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"Gundam SEED" Use The Rainbow Cannons of Freedom To Vanquish Evil, Gundam!

Well, well, well. If it isn’t the little Gundam series that could. Looks like you’re finally living up to your potential, and it has more than a little to do with the arrival of one of the coolest Gundams ever created. We also see what happens when you leave the microwave door open while cooking your instant meal.

Cover art for Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Volume 7: Suspicious Motives.The Archangel has gotten itself in a fine mess this time around. They’ve finally made it to Alaska, but the Strike is wrecked and both Kira and Tolle are M.I.A. Luckily for Kira, he gets to wake up to Lacus every morning now (did you really think he was dead?), but Tolle’s not so lucky. Athrun’s survived as well, and he and Cagalli have a heart-to-heart. Dearka’s been taken prisoner, where he ends up bonding with Miriallia, though not in a way that’s beneficial to his own safety. Murrue has to face the harsh scrutiny of the Earth Alliance bigwigs. While all that’s going on, Flay’s going nuts without Kira, ZAFT finally launches Operation Spit-Break, and the Earth Alliance unveils their ultimate weapon known as CYCLOPS. Oh, and Kira gets his hands on a dinky little Gundam Mobile Suit known as — gasp — FFFFFRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!

Every episode on this disc finds a specific moment to launch into greatness. In Phase-31’s case, it’s the conversation between Cagalli and Athrun trying to accept the fact that Kira is dead. After that, everyone seems to go a little crazy inside, and the acting, music and animation synch in a way we haven’t seen up to this point in the series. Mid-way through the disc, we get our first look at the Earth Alliance’s true colors, and it’s here that the show starts to turn the audience against the EA. Then, it’s the debut of the uber-powered Freedom, which manages to go from the PLANTs all the way to Alaska in a matter of hours, thanks to its nuclear engine. After showing off its awesome power and dazzling the audience, the Earth Alliance graphically mutilates the vast majority of the forces fighting there, both friend and foe. That scene is particularly chilling and easily the highlight of the series so far.

Even with all the awesomeness present on this disc, there are still a few minor problems. Why there is a gun in an unlocked drawer in the infirmary I’ll never know, and Kira’s survival seems a little contrived if you haven’t read the Gundam SEED Astray manga. Then there’s the fact that we don’t see Dearka at all during Operation Spit-Break, which is odd. But the biggest downside of this disc is still the ending theme.

Freedom shows off its superiority to both the Strike and the Aegis.The animation team went all out on this disc, even though most of it is basically just people standing around talking until the end of the volume. Some character moments shine, as does any scene with Freedom in it. There are still some badly animated moments (Mu attacking some GINNs in the Skygrasper looks particularly painful, as does anytime the BuCUE is animated in 3D), but they are far overshadowed by some nice explosions and some nicely animated GINNs. Overall, there’s not much to complain about on this end.

While there’s no instrumental version of “So Close Together,” the music is still top-notch. Both insert songs from Volumes 5 and 6 return to great effect, and Freedom’s theme song is so ridiculously addictive it’s not even funny. Fittingly enough, the music is very gospel-like, making Freedom out to be like a god. On the dubbing side, Sam Vincent (Athrun), Matt Hill (Kira), and Vanessa Morley (Cagalli) deserve extra praise, as their dramatic scenes (particularly Cagalli and Athrun’s argument in Phase-31) are top-notch, and Matt Hill’s acting during Phase-35 is about as perfect as you can get. In fact, all the actors stepped up for this one in both versions, and I’m really happy about that.

On the extras front, the “Believe” music video makes another appearance, though this time it’s paired with the creditless TV-edit version. Then there’s the usual stuff like the Gundam Encyclopedia and the term definitions, though this time it takes up the full two pages, which is really nice. While the extras themselves are slim, what’s here is enjoyable. I do advise not reading the term definitions until you finish watching the episodes, as they do contain some spoilers.

This is by far the best disc of Gundam SEED yet, and it’s the highpoint of the series. Anyone who is remotely a fan of the series should pick this up, no questions asked. Really, what more is there to say?

Episodes on Volume 7: Suspicious Motives
Phase-31: “Grieving Skies”
Phase-32: “In the Promised Land”
Phase-33: “Gathering Darkness”
Phase-34: “Seen and Unseen”
Phase-35: “The Descending Sword”

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