Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • 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: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #02

By Chris Beveridge     October 11, 2004
Release Date: October 12, 2004


Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #02
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Kira is still trying to come to terms with being the reluctant pilot of the Strike Gundam. Now, he and veteran mobile armor pilot Mu La Flaga must defend the state-of-the-art Archangel and its crew while being pursued by Commander Le Creuset and the ZAFT forces. As the attacks on the ship heightens, desperate times call for desperate measures ? Kira must betray his friends and once again risk his life. And once more, Kira will be forced to confront his friend Athrun on the field of battle.

The Review!
After a very busy start, the show moves into a bit of a smoother set of smaller stories as the Archangel tries to find a safe bay to reside in.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show has a fairly aggressive stereo mix with a good amount of material that's going across the forward soundstage. There's a lot of depth and detail to the audio here between the dialogue and background noises and it all sounds great. Dialogue is clean and clear and we had no issues with this during regular playback. We listened to the English track while writing the review and didn't note any obvious issues there either.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, Gundam SEED is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio in this transfer. Quite possibly one of the richest looking Gundam series made, SEED takes full advantage of the latest technologies and techniques to produce a show that is incredibly lively and vivid. While there are some cheesy and bad CG shots, mostly when showing movement in depth across space scenes, the transfer itself looks sharp and beautiful. Colors are vivid, cross coloration is non-existent and I'm hard pressed to find much in the way of serious aliasing. This is a smooth looking transfer from start to finish.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but with a much better looking logo, we get the proper pairing of Athrun in his pilot's uniform while his mobile suit stands behind him against a planetscape backdrop. It's a good looking cover that pushes the Gundam aspect easily enough and had some rather good detail and colors. The back cover provides several shots from the show and some additional artwork and has a few paragraphs worth of summary. The discs episode numbers and titles are listed here while the volume numbering is found only on the spine. The usual production and technical information is along the back cover as well though I continue to wish that Bandai would adapt the technical grid. The insert replicates the front cover but minus a few of the logos and it opens to a two panel spread that has a variety of Alliance and ZAFT terms to understand. The back of the insert has a good looking cast shot.

Menu:
The menu is nicely done for the show. The main menu is a close-up of the Strike Gundam's face where you see just about half of it. Inside the eye socket is some brief bits of animation playing, all set to some instrumental music from the show. The layout is easy to navigate and provides quick access to each of the episodes and other submenus. Access times are nice and fast and the disc was responsive to my players preset languages.

Extras:
The extras are a bit minimal but they've never been a strong aspect of any Gundam release really. The next set of mechanical files is included here but we also get something neat in having TM Revolution's music video for the full length "Invoke" song. While I am extremely happy to have this as I really like and enjoy a number of the Japanese music video's I've seen in recent years, I'm also disappointed – but not surprised – that there are no subtitled lyrics to accompany it. Presumably legal rights are the issue behind it but it doesn't change my disappointment in the slightest. Otherwise, the video was a good bit of fun to watch and while not really creative as it's been done before, it's very well done.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Try as I might, I'm having a hard time not calling this Mobile Suit Infinite Ryvius. I know a good part of that comes from having just finished that series and then this one having the same character designer, but there are just a number of small but striking similarities in the shows and the artwork used for it that keeps reminding me of it. It's not a bad thing really but it's something that's seemingly in my head during parts of this show or even just looking at the promotional artwork.

With the second set of five episodes and the basics of the setup already behind us, the show brings us to the next important phase of the series as the Archangel and its crew try to find a way to get themselves resupplied on Artemis so that they can get to the Lunar HQ and join up with the fleet proper. The Archangel has managed to get safely on board the station and behind the unique laser protection field that they've got but it's a double edged sword. While the ship is inside, they can't get out. And before the regular staff knows what's happened, they find themselves being held at gunpoint by the Artemis' military.

Since the Archangel is a ship that's been developed in secret due to its technologies and the entire mobile suit aspect, it doesn't have any sort of identification number to it so that while the Artemis has let them in based on what they've seen, they can't be sure that those on board are who they say they are. The senior officers are brought in for questioning and the rest of the ship is held at gunpoint. What's interesting is that even though everyone is on the same side, the factionalism within the Earth Alliance shows through rather strongly as the commander of the base sees the Archangel as another feather in his cap if he can understand what it's really about and a way to use it with the upper command. The discovery of the mobile suits inside of it only make it all the more appealing.

The character side of the story continues to be growing slowly as we get to know everyone. Plenty of time is given over to Kira which is understandable since he's grappling with having to pilot the Strike and to have to kill but he's also got the double problem of being a Coordinator. While it hasn't been a huge issue in the first few episodes due to the way it was kept relatively secret and within a small group, Flay ends up letting it out of the bag when the Artemis folks want to know who has been piloting the Strike. His being a Coordinator only starts to bring accusations of being a traitor to his people which has others question his motives and loyalties, something that Kira does within himself to some extent as well. But everyone is dealing with the changes that are being forced on them, both during their time on the Artemis and later on when supplies run low (which only reminded us more of Infinite Ryvius in some ways).

The ZAFT side gets some intriguing material as well as it starts to explore the higher levels of government and what's going on there. The ties that both Athrun and Kira end up developing with that level isn't terribly surprising since in the Gundam universe, someone always has a tie to someone in high power, but they have a bit of fun with it by setting up the next generation of power players and messing with the relationships. Through the upper government learning of what was going on in the colony that was hiding the Archangel, they opt for a course of action that will lead only to war but a war that they have to feel just about since Earth is once more not holding up their end of the bargain and developing these kinds of super weapons. The history between the two is explored and we finally see more of the Bloody Valentine incident and the repercussions from it that affects those today.

In Summary:
While I continue to see much of the past Gundam series in the show as well as one or two other series, I'm still enjoying this quite a bit. This is the closest to UC Gundam that's been done in years and I really have no problem with SEED being a reboot in an attempt to introduce a new generation to the fun of Gundam. It does one of the key things in its approach and that's to not try to rewrite the original stories and shows but rather to acknowledge and build upon in its own way. The original stories are still there and still being released and revered by the faithful both within Bandai and its fans. SEED is set for a new generation of fans and I think it's pulling some of the best aspects so far and making it work for today's fans. One thing I've always said in regards to a Gundam series is that you can't judge it by the first ten to fifteen episodes really as they never really seem to hit their stride until much further in. With the larger size and scope given to it by the greater episode count, the pacing takes a much different turn than most other shows and some of the best material is built towards over time. This series so far strikes me as no different and as fun as these episodes are I can't wait to see what's to come.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,T.M.R 'Invoke' full length music video,Gundam Encyclopedia


Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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