Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Collection 2 (Anime Legends Edition) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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 2 (Anime Legends Edition)

By Chris Beveridge     June 10, 2008
Release Date: June 03, 2008


Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Collection 2 (Anime Legends Edition)
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
In Zeta Gundam, the sequel to the original Mobile Suit Gundam series, the Universal Century world is locked into an escalating conflict. While the AEUG resistance group strives to convince the world of the justice of its cause, the brutal Titans continue to suppress dissent through violence and fear.

Now the struggle enters a new phase as a powerful third force enters the battlefield, and the AEUG and Titans race to enlist the support of the mysterious Axis renegades. Confronted with his past, Char Aznable at last decides to embrace his role as leader of the AEUG. But his choice may have come too late, for the Titans have completed their most terrible and devastating weapon.

The Review!
The second half of Zeta Gundam takes things all over the place while continuing to make sure that nobody is safe from dying.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
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 decent balance between mecha and character artwork as the Zeta looms in the background while a smiling pairing is in the foreground of Kamille and Fa. Considering hardly anyone smiles in the show this really does feel unusual. 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When we were talking about the first half of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, there was an immense amount of material to cover. Simply talking about the political make-up of this series that takes place seven years after the original opened up plenty to say. The changes in the characters that returned to the show helped balance it out as well as going into the major themes of the series as were being set up. A lot of things did culminate towards the end of that set and that has turned the focus of this one to the larger issues. At the same time, Zeta Gundam does feel a bit weaker when watched over the course of a couple of days as you see the ships going places but never really getting anywhere.

When looking at Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, there are two main paths that the show really follows. The first is the big social/political/military aspect that really does dominate things. The second is that of the characters themselves who are trying to figure out their place in all of this. The political side of the series is actually a fair bit of fun, especially if you do go into it with experience from the original series. The transformation of the Federation since the end of the One Year War is fascinating enough and the off-shoot of the Titans from it is poetic in its own way. Having the AEUG rise out of the remains of the conflict with a fairly more noble position for dealing with humanity leaving the cradle, the clarity of the sides is a bit more apparent. In the original, there were certainly reasons to root for the Zeon side as they wanted independence from a controlling central government. Here, there's not much to love about the Titans or their methods.

What makes this round of episodes a bit more interesting, and problematic, is that a new group is brought into play. With the two sides getting closer to going as far as they can without going over the edge, the need to bring in more allies becomes the focus. The down side to this is that the main party out there that can be of use is the Axis group, which is the remains of the Zabi family who intend to rise again themselves and control everything. The leader of the family is a young lady named Mineva who is mostly guided and mildly controlled by Haman Karn. She has her own goals but the main one is to bring the Zabi family back to power along with eradicating everyone on Earth. No love is lost between here and those who aren't Spacenoids. Char has a fairly long history with the Zabi family so having him work on getting them to join them certainly brings in a lot of fun little moments with the cast.

The downside to having the third group brought into the show at this point is that it really does start to clutter things up a fair bit. Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam has had a large cast from the start but adding a few more just pushes it towards unwieldy. Especially since it pushes many characters off the stage for awhile. This is more of an issue for Titans based characters than the AEUG since they're cast as the bad guys. But it does turn into a problem for the core cast since they've been fighting against them for so long. When events turn to resolution in the last half dozen episodes, you have people like Jerid and Bask who almost appear out of nowhere and find their stories resolved in the blink of an eye. It does fit within how war and life works, but thematically and from a storytelling perspective it feels weak.

When it comes to the character side of the series, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is still a whole lot of fun. Weird fun but fun nonetheless. Kamille's ability to draw hot women to him knows no bounds as we see him work his way through Four, Fa, Reccoa and Rosamia. He doesn't exactly woo some of them, such as Sarah or Haman, but he has a definite influence on them as the show progresses. The relationships that he has with the women who aren't trying to kill him aren't all that different since you get the feeling they want to smack him. A lot of it is simply the result of him being young, in a powerful position and having no clue how to deal with it. His interest in Reccoa is amusing but the way he treats Fa has you wondering why Fa hasn't kicked him to the curb a long time ago. The weird relationship comes in with Rosamia who is reminiscent of Four but has the whole amnesia "I'm your sister!" gig going.

The introduction of the Axis cast and what they bring to the table certainly slows things down for the existing characters, but none more so than the introduction of Rosamia. Brought in as another of the Cyber-NewType experiments that Scirocco is working on, she ends up being extremely clingy with Kamille over her relationship with him. That everyone goes along with it is what's very weird and even Fa ends up being taken in by her. Kamille seems to attract a very odd type of woman and Rosamia fits into it all quite well. What's sad is that none of these relationships really get the time to mature and be worked on before events sweep everyone up into things. There are plenty of teasing moments, and much love for some of them such as Four, but Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is all about the drama and the atmosphere of events as the fate of humanity is on the line.

What makes the show work for me the most though is the way it brings in characters from the original series and shows their evolution. As much fun as the new characters are, like Kamille and other members of the AEUG, watching the older characters adapt to being older and supposedly wiser is just engaging. Amuro has very little material in this set overall but his changes were well documented in the first set. Seeing others like Hayato and Bright make good on their pasts brings a smile to my face. I was particularly pleased to see Bright in a commanding role in this without the kind of problems he had in commanding White Base. He is of course saddled with a rather emotional and childish crew though so it probably felt familiar enough for him.

The best of course revolves around Lt. Quattro, aka Char Aznable. Char's role from the original to something like he is here is simply fun to watch, especially as everyone dances around who he really is for so long. Events will eventually force him to go more public with it, but that's not where the fun is. The fun is in really watching him evolve from a hot shot but composed pilot for Zeon in the original series to one where he's a father figure here and eventually someone who can shape the direction of humanity as it moves into space firmly. Much like Amuro, he's spent his years going over things in his head and beating himself up while trying to figure out how to make it better, and seeing him beginning to make good on it is quite enjoyable. In particular, the way he sees much of himself and Amuro in Kamille but both of them realize he's far more capable of dealing with it even at his age. The relationships that many of the men share in this series are what make it so much fun to watch, even in its fairly cut and dorky 80's manner of storytelling.

In Summary:
While Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam feels weaker in its second half than the first, there is still a whole lot to love here. The expansive nature of the story as it brings in more characters and situations while upping the epic level of it all is highly engaging. The use of the Axis angle is a lot of fun overall and the Titans introduce their Death Star to the series. But what always gets me about it is that it really does want to make a statement about how everyone and anyone can buy the farm in a series like this. The death list grows quickly as the last ten episodes play out. The good is that it keeps you on your toes and you can't be sure anyone will make it to the end. The bad is that some of them get killed too quickly and without the kind of importance that would be needed after nearly fifty episodes. All told though, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is the kind of show that hits most things right in what's doing from the time it was made it. It's cold, cruel and occasionally a little silly. And it has Haro, damnit. How can you go wrong with a happy faced bouncing green ball? The two Anime Legends sets, with discounts, gives you a great collection for a low price that is definitely worth checking out, especially for all you new Gundam 00 fans out there.

Features
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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