Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny Vol. #02

By Luis Cruz     June 22, 2006
Release Date: May 23, 2006



What They Say
Cosmic Era 73. The world is once again poised on the brink of war. Despite the best efforts of the Minerva and her crew, terrorists set the war memorial Junius Seven on a course that will cause it to fall out of its orbit and hit the Earth. The PLANTS get ready to defend themselves from what they perceive to be an inevitable retaliation by the Earth Forces.

Meanwhile, back on Orb, the government debates about what to do in the wake of such a serious disaster, and Cagalli doesn't see eye-to-eye with her ministers.

The Review!
Mankind refuses to learn from the past as Earth and ZAFT go to war once again.

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 2004, 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 sports Lunamaria Hawke and a nice, muted shot of her 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 a cool action shot of another Gundam.

Menu:
Bandai puts you in the pilot's seat for the menu system as you interact with various cockpit controls and panels. The main menu features some video clips playing inside a display screen while music loops in the background. Transition delays are minimal and keep with the theme by shifting your focus to another control panel.

There was one issue with the selection of subtitles. After setting the subtitles to "full", I checked out the extras, came back to the main menu, and hit play. As the episode began, I discovered the subtitles were not set incorrectly to "song and signs". Going back to the setup menu produced no change; subtitles had to be switched manually while the content played. The only solution was to eject and reinsert the disc; I then went to the setup menu and then directly into the content. The appropriate subtitle selection was then used.

Extras:
The only extra is a textless version of the closing.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gundam Seed Destiny is a visual delight boasting slick mecha and attractive character designs. But a series cannot live by visuals alone, and the initial development of the plot proved to be intriguing. The peace achieved in the previous series is proving to be tenuous, and various groups are manipulating others for their own ends. One group of coordinators is working to push the graveyard satellite Junius Seven into Earth's gravitational pull and cause a cataclysm. Finding himself in back in battle, Arthrun helps the ZAFT forces defeat these terrorists and break Junius Seven into smaller pieces, but the Earth still suffers terrible loss of life. In the midst of the battle, Arthrun is mentally stung by a terrorist claiming his father's path was the only true path for coordinators; the Earth must bend to their will or be eliminated entirely. This begins the most interesting thread of this volume.

Arthrun begins to doubt his motives and everything he has fought for until now. The shadow of his father looms large in his mind; having followed the same doctrine the terrorists believed, is he any different from them or his father? While part of him craves to see the world embrace the peace Cagalli seeks, another part of him is a soldier, a soldier that believes peace can sometimes only be achieved through force.

But peace through diplomacy is not meant to be; the politicians on Earth have used the terrorist attack to rally the Earth's nations into a coalition bent on destroying ZAFT and their PLANTs. ZAFT Chairman Durandal attempts to resolve things peacefully but recognizes that Earth's demands are nothing more than an excuse to incite war. Earth delivers their final ultimatum and aims a massive nuclear attack at the PLANTs. Only the timely use of a secret weapon averts the disaster, and Earth must retreat and regroup on the moon.

Caught on the PLANTs during this attack, Arthrun's internal struggle intensifies; coming to ZAFT to encourage negotiations to continue, he finds that war was a foregone conclusion. Mankind is hell bent on becoming the instrument of their extinction. Durandal recognizes Arthrun's conflicting emotions and begins to subtly prod Arthrun with platitudes. Durandal's purpose for this is unclear, but his words have an impact on Arthrun. It also helps that Durandal hands Arthrun a shiny new Gundam to use as Arthrun sees fit and to guide ZAFT back onto the path if they should stray.

What was lacking in this volume was the same attention to character growth for the rest of the cast. Shinn is nearly absent for the bulk of the volume and does little else than spit out cynical reproaches. Kira is reintroduced but serves only as a cardboard cutout for Shinn and Arthrun to monologue against. Political intrigue was the main focus of the story, but it is developing along the same lines I have seen in other Gundam stories. How the story integrates and develops these and other characters will determine if Destiny is simply more of the same or if it can carve out its own unique space in the genre.

In Summary:
The second volume balanced political intrigue, battles, and some character development quite well, but it still did not manage to resonate like the first volume. Watching Arthrun question his own beliefs and past actions proved to be the major highlight, but the political maneuvering to disguise each side's true goals also proved to be entertaining. The stage has been set for another galactic conflict, but it is not currently shaping up to be something unique. Sporting gorgeous character and mecha designs cannot mask the fact that the plot resembles the other Gundam titles I have seen. It has the potential to distinguish itself, but this hinges on where the story takes the characters and how it shapes them.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean Ending #1

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable

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