Gundam Seed Destiny Part 1 (Anime Legends Edition) (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Love, war, and politics the Gundam way…

What They Say
The year is Cosmic Era 73. The Bloody Valentine War, fought between the PLANTS space colonies and the nations of the Atlantic Federation, has ended and an uneasy truce has settled upon the Earth sphere. With the signing of the Junius Seven Treaty, the world's soldiers have left the battlefield and the grizzly sights of war behind. Many who fought now seek peace and refuge in the shelter of civilian life.

But one boy, Shin Asuka, is finding that incredibly hard. A coordinator who lost his entire family during the Battle of Orb, he now fights with ZAFT in one of their newest machines, the Impulse Gundam. Of course, ZAFT is only developing these machines for defensive applications - or so they claim - but when a group of Federation operatives steal some of these prototype machines, the world is once again plunged towards war.

Contains episodes 1through 26

The Review!
Audio:
We viewed Gundam Seed Destiny using the English dub.  The stereo mix has lots directionality for both dialogue and action effects. The various big battle sequences brought about a lot of power from the subwoofer and really made the battle scenes feel realistic.   We had no problems with distortions or dropouts with either language track.  Having originally watched Gundam Seed in English, it was only appropriate that I review this collection using the same.  We found the voice cast to fit in quite well with the precedence set forth by the original Gundam Seed voice cast.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer looks great and is free of problems such as cross coloration or aliasing.   As with the previous season, the colors are very strong and pop out at you.  As with most Bandai releases, this collection retains the original Japanese openings and endings.   Overall, the collection looks great with virtually no problems whatsoever. 

Packaging:
The case for this collection contains 6 discs.  The artwork on the front of the case features Athrun and Kira along with Shin’s ZGMF-X56S Impulse holding a shield along with the energy beam rifle.  Prominently across the top of the front cover is the grey Anime Legends banner.  The Gundam Seed Destiny logo is featured on the bottom along with the Collection 1 designation.  The back panel provides a number of glossy shots from the show and a decent summary of the collection.  Also included is a list of episode numbers and titles. The typical technical information is listed along with the correct aspect ratio labeling.  There are not any special panels inside the case, just discs.  The disc labels also appear to use the same formatting that was consistently used throughout the other collections releases.

Menus:

The menu layout is easy to navigate.  The layout features a striped layout where the character art slides in from the left with a selection of extras along the right side.  This of course plays to a looping bit of music from the main theme. The menu access times are nice and fast and the disc correctly read our player’s language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras in this collection include the character encyclopedias which is a nice addition that was included in the single releases.  There are a lot of characters to deal with in Gundam Seed Destiny.  In fact, there are a lot that are revisited from the Gundam Seed series as well.  It was definitely helpful to have the character summaries to refresh my memory as I had forgotten about some of the minor characters as well as some of the main characters backgrounds.  It was a nicely needed touch for a series with a lot of background and deep character history.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers). 
The first thing that is important to know about Gundam Seed Destiny is that it is truly a sequel to Gundam Seed.  You must watch the first to understand the second, or else you will be utterly lost.  It is even better to watch the two back to back.  This reviewer found that with a lapse in time came a lapse in memory for the various names of organizations and people groups.  Luckily Wikipedia and the character encyclopedias provided on the DVD’s case did a fairly good job for a quick update on the information. 

Gundam Seed Destiny begins about a year after the previous series.  A tentative peace has become normal again for most of the world.  The action begins quickly, and is fairly consistent for the majority of the episodes in this collection.  As others have noticed, you have to wait until about halfway through the series to see the plot lines begin to fall together. 

Taking it from the top, Cagalli Yula Athla has assumed a significant leadership role within the nation of Orb, and is following in the footsteps of her father.  Within this role, Cagalli and her bodyguard/ escort “Alex” (the alias of Athrun Zala) are making a political visit to the Plant base on Earth.  The focus of the mission is to encourage the Plants not to continue an arms race with the other federations of Earth.  The peaceful visit quickly turns violent as both the envoy and the Plant base come under attack from an unknown enemy.  This same enemy steals the very technology that was the topic of discussion by Cagalli and the ZAFT chairman.  The short version of the storyline is a series of events come into play that reenlist Athrun into the military, and a radical group becomes responsible for one of the worst world-wide disasters ever killing many Naturals. 

The inevitable occurs, tempers flare, and the Naturals and the Plants are at war again.  In the middle is Orb, but this time sharply turning from neutrality.  The sides of the argument both have merit, but there appears to be another power at play throughout.  The chess pieces include members of the Orb council, the ZAFT chairman, and leaders in the Naturals’ leadership as well.  Somehow there is yet another power that doesn’t completely reveal his/her face throughout these episodes.  This person or group is pulling strings and making everyone dance to their tune.   Two possible candidates for puppet master appear to be the ZAFT chairman, and Neo Roanoke.  Roanoke commands a powerful special ops team and bears a strong resemblance to Rau Le Creuset, who died in the last series.  The ZAFT chairman is affable and seems to be a warm-hearted guy that only wants peace for all, but somehow always seems a bit shady.  The hierarchy of power gets confusing as Roanoke is found to answer to Lord Djibril a member of the secret society, known as "Logos". The complex, delicate and deadly aspects of the politics portrayed in these episodes ring all to true in our current cultural environment in more ways than one.

This continuation of Gundam Seed is enjoyable to watch, but the overall plot line is similar in many ways to the original.  One of the changes is in what roles the different characters play.  The ‘bad guys’ in the previous series are now the ‘good guys’, and the shades between the two are really grey.  Athrun and Kira were the main characters from the previous series and are a heavy focus in this one as well.  They are pitted against one another, yet again.

In looking at the various character roles, our older cast has grown up and is much more reflective and sober about life.  It is interesting to see how their lives have changed, or how their relationships are faring.  This is illustrated by Kira and Lacus’ relationship as wells as Kira and Cagall.  The previous casts’ personalities are taken over by new cast members, such as Shinn Asuka.  He reminds one of an earlier version of Athrun, talented but ever yearning for revenge.  Shinn often gets out of control and runs his mouth a lot, but is a deadly Gundam pilot.  It really isn’t clear who the main character in the series is suppose to be.  Athrun and Kira have quite a bit of screen time as well as
Shinn.  The newer members of the cast that are gathered definitely are plotting something, but the answer will only be revealed as the story continues. 

Summary
Gundam Seed Destiny picks up where the previous series left off and begins anew the rapid paced action that we have come to expect.  The political leaders and cast include new faces, but the desires in their hearts remain the same: love, peace, vengeance, greed and power.  The lines quickly blur once again about who really is in the seat of righteousness as right and wrong become rather grey.  Be ready to remember why you enjoyed this series once again as you meet old friends and a new set of faces in familiar roles. Love, war and politics…the Gundam way. 

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Character Encyclopedia

Review Equipment

Samsung UN40B6000V 40” LED HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA 2.1home theater Sound Bar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer



Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 49.98
Running time: 650
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny