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"Gundam SEED" Don't Get Wet, Gundam!

The travels of the Archangel continue in the latest volume of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, this time with some fighting over the water instead of in the desert, and two characters decide to do their own version of Blue Lagoon. Oh, and the Strike gets to show off its nifty-looking bazooka. Sounds like fun!

Cover art for Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Volume 5: Archangel's Flight.When we last left our heroes, they were stranded in the Sahara Desert and needed to head to Alaska. Alas, between there and here is one of ZAFT’s top soldiers, Andy Waltfeld, a.k.a. the Desert Tiger. The final battle is on, with the Strike destroying as many BuCUEs as it can while Mu tests out the brand new Skygraspers in their first battle. Yzak and Dearka decide to lend Andy a hand in their Gundams, though they may prove more helpful to the Archangel than their own forces.

After that scuffle is over, Kira falls into yet another depression while the Archangel flies over the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean on its way to Alaska. Cagalli tries to cheer up Kira, but Flay’s not exactly happy about the blonde-haired princess’s meddling. This soon becomes a non-issue when they get attacked by a local ZAFT fighting force. The Archangel wins, but Cagalli becomes stranded on a desert island with none other than Athrun Zala himself. As the two start to connect, the Archangel makes its way to Orb, which is a whole new mess of problems.

Unfortunately, this is the final disc with Andy Waltfeld in it (or is it?), which is a shame, since he was a fun character to watch. Once the Archangel gets into the ocean, however, ZAFT doesn’t offer a suitable replacement. The new villain is dull as a pebble, though he does get to show off ZAFT’s new GOOhN and ZnO Mobile Suits (where do they come up with these names?), which grace one of the best Gundam DVD Covers I’ve ever seen. The water battles themselves are decent enough (enhanced by the use of Sword Strike and the bazooka [the latter's only appearance I might add]), but the story still hasn’t done much more than go through the motions of the original Gundam, or, as is the case in Phase-24, 08th MS Team. Athrun and Cagalli’s first meeting is relatively decent, as Cagalli is frustrated with guys thinking she’s male instead of female, but altogether it’s not all that spectacular an episode.

The final episode on the disc is what saves it from total mediocrity, however, as the battle between the Archangel and the Zala team is the best yet, despite the animation cheats. It’s nice to see Kira’s new skills, though one has to wonder why four of ZAFT’s top pilots can’t take down one regular civilian, despite his special qualities. Speaking of battles, the final battle between Andy/Aisha and Kira is very good as well, as Kira pulls off all sorts of cool moves to take down Andy. I will admit that this is one of SEED‘s strengths: it makes fighting in the atmosphere actually cool, something very few Gundam series seem to be able to do. And look out for that awesome barrel roll.

Athrun and Cagalli share some quiet time.There are still way too many animation cheats here, but it’s a bit better than the last disc. With the BuCUEs gone for now, the only CG is on the Archangel, which is a welcome relief. The underwater combat is decent, and thankfully contains lower than average stock footage. Transfer is as crisp as always, but Bandai’s habit of putting all the credits at the very end of the DVD makes it look like a rush job (which it likely was).

More of the same in the way of audio as well. You get your really good English dub and you get your really good Japanese dub (though I prefer the English Kira, Andy, and Cagalli to the Japanese), both in Stereo. The main problem comes from subtitles, or rather, the lack of them. See, in Phase-24, there’s an insert song near the end of the episode. The only problem is, Bandai decided, for whatever reason, NOT to subtitle the insert song, even on the Japanese track. Four or five years ago, I would take this from a smaller company, but this is 2005, and this is Bandai, one of the anime giants. This omission is inexplicable for one of Bandai’s flagship titles.

Extras are, once again, minimal. T.M. Revolution’s confusing “Invoke” music video is back for its last go around, while a creditless version of the second opening and some Mechanical Files and trailers add to the list. This volume also has an insert, like every DVD, but the glossary has been gradually shrinking with each new volume.

This disc is for SEED fans only. Forgettable villains and disposible plots make it of little interest to anyone else.

Episodes available on Volume 5: Archangel’s Flight
Phase-21: “The End of the Sandstorm”
Phase-22: “The Sea Dyed Red”
Phase-23: “Fateful Encounter”
Phase-24: “War for Two”
Phase-25: “Land of Peace”

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