Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 3 (of 3) (

By:Paul Grisham
Review Date: Sunday, May 12, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, May 07, 2002

What They Say
The Final Installment in the Spectacular Gundam Movie Saga!

The One Year War enters the final stages. The constant fighting has weakened both sides considerably, and the Zeon forces begin taking desperate measures. Amidst a break in the fighting, Amuro meets a mysterious girl named Lalah, whom he is strongly drawn to. There is a connection there, a feeling that is beyond words to express. She is like him, and they are both something more than human. It's Federation vs. Zeon, brother against sister, and Newtype against Newtype. The Federation is weakened! The Zeons are in turmoil! The final battle will determine the outcome of the war.

The Review!
The end is drawing near in the war between the Federation and Zeon. Both sides have become desperate to end the war, though it is still uncertain how the final conflict will be resolved. In this, the final chapter of the Mobile Suit Gundam movie trilogy, Amuro and the crew of the White Base race forward to meet their destiny, and to help decide the future of humanity and its place among the stars.

The Mobile Suit Gundam movie discs include both the original Japanese stereo and a new Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1. The stereo version sounds good, with excellent use of left/right separation. However, the 5.1 version is really something special. Everything sounds crisper, cleaner. The overall audio is a little louder, the bass is deeper and more intense, and the ambient sounds envelop the listener. Given that this is a more realistic take on military combat than many mecha shows, the attention to details in the ambient sounds, such as claxons, mechanical noises, wind, etc., really draws the viewer in. Purists may wish to hear the original stereo mix, but the 5.1 mix is much more satisfying, even on 2-speaker and ProLogic setups.

The original animation for Mobile Suit Gundam dates back to 1979, so you simply have to expect some print damage, but by no means should you lower your expectations. The video has been completely remastered, and this is a great-looking progressive transfer. This may very well be the best that Mobile Suit Gundam has ever looked. The video does suffer from quite a bit of wobble, especially the first movie. To combat this, the video engineers did something that may leave a few viewers a bit disappointed. All three movies are framed by a black overscan area. In some scenes, when the wobble becomes very bad, the frame moves around within the overscan area to keep the image centered on the screen. For those with a standard television that does not display overscan, there will be no problem, but for those with a monitor that does display overscan, the sensation can be quite dizzying. Fortunately, this only happens a handful of times.

The covers for each disc are iridescent, similar to the covers that Pioneer has been using for SoulTaker and Vandread. The spines are blue to match the optional box. Each of the three movies' front covers takes on one of the three colors in the Mobile Suit Gundam logo – disc 1 is predominantly red, disc 2 is yellow, and disc 3 blue. The images themselves are striking and dramatic. Excellent job, Bandai.

The menus are quite simple, but very effective. The main background image is the cover image, and an extended musical piece (approximately 2 minutes) runs behind each menu page. The music is good enough and the selections long enough that I frequently found myself listening to these audio clips in the background while writing this review. When a menu item is selected, the images and menu items are pulled away in an animated transition, to the sounds of heavy machinery, exposing the next level of menu options. It's not quite up to the high concept standards of NightJar, but it's a nice touch. The Japanese cast and crew credits are included as an option on the root menu. I'm really glad they included them, because the credits are completely untranslated in the movie itself.


(Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers.)

White Base has returned to space repaired, refueled, reequipped, and ready to face the forces of Zeon. The crew has been complemented to replace those lost in the desperate and tragic flight from Side 7 to Jaburo. The civilian crewmembers, once soft and inexperienced, are gritty veterans, battle-hardened. White Base has become a symbol of Federation power against the Zeon, and Federation high command has decided to use White Base to distract the Zeon military while a final assault on Zeon strongholds is planned.

Though the crew isn't happy with their orders to act as a decoy for the Federation military, it does give them a chance to take care of some unfinished business. Their first stop is to Side 6, a colony that has separated itself from the war and declared neutrality. White Base and the pursuing Zeon forces are required to secure their armaments while at Side 6, and the crews take advantage of the lull in fighting to relax. During the stopover, Mirai and an old flame, Cameron Bloom, are reunited, much to the consternation of Lt. Bright, who seems to have developed great feelings of fondness for his navigator. Though Mirai holds no romantic interest for Cameron (and probably never did), Cameron still carries the torch for her. His pleas to win her back set the stage for an interesting argument between a man who has chosen peace at all costs and a woman who fights when necessary.

Throughout Mobile Suit Gundam, Mirai stands out as one of the strongest and most realistically written female characters in anime. In fact, all of the women in Mobile Suit Gundam are strongly written. They are neither frail nor weak – in fact, they are often wiser and more determined than the men who command them. The writers have allowed them to be human beings first, soldiers second, and women third, giving them a richness and depth that many of the principal male characters do not possess. The movie's only serious misstep (thankfully not a fatal one) is the forced and unexpected revelation of mutual attraction between Mirai and Lt. Sleggar that seems to stem from an unfounded need for a romantic subplot rather than real characterization.

While on Side 6, Amuro is reunited with his father, who was lost and presumed dead during the battle on Side 7. Amuro discovers that his father has suffered brain damage from space exposure, which has rendered him incapable of continuing his engineering research and also incapable of recognizing his own infirmity. When Amuro finds him, he is building worthless gadgets out of junkyard trash. The irony to Amuro's situation with his father is that he is partly responsible for his father's infirmity, having caused the explosion that forced him into space. But the deeper tragedy is that even now, as Amuro's father can no longer pursue his research, he still cannot communicate with Amuro meaningfully, continuing to cling to the work that separated father and son.

As Amuro struggles to find meaning in his father's condition, a chance encounter brings him to the house of Lalah Sun, a true Newtype whose powers have fully awakened. During their brief meeting, Amuro and Lalah experience a moment of deep understanding, and Amuro begins to find some meaning in his Newtype powers. What Amuro does not realize immediately is that Lalah is working as a soldier in the Zeon army as the prototype for a Newtype army under the leadership of Char, who has now also started manifesting Newtype powers. Through another chance encounter (though can anything about Newtypes be considered coincidence?) Amuro and Char meet face-to-face for the first time, and through Lalah recognize each other. In that meeting, Amuro and Char solidify their respect for each other, and Amuro learns that the lines that separate friend from enemy often do not apply off the battlefield.

Leaving Side 6, the Zeon armada continues to pursue White Base and engage in several skirmishes while the rest of the Federation assault force moves into position. During the pursuit, the Federation discovers the effectiveness of the new Zeon Newtype fleet. Using their powers of intuition, the Newtypes are able to launch attacks on the Federation ships long before they come into sensor range. It is only through Amuro's rapidly emerging Newtype powers that White Base is able to survive long enough to rendezvous with the Federation fleet and begin the final assault on the Zeon command bases.

Overall, the story moves much more fluidly than the first or second movies. The story flows quickly from one point to the next, and there is none of the feeling of discontinuity or gaps in the story that sometimes affected the previous films. The major battles in this movie, especially the final battle at A Baoa Qu, are among the most exciting battles ever filmed. Many of these battles were originally spread out over several episodes during the original TV broadcast. Seen here, without interruption and with spectacular new animation, these battles achieve a sense of urgency that the original episodes never could aspire to. Watching the artistry and skill at work here, it is quite easy to forget that this movie is 20 years old.

As the war enters its final stages, the final missing pieces of Char's plan come into view. His relationship with the Zeon and his fragile alliance with their rapidly fragmenting command structure sets up the series’s ultimate showdown, a duel of swords and ideas between himself, sister Sayla Mass, and rival Amuro Ray. During the fighting, Amuro realizes the true power, and the curse, of Newtypes. Although the Newtypes, and their psychic-like powers of intuition could be used for war, their empathy only magnifies the pain they feel at the death of another. It was the original hope of Char's father that the evolution of Newtypes would lead humanity into a grand age of peace, but the Zeon ruling family perverted the dream out of greed. Char's ambiguous heroism demonstrates that defining the enemy in terms of Zeon or Federation is too simple. Those who sought to use Newtypes for war are the true enemy, regardless of political allegiance.

At the end, Char tells Amuro that without the war, the Newtypes would never have reached the full potential of their powers. Amuro reasons that those powers simply aren't worth the price in human lives that had to be paid. It is indicative that Mobile Suit Gundam never answers the question of whether it actually was worth that price, but lets the words of Amuro and Char linger in the air for the viewer to decide the answers for himself.

Throughout the movies, the war between federation and Zeon is never drawn as simply as a conflict between "good" and "evil". Instead, both sides are presented as necessarily complex organizations, manipulated by a handful of greedy and deceitful individuals for ill gain. War is shown to be a tragic waste of people and resources, but often a necessary step towards the greater good. The truth is that often good people must choose to do wicked things in order to survive, and Mobile Suit Gundam stays far away from simple black-and-white moralizing. Amuro must kill in order to survive and protect his friends, but he must never relish in it. Char's quest for revenge threatens to consume his very humanity, but ultimately it is a catalyst to end a war that has already claimed billions of lives.

The characters in Mobile Suit Gundam live in the gray area, the in-between shadow areas of light and darkness, good and evil, the cracks and the crevices of a complicated and often contradictory reality. Though the movies are, on the surface, about testosterone-fueled pilots and their giant, mechanized suits of armor, they transcend that framework to become so much more. It is about life and love and the hard choices we face when we are in dire need. In short, it is Anime.

Highly, highly recommended!

Newly Remastered Transfer,New 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese Audio,Japanese Stereo Audio,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic Panablack TV, Codefree Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable. (Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)

Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 147
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam