Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is a series with a healthy reputation. Since debuting in Japan during 2002, it has succeeded in revitalizing the failing Gundam franchise and spawned a new generation of hungry mecha fanatics.
Courtesy of Beez, Gundam SEED is finally being released in the UK, so get ready to be reacquainted, or indeed, introduced to the unique delights (and merchandise opportunities!) that only a Mobile Suit battlefield can provide.
With Gundam SEED taking heavy inspiration from the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam series, the story begins with humanity gripped by a bitter inter-galactic war that has already lasted 11 long months.
This raging conflict is being fought out between the “Earth Alliance” and “ZAFT”, a group of space colonies dominated by the talented “Coordinators”; genetically modified humans capable of extreme military skills.
With the epic backdrop set, we meet our hero (or perhaps more fittingly, “victim of circumstance”) Kira Yamato, a talented young man who has been peacefully living on the neutral space colony “Heliopolis”.
One fateful day, the ZAFT forces attack Heliopolis, laying ruin to whatever stands in their way.
As Kira and his friends run for the safety of a war shelter, he is separated from the group, only to find himself amidst a deadly gun battle that is pushing for control of several top secret Federation mobile suits.
As the battle intensifies, Kira jumps down to save the life of a Federation soldier. Her name is Murrue Ramius and she forces Kira (along with herself) into the cock-pit of the last remaining mobile suit. They alone must now protect the Earth Federation’s greatest weapon and save whatever is left of the smouldering remains that used to be Heliopolis.
Despite being far from perfect, I wasn’t let down by Gundam SEED #1.
Kira Yamato is quite the likable hero and his natural, introspective reaction to piloting a mobile suit for the sake of his friends made for a refreshing change of pace from the usual teenage dramatics.
At the heart of every epic war series are great personal tragedies and the fractured relationship between long lost friends Kira and Athrun (a hot-shot ZAFT pilot) was at the centre of my enjoyment of these episodes. Being either side of the war, these best friends must now become enemies and it was their horrified reactions upon meeting each other in battle that defines the emotional complexity that lies beneath SEED’s spectacular mecha combat.
Unfortunately, not all the characters are as well developed. While this is indeed a long running series, Kira’s friends are mostly forgettable, cliché creations that serve only to fill space and add pressure to his decision to fight.
Their flat personalities are not helped by some uninspired character designs that lack the flair and individuality required to stand out. But of course, these complaints are easy to make after only 5 episodes of a 50 long series, so suffice to say, I’m sure that there is more to come from them.
I enjoyed watching Gundam SEED #1. The requisite mecha action is here and looking as sharp as ever, but the story is developing well too, providing us with several rivalries and frayed relationships that will no doubt keep us coming back for more.
Some simplistic characterization aside, I can see SEED becoming a truly heart-wrenching space adventure.