C.E. 71: In the midst of war between the Naturals (OMNI) and Coordinators (ZAFT), a unit from ZAFT is dispatched to hijack the Earth Alliance's newly developed mobile suits on the neutral colony of Heliopolis. Orb Civilian Coordinator Kira Yamato attends the technical college on Heliopolis. After ZAFT hijacks 4 of the 5 mobile suits, Kira stumbles upon the last one, Strike, forced to pilot it to save his and his friend's lives. During this confusion, Kira also reunites with his childhood Coordinator friend, Athrun Zala, who ironically turns out to be a ZAFT soldier and one of the hijackers at Heliopolis. Having control of Strike, Kira joins the Earth Alliance boarding the ship known as Archangel, to protect his friends while despairing over becoming the enemy of his childhood friend and people.
#1: "Anna ni Issho Datta no ni (あんなに一緒だったのに; Even Though We Were Together So Much)" by See-Saw (eps 1-26) #1: "Anna ni Issho Datta no ni: ReTracks (あんなに一緒だったのに 〜ReTracks)" by See-Saw (HD Remaster eps 1-28) #2: "Distance" by FictionJunction (HD Remaster eps 29-39, 41-45, 47-49) #2: "River" by Tatuya Ishii (eps 27-39) #3: "Akatsuki no Kuruma: ReTracks (暁の車 〜ReTracks)" by FictionJunction YUUKA (HD Remaster ep 40) #3: "Find The Way" by Mika Nakashima (eps 40-50, HD Remaster eps 46, 50)
Gundam SEED started off as just another Gundam series for me. I watched it because it was airing and convenient... I didn't expect it to become my favorite Gundam series of all time.
STORY - At this point, you'd have to stretch pretty far to find a Gundam series with a mindblowingly different premise, so there's no point in really focusing on the fact that yes, this is another series about teenagers in giant robots fighting a war that's pretty pointless. There is nothing new about Gundam SEED, but then, it deserves points for being able to stand out despite that very fact. For me, one
of the most appealing things about SEED was its very easy-to-understand plotline. The root of the war, while decidedly trivial to some extent, is simple. I'm sure more than a few people were confused, and subsequently put off, by the political madness that ravaged the plots of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, as well as newer classics like Gundam Wing, so it was nice to see something so simple come along.
In addition to the war, one of the strongest story points for me was the conflict between Athrun and Kira. The cruelty and tragicness of pitting friend against friend works very well here, and I know I've said before that I'm just a sucker for this kind of stuff. For SEED, this conflict was well done, progressed smoothly, and resolved rather satisfactory. It was pretty neat to see the same conflict mirrored later with Dearka and Yzak too. Also, this series was one of the first in a long time to surprise me so much with things happening in the story. People died. People you really didn't expect to die died. So many people die that at some point, you kind of started wondering if anyone was actually going to live! But despite the number of deaths, you never got the feeling that it was overdone, or that any of the characters' deaths didn't have some significance or meaning, and that's definitely a feat.
Those two aspects of SEED made up for all the cliches that came with being a Gundam series -- white mask's ulterior motive was nothing amazing, and the ending to the war wasn't anything special either. But by the end of it all, it isn't the basics of the story that's important, it's all the progress you've made with the characters and their own personal resolutions.
CHARACTER - The characters in SEED probably contributed the most to gaining my favor. All of them are exceptionally well done. Yes, even the minor characters, which is definitely a rarity in anime. All of them seem like real people; they're complex and have emotions, motives, flaws. Both of the protagonists are split between a side that has to fight and a side that hurt because of everything that's happening. After all the stoic personalities in Gundam Wing, it was incredible for me to see characters that would actually cry. On several occasions, even. In fact, for the first half of the series, it seriously surprised me just how much of a crybaby Kira was. But it worked for his character, so even though he kind of turned into a godmodding, self-righteous bastard later on, it was okay.
Kira aside, for me, Athrun was the most interesting character and had the most depth. Throughout the entire series, he was in conflict. And as soon as one conflict was resolved, another would present itself. The poor guy was in constant turmoil, which was really great to see. He was easy to relate to and never grew out of reach like Kira did. Secondary characters like Cagalli and Lacus were also refreshing to see -- female characters that had strength to stand up on their own. Indeed, one might venture to say that our male protagonists depended much more on their female counterparts than the other way around, as is traditionally the case.
It would be exhausting to go through the list of other characters, though many of them are also important and very relevant. Suffice to say that there are almost NO flat characters in SEED. All of them have dimension and depth and develop throughout the series. I don't really think this happens in many other anime.
ARTWORK & ANIMATION - I rather like the art style of SEED (the same people also did Sokyuu no Fafner); it's pleasing to the eye and works well for the content of the series. The animation itself is pretty average, and I'm still waiting for the day when explosions in the distance graduate from looking like Pacman, but oh well. There's nothing else really worth noting, but it certainly isn't an ugly series.
MUSIC - I... adore the music for this entire series. All three instrumental soundtracks are well worth getting! The battle music is strong and epic! The introspection music is interesting and intriguing! The tragic music makes the already tragic scene ten times more touching. It's just fantastic all around. After the bigshots Yoko Kanno and Yuki Kajiura, it's Toshihiko Sahashi that makes it on my playlist the most! And the OP/ED themes are pretty much all top notch as well. I've been a fan of T.M. Revolution for a long time, so "Invoke" was perfect for the first opening. SEED introduced the world to Nami Tamaki, and I must say I've definitely become a fan since her debut. SEE-SAW and Mika Nakashima are always good as well, and even the lesser known artists in the lineup are pretty awesome.
DUBBING & VOCALS - I saw the first half of this series in English but ended up seeing the second half subbed (because SEED was, for some reason, so unpopular that CN shoved it in a death slot). The dub was nothing spectacular certainly, but it was decent. None of the voices were up to par with their Japanese counterparts, but the only one that seriously annoyed me was Richard Cox, and that was mostly because the man can't seem to change his voice between characters (and thus, the character he voiced sounded like Inuyasha to me). The Japanese cast, on the other hand, is top notch. Akira Ishida as Athrun remains one of my favorite performances ever, and Souichiro Hoshi as Kira was pretty great too. And of course, you can't forget Rie Tanaka as Lacus -- Lacus has several songs she performs within the series and Tanaka is the one singing all of them. It always pleases me when they're able to do that and helps reaffirm the fact that the Japanese seem to take their voice acting much more seriously than we do.
OVERALL - I know I haven't seen all of the Gundam series out there, but of those I've seen, this is definitely my favorite. The characters come to life and everything else falls into place behind that. A lot of people cling onto Mobile Suit Gundam as the only good one because it's the original, but though it was a good series that obviously propelled the creation of all subsequent Gundams, for this generation of anime fans, it's sorely outdated. I really feel like Gundam SEED should be the series taking its place for the post-2000 generation of fans. That statement may bode well in Japan, as this series was wildly popular, but I'm disappointed to see that it failed miserably in the States. Chalk that up to other factors though, 'cause this series is damn good.
Gundam Seed was my first taste into the Gudam universe. At first I was really hesitant to start watching this series because I thought the show was for children because of the mecha. However once I started watching the series, I couldn't stop without finishing it.
The whole series is basically about an ongoing war between the Natural human race and the genetically superior Coordinators. This may seem like a straightforward plotline, however several things push the plot so it is not as simple as it seems. Throughout the series you are left wondering which side is truly the right side to be on. Throughout
the series you get to see both sides of the story as much of the Natural's justifications are shown with Kira and most of Coordinator's justifications are shown with Athrun.
Because this is a very old series, the art style is very different from the art style today. It's not to say that it's bad, but it might take some getting used to for someone who has only started watching anime recently. The battle scenes have a lot of flashing lights and aren't choreographed too badly. I would say this area is the weakest point of the whole series.
I thought that all of the opening and ending songs really fit the series as a whole. The best music to me was Rie Tanaka's singing throughout the series. I was really amazed when I first heard her sing has Lacus Clyne because she sung for her own character. In my experience, many people usually get singers to sing their character roles. So I was really impressed that she sung her own song and that she was actually very good at it.
The characters are the strongest point of this series. This series is built on the interaction between the characters. The battles and action almost seems secondary to me compared to the drama occurring between the main characters. This series has a lot of characters that pushed the plotline forward, but the main characters really shone above the others.
Kira Yamato is the main protagonist of the story. During the beginning of the series he really is a normal person with many weaknesses and faults. However as the series progresses, he grows and matures in order to face the trials given to him. I believe Kira's growth as a person is one of the things that really grabs a viewer. He grows from a weak school student to a leader that many people can count on.
Athrun Zala is another main protagonist of the story. Athrun enters the story on the opposite side of the war as Kira. Their past history of being childhood friends becomes one of the key factors in the story as Athrun and Kira both fight on opposite sides in the war. Athrun's emotional struggle continues throughout the series as he tries to figure out what is the right thing to do.
Lacus Clyne is one the main female protagonists of the story. While originally appearing as Athrun's finance, she later becomes Kira's love interest. Lacus's first appearance in the series is as a normal girl who doesn't hold any importance in the war aside from the fact that her father is the High Supreme Councilor of the Coordinators. However as the story progresses, Lacus quickly shows her strength as she rallies up support against the war in face of great opposition.
Cagalli Yula Athha is the other female protagonist. Although very close with Kira in the beginning of the series, she later becomes Athrun's love interest. She appears in the beginning of the series as a strong woman who is capable of fighting for what she believes in. Later on in the series her heritage of being the daughter of Orb's leader is revealed.
Gundam Seed is one of my most favorite series of all time. I would say that this is a must see series for all new, incoming anime fans.
Story: I thought the plot was outstanding. The story-line is usually one of the biggest things in an anime for me, and is a big deciding factor in whether I choose to watch it through to the end or not. I've only dropped an anime if the plot really starts to bother me, but this one kept me wanting more. There were many things that unfolded and the conflicts seemed very real.
Art: What can I say here. I thought the character designs were very interesting and I noticed a lot of the style uniqueness in the hair and eyes of the characters especially. These
are important things I look at in real human beings and they usually tell a lot about a person. Just the same in the anime, the design for the characters was very suiting. As for the mecha within the anime, I felt it was superb. I love the designs of the gundams and the battle ships as well. Weapon and such are also nicely done.
Sound: I thought the music and sound effects were perfect. Each song conveyed the proper emotions to fit the story, even the opening an closing. I especially like the editing near the end of most of the episodes where it leads into the closing song. It seems to always fit.
Character: I felt each character had a deep personality and was thought up with care. I was really able to connect with the characters in this anime even though I've never experienced anything like them at all. I really did enjoy getting familiar with these characters.
Enjoyment: If it isn't already obvious, I thoroughly enjoyed this anime to the very end. I watched every second of every episode and even decided upon watching it's sequel, Gundam Seed Destiny.
Overall: By now you know that I am truly fond of this anime and it's entirety. I wish any and everyone that watches the same joy that I experienced while watching this masterpiece. 10/10
I’m not really into mecha anime, so when I decided to watch Gundam SEED (GS) I was a bit reluctant. I was primarily expecting lots of action and very little on story and characters. However, considering the positive reviews I decided to give it a chance. Anyway, before I start I would like to say that I watched several universal century Gundams (0079, Zeta, and Char’s Counterattack) and even did reviews for them. So I may make several references and comparisons.
GS was considered to be an updated version of the original Mobile Suit Gundam (MSG)
for the 21st century, as it deals with more contemporary issues (ie cloning, genetic modification, etc). So it should be no surprise that GS starts out in a very similar vein to MSG. However, this isn’t to say that GS copied MSG, instead GS took the best parts of MSG and improved it. Well at least for the first half of the series. The pacing was a definite improvement as it was nearly flawless, I can’t really separate the episodes easily as they blended so well together which makes GS ideal for marathoning. The story is also very similar, 2 warring factions, political intrigue, and the viewpoint of both sides, typical Gundam. I don’t need to get in to specifics, in general the crew of the <new advanced ship> attempts to escape/fight off another ship and its crew. This is while trying to get to a specific destination and completing various checkpoints. Sure it wasn’t the most original of stories but paired with its fast pace and execution it was damn entertaining in its own right. However, in the case of GS the characters take a much bigger role. While the 1st half was good and entertaining it doesn’t compare to its 2nd half.
The 2nd half was where GS breaks free from its MSG roots and finds its true self. Here, GS really focuses on the characters, in particular the conflict between Kira and Athrun. Not only them, there was a lot of focus on the various character’s conflicts as well as plenty of character development. Here the action/battles take an even more secondary focus and the characters/narrative clearly becomes the primary focus. The overall structure of the story improved tremendously as it’s no longer linear (from checkpoint to checkpoint); instead GS features a more dynamics story structure. Pacing for the 2nd half moves even faster and GS rides this momentum until the very end. However, its not without its faults. The new antagonist introduced felt like they were introduced for the sake of having Gundam battles/make more toys. This is due to them being extremely one-dimensional. Finally, there were quite a few coincidences and illogical moments throughout. For example, when the odds becomes overwhelming Kira or someone else coming out of nowhere to save the day. Considering the overall quality of everything else, those moments can easily be forgiven.
As I mentioned before there was a much bigger focus on the characters in GS than in MSG. For the most part, the characters are multi-dimensional and likeable, the major exception being the newly introduced antagonist in the 2nd half. Kira in particular has gone through quite a bit of development. The angst Kira goes through in the beginning is often exaggerated by some people. If anything Kira is quite admirable, fighting/doing what he has to despite his fears and doubts. He doesn’t let his feelings get in the way of what needs to be done and the only person he’s complained/confided in was Fray. This is unlike Amuro or most of the cast of Zeta where they do whatever they want for no concern for the greater good. However, Athrun get my vote for most complex and interesting character in GS. Not only does he have to deal with having his best friend as an enemy, he also has to deal with his father, own beliefs, etc. Plus he’s a badass when it comes to all forms of combat.
In terms of purely technical merit, GS features good animation and artwork. Rarely does the quality drop. My only major complaint would be with the constant use of recycled animation, a major pet peeve of mine. Also, the action scenes feel a bit uninspired. Gundam shoots, close up of plot screaming, Gundam does a melee attack, close up of pilot and repeat. What made these mecha battles more exciting was the excellent and powerful music. The ost in general is also well done and features some very good insert songs.
Another interesting thing to note would be the recap episodes. Normally, I hate recaps but in the case of GS there were a few that were worth watching. This is because some of the recap episodes actually add background information to the GS universe. Nevertheless a recap episode is still a recap episode and they had far too many. (Not 1 or 2 recap episodes but 4!)
I also have to warn the viewer that GS features many references to other Gundam titles and the Gundam universe in general. References such as newtypes, Char clones, etc will go over the head of viewers not familiar with the Gundam universe. While its not necessary to watch other Gundams to enjoy GS it will most likely increase one’s enjoyment.
GS is easily one of the better mecha anime titles I’ve seen. The first half was light and enjoyable with a fast paced plot, albeit very linear. It feels like the crew of the Archangel was simply moving form checkpoint to checkpoint. When the 2nd half comes the overall quality increases. This is partly due to GS becoming its own and really focus on the character/narrative. The 2nd half was distinctly more serious and dramatic. Plus it takes its momentum and keeps building and building until the very end. Animation and art were all top notch, suffering from a few thing namely, recycled animation and slightly uninspired action scenes. GS also suffered from too many coincidences and illogical moments. Although, considering the quality of everything else, those things can be ignored. In the end Gundam SEED is fast paced entertaining watch, but the true strength of Gundam SEED can be found in the 2nd half with its characters.
If it was physically possible, and we managed to avoid being put in the friend zone, it would be almost every anime fan's dream come true. Let's take a peek at some characters that would make for the best anime girlfriend!