Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Vol. #09 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, May 31, 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!
Events spiral forward as each side begins to make their move and the large scale battles commence which parallel beautifully the personal dilemmas and dramas that boil over.

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. This is the most striking cover to me so far I think for a couple of reasons. I love the way that Reccoa comes across here with her expression that's almost pained as well as the way the illustration and coloring defines her uniform. She looks slick in a Titan uniform to be sure. The other is that other than his beret, it's one of the few times that Scirocco actually looks decent and not like a complete pansy. 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:
The menu gives Reccoa another great looking shot in her Titan uniform as she's standing in front of one of the Gundam's while Emma shares a bit of the space as well in front of her with just a bit more than a headshot. Both look good and the illustration makes you wish the series looked more like this. 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)
The last ten episodes of pretty much every Gundam series I've seen have been the huge payoff episodes. We get a number of good moments throughout the series, though often not until the mid twenty range and then every few episodes thereafter, but once it hits the forties, that's when the writers realize that they've dawdled enough and have to try and wrap stuff up. So with that kind of last minute energy, it seeps into the show itself and you can almost feel the characters being rushed around a bit and moved through the paces. But at the same time, it all comes so fast that it's simply enjoyable to watch so much happen and change so quickly.

There are some good key areas to this set of five episodes. With the last volume, we saw the return of Rosamia as Rosammy where she viewed Kamille as her older brother. This of course is comical in its own right since when she's flicked the other way with her mental switch, she's a cold hearted killer whose only target is Kamille and the Zeta Gundam. So having these numerous lovey-dovey scenes with the two is great to see since it only heightens the pain for each of them more, especially after the tragedy that Kamille had to go through so recently with Four. That's still very much in his mind and he even compares the two of them at one point. Rosammy finds herself like everyone else on board the Argama which means if she goes down the right hallway she too can pilot a mobile suit without any questions being asked.

Her return to the cockpit in order to help Kamille (who is still probably reeling from her numerous nude scenes in earlier) brings back the feelings of her other self and what she's been programmed to do, so it opens that volatile Jekyll and Hyde thing nicely and it plays out well. Sometimes she slips back and forth during combat and sometimes it's when one of the other Titan crafts show up and use its hypno rays on her that she gets all confused. What was truly amusing with this show, and frankly all Gundam shows at one time or another, is just how often these people all get out of their mobile suits and sit down in the middle of a battle and just talk. Occasionally we'll get a good knife or gun fight out of it, but it seems especially when Kamille is involved that people just want to get out and hug each other.

What really tickled me pink with this volume is the way that the relationships between the various powers have evolved, especially since the One Year War. The return of the "true" Zeon with the Zabi family at the helm (with Haman truly leading it at the time anyway) is just perfect at this time and place since they provide a nice new way of unbalancing what's come before between the Federation/Titans and the AEUG. Since the One Year War, people have ended up on both sides of the camp and now find themselves fighting against what they used to believe in. The Federation has become incredibly corrupted when they seemed at least on the surface to be the good guys back then. The AEUG is much more of a rebel army this time around that then way the Principality took on a royal and highly class oriented system and was seeking freedom from Earth. Bringing the Axis group into play, and giving them what they are offered by the AEUG this time, it sets the stage in a really interesting way as they have the potential to become an impressive player. But it's just the way everything has come around/gone around that simply has me enjoying a lot of the little nuggets of this series.

There is a lot of great material in here, especially the big space battle that pits rock versus rock. Subtlety is out the window here after all, this is the series that walked the walk with a colony drop. The secondary cast gets some good material, such as Katz and Sarah's relationship getting expanded a bit as comical as it is and Fa gets to prove herself more. Reccoa is probably the one with the biggest challenge since as we learned earlier, she's not fighting because of ideology but rather because she simply likes to fight. She's Yazan of sorts but with more personality and a rack. But she also does still have a conscience and dislikes some of the things that the Titans do but like many, she sells herself to the cause she fights for and does what they demand, regardless of whether she likes it or not. It's quite the difference from on board the Argama where everyone argues and people like Katz get a voice.

Yes, I'd be happy if he was jettisoned.

In Summary:
Zeta's on the fast track towards the end here and this volume changes things up dramatically in a number of departments but it also gives us some of the big epic battles that we long for, plus a number of deaths. Sadly, most of them aren't the ones most of us are rooting for heavily but beggars can't be choosers. Each of these episodes ends in a way that makes me crave another episode right away though, so to me that means the show did its job, even if it does get incredibly goofy at times. With only one volume left to go, I can't wait to tackle it but at the same time I fear being left with nothing else.

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, 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: 13 & Up
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