Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Vol. #05 (of 10) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, April 26, 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...
With Kamille back in space and trying to understand his feelings about what happened on Earth, a new enemy enters the fray and provides quite a new challenge.
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. This volume lets Emma take the cover with a good shot of her in her spacesuit while the Gundam is standing tall behind her in the bay of the Argama. . 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)
This volume carries us up to the halfway point in the series which is where things start falling more into place for what we can expect in the second half. Returning Kamille into space and re-uniting him with the people on board the Argama, he gets to go through some growth experiences but still shows his age nicely. The newest member of the Titan side of things gets introduced and his level of wickedness is pretty clearly exposed for all to see.
For Kamille, he's got the problems that most kids his age wouldn't want to have, such as a potential girlfriend being an enemy that he has to fight. His thoughts are most definitely lingering on Four after their time on Earth and he's not sure how to reconcile himself with all that happened. He's not given much time to really deal with by himself though as Fa has returned to his life as well and she's now angling to be a mobile suit pilot since she wants to see the war end just as soon as everyone else but knows that she has to have an active hand in it instead of just watching from the sidelines. She's still interested in him but he's so messed up at this point that anything the two say to each other turns into a fight. Even worse, Reccoa returns to the Argama at one point and the feelings between those two become apparent to Fa which just makes her even more uncomfortable in dealing with Kamille.
On the Titan side of things, the show bring in a new top villain of the moment to help move things forward. Scirocco is the latest commander who Jerid finds himself assigned to and he's quite the egomaniac. His belief is that he's the one that's best for others to latch onto if they want to rise in the ranks and he makes no bones about it in actually saying it out loud at times. His style is strong and bold but he does things in a way that lets his subordinates use enough rope to hang themselves but will claim successes if they manage to pull it off. While the character isn't all that bad, his design leaves a fair bit to be desired. With a complete white outfit and an unmemorable face, he's offset even more by a piece of poofy bowl hair in an awful shade of lilac that when taken in with the full white uniform just doesn't look intimidating or commanding at all.
Jerid must be near a breaking point with the way he keeps getting bounced around and this time he gets someone he really doesn't like all that much. Scirocco is one who will use anyone under his command though and he's set to really get what he can out of Jerid and assigns him a couple of new pilots who may have Newtype potential to them. Jerid can't believe he's being given rookies considering where he's been and where he intends to go in the Titans so he treat them like absolute dirty, especially since they're both women and they both talk back to him a fair bit on their first meeting. Jerid's first flight with them ends up crossing paths with a pair of ships heading to the Argama to bring new mobile suits and personnel for the next operation and they end up in a fun fight that gets even bigger when reinforcements arrive. The fight and its losses and challenges on both sides change a couple of characters nicely and sets things for them to move on in new ways from here.
The stage gets set for the next phase of the war as the Titans begin to make their move with a large scale attack and you can see the various political pieces falling into place as well as the military side of things as everyone has been shuffled around for awhile. A lot of characters don't get seen this time around which is normal but they're definitely missed after all the Earth based adventures. Since we haven't seen much of the space bound characters for awhile there's a bit of catching up to do as well and some really cute moments, such as a bit of gift-giving that Reccoa gets involved in that brings a smile to the face. Haro continues to be just as cute here as he is in other timelines which makes me glad to see him as much as we do.
This is where another of the standard story patterns for later Gundam series originated, it's almost a lull before the storm with some final bit of character development and movement of where they belong. This volume ends with the start of a new operation by the Titans that shifts the balance of power and will mark the change of things to come. This is also pretty standard by this point in time and it gives hint of the storyline getting ready to barrel ahead into a lot more action and ever changing character pieces as the large cast begins to move their individual agendas ahead. While not a stand-out volume, this one does have some good character moments and some good mobile suit action in addition to a new fleet movement. It's a bit by the numbers but it's a key piece of material that needs to be accomplished before the bigger and better moments can happen.
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: 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 Zeta Gundam