Gundam: Char Aznable’s Convoluted History (& Name Changes), Explained

The Gundam series has a long list of characters, both antagonists and protagonists, but few hold the title of both. Char Aznable is one of those characters. He's someone with multiple roles and identities, dating back to his first appearance in Mobile Suit Gundam, where he fought for the opposing side against the heroes, which can get confusing for first-time viewers. He's a charismatic leader who is shown to be passionate in his beliefs and prideful, but also vengeful.

Born Casval Rem Deikun, he was the illegitimate son of Zeon Deikun, the chairman of the Autonomous Republic of Munzo at Side 3. During a speech promoting independence from the Earth Federation, Zeon died seemingly from a heart attack, though Jimba Ral disclosed that he believed Zeon was poisoned. After his death, his legal wife Roselucia ordered that Casval's family be placed into custody. The children were sent away while their mother was taken in. They were then put under the care of Don Teabolo Mass and took new names.

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Now living as Édouard Mass, he and his sister became the targets of assassins operating under the orders of the Zabi family, who had political ambitions and were responsible for the death of Jimba. This prompted them to move to the Texas Colony in Side 5, where they meet Char Aznable, who was a complete body double of Casval, aside from their eye colors. While living here, their mother died in custody back on Side 3 of an illness, causing a shift in Casval's personality. He became hateful and cold.

He accompanied Char as he left to attend the military academy but swapped places with him under the guise of trying to help Char get to the academy early. The real Char, under Casval's name, then took an earlier shuttle that was subsequently blown up in an assassination attempt against Casval. This allowed Casval to begin living as Char. He later donned his signature visor to hide his eye color, using the excuse of medical reasons due to damage from Cosmic Rays.

As Char, he trained at the academy, where he was also roommates with a friend of the real Char, Lino Fernandez. Lino eventually figured out this Char was a fake due to Char confirming something that had never taken place between the two. Anti-Federation sentiments were strong among the cadets, and during the Dawn Rebellion, Char and his peers were helping clean up after a crash between a Federation ship and a local vessel that destroyed an agricultural block. This is where Char first saw mobile suits.

Using the increased tension to his advantage, Char led an attack on the local Federation Barracks with other students. Before the attack, though, Lino revealed to Char that he knew that he wasn't the real Char, but promised to keep it a secret. This wasn't good enough for Char, though. While the cadets took over the control tower, Char told Lino to switch to a private channel between the two of them and to take one of the base's Type 61 Tanks. Char then had his team fire on the tank, telling them it was the enemy, killing Lino.

Because of his role in the attack, Char was dismissed from the academy to please the Federation. However, before he left, he requested that if he should rejoin the Zeon military in the future, he wants to be a mobile suit pilot, and Dozle, the superintendent, agreed.

It is during the One Year War that Char returns to the military under Dozle. He was also one of first the pilots of the MS-05 Zaku I mobile suit. During the Battle Loum, Char and the other pilots ambushed a Federation fleet, where he was able to take out multiple ships by himself. Because of his speed and precision, he earned the nickname "The Red Comet."

This was only the beginning of Char's career as a pilot, and he goes on to become one of the most capable fighters in the series. He returns in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam as the protagonist, then again as the antagonist in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack. To make things even more convoluted, he uses another alias -- "Quattro Bajeena" -- around the time of the Battle of A Baoa Qu and also has multiple clones, including Afranche Char.

Regardless, Char is still an iconic character that even people who have never watched the series know about, no matter which name he uses, or who's side he takes.

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