Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack

Type: Movie
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Vintage: 1988
Date of Review: February 29, 2016

Char Aznable spearheads the newborn Neo Zeon movement, pledging to get his revenge on the Earth by dropping massive asteroids on the planet. As the Earth Federation fleet mobilizes to stop him, Amuro Ray prepares for a final showdown with his nemesis.

After three television series, the Mobile Suit Gundam saga continued into movie form. The goal was to wrap up the main Universal Century storyline, bringing the Earth Federation versus Zeon conflict to a close. Sure, there were plenty of other stories that further fleshed out the UC, but fans wanted to see Amuro and Char have it out once and for all. The stakes were never higher for all sides of the conflict, and from our hero and his nemesis resorting to fisticuffs in an idyllic park to drastic mobile suit combat, Char’s Counterattack delivers.

While much of the action revolves around characters we already know and love, like Char, Amuro, and Bright Noa, CCA introduces many new faces. Chan Agi in particular stands out, and she needed more screen time! Unfortunately, CCA also debuts the most annoying character in the entire Gundam franchise: Quess Paraya. Every time she opens her mouth, you’re going to want to jam a screwdriver in your ear. Bright’s son Hathaway isn’t much better, but he’s orders of magnitude more tolerable than Quess, and that’s saying something.

The mecha design is pure 1980s goodness, from the now-classic Re-GZ to Char’s mighty Sazabi. CCA also introduces the legendary ν (Nu) Gundam, by far one of the most popular Gundam designs among fans. (It wouldn’t surprise me if it was the most popular, based on the sheer amount of model kits and variants out there.) Animation of the massive fleet and mobile suit battles is top-notch, as one might expect from a Gundam film, and the art style is a step above what we’re used to. As for the music…to be honest, I barely noticed it. The score just fit in with everything else so well, it almost felt like it was relegated to the background. No offense meant to the composer or performers, of course!

CCA isn’t without a few head-scratching moments. For example, it’s not readily apparent why Char has become the bad guy again (after his heroic turn in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam), and the ending is practically a cliffhanger. In fact, the ending was the subject of intense fan speculation for decades; the mystery was finally put to rest during the final episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn.

Regardless, from the great visuals to the engaging story, CCA is required viewing. The film is solid entertainment with high drama, massive space battles, and a real sense of scope. A fine close to the Zeon chapter of the Universal Century, indeed.

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