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"Gundam SEED" The Turning Point Is On The Left, Not The Right, Gundam!

After five discs ranging from mediocre to decent, one would expect more of the same: plodding blah. Not anymore. It took a while, but Gundam SEED is finally starting to get good, and all it takes is a few deaths to do it.

Cover art for Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Volume 6: Momentary Silence.After evading ZAFT throughout the Eastern Hemisphere, the Archangel gang can finally relax a bit in the safe harbor of the Orb Union, who co-developed the Archangel and the G-Weapons in the first place. In exchange for repairs and safe harbor, Kira has to help develop an OS for Orb’s newest mass-produced Mobile Suits: the M1 Astrays (Those who have been reading the Gundam SEED Astray manga will see what’s going on behind the scenes).

Athrun and the rest of the Zala team sneak into Orb looking for the “Legged Ship” and Kira and Athrun meet once again. Meanwhile, the kids’ parents arrive and talk to their sons and daughters for the first time since before the series started, but Kira refuses to see his parents, for one very obvious reason. Then, after getting repaired, the Archangel departs for Alaska where it is intercepted by the Zala team. This time our heroes are prepared and completely own the other four machines for the very first time. Unfortunately, both sides lose a member of their teams, forcing both Kira and Athrun to go all out and try to kill each other, with disastrous results.

This may be the turning point for the series, but it doesn’t start out very well. Phase-26 is a full-on clip show narrated by Miguel (played by T.M. Revolution himself in Japan), and although he has some good lines (such as what the G in G-Weapons stands for), the episode is still a pointless clip show. The following episode is mostly a clip show as well, but it also delves into SEED Mode (which made Kira uber-awesome during the Desert Arc) and introduces the M1s to the world. This episode is saved by Erica Simmons (the main technician at Orb), who has some fun comments about past events and is one of the more entertaining members of the cast.

The final three episodes, however, more than make up for the lazy first two. Kira gets some major development. The appearance of Kira’s parents casts a shadow over his birth and suggests he may have a sibling. After that, it’s some nice battling between the Strike and the other four machines.

Unfortunately, we lose one of the more enjoyable characters for good (though his voice actor returns later) as well as the coolest of the original five G-Weapons (though parts of it return in SEED Astray). It’s all made up for though, since the episodes where they’re destroyed are simply awesome and worthy of multiple viewings. The only problem I have is that one scene, where the aforementioned G-Weapon is destroyed, is replayed over and over and over again in flashbacks from here on out. Still, the last three episodes are the best yet.

One of these guys dies in this volume.With the plot headed in a new direction, towards being good, the animation follows suit. Shading and color effects are vastly improved. The battle in Phase-29 is likewise well animated, though the frame rate is still low. Unfortunately, the final battle in Phase-30 is a “PowerPoint Battle” that does not feature any actual animation at all, evidence that the animation still has a way to go. A new intro, starting in Phase-27, means new animation, but beware of spoilers in the opening. Transfer is as good as the previous releases, so nothing to worry about too much here.

The new opening song is “Believe” by Nami Tamaki. This new intro is by far the best of the four intros for SEED. It has rhythm, depth and blends with the action. Alas, the new ending song, “River,” is by far the crappiest song in the Cosmic Era. However, “So Much Together” is not gone forever, as a very nice instrumental version of it plays during the second half of Phase-28, and the TV-edit plays at the end of that episode as well. The dubs are the same as always. Finally, the disc introduces a new T.M. Revolution song called “METEOR,” which plays during Phases-26 and -28. Unfortunately, Bandai refuses to subtitle this song too.

On the extras front, we have a textless version of the new ending, as well as the music video for “Believe.” While I do wonder why the white-haired Nami Tamaki randomly appears, it’s not nearly as confusing as the “Invoke” music video, since 95% of it is Tamaki and a bunch of nameless extras dancing in leather. As you can probably guess, no subtitles for this one either. Also included are a Gundam Encyclopedia (sounds much bigger than it really is), trailers, and more term definitions in the insert, though it’s confined to one page instead of two.

It’s nice to see that SEED is finally starting to get good, as new problems arise that drastically change many of the characters’ viewpoints. You may not want to start with this volume, but if you’ve enjoyed the series at all up to this point, here’s where to start paying attention.

Episodes on Volume 6: Momentary Silence
Phase-26: “Moment”
Phase-27: “Endless Rondo”
Phase-28: “Kira”
Phase-29: “The Turning Point”
Phase-30: “Flashing Blades”

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