Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 130
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack
By Chris Beveridge
December 17, 2003
Release Date: August 20, 2002
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack
What They Say
© Bandai Entertainment
Universal Century 0093, 13 years have passed since the events of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series. But the foundations of peace are once again threatened by a new Neo Zeon Army led by the infamous Char Aznable! Their ultimate goal is to initiate a nuclear winter upon Earth ushering in a new age of mankind into space.
Armed with the state of the art Nu Gungam Mobile Suit, Amuro Ray and the Federation Forces are all that stand against Neo Zeon. Torn between vengeance, duty, and love - The final battle between rivals Char Aznable and Amuro Ray is finally at hand! The Review!
Nearly twelve years since its original release, Char's Counterattack has finally made its way to the US and released before some of the more critical aspects of the series, which will go unnamed. Can it be enjoyed if you're jumping from the original TV series or movies to this?Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. I did opt to take in the Japanese 5.1 remix that was made available though and found it to succeed much better than the 5.1 remixes for the 0080 and 0083 OVA's. While we do get some amount of action to the rears, usually in the form of more subtle rumblings, the enhanced clarity of the forward soundstage is where it really counts. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noted no dropouts on this track. Due to time constraints, we only managed to spot check the English and Japanese 2.0 tracks as well as the English 5.1 track, but noticed no issues.Video:
Though it takes place quite a number of years after the original series and a few years from the sequel series, the animation does a great job of maturing the characters but keeping the look and feel of the original. On the downside, this isn't going to look like a flashy show, or even as bright and shiny as things like 0080 or 0083. The anamorphic transfer here does look quite solid however, with annoying problems like cross coloration and aliasing pretty much non-existent. Colors look good though lack vibrancy and manage to stay solid throughout. While not a standout visually, this is appears to be an accurate transfer of the original.Packaging:
This release gets quite a bit of love in the packaging department to be sure. Similar to Pioneer's release of Ah! My Goddess, there's a cardboard slipcover over the keepcase. The entire cover is a deep brown, with the front cover having a gold embossed Zeon symbol and that's all. The back cover has a slightly raised full color image of the Gundam's head with the shows logo below it.
For the keepcase itself, the front cover has a good battle sequence between three units in space that looks more painted than anything else, giving it a really nice feel. The back cover provides a mix of animation shots as well as a big Gundam piece and the summary of the show. The discs features and extras as well as production information is here as well. Showing much love to the fans, this is also a reversible cover. This cover is the same as the Japanese release, showing character art of Char, Amuro and the woman who really changed them. The back cover is identical except that the Gundam is swapped out for Char's suit and some of the coloring is a bit different.
The release also contains a twelve page full color booklet that goes over some of the battle strategies and goes into detail on the suits of the time and more. It's definitely a good read, but I'll let those much more familiar with the Gundam universe talk about how accurate it is.Menus:
The menu system is pretty simple, with a nice large image from the show on the main menu with selections along the bottom. There's not a lot to the disc outside of the movie, so moving about is quite easy and everything is laid out in a straightforward way. Access times were nice and fast as well.Extras:
There's a few extras here, but not all that much in the end. We get a couple of the original Japanese trailers that highlighted its theatrical release. There's a model music video, which I know I've seen on another Gundam disc somewhere, and then there's a fairly detailed filmography for Tomino.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Up until this release, nearly all the Gundam released into region 1 has been either alternate universe such as Gundam Wing, or shows that revolve around the One Year War, with even 0083 being based off of that, though a few years removed. With Char's Counterattack, we're bumped up to Universal Century 0093. Members from the original series are older and wiser, though not all of them are here. In the end, this is a battle between two men over how best to deal with humanities future.
The movie opens in a fairly dramatic way, with the forces of Zeon under the command of Char attacking Fifth Luna, a massive asteroid that they have started to push down towards the Earths surface after pushing away one faction of the Federation forces. We watch its journey as it barrels down on the planet towards Nepal, and its eventual impact and destruction. In this way, the movie truly shows its age. I can't see something this huge having as small an impact as it did, but there's been so many disaster movies since that have accurately portrayed what could happen, that this pales in comparison. But the dramatic side of it is still there if you look past this.
While the battle continues, Amuro and those aboard their warship try to figure out exactly what Char is up to. Char's changed over the years, though his end goals always seem to relatively be the same. While he continues to be a feared mobile suit pilot, and seems to still retain his title of captain, he's also playing the role of politician and leader of his people. Stepping out of his pilots suit, he glides effortlessly from military to political as he dons a well tailored suit to go and mix and mingle with the people. As we see him within the colonies, when he travels among the people without any (visible?) security, you see just how loved he is.
You also get the eerie moments, such as the child running up with flowers, the chanting of how he'll save them and other things that just give it far darker overtones of a dictatorship, yet something of a benevolent one. After all, Char's problems are with the people on Earth who are trying to control space.
To balance out the conflict between Char and Amuro, we get introduced to two younger characters whose lives become changed while Char plots. During the attack on Nepal, we follow a Federation Minister whose going into space to broker a deal with the Zeon. He's going up with his daughter, the green haired spunky Quess. Her father has a mission to accomplish, but helps out a woman he meets in the airport by offering to keep an eye on her son, whom she manages to get on the same flight. Things out of Nepal are not going well, so she's happy he's getting out. It's only when they reach the warship that Amuro is on that we learn he's Noa's son Hathaway, Noa being the commander of the ship.
Quess and Hathaway provide the youthful look at this continuing war machine. Hathaway is interested in things, but not all that skilled, as we see during a virtual simulator of a mobile suit. Quess on the other hand is a natural talent and has a real fascination for all of this, something that her father is surprised to learn while aboard the ship. Quess' fascination with it all begins to shift slightly towards her fascination with Char, when she comes across him for the first time. A chance encounter inside a colony leads to an amusing fist fight between Char and Amuro, but when Char manages to get away, Quess willingly becomes his "hostage" and agrees to go with him.
While Quess goes forth to become a new ace pilot of sorts for the Zeon, Hathaway ends up avoiding combat in general, and just hoping for her to come back, not realizing that she never really cared for him or for anyone. Her lust is for power and strength, two things with Char exudes. Char is also a massive presence on screen, and his very forceful yet subtle way of speaking makes it easy to see why he's become the leader he has over the years.
The movie, in the end, is the epic climax of the UC storylines, or more specifically, the climax between the ongoing battle between Char and Amuro. Tomino does a rather good job of making the movie more than just the grudge match to end all grudge matches, giving this something of the larger fairy tale feel. Each side has its own knights fighting for what they feel is right and best for their people, and there are many times you root for each side during the movie, even with Char's plans. A part of you wants him to succeed, to see if one man can really change an entire species.
Those who haven't seen either the original TV series or the movie version of it may find themselves somewhat lost with this larger cast of characters, many who come and go, live and die. This will lessen the dramatic impact, but there is still a lot of good solid characters in here. A passing familiarity with the UC timeline will help, but by no means necessary I think. Many people have started getting into true Gundam by the OVA's, which are good sidestories that flesh things out, but don't deal heavily with the big things of the larger series.
Though this movie has been a long time in coming, I believe originally announced back when Anime Village first formed, it's definitely worth the way for this end result package. While I wish there were more extras, or some kind of commentary by either Tomino or some Gundam experts, this is a great package and something fans of the UC timeline will be really pleased to finally own. Very highly recommended.
Japanese Language DD 5.1,Japanese Language DD 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Booklet,Japanese Theatrical Trailers,Tomino Filmography,Gundam Model Music Video
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.