I’m now 10 episodes into Gundam SEED and my expectations are starting to balance off. Comparisons with the original Gundam series are warranted, but beyond basic plot similarities, SEED is a completely different animal. Having been designed to appeal to your average angsty teenager, the young cast is emotionally crippled for frustrating and superficial reasons, and unlike the original series, the few adults in power are proving to be quite useless. Either suffering from weak personalities or rubbish man-management skills, their mindless ineptitude fails to prevent the simmering dramatic tension of previous volumes degenerating into cringe-worthy melodrama, a problem which ultimately bogs down the promising, thought provoking sci-fi premise with too many simple errors of judgement.
We rejoin the fray as hunted battleship Archangel, piloted by determined but inexperienced soldiers and manned by tetchy teenagers, attempts to link up with the safety offered by the Earth Alliance space fleet.
This refuge marks a turning point for the likes of Gundam Strike pilot Kira, a strong pacifist who had only been assuming a military position out of necessity rather than free will. Him and his friends, like the war orphan Flay, must now decide whether or not they can return to a normal life and resign themselves to a helpless existence. Whether or not they want to admit it, at least fighting in this indiscriminate war gives them a chance to take to control of their destinies and to protect their friends and values. Perhaps fighting for your life gives it true meaning? A sense of importance lacking in the ragtag existence of a homeless refugee.
It’s often said that war is dictated by the stupid and no where is this more obvious than in Gundam SEED. The Archangel (and its Gundam Strike mobile suit) is the most vital cog in the Earth Alliance’s war machine and yet the “powers that be” see fit to allow its fate to rest in the hands of such an inexperienced crew. The tiresome power struggle between Lt. Natarle Badgiruel and Cpt. Murrue Ramius has, without reason, been allowed to continue for far too long (undermining any respect the weak Captain should have gained by now) and for all the Coordinator’s superior intelligence, Kira is still blinded to Flay’s clumsy attempts at aimless revenge. Such oversights in basic logic taint any impending drama and leave me more frustrated than engrossed.
Some characterization is also worrying with both the masked Rau Le Creuset and his arch rival Mu La Flaga acting more like wise cracking pretty boys than the philosophical, intriguing personalities I had expected to develop. Their aura of arrogance and generally repellent personalities is a disappointing presence in a series that desperately needs a few realistic adult characters to add maturity to a story dominated by the unrealistic whims of a group teenage hellions.
All of these problems are compounded by a soundtrack that’s sounding more and more like a bargain basement electro-pop nightmare. If this volume has taught us anything, it’s that the high pitched ditz Lacus Clyne should never be allowed to sing again. Outside of a few sweeping tunes (which usually coincides with Kira running into old buddy turned enemy Athrun); the music is memorable for all the wrong reasons.
The five episodes held on Gundam SEED #3 are a disappointing fall into mediocrity. By ignoring logic, the story begins to lose its appeal as a thinking series and reveals its potentially fatal lack of human quality.
As ever, the mecha action is up to scratch but the characters are becoming wholly unlikable and frankly boring “one trick ponies”. I hope that the next volume is a return to form otherwise Gundam SEED may struggle to reaffirm its sense of compelling personal struggle set against an all too efficient war.