The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam Seed aka Gundam Seed aka Kidou Senshi Gundam Seed
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: 50 Episodes
Dates: 5 Oct 2002 – 27 Sep 2003

Synopsis: The “neutral” colony, Heliopolis, is under attack by ZAFT, an organization of genetically upgraded humans called Coordinators. It turns out Heliopolis isn’t so neutral after all, seeing as how they have been making new mobile suits called Gundams for ZAFT’s enemies, the Earth Alliance. In the middle of this attack, young Yamato Kira pilots one of the Gundams in a desperate attempt to save the lives of his friends. Kira displays fantastic piloting skills, which is especially remarkable since Kira has never piloted a mobile suit before, causing the Earth Alliance to quickly try to recruit him into their ranks. Will Kira fight for the Earth Alliance when his best friend is among the forces of ZAFT? The balance of power is in his young hands, as well as the fate of the entire war.

The Highlights
Episodes: A handful that deliver emotionally, but most are very dull.
Battles: Fluid and gorgeous battle animation.
Music: Fitting and well-composed.
Characters: Unsympathetic.

If anyone had any doubts that the Gundam franchise has gone on for too long, Gundam Seed probably removed all uncertainty. Much like Star Trek, Gundam could benefit from a good long break to let its concepts become fresh again. This “next generation” of Gundam is anything but a classic like many of its predecessors are. In fact, Enterprise is a far better metaphor for what Gundam Seed is.

I’ll leave it to those more familiar with classic Gundam to explain how Gundam Seed rips off the ideas of those that came before it. Shallow copy or not, I was not impressed with the way the plot was executed. Most episodes are as dry as Death Valley. Things progress at a snail’s pace, and many an episode goes by where nothing of consequence happens. What makes this even worse is that most of the interesting episodes come in chunks, leaving the rest of the episodes nearly unwatchable. These good episodes are among some of the best I’ve seen at showing the tragedies of war. If the entire series delivered at that level, Gundam Seed would have been a masterpiece.

Part of the reason why most of Gundam Seed is difficult to like is because of the irksome characters. I wanted Kira to crawl into a corner by the third episode, and didn’t feel too different about everyone else. Even the excellent seiyuu work wasn’t enough to attach me to characters that filled roles that were far too big to be realistic. Schoolkids do not suddenly take over skilled positions on spaceships. Nor do pop idols have that much influence over society. War dramas need to have characters that seem human instead of whiny overskilled brats. At least Gundam Seed isn’t sqeamish about killing off its important people. The last thing it needed was to have a bunch of invincible heros and villains who’s fates are known before the battle even begins.

Even though it can’t make up for all the other flaws, the music is top notch. “Anna ni Ishodattanoni” helped add mood and feeling to many a scene. The opening and ending themes, which are done by some of the biggest musical names in Japan, will appeal to many fans, and are, needless to say, wonderful. Battle animation was exactly what you would expect from an anime with a 25,000,000 yen per episode production value: breathtaking. Even if some animation clips were reused, the battles were some of the finest I’ve ever seen.

Gundam fans will probably get a kick out of Gundam Seed, but everyone else will probably want to stay away. With such a legacy of success and nearly unheard of production values, it’s regrettable that Gundam Seed isn’t one of the best war dramas out there. I’ve never been a fan of Gundam and had hoped Gundam Seed would change my mind, but clearly this isn’t the show to watch if you want good Gundam.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Kuma

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