Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny Vol. #06 (also w/special edition) (of 12) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, February 08, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, January 23, 2007
What They Say
The fierce naval battle between the Minerva and the Orb fleet has been interrupted by the sudden appearance of the Archangel and the Freedom Gundam. However, the battlefield continues to descend into chaos, with tragic consequences. After the battered Minerva withdraws to a friendly port, Athrun leaves the ship to search for the Archangel to confront his former allies. As he listens to their revelations, Athrun is forced to choose between his faith in Chairman Durandal and his friendship with Kira and Cagalli.
We come to the halfway point of Destiny and find a shocking surprise to lead us into the second half.
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.
Originally released in 2005, 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.
Bandai takes the prize for most unique box design in this special edition. The box features a black and red motif with a picture of Arthrun on one side and his Gundam on the other. There is a notch that says "pull" at the bottom; when you grasp this part and pull, that section slides out and also pushes another section out from the top. The t-shirt is housed in the bottom section complete with a flap over the top to hold it in place. The actual DVD volume is in the top section and can be coaxed out of its container via a finger sized hole in the bottom. This is a very ingenious and fun design; those that bought the box with volume one will have a difficult time deciding where volume six should reside.
The front cover of the volume features Arthrun 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 Arthrun's Gundam striking a pose.
Bandai moves away from the cockpit motif and goes back to basics. The main menu simply contains the menu items to the left, a Gundam head to the lower right, and clips from the volume playing in the background. A small loop of music rounds things out. Transition delays are negligible making for a more straightforward system.
Two extras are featured on this volume; first is a textless version of the latest opening sequence. The second extra is the "Character File Chapter 2" featuring a short biography of many of the main characters. Included in the special edition is a t-shirt (large).
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Gundam Seed Destiny approaching the half way mark, it has yet to really run with the various plot threads it has created. The foundation for the story has been laid, but the characters have yet to really build upon it and create an engaging story. Events in the previous volume began to change this, and this volume adds a few new twists that could propel the story forward in the second half. Picking up in the middle of the Black Sea battle, Kira's arrival has thrown both sides into confusion, and Cagalli's appearance and plea for Orb to disarm and retreat multiplies the effect.
Refusing to lose face in front of the Earth forces, Chairman Yuna declares Cagalli to be a fake and orders her shot down from the sky. Kira quickly dispatches and disarms both sides of the conflict forcing them to retreat. While Cagalli despairs over the situation, Arthrun returns to the Minerva confused about Kira's motives. Taking a leave of absence, he sets out to find and talk to Kira. When they do meet, both sides refuse to back down from their plans.
This scene is a well crafted culmination of the events the characters have been put through. Despite hearing about the PLANT assassination attempt on Lacus, Arthrun resolutely determines to stick with the military and even fight Orb if necessary to bring about Durandal's vision of peace. Kira acknowledges that he may have killed countless people in battle, but he calmly states that he is tired of the soldier's life and the death that dogs its steps. No more war for him or for anyone; that is all he seeks now. The exchange speaks volumes about the underlying feelings of the characters, and you can see the pain in both Arthrun and Cagalli's hearts as they seem to be growing further apart. Both desperately want to live their lives with each other, but they are unable to find a middle ground to work together.
Meanwhile, Shinn and Rey have been sent to a secret Earth Force facility and discover a gruesome scene. While Earth Force has been demonizing the genetic manipulations of the PLANTs, this facility has been experimenting on children to produce soldiers of the same caliber; the only difference is they are using mind wipes and drugs to generate results. The hypocrisy and brutality of this revelation shocks the crew of the Minerva.
Shinn receives one last shock when Stella misguidedly attempts to protect her "mother" at the facility and ends up being captured by Shinn. The sweet, mysterious girl he met turns out to be his enemy and has no memory of him. The volume ends with Stella regaining some memory of Shinn, and Lacus flying off to the PLANTs to gather her own intelligence on the situation.
These are intriguing developments in the story, and it gives some solid direction for the second half of the series to follow. However, there still is not enough heat behind the plot that has me anticipating the next volume. Scenes like the one with Arthrun confronting Kira have been few and far between; it has been difficult to connect with the characters and sympathize with their plight. A number of plot threads have been established, and these revelations add to them without tying them together to create a solid picture.
It remains a visually appealing series with its varied and detailed mecha designs, but it has to keep providing moments to connect the audience to the characters and the story as this volume did. For now, Destiny continues to bolster my flagging interest in the series, but it must keep up this momentum and build on the massive foundation it has laid.
With a few key revelations, Gundam Seed Destiny has managed to recapture my attention as the first half comes to a close. However, it stills feels like the series is building the foundation of the plot rather than having a solid direction to move towards. Another interesting thread has been added in the form of the Earth Forces hypocrisy, but there are too many of interesting thread hanging about that are not being tugged upon. The series has me intrigued about what will happen next, but it is missing the "heat " that would have me eagerly anticipating the next volume.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,MS Encyclopedia,SE: T-shirt
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: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny