Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Vol. #06 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Kim Wolstenholme
Review Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Release Date: Monday, October 17, 2005



What They Say
The war between Earth and its space colonies has turned childhood friends Kira and Athrun into enemies. In their Mobile Suits (giant manned robots), they undergo a life-changing epic. Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, one of the latest series situated in the world of Gundam, has been a huge success in Japan and the US.

Cagalli admits that she is the President of Orb’s daughter, making it possible for the Archangel to seek shelter in the neutral territories of Orb. There, the crew will have to help Morgenroete, the scientific foundation originally responsible for Gundams, in their search to produce new weapons. During there time there, Asran hopes the Archangel doesn’t escape and waits close by for his final confrontation with Kira and the Strike Gundam.

The Review!
At the half way point a couple of episodes are given over to recap on events so far a nice lull before the storm, as things are now starting to get much more personal for Kira and Athrun.

Audio:

As with the other disks the Stereo audio tracks are fine. I noticed no dropouts or distortion on the Japanese audio track, with everything coming across well. I spot-checked the English track and this also displayed no problems.

Video:

Yet again the picture quality is perfectly fine and I noticed no real defects, apart from an occasional softness and lack of detail. As with previous disks the only thing that really sticks out like a sore thumb are the CG shots, which aren’t integrated particularly well. One thing that Gundam has done well is use colours to reflect the environment that the Archangel finds itself in, with the more recent episodes with the Archangel finally getting to Earth being much more colourful.

Subtitles are white with a thin black outline and I noticed no grammar or spelling mistakes.

Packaging:

The cover for the sixth disk really highlights what’s in store for viewers with a central picture of the Strike being overwhelmed by Athrun’s Gundam against a stormy background. On the top right of the cover we have a close up of Kira with a similar close up of Athrun in the bottom left. While it’s not as colourful as previous covers it really conveys the tone of the episodes on this disk well. The back cover has the usual précis of the disk along with a few screen shots and the technical information is contained in a grid near the bottom of the cover.

Once again this release contains an insert that gives a bit more background information about things mentioned in the show.

Menu:

The menu has been designed to look like what I would term as a console session or a computer screen. Before loading the main menu screen you are prompted to select your language preference, once your preferred language has been selected a brief montage sequence is played before the main menu is displayed. The main menu has a picture of the Strike Gundam taking up the centre of the screen along with the SEED logo and scenes from the series play in the background. The menu options are displayed at the bottom of the screen, and music from the series overlays the main menu. When you select one of the main options, another screen opens up and the original screen moves to the bottom left hand corner of the screen, although the options on the main menu screen remain selectable. All the submenus are silent, with the exception of the episode selection menu, and access times are nice and quick. The only slight misgiving I had about the menus reside firmly with the language selection screen, which gives no indication of which options have been selected – an oversight on behalf of BEEZ, especially with the number of audio / subtitle options that are included on this release.

Extras:

There’s not really anything new on the extras front on this disk. Once again we have the textless opening and closing along with the ongoing character and mecha files. The production sketches once again focus on the backgrounds rather than the character designs and are in a slide show format. While the extras are OK, I’m left hoping for a bit more variety next time round as so far each disk seems to have the same material on it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)

The sixth volume of SEED marks the halfway point in the series and what better way to celebrate this than have a couple more recap episodes! I’m usually not a big fan of recap episodes, but with a series as long as SEED, they do serve a purpose and the second recap episode actually adds in some new information towards the end, so it doesn’t seem like you’ve wasted 25 minutes watching old material be rehashed.

The first recap episode (26) is a standard recap where the events that have occurred so far are summarised for the main characters with some general observations thrown in for good measure. This would work quite well to give someone whose new to the series a good basic idea of what’s been going on and will provide them with enough information to watch the remainder of the series without having to ask annoying questions!

The second recap episode basically focuses on Kira, and is in the form of a report being made by a member of Orb’s military, Chief Simmons. In her report she is basically summarising Kira’s achievements to date with the Strike, as well as hinting about something additional that could explain his enhanced capabilities – although this section of her report is erased as she thinks twice about her assumptions. Since both the Archangel and the Strike are now in Orb and being mended / restocked, Chief Simmons decides to show Kira the Gundams that Orb have developed and ask him to help them with their programming as they suffer from the same deficiencies as the Strike before Kira reprogrammed it.

Kira agrees to help, and seems to enjoy doing this as he fully concentrates on making improvements to the OS that he’s had more time to think through, instead of having to make changes on the fly which is what he’s had to do for the most part up until now. In fact Kira devotes most of his time to completing this task to the exclusion of his friends and even Flay. Meanwhile, the others get an unexpected opportunity to meet up with their parents as they all have relatives in Orb, except for Flay and Kira. Flay no longer has family in Orb and Kira is unsure how he will react to his parents as all he really wants to know is why they decided to make him a coordinator.

Kira’s parents are also unsure whether they want to meet him as well, and are asked to meet Lord Uzumi, the president of Orb, who appears to know something about Kira’s background. During this meeting some kind of bond between Kira and Athrun is mentioned, which neither of them appear to be aware of.

During the Archangels brief stay in Orb, Kira and Athrun come face to face yet again, although on a more relaxed footing. Kira’s pet robot Birdy flies out of the Orb military base and it just so happens that Athrun is nearby with the others seeing whether they could sneak into the base undetected. As Athrun gives Birdy back, there is the possible hint of understanding between them, but not enough to make them go back to their previous friendship.

The final two episodes on this disk contain two of the most emotional and spectacular battles so far. The Archangel finally leaves Orb with a military escort that will accompany them until they reach the border of Orb’s territory. Due to Athrun’s unexpected meeting with Kira, he now knows that the Archangel and Strike were still in Orb and he’s kept his team on standby waiting for them to leave.

As soon as the Orb escort falls back ZAFT attack the Archangel with all their force, and seem even more determined to destroy the legged ship. Yzak and Dearka have made revenge their primary motive for their continued attacks and since Yzak was injured during a fight with Kira he has become singularly focused on destroying the Strike. What is interesting to note is the difference in attitude between the members of Team Le Crueset. Yzak and Dearka are very determined to destroy the Archangel and focus on nothing else, whereas Athrun and Nicol are slightly more relaxed and take time out before the attacks to talk about things other than their missions.

Because of their frustration at not having the upper hand in their battles so far, Yzak and Dearka give this fight their all, and seem to be winning, but Kira is also determined not to let any harm befall his friends and is, along with Mu La Flaga, merciless in his defence of the Archangel. So much so that the battle becomes much more intense than any of their previous encounters with both sides determined to defeat the enemy. Also joining the battle for the first time is Tolle, who’s taken over piloting the second Sky Grasper since the departure of Cagalli.

This determination to succeed eventually leads to Kira and Athrun facing each other in single combat, but both of them are at a disadvantage as they’ve started to let their emotions rather than experience come into play. Eventually this lack of detachment means that both sides lose a well-regarded member of their team, and thus the battle becomes even more of a personal vendetta on both sides.

The last two episodes on this disk, actually made me think that the Archangel and the Strike were not as invincible as they’ve seemed so far. Throughout their numerous battles the Archangel appears to have hardly been scratched, whereas this time it really does look as if it’s taken some major hits from the opposition. This disk also ends with a cliff-hanger, and unlike previous encounters it really does seem as if Team Le Creuset have finally managed to inflict some serious damage.

In Summary:

The only thing that Gundam SEED has been missing so far has been an emotional impact, and the episodes on this disk provide that in spades. The time spent building up the characters in the first half of the series has paid off with the realisation that none of the characters are ‘safe’ any longer. I’m still wondering which direction the remainder of the series is going to take though, as these episodes have indicated that there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than just ZAFT trying to get rid of the Archangel.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,French Language 2.0,German Language 2.0,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,German Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Polish Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation,Character and Mecha files,Production Sketches

Review Equipment
Panasonic 42” Plasma, Arcam 88+ Prog Scan DVD Player, Kef Egg 7.1 Speaker system with a Ruark log sub. Denon 3802 amplifier.



Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Beez
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED