After watching Giratina and the Sky Warrior, I was struck by an urge to do some compare/contrast work, so here we go: Giratina’s Zero up against Revelation Lugia’s Lawrence III.

If you take Lawrence III as the primary antagonist of the second film, then that movie stands as a huge exception to the “a story is only as good as its villain” rule, ‘cause there isn’t a whole lot to Lawrence. Hes a cliche rich douche - too much money, too much leisure time, not enough regard for nature. And he decides to just go an trek it to the Orange Islands in his gaudy, glorified blimp, pick him up some trophies of Legendaries, and all the while stay completely oblivious to the consequences of his actions. He’s barely in the movie, too - really, outside his brief chat with the gang, he’s only on-screen when bagging or trying to bag a bird. He’s is so chill that he has hardly any reaction to his plans failing, and suffers no repercussions for almost ending the world. All and all, I’d say that adds up to a pretty weak antagonist.

Except that I don’t consider Lawrence III the real antagonist of the second film - he’s the catalyst. The real antagonists are the discord between the Bird Trio and resulting imbalance of nature. Lawrence’s only real function is to set these forces in motion, which he does. The lack of consequences is still one of the biggest flaws in the plot, but for what he was, I think Lawrence was used effectively, and his limited personality and actions don’t take away from the film save for that one point on consequences.

Now look at Zero. Some similarities become obvious immediately - pasty and light-haired, obnoxiously big air ships, as blind to repercussions for screwing with Legendaries as Ash is to girls’ crushes on him. Zero also falls into a solid cliche - that of the mad scientist who thinks doing the Awful Thing is really doing the Good Thing. And Giratina, like Lugia, has issues of discord and imbalance between Legendaries in its plot; in fact, those issues serve as a thread through a trilogy.

But within the plot of Giratina, Zero is definitely the prime villain. He has no more depth than Lawrence, but he is much more manic, especially toward the end, and more involved in the action. This is appropriate given his role in the plot, but IMO, Zero is not manic or mad in an entertaining sense, but in a grating one. The dub casting doesn’t help, but even in the writing, Zero is such a limited character, and the bigger issues of worlds out of whack and Giratina agitating for Dialga are so much more interesting, that Zero makes for a weak villain, and ends up dragging the film down.

I tend to forget that his motivation is never really stated

Jirarudan wants Lugia because of its beauty. He considers it the highest priority among legendaries because of that, and though he wouldn’t really decline the chance to capture any of them, Lugia is one of the only ones he’d keep (we see a bit of that in his attitude towards the other birds–though they’re legendaries themselves, he clearly values them as just a means to an end).