Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny Vol. #08 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2007



What They Say
After a series of defeats at the hands of the Minerva and the ZAFT forces, the Earth Alliance shifts its tactics and begins a campaign of mass destruction in western Eurasia. As the monstrous Destroy Gundam burns its way through one city after another, the Archangel and Minerva rush to the rescue. But the fighting takes a tragic turn after Shinn learns the identity of the Destroy's pilot.

In the aftermath of the battle at Berlin, Chairman Durandal decides the time has come to destroy the secret society that created this conflict. Now that Durandal has revealed the existence of Logos to the world, anyone who will not join his crusade against the secret society is considered an enemy of ZAFT, and a showdown between the Minerva and the Archangel can no longer be avoided.

The Review!
I'm every person you need to be; I'm the cult of personality...

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 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.

Packaging:
The front cover of the volume features Shinn, Stella (Stellaaaaaa!), and the Destroy 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 Kira's Gundam striking a pose.

Menu:
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 straightforward system.

Extras:
The only extra is the "Mecha File Chapter 4" featuring descriptions of the various Gundams and Zakus used in the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The previous volume of Seed Destiny left the series in a lull, but the items it setup paid off quite well in this latest volume. After handing Stella over to Neo, Shinn returns to the Minerva and is promptly escorted to the brig. Arthrun lectures Shinn on how his actions may have been futile; Stella was forced to fight, and this situation is not likely to change despite what Shinn made Neo promise. Neo wastes little time in proving Arthrun's assertion correct.

Logos orders Neo to have Stella pilot the Gundam Destroy, a towering monstrosity capable of leveling entire cities. Stella levels three cities before Kira, the Archangel, Shinn, and the Minerva can arrive to stop her. As the battle rages, Neo engages Shinn and tells him that Stella is the pilot. Shinn is unable to reason with Stella to stop her rampage, and Kira is forced to destroy her Gundam resulting in her death. Grief stricken over Stella's (Stellaaaaaaaaaa!) death, Shinn focuses on destroying Kira and his Freedom Gundam for revenge.

Neo is captured by the Archangel during the battle and is revealed as Mu La Flaga. After the battle, Chairman Durandal finally begins his end gambit and reveals that the current and past wars were driven by the mysterious Logos group. In one speech, he manages to give everyone a scapegoat and establishes a cult of personality that will help him bring his agenda to fruition.

Part of his agenda is the immediate destruction of the Archangel and its crew; while Arthrun and the command staff are baffled by this decision, Shinn relishes the thought of exacting his revenge. As the volume ends, the Archangel desperately dives underwater to escape, as Shinn destroys the Freedom.

Where the previous volume ended in a lull, this volume ends with enough action and twists to have me anticipating the next volume. It will be interesting to see where Shinn's revenge and Durandal's power grab will take the story next. However, this volume has its flaws that detract from the story.

Shinn's behavior after Stella's (Stellaaaaaaaaa!) death feels contrived, designed only to force a showdown with Kira. Neo broke his promise to Shinn and is equally, if not more, responsible for her death, yet Shinn focuses his rage only on Kira. Where is the rage he had earlier in the volume for people treating Stella like a tool? This volume also highlights the major flaw I find in the series.

Seed Destiny is trying too hard to be an epic saga but cannot find the appropriate balance for the characters and plot lines. The result is too many predictable plot points and paper-thin secondary characters. Seed Destiny continues to be an entertaining series, but it does not provide enough material to match the epic scope it seems to be striving towards.

In Summary:
Seed Destiny continues to be entertaining but predictable and at times contrived. This volume featured plenty of action with far reaching consequences for the remainder of the story. My enthusiasm is tempered by the past performance of the series; it simply cannot balance the characters and plot lines to match the epic scope it aims for. It will be interesting to see how Shinn and Durandal's actions play out, but the series still lacks the material that would test my patience waiting for the next volume.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Mecha Encyclopedia

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: B-
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