Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Collection 1 (Anime Legends Edition) -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 625
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Collection 1 (Anime Legends Edition)

By Chris Beveridge     April 22, 2008
Release Date: April 01, 2008

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Collection 1 (Anime Legends Edition)
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
In Zeta Gundam, we see the future world of the Universal Century through a dark mirror. Having defeated the Zeon menace, the Earth Federation has itself become cruel and oppressive. A new generation of Gundam mobile suits is created not to fight for peace, but to punish the enemies of the state, and yesterday's villains must become today's heroes in order to balance the scales of justice. And when a young civilian named Kamille Bidan is caught up in the rebellion, he little suspects the price he will pay in the fight for freedom.

The Review!
Seven years after the events of One Year War, conflicts have risen anew and young men and women find themselves having to fight for what they believe in. Inside giant robots.

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam received a bilingual release during its original run and that same presentation is here for this collection. The stereo mix for the series, encoded at 192 kbps, is decent enough as it avoids some of the problems found in older shows. To my ears there's no noticeable hiss or other background noise coming through. We listened to both audio tracks over the course of the review and found both of them to be solid in technical terms. We had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback either.

Originally airing in 1985, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame format. Being nearly twenty years old but being a staple of Bandai's library, the transfer for Zeta looks almost pristine in its nature. Whatever problems we found with what we saw are all source related things and the bulk of it is just due to the time and age of the show. The transfer itself is very clean but there's a fair bit of small nicks and dirt on the cels themselves early on in the show. As it progresses it lessens and the show looks cleaner. This is basically what you get with older shows like this half the time and it's something that I find that adds to its charm in a way since you know how it was handled and done back then. It isn't something that affects the grading of the video though since it's a source element. Barring that, this is a great looking disc that just shines through.

When the original massive box came out for the series, complete with some little pencil toppers, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam simply stood out as a quality looking package. A big box with ten DVDs in it just has a bit of oomph and impact to it. This brick collection from Bandai Entertainment doesn't have anywhere near the same impact but considering the price difference it's hard to complain. The front cover has a solid piece of artwork on it with the Gundam blasting above the Earth while other key mecha are shadowed behind it. It's very heavy on the mecha aspect and it has all the trademark colors and designs that will make it easy to recognize. The back cover is a bit of a harder sell as it features only three small pieces of artwork to it while the remainder is taken up with text, text and more text. The summary is done in two paragraphs which obviously can't convey too much about a twenty-five episode series. Below that is a breakdown of episode numbers and titles for each of the five volumes with some possibly mild spoilers towards the end. Add in the staff listing and a basic meager technical grid to cover things and you've got a weak piece overall. Fans of the show won't even read the back though and will just lap up the episodes and enjoy it. No inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Unlike a lot of shows these days, the individual menus for this release don't use the same artwork as the individual covers from the original release. Each menu has a different piece of artwork that features a combination of mecha and characters, often with a star filled background, which doesn't look like its age. Everything just has a much fresher and more vibrant feel to it that gives it a modern sense. Episodes are available separately with titles and the only other options available are the basic setup and select pieces. A piece of the vocal song from the ending sequence is playing here and overall this is a good looking menu that fits nicely and doesn't feel as overloaded as some of the past Gundam series menus have. Access times are nice and fast and the disc read our players language presets.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The history of Gundam releases in the US, particularly for the Universal Century releases, has always been somewhat less than perfect or outright problematic. The worst offender is obviously the original series which wasn't available with the Japanese language track. Zeta makes out far better in terms of problems but still isn't problem free. Due to licensing issues, overseas rights look to be unavailable for the songs that were used in the opening and ending sequences. Instead of just having silence, they used instrumental pieces in place of it. I want the original songs, but I will say that in place of it they made an excellent choice for the opening at least. And since it's not an Americanized rap song, I'll consider that a saving grace. Even several years later, I'm not pleased that this went unsaid until it was discovered by the fans and I think Bandai made an error in choosing to do it this way.

Taking place around seven years after the One Year War, the series kicks off by focusing on one of the colonies that's supposedly been built up in the recent years from the scraps left by the war and a lot of Zeon metal and parts. It's a fairly standard colony and there isn't much to stand out in it but as is the way in Gundam series, it holds a secret to it that's not terribly well kept. While scouting out the region near the colony, AEUG pilot Quattro senses something inside the colony that makes him tingle, thinking it could be someone he's been searching for. With it being peacetime, it's surprisingly easy for him to make his way into the colony and sneak directly into the central chamber. With a handy little rocket pack, he's able to zoom around and take some pictures only to discover that there are some new model Gundam's being produced there. A quick fight and flight and he's off to get his comrades to come and steal the new models so that the AEUG can see what's going on.

Playing against this we're introduced to Kamille, your typical teen that has a really strong temper that's easy to light. He's got little interest in a lot of his studies or physical routines he's supposed to be doing and is skating out of one of them when we see him running off to head to the spaceport so that he can see the latest ship that's arriving from there. Kamille's the son of some fairly important people within the Federation, one being a key mobile suit designer and the other an armor/metals specialist. While he's fairly smart and generally a solid kid, he's got a huge chip on his shoulder and is extremely easy to set off. When in the spaceport, a couple of pilots for the Titans are there and catch wind of his feminine name and make fun of him. He simply leaps the barricade and starts attacking them. Later when in the Federation custody, he even takes a swing at the MP who tells him he ought to know better.

When Quattro and his comrades blow a hole in the colony and come in to steal the Gundam's, Kamille sees this as a huge opportunity to mete out a bit of revenge. Using his status as the son of an important project leader and taking advantage of the confusing situation, he barges onto the Titan base and actually manages to really just go right up the new Gundam models and gets into one. Those around are surprised by this but his ability to control one so quickly strikes deep into one or two people - Captain Bright happens to be on scene and he has the same vibe as when Amuro practically did the same thing back in 0079. Hoping to take advantage of the situation and stop the theft of one of the suits, he tries to get Kamille to attack the invader.

But Kamille just isn't that kind of kid. He's no fan of the Titans and the pilot of the other Gundam is the one who was making fun of him earlier, which leads him to start attacking him. The AEUG pilots, hearing much of this, realize that they've got a surprise ally on their side and use him to their own advantage to be able to steal not just one but all three of the new Gundam suits and head out of the colony, which leads into a back and forth game between the two sides trying to keep control of the suits as there's an AEUG cruiser out there that's home to the pilots. This ends up going across a couple of episodes and brings in a lot of character changes and knowledge about how the solar system works in this new day.

From the start, Zeta really felt like a rehash of parts of 0079 to me which wasn't too surprising. Amusingly, to my wife who hasn't seen 0079 but is watching SEED, she caught a lot of repetition between those two shows. In a way, a lot of Gundam shows have similar origins but Zeta has so far won me over for the different direction that Kamille takes when he decides he doesn't want to associate with the Titans or the Federation. Throughout the attack on the colony we start to learn more about the Titans and how the Federation has started to lose its luster over the years. The Titans themselves are an interesting new change in the make-up of the Federation.

Being a separate branch but still under Federation control, the Titans are an elite group of space pilots whose goal is to eliminate the left over fighters from Zeon and to deal with the AEUG and its terrorist elements that are threatening the peace. Unlike the Federation, these folks are much more harsh in how they go about it, both in regards to their enemies and friends. When Bright demands to know what's going on since he's higher in rank, the other Titan members actually beat the tar out of him. While he does have rank, he doesn't have respect from within the Titans and their methods of discipline and conduct have grown so different from normal Federation standards that this is allowed there, though it's generally not acknowledged outside of there. The Titans have spread across the colonies, never asking but simply taking an interest and a base wherever they please, which has earned them much hatred. As we learn more of this, it's easier to see why they've tarnished the never truly sparkling Federation luster and why more people dislike the Federation.

As Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam plays out across these twenty five episodes, the show moves back and forth between the Earth and the colonies as well as the moon. The cast is expansive and all sides are looked at from different angles, though the focus is still primarily on that of Kamille and his worldview. That worldview is changed from where he starts though as he has a sort of cockiness about him that needs to be tempered since he has a grudge against everything, especially after what his parents have gone through. At the same time, Kamille doesn't feel like a normal healthy high school boy (or look like one either) with his minimal interest in women. Surprisingly, there are some that seem to have affection for him that he isn't aware of, such as Emma, but it becomes more blatant when the Cyber-Newtypes like Four Murasame enter the show and start to get some one on one time with him.

The ensemble nature of the show is both its best asset and its worst. With so many sides to cover and so many different subplots that are borne out of it, characters that you may like get the short end of the stick pretty often. Even worse is that it's hauling back in a lot of characters from the original series to play with who have their own grudges and issues to settle as well. Multiple groups and affiliations are introduced, from the AEUG to the Titans, the Federation forces and the Karaba. Add in smaller ones like the various Labs that are producing Cyber-Newtypes like Four and then those holdovers from the One Year War who gather together and it can get pretty overwhelming, especially when it shifts from one venue to another and several groups just fall out of the picture for awhile.

At the same time, it really is a strength as well that such a diverse cast and group of stories can come together as well as it does. While some subplots are weak along the way, being able to shift through so many different things makes for an exciting show as you can't be sure exactly what ground will be covered with every episode. The series starts out as is fairly typical with a Gundam show in that we see Kamille learning the basics and getting thrown into service, but it then brings in so much more as the AEUG and the Titans don't play in a similar manner to the way the Federation and Zeon did in the One Year War. When various characters we haven't seen in awhile get back together, there's a genuine sense of warmth to many of these scenes that flows out which makes it all the more engaging. This is also a very big plus when long time characters from the original series come together at long last, such as Amuro and Char after all they've been through.

If there is one issue that plagued the original box set release of the series, it's that the show was quasi-dubtitled. In a rare twist, the dub was actually far more accurate than the rough draft subtitles that were used for the release. Bandai Entertainment didn't provide a recall on the product but when they released the show into double disc sets afterwards, they provided corrected subtitles for the show. This release is made up of those discs and it certainly flows better as the scripting is more natural and I believe some of the naming conventions were corrected. While a lot of people with minimal to no real knowledge of Japanese wouldn't have an issue with the original release, those with even a passing knowledge would find it problematic at times. Having that corrected for this priced down edition is certainly a good thing and I can imagine a few people picking it up just to swap out discs in their box set edition.

In Summary:
It's been just over three years since I first saw this series and it's been an amazing experience to rewatch it. I had strung out the series when I first watched it, volume by volume, so as to savor the experience and relish each moment of classic Tomino style Gundam. This time around I took in the first twenty-five episodes of the series in the span of three days and it feels very different. While there are drawn out moments to be sure, and subplots that feel tacked on, it holds together very well as a straight narrative. As the final episodes of this collection draw to a close and the past seems to haunt the present, it left me feeling very on edge and wanting the next set in my hands as quickly as possible. Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is as good as I remembered it being and in some ways comes across better this time around because of the marathon style. This is a solid package and one worth picking up for any fan of the show.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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