It seems that the long-running Gundam franchise is enjoying something of a boom here in the UK. It wasn’t too long ago that fans were bemoaning on how completely we had been deprived, having to content ourselves with a single series (Wing, arguably one of the weakest of all Gundam incarnations), until now. So here comes Gundam SEED Destiny, the follow-up to Gundam SEED.
Destiny picks up two years after the events of SEED. The war is over, both sides have signed an uneasy truce, and everyone is slowly getting back to normalcy. At least until a crack team breaks in to one of ZAFT’s armories and tries to make off with several top-secret new Gundams that… hang on, I’ve seen this before somewhere… ah yes, SEED started in exactly the same way…
Uninspired beginnings aside, Destiny does get off to a good start indeed. The action comes thick and fast, and there are plenty of intense battles, all wrapped in the usual Gundam-branded blending of epic space opera, character drama and political machinations. The ship-to-ship battles are reminiscent of submarine combat, and the battle inside a debris field is a rather tense and tactical affair, while the mobile suit fights are full of cool, flashy and unashamedly over-the-top action. If these early episodes are any indication, the action is going to be one of Destiny’s strong points. The plot moves at a brisk pace, and there is often a strong sense of urgency to the proceedings.
At the moment, Destiny’s biggest weakness lies with the characters. While we haven’t really seen enough of anyone to truly judge, we’ve already got the usual stereotypes down; Rey is the serious one, Lunamaria is the tomboy, Gladys is the tough female captain type, while Neo is the mysterious masked antagonist… And then there’s the main character, Shinn Asuka, who’s the pilot of the Impulse Gundam and has a very large chip on his shoulder. In a surprise move, he is actually supposed to be piloting the main machine, as opposed to just happening to fall into it, and it’s somewhat refreshing to have Gundam boy that doesn’t whine about killing all the time (at least, not yet). So far though, the cast haven’t really had their chance to shine, but being a 50-episode series, there’s plenty of time for them to grow. At the same time, there are only a handful of returning faces from the last series, which I like; it provides enough of a link without leaning too heavily on the old hands.
Unfortunately, there’s also an unshakable feeling that we’ve seen this all before, not simply because of the visual style and presentation of the whole thing (it looks identical to SEED in virtually every way), but also in the setup and execution. It’s a Gundam series through and through – if you don’t like Gundam, it’s a safe bet you won’t get much out of this.
Gundam SEED Destiny gets off to a strong start indeed, ticking all the right boxes for an enjoyable watch. Although you don’t have to have seen the previous series to get what’s going on, it’ll certainly help matters as this one wastes no time in getting down to action. Certainly a promising start to a series that should keep mechheads entertained for a while.