We return to the Gundam franchise with the 2002 series Gundam SEED. Best way to describe it is take the original Mobile Suit Gundam, and incorporate developments from modern Gundam series, such as improved animation and more Gundams (the original had only 1) while also being of its time, as there are clear influences to then modern events such as the attack on the eleventh of September. Well it at least it starts out like that but by the end it becomes its own thing rather than simply retelling the original.
The series starts much like the original series on a space colony and introducing us to our lead and his friends Kira Yamato while being informed that the Earth is at war with space colonies ( just like the original series) but unlike that one there is now a very clear racial angle. Years before the start of the series mankind developed the means to genetically enhance themselves, these enhanced humans refered to as coordinators were smarter and stronger than the naturally born humans. Racism soon began going all the way to a terrorist racist group called Blue Cosmos staging attacks on coordinators ultimately leading to a nuclear attack on a space colony which has sparked a war with the coordinator control space colony group Plant and the Earth Alliance.
With the fact of their genetic enhancements and new mobile suit weapons which look much like the Zeon style from the original series (a single cycloptic eye) while the Earth forces still have tanks and jets ZAFT (Plant’s military arm) is winning the war. Kira and his friends are on the space colony Heliopolis which unknown to them was being used to secretly develop new mobile suits for the Earth Alliance which is then attacked by ZAFT and 4 of the 5 suits, which would later be nicknamed by Kira as Gundams, are stolen, however while getting thrown into the action Kira is confronted by the leader of the strike force who is his childhood friend Athuran Zala.
The series contains mixes of the original series and new elements that go well together, so for the first half of the series it sees the crew of the ship The Archangel (which contains our leads) on the run through space and Earth to the Earth Alliance base (complete with a Char clone and a Ramba Ral stand-in when they get to the desert) much like the original series, but contains new elements like the complete racial issues arising from the genetic engineering, the inter character relationships arising because of not only that but our lead’s childhood friendship with the leader of the team of enemy Gundam pilots now pursuing them.
It’s around the second half of the series that it clearly goes in its own direction, while the original series (I know I bring it up much, but as said it was basically an adaption of it) had a clear good bad faction (Zeon were space Nazis) the war is a lot more grey this time. There are sinister forces on both sides manipulating the war to go in a far more devastating direction.
There is a strong focus on character growth and development, as well as the horrors of war especially as it takes a darker tone because of the afore mentioned sinister forces (heck one of the characters ended up so beloved they brought him back from the dead). So by the end you will have a favourite character who will have had a developed story, Be it the lead Kira Yamato, the pink haired songstress Lacus Clyne or my favourite Cagalli Yula Athha ( there’s a lot more but if I listed them all and put even a small blurb about them this review would be enormous and I got to over 300 words before even summing up the first episode and part of the enjoyment is seeing them grow.)
The Gundams in this series are all very diverse and some of them are fan favourites, Strike and Freedom especially, and they all have distinctive looks (well not so much Strike but it is meant to be the basic model). While it’s clear that the Zaft mobile suits are a call back to the Zeon suits though I will admit with the exceptions of the Gundams they are less diverse than the ones from the Universal Century aka the original series timeline (well except for the Quadrapedic Desert ones) But I still like them, since it feels like an update on those old designs.
Since the series is reimagining of the original series it is VERY accessible to new viewers and is considered one of the best Gundam series out there enjoyed by new and old fans and if you can find this series, at the time of writing this the entire series was up on the Gundam YouTube site (yes I watched this all for free completely legally, though this means I didn’t see it dubbed).
Well with 2 Gundam reviews down, next time we return to this franchise I will be reviewing Gundam Build Fighters, now if you will excuse me, I’m waiting for my Strike Rouge to arrive so I can build it.