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meanderEvangel's Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny Tv Review

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny tv Review

The year is CE 73. Two years after the battle of Jachin Due, tensions still run high between naturals and coordinators. ZAFT has developed several new mobile suits, including several new gundams, and is preparing to unveil them to the world.

However, three of the gundams are hijacked by three of the EAF's Extendeds: Sting Oakley, Auel Neider, and Stellar Loussier. To recover the stolen mobile suits, the new ZAFT battleship Minerva heads out, with Shinn Asuka piloting the new Impulse Gundam. Once again, the world is plunged into a state of war between ZAFT and the EAF. Where will this new war lead? And how will the heroes of the previous war, Athrun Zala and Kira Yamato, react?

Credits: destati

Story & Characters

While I have watched all of the Gundam series and still hold the original Universal Century storyline to be the best Gundam incarnation up to the present, I will judge Destiny's merits and its shortcomings, not on how much it has taken from the other installments, but sufficiently through its attributes alone. So I won't go into detail about how it "ripped off" Gundam designs or plot points from Zeta or Gundam 0083, as some assert, because esentially the Gundam Series is a tradition, so it is inevitable that different series will have common qualities, character types or plot twists. The only comparison that should be made with Destiny's story is with its prequel, Gundam Seed. In this aspect, I have mixed reactions. They tried to aim for a parallel plot in the beginning of the series in which top secret mobile suits are hijacked( although by the Earth Allince this time around...^^), and Zaft's Minerva, akin to the Archangel from the previous series, is forced to play a pivotal role despite the inexperience of its crew and pilots. To be fair to the writers, they actually did a good and concise job in the initial episodes, especially the Junius 7 drop and the subsequent events. The idea of presenting the story in the eyes of an entirely different character, although not original, is a good formula when it comes to preserving the "interest" factor in a sequel, and to keep it from becoming too derivative. Although he is mainly marked as an infamous figure by certain groups of fans, I think that Shinn Asuka is not a bad choice for a character lead, despite some of his apparent negative attributes. At first, obviously they were pushing for a character that would act as an opposite to Kira, to prevent the "carbon-copy problem" that would most likely plague consecutive series with main characters that are almost the same. So, whilst Kira in Gundam Seed was alternating from reluctance and protective decisiveness, Shinn was portrayed as dark, vengeful and sometimes unreasonable. ( These "negative traits" do not paint him as a villain, just as a Byronic hero, at least for me...^^) There are some characteristics that made him retain my interest, and had he been given the sufficient development, would have made him a truly memorable character.

Why is that, you ask. It all comes down to character preferences. While the majority of viewers usually go for the "saviour" character type, or the "pure-hearted underdog", some, myself included, actually enjoy seeing characters evolve from being "unpalatable" at first. This archtype categorizes violent, self-centered and sometimes morally impeded individuals, especially their reaction to tragedy, personal or otherwise. Barring some obvious inherent traits( being impatient and argumentative), Shinn's reaction to his personal loss strikes me as natural. It is surprising how some expect personal tragedy as being a way to instant enlightenment.^^

It can also be noted that he witnessed his loss in a particularly graphic and gruesome manner, which in a way makes it more intimately infuriating( in Shinn's view). I mean, I wouldn't be too reasonable after seeing my own family mangled and torn like that. Having said that, I don't see him as excessively celf-centered or "unredeemable"(as detractors would say), just driven, confused and arrogant, which strikes me as interesting for a main character.^^

Now, let us move on to the other "new" characters. Aside from Shinn, the one that left quite an impression on me was the Chairman himself, Gilbert Durandal( don't sue me, that was the correct spelling, according to the majority of sources...^^). Some have labeled him as just another manipulative anti-hero, but for me , he was much more than that. Although little exposition has been made about his background, much of his motivations were actually shaped by Talia's departure, his friendship with Rau, and his expertise in genetics and eugenic philosophy. As a "villain", surprisingly, I don't find him as an "epitome of evil or destructiveness" as opposed to Rau ( their poignant chess dialogues are one of my favourite scenes ), when at last I understood his intentions, they were very sincere, after all. The fact that people don't aways adhere to the same ideals are the only reason why his plan wasn't realized. At the same time, some didn't agree to his proposed methods, although I find their lack of a better option disturbing.^^ As for the others, the ones that stood out include Meer Campbell, who portrayed the perfect dilemma between subjective truth and reality, Talia Gladys, and Stellar Loissier, although I would have preferred if she was less mentally impaired, and had more character exposition. I appreciate that the EA's Extended pilots have been characterized to some degree, a fact that the prequel neglected. Thus stating this, it is clear why I enjoyed the initial run of Destiny more than the later episodes.

Normally, the new characters should have more time to develop, and if for some reason, the original cast have to return, the former should take precedence to the latter. Unfortunately, what happened to GS: Destiny was the opposite, with the returning chracters inexplicably replacing the established "new" ones. The result was that the series somehow became schizophrenic, trying to be two things at the same time, and consequently, became fragmented(but not in a good way) and without direction. Instead of focusing in letting the new protagonists mature, the writers apparently took the easy route and brought back the old ones due to their huge following. Ironically, some characteristics of the returning cast were somehow out of place, and some completely changed to total opposites of their previous behaviour, with the following being cases in point:

Kira Yamato- aside from the obvious " invincibility " factor that was added to him in Destiny^^, his questioning personality( an integral part of his profile in Gundam Seed ) has been thrown out of the window. Thus, at times he seems high-handed and self-righteous, especially during his confrontations with Athrun and Shinn, and his opinion of ZAFT.

Lacus Clyne- she went from being a simple peace-loving soul into a sort of authoritarian in Destiny. I also think she obsesses over Kira a little too much in this series.^^

Cagalli Yula-Atha- one of my greatest disappointments. Her character became totally the opposite of the one in Gundam Seed. Must be the politics..^_^

Murrue Ramius and Mwu La Fllaga- well, technically Mwu shouldn't be alive if we are going to stick to realistic laws of physics. Murrue became just a token captain. Sad.

Orb Union- while obviously the symbol for Japan in the Cosmic Era, some of its motives( and Cagalli's) were muddled and unfortunately, hypocritical. We want peace but we will go to war with ZAFT and ally with the Earth Alliance? Sink the ship that prevented a full-blown colony drop on Earth? One wonders wether the Orb government is in over its head.

Athrun Zala- I saw a return of his old form during his days of piloting the Saviour. The old indecision that plagues him caught up immediately though, and so he went back to the Archangel( again ). I hope the mentor relationship with Shinn had expanded though, despite the latter being a stubborn student.^^

Another reason why the latter half was a letdown was the unclear stand of some characters on their true beliefs. An example of this was Kira's assertion that wars need to be stopped( wether the combatants resolve their differences or not, which is somewhat strange...), and that everyone shouldn't wallow in conflict, but to my surprise, towards the series' end, he and Lacus actually advocated fighting, citing peoples dreams and ambitions as reasons behind this. Now that was a little weird if you ask me. I wonder if Shinn isn't the only one confused.^^
Among the episodes, most of the events up until " Nightmare" were good, although the story really took a downward spiral after that. To be direct, I enjoyed 34 episodes out of 50. In comparison to Gundam Seed, the sequel had a weaker storyline, ironically for me, due to the rerurn of the old cast rather than faults in the new protagonists.

Rating: 5

Art

Now, the art has been one of the strong points of the Seed series. The animations are fluid, the colors are crisp and the backgrounds are sufficient in establishing the mood of each episode, although some 3D elements don't quite mesh well with the hand-drawn components. The mobile suit designs were deliberately( I think ), inspired from existing ones( tradition...remember ), so technically, there's nothing really new to see. However, it doesn't mean that they look bad, in fact, some are awesome, especially the Destiny and the Saviour. The only factors that detract from the visual experience are repetitive flashback sequences and the tendency of character designs to be similar to one another. Since both are just carry-over flaws from the previous series, it is unfair to blame it all on the sequel. The sequences depicting large sections of armed engagements at any given location, especially the usage of artillery, explosive armaments, and various projectiles requires the reuse of existing footage, due to several timeframe and logistics reasons. The cases in point include the battles between massive capital ships, including the Archangel or Minerva class vessels, where sequences portray the usage of energy cannons, torpedoes or secondary defense systems such as countermeasures will inevitably lead to recycling variations of existing cels, otherwise the animators will be drawing repeated scenes over and over again in a myriad of camera angles, which obviously, is counterproductive within given financial or durational parameters.

Technically, the reuse of finished cels for massive scale battles would actually be understandable. However, the animations for the movements of a single mobile suit, should the need to recycle footage arise, preferably will have to be used sparingly to avoid more visible distractions in the visual presentation. Sequences depicting single suit combat situations( i. e. the Freedom using its multi-directional cannons, or the Destiny igniting an anti-ship Arondight blade ) could have been done in variations by either changing the camera angles or creating " short-cuts " in order to skip the " dramatic weapon ignition " approach. ( Think about the difference between summons in Final Fantasy VIII and IX.^^)A case in point where a battle sequence virtually eliminated(almost^^) the reuse of cels would be during Shinn and Kira's duel in the episode " Nightmare ". Whether this is due to the fact that this sequence is inherently unique or the animators simply realize that recycling footage would be detrimental to perhaps( this is my opinion ) the only intense fight in GSD.^^ Concurrently, the particle effects, explosions and other details regarding the physical effects of battle could have been varied to avoid too much predictability in such sequences. Another minor problem would be the use of existing footage of facial expressions, which should be unecessary, even given the logistics considerations( for some reason, this usually happens with Shinn^^). Looking at the big picture though, I would still say that the art is one of Destiny's saving graces.

Rating: 8

Sound

The other saviour is the sound and the music, although fans will still disagree about this. It is sufficient to say, though, that Gundam Seed and Destiny have good and even excellent themes and image songs. Compositions like Bokutachi no Yukue, Reason( it fits Shinn very well, in my opinion...especially the part: The farther we are from each other/ the closer I feel to you/ When I remember how you change your sadness to strength...^^), Ignited, Vestige( Kira's image song in Destiny ), Pride, and most notably, Shinkai no Kodoku( it made me cry...), an emotional string ballad that is, incidentally, Stellar Louissier's image song, a fitting tribute to a short-lived but nevertheless memorable character. This song actually equals Anna ni Issho Datta No Ni and Akatsuki no Kuruma( one of my favourites ) from the prequel, the three being very sad compositions which were inserted at turning points in both stories. The department were the original Seed edges out Destiny would be in the background and orchestral compositions. Whereas its predecessor had excellent instrumental pieces such as Justice and Freedom and Anna ni Issho Datta No Ni: Athrun's Feelings, Destiny had nothing really outstanding to offer, which is not ot say that the background music was terrible, just that you'll most likely remember little of it afterwards.

The audio of Gundam Seed is a mix of traditional Gundam sound effects augmented by digital surround, with an added layer of subtle and ambient sounds for a more believable presentation. This additions come to fore during forest or urban scenes, with background nuances that provide further depth to the sound during certain scenes. A perfect example of this would be during the first meeting of Shinn and Kira, unaware that they would become fierce rivals later on, at the flower-decked " monument " built to remember the victims of the last war in Orb. Subtle sounds of birds as well as faraway laments can be heard. The voice acting is good enough, although Shinn's voice could have been a little more controlled( with less sobbing and screaming...^^). Gilbert Durandal's voice, by the way, is a pleasure to the ears, and Count Djibril's was inexplicably irritating.^^Overall, despite some rough spots in the BGM department, Gundam Seed Destiny has a solid enough sound package.

Rating: 8

Presentation

Unfortunately, the presentation is not really one of GSD's strong points, with some inconsistencies in exposition and scenarios, resulting in what I've cited as a " schizophrenic " feel. Some events felt rushed while others almost took forever to unfold, with Orb's internal political conflict, and Athrun's return to the Archangel being being cases in point, respectively.

Also, some elements such as the balance between conflicting sides, some subplots( most notably Meer and Stellar's respective roles ) and the lack of strategical basis in gaining victory during battles, further aggravated some poorly planned sequences in the series( one sometimes wonders how the Freedom disposed of the Saviour in a span of seconds, or how the Legend was disabled so easily...^^). Some parts also had some bland dialogue( especially betweel Athrun and Cagalli, which arguably could have been an effect of the latter's " character shift ") , stale and one-dimensional scenes( like some scenes onboard the Archangel, where everyone just seems to be getting along..), and somewhat rushed twists such as Mwu's abrupt recollections. If the later events were as well written as the opening movements, then GSD would undoubtedly have had a stronger storyline.

On a closing note, Destiny is not really a bad series, it's just that its potential was unduly and regrettably wasted with some poor decisions and internal problems in the production. I take this as a lesson for companies that great successes need not have sequels or follow-ups. If the need to do one is overwhelming, they should not sacrifice artistic integrity for marketing strategies. Ultimately, I trust them to create their art, it's just that in making Destiny, the makers themselves lost sight of some of their goals. Good day to all.^^

Rating: 7

Final Verdict

6.67 (above average)

Reviewed by meanderEvangel, Sep 23, 2006

Comments

  1. kitamurazv Sep 24, 2006

    Waw, detailed review here, especially on the 'Story and Characters'. Yep, Kira is too "invincible", Cagalli's characters also turned out disappointing -- on top of all, the old characters also ruined the new protagonists' role (It bugs me for ages: actually, who's the hero, Shinn or Kira? :)). Lacus seems fine (at least for me, though), but Fllaga should not come back to live...

    Well, despite of its lacking in storyline, the other aspects can be said as good ones -- if not to be said awesome. You're right, the musics and themes rock (my fav: 'Honoo no Tobira', 'Reason', 'Life Goes On', to name some). The animations also good (especially when gundam vs gundam battles took place).

    All in all, I should agree with you that the sounds and the art helps GSD very much. The story itself getting crappier during ep 39-50 (as Kira being more highlighted than Shinn! >_<) -- but the musical scores keeps on the good track, as well as the animation does.

    Good day also. :)

  2. Athrun Sep 25, 2006

    Is it just me, or does your review remind me a lot of mine?

    Oh well, I deleted it not too long ago anyway, don't ask why.

    It's a nice & unbiased review, the only thing I would edit if I were you would be the idiotic the "\" marks that come out of nowhere when you post a review...

  3. Aoshi101 Sep 25, 2006

    I have to agree with you for the most part of the initial run of the series and the end except that the bigger picture of the story was having two mini-stories in one huge story. They have two sets of main characters (in this case Shinn/Kira and Shinn/Athrun) and play each set in a different time. The first 15 were about Kira and Shinn and how they were going to fight. Of course Kira made his decision fairly quickly, but it took Shinn a lot more than a small nudge to make his decision on how and who he was going to fight. The second half, the next 15 episodes, were Athrun and Shinn. We get more into why Athrun chose what he did and continuing on with who Shinn was fighting for. The last 21 episodes was a merging of both stories into one for a grand finale ending to the series. Unfortunately in the end, the writers of GSD didn't do a very good job of this. They weren't able to correctly give spotlight to each main character as equally as they should.

    All in all I enjoyed your detailed review and I agree with most of it. Good work, keep writing.

  4. meanderEvangel Sep 26, 2006

    Thanks everyone! I tried to be as unbiased and as objective as I could. Let's just hope that the next chapter in the Gundam saga will learn from the mistakes they made on this one.^^

    --
    " I'm going to find out if I'm truly alive."-Spike Spiegel

  5. almina Sep 27, 2006

    I also agree with most of your detailed review. Even if I also think that the beginning seems too much a ripping of the prequel (stolen gundam, pursuit in the space...). I have enjoyed this anime but at the end, it lacks too mcuh what I call the fundations since the story is nice to watch but when we think about it there are discrepancies, even contrary things, so I was really unsatisfied by the end.

    But the new characters were interesting. I really like Meer or Stellar. A pity most of them seem to be used just to make the old characters appearing better. Towards the last episodes, I was hoping to see one member of the old cast, any member, would be killed but unfortunately it seemed that the producer was forbidden to kill any of them. -_-'

    Destiny has succeeded to make me disliking some of the old chara, especially Kira (annoyingly god-like) and Cagalli (probably a clone of the real one)... well I never really like Lacus (annoyingly goddess-like).

  6. Arekisu Oct 11, 2006

    This is one of the most detailed GSD review I have ever seen! Well-done!

  7. loliness Jan 03, 2007

    Great review..took me a while to read it><.
    I have watched alot of Gundam series..and I think that GSD was a let down....
    Hope they will make a new UC series :)

  8. JusticePro Feb 05, 2007

    hahas~GSD was almost an exact copy of GS only with different gundams and more developed systems and weapons such as positron reflector etc etc...i give it a 7 actually~hahas can't wait for next ep to come out~

  9. 12345654321 Feb 22, 2007

    mwu is hot hehe thats all i can cum up wit right now

  10. nessna Feb 22, 2007

    i totally agree with justice pro even though i haven't seen all the series but it is just the reversal of the old series , like instead of orbs mobile suits getting stolen the zafts mobile suits get stolen and instead of there being 3 druggies (gotta love them), there are 3 people who r experimented on , and another point i would like to make is the deaths of everyone , the people who should die don't and the people who do shouldn't (besides fllay)

  11. Sanisa Sep 21, 2009

    Thanks for the review!

  12. foodlord1992 Dec 14, 2009

    Very Detailed... Like it very Much.. :)

  13. zero-rei1245 Jan 03, 2010

    Could've been better. Too many recaps, too much reused animation (didn't bother me that much, but it started to get a bit Toei-esque) and the ending (sorry for the words) sucked. Sorry. I never thought I would really say this about a GUNDAM SERIES, but I just did. (I still haven't watched neither G Gundam nor the upcoming Unicorn).

  14. SchRita Jan 15, 2010

    Thanks for the review!

  15. Sanisa Feb 24, 2010

    Thanks for the review! Nice ^__^

  16. Supersaiyan-V Jan 06, 2011

    I loved your review and I agree with most of what you said. I just want to clarify one minor note for future reference in regards to the "ripped off" Gundam designs: You can't really call them "ripped off" if it's more or less done by the same designer (Kunio Okawara). They're also a tribute to Gundam's wonderful legacy. Not to mention they also have model kits to sell ^^ LOL.

    Personally, I think they tried to sell this one on "star power" (the japanese cast is like a "who's who" for seiyuu at the time) and pretty designs. The Special Edition was MUCH BETTER but overall it still felt rather inconclusive and various plotlines could've been developed/used/exploited better instead of spending time on roundabout emotions that went no where. Not to mention the one-sided battles. I can see why the head scenario writer got a lotta heat for this series (plus she was the director's wife >.< ...Bias, much?)

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