Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #03 - 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. #03

By Chris Beveridge     October 18, 2004
Release Date: October 12, 2004


Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #03
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Year 70 of the Cosmic Era - Disciplinary action is taken upon Kira for his role in helping Lacus escape. But as the entire Federation 8th Fleet moves to rendezvous with the Archangel, Le Creuset is able to call for reinforcements and launches a new attack! In the ensuing battle, the Archangel manages to make an emergency escape towards Earth. The pursuit of the Archangel and the Strike heightens as the militant ZAFT forces gather approval to escalate the war!

The Review!
Gundam SEED continues to move right along with more battles, more emotion and… a bloody recap!

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 really nice looking action sequence from the orbital battle between the mobile suits as the Archangel tries to escape. I really like how it all looks with the red flashes and the way its set against the Earthscape. 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 included once again. My complaints are the same as my previous review though. In addition to that, we also get the first textless ending sequence provided.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When I initially sat down to watch this volume, I only wanted to check out the first couple of episodes since I was tired and just wanted to make a bit of a dent in it before getting some sleep. This plan went completely awry when I finished the second episode and then wanted to see the third. Then that ended and I needed more. Then they had me yelling at the TV and I had to finish out the last episode on the disc. Gundam SEED is quickly earning its place alongside previous properties that make me sit on the edge of my seat for much of it and then yell at the characters for the things they do. Very few shows do this but Gundam series almost always seem to manage it.

With the third installment of five episodes, Gundam SEED moves along at a good pace with the initial storyline. Having been freed of the Artemis and once more on their own, they're getting closer to joining up with the lunar fleet and some relatively safety. The end goal from there is to get down to the Earth in a safety area where the Archangel and the Gundam suit can be protected properly and the information that they possess be used to help start creating more suits and beefing up their military so that they can handle the ZAFT forces that continue to win with less numbers. Of course, they also have to deal with the four stolen suits so they need more Gundams of their own just for that alone.

Watching the chase go on from both sides, it's interesting to see how each of them is dealing with it. The fallout from the last volume plays out with Lacus being reunited with Athrun more formally. With her actually coming away from her encounter by liking Kira more than Athrun would have guessed, that puts more of a conflicted feeling into his head and he continues to spend more time away from the other pilots than you'd expect considering all that's going on. The other pilots are getting a bit more time fleshing them out, but they're not given near the same time as Kira and others on board the Archangel. Their motivations are a bit clearer this time around and some of their infighting is amusing, particularly in how to look at the length of a battle.

The characters make some really good growth decisions in this volume once the lunar fleet is brought into play. Since several of them have been working hand in hand with the real military officers since they had to flee the colony, they knew that there was a chance of something happening once they got back with the real folks and the civilians were going to be moved off the ship. Since they've spent so much time around confidential and top secret weapons and equipment, it's surprising at one point to see them all so easily discharged from service and sent on their way, though you can presume that some form of military intelligence will be keeping an eye on them. Their thoughts on the service that they've gone through is interesting and their decisions not surprising at all, but it was played out well. Most surprising was Flay and the way she's changed once she understood what Kira was going through.

People continue to hate her and I can still see why fairly easily, but I think she's a really fun character to have here with her nearly bi-polar mentality at times. She also through her thoughts and positions brings into play some new elements such as the Blue Cosmos group that have their own feelings on how things in humanity should be done. Another plus for Flay is that with the way she starts acting in this volume she's getting a bit more slutty and sexual which is always welcome in a series that generally avoids these kinds of things outside of a few mild innuendos here and there. Relationships I think are going to play more of a role in this series than ones that have come out in the past and while I hope it doesn't dominate the stories, I hope they do play some key roles.

In Summary:
This is a really great volume overall but it's a highly frustrating one at the same time. At the end of the third episode you're left in such a place where you can't hit that chapter skip button fast enough to find out what happens next but they roll you with a recap episode instead. A recap at episode fourteen is unforgivable even in a series of this length. But once that is out of the way, the new situation is laid out clear as the show moves onto its next arc and the war and relationships are once more in flux. There's very few series and franchises I'm truly a fanboy with but Gundam SEED is becoming yet another one that I can't seem to get enough of.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,T.M.R 'Invoke' full length music video,Textless Ending #1,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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