Gundam SEED Vol. #03 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: D+

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  • Art Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.99
  • Pages: 186
  • ISBN: 0-345-47230-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Gundam SEED Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     March 23, 2006
Release Date: January 01, 2005

Gundam SEED Vol.#03
© Del Rey

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Iwase Masatsugu
Translated by:David Ury
Adapted by:

What They Say
The battle carrier Archangel finally made it to Earth, but its descent took the crew directly into the African desert, controlled by the enemy, the Zaft Empire. Now if the crew have any hope of reaching the Federation military base in Alaska, they have to make desperate dash across the Indian Ocean. Battered by constant attacks, the crew must rely on the goodwill of the neutral island nation of Orb. But Orb's leader asks a high price for his help - the battle data of the Archangeland its mobile suit. No one knows better than Cagalli, the leader's daughter, that he'd have no problem selling this crucial data for political gain. Meanwhile, the last thing that young pilot Kira Yamato wants is to battle his former best friend, Athrun, but a battlefield tragedy may lead to a blood feud between them!

The Review
While I applaud Del Rey for using the original cover art for this series the overall presentation is not great. The front cover features Athrun Zala and Kira Yamato giving each other love-love eyes. The spine has two half ellipses, each containing the studio name - one in kana, the other containing Del Rey's studio logo. Hideous. If that was not enough, Del Rey had to cross-promote this title with the anime that is currently airing. So below the logo there is a yellow quarter sized burst with "AS SEEN ON TV!" covering Kira's uniform. The opposite cover continues to use the black arch around the character art, an image of refugee Cagalli, and the long volume description.

Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... the logo has the same feel as the original. The only thing that was changed was the translation of "Mobile Suit Gundam". They could have easily used the original as it had ruby text in English on it, but there really isn't anything wrong with the translated title.

Inside the printing looks sharp. I did not notice any tone issues and the alignment looked fine. I was a little disappointed to not see color pages in this volume (especially after hearing that other Del Rey titles had these). This volume takes a step down in regards to extras. There are no design files; however, we do get a continuation of Mark Simmons' "A Brief History of Gundam." With this chapter, Simmons describes the SEED side stories. This volume also includes translation notes, creator info, and a preview for volume four along with what they call "the Archangel Timeline".

Iwase's art does not impress me at all. Actually, I find it boring and inconsistent. While his character designs are okay (Kira Yamato looks a lot like Sohma Yuki from Fruits Basket), Iwase's characters tend to only look nice in certain angles, as jaw-lines and eye positioning can often look a little off. Costume designs, like many other Gundam titles, are a mix of old and new. Unfortunately, the new costumes are pretty stereotypical sci-fi - tacky patterns and possibly difficult to get in and out of (buckles, belts and straps). Making matters worse is the lack of depth from Iwase, so everything appears flat without much sense of three dimensions.

The layout is pretty good. It's much better in dramatic scenes than in action, but there still is good variation in regards to panel placement and perspective techniques. The backgrounds are stale but are functional, so they tend to often work well with the layout.

Mechanical designs are a mixed bag. I like the looks of the Mobile Suits. While these tend to be a little more bulky than in past Gundam series, but tend to have some of the traditional designs that have been a Gundam trademark for more than 20 years now. On the other hand, the Archangel does not appear to be very functional and is pretty ugly. The as there is a more organic feel with curves and rounded corners, but when looked at closely it appears to have been over-done. There are too many layers on top of each other - wings, engines, cannons, and bridge - making accessibility between the layers inconvenient and also giving the ship a look of instability. I know this will sound funny, but it reminds me of a roasted turkey on a set of jet wings (potentially tasty but not what I want to see in a space battleship).

As is Del Rey's policy, SFX are subbed. Their subs tend to be of a small font usually placed below the original SFX. Because of the font size original art is not compromised, but with the lack of SFX in this series (kind of weird for an action title) one might not notice them at times. Still, I appreciate the effort and the more I see this done the more I find myself liking it (font size and placement can make a big difference).

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The ground war has begun and the Archangel has been greatly disadvantaged by a foolish venue change. To a crew that mainly consists of colonist volunteers the decision to take the battle to the Earth might not have seemed bad. They could have released the refugees. There was a greater chance for military support, as well. This was the Earth after all; where the war was being funded and devised. The Earth was covered with major bases and millions of soldiers capable of easing the burden on this ship completely lacking officers within its crew. But those are the only the positives, there are just as many negatives.

The complete lack of experience in gravity and the negligible amount of knowledge of the terrain makes simply being on Earth extremely dangerous. The military tactics based on fighting at sea, in the air, in the jungle, dessert and snow are completely foreign. The variables are completely different in each location and consequently because of a concept of natural weather even those can change within minutes. And for every pro-Fed country, there is one against. Finding the safe-heavens will not be easy, if you are not currently over friendly airspace.

And what really ended up being the most damaging to the crew was how the Earth itself and the emotions that are created by it have impacted the crew. While mutiny has not been brought up, there have been outbursts and moments of vigilantism by members of the refugee camp onboard the Archangel. If commanding a unit of untrained teens and young adults were not difficult enough; try controlling a bunch of people that have their own vendettas and alliances that might not agree with the ideals of the rest of the crew.

Altogether going to the Earth has been nothing but a disaster that has literally torn the Archangel apart. And maybe that was the plan from the start.

The great thing about Gundam manga has to be how none of it really has to ever be any good. The brand name might be enough to sell a few thousand copies and when the next Gundam anime comes out there will always be more manga to sell for someone.

Alright, maybe that was not cool, but when I read this title I cannot help but feel that the Gundam label is all this series has going for itself. This is a series that entirely relies on the reader's familiarity with the anime. The story moves in such a stunted manner that very little makes sense, and what does is rarely extrapolated upon. It is the worst type of manga in that way for it is little more than a black and white ani-manga, except the character designs are horrible and this version does not present the SEED story as a whole. This is a bad supplemental product and it does nothing to get me interested in the anime at all (I have no clue what I am missing).

One of the few constants in the Gundam Universe has been how the protagonists end up using their inner strength for their personal sense of justice. I know I have debated whether the choices the leads have made would be what I would have done, but the resolve these characters have was a strong enough statement for me to stick with the story. That coupled with the decent mech action and thick space opera usually had me coming back for more. And that formula has worked for this title for more than 25 years now, so it has to have captivated audiences somehow. Unfortunately, for me this chapter of the Gundam universe has almost entirely turned me off a property I grew up on.


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