Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Vol. #08 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Kim Wolstenholme
Review Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Release Date: Monday, December 05, 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.

ZAFT launches Operation SpitBreak and anticipates the destruction of the Earth Alliance. Meanwhile, the Archangel is charged with protecting JOSH-A in Alaska, without the aid of the Strike Gundam. Moreover, the high command transfers several key members of the Archangel’s staff to other vessels before the battle! On the other hand, the Atlantic Federation has been prepared for ZAFT’s attack for a long time now. With one swift attack they hope to turn the tables on the ZAFT forces and strike at the very heart of the PLANTs!

The Review!
Things are hotting up as we reach the final 15 episodes of SEED. What will become of the Archangel and her crew after escaping the Cyclops detonation, and will Kira continue to help his friends in the new ZAFT Gundam?

Audio:

Once again, the Japanese track was my preferred option, and yet again I noticed no dropouts or distortions with the audio. I spot-checked the English track and this also displayed no obvious problems. Both of the front speakers are utilised nicely with all dialogue and sound effects coming across well. Throughout all the disks so far there has been a good audio balance in the action sequences, with the dialogue still coming across clearly instead of it being overwhelmed by explosions etc...

Video:

BEEZ have given this volume of SEED another good visual presentation, and this time round I didn’t notice any problems that distracted me at all from the episodes contained on this disk. Even the integrated CG effects didn’t seem to be as jarringly obvious as they were in previous volumes.

Subtitles are white with a faint black outline and are easy to read, apart from on a couple of occasions when the background is also quite light.

Packaging:

Cagalli takes centre stage on the cover for the eighth disk, with Kira and Athrun standing just behind her to the left and right. Behind all 3 of them is the looming presence of the Justice Gundam, the new ZAFT Mobile Suit piloted by Athrun. The back cover follows the same layout as the previous covers, with an action shot of the Justice Gundam, the usual series blurb and three screen shots.

Where the Gundam releases continue to impress is with the accompanying booklet that comes with each volume. The booklets contain additional information about the series that’s not explicitly explained in the episodes, and as such provides a further insight into the SEED universe.

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 Justice 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:

A very poor selection of extras this time round, the usual Character / Mecha profiles are accompanied by the US Trailer for SEED and a trailer for PlanetES.

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

After the double crossing and frantic battles of the last disk, I found myself hoping for a bit of a respite, or at least some sense of the backlash from the actions of both ZAFT and the Alliance in the last episode. While this is forthcoming it’s not long before we’re back at battle stations, but the stakes are getting even more personal for the people involved.

ZAFT have suffered a double blow, the destruction of a sizable number of their troops due to the Cyclops device and the loss of one of their new improved Gundams. With Athrun returning to his home PLANT he is soon given his new mission – recover the Freedom Gundam and destroy everyone and everything that might have had contact with it. He is shown footage that shows Lacus helping a ‘spy’ to steal the Suit, but as of yet ZAFT have no idea of the identity of this person. Both Lacus and her father Sigel have disappeared from their home and they have been labelled as traitors to the ZAFT cause.

Athrun reluctantly agrees to take on this mission and he is given the Justice Gundam to help him on his way (a semi-duplicate of the Freedom with the same capabilities). It’s not long before Athrun manages to track down Lacus (by sheer co-incidence really, but let’s not get too hung up about plot holes at this point), and he finds out that Lacus actually helped Kira take the Freedom. Unsurprisingly Athrun is shocked by this news as he was under the impression that he had actually killed his former friend, when Lacus informs Athrun that Kira has gone back to Earth Athrun of course follows suit.

Kira’s reappearance also shocks the crew of the Archangel who had also given him up for dead. While Kira declares that he will no longer fight for the Alliance it just so happens that the Archangel is also in a similar position as they assume they will be court marshalled for having deserted the battle at JOSH-A before the Cyclops device was detonated. There is only one option for the Archangel – appeal to the neutral nation of Orb for protection, which is granted, unfortunately Orb may not be able to stay neutral for long.

The Alliance are now starting to seem like the side responsible for dirty tricks, as they stir up anti-coordinator feeling by insinuating that ZAFT were responsible for the destruction of JOSH-A. They also put pressure to bear on Orb to join forces with the Alliance, stating that they cannot remain neutral. The Alliance communicates several demands to Orb, and indicates that if these demands are not met, that Orb will be seen as siding with ZAFT and be open to Alliance attack. However, it seems that the Alliance will not consider any negotiation of these terms and quickly follow through with their threat to attack Orb.

It’s during this attack that previous alliances are changed, with some surprising developments. Dearka is still on board the Archangel, and when the Alliance begin their attack on Orb and the Archangel he actually decides to help defend his captors! Of course when Dearka was captured the Buster Gundam was also taken and repaired so he’s got a fully functioning mobile suit at his disposal. This is a surprising move by Dearka, as although he is still attacking his old enemy he is also helping to protect a subset of his supposed enemy. Personally I feel that his view of the conflict has changed slightly as he seems to be trying to understand Miri and it’s seems he’s taken quite a fancy to her.

This attack on Orb by the Alliance also introduces some new mobile suits into the frey, that also seem to have been developed by the Alliance. However, unlike the ZAFT suits the pilots of these suits seem to require some sort of drug in order to enable them to pilot the machines and they seem to run out of power quickly. They are also fiercely competitive and don’t think twice about attacking one another when provoked!

Of course it goes without saying that Athrun arrives on Earth as the new Alliance mobile suits are attacking Kira, and comes to the aid of his friend. But it’s what follows that’s most important, as they appear to come to an understanding with one another. Since the series began, I’ve been under the impression that Athrun and Kira will put aside their differences and work together, and this episode sees the beginning of this new era. It’s also interesting that Dearka also follows Kira and seems quite happy to continue defending his former enemy.

Like previous disks, this set of episodes are heavy on the action, and as we are finally coming to the end of the series this isn’t too surprising. What is nice to see is some of the relationships being firmed up as we move towards the finale, with Athrun and Kira looking like they are going to be working together to try and put a stop to the war. As is always the case with series like these though, this disk ends on a surprise confession, that even I didn’t see coming. What effect will this have on the characters involved remains to be seen but it feels like there’s a lot to be resolved in the last 10 episodes.

In Summary:

As with previous instalments of SEED there is quite a lot to digest in this volume, but the episodes on this disk continue to up the ante for almost every character and it’s nice to see some of the secondary characters (such as Dearka) getting a bit more screen time.

I’m still not sure how all this is going to resolve itself, and at this point I’m even wondering whether the ending is going to be satisfactory. However, I’m sure that we’re going to be treated to an all out space battle with no holds barred.

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,Character and Mecha files,US Traier

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: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: C-
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