Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 2 - Europe
- Released By: Beez
- MSRP: £19.99
- 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 Kim Wolstenholme
October 18, 2005
Release Date: August 15, 2005
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Vol. #04
What They Say
The war between Earth and its space colonies has turned childhood friends Kira and Athrun into enemies. In their Mobile Suits (giant manned robots), they undergo a life-changing epic. Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, one of the latest series situated in the world of Gundam, has been a huge success in Japan and the US.
The Archangel finally reaches the Earth, but is forced to land in the desert where Kira faces the troops of the legendary Andrew Waltfield, a ZAFT officer nicknamed the “Desert Tiger”. But the desert is far from uninhabited and local resistance fighters come to the rescue of the crew of the now famous Earth Alliance ship. Back on the PLANTs, Athrun visits Lacus, his fiancée, to talk about Kira. Meanwhile, their fathers and the PLANT Supreme Council are discussing Operation Split Break which aims to overcome the Earth forces once and for all.The Review!
After safely landing on Earth the crew of the Archangel are faced with yet another force of ZAFT troops, as well as a more pressing problem – how do they get to their original designated arrival point in Alaska?Audio:
As with the other disks the Stereo audio tracks are fine. I noticed no dropouts or distortion on the Japanese audio track, with everything coming across well. I spot-checked the English track and this also displayed no problems.Video:
A nice solid 4:3 video presentation that has no discernable problems. With the change in location for the Archangel the show has suddenly become a lot more colourful, a nice change to the dark space backdrop that I had become used to.
Subtitles are white with a thin black outline and I noticed no grammar or spelling mistakes.Packaging:
As the Archangel is now on Earth, the cover design has changed from being space based to land based – this makes a nice change and the cover for this disk is definitely eye-catching because of this. It’s also nice to see ‘baddies’ as well as ‘goodies’ on cover art, and this time round we have a shot of Andrew Waltfield (the “Desert Tiger”) standing in the desert with some of the BuCUE mecha in the background. The back cover continues with the layout seen in previous volumes, with a number of screen shots included. Once again the insert with this release explains more about certain aspects in the show that are kind-of glossed over.Menu:
The menu has been designed to look like what I would term as a console session or a computer screen. Before loading the main menu screen you are prompted to select your language preference, once your preferred language has been selected a brief montage sequence is played before the main menu is displayed. The main menu has a picture of the Buster Gundam taking up the centre of the screen along with the SEED logo and scenes from the series play in the background. The menu options are displayed at the bottom of the screen, and music from the series overlays the main menu. When you select one of the main options, another screen opens up and the original screen moves to the bottom left hand corner of the screen, although the options on the main menu screen remain selectable. All the submenus are silent, with the exception of the episode selection menu, and access times are nice and quick. The only slight misgiving I had about the menus reside firmly with the language selection screen, which gives no indication of which options have been selected – an oversight on behalf of BEEZ, especially with the number of audio / subtitle options that are included on this release.Extras:
Once again we start with the clean opening / closing animation, although this time we get a new opening theme as it changed in episode 14 on the last disk. The Character / Mecha profiles concentrate a bit more on the ZAFT forces this time round, with the production sketches giving a nice overview of some location designs. Trailers included on this disk are for s-CRY-ed and Wolf’s Rain.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
The Archangel is finally back on Earth, but their troubles are far from over. During the descent they missed their arrival spot in Alaska and instead have landed in the desert. This in itself wouldn’t be too bad, but they’ve landed in ZAFT territory and are under surveillance from Andrew Waltfield, otherwise known as the “Desert Tiger”. Kira’s descent in the Gundam has had an unfortunate affect on his health and since the Archangel landed he has been bed-ridden with a fever that is slowly getting better.
Andrew Waltfield has obviously been supplied with information about the new Gundam and its pilot and is interested in finding out just how impressive this machine is. In order to see the Strike in action his troops launch an attack on the Archangel hoping to lure Kira into action in order to save the ship. His plan works, as Kira decides to once again defend his friends on the Archangel, even though he is not fully recovered from his fever. However Kira is now in a new environment and has to contend with the forces of gravity as well as the shifting sand of the desert. Initially the BuCUE’s that the ZAFT forces use in the desert overwhelm Kira, but he quickly reprograms the Strike in order to adapt to its new environment. Even with these changes the Strike still has problems fighting the BuCUE’s, but help is at hand as the resistance who have a base in the desert come to help Kira and he leads the enemy into a booby trap.
Kira is in for a surprise after the defeat of the “Desert Tigers” troops, as he meets the members of the resistance who helped him. One of the group’s members is the girl Kira helped escape from the factory in Heliopolis – Cagali. Initially their relationship is strained as Cagali is shocked when she finds out that Kira is the pilot of the only remaining Alliance Gundam. They are both unsure how to react to each other which leads to a couple of stormy confrontations.
Although the resistance has helped Kira against the BuCUE’s it soon becomes clear that they see both ZAFT and the Alliance as equal enemies. As a result of this distrust, initial reactions from both parties are rather suspicious until the resistance indicate that they will help the Archangel reach its initial destination in Alaska. The Archangel is moved to a safer location in the resistance base and the crew start to mingle apprehensively with the resistance members. While the resistance have their own base, many of their supplies are stored in the nearby town of Tassil, this is also the hometown of many of the resistance members. Knowing this, Andrew Waltfield decides to attack the town in order to ‘smoke’ out the resistance and the Archangel.
It seems, however, that the “Desert Tiger” is not altogether heartless, as he dispatches one of his men to give the town a 15-minute warning before the attack. As a result of this warning, when help arrives on the scene (in the form of Mu La Flaga and Natarle Badgiruel), they find that there have been no casualties even though the town has virtually been destroyed. This does not stop members of the resistance deciding to retaliate by leaving Tassil and following the “Desert Tiger” and his troops. Realising that this attack could lead to casualties the resistance leader asks the Alliance to help and Kira is sent out to help the rogue resistance members. Kira’s involvement gives the “Desert Tiger” an ideal opportunity to go up against the Strike one-on-one in a BuCUE in order to assess its capabilities. This fight also involves Kira once again adjusting the Strike’s programming on the fly as he comes across more environmental factors that he hadn’t taken into consideration during his first fight. Meanwhile, as Kira helps the resistance members who are fighting the ZAFT troops, the Alliance are helping the injured and homeless people of Tassil – an act which can only make the resistance look upon them more favourably.
The next episode slows the pace down a little, as Kira and Cagali go to a local town shopping for some much needed supplies. They are not the only ones doing some shopping though, as Natarle is also dealing with a rather unscrupulous character in order to restock the Archangels military supplies. Whilst on their trip out Cagali and Kira run into Andrew Waltfield, although neither of them is aware of this at first. Following an attack by the anti-coordinator group known as the Blue Cosmos, Kira and Cagali get to know a bit more about the ZAFT officer known as the “Desert Tiger”, and each other.
The last episode shifts the focus back to Athrun and Lacus as they spend the day together. Obviously their conversation leads to Kira with Lacus informing Athrun of some of her opinions that she reached during her brief stay on the Archangel. Elsewhere the PLANT supreme council are meeting to discuss matters, and methods of bringing the war with the Alliance to an end. The council approves Operation Split Break as a means of decisively ending the war, but has Patrick Zala really given the council all the necessary information concerning this operation…
Another 5 episodes of Gundam can’t help but fail to introduce new characters, but at this point I’m getting used to new people cropping up and adding new dimensions to the plot. Indeed one of the biggest changes in this disk is the fact that the Archangel is now on Earth, this also seems to have changed the pace of the series a little bit with this volume being less battle oriented than the previous ones.
Among the new characters introduced in this volume we have Cagali, the young female member of the resistance and Andrew Waltfield, the “Desert Tiger”. The eagle eyed amongst you, may, like me, have noticed Cagali’s brief appearance in the first volume and I was wondering when / where she’d turn up again, and it was a nice surprise when she did just that. One aspect of Gundam that impresses me as the series progresses is that the female characters are quite strong in their beliefs, and are not wishy-washy characters. Cagali is no exception; she’s committed to fight ZAFT and even goes along with the resistance members after Tassil is destroyed even though she was told not to go.
The “Desert Tiger” is a coffee loving coordinator who, while ruthless, has a good sense of right and wrong. The fact that he warned the people of Tassil before he attacked demonstrates that he does think of the human cost of conflict, but he has no qualms about sending his troops into potentially dangerous situations. Like Mu La Flaga he’s also got a keen sense of humour and I enjoyed the episodes he appears in just for his presence alone.
With two new characters introduced (and good ones at that) it’s a shame that Kira becomes slightly annoying in this chapter. His new relationship with Flay is clearly fleeting and she’s only doing it just to have some control over him, the words “emotional blackmail” spring to mind. This relationship has also affected his friendship with Sai, as Sai has taken the break-up with Flay quite badly and is seemingly unable to come to terms with this new situation. Friendships are also starting to crack under strain on the ZAFT side as well, as Patrick Zala is not telling his friend Sigel Clyne everything about Operation Split Break, and is also not facing up to some increasingly obvious home truths.In Summary:
When I was first given Gundam SEED to review, I really thought that there would not be enough to sustain the series over 50 episodes, how wrong I was. Things are starting to get increasingly complex, and new characters and situations keep adding new dimensions to the show. This is easily the best volume of Gundam SEED so far, and I’m really hoping that the series has not reached its peak too early and continues in the same style as this disk.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,French Language 2.0,German Language 2.0,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,German Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Polish Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation,Character and Mecha files,Production Sketches
Panasonic 42” Plasma, Arcam 88+ Prog Scan DVD Player, Kef Egg 7.1 Speaker system with a Ruark log sub. Denon 3802 amplifier.