Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #10 (of 10) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, May 05, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2005
What They Say
A fierce three-sided battle ensues. In the midst of this chaos, Flay is set adrift in a life pod carrying the key that will end the war. The Alliance gathers a massive space fleet at its lunar base however, ZAFT attacks with a devastating gamma-ray laser known as GENESIS that wipes out half its vessel!
The Archangel, Eternal, and Kusanagi fight to prevent both sides from using their weapons of annihilation. Now, the three lone ships and a handful of people are all that stand between humanity and total destruction!
Grab the pitchforks, it's time to storm Sunrise and make them pay for this.
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, the final volume in the series is given over to the mobile suits entirely as it has La Flaga and Le Creuset take each other on in one final fight over the moon. 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 ending 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)
With the final five episodes of the series, everything that has been built up comes to a head and no stone is left unturned as they deal chaotically with everything here. For fans of mobile suit action, practically every episode is chock full of expansive and explosive action sequences that are pure payoff for sitting through some of the more exposition oriented episodes. The action sequences are great here as it's backed up by the storyline itself and the amount of tension that's in the air due to the way events have worked out.
With the way things were left, we ended up with three sides of sorts. Standing between the Earth Alliance and the ZAFT forces is that small group we've come to follow over the course of the series in the Archangel and others who have come to rally around them and offer their own support and power. They've been hunted as seen previously but now are sitting to the side as they finalize repairs and come to grips with some recent revelations. But as always, the enemy does not wait for you to be ready and the Earth Forces have set out from the moon with their large forces to put an end to the war at long last. It starts off as a brutal enough fight as it's mobile suit against mobile suit and various larger ships take action but it gets even worse before anyone realizes it.
Taking to task the large ZAFT military base where the bulk of their operations begin from, the Earth Forces have broken every compact by creating a small mobile force whose sole mission is to launch numerous nuclear missiles at its target. The military base becomes the target and the shock and surprise of such weapons being used in the conflict astounds everyone on the ZAFT side as well as the third group watching from a distance as they learn what goes on. The panic created by it sends the ZAFT forces into disarray but it gives Zala the time he needs to head out to their big secret weapon that they've kept in reserve for just such an event. An attack with nuclear weapons in the past didn't cause a response of the same caliber and the ZAFT people have regretted it since likely which is why this even more powerful weapon was built in secret.
The first test run of this ends up destroying a good chunk of the Earth Forces but it only sets them to want to attack more and the battle continues to build as each side takes their ultimate weapons and goes back again and again at each other. As the various forces continue to attack and flee from the various combat zones, the smaller and more personal battles are fought across the system. A lot of the long standing personal grudges come into play, such as La Flaga taking on Le Creuset at long last, especially after the revelations of the previous volume, and numerous others. Some of the best moments come from the way Azrael has been pushing Badguirel and others on board that ship and it comes to a head. There are so many key moments for most of the primary cast here and several secondary characters that they almost get lost within the long battle sequences. But the time spent is just about right and each incident only helps to push things forward, no matter how much you hate the outcome of several of them.
As is traditional in the Gundam universe, the bigger the battle and the higher the stakes the more common the deaths of characters occurs. These last episodes aren't a "kill 'em all" phase like some earlier incarnations, but it's a toss-up for just about everyone along the way and there are some surprising moments. Moments that had me yelling at the TV as it happened since I didn't expect it. In the end though, this is why I enjoy series like this because they will do things just like this as opposed to series that look to merchandise to death without taking some risks along the way. Gundam's a big merchandiser of course but the characters are almost always vulnerable.
Bringing the series to a close, this final volume brings a lot of things to resolution and shows once again why it had to go the lengthy route it did to get here. Each Gundam series has some very similar building blocks in how they tell their tales so there are plenty of parallels to draw and SEED is no different. The payoff is still the same though and at the end here we get some epic level fights with passionate characters who have strong agendas and beliefs to follow that have put them there. Watching this all play out through the final five episodes is highly engaging and it simply goes by far too fast but it's all good in its own way. If you've followed it to this point, the payoff is immense and a lot of scenes will just have you giddy. Very recommended if you're up for the long haul to get here.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Gundam Encyclopedia,Textless Ending #3
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