Gundam Seed

Quick & Dirty
Language: Japanese
Initial Interest: High
Favorite Character: Kira & Athrun
Opinion: Excellent series
Likely to Finish: Already have

This isn't even half the characters...

Year 70 of the Cosmic Era. The Coordinators, a group of genetically-enhanced humans, have moved into colonies orbiting the Earth. But that hasn’t quieted the tensions between them and regular humans; the conflict soon escalates into a full-scale war.
On the neutral colony of Heliopolis, Kira Yamato, and his friends are going to school and just being kids. But when the ZAFT commando forces attack, Kira’s life changes forever. Left with no choice he and Federation officer Murrue Ramius are thrown into battle in a prototype mobile weapon, which Kira christens “GUNDAM”. Now, Kira must defend himself, and his friends, from his own people. For, unknown to anyone else Kira is a Coordinator. And the enemy he faces on the battlefield is his childhood best friend, Athrun! (Source: Bandai Entertainemnt – DVD box set)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
This is actually an anime that I have already seen. It is in fact my husband’s favorite series. This being my first review it makes it difficult to accurately describe my expectations going in. I can’t really even remember what I thought about watching Gundam Seed before I met my husband. I do know I wanted to watch it but didn’t know when it started on Cartoon Network. I also know that I had at that point seen 5 different Gundam Series and loved 3 of them. So I probably had pretty high hopes for this series. By the time I actually watched it I had met my husband and knew how much he loved it and was therefore extremely excited.
As for my current thoughts on re-watching the first 5 episodes, I’m pretty cool with that. I liked the series, I don’t mind seeing it again. It might be interesting to watch it while thinking about what I think about it…we’ll see.

Favorite Character
The thing about picking a favorite character based on the first 5 episodes is that it’s entirely likely all of the characters will not have been introduced. Gundam Seed, however, is a series that introduces every important member of the cast in the first few episodes, with one exception. Unfortunately the exception here is my overall favorite – Lacus Clyne. As far as the first 5 episodes go I’ve decided I like Kira & Athrun best.
A lot of people think Kira is too whiny in this series but I tend to disagree. Sure Kira complains a lot at the beginning and he picks it up again later on when he’s being purposefully manipulated, but I think it’s safe to say most of us would whine at least as much in his situation. He doesn’t want to fight and he finds himself in a position where everyone keeps telling him fight or you and your friends will die. It sucks, no doubt about it. But he still fights. I can respect that.
Athrun is the other side of the coin and I think in the first 5 episodes I like him just as much. Athrun is a soldier. He believes in what he’s fighting for and you can’t blame him for wanting to fight because his mother was killed in the brutal massacre that triggered this war. Despite that, in both of the major battles Athrun takes part in he doesn’t fight. Why? Because his best friend is the one he’s supposed to kill and he just can’t do that. He tries his best to bring Kira over to Zaft so he doesn’t have to worry about this powerful personal conflict and in the process of trying not to kill his friend he kind of forgets what he’s supposed to be doing.
I think both are believable characters and I like the way their thoughts and interactions are presented in these episodes (and in the series as a whole).

Overall Opinion
Gundam Seed is a Gundam series in the truest sense. With a real Gundam series you can expect 3 things: mobile suits (some of which will be called gundams), war, and an extremely vague line between bad and good. And that last bit is what I really love about Gundam. Most series have a bad guy, a person or group that is always antagonistic and/or evil. Gundam has that too, in Seed it’s Le Cruise, but I think in another series Zaft would be the “bad guy” as it were. They set up the beginning very skillfully and I never quite appreciated it until I watched it with this purpose. The first shot you see is of Zaft soldiers beginning a mission. I think the mission is the one to steal the gundams, but it gets a little hard to tell (for me at least). But you don’t actually see the soldiers, you hear them. What you see is pictures in their cockpits – one soldier has a photo of a woman that’s probably his girlfriend, wife, or sister, another a woman with a baby. They shout the line “For the sake of Zaft” and then before we get to see their faces we learn that the Earth Alliance nuked a colony that sparked this war. From that one would suspect that Zaft soldiers are the heroes in this series, but technically the heroes are the crew of the Archangel (an Earth Alliance ship) and specifically Kira.
But that’s a very specific statement about the beginning and this is supposed to be my overall opinion so let’s get to it. I love this series. If I hadn’t already seen it at least twice from beginning to end I would definitely want to finish it. It presents a conflict that most of us can understand – war, them vs. us. The unique thing is that the main two characters from the very beginning are best friends on opposite sides and they know it. That’s important I think. When I watched the first episode of another series the best friends were pitted against each other but they didn’t know it; it creates tension for the audience but not for the characters and I don’t really want to see the moment when one of them unknowingly kills the other and then cheers or finds out who it was and is destroyed. That to me isn’t a good conflict, and it isn’t emotionally provocative. But in Seed they know from the beginning that they are facing their best friend. Suddenly in this game of them vs. us one of them becomes one of us, only we’ve still got to kill him. It makes me anxious to see the outcome, especially since I can see that neither of them can give up the thing they are fighting for. Athrun isn’t fighting to kill all naturals, he’s fighting to protect the colonies (Plants). And Kira doesn’t want to fight at all but the lives of his friends are on the line and he can’t back down. I want to know what’s going to happen between them because eventually they’ll have to really fight, though they haven’t really yet, and theoretically that means one of them will kill the other. The added issue here though is that from the first 5 episodes it seems obvious that neither one of them can kill the other because they care too much.
Overall this series has good, complex characters who grow throughout and a deep involved plot. It has a lot of technical aspects, being a war and all, but they aren’t so prevalent that they make the series unapproachable – I know, I’m a dunce when it comes to military terms. The animation is probably the part most lacking in this series; it isn’t bad but it’s the kind of style where everyone has exactly the same face. If you’ve watched Fafner, which has the same art style, you’re likely to feel as if you’ve seen everyone before. I recommend this one to anyone who isn’t vehemently opposed to all things gundam.

Next official review: Ragnarok the Animation


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