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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 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 spin-off 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 Banjo Ginga in the original Japanese version. In the English dubbed series and OVAs/film adaptations, he was voiced by Hiro Kanagawa and Doug Stone respectively. In the Mobiel Suit Gundam: The Origin OVA, he was voiced by Liam O'Brien.
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. 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 (which forbade nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons as well as colony drops on Earth), 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'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.
- 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.
- 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.
Principality of Zeon