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"Gundam SEED" Lead Us Forward to a New Destiny, Gundam!

After a long journey, the finale of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is here. The first half had its difficulties, but the second half so far has grown to fill the shoes any Gundam title should.

Cover art for Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Volume 10: Day of Destiny.ZAFT officially enters the battle between the Dominion and the Clyne Faction, with Flay jettisoned to the Dominion with a special data disk. Unfortunately, the contents of the data disk allows Azreal to use nuclear weapons again, which doesn’t take long. The Earth Alliance, reequipped with their ultimate weapon, launches an all-out attack on the PLANTs. The Archangel, Eternal, and Kusanagi race to protect the PLANTs as Patrick Zala decides to show off his newest toy, the GENESIS. And even though the Freedom and Justice have their sparkly new METEOR units to give them extra power, Rau is also loose with one of the most powerful Mobile Suits in existence: the Providence. As GENESIS targets the Earth and the Alliance targets the PLANTs, only Kira, Athrun, Cagalli, and the rest of the Clyne Faction have what it takes to stop a genocide on both sides, but Rau isn’t about to let his master plan be foiled by a bunch of teenagers in high-powered Gundams.

After what seems like forever, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED finally ends, and boy does it go out with a bang. Explosions are everywhere and Cagalli displays a surprising new ability. The action in all five of these episodes is more intense, especially the final battle. Duel, Buster, Freedom, Justice, Strike, and the Strike Rouge all get their fair share of screen time, and, in a bit of an innovation for a Gundam show, each mobile suit gets a chance to fight different opponents. And it wouldn’t be a Gundam show without a whole lot of death. Early on one of the supporting players bites the farm, and the final battle between the Archangel and the Dominion is extremely well done. After all the slowness and the mediocrity we had to put up with early on, this is a satisfying conclusion.

But even though it rocked overall, there are still some problems. Obviously, the METEORs took “overkill” to a whole new level, with their never-ending supplies of missiles (and 77 different launchers to fire them from). Considering how powerful Freedom already is, the METEOR seems redundant. And there’s a design problem: Rau’s new Gundam, Providence, is essentially the original RX-78 Gundam going on a camping trip. I mean, it’s awesome that it’s able to damage Freedom so badly, but the fact that a remake of my 2nd favorite Gundam is being piloted by one of the “bad guys” irritates me.

OK, so maybe Kira and Lacus feels a bit forced, but Athrun and Cagalli make quite a cute couple.Thankfully, the animation team stepped up for the series finale. We get some very nice fighting between our favorite nuclear-powered Gundams and the druggies, and the final battle between Kira and Rau is just awesome to watch. All sorts of stuff blows up (including ships, bases, Mobile Suits, and even people), which is all very well animated. Unfortunately, the flashback overload returns, though it doesn’t get anywhere near as annoying as Volume 8, and the METEORs use lots of stock footage. And the credits are still untranslated. But the animation is pretty good and if you liked it in previous volumes, you’ll like it again here. Transfer is the same as well, though if you watch it on a Hi-Def set or a computer screen, you’ll see lots of jagged lines.

Toshihiko Sahashi once again produces a wonderful score that easily carries the scenes. Coupled with some above-average (for the most part) voice acting from both parties, this disc contains some of the best audio ever heard for a Gundam series, especially among the series released in the U.S. My only bone is that Lisa Ann Beley and Sarah Johns don’t go far enough during the final warship fight. But the rest of the dub cast is wonderful, especially Andrew Francis as Azreal, Mark Oliver as Rau, Trevor DuVall as Mu and Matt Hill as Kira.

The songs are still untranslated. Twice in this volume the ending theme “Find the Way” is extended, running minutes into the episode before starting the credits. The only subtitles appear during the last verse in Phase-46. Phase-50 receives nothing at all, which gives the discs a sloppy, rushed feeling.

Extras are slim pickings, as usual. The textless version of the final ending joins the Gundam Encylopedia and, one last time, Nami Tamaki’s “Believe” music video. As much as I like to see Ms. Tamaki dancing in that tight outfit of hers, it couldn’t have been that much of a hassle to get the “Realize” music video too, couldn’t it? The best extra is actually the little booklet of term definitions, as the tech talk is thick on this disc. Best of all, it fills up the entire two pages, which is always nice.

If you’ve liked the pace of the last few discs, you’ll love this final disc of Gundam SEED. And if you’re like me, you’ll be eagerly anticipating the eventual Reigon 1 release of its sequel series Gundam SEED Destiny. Here’s hoping that Bandai fixes some of the transfer mistakes and provides more complete subtitles and extras in the future.

Episodes on Volume 10: Day of Destiny
Phase-46: A Place for the Soul
Phase-47: The Nightmare Reborn
Phase-48: Day of Wrath
Phase-49: The Final Light
Final Phase: To an Endless Future

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