If you know anything about the original Gundam, you likely know about the rivalry between series protagonist Amuro Ray and series villain Char Aznable. But if you watch Gundam the Origin and Gundam Unicorn in tandem, there is a another possibility for Char’s prominent rival–and perhaps a more thematically meaningful one.

This past year has seen a lot of Gundam anime, but most interesting has been the relationship between the OVA series Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin and TV series MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM UNICORN RE:0096–the beginning of Char’s story and the end of it respectively.

[Note: This article contains spoilers for Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin and MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM UNICORN RE:0096.]

As seen in Origin, the character Gundam fans most commonly referred to as “Char” is actually the assumed name of Casval Rem Deikun. His father is the Chairman of the Republic of Zeon (an alliance of space colonies seeking independence from Earth) who is assassinated and usurped by Degwin Sodo Zabi: his father’s friend and right hand man. Little more than a political prisoner, the young Casval escapes to Earth with his sister to live in anonymity while his mother remains behind, eventually dying in captivity.

Char’s entire motivation in the original Gundam is to get revenge on the Zabi family for the death of his father and mother as well as the pain they caused his sister. Using his assumed identity, Char spends years getting close to the Zabi family–even befriending some of them–before killing them off one by one.

But in the end, as he loses his taste for revenge, he chooses to leave one Zabi alive, the infant Mineva.

What he doesn’t realize is that he has left the baby in a situation mirroring his own. Mineva, like Char, is considered the sole remaining heir to Zeon’s royal family by many–with people eager to try and use her for political ends. Moreover, her father was killed (indirectly) by his supposed friend (Char), which led to her mother dying heartbroken only a short time later.

Their origin stories are eerily similar, yet, Mineva grows into a young woman that is the polar opposite of Char. While Char first seeks revenge for his father and later strives to bring about the world of his father’s ideals, Mineva doesn’t seek revenge and attempts to do everything in her power to prevent the sins of her family from coming to pass again.

Before his death, Char’s father propagated the idea that those who lived in space would become more evolved than those on Earth–a “new type” of humanity for the new frontier. The theory also stated that Newtypes were more capable of understanding each other. While likely a political tool more than anything else–a way to create a sense of nationalism among the entirety of space-born humanity–it nonetheless proved to true.

Char himself is a Newtype with various telepathic and precognitive powers, as is Mineva. Yet, time and again, it is Char who seeks to control people–persuade or force them to move to space and evolve–while Mineva is the one who strives to understand them.

Poetically, it is Mineva in the end, not Char’s rival Amuro Ray, who causes Char’s final defeat. The child he spared–the mirror of himself that he created–is the one who finally sets his soul to rest. She, a Newtype promoting understanding and hope, best exemplifies the dream of Char’s father and gives mankind’s younger generation a chance for a lasting peace among the stars.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin can be watched on Daisuki and Gundam.info. Gundam Unicorn Re:0096 can be viewed for free and with English subtitles in the US on Daisuki, Crunchyroll, and Gundam.info.

Comments (12)
  1. Great article! I never would have thought of this.

  2. A fair argument, but a few holes. Char had nothing to do with mineva ‘s family destruction. He had literally zero impact on it. The gundam sealed the fathers fate along with his pride was an admiral . Amuro was chars true enemy from the end of the series. You must consider his final words to Amuro before they both died. “Lala could very well have been a mother to me and you stole that. So don’t you dare judge me.”
    Charles never had parents in the true sense. Sayla always had his father’s attention, and same with his mother.

    He did love sayla greatly, but he also left her behind to seek an outlet for all his anger. Lala was the only person he truly cared about on a daily basis fr9m the first days of the war. Amuro also feared Lala ‘s judgement in space which also why he stayed on earth for nearly ten years despite his new type abilities and fatigue of killing.

    Mineva, to quote the Vist foundation, ” the weight she has to bear is immense.” She never hated char and naively thought he could restore zeon and charges never extended his hate to her in zeta gundam. He actually resented Hamon for using her. Once mineva had the ability to learn an unbiased history she learned of her family deeds and the state they left the world and space in. She never sides with char nor blame him for not loyally following her.

    Char will always battle Amero and Char will never Settle for being second best. Even at the end mineva never blames him for any of her families deaths.

    • “Char had nothing to do with mineva‘s family destruction. He had literally zero impact on it. The gundam sealed the fathers fate along with his pride was an admiral.”

      Now, you are 100% correct in the idea that Char wasn’t there at Dozle’s death; The Gundam and his pride were indeed his downfall. But I would argue that while not directly responsible for Dozle’s death Char was (as I said in the article) “indirectly responsible.”

      If we take a step back, Char, through his killing of Garma and his manipulation of the war to suit his own ends played a key role is setting up the situation that led to Dozle’s death. That’s always how I’ve viewed the situation.

  3. Interesting viewpoint but in the end I couldn’t disagree more. First of all, Gundam Unicorn was not written by the same team, therefore I would not consider it as part of Char’s character arc at all. Unicorn is beautifully animated but storywise it’s not much more than fanfiction. Even if you don’t wanna go by that fact, saying that Amuro isn’t Char’s rival is nonsense: looking at the evolution of that relationship from 0079 through Zeta and all the way up to CCA, not only they are indeed rivals but it’s probably the most interesting rivalry that has ever graced anime in the past 30+ years. Even better, they don’t have a cliché-ridden rivalry: they weren’t childhood friends, there was no betrayal of any sorts, they aren’t related AT ALL prior to the events of the series. You could argue that the one cliché they couldn’t avoid is their qualm being about a woman….and that would be wrong. Lalah was only the catalyst for their irreconciliable difference: it’s all about their ideologies.

    Amuro goes through a lot of pain & PTSD but at the end, he still stands by his faith in humanity and protecting the weak: even if he’s a newtype, he doesn’t believe he’s “the future of mankind”…that will either happen or not.

    Char goes through a lot of pain as well, and at the end of the road he’s a sad man that only achieved his revenge and not much more. Completely hopeless and disappointed with everything after the events of Zeta, he chooses to be a radical agent about his agenda and force his ideals upon millions that would have died had he been succesful. I like to think that he does want to be stopped, otherwhise handling the blueprints secretly so Londo Bell is able to build the psychoframme would be incoherent.

    At the end of the day, that’s the ultimate proof of why I disagree with your article: Char himself chose Amuro as his rival, and the story itself showcases multiple conversations & scenes that establish this.

    • Just because it was not the full orginal team does not make noncannon. Does it respect the source material and does not betray the orginal then it is fine. Unicorn is a master piece. On party with 0079, 0083 and zeta gundam

      • “Unicorn is a masterpiece”

        Hilarious, love your jokes

        • I’ve been watching gundam longer than most have be3n watching anime in general. Gundam unicorn is a masterpiece

          Try issuing an opinion instead of trolling

    • But I agree with your points on char but don’t overlook unicorn. Even miasaikie, sorry about spelling, guest worked on the project.

  4. “But if you watch Gundam the Origin and Gundam Unicorn in tandem”

    Opinion discarded

    • Not sure if you are trashing both or just a simple zeta gundam fan girl

  5. “Moreover, her father was killed (indirectly) by his supposed friend (Char)”
    “killed (indirectly) by his supposed friend (Char)”
    “supposed friend”
    I’m dying, is this the “I’ve only watched Origin & Unicorn” Starter Pack

  6. It was interesting.

    I liked the parallel between Char and Mineva too (in Zeta, I think), and his reaction about her condition.

    When was Char supposed to lose his taste for revenge? When his Amuro rivalry took over his revenge wishes (Lalah incident) ? After fully executing his plan? Or after his suicide/revenge/… plan in his movie?

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