Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #06 - 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. #06

By Chris Beveridge     January 04, 2005
Release Date: January 04, 2005


Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #06
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
The damaged Archangel is safely berthed in Orb where it undergoes repairs. Meanwhile, the Zala Team has infiltrated Orb to search for the Archangel. While the rest of Kira's friends are reunited with their families, Kira avoids his parents and has an unpleasant encounter with Flay.

The time comes for the Archangel to resume its journey to Alaska, but they are attacked as soon as they reach open water. The battle gets very personal as someone on each side falls in battle... resulting in an enraged battle between Kira and Athrun... and leading to a bitter and devastating result.

The Review!
Before the next leg of the journey can begin, it's recap mania in the Gundam world.

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 logothis cover highlights the growing struggle between Kira and Athrun with them at opposite ends while their mobile suits slug it out in the middle. It's a very dynamic looking cover and the layout of the pieces works really well. 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 change slightly for this volume in a good way. While we do get another set of mechanical files and the ghost in the shell game trailer (why?), some new material shows up as well. The ending sequence is done in textless form again with the new song that goes with it and we also get the Nami Tamaki music video for her song "Believe". Much like TMR's video, there's no subtitles for it which does hurt it but at least you get to see the video and try to string together what you remember the lyrics being from its place in the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It's usually around this point in the series during the late twenty-odd episodes that things really start to happen with the show. Generally, you can tell whether you're going to enjoy a particular Gundam series roughly within the first ten episodes or so once they get past their big opening battle and figure out where they're going with it. The next twenty or so episodes tend to focus on the characters, expanding the setting and building up the drama here and there and then setting the stage for the second act.

There's two ways to handle the series at this point depending on how familiar you are with how they run. If you're typically bored by the first half, this is the ideal volume for you. The first episode and a half are basically recaps that will cover everything you need to know in streamlined form so that you can jump into it from here and only have to commit half the time to the show that others do. If you've been watching all along, there's usually two things that seem to be done for these kinds of episodes. The first episode is a full on recap with no new footage and it serves as a bit of downtime. The second recap episode is less of a full recap but rather a good chunk of the episode is spent with someone new talking about a particular mobile suit or character(s) or combination there of, which allows for much re-used footage but also lets some concepts get sprinkled in. The second episode on this volume does just that as someone in Orb is talking about Kira for her records. It is mostly recap and provides a streamlined and condensed view of where Kira stands now after everything but it also has this woman commenting on how there may be something Seed related to him until she takes that out of the report. It's the little tidbits like this that get sprinkled into recaps that keep the die-hard fans watching.

Once past the recaps and the tidbits about what Seed may potentially be, we get to do some exploration of the nation of Orb and just how different it is. Their reliance on a quiet strength to maintain their neutrality in the growing war is intriguing, particularly when they reveal a number of mobile suits that are considered to be the Strikes "parents" with Naturals piloting them. Kira's interested in this to be sure, particularly since they seem unable to do anything beyond the basics, and even those movements are incredibly difficult for them. With Orb doing so much for the Archangel and her crew, you know there's going to be a price of sorts but for Kira, he's almost eager to help them out with the software changes he's made to the operating system and for a chance to just work on these suits without being in the middle of combat doing it or on the run. The downtime to just sit and work becomes a focus for him to push everything else away.

Of course, they can't stay there forever since they need to get the ship and suit off to Alaska, but they fill in a lot of the time here with some very interesting moments. Since most of the kids are Orb citizens that were on Heliopolis, their parents are able to see them before the ship sets off again. Some are handling it better than others, both kids and parents alike, but it's roughest apparently on Flay since it brings back the bad memories. Kira in particular has no interest in seeing his parents, even though they do come to see him. His reasons are good enough though since he's trying to figure out why they made him a Coordinator but they also seem to have some secrets of their own which they discuss with a surprising individual. There are a number of smaller layers being peeled away in these episodes before they head back out on their trip that are setting up for key moments later in the series.

With as much dialogue and exposition as there is, it's been well balanced in the last episode with one of the best fight sequences yet. After a surprising meeting inside of Orb, Kira and Athrun finally come face to face again on the battlefield as the Archangel is trying to escape the Orb's borders and head north again to Alaska. Over the course of the battle there are a lot of good moments, particularly now that Tolle has decided to help out more by taking on one of the aircraft that's now unused on board the ship since Cagalli has left. His added tensions and perspective and the way La Flaga takes him under his wing is a nice change of pace to things. On the ZAFT side, it's really fun to see just how bloodthirsty Yzak is getting, particularly in contrast to someone like Nicol who spends time watching the fish moving around them in the ocean during their quiet time.

The last episode has one of the best battles of the series yet though and the way it becomes so emotionally charged, particularly during the Seed moments, is one of those key moments in the series where everything just seems like it's about to open up and flow forward from there and that nothing will be the same again. This is one of the best and worst ways to end an episode!

In Summary:
Though this volume is frustrating in that nearly two episodes are recap oriented the second half of things more than makes up for it with some great action, lots of revelations and plenty of set up for the second half of the series. It's usually at this point in the series that things start to really accelerate and the characters start defining themselves instead of letting the actions of others define them so it's interesting to see how it's all moving into place. Good stuff overall and just a lot of fun to watch.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Gundam Encyclopedia,Nami Tamaki 'Believe' Music Video,Texltess Ending #2

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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