Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Vol. #04 (of 10) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, February 27, 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...
On the run after the disaster at Jaburo, the AEUG forces on Earth make a trek to find a spaceport to get them back home.
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.
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.
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. Four Murasame appropriately gets the cover for the fourth volume though her character artwork is dwarfed by that of the Psyco Gundam behind her. 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.
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.
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)
With the last of episodes in the Zeta series, we got to see just how far the Federation would go to defend its interests with their plan at Jaburo. The end result hasn't shown much worldwide reaction as this set of episodes keeps us focused on the journey of those that have hooked up with the Kabara in order to get back off planet. The need to get Quattro and Kamille back into space is paramount for the long term plans and Amuro, now part of the group, is intent on ensuring that it happens.
Amuro also picks up a bit of extra duty here in looking after Katz, particularly after his first full on mobile suit incident in the previous volume that nearly left him for dead. He's shown some promise but he's still literally wet behind the ears. But with his father Hayato having now given his permission for Katz to go into space with Quattro and the others, Amuro is making sure that Katz gets some of the knowledge he's learned over the years and that Katz really understands what he's getting into. Before they can get into space though they need to find a proper spaceport that will allow them to get out there before the Titans can find them.
This becomes increasingly complicated as the Titans wing of the Earth Federation forces continues to strengthen its grip on the overall force and takes command even where they don't really have any authority. The initial chase leads the Kabara folks to the Hickory Spaceport where they're given good chase by the Titans and are only able to get a few things loaded into space before things get too tight and they have to launch without Kamille. In a way though, this is good news for Kamille as their continuing journey gets him to be more familiar not only with Earth but also Amuro. The two of them find that in a strange way they need each other, Amuro for being awakened to the reality of what's going on and Kamille for the experience and knowledge he can get. While they are most certainly adversarial for most of their encounters together, I suspect it's simply because they are so alike that it rubs the other the wrong way.
For Amuro, it's not only people like Katz, Quattro and Kamille that are trying to reawaken him from his seven year slumber. Beltorchika really hits up a side of him with her flirtatious nature as well as her overt tendencies as well. She's a really hot or cold kind of character with him but she's continually trying to get under his skin and to get him excited about something so that he'll wake up a bit faster. Her only problem is that since she is so straightforward about him, when she goes to other people to get more information out of them about him so that she can use it for him, it comes across completely wrong and just looks arrogant or wrongheaded. Her intensity about Amuro is interesting though since she does view him as a hero and her interest in the One Year War influences a lot of her perceptions about things.
The "old home week" feeling continues in this volume as well when we finally catch up to Mirai and her kids in Hong Kong. They've been trying to get into space to catch up with Noa Bright for some time now to no avail but they come across Amuro by accident. This turns into a good chance to reminisce a bit and to see how everyone has grown again since the One Year War but also to give Amuro that extra push. It also brings in a nice balance to Kamille's own adventures with the latest Titan-esque firebrand in the form of Four Murasame. Her cyber-newtype nature is brought heavily into play with her massive Psyco Gundam and how it goes far beyond anything that's been created before. And it truly does and I think that is its main problem, in that it creates an imbalance in things. When you have these already massive mobile suits running about and then provide something four to five times as tall to go up against, the scale just gets out of whack. As one of them says, "How does that thing even move?" and it's always in the back of your head.
While a lot of the focus in this volume is on Kamille and his rivalry/romance with Four Murasame, I was far more interested in seeing how things were playing out with the older and established characters from the One Year War. Amuro's awakening is becoming better handled, seeing more old friends return to the scene is heartwarming and watching them all do the right thing just feels good to see. This set of episodes continues the journey aspect of the show, something all of these series seem to enjoy on some level, but I felt a lot of it was thrown out of balance by the introduction of the Psyco Gundam. Give me more of Four in a regular mobile suit and I'd be much more interested in her storyline.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
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: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
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 Zeta Gundam