Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #05 - 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: 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. #05

By Chris Beveridge     December 22, 2004
Release Date: December 14, 2004


Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #05
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
After a final pitched battle in the desert, the Archangel must begin to make her way to the Federation base at Alaska. Cagalli and Kisaka decide to accompany them. En route, they are attacked numerous times by ZAFT maritime mobile suits. The Strike is at a distinct disadvantage. During the battle, Cagalli is shot down and lands on a deserted island. But Athrun has also crash-landed there. Cagalli takes an instant dislike to Athrun, who doesn’t seem to care. The war just became personal. Finally, with an exhausted crew and a badly-damaged ship, the Archangel reaches the neutral nation of Orb. They think they're safe, but how long will it last?

The Review!
The road trip gets underway fully here as the Archangel heads for Alaska while Athrun finally makes a return appearance in the series.

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 artwork shifts to the undersea side of things to contrast the recent desert cover as we get the Strike fighting against another unusual mecha. 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 next set of mechanical files is included here and TM Revolution's music video for the full length "Invoke" song included once again.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Moving both the big picture plot along as well as some character arc material, the halfway mark in the SEED series puts Kira through some choices and presents some interesting paths for him to follow. With so much responsibility given to him and the simple fact that he's fighting against his own people has him leery and weary of everything that's going on but at the same time he's feeling something from within when he fights that scares him.

In terms of the bigger picture, the show moves across two areas in this set of episodes. The entire desert saga finally comes to a close but not without a massive fight. Waltfeld finds himself being supported by a pair from LeCreuset's team that are stuck on Earth instead of getting the BuCUE's he requested to help beef up his forces. He's got a natural distrust of them and their boss and really doesn't even want them on the ground to help him but he can't turn them away. The pair, still fresh from their disgrace in orbit against Kira, are itching at varying levels for a rematch with him and see this is as their big chance. Waltfeld doesn't intend to have any of that though and in preparing for the big strike, insists that they'll be relegated to guard duty on board the main carrier.

The final battles between the two sides is pretty engaging as it plays out. Since Kira and Cagalli had met with Waltfeld previously, his words as an experienced and "wise" commander continue to make their presence known in Kira's head and the brutal truths of combat and warfare are still things that he's finding himself grappling with even though he's expected to defend and kill on a regular basis. The conflicted hero character is played our fairly well with Kira and it helps that it's made a bit more dimensional due to him actually having someone that he can rest his head with in the form of Flay. What's amusing is that his dealing with this later on is taken care of in a more straightforward manner by Cagalli as she continues to try to prove to the audience that she's really a woman. That flak jacket just doesn't cute it for her, especially when you have all the other women done up in their Federation mini-skirts. Yum.

The other area that proves to be pretty interesting is part of the journey to Alaska where the ship finds itself being chased by a submarine style mecha crew. Part of me was pretty annoyed with this scenario since it points out a flaw in how the Archangel was built. While the ship is flying over the ocean, there aren't any main gun ports along the bottom of it to deal with ground forces or ships underwater. Now, I could understand this if it was a normal ship, but isn't the Archangel supposed to be a rather space-worthy ship? And shouldn't any engineer who builds a ship for flying in space that doesn't take in a 360 degree scenario be hung on sight? It just seems like such a simple piece of logic. But I'll assume they wanted the Archangel to not have it just for this purpose so they could pull of a Top Gun move and look incredibly dorky.

What is good about this particular journey is that it brings them close to the Orb Nation, the place where the Archangel was built. This place is outside of the Federation and ZAFT and keeps its neutrality pretty well enforced. Through a very amusing connection that I didn't see coming until the last second, the ship is able to escape from their ZAFT pursuers and gain entrance into the nation where they can get the ship upgraded and re-stocked before heading back on towards Alaska, the place where the Federation desperately wants them to get to but is unable to help since they're so overpowered by the ZAFT occupation of the planet. The Orb place provides plenty of new material that's interesting since it's such a different nation than the other two and the personal connections make it all the more fun.

And even though she's one of the most hated characters out there, I continue to really like Flay and the way she'll go to all sorts of extremes to keep Kira. I loved the way she changed her look so that she could outclass Cagalli at one point only to have Cagalli inadvertently show her up completely later on. Flay manages to keep me a fan simply on looks and style alone. She's one of those people that you just try to work past the personality in order to get the creamy nougat inside.

In Summary:
Much like past volumes, there's a good mix of action and battle sequences across the episodes here. So much of this is playing out in a similar feeling as the original Gundam series did that there is a sense of déjà vu going on here but the differences in style and approach are making it fun to deal with. The change of locale on Earth was definitely needed with this volume since if they stayed in the desert for another full volume I'd probably snap. This brings the show to its halfway mark and marks the point where things will start changing from the smaller picture of the journey to the bigger picture. Though somewhat familiar, this continues to be quite enjoyable and keeps me thorough engaged for the entire show.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Gundam Encyclopedia,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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