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

By:Kim Wolstenholme
Review Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Release Date: Monday, February 06, 2006



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.

The newly formed fleet comprising of the Archangel and the Kusanagi helps strengthen the will to preserve peace. The Earth Alliance is stronger than ever too though and prepares to go on the offensive against the PLANTs who are still in crisis after the failure of Operation Spitbreak and the revolt led by the Clyne family,

To make matters worse, many truths have been obscured by all the lies and hypocrisies during the way. Now the time has come for truths to be unveiled and for both Athrun and Kira to face their demons...

The Review!
The penultimate volume of SEED has arrived, and while some things are starting to be tied up, there are still yet more revelations in store for Kira and friends.

Audio:

Yet again, the Japanese track was my preferred option, and 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. Although there are a few CG effects on this volume, that slightly distracted me due to bad integration with the 2D animation.

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:

Lacus takes centre stage on the cover of the ninth volume looking rather authoritative in a powerful pose. The cover also follows the story, as we're back in space and in the background we have Lacus' ship (Eternal). The back cover follows the same format as the previous releases with the usual screen shots and series blurb. The usual insert continues to impress and gives the viewer a bit more information about the series.

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 Calamity 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:

As with the previous volume the extras on this disk are fairly poor even in comparison with some of the previous volumes. Once again the opening and ending have changed, so BEEZ have provided a clean version of both the opening and ending. This is accompanied by the usual Character / Mecha profiles.

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

The end of the last volume saw the neutral nation of Orb being destroyed although due to the actions of its president the loss of life was kept to a minimum. Both the Archangel and the Kusanagi (captained by Cagalli) managed to escape into space, along with the new improved Gundams piloted by Kira and Athrun. However before being forced to leave Orb by her father, Cagalli was informed that Kira was in fact her brother.

Unsure how to react to this revelation, Cagalli's first reaction is to wonder whether she should actually tell Kira that she is his sister. After much soul searching and many tears, Cagalli does decide to tell Kira, but she tells him of their new relationship in front of Athrun as well. Cagalli's decision to confide in both Kira and Athrun at the same time goes some way to showing how comfortable she is around both of them, and demonstrates the fact that she does not want any secrets to be kept from either of them.

Meanwhile back on the PLANTs Lacus is doing her bit to try and get the citizens to see that the war is futile by broadcasting a message of peace via pirate radio. When the ZAFT council hear of this they retaliate by trying to besmirch the Clyne family name and make it publicly known that Lacus is now a traitor to the ZAFT cause. As well as their public denouncement of the Clynes, ZAFT manage to track down Sigel and assassinate him, although luckily Lacus is not around when this occurs. Lacus isn't the only coordinator trying to make people see sense, as Athrun decides to go and see his father to find out the reasons behind his actions.

Surprisingly enough this meeting does not turn out at all well for either Athrun or his father, and Patrick Zala is quick to condemn his son as yet another traitor. What is a shame here is that Patrick Zala is just portrayed as yet another xenophobic, egocentric maniac, as he informs Athrun that his goal is to rid the universe of all naturals as he believes that coordinators are the superior race. This confrontation, and conflict of opinions, results in Patrick Zala ordering the arrest of his son, but Athrun is not without his allies. Lacus has learnt of Athrun's presence on the PLANT and has her men rescue him while he is being transported to another location.

Before ZAFT manage to close in on Lacus and Athrun they manage to escape in her own ship " the Eternal, which was the ship built specifically to transport the Justice and Freedom Gundams. It's nice to see a different side to Lacus in these episodes, as in the past she's come across as someone who will talk the talk, but not walk the walk. Seeing Lacus take control of her situation and command people to do her biding was a nice turnaround. The most surprising thing for me about Lacus' escape was the person who was piloting her ship. I never expected characters to be 'brought back from the dead' in this series, but as this particular character was a favourite of mine I really didn't mind the decision to bring him back into the fray.

The Alliance are now determined to capture the new Gundams piloted by Kira and Athrun, as well as destroying the Archangel, and they have just the ship to do it. Natarle Badgiruel managed to escape the carnage at JOSH-A and has been given the command of a new ship " the Dominion " an Archangel class ship that has the power to destroy the Archangel, although the pair are quite evenly matched. The Alliance send this ship out to find and destroy the Archangel, although it's not on its own - on board are the three Alliance Gundams and their pilots who are just itching to get the better of Kira and Athrun (and each other).

The Dominion does manage to track down the Archangel, but they didn't expect the Archangel to have backup in the form of the Kusanagi and Eternal. This does not stop Natarle from going ahead with her orders to attack and destroy the Archangel and she is quite a formidable foe for Murrae. Natarle is well aware of Murrae's weaknesses in battle and has no issues in initially using this information to her advantage.

The main theme running through this penultimate volume is confrontation, although this doesn't stop the revelations coming thick and fast, these confrontations are also not restricted to people on opposing sides. The guys who are piloting the new Alliance Gundams, who are highly competitive, continue to bicker among themselves. It also becomes clear during this volume that they are being used as Guinea Pigs by the Alliance and have been given implants and drugs that artificially enhance their abilities to coordinator-like proportions. Yzak and Dearka also get in on the act, when Yzak comes face to face with Dearka when he is protecting the Archangel. Murrae Ramius and Natarle Badgiruel also become enemies in this volume, a position that neither of them thought would happen, although even when working together their relationship was never on a decent footing.

However the crux of the episodes on this disk is the confrontation between Rau Le Crueset and Mu La Flaga, a confrontation that has been brewing since the first few episodes. Kira also gets mixed up in their little tete a tete, and Le Crueset decides to drop the ultimate bombshell for both La Flaga and Kira.

As to be expected this is quite an action packed volume of Gundam SEED, and yet again we get to see all the Gundams in action. The action sequences have always been a highlight of this series for me, and they continue to impress me just as much as they have done in previous volumes. Gundam SEED also isn't afraid of slowing the pace to allow for major revelations and character development, and far from spoiling the flow of the series or feeling forced, these interludes work well to ensure that the viewer is emotionally invested in all the characters be they coordinator or natural.

In Summary:

This volume does a fantastic job of starting to bring things to their ultimate conclusion. The most surprising thing for me during this volume was that things went in a direction that was totally unexpected. I did have my own ideas on how they would bring the series to a close and I was not prepared for the events of this disk. Not that that's a bad thing, as it's always nice when a show is somewhat unpredictable. After all the revelations and confrontations on this disk though, I'm expecting something special for the finale, hopefully it won't disappoint.

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,Clean Opening and Ending

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: 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