Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives, and has a martial arts background.
Char Aznable is practically everywhere in the Gundam world. Each series had their own incarnation to boast and yes, some became a legend in their own rights. I mean lately we listed some of the best Char clones in the Gundam universe, and although Millardo Peacecraft (A.K.A Zeches Marquise) got the number one spot in this highly subjective article, I felt that everyone should claim the top spot. One might agree that it is not the lead character that makes or breaks a Gundam series. Rather it’s how they presented their Char clone to the fans. One time I got into an argument with a friend as he judges a Gundam series based on their clones and not in their story.
Definitely Char Aznable is an influential character. So much so that his likeness could even be seen outside the Gundam world as well. If you got sharp eyes you will see how some anime character bear his likeness, signature color, the roles he played in the series and even the iconic mask. Though their versions may have different roles, and may even take weird jobs such as a GM of a baking company, the influence of our anime Darth Vader lives in them. And if you want to learn more, just read below.
What Makes a Char Aznable Clone?
In the Gundam world, an anti-hero with blonde (or light) hair piloting a customized red mecha and sporting a mask (or dark glasses) are common traits of Char clones. They could be enigmatic at most and possess colourful names (some Red Baron title variant). They could have hidden agenda and distantly related to one of the casts. Not all the time these traits are followed, which is a good thing. It means that fans are treated to a unique Char clone in each series.
Interestingly, Char inspired characters outside Gundam seem to follow some of these common molds. In fact they are basically variants of the original Char, and could fit in perfectly in the Gundam world. And by the way, there are a lot of them out there. So I will just include a few examples.
1. Sirius de Alisia (Genesis of Aquarion)
I’m not a fan of Genesis Aquarion. Yes it’s a gorgeous anime but the story is too childish and unoriginal. If you are spoiled with the gritty plot of the EVA series and Gundams like me, you will be bored easily. It had too many references from other mecha anime and failed to get a name for itself. And yes, it even boasts its own Char Aznable.
As a nod to the Gundam series, it gave us Sirius de Alisia. Somehow he is a character foil to the feral Apollo, a rival to him like Char to Amuro. Like Char he is blond, with a mysterious past and a proficient pilot (even a fencing master). He never dons a mask or wear red, but he did have a sister (Silvia) that became a sucker to the rival Apollo, like the romance between Sayla and Amuro.
Baron Maximilian (Brain Powerd)
Remember Brain Powerd? It’s a chilling reminder that the Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino must stick to his Gundams and never touch anything EVA. It’s not really a bad anime, but again not that great either. Corny is the word for me, but it’s still deeper than Genesis Aquarion. And being a Gundam guy, Tomino can’t resist inserting a Char figure.
Meet Baron Maximilian
He got the mask, the mecha and the flashy name. An enigmatic figure who pilots a powerful Baronz Grand Cher, he is also a mentor to Jonathan. And the man is so mysterious, so much so that he managed to fool everyone that he is a man. Yes, the Baron is a girl in disguise. He/she is Anoa McCormick, the missing Novis Noa captain.
3. Lelouch (Code Geass)
Change my mind; Lelouch is the best Char inspired character outside Gundam. I could list down why, but that’s another article. Nevertheless like the original Char, he is mysterious nobility working under the mask and a pseudo name. And he rocks the mask unlike any other characters here. He brought it in a deeper level, and the audience are intrigue and fascinated all the same. In the Gundam world, he might be more like SEED’s Rau Le Creuset though Lelouch was more as tactician rather than pilot. He is also missing a red mecha, and the one he had (the Gurren Nishiki) was instead piloted by the overly objectified Kallen.
4. Tatiana Wisla (Last Exile)
I fell in love with Last Exile the moment I saw it. It captured the perfect aerial ace epic, with its European Steam Punk motif. It was like flying in an alternate WWI Europe. And we all know how Char Aznable was modelled after WWI ace Manfred von Richthofen. And since Last Exile is basically a WWI Europe, it got to have its own Red Ace.
Tatiana Wisla eventually became the Char female figure of this steamy world. She is blond, formidable and pilots a red Vanship, though she never sported a mask.
5. Asuka Langley Soryu (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
Never saw that coming, huh?
Asuka Langley Soryu is a far outcry from the usual Char inspired character. Unlike the honourable, enigmatic and charismatic antagonist, we have this twisted and arrogant tsundere that loves to bully Shinji. Yet she mirrors our antihero in some ways starting from the mecha she pilots. She zooms into battle in a red EVA unit, and she was presented as an Ace pilot much like Char. She is also a rival to the lead pilot Shinji while her Rebuild series counterpart sports curious eyepiece like Char’s Quattro self (the eyeglass). In this case Asuka wears an eye patch.
6. Harry McKenzie (School Rumble)
I will laugh myself silly by the mere mention of School Rumble. Still it’s the wildest and silliest Rom-Com anime I’ve seen. My favourite is their parody of classical Gundam characters. Hands down to them for making a space dictator Gihren Zabi the homeroom teacher of the rival class section (Katou). I’m laughing my head off when I saw the Anavel Gato look-alike (Masazaku Tojo) boasting his manliness. I also thought that Lala Gonzales looks like Lalah Sune. And surely we have a Char figure here, in the shape of Harry Mackenzie.
He is blonde, wears red, sports dark glasses and drives a gold motorcycle with a Hyaku decal. Harry is the virtual parody of Quattro Bajeena, though I’m not really complaining. In fact I love it and it adds more gags to this already messed up anime.
7. Some Zoids Pilots
The Zoids series still have a lot of catching up to do. They need to work on their stories in order to match the Gundam franchise. Too bad, I love the kits, though the anime is not that bad. The Zoids series did made some reference to Char, like how they painted the Gunsniper red in New Century and call the female pilot Naomi Fluegel the Red Comet. Leon Tauros, who will serve as a rival in later episode will show up in red Blade Liger. In earlier series (Chaotic Century), Raven, the rival blasted his way in a red Genosaurer
8. Meister Kirisaki (Yakitate!! Japan)
Another Char clone that made me laughs maniacally. I mean we saw several variants of Char here, from a high school heartthrob to a magical terrorist. And now we will see our masked antihero take on the form of a…
General Manager of a baking company…
It sounds stupid, but funny all the same. Yakitate!! Japan made my day many times, and now they present to you perhaps the weirdest adaptation of Char Aznable; Meister Kirisaki. Sure we won’t be seeing giant red robot here, but he is pretty much Char from the mask he wears, the honorary title (meister), the blond hair and the way he mentors the young Kazuma (much like Char’s role in ZETA).