The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation: Heirs to the Stars

Title: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation: Heirs to the Stars aka Kidou Senshi Z Gundam: Hoshi wo Tsugumono
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sunrise/Sotsu Agency
Format: Movie; 95 minutes
Dates: 17 Oct 2004

Synopsis: With almost ten years passing since the One Year War, humanity is on the verge of rebuilding itself. But while progress is being made, no one has gotten past the horrific events that took place in 0079. And with the fear of another uprising, the Earth Federation has taken extreme measure by establishing the autonomous peace keeping force known as the Titans. Their aggressive subjugation of the Colonies may instill fear, but as a result, they have encouraged breeding ground for rebellion.

The Highlights
New animation: Classic Gundam taken into the 21st century.
Old animation: A letdown by comparison.
Story progression: Choppy at times, but makes sense for any Gundam fan.
Music: Gackt also brings this classic into the new millennium.

If I were to pick one Gundam series that defines everything the franchise has done right, it would have to be Zeta Gundam. Much like the original, it is something I would enthusiastically call a must-see anime. Between a 40 plus episode series and three compilation movies, the question is which rendition is better to watch. With the original 0079, the answer tends to be the three movies since they are more viewer-friendly than the TV’s version and its cavalcade of ’70s mecha tropes. Judging A New Translation on the same terms, however, doesn’t work quite as well. It is an entirely different animal, one which can only be understood in relative terms to the 50 episode classic. Where this particular trilogy ends up is unfortunate, but on its own Heirs to the Stars is very much a worthwhile experience.

Out of all three movies, Heirs to the Stars covers the least amount of episodes and benefits greatly from this. The introduction arcs in long shows tend to be slow, offering an abundant amount of loosely packed material to work with. The first five episodes are covered in around 45 minutes, and the movie streamlines subsequent events seamlessly by taking several episodes and linking them into one extended battle scene. This technique is a deceptively effective for advancing the plot in a short period of time, and it’s one I’ve come to expect from a director of Tomino’s caliber.

However, with only so much time to work with, plot cracks, if not plot holes, arise, bringing a good number of questions about the movie and the trilogy as a whole. What prompted the protagonist Kamille’s anger in the first place? Why does Roberto survive this movie, only to be dead and forgotten by the next? Why is Rosamia present, despite not showing up again until the very end of part three? These questions can be answered by watching the original series, but they do not fit well into the narrative presented by the trilogy.

A New Translation is the first project since Formula 91 that makes use of Gundam’s classic style. The new animation is absolutely stunning. It’s fresh, stylish, and amazingly consistent with the ‘80s original, which makes it a real shame that there is only so much of it. Alas, were this movie done entirely with new animations, it would have beaten F-91 as the most well animated Gundam. But the novelty of the style is still there. And while the new music is not exactly what I would call “classic,” famous Gundam otaku Gackt Kamui does his part to bring the mythos of Zeta Gundam into the 21st century.

Saying that Heirs to the Stars is good is easy. To give a proper recommendation is way more complicated than that. The plot is straightforward, but the numerous omissions are bound to take some newer viewers aback. It is certainly not as deep as the original, but the dynamic action sequences helps push the story to the forefront. Despite where things go after this, part one of A New Translation is a nice treat for any self respecting Gundam fan, and should be a fun ride for even those with no intention of seriously investing their energy in anything with the Gundam logo on it. If it proves to be of such person’s liking, then their next step should be to go and watch the original, because the movie trilogy only get shaky from here.

The Rating: 8
8/10

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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