Degwin Sodo Zabi is the absolute ruler of the Principality of Zeon and a major antagonist in Mobile Suit Gundam.
He came to power in UC 0068 after the suspicious death of Zeon Zum Deikun. Degwin was Zeon's chief of staff and claimed that on his deathbed, Zeon, with his dying words, declared Degwin his successor. Degwin Zabi may be responsible for murdering Zeon Deikun, although there is no evidence to prove it.
Char Aznable believe that Degwin murdered his father and this lead to Char's revenge. Later, Char got his revenge on him by having Degwin's son Garma killed.
Gihren, Degwin's eldest son, initiated a purge of Deikun loyalists. while Degwin Sodo Zabi declared Side 3 colony the Principality of Zeon and himself as Sovereign. He reluctently initiated a war with the Earth Federation and set his four children up in high ranking positions. Degwin is also consumed by the intrafamilial feuding between his ambitious children, most notably Gihren and his daughter Kycilia. Degwin never recovers from the death of his youngest and most unspoiled son, Garma. He falls victim into a depression since Garma was his favorite child, and leaves most of the day to day operations to Gihren. As a result, Gihren effectively becomes the self styled "Fuhrer" of Zeon, taking all of his father's remaining power, leaving Degwin as little more than a figurehead.
Although Gihren dismisses his father as a tired old man, Degwin does not hide his disgust for Gihren's ruthlessness. Never having any respect for Gihren's lofty ideals, Degwin once humiliated his son by stating that he would never be Zeon's idea of a Newtype, but only a caricature of Adolf Hitler. And he anticipated that as with Hitler, Gihren's own followers would eventually want to kill him.
Although Degwin gives Gihren approval for the Solar Ray laser project, Degwin is genuinely tired of war (brought on mostly by Garma's death) and arranges for a meeting with General Revil to discuss peace negotiations. When the two sides' fleets arrive at the neutral area for discussion, Gihren arranges for an "accidental" firing of the Solar Ray laser that incinerates Degwin and Revil's respective flagships and much of their accompanying fleets.
- "Sodo" is not Degwin's middle name. In Japanese it is an honorific meaning "lord" or "leader". In English, it might translate as Degwin Lord Zabi. Similar to how British writer Lord Tennyson is referred to as Alfred, Lord Tennyson. All of his children have the same, for example, Gihren Sodo Zabi. Sometimes it is romanized as "Soto".
- In the novelization of Mobile Suit Gundam Degwin Zabi actually survives the entire war and is removed after the deaths of Gihren and Kycillia and the takeover by Char Aznable.
Principality of Zeon