C.E. 73: While the second battle of Yachin Due brought the war between the Naturals and Coordinators to a close, tensions between the two races are at an all-time high. During a meeting between PLANT Chairman Gilbert Dullindal and Orb Representative Cagalli Yula Athha, a unit of soldiers hijack ZAFT's newly developed Gundams. ZAFT soldier Shinn Asuka along with his friends at the ZAFT ship Minerva sortie in attempt to deter this hijacking. With the assistance of Cagalli's bodyguard, Athrun Zala, the Minerva chases after the unknown ship that hijacked the Gundams until an even greater problem occurs leading to the start of the second Bloody Valentine war.
#1: "Ignited" by T.M. Revolution (eps 1-13) #2: "Pride" by High and Mighty Color (eps 14-24) #3: "Bokutachi no Yukue (Our Whereabouts)" by Hitomi Takahashi (eps 25-37) #4: "vestige" by T.M.Revolution (HD Remaster eps 38-50) #4: "Wings Of Words" by Chemistry (eps 38-50)
#1: "Reason" by Nami Tamaki (eps 1-13) #2: "Life Goes On" by Mika Arisaka (eps 14-25) #2: "Result" by Nami Tamaki (HD Remaster eps 12-13) #3: "I Wanna Go To A Place..." by Rie Fu (eps 26-37) #3: "Shinkai no Kodoku" by Houko Kuwashima (HD Remaster ep 32) #4: "Enrai (Tooku ni Aru Akari)" by HIGH AND MIGHTY COLOR (HD Remaster ep 40) #4: "Kimi wa Boku ni Niteiru (You are Similar to Me)" by See-Saw (eps 38-50)
Sometimes, sequels to popular series work. Most of the time, they don't. Destiny was one of the latter.
STORY - The fact that this is a direct sequel to a Gundam series already puts Destiny's story at a disadvantage. Think about it -- all Gundam series start with war and end with resolution. Thus, SEED had resolution, and the only way for Destiny to begin is by destroying that resolution. And it has to be a cheap and forced-feeling destruction because there's hardly two year's difference between the end of the first series and the start of the sequel since they wanted to reuse a majority
of the cast. So yeah, we're not off to a great start here. Admittedly, it is near-impossible for me to view Destiny as a standalone series, and as a huge fan of SEED, I know I'm prone to being a lot more critical than usual on its sequel. And that's me admitting to my bias upfront.
Moving on. Destiny seems to try too hard in mirroring many circumstances and storylines already present in SEED, making them seem forced, unoriginal, and repetitious. (If SEED already had a few recycled storyline elements, then certainly Destiny has them in spades.) The basis for the new war seems trivial compared to the previous, and all the countries far too eager to participate in the conflict considering their hard-won peace. The twists were too predictable. Surprisingly significant and unexpected character death was one of the greatest merits I found in SEED, and Destiny tried to perform the same tricks. Unfortunately, these attempts all failed as almost all the character deaths in this sequel could be seen a mile away. The final resolution at the end of the series is also weak and rushed.
In all, I can think of very few story element that surprised me or that are worth mentioning on grounds of praise. Even the ones that were kind of interesting -- such as the replacement double for Lacus Clyne -- were overshadowed by the lackluster quality of everything else (and unsubstantial character development as addressed below). I feel like I should maybe elaborate more here, but there really isn't much else to say, and specifics are hard to point out without invoking spoilers.
CHARACTER - SEED had a fantastic cast of realistic and noteworthy characters. Destiny took those existing characters and warped them into sub par, flat versions of their former selves, or else twisted them so badly that they were hardly recognizable. And Destiny's newly introduced characters hardly make up for it. I found Shinn, our brand new protagonist, incredibly difficult to sympathize with, which is never a good thing. His background seemed far too much like a generic sobstory, and his fixation on his own tragedy made him out to be too narrow-minded and self-righteous. Done right, those might have been interesting qualities for a protagonist, but for Shinn, it only made him incredibly annoying to put up with.
Kira, the initial protagonist of SEED, had been flattening as a character since halfway through the first series. In Destiny, he reached the height of one-sidedness. He is self-righteous to the extreme and seems to think that only his morals and way of dealing with things is the correct one. In some ways, this isn't an entirely bad thing -- it just changes his role within the series, I suppose. He transforms from one of the main protagonists into a more secondary character that contributes one viewpoint without variation. Perhaps he'd just reached the point in his development when he doesn't need to change anymore. Still, it may be frustrating for some to see a once-fleshed out character become so generic, even if he remains a fantastic foil to Athrun.
And Athrun? Of the original cast, he is certainly one that retains a majority of his previous characteristics. His multi-faceted personality is intact, and his emotions remain complex. Once again, he is a very interesting character to follow as he is caught between a conflict of both morals and ethics and the alliance (or lack thereof) between his friends. With both Shinn and Kira on their respective high horses with unwaivering opinions, Athrun serves to contrast with the both of them and again offers the same inner turmoil that he provided in SEED. Essentially, Athrun is the same character that he was tossed into a "new" setting, but as the similarity of his situation forces similar reactions, those who've already seen SEED aren't really getting anything new at all. And then there's the matter of romance...
It's almost comical how many female characters are thrown at Athrun in Destiny; indeed, it seems like all the girls except Stellar are utterly in love with him. This might have been more amusing had he not already had a perfectly good and stable relationship with Cagalli, and had they not been "broken up" for no good reason at all. The entire romantic ordeal seemed like a cheap (and completely pointless) shot at riling up all the fangirls and boys and to reject the already canonized pairing established in SEED. Certainly Athrun and Cagalli's relationship was put under stress in Destiny, but I found a lot of it to be rooted in a lack of communication that was entirely unreasonable. In an age of mechas and space colonization, I can't imagine it would have been too difficult to send a quick email now and again. If nothing else, the number of new suiters for Athrun reinforced his feelings for Cagalli, but the entire subplot was a waste of time because we knew that already.
As well, Cagalli is ridiculously out of character in Destiny. She goes from being a headstrong and independent girl to being a political pawn. Certainly she faces some pressuring circumstances, but considering her development in SEED, it would have made more sense for her to tackle them with head-on rather than...anything she decides to do instead. It's extremely disappointing to see her take such a step back and for her to devolve into such a generic "save me, I'm a weak girl"-type character (especially since we already have one of those in Destiny). It just didn't make sense to me. I'd read somewhere that Destiny had controversially employed a mediocre writer that was in a relationship with one of the producers and that much of the poor character renditions were a direct result of this person, but I can't confirm this for sure. Whatever the reason though, Cagalli was among one of the biggest disappointments here.
But finally, there's the matter of all the other characters. The remaining carry-over characters from SEED are casted as less complicated versions of their former selves, though most of this can be attributed to the fact of their diminished significance beyond practical roles (captains, pilots, ship controls, etc). The other new characters introduced in the series are mostly reincarnations of characters that didn't make it to the sequel (Stellar and her companions take the place of SEED's druggie trio, new masked guy takes the place of old masked guy, Captain Gladys is almost identical to Captain Ramius, etc), which further supports the idea that Destiny is just an uninspired rehash of the original SEED. Otherwise, they were generically casted archetypes, including the blindly loyal devotee, the bubbly spaz girl that is willingly manipulated, and the political figure with ambiguous intentions that aren't really that ambiguous. Certainly a few characters are interesting -- Stellar is actually a fairly intriguing character that grows and changes with the story -- but like any interesting story elements, they're largely overshadowed by everything else.
PS - There is also the matter of the resurrection of a character that dies in SEED. This was completely unnecessary and ruined a perfectly touching and emotional death. Come on, no more of this I-survived-but-lost-my-memory bullshit, please.
ARTSTYLE & ARTWORK - Thankfully, the art and animation did not change between SEED and Destiny. I'm still fond of the particular style used in the series, and everything else stayed in that average range that's perfectly acceptable.
MUSIC - Considering the general failure of the above sections, I was especially grateful that the music in Destiny lived up to SEED's, which I absolutely adored. The composer and most of the artists involved remained the same, and thus, beautiful music ensued. T.M. Revolution returns to perform fantastically upbeat and energetic pieces, including the first opening theme ("Ignited"), just like last time. Nami Tamaki also returns to provide its first end theme "Reason," as well as a number of insert songs. And SEED threw young Nami Tamaki into the j-pop spotlight, Destiny did the same for Hitomi Takahashi, who sang my absolute favorite opening for the series, "Bokutachi no Yukue." Additionally, Rie Tanaka, the voice of both Lacus Clyne and Meer Campbell, sings both a super-energized remix of her "Shizukana Yoruni" from SEED and a slow, peaceful, and absolutely gorgeous new song, "Fields of Hope." And last, but not least, Rie Fu, who did the famous first ending of Bleach ("Life is like a Boat") comes in to sing "I Wanna Go to a Place," possibly my favorite ending theme in Destiny. Seriously, I adore all of the vocal tracks used in this series.
And of course, Sahashi Toshihiko once again provides four new soundtracks worth of fantastic orchestral and piano music for the background. These include updated versions of old, familiar tracks, as well as dozens of new themes that are just as fun. And as a piano player myself, it especially pleased me to see the inclusion of more piano tracks that are actually played within the content of the series since Rey Za Burrel takes Nicol's place as your character-that-can-play-piano. Fun stuff all around, guys. :D
VOICE ACTING - All of the actors that reprised their roles from SEED were once again excellent. I still love Akira Ishida as Athrun Zala. Of the new roles, Stellar stood out to me as a pretty awesome performance given the strangeness of her character. Other than that, the rest of the voices did well to fit their part, but weren't anything particularly memorable. As far as I know, Destiny hasn't even been released Stateside (probably because of SEED's strangely dismal failure), but it did have a Canadian release, so I assume there's a dub out there that I haven't seen. I imagine it'd be pretty much the same as the SEED dub though, which was very average.
OVERALL - Almost everything about Gundam SEED Destiny annoyed me, and though I'm not sure how high my expectations were in the first place, I don't think I could have been more disappointed with this sequel. Other than the technical aspects (sound and animation), nothing lived up to the standards set by its predecessor. Maybe if it were judged as a standalone work, it would score a little higher (especially on the character scale), but as a direct sequel to a series, I don't really see the point. It astounds me sometimes that some fans of SEED actually enjoyed Destiny, 'cause in the end, Destiny, for me, only served to reinforce the idea that sequels to perfectly good series are utterly unnecessary.
Story: Although I thoroughly enjoyed Gundam Seed, Gundam Seed Destiny was not what I had hoped all together. My only objections were that the ending seemed VERY rushed and everything happened way too quickly in the last episode. And the ending is a really critical part of any anime, so it's important to really take care with it. I don't feel it was done as well as it's prequel. However the remainder of the story was great. I was very happy with some of the small plot twists that once again separated the character's beliefs and made them have to realize what they are really
trying to fight for. I was really excited when select characters decided they needed to join the action on the battle fields once again if they wanted to see an end to the war. One thing I did notice though, there were a few plot repeats, just in different scenarios. However, don't let that make you not want to watch because there are plenty of other great plot points.
Art: The art of Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny has always been fantastic. The character designs are still my all time favourite. I love the design of the eyes and the hair styles. Clothes are also something I thought looked awesome. And of course, the Gundams look spectacular. Even better looking Gundams in Gundam Seed Destiny. Not much else to say here.
Sound: A similar set of sounds and music from Gundam Seed, but there were a few opening songs I didn't like very much. I felt that in Gundam Seed the openings were very fitting to the mood of the anime in its current episode, but I can't say the same for Gundam Seed Destiny. Especially for the last set of episodes. However, some of the ending songs were amazing and I really liked them a lot. I thought they were very fitting, just like Gundam Seed did once before. Somehow the ending just always fits in with what's going on in the end.
Character: I was happy to see certain characters return, and then be even further developed. And then to add new characters on top of that. However I don't think they did as good a job in Gundam Seed Destiny in defining the newer character's beliefs and motives. But for the most part, I was very happy with the cast. Not much else here.
Enjoyment: I enjoyed Gundam Seed Destiny all the way until the ending, as I said I felt it was rushed. (This is excluding the remake of the last episode). I loved every minute of it as I did Gundam Seed. Sadly that's all I have to compare it to. I had hoped Gundam Seed Destiny would have been better, and maybe a bit longer. But I was happy with most of everything.
Overall: Overall I thought Gundam Seed Destiny was a great addition to the Cosmic Era of Gundam. As you can see, I marked a 9 for most categories. I was very happy that I could enjoy yet another fantastic 50 episodes of the characters I grew so fond of in Gundam Seed. The battle scenes were great, as always, and I really enjoyed seeing certain characters come back to the action. It's a great anime nevertheless and I wish that everyone enjoy it as much, or greater, than I.
Destiny is a tale of two shows, the show it could have been versus whatever the hell the staff of the show presented it as. To get to the point, I’ll point out the shows main problems immediately. The show’s pacing, character development and plot I felt were all horrible and on top of that unoriginal.
Destiny started off better off than any Gundam series I’ve watched so far. While most series in Gundam canon usually start off slow and tedious. Destiny gave you some brief, but useful enough introductions. The age old practice of stealing Gundams right from under the
enemies' noses was fine, I chalked that up to them paying homage or going with a tradition. And then you were thrown headlong into the action. Pacing was pretty good throughout the first half, while they developed this somewhat annoying formula of action, followed by character development episodes, the action was good enough to make you put up with the way stuff was spaced out. A particularly enjoyable part of the show was the interaction between Athrun and Shinn. Though whiny, generally ignorant and pretty arrogant, he showed signs of hope, realizing at times that Athrun’s advice and tutelage had helped him for the better.
In the second half of the series, the trend continued, but with far less interesting action. The Gundams became over powered and the later battles seemed inconsistent and unfair at times. Also, the change in focus about half way through meant that you had to sit through the same babbling that permeated the original SEED, but this time its just a rehash of their already stated opinions and can’t be counted as character development. Clip shows and flashbacks were also used EXCESSIVELY and killed pacing. The worst pacing came towards the end, as entire episodes seemed wasted on minor characters or minor developments and MORE flashbacks, only to have a very short, rushed feeling ending that seemed to have a lot of out of character moments, but that’s an issue for the next paragraph.
Destiny showed signs of good characters and good character development. Instead of getting a patchwork group of out of place soldiers and refugees, you get professional soldiers in their element, facing extreme challenges (except for Arthur, I don’t know how he became an XO). Durrandal started to become my favorite character that, even though he showed signs of being evil, was just a very smart, sharp character with a lot of charm and who made a lot of sense. Shinn though a professional soldier is whiny and arrogant. Captain Gladys seems like a character with logic and a good amount of insight into the world. Athrun shows up as a conflicted character, who ends up being a mentor to Shinn. And tries to show him what is wrong with his impulsive and arrogant attitude.
Unfortunately, the interesting characters of Destiny are replaced halfway through with the much less interesting characters of the original SEED. And then the previous cast gets a serious downgrade in on-screen time, skills and even intelligence. The characters from SEED seem like less than objective observers, until they start meddling and screw everyone over. The characters of Kira and Lacus show no change, nor room for it. Athrun changes, but only in the way a pendulum does. It takes him an entire series to come to the same realization he had in SEED, war is bad, no one should be killed and hatred will destroy the future. The characters come off as almost god-like, knowing all, looking down on the world and generally being untouchable, literally.
As for the new cast-away cast, once they are pushed to the side, you don’t know whether the director wants you to root for them or not. They go from saving the day, to be viewed as oppressors in the span of an episode. On top of that, their skills and intelligence seem to change as the episodes go along. In one episode, they are able to practically fight off the entire Orb military by themselves, later in the series they are unable to take down Orb even with the entire ZAFT military behind them and with Shinn and Rey using upgraded, super powerful Gundams. The Alliance was able to take down Orb in the original series even with Kira, Athrun and the Archangel present, yet ZAFT receives a brutal punch to the nose and retreats. This is also in contrast to when they fought the Alliance earlier at Heaven’s Base. With no less than 5 Destroy Gundams (mountainous Gundam death machines with more weapons and armor by itself than most militaries), they pretty easily take their objectives. Even earlier than that in the series, one Destroy Gundam was enough to hold off both Kira and Shinn by itself.
The worst case is the final battle, where everything comes to a head. The same ZAFT that pretty easily defeats the entire Alliance, and takes their super weapon for themselves, gets a resounding defeat by a pretty small Orb force in what has to be the worst Gundam ending ever. Their ace pilots are easily chopped up, the Minerva is defeated, not by the Archangel, but by a restored Mu La Flaga in his overpowered (Hyaku Shiki rip-off) mobile suit. And in the end, three major characters on the ZAFT side decide to cash it in and commit suicide, while two more lie on the surface of the moon, next to their destroyed mobile suits crying.
My final gripe is with the overall plot of the show. Sure it started off pretty simple, but it then threw a pretty nice twist at viewers, by dropping a massive celestial body (Junius Seven) on the Earth at the beginning arc of the show instead of during the last two episodes like most shows. Great! Then the plot goes into the basic war itself between the Alliance and Z.A.F.T. Once the Archangel starts screwing with things though, it becomes a slower more convuluted plot. And when it gets near the end, it just seems to become nonsensical and chaotic. It really isn’t that complicated and there aren’t many surprises.
If the point of the show was to show that repeating one’s mistakes was foolish and stupid, then this show proved that perfectly. Then didn’t just repeat the stakes of the original SEED, which was a good show in its own right, it doubled them. Great character and mecha designs and potential are wasted by the flawed plot and logic. And this show has left me disappointed to say the least.
The Gundam meta series is colossal in size, and the fanbase splits are arguably even bigger than the franchise itself. Get any two Gundam fans into a room, and you're bound to find some difference or another that would make a big enough difference.
You have fans of Universal Century, 00, Wing, G, Turn A, SEED and X, all of whom like something about their respective series/timelines that they feel other fans cannot see.
Most/almost all of the above fans, however, including fans of SEED, have a notorious reputation for particularly hating Destiny, which is rather surprising since Gundam fans are notorious for not really being able
to agree on anything.
Why is this the case in such a fanbase?
Well, the story is incredibly unoriginal. Gundam storylines don't tend to have much in the originality department as far as themes are concerned, but SEED Destiny takes it to a whole new level. The story is a cheap rehash of SEED and Zeta, the characters are clones of the Zeta cast, the mech designs are unoriginal and uninspired, almost all of them taking something from a mech design found in some other Gundam anime, and the characterization that the characters went through in the first SEED is out the window for the sake of the plot...and it doesn't work. At all.
Oh, and the characters are equipped with enough plot armor to (literally) survive a nuclear explanation, in what is easily among the most immersion breaking aspects I've ever seen in anime thus far. This makes absolutely no sense in a war story, much less one that takes itself as seriously as SEED.
The war aspect in this story is a walking joke. The characters are rather petty, shallow and immature, and none of them feel or act like actual soldiers in the slightest. The first SEED had some incredibly slow but subtle development in the form of Kira slowly but surely maturing of the course of the show, slowly becoming more composed and natural in battle. This disappears very quickly, and the characters reset to their former characters, except that the flaws which were so prevalent and the characters worked hard to fix in the first SEED are out the window.
The animation quality looks awful, and repeated frames from both SEED and Destiny are present here. Yes, there is footage practically stolen from SEED and it is incredibly painful and intolerable to look at. The flashbacks were already a problem in the first SEED, but this is taken up to 11 here and every 5 minutes (on average) a flashback to someone or something has to be there. Particularly notorious is Shinn's tragic past which gets repeated so many times that I would just roll my eyes when it shows up.
The soundtrack is the only thing I loved about SEED Destiny, with tracks from TM Revolution, See Saw and so on, giving us one of the best soundtracks out of anime. The fourth opening deserves particular mention (in the original version of SEED Destiny) for being among the most awful and ill-fitting openings of all time, and the character models in the opening are not dramatic but rather hilarious to look at.
Honestly, why anyone likes this broken mess is beyond me. I can rag how this breaks the themes of the original SEED, how this ruins the resolution to SEED and the reasons for the war starting are plain damn stupid compared to SEED, but honestly, if there is one thing I can say, it's that you stay as far away as humanly possible from this.
This is bad. I cannot stress enough how far away you have to go from this. The only reason anyone would watch this is if they hated the original SEED and simply decided to have a laugh at this...thing.
No Gundam series would ever be complete without the titular Gundam mobile suits, built as ultimate weapons. Gundams are easily capable of beating any other mobile suit in combat. Some are strong enough to defeat an entire squad of enemies... Others can wipe out a space colony.