Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Limited Edition Box Set (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2004
In UC0087, a relative peace has broken out among the Colonies and Earth. On the colony cluster formerly known as Side 7, now known as Noa, a mysterious black Gundam is being tested by the Titans, an organization dedicated to eradicating the remaining stragglers from the Principality of Zeon. Or so it would seem...
The Japanese audio is superb. The track is mostly clean from any sort of imperfections such as hisses, snaps or pops. Since the masters are nearly two decades old, I consider this a major plus. While I would have loved to have gotten this in a 5.1 mix, I realize the complexity of that undertaking and would not dock any sort of credit from footage this old. However, as it's been often stated in Internet flamewars and fanboy rantings, the original opening credit song and closing credit song are both missing, instead replaced by instrumental music from the series itself. I find this detracts from the overall viewing experience of the series, as the original opening song was quite a bit more upbeat than the orchestral piece that replaced it, although the original end song was replaced by a piece that is of similar pace and is as upbeat as the song used originally.
Being unafraid of the current age of dubbing, I decided to take a listen to several episodes, dubbed into English. The dub voice actors all do a great job, and despite not being the original actors from the original series, still do a decent job with capturing emotion and character, although, it would seem more could be done, but I'm not sure where the line is that lands them into "over acting." One problem I did notice, and this is probably the ADR/Script writer's fault is that some of the lines in english seemed oddly phrased, such as in episode 1, Kamille refers to "the White Base" rather than just "White Base" proper. But that's just my opinion and it does not reflect the slightly lowered grade that was given to it.
Video is clean, but there are random specks that can be seen. Most likely issues related to the original footage, I'd assume. If this was any older, I'd be more of a problem, but it's not much of a problem as it is, so I'm not too concerned with it.
Also noteworthy is the decision to go with soft-subbed signs/other bits of writting, which are annoying if you can't read but a character can and is making reference to it.
The box that houses the slimcase DVDs is sturdy. It's as sturdy as I could ever ask for a box. However, the container that holds the box, the poster and the set of pencil sharpners is flimsy. While the rest of the outer container itself is relatively strong, after improperly mounting the box itself back into it's case, I accidentally ripped a small bit of cardboard and the thin plastic window for the dvds got ripped as well. I was not too thrilled about that at all.
The menu is as simple as a menu could be, there's a bit of art in the background, with the episode titles some where on left and "Chapter select," "Setup," and "DVD Credits." on the right, all of the text is not intruding against the art on the screen, nor is it being pushed off to the side, often framing the subject of the artwork in question.
Where the menu fails however, is the looped background music. While it's a great song, they chose to clip into it at the worst possible moment with a hard note being sang by the singer right out. Given all of the song options, I felt really disappointed this was the song they decided to go with.
The discs themselves contained no extras. Given the nature of the release, this isn't surprising, what was surprising was the viewers guide included. Rather than leave this information in liner notes, it was instead included as a small booklet that was packed at the end of the block of slim cases. The small nature of the booklet meant that it was a little flimsy on the binding. After regular use, my cover began to tear. I'm not sure if it's me incidentally handling it rough, which I'm inclinded to believe, or the actual build quality of the booklet. In either case, I had a bad experience with it. Although given the nature of the information inside, such as when certain characters showed up and more importantly, when they died, I'd have preferred this information be left on each of the discs themselves as liner notes and left with another disc of random extras, including possibly bits of art or character designs, or possibly just leave the extra disc/booklet out of it all together, but that's not my decision to make.
The poster is a standard fare poster, a beautiful rendition of Quattro Bajeena's Hyaku Shiki, Kamille Bidan's Zeta Gundam and the gigantic Pysco Gundam in the background. I'm happy with the fact that it's there. It's a bit small, but, it's also beautiful and fit well in the overall package, so I'm happy with it.
The pencil sharpeners are a bit of a let down. The functionality is good, but unusual for this kind of release. Some of the sharpeners are more action figure like in thier build, with the arms, weapons or other accessories being included, but not attached, which makes me apprehensive to use them as pencil sharpeners, and that's the bit of let down.
I'm a giant Gundam fanboy, so I'm going to say that this is a classic, an absolute classic; one of Yoshiyuki Tomino's greatest works. Fifty episodes of gut wrenching drama and incredible action.
As the preview stated, the series starts off in UC0087, seven years after the initial One Year War between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. With the Zeons defeated, they scattered in space, the Earth Federation forms an organization known as the Titans, a military organization that's outside the jurisidiction of the Earth Federated Forces, or the regular army. Over the years, and after squashing as much Zeon influence as they can, they become corrupt and turn on colonies that continually cry for independence. This causes the colonists to form the Anti-Earth Union Group, or the AEUG(or as it's pronounced by the Japanese cast, "AyeOOG") to combat them.
One fateful day in UC0087, the Titans bring a new black colored Gundam for testing at the colony of Green Noah, home of Kamille Bidan. After a run in with Jerid Messa, master of the bouffant hair-do and officer of the Titans, Kamille gets wrapped up with the AEUG, stealing the test Gundam, and helping nab the others. His newtype powers emerge in combat as he is simply able to understand how the mobile suit operates. In his run in with the AEUG, the Titans and the earth based Karaba, an AEUG sympathetic resistance group based on Earth. he meets several of the heroes from the One Year War, including Kai Shiden, Bright Noah, Hayato Kobayashi, Amuro Ray, and yes, even Char Aznable(who's posing as the mysterious, "Quattro Bajeena"). Along with the old crew, many new characters are introduced in Kamille's travels. Including them are Fa Yuiry, a friend Kamille has known since childhood who happend to run into him, the insane cyber newtypes Four Murasame and Rosamia Badam(who seems to have brotherly issues), both of whom have a strange attraction to Kamille, Ex-Titans officer Emma Sheen, who finds her heart to grow 3 sizes too big the day that she finds out the atrocities the Titans have carried out, and Reccoa Londe, who seems to have no particular agenda in this war, among many, many others. With a simplistic, but intriguing political backdrop to bind the story together, the drama plays out rather well, with some obvious twists, and some not so obvious, with the action being the strong action seen previously in the original Kidou Senshi Gundam/Mobile Suit Gundam.
The lack of an A/A+ is that this is recommended for fans who are already familliar with the Universal Century storyline, as jumping right into this with out having any knowledge of the previous events would be like taking a cannon ball into the deep end of the Universal Century pool. Even though the series itself is great, I would suggest viewing the original movie trilogy and possibly even the MS08th recap movie, Miller's Report, even though it has no bearing on the official story line, it's still a worthy view to get some understanding of the world before UC0087. Since the knowledge of the previous events is required, I do not feel like this as a package is as encompassing as it could be, but for those it's recommended for, it's an absolute treasure.
This is a decent release. The video and audio is clean, with the only exception being the lack of the original opening and ending pieces, however, this is not necessarily the fault of the studio, but it does take away from the overall experience. The downside is that it's weighed down by the poor menu audio choice(which is a minor annoyance), odd choice of extras, flimsy container(if you're a collector and must have EVERY bit of packaging the set comes with) and heavy backstory.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: C
Menus Rating: C+
Extras Rating: C-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 1250
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam