Char Aznable, in my opinion, is the best anime antagonist. As the primary antagonist of the main (early) part of the Universal Century timeline, Char has proven himself one of the most iconic anime characters ever.
During the original Mobile Suit Gundam, he goes through a long string of revelations and developmental moments. He begins the series wanting to take revenge on the Zabi family and righting the wrongs of the Earth’s elite done since the beginning of the Universal Century. At the end of the series, he is coping with the loss of the person he felt closest to being able to understand him, and struggling to come to terms with the fact that he’s finally found someone (Amuro Ray) able to, at least somewhat, match his skills and abilities.
During Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (and the manga Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Deleted Affair), he clears his head and sets his focus on the greater good instead of his personal feelings. Char, under the alias Quattro Bajeena, fights to stop the corruption of the Earth Federation’s Titans and to fulfill his father’s ideals of moving mankind into space, not only to give Earth a much needed rest from the stress of mankind but also to expand humanity’s horizons.
Episode 37 of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, “The Day of Dakar,” is the most important episode of the series for Char. He finally tells the world that he, Quattro Bajeena, Char Aznable, Edward Mass, etc. is actually Casval Rem Deikun: Son of Zeon Zum Deikun. He then implores the citizens of Earth to trust in him and his father’s ideals, and leave the Earth for the colonies in order to give the planet a rest. Char shows that he is willing to push aside his own goals and dreams in order to take care of what he believes is right. I cannot begin to describe how important this episode really is for Char as a character, so I ask anyone interested to, after watching the original series, watch Zeta Gundam and really soak in what is happening so you can understand how important this is for Char and the Universal Century timeline. Earlier in this “30 Day Challenge” I gave the title of “My Favorite Episode of Anime” to an episode of Cowboy Bebop. However, “The Day of Dakar,” is a strong second to that episode.
Char’s saga, the feud between him and Amuro, and the ideals of Zeon Zum Deikun all end during Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack. Char has become a hero, much like his father, of the spacenoids. People love his speeches, he is given bouquets of flowers while riding the public transit, and the people of the colonies see him as their savior come to deliver them from the poverty and oppression they face as people living in the colonies instead of on Earth. Char has grown weary of Earth’s ever quickening destruction, his depression stemming from the loss of Lalah Sune and numerous other people, and the constant pressure of being The Son of Zeon begin to cause cracks in his psyche.
He finds two (2) solutions to his troubles. Char wishes to settle his feud with Amuro in a duel of even footing, going as far as to help design Amuro’s new mobile suit. As for his other problems, Char intends to crash Axis (the large asteroid that the remnants of Zeon declared home after the One Year War, seen in Char’s Deleted Affair and Zeta Gundam) into the Earth, causing a forced winter and forcing anyone that survived to move into space. Of course, neither plan finishes as intended.
We watch Char grow for 14 years of his life, and longer if you read Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, the immaculate retelling of the original series with insightful backstories for Char and Sayla. He grows from a revenge-seeking young adult, to a hardly-middle-aged man torn down and beaten by his life of fighting and ideals. For all of the shit that people give Yoshiyuki Tomino, he wrote Char’s story almost perfectly. Char and Amuro are both the tragic heroes of one of the greatest space opera epics of all time.