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"Gundam SEED Destiny" Continues Its Downfall

by on December 28, 2007

You know what’s been lacking in Gundam SEED Destiny lately? Justice. We have all sorts of truly evil people running around committing genocide every two days, mass populations that do whatever a pop idol says they should do, plus technology leaps that just destroy any sense of realism whatsoever. Well, the Cosmic Era is about to get some justice, and it’s infinitely better than getting hit with a big laser cannon, though not by much.

Previously, after the defeat of the Archangel and the destruction of the Freedom, Chairman Durandal had decided to put his plans into motion by revealing to the world the existence of Logos, the shadow organization behind the terrorist group Blue Cosmos. Using this bit of propaganda, Durandal united the world under his leadership and successfully captured or eliminated most of the members of Logos. However, Lord Djibril escaped the hunt and ran to Orb, hiding out with the help of the Seirans. Meanwhile, the Archangel returned to Orb as well, picking up Athrun and Meyrin along the way. The former ZAFT soldiers recuperated while things started to get heavy in the outside world. ZAFT invaded Orb in order to flush out Djibril, while another ZAFT team in space found Lacus and the Eternal, forcing Kira to go to her rescue while Cagalli took her father’s legacy, the golden Akatsuki Gundam, rallied Orb’s military, and usurped Yuna’s place as the leader of the country. It looked as if ZAFT’s back was against the wall.

This volume starts out with “A Call for Counterattack.” Cagalli leads the mission to find Djibril while Kira takes on both the Legend and Destiny Gundams. Meanwhile, Athrun returns to battlefield in his new Infinite Justice Gundam and attempts to bring Shinn over to the light. As one would expect, this episode is almost entirely one big battle, but it’s not nearly as exciting as previous battles. You’ve got Infinite Justice, which doesn’t really show off any new abilities; Strike Freedom, which is invincible; Destiny, which is a rather lazy Mobile Suit that’s already lost its luster; and Legend, which is just boring, all fighting against one another, and it just doesn’t work. There is one moment where Rey and Shinn team up and almost put some scratches on Strike Freedom, which is rather refreshing, but the moment passes too quickly, and once Athrun joins the battle the episode ends up echoing Athrun’s escape of a few episodes ago, except that that episode was more thrilling. At the very least, we get some new animations for Strike Freedom, which I suppose is a plus. Doesn’t make up for a boring episode, but it’s a start.

Next is “Lacus Times Two.” As you can probably guess, Lacus has about had it with Meer impersonating her and goes on TV to denounce Durandal. Djibril, having escaped to the moon, takes this opportunity to fire the Requiem, which is basically GENESIS from the first series with bendy action, allowing it to strike from anywhere. While this episode isn’t exactly the series’ peak, it’s still a highly enjoyable episode. For one thing, we get plenty of Yzak and Dearka, which is something that should have been done from the beginning, as Yzak displays his usual awesomeness in what limited screen time he has, though I do wish he had kept his cool Slash Zaku Phantom Mobile Suit instead of switching over to a standard Gouf. The second awesome point is the firing of Requiem, which actually manages to take out a couple of PLANTs, the first time they’ve been damaged since the whole “Bloody Valentine” tragedy before the first series began. Seeing as how the standard colonies keep getting destroyed, how the moon got vaporized last series, and how Earth has been turned into Swiss cheese, it’s nice to see the PLANTs take some losses as well. It’s not as dramatic or powerful as the Junius Seven drop at the beginning of the series, but it still works.

Next up is “Prelude to Revolution.” The Minerva (you know, that battleship that isn’t the Archangel) heads back into space and immediately to the moon in order to take out Requiem. Automatically this episode earns some points for being the third and final time we’ll be seeing the vastly underused Blast Impulse form, though many of those points are lost because of the focus on the Luna/Shinn romance that gets shoe-horned in. The rest of said points disappear when the Destroys arrive on the scene. Now, when these things debuted, Stella managed to destroy multiple cities, and it took the good guys an entire episode to destroy it, and even then just barely making it. Now? Shinn’s Destiny rips these things apart in less than three minutes. So the super-powerful Mobile Armor with 10,000 guns and lasers that even gave the original Freedom a hard time gets reduced to the level of a Leo from Gundam Wing. Classy. Some points are made up for with the resurfacing of the Girty Lue, but the way this storyline ends makes one feel as though the writers have had enough of Djibril and just killed him off so that they could focus on Kira/Lacus vs. Durandal.

Speaking of which, Kira and Lacus are in space now, too. Now that the stars of the series are in space, it’s time take the next logical step: Go shopping! Yep, in “The Song of Truth,” Athrun, Kira, Meyrin, and Lacus go to the local mall on Copernicus and hang out before they meet up with Meer and almost get killed. The fact that the whole “main characters go shopping” bit actually made it to the final episode instead of being junked right away says a lot about the state of Destiny‘s writing staff at this point. I mean, seriously, when you’re about to fight the biggest battle of your life, do you really have time to try on new clothes or listen to the newest CDs? Not to mention that Copernicus is on the moon, which is now under ZAFT (a.k.a., their enemies) rule, and the Archangel doesn’t even attempt to hide itself! As if things couldn’t get worse, Meer shows up in the second half, and whenever Meer shows up things get ugly. Well, the majority of the second half is actually pretty decent, especially whenever Athrun’s on screen. The man may be the definition of “wishy-washy,” but he knows how to kill and does it excellently here, while God’s pilot (a.k.a., Kira) actually remembered to turn off the safety this time. Just when the episode is starting to get good, however, the climax occurs, with an especially lame moment as Meer actually twirls around before dying. It’s not as corny as the premise of the episode, but it’s still incredibly lame.

Not quite as lame is the animation. As expected, we get very few new frames of animation for Strike Freedom, Infinite Justice, and Akatsuki, which is bad enough already, but it’s lessened thanks to the animation in “Prelude to Revolution,” which features some new animations for Destiny, Legend, and the Impulse along with some great coloring and a refreshing change of backdrop. The only comparable section on this volume is when Athrun takes on the snipers in “The Song of Truth,” as the animation really captures his grace under fire as well as his natural shooting skills. Too bad some of those animators couldn’t help with the Justice. Athrun’s newest Gundam is off-model a lot in its debut, and his battle with Shinn suffers from lots of uneven framerates as the two deliver hard hit after hard hit, but nothing feels like it did any damage whatsoever. Instead of pounding each other at high speeds, the Justice and the Destiny just kind of bump into each other, taking a lot of adrenaline out of the fight.

While the story and visuals have taken a turn for the worse, the audio hasn’t. Several new tracks are added to the background music, and it’s simply wonderful, doing its best to make the crap on screen actually worth watching. It’s nice to know that even when the writers and director don’t know how to move forward, the music will do its best to bail them out. As for the dub, there aren’t a whole lot of changes from previous volumes, though I do have to applaud Chantal Strand. She’s gotten a bad rap from Gundam fans, but I did enjoy the differences in how she made Lacus and Meer sound. Heck, she almost made Meer sound like a decent character, which is extremely hard to do. The rest of the cast performs to their usual standards, so if you’ve enjoyed either version so far, you won’t be disappointed here, which is especially good due to the dip the dub took last volume.

As usual, SEED Destiny is rather light on extras. We get profiles of the various grunt ZAFT Mobile Suits as well as trailers to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society and FLAG, which seems to be an anime version of one of Anderson Cooper’s jaunts to Iraq. We do get something special though, as Bandai includes a short commercial featuring some of Destiny‘s model kits. There’s only one commercial, and it only features the various Mobile Suits from the first quarter of the series, but it’s still a nice inclusion and a bit different from the other SEED Destiny extras. And while the cover art isn’t perfect (Justice looks a little odd for some reason), it’s still a piece of really nice art that enhances the already-beautiful Japanese DVD cover.

Overall, while this volume of SEED Destiny improves on the last volume, it still has a long way to go before it gets back to greatness. Unfortunately, there are only four episodes left.

Episodes on Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny Volume 11:
Episode #43: “A Call for Counterattack”
Episode #44: “Lacus Times Two”
Episode #45: “Prelude to Revolution”
Episode #46: “The Song of Truth”

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