Athrun Zala is the deuteragonist or secondary main character in the universe of Gundam SEED. In Gundam SEED Destiny he is the one of the main protagonists of the show along with Kira Yamato. He is also the childhood friend of the main character of Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny, Kira Yamato. Although he told Kira that he believes that the Earth and the PLANTs will see eye to eye, he joins ZAFT after the Earth Forces destroys one of the colonies of the PLANTS.
Athrun Zala, son of PLANT Supreme Chairman, Patrick Zala, is a pacifist by heart. However, when the Earth Forces destroyed Junius Seven, a PLANT colony, Athrun felt the need to take part in the war to stop it as soon as possible. He joins ZAFT and is one of the red coat pilots. In the first half of Gundam SEED, he serves under commander Le Creuset, piloting the GAT-X303 Aegis, in the operation to destroy both the Archangel and the GAT-X105 Strike. He is later made commander of his team and the team is renamed from Le Creuset team to Zala team. He is also the fiancé of Lacus Clyne although in the later half of Gundam SEED his romantic interests change.
Filled with grief, anger and a passion for vengeance, Athrun swears to himself that the next time he and Kira fight, he will kill Kira. During their fight, his Mobile Suit runs out of power and he decides to blow it up while it is grappling the Strike.
Even though he tries his hardest to make Kira Yamato see his way of thinking, he fails and later in Gundam SEED, he leaves ZAFT and joins Kira Yamato, Lacus Clyne, and Cagalli Yula Athha in forming their own group with the goal of stopping the war.
In Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun Zala starts off as a bodyguard for the representative of ORB, Cagalli Yula Athha, using the alias Alex Dino. He and Cagalli get caught up in an attack by an Earth Forces elite team known as Phantom Pain and to ensure their safety, they board the ZAFT battleship, Minerva. As the show carries on, the Minerva learns of a small group of Coordinators who have made Junius Seven move in a trajectory that makes it fall down to Earth. Athrun decides to help by using on of the spare Mobile Suits of the Minerva.
Athrun and the rest of the crew of the Minerva, as well as help from the Joule team, manage to smash the large mass of land into smaller pieces. However, smaller masses still fall to the Earth and still cause massive damage and death over across all areas of the world.
Angered by what has happened to them, the people of Earth refused to believe that it was not the PLANTs that made Junius Seven fall to Earth but instead a few Coordinators who were still loyal to the former PLANT Supreme Chariman, Patrick Zala. The Earth Alliance declared war on the PLANTs and decided to fight back by firing nuclear weapons on the PLANTs which almost destroys the PLANTs if not for the new technology called the neutron stampeder, which detonated all of the nuclear warheads before the came too close to the PLANTs.
Although for few episodes of Gundam SEED Desinty, Athrun is unsure of what to do what to fight for, he even visits Kira Yamato to ask him the same things, after his discussion about the Earth Alliances declaration of war on the PLANTs and with the Earth Alliances attack on the PLANTs using nuclear warheads, Athrun decides to join ZAFT again to help stop the war because he believes that Chairman Durandal is a good person. He is also assigned to the Minerva and is also made a member of faith along side Captain Talia Gladys. This means that aboard the Minerva, he does not necessarily fall under the chain of command from the captain and can also command others to change the situation as he sees fit.
In the 2nd half of Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun begins to question the motives of Chairman Durandal more and more. It starts when the Chairman hired a look alike of Lacus Clyne to play as Lacus Clyne to calm the people of the PLANTs but it got more questionable when an assassination was attempted on the real Lacus Clyne. However, Athrun only learns of this later on when Kira Yamato tells him when they meet because he wanted to tell him and the crew of the Archangel that they should stay off the battlefield as they only add confusion to it. Although the news that an assassination was attempted on Lacus was shocking for Athrun, he still remained loyal to the Chairman and told Kira to just stay off the battlefield and left to go back to the Minerva.
Athrun later learns that a hit order has been placed on him and he decides to make a run for it. During his escape from ZAFT, he is accompanied by Meyrin Hawke, the CIC for the Minerva who, along with her sister is infatuated with Athrun Zala. However, his escape is stopped by Shinn Asuka and Rey Za Burrel with Shinn using an anti-ship sword to take down Athrun’s GOUF the same way he took down the Freedom.
Athrun and Meyrin manage to survive and are rescued by ORB forces. During this time in Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun and Meyrin decide to fight with Kira and Lacus in stopping the war. When joins the war again piloting the Infinite Justice, he is reunited with Shinn and he then tries to reason with Shinn, trying to make him see that what the Chairman is doing is wrong and trying to make Shinn understand what it is he is fighting for.
In last episode of Gundam SEED Destiny, after the destruction of the Messiah, while both Kira and Athrun are returning to the Eternal, Athrun make a stop at the moon to offer assistance to the stranded Shinn Asuka and Lunamaria Hawke. In the special episode of Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun introduces Shinn to Kira Yamato.
When Athrun Zala is first introduced, he is a soldier of ZAFT, however, there is a memory of him and Kira Yamato when they were young and still living in on the Moon. In that memory, he tells Kira Yamato that peace will be achieved by the PLANTS and the Earth. During this time, he is a pacifist who doesn’t want to do anything with war. However when his mother dies due to the destruction of Junuis Seven, he becomes more active and decisive.
He feels that need that he needs to help bring the war to an end. However, unlike the young Athrun that would rather not kill Naturals, let alone another human being, the Athrun Zala who is now a soldier of ZAFT has the determination to do what he must to protect the PLANTs and end the war by defeating the Earth-Alliance.
In one episode of Gundam SEED, Athrun becomes stranded in a remote island along with Cagalli Yula Athha. When he first meets her, she shoots him but she is quickly overpowered by Athrun and then he takes her as his hostage. Moments later, Athrun frees Cagalli from bondage and even offers her some of his rations which shows that even a soldier with a terrible past such as Athrun, can still have a kind enough heart to offer food to an enemy and even finding time to laugh at the simplest of things.
A few hours pass by with her as his hostage and then things finally calm down. Athrun could have easily killed Cagalli but this shows that deep down in his heart, he still is a pacifist who would prefer not to kill. During this time Athrun and Cagalli start to talk about the war and what it is they are fighting for. They both say they are only fighting to protect their people and they would rather have the war end. However, just because both of them want peace, Cagalli still realizes that Athrun is a Mobile Suit fighter for ZAFT and that he will continue to kill more Naturals.
As Athrun is laying down, Cagalli asks him if he’s just going to sleep like that, he askes her “why not?” to which she answers “I’ll steal your gun.”, Athrun simply replies with “Do that and I’ll have to kill you.” However, in order to stop Athrun from killing more people, Cagalli decides to steal Athrun’s gun the moment he falls asleep. He quickly wakes up to find Cagalli with armed with his loaded gun to which he only has his dagger to defend himself with.
Athrun replies to her with
Here we can see Athrun’s determination to keep fighting in the war no matter if he is in a disadvantage, even if he is only armed with a combat knife and his enemy is pointing a gun at him, he won’t back down because he believes that he has to continue fighting in order to protect the PLANTs, in order to protect his people, the Coordinators. We can speculate that it was because of the traumatic loss of his mother that triggered him to become active in the war.
Although, Athrun is a character who is more level headed and rational than the main protagonist, when he meets Kira on the battlefield as an enemy, he find himself having trouble following the orders of his commanding officer. During this time, Athrun is constantly in as state of trying to understand what his friend Kira Yamato is thinking.
In the first half of Gundam SEED, Athrun is torn between what to do as a soldier. He is given orders to destroy the Strike, however, since the pilot is his dear childhood friend, Kira Yamato, he finds it extremely difficult to do so, and would rather have him join the PLANTs rather than shoot him down as he is his friend and he still a fellow Coordinator.
His commanding officer, Rau Le Creuset gives him a chance to try and persuade Kira Yamato but he also asks Athrun
To which Athrun answers with
In one episode of Gundam SEED, Kira Yamato accidentally kills one of the members of the Le Creuset team. Athrun is filled with grief and blames himself for the death of his comrade even though the other two members of the Le Creuset team don’t blame him at all, instead they blame the Strike.
After his fight with Kira Yamato, Athrun is found by ORB forces and taken under the care of Cagalli Yula Athha. When Athrun wakes up, Cagalli asks her about the whereabouts of the pilot of the Strike and he lowers his head, smiles and tells her that he killed the pilot of the Strike.
Out of anger, Cagalli lunges towards Athrun and presses the gun on his neck. However, Athrun shows no resistance or fear at all. He just tells her that he had no other choice left. that that was the only option he had left… to kill the pilot of the Strike. He even thought that he only survived his fight with Kira because maybe it was Cagalli who was destined to kill him in the end.
However, moments later Athrun starts tearing up. Even though he smiled when he said that it was him who killed the pilot of the Strike, he still cries about having to do it.
Cagalli then tells him about Kira, about how he was careless but he still a nice guy, which to her surprise Athrun answers her with “I know.” Athrun then tells her about how he knew Kira from his past. He told her about how Kira was a cry baby, wishy-washy and really smart but did things without thinking them through.
Cagalli then proceeds to ask him why he would he, a good friend, kill someone like Kira Yamato. Athrun however tells her that he doesn’t why.
At this point Athrun is in a state of grief for the loss of his childhood friend who died at his hands. He goes on to tell Cagalli that he kept inviting Kira to come to the PLANTs but every time he did so Kira just would not listen. He also talks about how Kira kept on fighting him and their team even though he was a Coordinator.
Cagalli tells Athrun that he’s an idiot for coming up with such a conclusion and that that kind of logic is never going to bring peace. When Athrun was fully healed, he returned to the plants to find out that his fiancé, Lacus Clyne, was now a wanted criminal of the PLANTs.
Athrun Zala begins to question himself, whether what he is fighting for is really right or is it wrong. He start to question himself because along with his friend Kira Yamato who fought the PLANTs, his fiancé, Lacus Clyne has also decided to take action in the form of giving an enemy spy one of the latest Mobile Suits of ZAFT, the ZGMF-X10A Freedom. Because of his memories of them together, he was able to locate Lacus and interrogate her about what it is she has done.
Although she is branded as a traitor of the PLANTs, when confronted by Athrun Zala about why she gave assistance to an enemy spy, she denies it and starts questioning Athrun about what is it he is fighting for. Her questioning him and her stand against ZAFT, makes him question himself more.
In the second half of Gundam SEED, Athrun find himself in ORB and sees the Freedom fighting against three Mobile Suits. He decides to help the Freedom and then confirms that the pilot is his friend Kira Yamato. He also states that his intervention in a battle between ORB and the Earth Alliance was not an order from ZAFT, instead he says that the intervention is his decision alone.
After defending ORB, he talks to Dearka Elsman and Kira Yamato about what thought was right. He told them that he thought that he was supposed to follow his orders without question to quickly end this war. He told them that he didn’t have a problem with following orders as long as it came from the right person. However he later came to the realization that his orders go against his beliefs.
His pacifist side comes out as he tells Dearka Elsman that he doesn’t want anyone else to die. He and Dearka Elsman then decide to join Kira and the Archangel in finding out their answer in what is it that they should be fighting against. This shows that Athrun is brave enough to stand up for what he believes in even if it means he must fight against his own father.
In Gundam SEED Destiny, after the Earth Alliance declares war on the PLANTs, Athrun Zala is once again thrown into a state of what it is he should be fighting for. In one episode of Gundam SEED Destiny, he visits Kira Yamato to try and find an answer but he fails to get one. Later in the show, Athrun decides that the best way to stop the war to is to join ZAFT.
While in ZAFT, Athrun believes the motives of the Chairman only for a time but later on begins to suspect that the Chairman is not really who he says he is. He later confirms that the Chairman is someone that is not to be trusted when the Chairman orders a hit on him. He manages to escape and rejoins Kira Yamato and Lacus Clyne to once again fight for what it is that they believe in.
Lacus Clyne is the daughter of the PLANT Supreme Chairman, Seigel Clyne. She is also the fiancé of Athrun Zala however, it is not mentioned in the show how she and Athrun met and got engaged. In the show she does show some affection and fondness for Athrun, such as when he visits him during his day off, she tells him that she is so happy that he is there.
During Athrun’s visit, Athrun and Lacus have tea in a balcony outside her house, however most of what they talk about is Kira Yamato. She even tells Athrun that she is very fond of Kira, however Athrun doesn’t give much of a reaction to her statement.
Athrun and Lacus also show affection before Athrun leaves, he moves in for a kiss but as soon as Lacus moves in as well for a kiss, he gets flustered and instead kisses her on her cheek.
In one episode of Gundam SEED, when the Le Creuset team was getting close to destroying the Archangel, Lieutenant Natarle Badgiruel opens communications with the Le Creuset team telling them that onboard the Archangel is the daughter of the PLANT Supreme Council Chairman, Seigel Clyne. She also tells them that if they continue their hostility, they will cannot guarantee her safety.
This angers Athrun Zala and swears to Kira that he will rescue her. It may not be clear if his anger was because he loved her so much that the thought of her being a hostage is something he hates so much, or it may be that he just hates the cowardly method used by the Archangel to escape their defeat.
In the second half of Gundam SEED, When Cagalli see’s Kira comforting Lacus, she ask Athrun if he doesn’t mind because she was his fiancé. Even though he and Lacus never discussed the status of their engagement, he just tells Cagalli that she’s his ex-fiancé.
In Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun and Lacus don’t have much time together, but it can be seen that she’s still an important person for him. An example of this is in one episode of Gundam SEED Destiny where both Kira and Athrun are on Earth and Lacus is in space and she is in trouble. Athrun then begs Kira Yamato to go to space and protect Lacus as he is unable to because he’s still in his hospital bed, still injured.
Cagalli Yula Athha
Cagalli and Athrun first meet in Gundam SEED when Cagalli shoots down the transport that was holding Athrun’s Mobile Suit. She and Athrun then spend a night together in a remote island. Although Cagalli shot athrun when they first met, Athrun showed Cagalli nothing but kindness during the time they spent together. That is of course excluding the fact that he was always ready to take her life if he needed to.
More about Cagalli and Athrun’s first meeting can be read here.
In the second half of Gundam SEED, when Athrun decides to join Kira in fighting for what they believe in, he and Cagalli see each other a lot more frequently. In one episode, Athrun talks to Cagalli about how he was unable to stop his father, about how powerless he is. However, Cagalli tells him that it’s ok, that he’s still got time and plenty of chances to talk to him and change his mind. Upon hearing these words from Cagalli, Athrun remembers that she just lost her own father and what he said to her about him giving up on his father was insensitive to her. As an act of apology, he hugs her and tells her that he’s sorry.
In the final episode of Gundam SEED, Athrun realizes that the only thing powerful enough to destroy GENESIS is a nuclear reaction from inside the core. He then decides to go to the core of GENESIS and blow up the Justice there. Cagalli cries and tells him to wait and although Athrun tries to stop her and out run her, Cagalli manages to catch up to Athrun in the core and before he can blow up his Mobile Suit, Cagalli tells him some words that make him change his mind and decide to keep on living.
In order to stop GENESIS from firing at the Earth, Athrun decides detonate the Justice but he enters the cockpit of Cagalli’s Mobile Suit in order to avoid getting hit by the explosion.
In Gundam SEED Destiny, although it’s not shown or stated that both of them are going out now, Athrun starts off at Cagalli’s side as her bodyguard during a time of peace. This shows us that although they may not yet be a couple, Cagalli is still someone very important for Athrun.
When Cagalli was safe on Earth, within the bound of ORB, Athrun Zala told Cagalli that he needed to leave ORB and head for the PLANTs. However, before he left he gave Cagalli a ring, showing his love and affection for her and as a promise that he’ll come back to her.
Cagalli however doesn’t seem to value Athrun’s affection that much or at least not enough to refuse her marriage to Yuna Roma Seiran. Although she only did it for the better of her nation, the Cagalli from Gundam SEED did things the way she believed was right and we can see in Gundam SEED Destiny that Cagalli is not excited or happy at all about having to marry Yuna Roma Seiran.
However, when Athrun is taken onboard the Archangel again, he is injured as he has just been taken down by Shinn Asuka. While Athrun is lying in bed, recovering from his injuries, we can see that Cagalli does show signs of affection and care for athrun as she sits right there beside him. We can also see his best friend, Kira Yamato, visiting him.
Athrun already knew that Cagalli was engaged to Yuna Roma Seiran before he gave her the ring. He said he knew it and he didn’t like it but it still didn’t stop him from giving her the ring. Although Cagalli was flustered as she was caught of guard by what Athrun did, she was happy and laughing even laughing about flustered both of them were. They hug each other and then kiss. It should be noted that in Gundam SEED Destiny, Cagalli is the only romantic interest of Athrun that he kisses on the lips.
Lunamaria Hawke is one of the Mobile Suit pilots of the ZAFT battleship Minerva. She also a red coat pilot of ZAFT which tells us that she is in fact skilled. When she first meets Athrun, he is the bodyguard of Cagalli Yula Athha under the name of Alex Dino. His alias doesn’t fool her though as she easily identifies him as Athrun Zala. During the first few episodes of Gundam SEED Destiny, she confronts Athrun about his identity and tell him that he’s practically a hero for all of ZAFT. Athrun however, just denies her statement and tells her that she has just mistaken him for someone else.
It can be seen that among that males onboard the Minerva, Lunamaria was most interested in Athrun Zala. She even teases a little him during their mission to split apart the falling remain of Junuis Seven by telling him “It’s gonna be dangerous. It’s not too late to back out.”. When Athrun joins ZAFT again, Lunamaria frequently talks to him to closer to him. However, nothing really develops between the two of them and when Athrun leaves ZAFT again, he takes her sister with him making her hate him for what he has done.
Meyrin Hawke is the CIC for the ZAFT battleship Minerva. She’s the sister of Lunamaria Hawke and like her sister, she also shows signs of interest towards Athrun Zala. In the second half of Gundam SEED Destiny, when Athrun Zala is being pursued by ZAFT soldiers to arrest him, Meyrin actually decides to help him avoid capture and escapes with him. They are however taken down by Shinn Asuka when he thrusts his anti-ship beam sword through Athrun’s GOUF.
However, both Athrun and Meyrin survive Shinn’s attack and manage to get onboard the Archangel. Meyrin later serves as the CIC for the Eternal. Although she doesn’t spend much time with Athrun Zala, during the special ending of Gundam SEED Destiny, it was Meyrin who was with Athrun Zala when he visited the memorial tombstone of ORB along with Shinn Asuka and Lunamaria Hawke. They are later joined by Kira Yamato and Lacus Clyne.
There wass a lot of speculation as to who Athrun ends up with because when all of them part ways, Athrun goes together with Meyrin Hawke but during the credits of the special episode. However, we can also see that Athrun is wearing an ORB uniform again which means that he returned to Cagalli. The creator of Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny, Chiaki Morosawa, said that in the end Athrun does end up with Cagalli.
Beliefs and Allegiance
During the first half of Gundam SEED, Athrun Zala had a firm belief that as a soldier, the best way he could end the war and bring peace to do as he was ordered without question. He had no problems following orders given to as long as he believed in the person who was giving them. For the first half of Gundam SEED, Athrun’s allegiance was with ZAFT and his father.
In the second half of Gundam SEED, Athrun realizes that his father’s method of winning the war against the Naturals is to eliminate each and every one of them, including the Naturals who aren’t even soldiers. Athrun realizes more that he doesn’t want any human to die when he help Kira Yamato defend ORB against the Earth Forces. Although he was still a soldier of ZAFT at that moment, he decided to go against his orders and to do what he believes in his heart to be right.
Athrun later joins Kira Yamato and Lacus Clyne. Together they formed a small group that destroyed the massive weapon known as GENESIS and also caused a ceasefire between the PLANTs and Earth Alliance which ultimately lead to a stop in the war.
In Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun starts off as a bodyguard of Cagalli but after the Earth Alliance’s failed nuclear attack on the PLANTs, Athrun becomes restless in ORB and decides to head back to the PLANTs. While in the PLANTs, Chairman Durandal’s words persuade Athrun to join ZAFT once again. Athrun also believes that by joining ZAFT, he is doing the right thing and can bring the war to a quick end.
However, in the second half of Gundam SEED Destiny, the interventions of Kira Yamato and the Archangel in the battles of ZAFT and the Earth Forces causes great confusion for him. Although he was once an ally of the Archangel during the previous war, he found himself lost to what it is Kira and the Archangel were thinking when they would intervene in battles.
Also in the second half of Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun is framed as a traitor. This makes him leave ZAFT again but he brings Meyrin Hawke along with him. Shinn Asuka destroys the Mobile Suit Athrun pilots but both Athrun and Meyrin survive. Him being framed cements in Athrun’s that the Chairman is not the man he says he is. During his battle with Shinn and Rey, he tells Shinn to wake up because the Chairman is only using him.
After his fight with Shinn, Athrun wakes up in the Archangel and his beliefs and allegiance aligns with Kira Yamato’s and Lacus Clyne’s once again.
- GAT-X303 Aegis
- ZGMF-X09A Justice
- ZGMF-X23S Saviour
- ZGMF-X19A Infinite Justice
Skills and Abilities
Taking into consideration that Athrun Zala is a red coat pilot of ZAFT, it would be no wonder that he is a very skilled individual when it comes to fighting. His reflexes are also very impressive. Examples include when he lunged himself forward to push away the loaded gun Cagalli threw or when an enemy Coordinator who was trying to kill the real Lacus Clyne as well as Meer Campbell, threw a grenade to kill them but Athrun shot the grenade in mid air and changed its trajectory to explode near the enemy instead.
When it comes to Mobile Suit pilots in ZAFT, Athrun Zala is in a league of his own. His skill in battle is so exceptional that when he reinstated in ZAFT, he was made a member of F.A.I.T.H. as someone of his caliber can be best utilized when given high authority in the battlefield.
Athrun is also one of the few characters in Gundam SEED universe that possesses the SEED factor. It must be noted that Athrun has never lost a battle when he is in SEED mode. Although his Mobile Suit, GAT-X303 Aegis, was destroyed when he fought Kira Yamato to the death, it should be considered that had Athrun not lost power, he would have killed Kira Yamato. Also his option to grab the Strike and blow up the Aegis was the best thing he could do to defeat Kira Yamato when he ran out of power. Since none of them died, it can be seen as a draw, however the two of them never fight each other again with such intent to kill.
Athrun Zala vs Kira Yamato(GAT-X105 Strike)
In Gundam SEED, after having lost his comrade Nicol at the hands of his childhood friend, Athrun fights Kira with vengeance on his mind. Both he and Kira activate their SEED factor and the fight turns into one of the best fights in the Gundam SEED universe.
Here is a video of their fight
Athrun Zala vs Kira Yamato(ZGMF-X10A Freedom)
In the second half of Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun tries to stop Kira from interfering with the war. However Kira decides that he will not be stopped and any that try to stop him shall be defeated. Athrun and Kira then proceed to fight. Their fight was very short and Athrun losses in the end.
Here’s a video of their fight
Athrun Zala vs Shinn Asuka(ZGMF-X42S Destiny)
In the final episode of Gundam SEED Desinty, Athrun meets Lunamaria and Shinn on the battlefield however, Shinn and Lunamaria recognize Athrun as an enemy because he was branded as a traitor and he left ZAFT. Lunamaria starts firing at Athrun but Athrun quickly disarms her by destroying her offensive capabilities. Shinn dashes in to help Lunamaria by fighting Athrun but is defeated by Athrun in the end.
Here is a video of their fight
Thank You for reading!
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our other articles about Gundam! 😀