Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #09 (of 10) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, March 22, 2005
What They Say
Athrun returns home to PLANTs to confront his father, who is enraged at his failure and has him arrested. Meanwhile, Lacus steals a new ZAFT warship and helps rescue Athrun along with the help of someone from Kira’s past.
The Dominion is ordered to capture the Freedom and Justice Gundams as well as attacking the Archangel, but Murrue is shocked to learn who its Captain is.
When Mu’s Strike Gundam is damaged, Kira shows up and destroys Rau’s Mobile Suit. Rau proceeds to relate a story that involves himself, Kira and Mu.
The Archangel is once again attacked but this time Mu and Kira are no where to be seen!
Barreling towards the conclusion of the show, Gundam SEED brings out more revelations but wraps it up in some beautiful action sequences.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show has a fairly aggressive stereo mix with a good amount of material that's going across the forward soundstage. There's a lot of depth and detail to the audio here between the dialogue and background noises and it all sounds great. Dialogue is clean and clear and we had no issues with this during regular playback. We listened to the English track while writing the review and didn't note any obvious issues there either.
Originally airing in 2002, Gundam SEED is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio in this transfer. Quite possibly one of the richest looking Gundam series made, SEED takes full advantage of the latest technologies and techniques to produce a show that is incredibly lively and vivid. While there are some cheesy and bad CG shots, mostly when showing movement in depth across space scenes, the transfer itself looks sharp and beautiful. Colors are vivid, cross coloration is non-existent and I'm hard pressed to find much in the way of serious aliasing. This is a smooth looking transfer from start to finish.
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but with a much better looking logo, this volume has what is probably my favorite cover of the series with Lacus in command and in authorative mode while her ship and suits are across the starry background. Lacus looks good with the serious and in charge look here though the hair flows probably a bit more than it should. The back cover provides several shots from the show and some additional artwork and has a few paragraphs worth of summary. The discs episode numbers and titles are listed here while the volume numbering is found only on the spine. The usual production and technical information is along the back cover as well though I continue to wish that Bandai would adapt the technical grid. The insert replicates the front cover but minus a few of the logos and it opens to a two panel spread that has a variety of Alliance and ZAFT terms to understand.
The menu is nicely done for the show. The main menu is a close-up of the Strike Gundam's face where you see just about half of it. Inside the eye socket is some brief bits of animation playing, all set to some instrumental music from the show. The layout is easy to navigate and provides quick access to each of the episodes and other submenus. Access times are nice and fast and the disc was responsive to my players preset languages.
Mirroring the last volume with only a minor change, we get some good materials here but still wish that Gundam series in general did more with them. We get another set of mechanical files and a clean version of the new opening sequence. We also get the Nami Tamaki music video for her song "Believe" again.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a powerful volume before this, the series only manages to build upon that energy and excitement by going forward faster as everything really starts coming together. With five more episodes, the balance of power continues to shift back and forth and it all ends on such a number of strange and titillating revelations that the next volume feels so incredibly far away.
At this stage in the series, things have come together in their parallels so well that it's all very easily seen, especially from the new opening and closing sequences which show up here that simply drive the point home even harder. Everyone has found what's a part of them and has gravitated towards it and are either working with each other or against each other. Much of this shows up in the relationships, such as the growing ones between Dearka and Miri as well as Mu and Ramius. But they also show up in much more interesting ways. With the Orb nation relatively destroyed and the forces on board the Archangel representing a new faction trying to bring all of this to a close, they find themselves set against by a similar class ship from the Earth Alliance that's captained by Badgiruel. The eventual reunion of the two captains hasn't been unexpected but the strength Ramius gets to display now that her mission is clear puts the two on the same level and provides some engaging scenes.
One area that's a bit quirky and somewhat poorly written has to deal with Athrun as he feels he has to return to confront his father in person to understand exactly what his plans in this war are. So much has changed since he came on board the Archangel and even more so since in space; the revelations Cagalli brought to Kira were stunning enough and the fact that she revealed them to both at the same time only helps to continue to solidify their bond together. But before he can give himself in any way he needs to define his true place in this battle and that means knowing what his father is up to. The scenes are fairly awkward though and his father is a bit more cookie-cutter than I had hoped at this point with his "must exterminate" mentality but the way things have gone for him it's not surprising.
While everyone has been regrouping, Lacus has spent her time moving throughout the colonies and spreading her vision of the truth through pirate broadcasts and infecting the populace with it, something that Patrick Zala has tried to counter in his hard and commanding manner. Both sides are likely producing people loyal to the ideas each espouse and you can see how more and more are helping out on Lacus' side to balance things up a bit. But even on the colonies things are getting too dangerous and she puts into effect her next plan, to steal one of the command class ships and meet up with the Archangel and others from Orb to rally the forces around their call for peace and settlement before the conflict overflows into every corner of the stars.
Her taking command brings some very interesting things to the fore, such as the man that takes control of the ship and the simple fact that she's got a pink ship. It's comical but great watching the command room with her in the chair but a bunch of colored Haro's bouncing around. The congregation of the various forces and everything coming together at one of the abandoned colonies sets the stage for the various sides to bring everything to a close as it clearly defines who is doing what and their intents and purposes. The sprawling space battles and interpersonal verbal battles are all over the place here and it's done with such high energy as well as epic music that it reaches a beautiful crescendo as we get some of the best and creepiest revelations to date from Creusent as the real catalysts to things are revealed.
Payoff, payoff and more payoff is what's centered around these episodes as the way all things have gone before come again and with people supposedly wiser, they're able to see the cycle and hopefully break it this time. Though the pairings become almost too much at times since it's all so neatly done and practically tied with a bow, it's a far cry from shows that don't even try to bring some sort of resolution or growth to its cast. With war stories, these aren't surprising at all and the intensity to them only adds a new kind of fuel to the fire and has you clapping out loud when the moments of honesty break through. This is just pure great Gundam material through and through and is exactly why you "suffer" through those early episodes. Without them, these wouldn't have half the impact. Great stuff and simply over far too fast.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Gundam Encyclopedia,Nami Tamaki “Believe” Music Video,Textless Opening #4
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED