The vast world of Mobile Suit Gundam not only has produced many animated series (along with movies and OVAs), awesome models, high-quality soundtracks with some of the hottest stars in J-pop, and appealing characters. Some of those characters include those who are hot shot pilots. Usually, by real life combat standards, a pilot is considered an ace when in the event they shoot down five enemy bogies.
In our previous related to Gundam characters, we covered the protagonists based on their qualities as overall great human beings. For today’s list, we will expand to the top aces of the franchise based on their qualities as pilots and how they utilize their respective mobile suits. So suit up and launch into our top 10 list of Gundam Aces.
10. Kira Yamato from Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny
Kicking off at number 10 in our countdown is Kira Yamato from the controversial Cosmic Era series of both SEED and SEED Destiny. The thing about Kira is that he was created to be the ultimate coordinator, which is why he could easily use the Strike Gundam upon riding it. Due to the initial OS not suiting his Coordinator reflexes, he had to change the OS in mid-battle in order to fight on equal terms of the ZAFT soldiers who hijacked the other Gundams.
If anything, he always manages to hold his own against his best friend turned fierce rival (then best friend again) Athuran Zala, along with his subordinates who all pilot Gundams. But due to Kira’s progressing pacifist nature and not wanting to take any more lives, his fighting style in Destiny along with the multi-range funnels of the Strike and Strike Freedom allow him to simultaneously disable a whole platoon like its nothing.
The fact that Kira in his infamous Jesus mode allows him to win his battles with relative ease with calm restraint makes him a quality pilot and probably one of the best in all of Gundam if he had a more aggressive nature.
9. Setsuna F. Seiei from Mobile Suit Gundam 00
Going into number 9, we have Setsuna F. Seiei from Gundam 00. Prior to becoming a Gundam meister, Setsuna was already a highly trained soldier with knives, explosives, and firearms. But during his battle with Ali Al Saachez, the man who trained him, he was able to recognize Setsuna as one of his former soldiers based on the way he charges with a knife since that's a technique he often teaches (going as far as to recognizing the stance).
Due to Setsuna’s personal background affecting his aggressive fighting style and his outlook on conflict, he wishes to avoid killing others not based on his own principles of achieving peace, but based on the principles of Aeolia Schenberg, the founder of the organization he fights for, Celestial Being. As demonstrated in his debut, he is capable of effectively taking out enemies with relative ease and disabling them without the need to kill. But due to his developing abilities as an Innovator, the next stage of human evolution, his enhance brain wave patterns allows him to use the full potential of the unique engineering of his Gundam for maximum speed and power that some fans would equate to a berserker’s rage.
8. Jamil Neate from After War Gundam X
Though most of Jamil’s role in the series was regulated to being a captain of the Freeden, at age 15 during the Colony wars prior to the events of the series, he was the original pilot of the Gundam X. In his youth, he was a famous pilot that would countlessly clash with Lancerow Dawell of the Space Revolutionary Army. But due to the aftermath and the effects of the war, Jamil lost an eye, his abilities as a Newtype (in context to the universe of Gundam X), and couldn't get himself into a cockpit.
As the series progressed he found the courage to fight in the suit of his youth when Garrod assumed control of the Double X and started psychiatric treatment for his PTSD in relation to entering mobile suits. When he's back on the saddle, he pilots the suit as if he never took a vacation. Due to his Newtype abilities, he can psychically summon the Gundam X’s satellite weapons from outer space and do some damage as he was ordered to do against colony drops heading for earth.
7. Haman Karn from Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ
Though introduced in the Zeta Gundam, Haman would serve as the main villain of the following series, Double Zeta. As is her namesake from the Book of Esther from the Old Testament/The Torah, Haman’s goals are to annihilate old types and seek domination. Throughout her series run in both Zeta and Double Zeta, she would pilot the Quebely, where most of its firepower would be concentrated on its funnels complimenting her Newtype abilities.
Not much is shown in her training as a pilot, but a majority of her piloting is shown to stem from the fact she has high Newtype abilities as acknowledged by Char, the most iconic character in the entire Gundam franchise. Her biggest claim to fame as an ace is being able to take down Char and his Hyaku-Shiki in the final episode of Zeta leaving some fans wondering if he died. Even though her Quebely is relatively small framed, her funnels do all the attacking and defending for maximum results.
6. Ramba Ral from Mobile Suit Gundam
Next on this list is the Blue Giant, Ramba Ral, Amuro’s second greatest rival behind Char Aznable. According to some fans and sources, the character is influenced by a German World War II soldier named Erwin Rommel, aka The Desert Fox. They both fought with the best of what they had and tried to exploit any disadvantages of the enemy. Not only did they share similar personalities, but similar political circumstances that led to their disadvantages where they did not receive proper support when requested.
Despite being older than average than most of the other featured soldiers (with him being 35), his rich experiences and training allowed him to fight evenly with Amuro (even damaging the Gundam on a number of occasions) and the White Base crew. He demonstrated his experience by using diversionary tactics and going all offense with the help of his crew. Even with Ramba’s fierce fighting style, he gained the respect of Amuro and motivated him to become a better pilot.
5. Judau Ashta from Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ
Starting off in our top 5 is the main character from the original controversial Gundam series, Judau Ashita of Gundam ZZ, who pilots both the Zeta and Double Zeta Gundam. A majority of his skills stem from the fact that he is a natural whiz with machines despite no formal education in comparison to his predecessors (meaning Kamille and Amuro who learned from their parents while Judau was just a junker). Fans do argue that he could be one of the most powerful Newtypes in all of the Universal Century (Harman even compares his abilities as a Newtype to Char).
Upon getting his hands on the Zeta Gundam in his debut, he manages to use it rather instantly and demonstrates skills that get him the attention of AEUG to be part of its crew. Though it takes some time to warm up, Judau joins knowing what is at stake and comes to possess the upgraded Double Zeta which consists of three parts to make the body. Thanks to his Newtype abilities, the Double Zeta (even with its multiple components), can solely be handled by Judau, and he can also naturally create his own barrier for defense purposes.
4. Anavel Gato from Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory
At unlucky number 4 (with 4 meaning Shi, also meaning death in Japanese) is the Nightmare of Solomon himself, Anavel Gato. Though he is portrayed to not be a Newtype in his respective series, his skills as one of Zeon’s top pilots cannot be denied. During the events of the One Year War with his Gelgoog, he took down a significant number of the Federations GM mobile suits where he monicker was awarded.
In the event of 0083, he shows his skills in infiltration when he sneaks into the Feddie’s Torrington base and hijacks the GP02A, a Gundam that is equipped with a nuclear warhead. Upon stealing the GP02A, Gato manages to easily master its basic controls and combat capabilities upon instantly facing Kou Uraki in the GP01A in their first battle and humiliate him.
Most of Gato’s skills are highlighted in that he specializes in close quarters combat with a beam saber, due to the heavy load in the shield of the GP02A, which stores and cools its nuclear warheads. However, due to his use of the nuke, he manages to take out a significant fraction of the Federation’s fleet.
3. Zechs Merquise from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
Though the name Zechs means six in German, the Lightning Baron comes in at number 3. In a long line of Char clones, Zechs probably has to be one of the most famous. His sense of cunning and guile makes him one of the top pilots of OZ. In his debut in the first episode, he takes the initiative in taking on Heero one-on-one in a regular Leo mobile suit and manages to fight him to a stalemate.
As a pilot, he is well rounded in all ranges of combat knowing how to hit his target with a bazooka or slice and dice his foes with a beam saber. In the middle of the first act, he is given the Tallgeese, the prototype Leo that was too difficult to manage upon its initial engineering. Due to the weak pressurization of the cockpit and its high speeds, Zechs would actually cough up blood but would come to master it and fight on even terms with Heero. When he escaped from OZ due to his disagreements with the administration, he takes on a whole fleet of mobile suits heads on (while permanently having his mask destroyed) and escape.
In the last act of the series, he would assume responsibilities of the close-ranged based Epyon Gundam equipped with the Zero System, an operating system that gives its users similar abilities to Newtypes, but can have mental scarring effects on its user.
2. Norris Packard from Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
At number 2 we have Norris Packard, the surrogate father to Aina Sahalin. This character’s number one highlight that is remembered by all Gundam fans is how he single handily took on three Gundams and three Guntanks. And how does he manage this? With a custom Gouf mobile suit powered by its electric whip, dagger, and Gatling gun. But it's not the mech that makes the pilot, Norris’ performance proves it’s the pilot that makes the mech.
Due to the battle taking place in his territory, he allows his knowledge of the broken city to his advantage for effective guerrilla tactics that had the 08th MS Team second guessing. Even with their unity and teamwork being one of the best in Gundam, Norris for a long while held the advantage the fort and took out all the Guntanks. Plus, he managed to temporarily disable Shiro’s mobile suit. However, Norris knowing he was going to die protecting a woman who he considers as his own daughter gives him an old school honorable warrior’s final battle. Though he loses his life, his accomplishments in taking out the Guntanks outshine in that battle.
1. Char Aznable from Mobile Suit Gundam
No matter what list we have in relation to Gundam, there is no avoiding Char Aznable, who is synonymous to Gundam as the force is to Star Wars. Char is known to be a great leader, a master politician, and a radical, but what also makes him famous beyond those qualities are his skills as a pilot (thanks to not only his natural skills but the fact that he’s also a Newtype). So what is his claim to fame as a pilot?
In the legendary Battle of Roum (or Side 5), he took down five starships with only his Zaku and the fact he did this with such efficiency gave him a double promotion from Lieutenant Junior Grade to Lt. Commander, and also awarded his famous moniker, The Red Comet (also a homage to the Red Baron from World War I). Many of his friends and foes tend to assume that his Red Zaku had some special boosters equipped that allowed him to move at such speed, but in fact, that was not the case as all.
Every time he shot down a space cruiser, shortly before it would completely explode, he would jump off the ship for an extra boost to allow him more momentum. It just shows that his quick thinking and natural instincts as a master strategist beyond his Newtype abilities allow him to get the job done.
Based on their skills in land, sea, air or space, this is Honey’s Top 10 list of Great Gundam Aces. Not only are they defined by the mechs they pilot, but based on their abilities whether they be regular humans, or naturally or artificially evolved. So who do you think are the best top 10 Aces of Gundam? If you have any ideas not on this list or opposite that of this one, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.