G White | Bedford, Bedfordshire United Kingdom | 09/12/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The collector's box is nice and sturdy, able to contain all 10 DVDs that will make up the series. The front has a shot of our two main characters, Athrun and Kira, along with the Aile Strike Gundam. The sides show each of them with the respective standard mid-series upgrade Gundam. The top has a small group shot. The soundtrack is from Tofu Records, one of the many labels cashing in on the success of anime and manga by releasing soundtracks. The CD is titled SEED Complete Best and is a compilation of the openings and endings for the series, along with some remixes. SEED has some great songs so there should be just about something for everyone here (truth be told, there are a few which have me reaching for the "Next Track" button). Sadly, one key song is missing. In Japan, there were two versions of Complete Best- a standard and a limited edition. The limited edition contained one extra song, the first ending. This is undoubtedly the most popular song from the series, but the group behind it (See-Saw) are signed to a different record label. It's not the greatest loss but without it, Complete Best doesn't feel so complete. The CD is in a standard case, with a pull out booklet. The booklet has a new cover of a POV shot of the Strike Gundam looming over you, whilst the other side of the case has the original Japanese cover of Kira and Athrun looking grim and angsty. The booklet contains the romanised lyrics for all the songs found on the album, as well as photos of the artists...quite a freaky bunch. The last page is a track listing with a group shot of the big four characters. Bandai are using the Japanese cover art for the series, so the cover for volume 1 is Kira and his Strike Gundam. The insert gives a brief glossary of important terms used in the story.
The DVD menus use animation from the show eg a clip will play of Strike Gundam swinging a sword and then freeze, with the options appearing on the sword. It's reminiscent of what Bandai did with Endless Waltz and slightly confusing to navigate. Hopefully it will improve with later discs. From the main menu you can choose to play all 5 episodes, select a specific part of one of the episodes, change the settings or go to the extras. The extras are the norm for this kind of release. We get a textless opening, mecha files (compiled by two very cool members of the fandom), three trailers (Ghost in the Shell : Stand Alone Complex, Infinite Ryvius and Dragon Drive) and credits. Sound and video here is fine. Everything looks and sounds crisp and is helped by the casts of both languages doing a pretty solid job.
Starting in late 2002 in Japan, SEED is yet another of Bandai's attempts to draw in new fans with a series unconnected to those of the franchise's past. The last series to air was 1999's Turn A Gundam. Helmed by Gundam creator Tomino, the show took a very different approach and was only really successful with long time fans. With SEED, Bandai is clearly aiming for a younger demographic (especially females, which make up most of the show's fanbase). Whilst the AU series of the mid-90s had been piled out with little space or life, SEED was the result of alot of careful planning. The original series remains ever popular in Japan, so Bandai decided to see it lightning would strike twice. SEED takes the story of Mobile Suit Gundam and rewrites it for the modern generation. Gone are the goofy 1970s music, mecha and character designs replaced by catchy J-pop tunes, attractive bishounen and mecha which draw on the franchise's 25 years of experience.
The result is a series which, in this reviewer's opinion, is Gundam Wing done right. The story sticks to the tried and true formula- in the distant future, Earth is at war with the inhabitants of its orbiting space colonies. However the conflict here is not one of rights but race. Genetic engineering, an issue which in the real world is becoming more and more a complicated issue, is a reality. Parents willingly take advantage of this to 'improve' their children as they see fit, from anything as simple to a change of eye colour to enhanced strength and intelligence. This has split humanity in two- the Coordinators (the name given to those who have been altered) and the Naturals (the name for those who have remained untampered). The two sides each have their own share of loathing for the other for varying reasons, so war has broken out. The war had been expected to end quickly but after a massive loss of their own civillains to nuclear warheads, ZAFT (the name of the Coordinator army) developed the N-Jammer to disable any sort of nuclear power. Both sides are forced to rely on non-nuclear power as a result. Another invention of the Coordinator's high intellect are mobile suits. Combined with the super fast reflexes of their pilots, these new weapons are giving ZAFT the advantage. Not to be outdone, the Earth forces commence plans to build their own advanced MS. The 5 prototypes are nearly complete on the 'neutral' colony where they've been constructed when ZAFT make their play to steal them. A devistating attack is launched on the colony, forcing the civillains into shelters. It's here that our central character, Kira Yamato, gets involved. A 16 year old Coordinator, Kira and his family moved to the colony to escape the war. After saving the life of an Earth officer, Kira is forced into the cockpit with her of the the last remaining prototype. When the Natural officer struggles to control the thing, Kira is forced to step in and use his abilities to pilot. As the situation worsens, it's clear Kira is the only one who can pilot this Strike Gundam, a task he is forced into to protect himself and his friends as they flee with the Earth forces. Whilst this is frustrating enough for the peace loving Kira, he also has to deal with the fact that one of the Gundam thiefs is his childhood friend Athrun Zala. Can he kill one friend to protect others?
The characters are a likeable bunch but as should be expected we don't get to know them completly in these first 5 episodes. Kira is joined by his friends/fellow students, as well as a kind hearted rookie captain, a by-the-book second officer and a cool ace pilot who serves as his mentor. ZAFT also has some diversity, with the now-standard Char-clone (a mysterious masked blonde who's a capable commander and fearsome fighter) and their own Gundam pilots who at least partly fall into bishounen stereotypes (the quiet peacemaker, the moody gloryhog, etc). Both casts do a fine job. In general I prefer the Japanese cast, but the English cast also have talent. There is the odd moment of flatness and silly "we need to fit the flaps" dialogue, but it never reaches the levels that have hampered my enjoyment of the Ocean Group's previous works. The Japanese version's major ace is Seki Tomokazu. The guy who played one of my favourite characters from past series (Domon Kasshu), Seki steps up to play Yzak Joule, a dedicated ZAFT Gundam pilot. Whilst alot of VAs restrain themselves, Seki becomes his character. He does a great job of channeling Yzak's arrogance and anger, as well as providing screaming battle cries like no one can The animation is of a fine standard, but there is one annoying flaw- a high use of CGI. Computer screens are rendered this way and so ocassionly is the main ship of the show, the Archangel. Whilst it can work in small doses at times it just sticks out too much, especially for the ship animation. Archangel moves within the same physics as everything else, then becomes incredibly floaty and moveable once it switches to CGI (thankfully, this flaw seems to have been corrected for the sequel).
In general, I'd say this is the best series for someone who wants to give Gundam a shot to hop on with. It can appeal to both existing fans and new ones, especially females who may not be interested in the style of previous series. The show has some bishounen but doesn't over do it (in fact, the first episode has a scene that slightly parodies those kind of shows), instead trying to give us characters with...well, character. The mecha designs are appealing, the battles are well handled and the story is intriguing, offering the possibility of further discussion on the real world of the heart of the war (the morals of genetic engineering). Reccomended"
Gundam for the twenty first century....
Vincent Lee | Urbana, IL United States | 07/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Gundam franchise is something of a rarity. It's longlevity (25 years) ranks it with the other great science fiction and fantasy franchises of the world such as Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. In fact, with it's legions of geeky otaku fans, tons of scale models, technical guides, and other tie-ins and merchandise, Gundam is aptly referred to as "Japan's answer to Star Trek".Gundam Seed began airing in Japan in the fall of 2003, the latest entry in a franchise with 15 tv series and movies and it was billed as a Gundam series for the new century. Following a plot whose first half is similar in many ways to the original 1979 TV series, Seed did exactly as it set out to do, remake the Gundam mythos for the 21st century.Old issues and conflicts were now discussed with a distinctly modern flavor. This is seen most prominently in one of the two main themes of the series. Mirroring the rapid advances in biotechnology, genetics, and cloning in the real world as well as the underlying ethical and moral concerns of such technology, the original series' abstract and vague conflict of newtypes and oldtypes was now recast as a civil war between genetically engineered space colonists and their natural born, earth bound cousins. While Gundam Seed was modernizing the Gundam saga thematically, it brought the franchise into the twenty first century in another way; by attracting a new generation of fans, many of them female, to the series and the franchise. The series' popularity has even led to many recent rumours of a sequel, something of a first for an "alternate universe" Gundam story.While the plot of Gundam Seed is very similar to that of the original series, especially in the first half of the series, the new themes, and the eventual resolution remains creative and fresh. Gundam Seed's main protagonists Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala are also sketched out and portrayed very well, making the two of them some of the most sympathetic opponents in Gundam since the days of Amuro's rivalry with Char in Char's Counterattack. A minor quible I have is that perhaps Kira and Athrun's characters have been fleshed out at the expense of many of the other secondary characters who remain mostly in the background after the first couple of episodes.This box set comes with the first five episodes of the series that takes us directly into the center of the action, and it is indeed action packed. They mostly deal with Kira's escape from the Heliopolis colony and his first battles. Aside from the short monologue at the beginning of each episode, very little of the background of the war has been explained to us. This is okay, as the history is slowly revealed to us as the series progresses. Overall, these first five episodes provides a strong beginning for the series. I highly recommend this series to fans of the Gundam franchise, of the mecha genre in general, and to military sci-fi fans"
A Damn Fine series
Mark Kraska | Colorado | 05/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having been a Gundam fan for a long time, and having heard good things about this series, I decided "What the heck?" and splurged on this stupendous complement to the genre. Any Gundam fan, whether he or she be a Universal Century hardcore fan or adore the Alternate Universe types, should check this out. Great music, deep characters, deep and complex plot, excellent fight scenes, all culminate to bring you one hell of an anime.
Like most Gundam series, the story is about war, and about Earth vs. Space. Or rather, in this case, Naturals vs. Coordinators. Since the basic storyline has been explained, I won't go into too many details on it, but needless to say it takes some interesting turns towards the end.
What first struck me about this series was the music. Whether it was the catchy J-pop opening and closings (like Invoke, Believe, Realize, Moment, and the first ending) and some excellent and beautiful background music (like Akatsuki no Kuruma). Unfortunately, the CD that came with this box left out some of the better ones. This is forgiveable, since you can always find them if you know where to look. The music is just so appropriate and moving, and makes the story work.
This series is by far the best when it comes to presenting reasons NOT to fight a war. The tragedies of when characters die, the ever-escalating conflict brought on by terrorist organizations such as Blue Cosmos, the need to fight for what you want to protect, all culminate to make the story far more moving and deep than any of the other Gundam series. Both sides have a reason to fight, yet both realize that the end result might mean the elimination of each other (see the last DVD).
I've heard many complaints about the art style and character design, but I find it enjoyable. The gundam designs are exquisite (gotta love that Freedom Gundam). The fight scenes are executed in such a way as to make them unpredictable, and therefore quite enjoyable.
The ending, as others have described, is very open ended, and leads very well into the upcoming Destiny sequel series. Though I haven't seen it yet (I don't steal fansubs) I look forward to the continuation of the ever increasing struggle to end the war that could wipe out humanity in its entirety.
Content wise, this show is not for children. People die (sometimes quite graphically), foul language is used, some adult themes are present, and the overall theme is one of sadness and despair, balanced by the hope of a new beginning.
Bandai did a fairly decent job dubbing this series, though sometimes intentionally having the actors speeding up their voices to match the lips. Its good in both languages, though emotions are expressed better in the original Japanese.
This box set is a great way to start this series, though I warn you that after the first DVD, you'll want to see more. Its a nice sturdy box with some cool artwork on the sides, and conveniently seperates all 10 volumes from the rest of your collection. I give this product (and this series) 5 stars because it is so entertaining, more so than I've seen in the past few years of anime releases.
Gundam At It's Best ! ! ! ! !
James Walker | 06/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gundam SEED is Gundam at it's best. It was released in Japan in 2003, and therefore has top notch animation. The background music is gripping, and the Into and Ending songs are great [performed my T.M. Revolution and other J-Pop stars]. This DVD contains...
1. Gundam SEED Volume One
a)English Dubbed Language
b)Original Japanese Launguage
d)The first five episodes
e)Extras and Credits
2. Gundam SEED OST [Original SoundTrack]:The Complete Best
3. An Artbox to house Volume One and the nine other DVDs yet to be released in the Series.Gundam SEED is highly recommended to any Anime/Sci-Fi/Military fan out there. The series was rated #1 Animated Television Series in Japan and held it throughout it's run. G E T I T ! ! !"
Best Anime I've Ever Seen, Bar None
James Walker | Bloomington, Illinois United States | 07/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Simply put, this is among the best anime series you are likely to ever see - I really cannot conceive of any anime fan not enjoying this series. As long as you like far-future sci-fi anime, you really can't go wrong with Gundam Seed. Why? Here's just a few of the reasons this is such a stunning series:- Characters: The characters are likable; all of the primary characters have believable, fairly deep personalities, and even many of the secondary characters have received a fair amount of attention. No cookie-cutter characters or two-dimensional personalities here.- Story: Admittedly, it's a lot like previous Gundam series in a lot of respects, but it's been done much better this time around than any previous Gundam series. You could perhaps say "same general concept, utterly superior execution." In addition to being interesting, multi-layered and complex, the pacing is excellent, being fast and action-packed enough to keep anyone's interest, but never overloading you with pointless action scenes and thus making it seem shallow.- Visuals: The artwork and animation are incredible by absolutely any standard, spiced up with plenty of nice CG effects, and terrific character and mecha designs. Gundam Seed redefines the term "eye candy."- Action scenes: If you enjoy a good space battle, you'll be hard pressed to find better intense mecha action than in Gundam Seed. Fast-paced, flashy, glitzy, smooth - all of these adjectives do a good job describing the action in this series. Each type of mobile suit or other combat weapon has distinctive attributes that come into play making the fights even more interesting.- Audio: Not having seen the series airing on Cartoon Network (unfortunately), I couldn't comment on the quality of the English dub, but I have heard more positive remarks than negative regarding it from other people. The original Japanese voices are of course flawless (when are they not?), and the sound effects are all appropriate. The music really stands out; Gundam Seed has probably the best soundtrack I've heard of -any- anime, and I'm even including such terrific soundtracks as X in that assessment.I could go on, but I think that covers the most important points. In a few words, as long as you enjoy sci-fi anime, I really could not conceive of someone not enjoying this series immensely. My personal favorite all time and highly recommended to all anime fans."