Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Vol. #03 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, February 14, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2004



What They Say
Universal Century 0087, Seven years have past since the defeat of the Zeon army during what has now become known as the 'One Year War'. An elite Federation military force known as the Titans are tasked with the prevention of further uprising by space colonies orbiting the Earth.

Tragically, the destruction of an entire space colony at the hands of the facist-like Titans threaten to undermine peace between the Earth and those living in space. A civilian, two decorated war heroes, and a powerful new Gundam mobile suit - The world is once again on the brink of war and the future of humanity is at stake...

The Review!
As the AEUG begins its assault on Jaburo we learn just how desperate and how far the Federation will go to ensure its survival.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the series is pretty solid and avoids some of the problems found in older shows. To my ears there's no noticeable hiss or other background noise coming through. We listened to both audio tracks over the course of the review and found both of them to be solid in technical terms. We had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback either.

Video:
Originally airing in 1985, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame format. Being nearly twenty years old but being a staple of Bandai's library, the transfer for Zeta looks almost pristine in its nature. Whatever problems we found with what we saw are all source related things and the bulk of it is just due to the time and age of the show. The transfer itself is very clean but there's a fair bit, especially early on, of small nicks and dirt on the cels themselves that carry through. This is basically what you get with older shows like this half the time and it's something that I find that adds to its charm in a way since you know how it was handled and done back then. It isn't something that affects the grading of the video though since it's a source element. Barring that, this is a great looking disc that just shines through.

Packaging:
Released in a slim black thinpak style case, the cover art for this release utilizes the same artwork as the Japanese release bit with a bit of an added border and a more definitive background added to it. The result is a stylish piece of Rosamia in full uniform with her mobile armor behind her in the shadows. The back cover provides a rundown of all five episodes with episode numbers and titles and a brief summary. The Japanese main staff is covered here as well as the basic technical information that makes up the disc. No insert is included with this release as there is a booklet with the overall set.

Menu:
Using a static shot of a blue sky background, the foreground has a large cast shot of numerous characters we've not seen since the One Year War with the sun rising over a shot of the Earth in the background. Episodes are available separately with titles and the only other options available are the basic setup and select pieces. A piece of the vocal song from presumably the ending sequence is playing here and overall this is a good looking menu that fits nicely and doesn't feel as overloaded as some of the past Gundam series menus have. Access times are nice and fast and the disc read our players language presets.

Extras:
None.

Please Note:
This review is of a single volume from the limited edition box set release of this series. As of this writing, there are no known confirmed plans that this series will see a release in individual form. These reviews are being written in this form to allow for greater discussion of the content and to provide a closer look at each disc without having to rush through the overall set. Like many fans, I've been waiting for years myself for this and wish to savor it and not marathon it in a weekend.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As expected, with the third volume of the series, everything starts to really click and fall into place that while I enjoyed the energy of things beforehand it now really hits its stride and starts moving forward as the war is fully realized. Everything up until now has been pawns moving across the board and things getting set up for the bigger storyline. There is simply so much goodness in this volume, particularly for those who've seen the prior shows that it's surprising at how self-referential it gets at first.

While the last volume had a lot of focus on the Titans and going over some of their own little internal struggles, mostly focusing on Jerid and his desires to rise in the ranks and actually run the Titans, this volume swings back heavily in the AEUG's favor, particularly with it starting the operation against Jaburo in the Amazon basin. There is a substantial amount of really enjoyable mobile suit battles across the first couple of episodes, starting right with the orbital insertion attempt where those space bound Titans try to stop the AEUG from entering the atmosphere. I loved the way this played out, particularly with Emma as she's trying so hard to prove herself and to show that she's fighting on the right side that she goes too far in what she does in disobeying orders. One part of the battle I really enjoyed was the final instance when they get to the point of no return in entering the atmosphere and their shield bubbles are popping up all over the place and a couple of them still try to fight it out.

Jaburo base, as we've seen previously, is a hollow shell of what it once was so the eventual arrival of everyone into the atmosphere leads to a short war that ends with the AEUG making fast progress into and throughout the base, though a few of the Titans continue to be a problem. Jerid is making himself a real nuisance as he continues to try to take down Kamille but only has a run of bad luck that's almost comical. Quattro's take on the entire battle is one that you should get from most of the senior officers and those who've fought before in that it all feels way too easy, especially considering the events of the One Year War. So when Quattro ends up in a room where some Federation officers are being interrogated, he has no trouble believing them when they claim that the upper command has left two active nuclear devices underground and set in a way that they can't be changed. This only reinforces just how desperate they are to him and how little thought they have for their own planet, which only firms his course of action even more.

With so many of the AEUG forces on Earth now and trying to figure out their next course of action due to Jaburo, a lot of other smaller things start to come into play now that the Federation has shown their hand. While the AEUG is the main force of what's going on between Earth and the spacenoids, there are those on Earth who don't want the Federation to continue as it has and they've formed various groups that are now standing up to help the AEUG out, such as one called Kabara. As it turns out, this is filled with a number of people who weren't recognizable at first but it all came back quickly as they were secondary players in the original series or more. For example, Fraw shows up with her "adopted" kids and it takes a few minutes before I realize that these are the same kids as we saw back on White Base during the One Year War. But now, Katz is old enough that he's vying for a mobile suit seat and to try to live up to what he viewed Amuro as back then.

This is actually a really interesting change, though the ages strike me as being weird, but having Katz show up like this as Amuro finally flees his cage goes to show just how things have changed in the last eight years or so. Amuro doesn't like what's going on but he doesn't have that drive to just jump in a suit and take action, he's become too cautious and almost flighty in this regard. When he meets up with Quattro, he knows who he is instantly and the exchanges between the two are tense but exciting, especially as Quattro has figured out quickly what happened to Amuro in that he's no longer the man he once fought against. It's this kind of recapturing of pieces from the One Year War storyline that's really exciting to me at this point since it's a natural progression for these characters. And as we see more of them, they all start to click better since I've not seen the original all that recently other than in movie form.

In Summary:
There is just so much going on here but it achieves the level of plot where things start to really kick off that it's just exciting all the way through. Between the new and old characters, the changed relationships and the growing new ones, it's all moving forward at a great pace now and the start of the real storyline is about to begin now that the fifteen episodes of setup are complete. The cast is huge at this point and new people are bound to keep showing up. The action is solid and the show looks great. There are few series that exhilarate me like this when watching it or just talking about it, but the Universal Century Gundam universe is one of those few that do. This volume is just top notch from start to finish.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
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: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: N/A
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam