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Gundam Week: Top 5 Best Character Arcs – Top 5 Worst Character Arcs

by on March 14, 2010

In any series viewers tend to look forward to watching a character grow and show development through the course of the show. Gundam is no exception, and this is of course an incredibly important part to the franchise. With so many different characters fighting for different things, it is important that we look at who grew the most. Along those same lines, it is important to look at who grew the least, or perhaps not at all, along with who really was just a let down. Time to take a look at the best and worst characters throughout the entire Gundam universe. Take aim!

Top 5 Best Character Arcs

5. Setsuna F. Seiei

As Mobile Suit Gundam 00 starts we are introduced a scared young boy running frantically through a war-zone trying to avoid death. This frantic way of life proceeds to make him into a rather cold individual, driven by the sole existence of his savior, Gundam. This drive eventually consumes his life to the point where all of his actions are controlled by his need to please and almost meet “Gundam’s” expectations. Through the introduction of the Trinity triplets he begins to think for himself and take matters into his own hands, finally realizing there is more to his life than just being a soldier and to live his own life. In the second season this development continues, as Setsuna utilizes the Gundam as a tool rather than a god, deciding Ribbons must be stopped at all costs. It isn’t such an easy decision when faced with the hard task of choosing the lives of friends over the lives of every individual on Earth. Setsuna realizes that sometimes the right thing isn’t the easiest to do, and in general becomes a character with meaning, giving him substantial growth throughout the series.

4. Relena Peacecraft

The positive growth that Relena goes through in Gundam Wing is unquestionably dramatic. Once a somewhat simple rich girl who began the series with no concerns bigger than how her birthday party would turn out, she eventually learns the truth about a heritage that would irrevocably alter her destiny and set her on the path to becoming a world leader and diplomat of remarkable integrity and influence. Facing a world plagued by power struggles and bids for dominance in both Earth and outer space, Relena resolutely clings to her pacifist ideals and preaches the necessity of a better tomorrow. In time, to her credit, Relena allows her views to be informed by pragmatism. This is shown best in the ending OVA Endless Waltz, where Relena is forced to acknowledge and act on the fact that there are times when principles must be defended by action where mere words, however eloquent, will simply not suffice. 

3. Kamille Bidan

Kamille is, quite simply, a brat at the start of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. He acts irrationally, as made evident by his need to attack an officer over his name being made fun of. Instead of thinking his decisions through, Kamille acts when it is necessary to please himself. Even as Kamille begins to pilot the Gundam Mark 2, he is still rather unlikeable. Emma Sheen attempts to smack, sometimes literally, sense into him but it is an incredibly slow process. Ultimately Kamille really doesn’t become likable until Four Murasame is killed, feeling a sense of loss that he, ultimately, couldn’t prevent. This is also perhaps because the viewer can finally see a bit emotion out of Kamille aside from arrogance and anger. After acquiring the Zeta Gundam Kamille begins to take on responsibilityl and learns that there are problems larger than his own. His continual growth eventually makes him rather likable and a great character.

2. Domon Kasshu

A trained martial arts expert, Domon is introduced to the audience on a mysterious mission to find a man in an old photo. Where as previously we are given a clear introduction to the destined Gundam pilot of the story, Domon is wrapped in several layers of mystery which are unwrapped as the story progresses. 

Domon initially appears to be little more than a hot headed thug who thinks with his fists. Though, flashes of character hint at a deeper, more caring personality within. We come to learn that man Domon is searching for is his elder brother Kyoji who seemingly stole his father’s greatest creation, the Ultimate Gundam. In the ensuing chaos their mother died and their father has been placed in cryogenic prison for this smear on the country’s pride. If Domon hopes to free his father, he must defeat Kyoji’s ambitions and terminate both his brother and the now newly re-christened Devil Gundam. The road to achieving this goal directly forces Domon to step out of the ‘lone wolf’ shell he has formed and become a leader. Further, he must ultimately be capable of communicating with his one true love and be her partner in both love and life. Whilst still living in a world full of problems that need to addressed, Domon’s journey marks him as a champion of the positive attributes of humanity and that a bright future can be grasped.

1. Amuro Ray

At the start of Mobile Suit Gundam, the viewer is introduced to a boy distracted by the gadgets around him. He doesn’t appear to have a clear direction and yet at the same time he has a strong desire to protect the ones he loves. This, along with his curiosity, ultimately leads Amuro to jump in the cockpit of Gundam. Despite this, Amuro is a rather immature individual, not quite sure what to do with abilities and a bit torn on his decision later down the road. As Amuro comes to the realization he is a newtype, and thus superior to most individuals the confusion continues. Still, through the course of the story Amuro slowly, but surely, comes to realize who he is and what he must do, which is protect White Base and its crew, along with retaining a sense of integrity. He becomes an individual others can (finally) rely on and a stone for them to lean on in their time of need. In Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Amuro undergoes yet another growth in maturity when he decides to pilot Mobile Suits again. This may seem like a rather easy choice, but after being confined after the war, and ultimately a bit scarred from it, this takes a lot of courage that Amuro didn’t have at the start of the series. Due to his constant growth in not only ability, but in responsibility, Amuro clearly went through the most fulfilling character arc.

Top 5 Worst Character Arcs

5. Reccoa Londe

Zeta Gundam’s Reccoa Londe turned out to be practically the opposite of Emma Sheen. At first Emma works for the Federation’s “Titans” task force, only to switch sides after witnessing their atrocities firsthand. Reccoa, however, leaves the AEUG for the Titans thanks in part because of her unreciprocated affection for Char and in part to being seduced by the charisma of Paptimus Scirocco. This is literally the extent of her motivation for defecting to the side that she knows is responsible for wiping out an entire colony with a chemical weapon. While personal motivations can be just as valid for a character’s actions as strong principles, Reccoa’s willingness to knowingly side with a thuggish organization in return for attention and cheap gratification is beyond pathetic and very much despicable.

4. Marina Ismail

After going through a great deal to get her country back in order during season 1, Marina is reduced to a babysitter in season 2. She completely fails to utilize her position in order to gain influence within the world. Better yet, she doesn’t even bother to try and take control. 

Shirin Bakhtiar more or less tells her that she isn’t meant to be lead Azadistan. Her idea of helping out is singing to the children, which magically happens to reach Setsuna while he is fighting. Despite all of this, the viewer still finds themselves hoping that in the end she will do something. Marina, unfortunately, never becomes useful to the plot, instead we get some strange love connection between her and Setsuna and she never does anything substantial for the story. Marina’s lack of usefulness makes her boring and pathetic in the otherwise thrilling and powerful environment Mobile Suit Gundam 00 creates.

3. Sleggar Law

Sleggar’s biggest character downfall is that he comes off as useless. He was there to throw Mirai off for a couple of episodes only to end up dying easily in battle. Sleggar’s shtick is that he is an impressive gunner and should be looked up to during his stay on White Base. Instead he comes off as lazy and rather annoying, which again isn’t helped because Mirai suddenly has an attraction for him. Perhaps had Sleggar not left as quickly as he came then he would have been a bit of a substantial character. Instead he is there to throw a wrench in the Mirai and Bright budding relationship, which, at the time of his introduction, seemed random and silly. This, combined with his quick exit puts Sleggar Law at number three on toonzone’s list. 

2. Regene Regetta

Regene was such a let down to Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Up until his interventions we were under the complete impression that Ribbons was running the show. With Regene, we caught a glimpse of conflict within an organization that otherwise seemed be in perfect order. He had a lot of promise at the start of Season 2, instilling doubt within Tieria about who, or what, he is. This continued as he started to pursue his own goals. Ultimately Regene accomplishes nothing, and really only seemed to act out of jealousy towards Ribbons. Due to the inability to execute on a tremendous build up, Regene suffers a great deal in Mobile Suit Gundam 00.

1. Meer Campbell

When first mentioned, Meer’s character didn’t seem like such a terrible idea. In Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, Lacus was an incredibly influential character to the Zaft forces; it makes sense to want to use that power in order to gain followers. Unfortunately, the idea doesn’t quite work as well as viewers hoped. Meer becomes a way to sexualize Lacus without having to directly do it to such a “strong” character. Fanservice in any series is unavoidable; it, however, can be forgiven when said character actually has depth. In the end though we learn that Meer is a girl caught up in the act and can’t get over her Lacus-persona. It certainly doesn’t help her character when two entire episodes are wasted on her at the end, one being a clip-show. This wouldn’t have been acceptable in the middle of the series, let alone the end, when things are supposed to be kicking into full speed. Meer may have been a hit with the soldiers, but she was a complete miss to any viewer who enjoys a strong character.

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