Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #08 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • 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. #08

By Chris Beveridge     March 21, 2005
Release Date: March 22, 2005

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol. #08
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
After Operation Spit Break, Patrick Zala, the new leader of the PLANTS,orders the arrest of Lacus Clyne and her father, branding them as traitors. Athrun is given a new mission: to track down the stolen Freedom Gundam, and a new weapon to do it.

The Archangel has returned to Orb and learns that Orb is being pressured to join the Federation. The Archangel must fight to defend Orb but, they face three powerful new Gundams with unusually skilled pilots.

The Federation launches a final attack on Orb and Lord Uzumi puts his ultimate plan into action. It will be a day of great sadness and great revelations as the battle begins!

The Review!
The sides start taking more shape on Earth as each of them has to deal with more and more problems.

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.

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.

Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but with a much better looking logo, this volume sports a really solid looking cover that brings an interesting trio of charactesr together with Kira, Athrun and Cagalli while one of the suits is behind them. Cagalli's still not looking all that feminine but she fills out the uniform nicely here. 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 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.

Mirroring the last volume with only a minor change, we get some good materials here but still wish that Gundam series in general did more with them. We get another set of mechanical files and the ghost in the shell game trailer (why?). We also get the Nami Tamaki music video for her song "Believe" again.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this volume we get the series all the way up to episode forty now and that generally means a slight diversion from the main arc but one that leads into the main arc for the finale of the series. During the late 30's run of the Gundam series they tend to have the big solidification of ideals, characters and settings as everything falls into place and the real battle lines are drawn. In some ways, you can tell it's getting into the far more serious territory as the music gets more epic and expansive and the flashbacks start meaning much more to the cast as they enter battle.

After the events of the last volume, the ZAFT side is in complete chaos now that the Freedom has been stolen and it's been revealed that Lacus Clyne was the one who did it, though they have no idea that it was Kira she gave it to. Chairman Zala is completely screwed over this and does his best to manage the situation as the politicians who should know better try to run some kind of interference. Interestingly, he starts to adapt a much more hard line approach at this point and sets in motions plans to recapture the Freedom by sending his son to retrieve it using the Justice suit and with clear orders to eliminate anyone and anything that was in connection with its theft. This is actually somewhat vague in how he words it as Athrun isn't sure if that means he has to kill Lacus to whom he's been rather engaged to for some time.

If there's a weak area that I find with these Gundam series, it shows up not long after here when Athrun figures out where Lacus might be so he can find out what really happened since he knows it was Kira who got the Freedom. It's a nicely styled set piece with Lacus in some fine outfit singing on a ruined stage while he's there with the gun asking the questions. Lacus is as candid as always, maybe even more so this time, and he thoughts plant the seeds in his head that what he's doing may not be the right path and that she had to do the right thing in assisting Kira with his escape and his mission, which she knows to be free of sides. It's a well played out sequence and Lacus can really pull it off here, from the singing to the dialogue, but at the heart of it, it just tugs at me that this may work much better with adult characters than these teenage ones. But that's just something that can be said throughout much of these series when the leads are of this age, it's just some scenes stand out stronger because of it.

On the Earth side of things, it's also very interesting and rather exciting in its own way. The Archangel has essentially decided that there is no proper chain of command from which to receive orders from anymore and since most sides of the Earth Alliance consider them a ship on the run, they opt to head to the Orb nation to figure out exactly how best to proceed. While normally a good plan, this ends up becoming problematic in a different way as the Earth Alliance forces have decided to get what they need from the Orb nation since they won't join sides in this war. With some equipment that they have that the Alliance needs, plus being a grand opportunity to test out their own special mobile suits, they're led by a conniving new character named Azrael who is set to capture the tiny nation and its facilities and put them into service of fighting against mankind's great enemy of ZAFT.

The neutrality of Orb is completely at stake here as is the nation itself, and that becomes the focus of things as Kira returns to Earth and plays a similar status for himself and the Freedom, ensuring that nobody from either side will mess with his suit or consider his actions as part of a particular side. Kira's found exactly what he wants to fight for and is intent on doing so, though it does happen to work alongside pretty much the needs of the Orb nation and those on board the Archangel. The start of the action brings us through almost two and a half episodes worth of battles and repeated attacks as each side tries to accomplish their goals. The suit battles are rather engaging, though the three new pilots introduced on the Earth side are just eye-candy at this point regardless of how much dialogue and exposition they're given. You simply don't care about them or their intentions; they're simply there to provide a heightened set of opponents for the newly powered-up Kira and allies.

There are a number of really neat moments throughout these episodes that stand out. The last few minutes of the final episode is filled with them, revelations abound as well, but mostly just some really good emotional moments as the final stands are made. Earlier than that, I really liked some of the moments between Kira and Athrun as they start to figure out where they stand now with each other. Miri and her "prisoner" also have some good moments when she reveals to him that he's free to go and he simply ends up hanging around more than anything else, somewhat fascinated by how different everyone on this side is acting. Some of the best material though is where I keep going back to Lacus and how she's dealing with her new status. The best moment though has to be the one quiet moment between LaFlaga and the Captain when she tries to find out why he returned from JOSH-A to the Archangel. Simple, to the point and just nice and raw.

In Summary:
With this set of episodes, you can see how things from the past were all designed to move towards this point and progress forward. The small moments and time spent in strange locales that seemingly have little to do with anything have now become pivotal moments in the past that have allowed these characters to come together again with different sensibilities and intentions on how to try and stop this war from spreading further and further. The action is ratcheted up quite a lot as well and between the two main pilots and their neat new suits and the trio that's introduced to give them a real challenge that fans of that side of the story will be quite pleased. This is the start of the real payoff and it hits it with each and every episode.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Gundam Encyclopedia,Nami Tamaki “Believe” 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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