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|“||Many of your fathers and brothers have perished valiantly in the face of a contemptible enemy. We must never forget what the Federation has done to our people! My brother, Garma Zabi, have shown us these virtues through his own valiant sacrifice. By focusing our anger and sorrow, we are finally in a position where victory is within our grasp, and once again, our most cherished nation will flourish. Victory is the greatest tribute we can pay those who sacrifice their lives for us! Rise, our people, Rise! Take your sorrow, and turn it into anger! Zeon thirsts for the strength of its people! SIEG ZEON!||„|
|~ An excerpt from Gihren's infamous speech at the funeral of his brother Garma Zabi.|
|“||See for yourself how a Hitler follower fights this war.||„|
|~ Gihren after Degwin compares him to Adolf Hitler.|
|“||Gihren is a despot trying to exterminate the very source of life that has supported and nurtured him. We, of the Federation, shall never comprehend the monstrosity of his actions.||„|
|~ General Johan Revil denouncing Gihren Zabi in his famous "Zeon is exhausted" speech.|
Gihren Zabi (in Japanese: ギレン・ザビ, Giren Zabi, also spelled Giren) is the primary antagonist of the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam.
Gihren is one of the leaders of the Principality of Zeon and the oldest son of Degwin Sodo Zabi, as well as Supreme Commander of the Zeon Armed Forces and the primary instigator of Zeon's war against the Earth Federation. Under the pretense of "liberating" the colonies, Gihren seeks to bring the entire Earth Sphere under his totalitarian control. He is responsible for masterminding Operation: British, which saw Zeon exterminating the population of Side 2 and subsequently dropping the colony on Sydney, Australia (it was intended to land on the Earth Federation headquarters in Jaburo, but veered off course).
Gihren was gifted with a high IQ (240) and ingenious oratory abilities. He and his sister Kycilia were constantly at odds with each other as both had similar political goals but different methods. Although Gihren was successful in reducing his father's role to that of a figurehead ruler, he still endured Degwin's criticisms and scorn. Degwin saw Gihren as little more than an updated version of historical dictator Adolf Hitler, a role that Gihren was all too happy to take to heart. Some of his most notable supporters include Colonel Killing, Admiral Aiguille Delaz, Anavel Gato and his secretary Cecilia Irene.
In addition to serving as the main antagonist of Mobile Suit Gundam, Gihren is also the overarching antagonist in several of its spinoff OVAs including Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket and Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, as well as the main antagonist of the Mobile Suit Gundam: The Plot To Assassinate Gihren manga series and as a posthumous overarching antagonist in the OVA series Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, along with numerous other side stories taking place during and after the One Year War involving Zeon Remnants. Because of his influence as the de facto ruler of Zeon, including inspiring numerous successors, Gihren can effectively be considered the main antagonist of the entire Universal Century era of the Gundam franchise.
He was voiced by the veteran seiyu Banjō Ginga in the original Japanese version. In OVAs/film adaptations and the English dubbed series, he was voiced by Hiro Kanagawa and Doug Stone respectively. In the Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin OVA, he was voiced by Liam O'Brien.
Gihren first rose to prominence when the Zabi Family offered refuge to philosopher and political activist Zeon Zum Deikun. When the Zabis helped Deikun found his political party to run for office, Gihren became the National Campaign Director in the Zeon Party. After the Zeon Party achieved a majority in the government of Side 3 and declared independence from Earth, Gihren began maneuvering for his father Degwin and Zabi family to obtain more political power. When Zeon Zum Deikun passed away under mysterious circumstances and seemingly named Degwin as his successor, Gihren seized at the opportunity and began a purge of Deikun loyalists who were distrustful of the Zabi family from the Side 3 government. The Republic of Zeon was eventually reorganized into the Principality of Zeon and the children of Degwin were all given important roles in the Zeon military and political sphere. Gihren himself became the Prime Minister of Zeon and Commander-In-Chief of Zeon's military, making him the second most powerful figure in the entire Zeon government. It was around this time that Gihren began accruing more and more power for himself and away from Degwin, in an effort to turn his father into a powerless figurehead and usurp control of Zeon's society.
One Year War
Eventually, Zeon declared war on the Earth Federation and began a campaign to "liberate" the other colonies from the Earth government, beginning by them invading and occupying Side 3. Gihren spearheaded Zeon's war effort in the conflict. Seeking to deliver a quick and devastating blow to the Earth Federation before they had time to react, Gihren formulated a plan known as Operation British, in which one of the Side 2 colonies would be dropped on the Earth Federation's Jaburo military headquarters, which could not be penetrated by normal weapons due to being deep underground. Gihren assigned his brother Dozle Zabi to oversee the task, convincing him it was for the good of the Zeon ideal. Before the colony was to be dropped on Earth however, a contingent of Zeon marines led by Cima Garahau were sent to exterminate the population of the colony with G3 nerve gas. To ensure that the marines would go along with the order, they were told it was a knockout gas rather than a deadly nerve agent, and did not realize the truth until after they were tricked into carrying out the grisly war crime. Once the population was exterminated, the colony was modified to be dropped on Earth. In the process of entering Earth's atmosphere however, the colony veered off course and struck Sydney, Australia instead, destroying approximately 16% of the continent and causing a dramatic shift in Earth's climate, ultimately leading to deaths of about one third of Earth's total population.
Though the first colony drop had failed, Gihren ordered an attack on Side 5 to seize one of the colonies situated there for another drop on Jaburo. However, in the Battle of Loum the Earth Federation Forces were able to intercept the colony and destroy it before it could reach Earth's atmosphere. In the course of the battle both Zeon and the Earth Federation suffered heavy losses and General Revil of the EFF was captured. Having suffered devastating losses in only the first few weeks of the war, the Earth Federation agreed to meet with Gihren to negotiate the terms of the Earth Federation's surrender. However, as the negotiations were going on, General Revil escaped captivity with help from several sympathizers and traveled back to Earth, where he revealed the grisly conditions of the Zeon homefront and that they were worse off than the Earth Federation. The Earth Federation thus refused to surrender to Zeon and instead the two sides signed an agreement known as the Antarctic Treaty, which forbade nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons being used in warfare as well as colony drops on Earth.
After the treaty was signed, Gihren and the Zeon military pressed on with their invasion. No longer able to use colony drops, the Zeon military instead formed the Earth Attack Force and launched a ground invasion of Earth, dropping forces of Zaku mobile suits in central Asia, North America, Australia, northern Africa and the Middle East to attack important points across the planet. The Zeon military soon spread across the planet and came the control most of Europe, North America and Asia. To combat the might of Zeon's mobile suits, the Earth Federation began development in a secret research facility in Side 7 of their own mobile suit, the RX-78-2 Gundam, which would soon turn the tide of the war.
With the death of Degwin's favorite son Garma Zabi in battle, Degwin withdraws from day to day duties as Zeon's leader which effectively made Gihren the leader of Zeon. Gihren later gave a speech at Garma's state funeral where he declared Gama to be a war hero and used his death to rally the people of Zeon to continue to support the war, affirming that their cause was righteous and that they were superior to the Earth population. This speech was notable for being the debut of the trademark salute "Sieg Zeon!" (literally translated as "Victorious Zeon").
In an effort to circumvent the Antarctic treaty, Gihren launched his most ambitious project, the Solar Ray cannon. This consisted of a hollowed-out colony cylinder rebuilt into a giant carbon dioxide laser with the ability to destroy entire fleets. Gihren later learned that Degwin, tired of the war, decided to take his personal fleet to a designated area in space where he would meet the fleet of Earth Federation representative General Revil and discuss peace negotiations. Gihren arranged for a firing of the Solar Ray which destroyed Degwin and Revil's entire fleet. However, this may have cost Gihren one of his tactical advantages, as the aiming of the laser had to be toward a direction which can only destroy 1/3 of the EFSF fleet, instead of the most effective direction that can destroy 1/2. The laser had to be recharged and thus did not have the chance for a second firing before the EFSF decided to rush their attack, fearing the laser will wipe out their fleet if they delayed.
Kycilia eventually learns that the death of her father was no mere accident and personally executes Gihren for the crime of patricide. As a result, she takes over during Battle of A Baoa Qu, resulting in many Gihren loyalists withdrawing from the battlefield. However, the bulk of the withdrawal, including the Delaz fleet, left when the Dolos class ships sank, before she officially took over and announced Gihren's death. In the novelizations by Yoshiyuki Tomino, Gihren did arrange an aiming of the colony laser that killed many friendly forces but Degwin (who apparently survived the war) was not among them. Gihren, however, was still killed by Kycilia for his treachery.
Gihren is a skilled social manipulator, capable of inspiring fanatical loyalty in the people of the Principality of Zeon and fervency for the Zeon ideal. While Zeon Zum Deikun is the founder of the original Republic of Zeon and Degwin is its current ruler, by the time of the One Year War, Gihren has managed to usurp both of them as the face of Zeon, having earned the vast majority of support from Zeon's military top brass and effectively converting the Zeon ideology into a vehicle for his cult of personality. Through his speeches, Gihren is capable of riling up fervent support for Zeon and their purported cause of Spacenoid independence. He is adept at spinning situations to suit his political agenda, best seen when Gihren turned the funeral of his younger brother Garma Zabi into a political rally to inspire support for Zeon's military campaign in the One Year War. Gihren's charisma and oratory ability is so great that he is even able to convince and inspire otherwise honorable men, such as his brother Dozle and Anavel Gato, to commit heinous acts such as gassing and mass murdering civilians.
Though he claims to be fighting for the ideals of Zeon and against the tyranny of the Earth Federation, in truth Gihren seeks to use the Zeon ideology as simply a means for him to conquer control the entire Earth Sphere. He possesses a startling lack of empathy for the lives of others, including those of his own men and family, and is content with causing the deaths of millions to further his political agenda. He views all of the members of his family as either rivals or political pawns, turning his father Degwin into a powerless figurehead and using his brother Garma's funeral as a means to rally support. In terms of tactics, Gihren seems to favor brutal and destructive methods as a means to combat the Federation forces; he was the mastermind behind Operation British, which saw the total extermination of the population of a Side 2 colony and the colony being subsequently dropped on Earth, resulting in about a third of humanity being killed in total. He also expressed a desire to cull Earth's population to under one billion after Zeon conquered Earth in order to ensure the Earthnoids could never revolt against Zeon. Gihren's dark ambition and psychopathy is best shown when he fired the Solar Ray at the fleet Degwin brought with him to meet with General Revil to negotiate an end to the One Year War, causing the deaths of both the Federation fleet and many of his own loyal men, including his own father, simply to prolong the One Year War. Ultimately, Gihren is little more than an ambitious psychopath and despot who is content with murdering millions, if not billions, as a means to achieve his goal of erecting a totalitarian dictatorship over the Earth Sphere with him at the top.
Gihren's own father compared him to the real-life dictator Adolf Hitler, which may not be completely inaccurate. Like Hitler, Gihren appeared to believe in a "survival of the fittest" mentality and that the "Superior Race" should rule over the inferior ones (the superior race being Spacenoids from Side 3 and the inferior the Earthnoids). He also shared Hitler's gift for oratory and manipulation, taking the reins of power from his father behind the scenes the way Hitler did with the German president of his day. Unluckily for Gihren, he also had a number of Hitler's personality flaws, such as an over-reliance on miracle weapons to turn the tide against numerically superior foes. By this logic, the assorted super weapons such as the MA-08 Big Zam and Apsalus Project Mobile Armors can be seen as analogies of the V1 and V2 rocket bombs used by the Third Reich. Like Hitler, he also greatly overestimated the capability of his forces. This was shown during the final battle of the One Year War, when despite his claims of superiority his forces were overcome by those of the Federation.
In Video Games
Gihren is the namesake and a central character of the real time strategy game series Gihren no Yabou ("Gihren's Ambition", popularly translated in the West as "Gihren's Greed") in which the player can take control of various factions within the U.C. Gundam universe and command their forces in various conflicts. The Principality of Zeon has appeared as a main faction in each game of the series, with Gihren as its faction leader. Depending on what actions the player chooses to take in the One Year War, the player can achieve a variety of endings for Zeon and trigger several alternate scenarios. Notably, the second game Blood of Zeon features a special ending where, if Zeon maintains a perfect moral alignment throughout the game, Gihren will successfully lead the Earth Sphere into a new golden age of peace and prosperity by using his intelligence to fix the Earth's problems.
SD Gundam G Generation
Gihren usually appears as a prominent character in the Universal Century historical campaigns of the SD Gundam G Generation series, or at least the ones focusing on the One Year War.
In SD Gundam G Generation DS, Gihren serves as the main antagonist of the AU crossover campaign. After the Turn A Gundam cast travels back in time, Gihren and his followers are able to obtain data and technology from the future, which they use to begin mass producing Centurio Mobile Suits for his Zeon army. To pilot his Centurios, Gihren engineered a race of artificial humanoids by cloning them from Dee Trial. Gihren and his forces serve as the antagonists in the final round of the campaign.
Gundam Vs Series
Gihren Zabi appears as a selectable navigator in many installments of the Gundam Vs video game series.
|“||We have lost a hero to our glorious and noble cause, but does this foreshadow our defeat? No. It is a new beginning. Compared to Earth Federation the national resources of Zeon are less than one thirtieth of theirs. Despite this major difference, how is it that we have been able to fight the fight for so long? It is because our goal in this war is a righteous one. It’s been over fifty years since the elite of Earth, consumed by greed, took control of the Earth Federation. We want our freedom! Never forget the times when the Federation has trampled us! We, the Principality of Zeon, have had a long and arduous struggle to achieve freedom for all citizens of our great nation. Our fight is sacred, our cause divine. My beloved brother, Garma Zabi, was sacrificed. Why?! The war is at a stalemate. Perhaps many of you have become complacent. The Federation has polluted our most cherished systems for merely the sake of their own greed! We must send them a message, but not composed of words. We have wasted too much time with words. We need action now. The Earth side elite must be taught a strong lesson for their evil corruption. This is only the beginning of our war. We have been putting more and more money into our efforts towards making our military stronger than ever. The Federation has done the same. Many of your fathers and brothers have perished valiantly in the face of a contemptible enemy. We must never forget what the Federation has done to our people! My brother Garma Zabi has shown us these virtues through his own valiant sacrifice. By focusing our anger and sorrow, we are finally in a position where victory is within our grasp, and once again, our most cherished nation will flourish. Victory is the greatest tribute we can pay those who sacrifice their lives for us! Rise, our people, Rise! Take your sorrow, and turn it into anger! Zeon thirsts for the strength of its people! SIEG ZEON!||„|
|~ Gihren's speech at his brother's funeral.|
|“||We will finally solve the overpopulation problem. To maintain these numbers, only the truly worthy should be allowed to live. It's the only way man can finally obtain everlasting peace, and it can only be done by controlling people through the Zabi family dictatorship.||„|
|~ Gihren explaining his plans for the Earth Sphere to his father once Zeon has conquered it.|
- The American Rock musician Andrew W.K. dubbed a famous speech of this character in his cover album Gundam Rock released during the 30th anniversary of the Gundam franchise.
- In addition to being inspired by Adolf Hitler, Gihren was also heavily based off of Hideki Tojo, the prime minister of Japan during most of World War II, as well, particularly in how he massacres the people of the colonies he claims to be liberating and uses the Sovereign of Zeon as a figurehead for his own political agenda.
- In the original plans for the series, Gihren was going to be killed by Amuro Ray in a gunfight.
- According to the supplementary novels, Gihren has a wife, though she never shows up in any other Gundam media. He is also mentioned as having an affair with his secretary Cecilia Irene.
- He is often compared to Grand Moff Tarkin from the Star Wars franchise, given their shared Machiavellian tactics and usage of superweapons to crush dissent. Interestingly, Gihren's usage of the Sovereign of Zeon as a figurehead mirrors an earlier plan in Star Wars for the Emperor to be a figurehead for the Imperial Moffs.
- Similar to Char Aznable, Gihren also has a number of Gundam characters modeled after his archetype, including Fonse Kagatie, Seidel Rasso, Dekim Barton and Patrick Zala.
- Gihren also appears as a playable character in the Gihren's Greed series of Real Time Strategy games. Notably, the second game in the series, Blood of Zeon, is infamous for having an ending in which Gihren conquers Earth and uses his intelligence to help the world recover and bring in a new era of peace and prosperity.
- Gihren Zabi on Heroes Wiki, for his heroic portrayal in Gihren's Ambition: Blood of Zeon.
Principality of Zeon