G White | Bedford, Bedfordshire United Kingdom | 07/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"CE 71- War rages in the Earth's sphere between the Earth Alliance and ZAFT. Away from the conflict, student Kira Yamato and his friends lead normal lifes like any other citizen in the seemingly neutral Heliopolis colony. But this peace is shattered when ZAFT launches an attack to seize five new mobile suits which have been developed for the Alliance within the colony, unknown to the citizens. Fate sees Kira as the pilot as the last remaining prototype, a weapon known as 'G.U.N.D.A.M.'...
It's been nearly a year since Bandai began the US DVD release of the popular Gundam SEED series. Whilst that series has now ended and hype builds for a similar release of the sequel series Gundam SEED Destiny, Bandai are filling the gap by releasing the SEED Special Edition trilogy. A fitting decision, as they served much the same role in their homeland.
The packaging is a standard DVD case with the sleeve being printed on nice holographic paper. The front cover art depicts Kira, Lacus and the Strike whilst the back explains the basic plot and lists the staff. There is no insert included inside the case. The menu opens with Strike's launch sequence which is intercut with scenes from the 'movie'. The main menu centers a picture of Launcher Strike posing with the Agni cannon whilst in the upper left hand corner zoomed in and faded clips play. Going to another menu sees the 'Gundam SEED' logo fill the screen and gradually fade out. The 'Special Features' is nothing more than three Bandai trailers. Disapointing but expected for a release like this, especially after how far Bandai seemed to have to reach for extras for the SEED series DVDs. The SE's are a series of movie-like retellings of the SEED story, with some elements removed or changed and at some points completly new footage. This first one covers from the start of the series up to Kira's fight with Andrew. From the get go, it's obvious to anyone who has seen this story in it's original form that you're witnessing a much more sped up take on the story. What took two 22-minute episodes of the series has already been zoomed through by the 15 minute mark of this special alone. Alot of the speeding seems to be a result of the director being eager to get to the next action scene. Having seen the series I knew what was missing so I could link things up but perhaps that's a bad thing as those are new to the story may be left scratching their heads. One of the biggest losses is the focus on Kira and Athrun's friends. Kira and Athrun receive alot of attention whilst the likes of Miriallia and Sai only appear during scenes on the bridge. Since Kira states his reason for sticking with the Archangel is to protect his friends, the decision to cut their scenes is odd. In the show they gave him support, whilst here they often come off as untrusting. Likewise, Yzak, Nichol and Dearka do so little you almost wonder why they're there. Alot of their scenes early on were "monster of the week"-like battles, an element the MSG compilations likewise cut. Whilst cutting back some of the battles makes sense, it leaves Athrun's friends with little impact on the story and makes Kira's SEED Mode seem odd, as he awakens it in his third or so battle here rather than after a good amount of battles. The new footage for the most part is basically used to tighten up scenes for the lack of time but there are some which are interesting. For example, when Lacus enters the Archangel cafeteria in the series we see it from Kira and friends point of view whilst here it is presented from Lacus' point of view. Undoubtedly the most talked about and possibly contraversial new scenes is a more graphic representation of Kira and Flay having sex. The show received flack from Japanese parents for a subtle scene which implied this, so perhaps the new footage could be taken as Fukuda mocking such critics. Whilst the scenes aren't too graphic, they're likely to cause unease amongst some and parents buying this for younger children may want to think it over. Of the battles that remain, Kira's first fight in the desert is notable because it contains an appearance by TM Revolution's 'ZIPS' as an insert song. Whilst a good insert song is always nice alongside a good battle, I feel the song doesn't quite work. It's fast and punchy whilst most of the battle is Kira getting knocked around or falling over. Whilst it may fit given Kira's new savage intensity after sleeping with Flay, I personally more enjoyed the gathering of clips of Kira's various battles which was played to 'Meteor' in one of the series clip shows.
Does this special edition have problems? Certainly. Can I say it's a complete washout? Certainly not. There have certainly been worse DVDs and compilation movies then this. Returning SEED fans may enjoy it and it could be a quick way to introduce new potential fans, though certain important elements will be lost. Buy it knowing you're getting an extended and more coherent clip show with some new stuff for your trouble and you should be fine."
Poorly Edited Clip Movie
JJ | Pennsylvania | 08/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For those of you reading who may not be familiar with what this film is, it's essentially a condensed form of the Gundam SEED television series, created, from what I understand, to maintain interest in the series in Japan while Sunrise began work on the sequel, Gundam SEED Destiny. This is not a terribly uncommon practice in anime in general or in the Gundam franchise in particular, as at least two or three other Gundam series have received similar treatment for various reasons.
Going into this movie, I expected something similar to the Mobile Suit Gundam movies, which were also condensed versions of the series by the same name. However, while those films attempted to present a clear story which could be enjoyed without the benefit of the original version (even altering certain aspects to present a new take on the story), the first SEED movie is little more than a quick recap to refresh the memory of already existing SEED fans. A couple of new scenes are added to entice viewers, probably the most famous of which being the new footage of Rusty, the much-lamented but never seen fifth member of the Le Creuset team who dies in the first episode. Some of the early scenes have also been reanimated to give a glossier look to the whole production. Personally, I don't care for some of the new animation. I think it almost makes the characters look like lifeless dolls, destroying the emotion drawn into their faces in the original animation. In any case, while this new material is interesting, at least, it doesn't make up for what the movie lacks. The first film clocks in at about an hour and half or so, squeezing an immense amount of information into those 90-odd minutes. The entire story arc from the beginning to Kira's final confrontation with Andrew Waltfeld is all covered here. To give an example of how much condensing this is, consider this: most episodes of SEED are about 21-22 minutes, not counting the end credits. This movie encompasses the first 21 episodes of the series. The entire first episode is covered in the first 8 minutes of the movie. The movie loses a lot of character development, cutting some of the side characters, such as Kira's classmates, almost entirely from the story. We also lose much of Mu La Flaga's first battle with Rau Le Creuset, which is a real shame, in my opinion, since I thought it was one of the most stand-out elements of the early part of the series. Since so much of the series is covered here, hopefully that will mean that the second and third movies will feel a little less rushed.
The film also suffers from some sloppy editing. There are several instances where characters make references to events or conversations that were cut from the movie, and a number of important sequences are either cut or edited in a confusing manner. The introductory scenes of several important characters, most notably Mu La Flaga and Flay Alster, are also cut, so that the audience is left without any clear explanation of who these people are and what they're doing when they finally do appear. The end result is a story that is all but incoherent if you aren't already at least passingly familiar with the series itself.
Finally, there's the now infamous sex scene between Kira and Flay. While the series was content to leave this as a wordless moment where Kira runs to the Strike to prepare for battle and we get a brief shot of Flay lying in his bed, the movie version actually gives us a full-blown sex sequence, disturbingly set to the tones of TM Revolution's hyperactive "Zips" and interspersed with shots of Kira destroying Waltfeld's attack helicopters in the desert. The scene could, in all honesty, almost be described as soft-core porn. While Kira and Flay are both covered throughout, we see their motions pretty clearly and the sound effects are pretty "thorough", shall we say. While I certainly didn't find it offensive myself, I do find it rather pointless, and parents who may have bought this for their younger children, expecting content more along the lines of the series, may be in for a rude surprise. The series itself was pretty clear about what the two had done, if one pays attention, but leaves at least a little ambiguity, given that the show is aimed at teens (and young teens in particular, I believe).
For those of you out there who are, like me, completists, this movie could be worthwhile. If you've seen the SEED series in its entirety, the movie is a reasonably entertaining refresher. If you haven't seen it, though, you're bound to be hopelessly lost and probably bored by the characters who are never explained enough to care about in this version.
One last thing: I understand that the third movie will contain the five minute OVA showing what happens to the characters after the final episode of SEED (which, due to some sort of problems getting the material from Sunrise, were not included in the final DVD of the series), which may make getting that movie worthwhile, even if you don't plan on getting this one."
Gundam SEED: The Cliff Notes
Tabris The 17th | CT, USA | 07/25/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Year 70 of the Cosmic Era. Tensions mount...wait, haven't we heard this before? Yes, rather than make a full length motion picture to capitalize on the success of the Mobile Suit Gundam SEED TV series, Bandai and Sunrise chose to make a motion picture trilogy which retells the story that's already been told. This DVD contains the first of the three movies, titled "The Empty Battlefield."
If you're already a fan of SEED, you know what the deal is here. If not, Gundam SEED follows the events of a brutal war between the humans of the Earth Forces and genetically altered humans dubbed "coordinators" of Zaft. The story centers around a young, peace loving coordinator named Kira Yamato. When a group of Zaft coordinators invade Kira's neutral colony Heliopolis, Kira finds himself inside the cockpit of the Earth Force's new protype mobile suit, nicknamed G.U.N.D.A.M. With only the desire to protect his friends from Zaft's attack, Kira uses his unnatural abilities to pilot this new machine. But that's just the begining of this complex story.
The release of the film promised some brand new animation. While this is true, the majority of screen time is animation we've seen before, only now letterboxed. The new animation doesn't really push this release either. In one notable bit of new animation, we get to meet the forgotten member the Le Creuset Team. However, this scene does nothing to tell us of his character, and is rather pointless. The love scene between Kira and Flay is the other notable scene where the viewer is treated to new bits of animation. What was going on between them is now no longer subtle, as we're bombarded with images of Kira and Flay bumping and grinding flashing between Kira's battle with the BuCUES. Though the idea of sex meshed with war has artistic merit, the scene is ruined with a rather out of place T.M. Revelution song.
The film suffers the most from the lazy editing. Obviously a great deal of footage needed to be cut to make a 50 episodes series fit into the space of three motion pictures. Though the story is followable, many cuts leave out key points or necessary explanations for the following events of the story. For example, when Zaft makes their second attack on Heliopolis, a Zaft pilot tells Athrun to "show the spirit that made him disobey orders." The problem is, the scene of Athrun disobeying order is nowhere to be found in this movie. First time viewers will be scratching their heads wondering who some of Kira's friends are, and why they do a lot of the things they choose to do. Not to mention what in the world "Blue Cosmos" is.
The DVD itself is the standard Bandai fair, and that is not a good thing. Though we're treated to a nice flashy cover to stand out from the standard TV series DVDs, the inside features the usual disapointment. Oddly enough, there's no insert cover, which would have been quite helpful if designed like the series insert which featured explanations of key terms of the series. Where they were once nearly useless, now they're almost required. On the only plus side, after seeing the same DVD menu on each SEED DVD, it's nice to have a newly designed DVD menu, flashing the SEED logo each time a sub-menu is selected. The fact that there's even a sub-menu titled "Special Features" is a joke. Click on that and all you're brought to is three Bandai trailers (one inclused the Ghost and the Shell: Stand Alone Complex trailer I swear been on EVERY Bandai DVD I've bought this year). However, considering Bandai's track record for a lack of special features, this is not a shock of any kind. Just unacceptable.
Basically, if you're seeing Gundam SEED for the first time, stay far away from this film and check out the TV series. If you're a SEED fan like myself, even still just rent it to check out the scarce new footage. Questionable editing and almost meaningless new footage really bring this release down."
Falls short of SEED's good standards
Fantasychick18 | Buffalo, NY | 07/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Fisrt and for most: This movie is not a good movie to see if you haven't seen the series. It is very choppy and many of the main characters don't see any development at all. If I hadn't seen the series I would have thought that the movie sucked.
Kira Yamato is thrust into the cockpit of a mobile suit which he dubs Gundam. He ends up fighting his best friend Athrun in order to protect his other friends that found their way onto the Battleship Archangel, which is fleeing from their enemy forces to make their way to earth.
I do like the extra scenes with Miguel in the beginning (which is the best part). However, the sex scene between Kira and Flay is totally pointless, as I like the more subtle approach of Kira getting out of the same bed that Flay is sleeping in, which is shown both in the series and movie. I also don't think that the three shower scenes with Kira, Athrun, and Cagalli were important either. They seem to be stuck in movie to please the fanboys and girls. The only thing that the Cagalli shower scene did was to further prove that Cagalli was a girl (aparently, many people got her confused as a boy) and a very ill tempered one at that.
Athrun, Cagalli, Lacus, Mu and Murrue, all of Kira's friends, and Athrun's three fighting partners (Izak, Dearka, and Nichol) don't get the proper development that they should. The movie doesn't do justice to Lacus, who is a pivotal character in the story.
I like the music insert of T.M. Revolution's "ZIPS" as it goes well with the flashes of the sex scene and Kira's new found willingness to fight and his ferocity in battle.
All in all, the movie is OK, but could use much work. Hopefully the second movie works much better than the first. Warning: Anyone who as not seen the series, either watch the series first or watch the movie just to get and idea as to what goes on in SEED's story.
Not bad but comes up short
Brian Demell | 07/21/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As a huge fan of the Gundam franchise I have already purchased the enitre SEED series and wanted to pick up this movie in order to complete my collection.
The problem with any of the Gundam movies is trying to compress the storyline and character development even more than they are in a 50 episode series. I thought they did a good job of still keeping in the development for the Mobile Suit Gundam series three movies, but this one keeps its focus almost entirely on Kira and really doesn't go into the other characters as much. About the only other character truly developed is Flay, simply because she is a large part of Kira's development at this point in the story.
While it was great not to have any re-cap episodes taking away from the pace of the story, I did miss the earlier battles between Strike and the Crueze team, the destruction of Artemius, Kira's small trial and alot of the moments with Mu and his tutelage of Kira. Instead, we are treated to a new opening sequence involving the ZAFT team preparing to invade Heliopolis (which I thought was cool and let Rusty and Miguel have a little more face time) and an intercut scene of Kira and Flay having sex and Cagalli taking a shower. Neither of these last two scenes, I thought, were necessary to the overall storyline. Those of us old enough could already have figured out what had happened between the two, but the creators were just filling a battle scene with storyline so as to save time. It did work, but I still believe was unnecessary, and I think the Cagalli shower scene was only there for her fanclub.
If your a fan of Gundam then this movie will keep you in the club, whether you have scene the series or not. However, someone unfamiliar with Gundam or didn't like one series and is trying it out again, will not be swayed by this movie. The story is simply too fast-paced and significant scenes are cut and placed in battle scenes to keep the pace going, which will lose anyone not used to the series.
For SEED fans, you'll definitely be disappointed by the lack of character development for favorite characters like Athrun, Lacus, Mu, and Murrue and the interaction between the crew (especially the Mu/Kira and Mu/Murrue interactions)."