Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Volume 7

As the Archangel struggles toward the Earth Force’s Alaskan hideaway, those onboard are left to reflect on the tragic events that marred their last Battle. With Tolle dead and Kira MIA the tension begins to rise and the Archangel, exposed to the ZAFT forces and without protection, must call upon the Orb Nation for a helping hand. While Orb scours the wreckage in search of survivors our protagonists finally reach their destination, JOSH-A.

I won’t deny, SEED hasn’t been without its ups and downs, but that said, the series has never been anything less than entertaining. However, with volume # 7 things seem to have gone completely off the boil, and the series over bearing tendency to lapse into melodrama renders it an utterly cringe worthy experience. I understand war isn’t the most relaxing of experiences, but the cast of SEED all seem to have come down with a severe case of the “Shinji’s’, and every five minutes a protagonist seems to crumple  — it’s like the visual equivalent of a dose of Valium. “Less is more’ is an adage the creators of this series would do well to abide by; everything is just so over the top it’s hard to take seriously, and most of the time I didn’t know whether to laugh or just cringe.

It’s not that SEED is bad, far from it in fact, but little problems like this seem to worsen, not improve as the series chugs along. The script is the main culprit, relying on Spielbergian sentiment instead of honest to goodness character development to keep us caring about the disparate group of emotional misfits who make up the bulk of the cast. Sometimes it works — Miri’s reaction, and subsequent breakdown, to Tolle’s death is a poignant reminder that these characters are just kids, not battle hardened vets with fifty-yard stares — but more often than not it kills a scene stone dead. It pains me to give this series such a mauling, especially as the last volume showed so much promise, but as it stands the bad marginally outweighs the good in the world of SEED. Things do pick up toward the end, — Freedom Gundam anyone? — but as is all too often the case, it’s too little too late

If there’s one thing you can always rely on SEED to deliver it’s some sumptuous eye candy, and in that respect this volume gets two thumbs up. Whether it’s the dislocated beauty of a ruined Gundam staring sadly out to sea, or another of Hirashi Hirai’s endearingly retro character designs, SEED’s artwork is always there to pick up some of the slack left by the script.

The soundtrack too is of some note; it’s eclectic instrumentations make for a varied, and exciting listen — seeing a Gundam roar into life while the fanfare rips across the speakers is always a pleasure, and the opening theme, with its squealing guitar intro and raucous techno beats, always leaves me suitably pumped for the episode ahead.

In Summary

Just as it looked like SEED was going to put out all the stops and treat us to a bit of spectacle the series has spluttered to a halt, dusted off the Kleenex and started feeling all sorry for itself. Fine if you’re into that short of thing, but every once in a while I just want to sit back and watch hulking, cool looking robots blow the snot out of each other. I remain optimistic that the best is yet to come — and the arrival of one or two intriguing new personalities inclines me to believe that inkling could be right – and I’ll happily, hell, willingly, eat these words when, and if, it does.

7 / 10