shows that Z Gundam level depression is best taken in moderation. The lightheartedness makes for an enjoyable viewing experience, and the later seriousness makes for a meaningful one. As shows such as Gundam SEED DESTINY continue to dominate the markets, it's good to know one can always turn to the roots with an anime like this.
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