Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny Vol. #04 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2006



What They Say
Athrun returns to Orb in his new mobile suit, the Savior, unaware of what has happened. He is immediately attacked and decides to retreat to Carpentaria, where he is reunited with the Minerva. Their orders are to assist in the attack on the Eurasian Federation's Suez Base. He also learns from Talia about Orb's alliance with the Federation and the Freedom kidnapping Cagalli from her wedding.

Neo, meanwhile, orders an attack on the Minerva as they are en route to Suez. Sting, Stella, and Auel engage Shinn and the others. During the battle, Shinn loses control of his emotions and has to be reminded of his duties. The Archangel, meanwhile, monitors the news of the battle from another location, safely underwater. They are waiting for the right time to involve themselves in the conflict.

The Review!
Shinn learns an important lesson in a very special volume of Gundam Seed Destiny.

Audio:
The Japanese soundtrack was used for my primary viewing session. It is a solid stereo track free from distortion, drop-outs, or other noise. While not the most powerful or dynamic audio track, it provides some decent directional effects during the battles and balance all elements appropriately.

Video:
Originally released in 2004, the video is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio and look gorgeous. Whether it is the dark reaches of space or the bright colors of the Gundams and their weapon fire, the colors are sharp, vivid, and bring out some great details at times. Some of the scenes, mostly the shots of the Minerva, do stand out as obvious CGI, but these are few and do not detract much from the overall viewing experience.

Packaging:
The front cover sports Auel and his Gundam. The series title and volume number are placed along the bottom of the cover. Filling up the back cover are the usual suspects of screenshots, synopsis, disc specifications, and Auel's Gundam striking a pose.

Menu:
Bandai puts you in the pilot's seat for the menu system as you interact with various cockpit controls and panels. The main menu features some video clips playing inside a display screen while music loops in the background. Transition delays are minimal and keep with the theme by shifting your focus to another control panel.

Extras:
The only extra is a textless version of the new closing.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gundam Seed Destiny is turning out to be an unevenly paced series. It has had some brilliant moments of plot and character development, yet this fourth volume bogs things down with uninspired maneuvers to grab some land away from the Earth forces. The Minerva and its crew battle their way across the Indian Ocean to Suez. There, they attempt to help a growing resistance movement in Western Eurasia. Meanwhile, Kira, Lacus, Cagalli, and the Archangel check out the news from under the sea.

And that pretty much sums up the entire volume. The battles are not very entertaining to watch, and it simply feels like the series is starting to lose traction. This ground pounding could have been used to flesh out the characters and their relationships. There is a hint of this though in Arthrun's dealings with Shinn.

Arthrun recognizes many of his own past experiences and mistakes in Shinn's actions; Arthrun gives Shinn one important piece of wisdom to take into battle. You may cry when you lack power, but you will be the one making others cry once you have obtained power. This wisdom does not have an immediate pay-off nor should it. It is a seed planted in Shinn's mind that one can only hope will grow into something worthwhile.

Some other small flourishes also reminded me of what I have enjoyed most about the series so far. It does manage at times to put the human face and cost on war. Enemy soldiers die screaming their lover's names; freedom fighters prove that they can be just as vicious as their former masters. They are small but powerful moments that suck you back into the action, albeit briefly.

These are the elements I hope to see more of in future volumes. They were there in the beginning but are regrettably falling by the wayside. With four volumes out of the way, I was expecting the story to be heating up more than it has. Instead, it seems to be cooling down and settling into a series of protracted battles that leave few lasting effects on the characters or the plot. When will it get to the hard hitting questions such as why every Gundam series has to have a man in a mask running around. And how does any army let an officer like Lunamaria run around in a mini-skirt and thigh-high black stockings? These are the things I think about while ticking away the minutes for this volume instead of what is actually going on.

In Summary:
Battling from point A to point B is the main objective of this volume, but Shinn does learn an important lesson from Arthrun, one that will hopefully have some pay-off later in the series. The plot stalls a bit with the focus more on taking ground away from the Earth forces, but some subtle flourishes manage to keep this volume from being totally disposable. After four volumes, the plot just isn't heating up as much as I would like.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending #2

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny