Saturday, April 9, 2005

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED

Genre: Action / Mecha
Parental Guidance Recommended
2002 Sotsu Agency, Sunrise Inc., Bandai Entertainment. Screenshots by GPlus.

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Shunichi Sakurai's Description:
The year is Cosmic Era 71, and a war has brewed between the unfettled Naturals residing on Earth and the genetically enhanced Coordinators, who live in colonies called PLANTs. After the Bloody Valentine tragedy, the Coordinators' ZAFT army (Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty) began its assault on the Earth Alliance forces with their new weapons, the mobile suits. What happens when the innocent get caught in the crossfire?

(50 Episodes)

The great Gundam hodgepodge. >>> by Shunichi Sakurai
Another of the "alternate universe" series, Gundam SEED is a stylish retelling of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, incorporating many elements of the previous series and movies to attract Gundam fans both old and new. While the originality factor may be considered lacking by some, and others may deride Sunrise for resting on its laurels, I personally enjoyed SEED a lot.

SEED begins when ZAFT forces steal 4 of the Earth Alliance's 5 new experimental Gundam mobile suits from the neutral colony Heliopolis. The last one, the Strike Gundam, falls into the hands of young civilian and Coordinator Kira Yamato, who is forced to fight against his peace-loving ways in order to protect his friends. He is eventually assimilated into the crew of the Earth Alliance ship Archangel, itself crippled by a lack of capable military personnel to run it. Much like the White Base of MSG, the Archangel and its crew must repeatedly fight off ZAFT forces in its treacherous path - and one of them is Kira's childhood friend, ZAFT ace Athrun Zala. With Kira being the only one capable of piloting the Strike, he works with mobile armor ace Mwu la Flaga to defend the Archangel from all enemies.

The tension between friends turned enemies provides much of the human drama element of SEED. Compared to older series, particularly the Universal Century ones, SEED is a bit softer in execution with Kira and other characters falling into introspective soliloquys. Kira in particular is forced to fight with his inner demons very often, despairing in his failure to protect. In the tradition of Gundam, SEED talks about the evils of war and what the distinctions between humans really mean - in this case, the big deal between being a Natural and a Coordinator.

Animation has taken a step forward from older series, such as Gundam Wing. CG has been used moderately (such as the coloring effect for the Phase Shift armor) to supplement the slicker animation quality, which will help gain new and younger fans to the franchise. Many of the mecha designs however are derivatives of older, existing units from previous Gundam series. The music takes a cue from Gundam Wing and other alternate universes: a lot of catchy J-pop themes are incorporated into the soundtrack. The score remains good and appropriate.

Personally I enjoyed SEED a lot. Despite seeing blatant ripoffs I am glad to see Sunrise integrating them very well into a new alternate universe. It has to be said that SEED is the only alternate universe to receive a full sequel series, Gundam SEED Destiny. That alone is proof that like me, a lot of people have positive comments for SEED.

Individual Rating: Art: 9; Story: 8; Characters: 7; Sounds: 8

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