Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #04 - 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: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & 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. #04

By Chris Beveridge     December 13, 2004
Release Date: December 14, 2004


Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #04
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
In the dead of night, Andy Waltfeld, ZAFT's legendary "Desert Tiger," strikes! As Kira struggles with adapting to fighting in the desert, Andy watches, impressed. But the Gundam's energy is running low, and only the timely intervention of a group of resistance fighters saves the day. They decide to cooperate in an attempt to defeat Waltfeld. After the battle, Kira will have come face-to-face with the man known as the Desert Tiger. Meanwhile, on the PLANT Supreme Council, their parents debate plans for Operation Spit Break, their retaliatory strike against Earth.

The Review!
Now on Earth and with a bit of distance to go to reach some form of safety, the Archangel gets wrapped up in some local issues.

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, the "Desert Tiger" of the ZAFT side gets the front cover here alongside with some of the worse mecha I've seen in a Gundam series so far. 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 on the bottom while the top half is of the mecha onboard the Archangel.

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 new extra for this volume is a clean version of the second opening sequence. The next set of mechanical files is included here and TM Revolution's music video for the full length "Invoke" song included once again. My complaints are the same as my previous review though since it's not subtitled.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Going back and forth between Gundam SEED and the Zeta release is definitely interesting since it brings to the forefront so many of the similarities between the two and a lot of the stylistic similarities that they employ. Twenty years after Zeta and some things in the Gundam universe just don't change, even if it is an alternate universe like this one.

SEED kicks off where things were last time around with the Archangel now on Earth and undergoing some repairs and what little refitting that they can manage. Since there are differences between flying their ships in space and in atmosphere, there's plenty of work to be done to get things up to speed. The down time is also crucial for Kira as he's still somewhat mentally unstable after everything that's happened. And as if all of the violence and attacks in the recent days aren't bad enough, he's decided to add the complications of a sexual adventure with Flay who is now all over him and is doing what she thinks best to support him.

Unfortunately, their now public romance is already starting to cause a rift as we learn there was some sort of understanding or talks of an engagement between her and Sai. This confrontation comes relatively early and it's going to cause some issues to be certain as not only does Flay choose sides easily enough, but when Sai tries to talk to her about it, Kira actually shoves him off onto the ground. Sai's reaction is of disbelief for about a second before he simply turns to anger over it, only being saved from further issues by the situation going on around them. The romantic angle here is definitely feeling more pronounced than some other series have in the past and it's an interesting change. While I don't like some of how Flay is, I still like her character a lot and can easily see why Kira is attracted to her. Men love a woman in uniform.

Across the episodes here there is also a fair bit of action. Initially it comes in the form of one of the ZAFT commanders, Waltfeld, who is known as the Desert Tiger. With his command ship and the use of the BuCue mecha that are presumably best for use in the desert, he launches a series of attacks on the Archangel to try and capture it as well as the Strike Gundam. Kira's got his mentality of needing to defend everyone in his head so he's both on the offensive and defensive against the BuCue's. These are some of the worst looking… things I've seen in the Gundam universe yet. I almost thought they were bringing Transformers into the show for a minute when they showed up. One of the appealing things about the series has always been the way it's tried to keep most other forms of mecha and equipment to something closer to a realistic level but these things just break the sense of disbelief.

With much of the action taking place on the African continent, the Archangel gets some supporting help from a group of resistance members in the area that has someone with them that Kira saw back up on the colony and helped to escape when things went to hell. Finding that Cagalli is with them is surprising for both of them, though I was probably more surprised since I couldn't remember her being a her since she's got such a male look about her. Her being in the group ends up adding a bit more to the romantic triangle since it's easy to see she's at least attracted to Kira since he sends her into small tailspins of confusion about things, but she's also a good fighter and loyal to the resistance she's with. The introduction of this resistance group does a good job of showing what people are doing to fight back against ZAFT but also lets us see some of the honorable side of the ZAFT forces which again makes it hard to hate certain elements of them.

In Summary:
In watching this so closely with Zeta, it's interesting to see both the differences and similarities but finding that both are enjoyable because of both aspects of it. SEED really moves along well here with the arc its on dealing with the resistance and the need to move from Africa to Alaska. The relationship changes are a bit too blunt at times but we're dealing with young kids in extreme situations so normality goes out the window to begin with. It's hard to believe that we're almost halfway through the series already but there's still a lot of interesting places for it to go and this volume sets up some nice possibilities.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Gundam Encyclopedia,Textless Opening #2,TM Revolution "Invoke" Music Video


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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