Char Aznable

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Char Aznable
Mobile Suit Gundam character
Char Aznable.jpg
Principality of Zeon Commander and Ace Pilot Char Aznable.
First appearance Episode 1, Gundam Rising (MSG)
Voiced by Shuichi Ikeda (Japanese)
Michael Kopsa (English, MSG and MSG-CC)
Steven Blum (English, MSG I–III)
Tom Edwards (English, MSG-Z)
Profile
Aliases Casval Rem Deikun (real name)
Edward Mass
Red Comet
Quattro Bajeena
Relatives Zeon Zum Deikun (father)
Sayla Mass (sister)
Afransia Char (clone)
Nationality Principality of Zeon
Information
Allegiance Principality of Zeon [MSG]
Axis [post MSG, pre MSG-Z]
Anti Earth Union Group [MSG-Z]
Neo Zeon [MSG-CC]

Char Aznable (シャア・アズナブル Shyaa Azunaburu?), born Casval Rem Deikun (キャスバル・レム・ダイクン Kyasubaru Remu Daikun?) is a fictional character from the Gundam franchise. He is originally one of the main antagonists in Mobile Suit Gundam working for the Principality of Zeon with the honorary title of "The Red Comet" (赤い彗星のシャア Akai Suisei no Shyaa?) during Gundam's One Year War. Despite having opposed Earth Federation soldier Amuro Ray several times, in the sequel Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam he becomes Quattro Bajeena (クワトロ・バジーナ Kuwatoro Bajīna?), an Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG) pilot fighting alongside the series' main characters against the Titans. In his final appearance in Char's Counterattack, he assumes leadership of the Neo Zeon movement, named after his father Zeon Zum Deikun, and becomes the titular antagonist of the film.

Char became one of Gundam's most iconic characters, often overshadowing Amuro's popularity. He also appeared as the most popular male anime character in Animage's Anime Grand Prix poll as well as in several other polls highlighting his popularity in the Gundam franchise. His role in the original has often been praised alongside his rivalry with Amuro.

Appearances[edit]

Mobile Suit Gundam[edit]

Born Casval Rem Deikun, he is the elder brother of Sayla Mass (Artesia Som Deikun), and the son of late Zeon Zum Deikun, the champion of sovereignty for the space colonies of Side 3, founder of the Republic of Zeon. During the One Year War, Char shows great ability not only as a mobile suit pilot, but also as a tactician and a commanding officer. He also displays his first act of betraying the Zabi family by luring Garma's fleet into a flight path toward the Federation's White Base's line of sight. Prior to Garma's death at the hands of the White Base, Char says to him, "Garma, blame this on the misfortune of your birth." Later in the war, Char begins a bitter rivalry with Federation pilot Amuro Ray, and he develops a relationship with Lalah Sune, a Newtype girl he saved from a brothel. Char also develops into a Newtype himself, and forms psychic bonds with both Amuro and Lalah. Char's abilities and natural charisma allow him to inspire and manipulate. Lalah is killed in battle, taking a blow meant for Char; this results in a bitter hatred between Char and Amuro.

During the war, Char draws on Zeon's philosophy to form his identity. The Zeon Principality is largely an authoritarian state that values independence from the Earth and later the destruction of Earth's inhabitants. With his devotion to free all of those who are "trapped by gravity's pull" he is able to face the most deadly outcomes with dignity and leadership.

In the Battle of A Baoa Qu, Char and Amuro's bitter rivalry reaches the level that they engage in a gunfight and then a sword fight after both lose their mobile suits. In the duel, Char realizes he has been distracted by his rivalry with Amuro, and refocuses on his true enemy - the Zabi family. An ensuing explosion knocks them apart, and Char rushes to save his sister. After being told by a dying Zeon soldier that Kycilia Zabi, the last surviving Zabi, he finds Kycilia's departing ship and kills her. He then disappears amidst the explosion and is logically presumed dead.

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam[edit]

Still presumed dead, Char reappears 8 years later in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Having left Axis Zeon, Char returns to the Earth Sphere in September 0084 and infiltrates the Earth Federation Forces ranking with the alias "Quattro Bajeena". Almost immediately, he finds himself involved in conflicts against the Earth Federation's newly formed Titan Task Force, fighting and shooting down two enemy warships within hours of acquiring his new identity. After meeting the Federation politician Commodore Blex Forer, Char joins a group of former Earth Federation Forces soldiers and eventually becomes a leading member of the Anti-Earth Union Group.

This time, rather than serving as the rival of the new protagonist, Kamille Bidan, Char serves as Kamille's mentor in the war against the Earth Federation's oppressive Titans organization. In Zeta Gundam, Char becomes an ally of his former adversaries in Mobile Suit Gundam: Amuro Ray, Hayato Kobayashi and Bright Noa. He serves under Bright Noa as leader of AEUG mobile suit forces.

During this period, Char loses faith in himself as a decision maker. It seems to be his greatest fear, as he normally displays none in regard to war. When assuming the identity of Quattro he willingly places himself under the command of his former enemies. He has discovered that there can be compromise in the future of Earth's population and the colonies. In the course of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam even Bright Noa, who lost crew to Char's attacks on the White Base, urges him to drop the Quattro facade and become a leader to the Spacenoids, or those raised in space colonies. Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam portrays Char's image as a hero who is always willing to stand up and fight for the freedom of spacenoids. His political speech in front of Federation Assembly in Dakar, which is broadcast throughout Earth and Space, is one of the most important events in the U.C. Gundam timeline. It seals Char's total commitment toward space colonization and migration of humanity to space.

Despite AEUG's victory in the Gryps Conflict against the Titans, Char is defeated in the final battle by Haman Karn, leader of the Axis Zeon (later Neo Zeon) faction and assumed dead. However, as the final credits roll, Char's damaged mobile suit floats by with its cockpit hatch open.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack[edit]

Char returns in the movie Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, set five years later, as the leader of a new Neo Zeon faction. He intends to create a nuclear winter by dropping the massive asteroid base Axis on the Earth, hence forcing a complete migration into space, which he believes will make all of humanity evolve into Newtypes. Only one thing stands in his way: the Federation's Londo Bell task force, and their top ace pilot, his old archrival Amuro Ray.

In the second Neo Zeon movement, both Char and Amuro pilot mobile suits equipped with an advanced psycommu system known as psycoframe. Char authorized Anaheim Electronics to pass the psycoframe technology to the development team responsible for Amuro's Nu Gundam, effectively planning a fair showdown between them in advance. After Char's mobile suit is destroyed by Amuro in the duel, Amuro captures Char's escape pod, and against Char's taunting, attempts to push the asteroid Axis away from Earth. The intense willpower of Amuro and all the pilots assisting him causes Nu Gundam's psycoframes to resonate and overload, resulting in a spectacular aurora with Axis pushed out of Earth's orbit. Both Amuro and Char disappear without a trace in the incident. There is no concrete evidence about them being deceased in the movie although Nanai Miguel did claim that Char's life force was fading away, as Amuro intercepted Axis and cries for Char when Axis is finally pushed back. The fates of either character were never revealed in the film, though the novelization of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack confirms both as KIA. The follow-up Gundam Unicorn also supports this idea. However, in the official Universal Century timeline for the animated series, it lists Amuro Ray and Char Aznable as MIA.

Gundam The Origin[edit]

According to the manga Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin, young Casval and his sister Artesia escape to Earth shortly after their father's death with the help of family friend Jimba Ral (father of Ramba Ral). They spend several years living a luxurious life under the guardianship of the aristocratic Don Teabolo Mass, who names them Edward and Sayla, and treats them like his own children. During this time, Jimba Ral constantly reminds Casval of the Zabi Family's betrayal of his father. After narrowly escaping an attempt on their lives (in which Jimba Ral dies), they flee to the Texas Colony.

They live for a time in a house set up by Texas Colony's chief manager Roger Aznable, still under Teabolo Mass's care. They meet Roger's son Char and discover that he and Casval are nearly identical, except Casval's eyes are brown while Char's are blue. Eventually Char is taken in by Gihren Zabi's propaganda, and against his father's wishes sets off for officer training school. Casval decides to accompany him under the guise of looking out for his friend. Kycilia Zabi finds out that Casval is headed back to Side 3, and without consulting Gihren, orders Casval's death. Both near-identical boys are booked to leave on the same flight, but an antique pistol and fake explosives are found in Char's bag. Not wanting to miss the entrance exam, Char accepts Casval's suggestion to swap clothes in the restroom. Char boards the ship under the name Edward Mass, while Casval, under the name Char Aznable is detained overnight. Shortly after departure, the ship explodes and kills everyone aboard (no doubt the work of Kycilia's henchmen). Edward Mass is listed among the dead and Casval takes on the name Char, enters the Zeon Military Academy and begins wearing sunglasses to hide his eye color (as it wouldn't match any of the real Char's IDs).

After entering the Academy, Char excels in his training and befriends Garma Zabi. As relations between the Zeon Republic (which has been renamed the Zeon Principality) and the Federation deteriorate, the Federation increases their troop strength in Side 3. There is widespread fear that this troop increase is in fact an invasion and occupation force. On the eve of troop increase, Casval incites Garma to lead other students in the Academy to storm the Federation base and subdue the stationed troops. For this action Casval is stripped of his rank and expelled from the Academy. He travels to Earth and works at the construction site of Federation headquarters in Jaburo. After hostility breaks out between Zeon and the Federation, he returns to Side 3 and joins the Zeon mobile suit assault forces under the command of Admiral Dozle Zabi. He displays superior fighting ability during the Battle of Loum, single-handedly destroying five Federation Magellan-class battleships, which earned him the nickname "Red Comet". He was promoted an exceptional two ranks to Lieutenant Commander.

Mobile Suit Gundam - Char's Deleted Affair - A Portrait of a Young Comet[edit]

At the end of the One Year War, Char goes to Axis and his experience there is partly depicted in the manga Char's Deleted Affair, where he heroically protects Axis in two major battles against the Earth Federation. He stays there until the end of U.C. 0082, when he gets back to Side 3 for a special mission to protect Haman Karn's inspection journey of Side 3. When they arrive at Zum City in U.C. 0083, he gets an invitation by George Miguel (Brother of Nanai) to join a paramilitary spacenoid organization within the Earth Federation Force.

However, upon hearing of Mahajara Karn's fatal illness in late May 0083, Char and Haman both decide to return to Axis. Once they do, they're intercepted by the pro-war Axis faction that wishes to restart the conflict with the Earth Federation, led by one Colonel Enzo. A civil war breaks out, with Char and Haman eventually overcoming Enzo's forces. Unfortunately, Mahajara Karn - Haman's father and the true political leader of Axis' - dies just shortly before the battle ends, and Haman now finds herself in charge of both Axis and Mineva. Tension between Char and Haman over the future of Axis and Zeon lead Char to finally leave the asteroid permanently with over 600 other soldiers on October 29, 0083.

Fictional characteristics and attributes[edit]

Char favors speed-orientated offensive battle tactics and hates to get hit, even when piloting an I-Field generator equipped unit and beam attacks have minimal to no effect (Commented when piloting Zero the R in a simulation battle in Portrait of a Young Comet - Char's Deleted Affair).

He typically pilots red mobile suits, such as his red MS-06S Zaku II, Z'Gok, Gelgoog, RMS-009 Rick Dias and Sazabi. Exceptions to this is the MSN-02 Zeong, which was painted in a bluish-grey colour during the Battle of A Baoa Qu, and had no time to even install the legs, much less be repainted and the MSN-00100 Hyaku Shiki, which is painted in bright gold yellow (At the time, he was pretending to be a different person).

The name Char Aznable was inspired by Armenian-French singer and songwriter Charles Aznavour (シャルル・アズナヴール Sharuru Azunavūru?)[1][2] and character named Charkin in an earlier robot anime Reideen (ライディーン)[3]

Reception[edit]

Char Aznable is not only a character, but has become a brand name.[4] Char, along with five other notable mecha and pilots from the various Gundam series, were recognized in the second set of "Anime Heroes and Heroines" stamps, released in Japan in 2005.[5] Char Aznable has routinely placed in the top 10 lists of popular characters in both Gundam-specific and general-oriented fan magazines in Japan, such as Gundam Ace and Animage, typically ranking higher than the main character and his rival, Amuro Ray.[6][7] In Gundam Ace, Char is consistently in the top 3 of the list, and held the number 1 spot for long periods of time, despite the fact that Gundam Ace tallies votes for Char's alter-ego Quattro Bajina separately. In fact, Quattro also consistently ranks in the top 10. In both Gunpla and Figure magazines it is almost guaranteed to see Char's custom red mobile suit.[4] He has also been voted as the second most popular male character from the 1980s by Newtype readers.[8] During January from 2007, Oricon made a poll in which they asked Japanese fans from manga and anime which characters from any series they would most like to see in spinoff series. He won the men's poll while ranked second in the overall.[9]

On the Japanese bulletin board 2channel, the Gundam forums are named Char custom (シャア専用), and the anonymous placeholder for the name is changed to "3 times more than the usual anonymous" (通常の名無しさんの3倍), a reference to the "3 times faster than the usual Zaku" line from the original series. Char Custom refers to Char's tendency to highly customized standard Mobile Suits to his exact specifications and generally making the said units far more potent than normal. This usually involves the character coloring his suits red, which led some people to go as far as to label anything red "Char-custom", and to make vague references to the "3 times more potent" line in the original Gundam series (e.g. A red pencil might write 3 times faster, or is 3 times more likely to break). This pinkish-red colour is actually not the idea of the director, but only because the excess pinkish red colour ink the animation company has at the time. It is, however, stated in the game Gireh's Greed that the colour is actually only the colour of an unpainted Zaku due to the grudge from him being the top graduate from military school.

Bandai has capitalized on the character's popularity by licensing out the name to various products. There has been a Char-custom laptop, Char-custom Nintendo Gamecube, and a Char-custom motorbike helmet. All these products have a red satin finish, and have the goldleaf Zeon insignia or the emblem of Char's Neo Zeon emblazoned on them. A Char-custom Game Boy Advance SP was also created in Japan (with many sources claiming its battery will last 3 times as long as the normal GBA, or even that it will crash 3 times as much). On July 25, 2006, GE Consumer Finance released a Char Custom credit card, which receives three times as many bonus points per 1000 yen spent compared to their other Gundam-related credit cards [1]. Japanese cell phone company Soft Bank released a special Char Custom cell phone in late 2007, with a very large red Zaku head which serves as the charger base. Char related apparel and accessories span a wide range, from the ubiquitous Quattro sunglasses to Char lighters, neckties, wristbands, caps, wallets and a wide range of t-shirts. The creator of Char Aznable, Yoshiyuki Tomino, does not like the idea of making money this way. He feels that by sticking the term "Char's Custom" to the products culturally suggests the quality of the product is superior to other brands. However, most of them are only coloured red and are basically the same as the products on which they are based; ironically, some of these "Char Custom" products are even of lower quality than the baseline products. Creator Yoshiyuki Tomino believes that "having satisfication in such products just because they are popular and can earn money is a sin, since it cannot teach a correct social sense to the newer generation".[10]

In a planned spaceflight for 2006, Soyuz TMA-9, a Japanese internet investor named Daisuke Enomoto had asked to dress up as Char Aznable. However, medical restrictions prevented him from participating in the flight. Toyota also formed a new branch called Zeonic Toyota planning to issue a series of special cars, the first one being Char Aznable special Auris.[11]

Although his duel with Amuro in the film was considered the highlight of the film, Allen Divers from Anime News Network criticized how unfulfilled was their rivalry.[12] THEM Anime Reviews' Carlo Ross saw Char in the film as the "true star" believing him to overshadow Amuro.[13] On the other hand, J. Doyle Wallis criticized their rivalry in the film considering it a "rehash" of the events of the television series.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Charles Aznavour's profile". VoiceOfVan.net. Archived from the original on 2007-06-17. Retrieved 2007-05-31. "The name of Char Aznable, the main antagonist of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, was derived from Aznavour." 
  2. ^ "Charles Aznavour's biography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-05-31. "Partly inspired the character Char Aznable from the 1979 anime "Kidô senshi Gandamu" (1979)..." 
  3. ^ Gundam Age(ガンダム・エイジ), 洋泉社, 1999, 飯塚正夫. Original wording quoted: 『~仮面をつけてたライバルって言えば、「ライディーン」のシャーキンなわけで、キンをとってシャー。フルネームはシャンソン歌手で、』translated as If talking about a masked rival, then Raideen's Charkin name was cut down to Char and (combined) with the full name of the Chanson singer
  4. ^ a b Otona no Gundam-All about Gundam-Perfect, Adult's Gundam, Char Aznable & Ramba Ral, 1 January 2008, Nikkei Business Publication ISBN 978-4-8222-6317-1
  5. ^ Japan Philatelic Society Foundation, Animation Hero and Heroine Series II "Gundam"
  6. ^ "第1回アニメグランプリ '79→'80総決算" (in Japanese). Animage. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  7. ^ "第2回アニメグランプリ '80年上半期" (in Japanese). Animage. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Newtype's Top 30 Male and Female Characters of Each Decade". Newtype (in Japanese) (Kadokawa Shoten). March 2010. 
  9. ^ "Oricon: Fans Want L, Char Aznable Spinoffs". Anime News Network. August 1, 2007. Retrieved August 10, 2013. 
  10. ^ Playback special interview - Yoshiyuki Tomino, Otona no Gundam Perfect, p. 102~103, "まず声を大にして言いたいですね。シャアグッズについても、目を引くような”良さ”がなく、ただ赤く塗っただけでシャア專用を名乗るような商品は、絶対に間違っています。誤解を恐れず言いますが、赤いだけという志の低い商品は、ぼくの目の前からなくなってほしいと思います。...どこのメーカー製かわからないパーツを使っで、それで満足のスタッフにはほとほと嫌気ださします。...シャアブランドを借りる一方で、”シャア”に負けない何かを持という気概がなければ意味がないんです。...公共意識を伝え忘れた僕たちの世代の罪...儲かりさえすればいいという企業で働くサラリーマンを見て影響を受けた若い世代が、良い形で大人になれるとは思いません。...そして、公共意識というものを、次の世代にしっかり伝えなかったのも問題です。"
  11. ^ http://response.jp/article/2013/01/09/188418.html
  12. ^ Divers, Allen (March 21, 2003). "Gundam: Char's Counterattack DVD". Anime News Network. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  13. ^ Ross, Carlo. "Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack". THEM Anime Reviews. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ Wallis, J. Doyle (August 17, 2002). "Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack". DVD Talk. Retrieved November 30, 2013.