"Gundam SEED Destiny": An Ending Worthy of the Trash Heap
As the production behind the scenes goes to hell, it’s about time for the train wreck known as Gundam SEED Destiny, once so full of promise, to be put out of its misery.
Previously, Athrun had defected back to the Archangel, leaving Shinn in the hands of master manipulator Gilbert. As the Minerva wiped out the rest of Logos, the Archangel headed out to space while Cagalli, now back to being awesome, had decided to escape the obviously horrible ending and stay on Earth. (Smart girl, she is, which is why they keep pairing Athrun up with the bimbo Hawke sisters). Kira, piloting his God Omega (a.k.a. Strike Freedom) and Athrun had decided that the most logical thing to do when about to head off to a major battle that will decide the fate of humanity is to go shopping. Yes, I still can’t believe they went that route. Anyway, the real Lacus (who didn’t even so much as dye her hair) had met up with the more annoying Fake Lacus and after a lot of philosophical crap, Meer had saved Lacus from being shot and dying, causing the entire fandom to rejoice. Now, as all the characters are in play, it’s time for the final battle, the one to end all battles so far, as four Gundams that can tear through the laws of time and space battle for supreme control of the galaxy.
Of course, we start off this final stretch with an entire episode dedicated to Meer. Just what we always wanted. As Lacus, Kira, and Athrun read her diary (since when do women want guys, especially ones they like, to read their diaries even after they die?), they see how Meer came to be a fake Lacus and how excited she was. Normally, these kinds of episodes are a nice look back and make one miss the character focused on. However, not only do we have way too many clip shows and flashbacks in this series, but Meer was an absolutely joke of a character, so anything dedicated to her is bound to suck. To top it all off, she’s given a final brand new song to perform called “Emotion,” which isn’t even as memorable as her hyper-remix of “In This Quiet Night” from the beginning of the series. Remind me again why this character existed, aside from giving Athrun another woman to fawn over him and more chances to show the girl characters in skimpy clothing? Well, at least after this episode we won’t have to see Meer ever again, until the first Special Edition movie comes out, whenever Bandai decides to release it.
The next two episodes contain more stalling, with the only important sequence of note being one where Rey finally tells Shinn that he’s a clone of Rau Le Cruset and that he wants to kill Kira for revenge. Gee, it’s a good thing they’re bringing this up now instead of, you know, way back in the beginning of the series when Kira first showed up. Everything else is rather forgettable.
The final episode is “The Final Phase.” Rey gets pissed and goes after Kira, Shinn gets pissed and goes after Athrun, and I get pissed and go after the writers for even allowing this tripe to reach broadcast. The Kira-Rey conflict lacks any sort of spark whatsoever for many reasons, the foremost being that this is the very first time Rey and Kira share screen time together. How the hell the writers expected the audience to give a damn about Rey getting revenge when it’s brought up at literally the very last minute is mind-boggling. Then there’s Strike Freedom. As we all know by now, Strike Freedom is impervious to damage, meaning that Rey gets blasted into kingdom come without much effort at all. Oh yeah, and there’s the whole scene where Kira tells Rey to live his own life instead of Rau’s (essentially the same speech Lacus gave Meer) and somehow that shakes Rey to his very core, leading to a particularly embarrassing scene late in the episode.
The Shinn-Athrun fight isn’t much better. By now, Shinn has degenerated from a confused and angry young teen to a full-on berserker, thus reducing one of the main cast members to a mere supporting character. Not only does Shinn not even lay a scratch on Athrun, but he doesn’t even figure into the final battle at all. He doesn’t destroy any grunt units, he doesn’t take out any enemy ships, he doesn’t even manage to land a hit during the entire freaking episode! Yzak and Dearka, who barely get any screen time, figure more into the final battle than Shinn does! He even almost kills Lunamaria, who gave him pity sex a couple of volumes ago. And just to reduce his character to shreds even more, he’s given yet another Newtype-esque psychic spirit conversation thingy, this time with Stella, who suddenly became coherent after dying. I mean, holy crap, Shinn didn’t do a damn thing in this entire disc except get his ass kicked. What the hell?
And then there’s the rest of the battle. Lunamaria and Meyrin have a ten-second conversation and that’s it for the sisters sharing screen time. Luna then proceeds to fight Athrun and lose, obviously, then does the typical helpless-love-interest thing that Nina perfected so well in 0083. Later on, Athrun and Mu (who has a completely bullcrap scene where he deflects a positron cannon blast using his Akatsuki’s gold armor and we’re given one little frame of back story as to how he survived) attack the Requiem and get through the beam shields without any problems, destroying the giant cannon in mere minutes. GENESIS required Athrun to set off a nuke (blowing up Justice), but Requiem is taken down with a few laser blasts. Oh yeah, and Strike Freedom and Infinite Justice also show off their METEOR forms. As if they needed any more firepower. Gah, there’s just so much stupidity in this final battle it’s just amazing. That’s not even counting the final confrontation between Kira and Gilbert. Even after watching this scene tons of times, the entire sequence STILL makes no [Yikes! Edited for about half a dozen filthy, filthy words in a row! -ed.] sense whatsoever.
Good parts, good parts…. Hmm. Well, Meer died, so that’s a good part. And Yzak and Dearka continue to prove that they should’ve been on the Minerva to begin with, though that’s tempered by the staff taking away Yzak’s awesome Slash Zaku Phantom and replacing it with a standard GOUF. Other good points… there’s no epilogue? Oh wait, that’s another bad point. Umm… yeah, I’m stuck.
Animation doesn’t really help matters. Strike Freedom does get a few new animations of its DRAGOONs deploying, but even then, the same shots of SF vs. Legend are repeated at least five times through the battle; never mind the standard stock shot of Freedom shooting the METEOR volleys. Infinite Justice is given a few new frames of animation, but most of it is just enhanced animation from the original, while Destiny continues to siphon animation from the original Strike, and the Akatsuki reuses animation from the Providence. You know things are going wrong when, of all things, the Impulse has the most new animation of all the Gundams. Even Yzak’s GOUF gets more new frames than Strike Freedom. How messed up is that? The animators try to spice things up with some nifty visual blur effects and stuff like that, but it does little good.
As for the audio, the opening still sucks and the ending is still merely okay, but at least the background music continues to kick all kinds of ass, doing its damned best to save the show. We actually get dubbed Lacus singing “Emotion” and another round of T.M. Revolution’s “vestige,” only this time with the vocals instead of just the instrumental. Both voice casts perform as well as they can, with Chantal Strand somehow doing better as Meer than as Lacus, Matt Hill continuing to try and revel in Kira’s cheesiness, and Matthew Erickson crying over how badly Shinn was crapped on during this last quarter of the show. Did I mention the ending was really freaking horrible?
As for the extras, we get the final MS Encyclopedia, featuring a bunch of grunt MS, a textless version of the “Mu piloting Akatsuki” version of the fourth opening (despite the little gaffe that it’s not used in the actual episodes themselves) and trailers. There is a Special Edition, but instead coming with a shirt, this time it’s four pencil boards showcasing the four main couples of the series: Kira/Lacus, Athrun/Cagalli (not Athrun/Meyrin as certain writers are trying to push), Shinn/Luna, and Mu/Murrue. It’s a decent extra, but I have to wonder why they decided to use the Shinn/Luna shot from Opening 3 instead of the Shinn/Luna/Destiny shot from Opening 4. Much like Viz’s Naruto sets, however, the extras just aren’t worth the price, so if you can’t afford the Special Edition, don’t kick yourself. Or better yet, wait until Final Plus comes out, which applies a medium-sized band-aid to the craptacular ending.
Overall, this is easily the worst ending to a Gundam series yet. Both the original Gundam and Zeta also had abrupt endings, but at least they had some form of closure. This… this is just horrible.
Episodes on Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny Volume 12:
Episode #47: “Meer”
Episode #48: “To a New World”
Episode #49: “Rey”
Episode #50: “The Final Power”