Char Aznable, born Casval Rem Deikun, is one of the main characters the Universal Century (UC) timeline of the Gundam anime series. He was originally a flying ace for the Principality of Zeon during the One Year War nicknamed "The Red Comet" who after the war joined the Anti-Earth Union Group under the alias Quattro Bajeena to fight against the Earth Federation's tyrannical Titans task force.
Despite serving as one of the main antagonists of the original Mobile Suit Gundam and the rival of Amuro Ray, Char is one of the main protagonists of its sequel series Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, where he is united with the heroes in their shared opposition to the Titans.
Casval Rem Deikun was born in U.C. 0059. He is the elder brother of Sayla Mass (Artesia Som Deikun), and the son of Zeon Zum Deikun, the champion of sovereignty for the space colonies of Side 3, founder of the Republic of Zeon. After their father's death, Casval and his sister Artesia fled to earth with the help of Jimba Ral to avoid persecution from the Zabi family, who had taken up power in Side 3 following Deikun's demise. They spent several years living in hiding as the adopted children of Don Teabolo Mass, who gave them the names Edward Mass and Sayla Mass. During this time, Jimba Ral constantly reminded Casval of the Zabi Family's betrayal of the Deikuns.
Casval later joined the military under the alias "Char Aznable", wearing a mask to conceal his identity. After entering the academy, Char then excels in his training and befriends Garma Zabi. As relations between Zeon and the Federation deteriorate, the Federation increases their troop strength in Side 3. There is wide spread fear that this troop increase is in fact an invasion and occupation force. On the eve of troop increase, Char 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 space attack forces under the command of Vice Admiral Dozle Zabi. He displays superior fighting ablilty 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 rank promotion to Lieutenant Commander.
Mobile Suit Gundam
During the One Year War, Char showed great potential not only as a mobile suit pilot ace, but also as a brilliant tactician and charismatic commanding officer. After coming back from a routine mission, Char discovered the Pegasus-class assault carrier White Base on approach to Side 7. As Char was sent into the colony at Side 7 to investigate, he and his men discovered that the Federation had begun testing several prototype mobile suits. Against his orders, two of the men under his command began attacking the Federation's research facility. However these same two pilots were later killed after a civilian boy named Amuro Ray took control of the Federation's new RX-78-2 Gundam mobile suit in desperation.
As Char was taking pictures of the RX-75-4 Guntank, he was held at gunpoint by his sister, Sayla Mass. However after revealing his face to her, he was able to kick the gun out of her hand and quickly escape. Although several of the prototype mobile suits were able to escape aboard the White Base, Char would return to his Musai cruiser and continue to pursue them. Char launched several attacks against the White Base while it was en route to Earth. It was here that Char would first encounter his soon-to-be rival, Amuro Ray.
Although Char easily outclassed the inexperienced Amuro, the sheer technological superiority of the Gundam prevented him from destroying either the mobile suit or the White Base. After several failed attempts to take out the White Base in space, Char daringly attacked it once more during atmospheric re-entry. Although the attack failed, it succeeded in diverting the White Base from its intended destination, forcing it into Zeon-controlled North America. In North America, Char joined up with Garma Zabi, commander of the Zeon forces in the area.
Char entered battle in his Zaku once more as the White Base attempted to flee North America via a path through Seattle. During the battle, Char was quick to notice that the White Base was sheltered in an old half-destroyed sports dome, and that the Gundam was intent on luring Garma's Gaw Attack fleet right into the assault carrier's intended barrage. Seeing his chance to finally exact revenge on the Zabi family, Char deliberately misinforms Garma of the White Base's location and leads him straight into the trap. White Base's near-endless and brutal attack on Garma's Gaw Fleet is swift and relentless, taking Garma completely by surprise. In these final moments, Char discretely contacts Garma and passionately confesses his treachery, laughing maniacally as Garma's Gaw explodes before it hits the ground.
After Garma's death, Char was discharged from the military by Zeon's Vice Admiral Dozle Zabi for his supposed incompetence of defending Garma. However, as the war began to slowly shift into the favor of the Earth Federation thanks to "Operation: Odessa", Char was pressed back into active duty once again at the behest of Kycilia Zabi. He was given command of Zeon's Mad Angler submarine squadron and was again sent out to destroy the White Base. After tracking the ship over the Atlantic Ocean, he discovered the White Base was docking at the Federation's military headquarters in Jaburo. After gathering all available forces in the area, Char personally led a large scale assault on the base using his MSM-07S Z'Gok Command Type.
The battle still ended in failure as few mobile suits even made it into battle before being shot down by Jaburo's formidable defenses. Although Char personally made good progress into Jaburo, he was eventually forced to retreat when he again came face to face with Amuro Ray, whose piloting skills had considerably improved since their last battle. After the encounter, Char once again tried to inflict heavy damage upon Jaburo, this time by sneaking in and planting several explosives throughout the facility. His plans were again foiled by the crew of the White Base. However, in his retreat he again ran into his sister. Although he had little time to talk, he gave her a strong warning to leave the Federation before aborting his mission at Jaburo.
Later in the war, Char develops a relationship with the Newtype Lalah Sune, a girl he saved from an Indian brothel. Char also develops into a Newtype himself and subsequently forms psychic bonds with both Amuro and Lalah. Continuing his hunt for the White Base, Char boarded a Zanzibar-class mobile cruiser and tracked the White Base into orbit. He eventually followed the ship into the neutral territory of Side 6. Inside the colony he by chance encounters Amuro Ray in person for the first time. Amuro's car had become stuck in a ditch on the side of the road and Char and Lalah offered to help him out. Although Char and Amuro were both aware of each others identities nether spoke openly about it. While Amuro was frightened by the encounter, Char did not attempt to harm Amuro in any way and allowed him to return to the White Base.
After the Battle of Solomon, Char ventured from Side 6 to Side 5's Texas colony, where Colonel M'Quve had set a trap for the Gundam. Once inside Texas, Char was given a MS-14S Gelgoog Commander Type, which would finally allow him to fight on even grounds with the Gundam. However when the battle came, Char found himself outclassed by Amuro, whose skills and newtype abilities had now come to surpass his own. After the death of M'Quve and taking severe damage of his own, Char was forced to flee the battle with his life.
While leaving Texas Colony, Char notices Sayla driving a jeep while looking for Amuro. He then jumps into the jeep as it passes by and forces her to stop at gunpoint. Finally having chance to talk, he tells her his reasoning for joining the Zeon military: that he has done so in order to infiltrate the Zabi family and seek revenge for the death of his father. Char then tells Sayla that she needs to leave the White Base because he does not want her to get hurt, and that war "doesn't suit her". As Char leaves the colony he gives her a case filled with gold and tells her to live a peaceful life on Earth. Late in the war, as the Earth Federation fleets begin their advance on the Zeon homeland of Side 3, Char assists Lalah on numerous sorties against the Federation. During one battle, Lalah engages the Gundam with her MAN-08 Elmeth mobile armor. As the battle progresses, Char gets sent in to back her up. He then proceeds to fight the Gundam and nearly destroys Amuro's wingman piloting a G-Fighter (TV version only, the Core Booster was used in the movie version instead). However as he goes to strike down the fighter, he was halted by Lalah and gazes into the cockpit and notices that Sayla is the pilot. Realizing he is about to kill his own sister he quickly maneuvers out of the way only to have his mobile suit disarmed (in more ways than one) by the Gundam as a result.
As Amuro pulls out his Beam Saber he flies towards Char in order to deal the final blow. However, not wanting to see him killed, Lalah rams into Char with her Elmeth, knocking him out of the way. Although this saves him the beam saber hits Lalah's mobile armor instead of Char, killing her instantly. Returning to the Zeon fleet Char yells and cries over the death of his lover. Now having a deep hatred for Amuro, he vows to get revenge in the next battle.
Before the Battle of A Baoa Qu, Char would receive the prototype MSN-02 Zeong. Char and Amuro's bitter rivalry comes to its peak in Mobile Suit Gundam. They engage in an inconclusive mobile suit battle and then a sword duel after both lose their mobile suits. In the duel, Char manages to stab Amuro in the arm, while Amuro attempts to stab Char. Char's helmet protects him from the blow, contrary to what the majority thinks (His scar left from the fight is in fact not due to the sword, it was dealt by Garma Zabi when the two were training). Sayla runs into the room and urges both men to stop. Char realizes he's been distracted by his rivalry with Amuro and refocuses on his true enemy - his vendetta on the Zabi family - and actually asks Amuro to join him.
An ensuing explosion knocks them apart but Char does rush off to save his sister. After being told by a dying Zeon soldier that Kycilia Zabi, the last surviving Zabi, is escaping, Char tells Sayla to "be a nice woman" and go back to Amuro, and takes off with a bazooka in his hands. He finds Kycilia's departing ship and salutes them ("Garma, I'm sending your sister to join you. Consider this my farewell gift.") before firing. This one final act of revenge results in the annihilation of the ship's bridge that gruesomely decapitates Kycilia in the process. He then disappears amidst the explosion.
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
After returning to Earth as a spy for Axis, things are turned upside down with the subsequent creation and rise of the oppressive Titans, causing Char to re-evaluate his objectives as he chooses to assist in leading the AEUG. This time, rather than serving as the rival of the new protagonist of the series, Kamille Bidan, Char serves as Kamille's mentor in the war against the Earth Federation's oppressive Titans military arm.
Furthermore, Char becomes a trusted ally of his former adversaries in Mobile Suit Gundam: Amuro Ray, Hayato Kobayahi and Bright Noa. He serves under Bright Noa as leader of AEUG mobile suit forces. Zeta Gundam prominently portrays Char's image as a charismatic 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 was broadcast throughout the Earth and the space colonies, is one of the most highlights in the UC Gundam timeline. It cements Char's total commitment toward space colonization and migration of humanity into space since humanity would continue to thoughtlessly pollute the Earth if allowed to remain. It is also in that same speech that he publicly denounces the Titans claiming them to be barbaric and have no regard for the people they hurt; justified by the Titans attack on the Assembly itself, even though many key politicians of the Federation were still inside at the time.
Despite AEUG's victory in the Gryps War against the Titans, Char is defeated in the final battle by Haman Karn, leader of the emerging Axis (later Neo Zeon) faction and assumed dead. However, as the final credits roll, Char's badly damaged mobile suit floats by, its cockpit hatch mysteriously open implying it to be empty. Bright Noa remarks to Sayla Mass that he has a gut feeling that Char is simply watching from the sidelines and waiting for the right opportunity to return center stage in UC affairs.
Five years later, following the demise of Axis Zeon, Char resurfaced as the leader of Neo Zeon, seeking to fulfill his father's ideals by dropping the asteroid base Axis into the Earth to force the migration of its population into space.
In the final battle between Neo Zeon and Londo Bell, Char is defeated by his arch-rival Amuro Ray. However, both rivals' Psycoframes react to one another and overload causing a raw explosion of psychic energy that stops the asteroid's advance into Earth and also causes both of them to disappear without a trace.
During the Gryps War, Char's personality seems to have softened following the end of the One Year War, as he takes a more benevolent role as one of the leading members of the Anti-Earth Union Group. He is shown to treat his men better and acts as a mentor figure to the pilot of the Gundam Mk II, Kamille Bidan. While he is now working alongside many of his former enemies in the One Year War, Char shows little difficulty in cooperating with them. While he and Amuro still both bear their grudges against each other from the One Yer War, they are able to suppress them in favor of fighting against the common enemy they have in the Titans. Also, despite his vendetta against the Zabi family in the One Year Char, Char is shown to have genuinely cared for Mineva Lao Zabi during the time he spent at Axis prior to joining the AEUG and was disgusted when he saw that Haman Karn was using her as a figurehead. In addition, Char seems to have become more of a believer in his father's ideals and is shown reiterate that humanity should move out into space several times, though whether this is because Char genuinely believes in it or is just using it for his own ends is not stated.
While his piloting skills are shown to have diminished from the One Year War, one skill Char retains from his service in the Zeon military is his charisma. When the AEUG crashed the Earth Federation Assembly in Dakar, Char was able to deliver a speech convincing the Assembly members of the AEUG's good intentions and of the Titans' tyranny, in part aided by the Titans crashing the meeting and trying to kill the nonviolent AEUG members. However, in spite of becoming more heroic and selfless, Char is still unable to fully empathize with others, which leads to him alienating several of his allies, such as Reccoa Londe. At the end of the series, out of possible remorse for his past actions, Char attempts a suicide attack on Haman Karn that fails and leaves both of them alive. During the First Neo Zeon War, Char went into hiding out in space and was not seen for the majority of the conflict.
- Although the English dub of Mobile Suit Gundam is pulled before it could complete its run on Cartoon Network, Char Aznable was voted 6th place in Toonami's second "New Year's Evil" poll in 2001, leading the final episode of Mobile Suit Gundam to be aired that December.
- Char is as popular in Japan as Darth Vader is in the west, with most, even those who have not even seen Gundam, having some idea of who he is.
- Char's popularity as an iconic character has led to numerous analogous characters sharing his traits, termed "Char Clones" by the fans, in later Gundam works, including Jerid Messa, Carozzo "Iron Mask" Ronah, Cronicle Asher, Zechs Merquise, Rau Le Creuset, Graham Aker and McGillis Fareed.
- Char's name is a reference to the French singer and songwriter Charles Aznavour.
- While Char himself has spawned many characters copying him, he ironically was partially based on Darth Vader from the Star Wars franchise.
- Char is also partially based on Manfred von Richthofen, the "Red Baron". Aside from the similar nicknames, both were ace pilots known for their customized red vehicles.
- Bandai has capitalized on Char's popularity by licensing out his 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Toyota also formed a branch called Zeonic Toyota planning to issue a series of special cars, the first one being Char Aznable special Auris.
- Char has also been parodied and referenced in many other works of anime and manga.
- The second-season opening of the anime Genshiken is also a parody of Gundam, featuring the character Harunobu Madarame dressed in Char's uniform and helmet.
- In the manga Air Gear, many storm rider helmets are derived from mobile suit designs, and in one occasion showing Char's helmet.
- In Zoids: New Century Zero, Naomi Fluegel also uses the alias "Red Comet".
- An episode of School Rumble features an extended Gundam parody, most notably introducing a character named Harry McKenzie. Harry is modelled after Char, including his appearance (highly similar to Char's Quattro persona), sunglasses, penchant for wearing red, and ownership of a red motorcycle with the kanji "Hyaku" (from the MSN-00100 Hyaku Shiki). Harry is friends with Tougou Masakazu, who resembles a younger Anavel Gato and shares Gato's penchant for rousing speeches.
- In a sequence in episode 46 of Gintama, Umibouzu is seen talking to Char and then seen leading a Zeon rally alongside Char.
- In Gintama Live Action, a middle aged Char has been taking his red Zaku to be repaired at Gengai's shop. The protagonist Gintoki and Char then exchanged multiple Gundam references as Gintoki begged to borrow his Zaku to defeat his enemies.
- In the live-action adaptation of Hana-Kimi, a character named Sekime Kyōgo is apparently dressed up as Char to help woo the girl who is the target of his affections. The cosplay ploy is a success as the girl is a Gundam fan and considers Char to be a really cool character.
- In an episode of the anime Urusei Yatsura, the character Perm is dressed as Char in a costume party; there is also a character wearing a blue Zaku mask.
- In the xxxholic manga series by CLAMP, a visual reference to the Red Comet title is made, with the character of Mokona depicted with an ornamental head piece similar to Sazabi, stating that he can drink "3 times as much".
- Detective Conan character, Akai Shuichi, was named by combining Char's alias "Red Comet" (赤い・彗星 Akai Suisei?) with actor Shuichi Ikeda's name who voiced both characters. Akai's alias Moroboshi Dai also comes from Char's birth name Casval Rem Deikun (which sounds like Dai-kun) and Moroboshi can also means falling star, another reference to Red Comet. Akai's other persona, Okiya Subaru, was named after japanese reading of Casval (kyasubaru). In addition, Akai's rival Rei Furuya's names and alter egos were named after Toru Furuya, who voices Amuro Ray.
Anti-Earth Union Group