Gundam Seed Destiny Anime Review
Kidou Senshi Gandamu Shiido Desutinii
Mobile Soldier Gundam SEED Destiny
US Release By
50 25-minute episodes
2004-10-09 - 2005-10-01
Gundam Seed Destiny takes place two years after the climatic battle of the original Gundam Seed. The first war between the Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty (ZAFT) and the Earth Alliance left both sides exhausted and in a stalemate, consequently, both sides ended up signing a peace treaty. However, despite of the peace treaty, there remained underlying tensions between both sides. Now, the shaky peace is broken and the gears of war are once again set in motion with the hijacking of all new Gundams manufactured by ZAFT.
Like other forms of entertainment media, some anime is successful, financially and critically, to warrant a sequel. The original Gundam Seed (GS) was such an anime, and the product of that success was Gundam Seed Destiny (GSD). More often than not, sequels are expected to further develop the characters, events, and story of the original. Ultimately, it is development, the concept of growth and progress, where GSD fails.
Like GS, GSD starts off with the surprise high-jacking of several Gundams. The only difference this time around is that the faction that is doing the stealing is the group from whom the Gundams were stolen in GS. Also like in GS, the early episodes of the series centre around the confrontation between the high-jackers and a powerful new ship whose maiden voyage is expedited by the need to manage the crisis the high-jackers have created. If I didn't want to like this series as much as I did, I would have paid more attention to the warning flags that were going off in my head at this time about what to expect from the rest of the series, but I really did want to like this series, so the action and excitement of the early episodes suppressed any apprehensions I may have had at that time about the rest of the series. Maybe if I had paid more attention to the warning flags I would not have been as disappointed as I was with the rest of GSD.
The early episodes of GSD are revealing, because in the end, this series turns out to be a replica of GS. From the story to the characters, from the openings to the closings, and from the Gundams to just about everything else, GSD is almost an exact carbon copy of GS. The important differences are that in nearly every respect, GSD is more preposterous, disorganized, frustrating, and boring than GS. The main character of GSD is "supposed" to be Shin Asuka, a young boy whose family was killed during a battle that took place in GS. The death of his family influenced Shin to become an ace Gundam pilot, yet despite of his accomplishments, he still feels anger towards the leaders of his homeland whom he feels were responsible for the demise of his family. In addition to his anger, Shin is also very sad because he cannot cope with the loss of his family, in particular, that of his little sister.
Shin is by no means an original character and he is also somewhat hard to like because of his angst, but he is still an interesting character who could have made GSD a better series if he received more character development and if he was really treated as the main character of the series. I say that Shin is "supposed" to be the main character because ultimately, it is a returning group of characters from GS that dominate the story. As a fan of GS, I welcomed the return of these characters because I thought they would actually be developed further and would have to deal with new situations, however, this was not the case. Apparently, the two year span between the events in GS and those in GSD was not enough time for these characters to work out their own issues let alone those with each other.
In GSD, the returning characters of GS once again question what they are fighting for, what they mean to each other, where they belong, and so forth, all while expressing a lot of angst. This is frustrating because the viewers of the original GS probably thought, like myself, that these issues had already been resolved. What is even more frustrating is that GSD does little to resolve these issues even though it made them the primary focus of it s story! So you may ask, what happens during the 50 episodes of GSD? The answer: the same things that happened in GS. Okay, there were a few small differences in the story, albeit they were preposterous (take as examples, a Gundam that combines like a transformer and a Gundam being used to crash a wedding), disorganized, frustrating, boring, and not worthy of further discussion. To look at it in a different way, GS is Superman, while GSD is Bizarro; essentially, both of them are and do the same thing, only GS is much better.
GSD s story is not only hampered by it s replication of GS and it s failure to add anything to it, it is also beset by a lack of clear direction. GSD s lack of direction with regards to the characters that the series focuses on has already been discussed, but there are also problems with the pacing of the series. Whereas the story and events of GS flowed naturally up until the end of the series and featured a good balance of drama and action, the story and events of GSD are dragged-out and feature significantly less action. Furthermore, unlike GS, GSD also has substantial gaps of time in between battles. This is problematic because unlike GS, GSD has a weak story and dialogue. The story of GSD is so lacking that it could have easily been told in 35 episodes or less, and yet somehow, the ending is still rushed and absurd, as if the creators of the series suddenly came to the realization that they had to end it after going in circles for the previous 48 episodes.
I'll comment on the supporting characters of GSD for a moment here. The new characters that were not in GS are merely clones of other supporting characters from GS, although not nearly as interesting or as well developed.
Now that the mess of GSD s story and characters has been discussed, I can comment on some of the good aspects of the series. It turns out that some of GSD s reproduction of GS is actually sensible after all. The animation for GSD is again done by Sunrise Studios in the same style as that of GS, and while not any better than that of GS, the animation remains clean and strong. I'll comment on the Gundam designs found in GSD for a moment here. On the whole, the Gundam designs in this series are appealing, however, they are simpler and not as distinctive as those found in GS.
As in GS, the action sequences of GSD are well handled. The battles are big, well paced, intense, and almost make you forget about the lackluster story that surrounds them. In particular, the one-on-one clash between Kira and Shin stands out as one of the best battles in either GS or GSD. Like in GS, there are recycled battle sequences, but this does not detract significantly from the action. The greater problem is that some of the Gundams and their pilots are overly powerful, and as a result, some battles are made ludicrous and anti-climatic. Despite of that, the action sequences in GSD are done quite well.
The action sequences are the best aspect of GSD, so it bears repeating that it is unfortunate that it doesn't have more. As discussed earlier, the amount of battle sequences in GSD is noticeably less than that in GS, thus, the majority of the 50 episodes are occupied with the inept story. What is worst is that there are a significant amount of flashbacks about events in GS, and even worst than that, there are several complete episodes that concern the flashbacks and experiences of individual characters, one of which is an impostor of Lacus Clyne! Imagine that: a fake of a character from GS in a series that is imitating GS. So the creators of GSD somehow rationalized that it would be better to devote an entire episode to an impostor of Lacus Clyne than to use that time to include more action sequences; this is ridiculous.
Some of the other things that GSD does well are the music and sound effects. Like GS, the score of GSD is effective at creating the right mood as indicated by the animation, even if the story hinders the cause. Also like GS, GSD s soundtrack is comprised of various J-pop songs. These songs are mainly used during the openings and closings of the show, however, some of them are incorporated a few times during the series as well. Overall, the songs are good and are well suited for their purpose. It should be no surprise that many of these songs are done by artists whose songs were also featured on the GS soundtrack, nor should it be a surprise that these songs sound quite similar to those in GS. Lastly, the sound effects are convincing and that is all that needs to be said about that.
There exists debate among GS fans that the main purpose of any modern Gundam series is to sell the action figures and models of the Gundams that are featured in the series. This may be the case, but somehow, the original GS was able to tell a good and interesting story while also featuring likable characters and great action. In contrast, GSD features the high production values of GS, but it drops the ball when it comes to story and characters. GSD does little to resolve the issues of GS nor does it add anything significant to the revelations of GS, so by the end of the series, one is led to reason that GSD is unnecessary and would not have any effect on the GS continuum if it were eradicated from existence. Be that as it may, a sequel to GSD is likely to happen, if so, fans of GS can only hope that it turns out better than this installment.
GSD has it s moments, moments that are emotional, exciting, funny, and enjoyable, however, these few moments are not enough to compensate for the rest of the series, and it is a long series. There is an old saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but even if this is true, it did not turn out to be beneficial for GSD. And when GSD imitates even Final Fantasy Seven, it has to make the viewer question whether the creators of the series actually attempted to make a good show, or whether they just sloppily threw something together, mailed it in, and hoped to make as big a profit as possible.
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Notes and Trivia
he animation was done by Sunrise and it is the strongest aspect of GSD for a reason; from Trigun, to Cowboy Bebop, to Gundam Wing, this studio has built a great reputation for their animation.
Note that this review is based on the (complete) fansubbed version, as it was written before the series was licensed.
US DVD Review
Currently being released by Bandai on DVD; the DVDs to date are bilingual but only include textless endings by way of bonuses. The first disc is available alone, or with an artbox and a soundtrack CD.
Violence: 2 - Not gory, but pretty realistic.
Nudity: 1 - Some short skirts, tights blouses, thongs, and the well-proportioned girls that wear them in action. There are also outlines of naked bodies without showing the naked body parts.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Some of the sweet-puppy-love kind of kissing, and some implied sex.
Language: 1 - No biggies from what I read (subtitles).