- Episodes :43
- Genre :Mecha, Military, Sci-Fi, Space Opera
- Airing Date : April 7, 1979 – January 26, 1980
- Producers : Sunrise, Bandai
Char Aznable Preview (No Spoilers)
In this legendary anime that would revolutionize the mech genre and establish an ongoing legacy, Mobile Suit Gundam tells a war story between The Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation. Zeon (or labeled as Side 3), a space colony that wishes to be independent, resorts to extreme methods such as hijacking other colonies and crashing them onto Earth in order to win. In addition, they have the technological advantage in space warfare through robotic soldiers called mobile suits. However, the Federation has now invested time and money to counteract this development through their own mobile suit projects known as Project V, consisting of the Guntank, the Guncannon, and the Gundam. Its pilot is Amuro Ray, a teenage machine enthusiast and the son of the chief engineer of Project V. And the only one who can rival him is today’s HCW, Zeon’s top ace himself, Char Aznable.
Char Aznable Bio
Voice Actor: Ikeda Shuichi
Since the debut of Gundam, Char has been one of its most iconic characters to both Japanese and international fans of the Gundam franchise. In addition to the inaugural series, his appearances also include its sequels Zeta Gundam, Char’s Counterattack, and Gundam the Origin prequel series. Furthermore, he has his own manga series called Char’s Deleted Affair which highlights his activities between the first Gundam series and Zeta Gundam. Char is a character with a very complex and yet motivated history throughout all of his appearances.
Char’s real name is Casval Rem Daikun, the son of Zeon Zum Daikun, an influential politician who championed the coming of Newtypes, aka Spacenoids as the next stage of human evolution. He also campaigned for outer space to be independent of Earth government sanctions, and his views were both the subject of praise and controversy. One day, Zeon Daikun died due to poisoning by the Zabi family, who he thought were his friends.
Upon his death, the Zabi’s take over and use his legacy to justify military rule and manipulation to their extremist causes and methods. Casval and his sister Artesia are taken into exile and are adopted by Teabolo Mass, and hide under the aliases of Edward and Sayla Mass. While living in the Texas space colony, Casval meets a young man his age with his exact appearance(except for their different eye colors) named Char Aznable (with Casval having blue eyes and the real Char having brown eyes) and become friends. Though Casval is cold and calculating, the real Char Aznable is free spirited and naïve.
One day, the real Char had been accepted into Zeon’s military academy. During a mishap at the airport where Char was framed for putting a firearm into his suitcase. In order to make the flight, Casval/Edward offers Char to trade places with him (meaning Casval under the guise of Char would talk to authorities while Char under Casval’s identity would board the space plane). Thankfully, this ploy worked because the Zabi’s caught wind of Casval and bombed the plane under the assumption they killed him when in fact it was the original Char Aznable that died. With Casval/Edward legally dead, he would take Char’s identity as his own and his place at the Zeon’s military academy.
In order to hide their different eye colors, Casval (as Char) would wear sunglasses claiming that his eyes were affected by cosmic radiation and a classmate to the original Char (who figured out the ruse) gave him his original trademark mask for appropriate for combat conditions. There he would become one of its top cadets and rise through the ranks to seek his revenge and fulfill his father’s legacy of mankind fully migrating to space. However, his goals would always be foiled by his rival, Amuro Ray.
Char Aznable Highlights
1. He is an Ace Pilot
Char is a great example of it’s not the mech that makes the pilot, it’s the pilot that makes the mech. The event that brought his awesome piloting skills to the forefront in Zeon’s ranks was in the Battle of Loum. In this battle, he single handily took down 5 warships! Due to the speed and efficiency he demonstrates in this turning point in the One Year War, in addition to a two rank promotion from Lieutenant Junior Grade to Lieutenant Commander, he was also awarded his famous moniker, the Red Comet, an obvious reference to the Red Baron of World War I.
There are other official source materials out there that explain how Char was able to move at fast speeds while taking out 5 warships. Some thought he had advanced boosters on his Zaku, when in fact every time he shot down a ship point blank, he would place the feet of the Zaku on the ship and use it as a jump boost shortly before blowing up showing that he had a great combination of brains, brawn, and balls. But even before he made his mark as the Red Comet, he shows in Gundam the Origin that as a child, he had the initiative to use a mobile suit without fear and/or hesitation.
2. He’s an OG Troll
As stated in his bio, Char’s motivations for joining Zeon were to get close to the Zabi family and avenge his father. During his time at the academy, he would become best friends with the youngest Zabi son, Garma, who was also his age. During their time on earth with a battle against the White Base crew, Char sets up Garma to get ambushed. Garma found out at the last minute when Char didn’t come to his rescue and tried to confront him over the comm links. Without ever giving any reason why he would set his best friend up to die, Char just further frustrates Garma by trolling “blame it on the circumstances of your birth” while leaving Garma in desperation that he was dying for the honor of his country.
Another simple and yet most epic example of Char’s “trolling” before the term was ever conceived, let alone the invention of the Internet, just happens while watching Giren’s eulogy at Garma’s funeral. Char sits at a bar while watching and when he hears Giren screaming why Garma had to die, he just simply says “because he was a spoiled brat,” or best remembered by Ikeda Shuichi’s brilliant performance in the Japanese version as “bouya dakara sa.” The delivery of this line and his casual smirk just totally ruins the emotion that Giren wants you to have to take arms against the Federation when in fact, it was Char’s fault Garma died and he is hiding in a bar enjoying a nice glass of whiskey without any consequence like the Internet trolls of today.
3. His Armory
Throughout most of his appearances, Char would have a nice selection of mechs to take on Amuro with nearly all of them being painted in the color red. In the first act of the series, Char would rely on his Zaku. The design of the Zaku with its bulky limbs and its snort-like face plate along with its heavy movement on surface combat comes across as if it were a frightening monster. It strikes fear into your heart and despite not coming across as agile, with Char behind the wheel, it gets the job done.
Eventually, the Zaku would be outdated and Char would later resort to other mobile suits depending on the method of warfare. Upon the end of act 2, Char would then pilot a Z’Gok. Its cylinder inspired design and drills for hands were appropriately made for underwater and subterranean combat conditions during the battle of Jaburo. It ran at fast speeds on surfaces in order to quickly take out lower ranked opponents. Unfortunately, Amuro’s Gundam was too much of a match for it.
Upon the third act, he was given a new mobile suit known as the Gelgoog. Compared to the monstrous Zaku, the Gelgoog is designed resembling a jousting knight looking more dignified, and is given a two sided beam saber more suited to close combat conditions. Despite its advanced maneuverability for both space and surface combat, Amuro as a pilot just grew too much both naturally as a Newtype to be able to combat whatever came his way. And in the final battle, Char is given a giant incomplete prototype mech known as the Zeong. All that was missing were its legs and then it came down to a line that would forever be iconic to fans of the franchise, “the legs are just for show.”
Considering that they were fighting in outer space, the legs weren't necessary. Even though most of Char’s mobile suits have been red, the Zeong was a light purple color. It was equipped multiple laser cannons and could be controlled remotely away from the suit. Even if the last body was destroyed, the head could still be used as the equivalent to an escape pod. But with all it had left, both the Gundam and Zeong were destroyed in its one and only battle.
As Char would come back in later installments he would pilot the golden and slick Hyaku-Shikishima in Zeta Gundam under the alias Quattro Bajeena (though one of the PSOne games tends to write the last name in a very disturbing manner) and the Sazabi in Char’s Counterattack. On a side note, in the novel series to Gundam written by Tomino himself, Char got himself a Red Gundam.
4. He’s Not Really a Bad Guy
Ultimately, Char would be blinded by his extreme views, but in numerous moments throughout the series, he is shown that he’s not really a villain despite being a rival to the main character, Amuro Ray. Initially, he was never really motivated by power or defeating the Federation, he wanted revenge against the Zabi’s for assassinating his father, and it was the Zabi family (especially Giren, the oldest brother) that were the true villains.
However, by his final appearance in Char’s Counterattack, he embraced his true identity as Casval Rem Daikun but uses his father’s legacy to conduct terror attacks. However, the ending to the Zeta Gundam game for the first PlayStation console will give fans a better perspective on what led him to become what he was in Char’s Counterattack.
5. His Leadership and Charisma
Even though Char is most famous for his willingness to be on the front lines, he is a very commanding leader and a caring mentor. In the third act, Char scouts a Newtype named Lalah Sun, a young, beautiful, and free spirited woman who should have no business in war. But because of his belief in her potential, she comes to trust him. In the battlefield, her abilities are honed and she does very well which also improves her relationship with Char.
In many ways, Char helps her maintain much of her gentle nature despite being vicious on the battlefield. Eventually, they come to fall in love but it would end in tragedy. Char’s other qualities would further be developed in Zeta Gundam as he would serve as a mentor to that series’ respective main character, Camille Vidan and would solidify his public speaking skills in his Darfur Speech in which he reveals his true identity to the world and surrounding colonies.
Upon his epic comeback, he would finally become a rule of the Neo Zeon movement. Despite his political responsibilities, he was never afraid to run from a fight. However, in the Gundam the Origin series, a lot of his charisma is attributed to his sharp blue eyes and his expression despite hiding them behind either a mask or a pair of sunglasses. Either way, he keeps his cool and his followers and real life fans love him for it.
Char is a great pop culture icon to Japanese Sci-Fi as Darth Vader is to American Sci-Fi. In Japan, he has had his own brand of shoes, a custom Nintendo Camecube in his image, and his image has been used in car dealership promotions and in pachinko parlors. Char would not only impact just his respective universal century series, but the alternate universe installments of Gundam would also have their own homages to Char.
One easy example is Zechs Merquise from Gundam Wing. Char is everything you want in a leader. He is a leader by example. He won’t tell you what to do from the rear, but will be there to guide you while he is at the front of the line showing you how it's done. One one final note, Char Aznable’s name happened to have been inspired by a French singer, Charles Aznavour, known as the Frank Sinatra of Japan. So here are the top 5 reasons why Char is just so awesome.