I actually thought I wrote more about Gundam SEED over the last decade of this blog, but it turns out I never finished a review of the original series when those HD remasters came out back then. Which is a shame, because Gundam looks its best with the most crisp, quality visuals that only seem to grace every few series. The most recent entry, Witch from Mercury was actually surprisingly good, though I have not finished the second cour. SEED has always been somewhat of a wildcard among Gundam and mecha fans overall. Chronologically, it was the ninth entry in the series, debuting in 2002 six years after the very popular Wing series, but only two years after Turn A. Set in a different timeline from the Universal Century series prior, SEED was essentially a soft-reboot of the original Mobile Suit Gundam with a different premise. Same Space versus Earth factions, mobile suits, and ships. But the twist was that humanity underwent genetic modifications, and schisms began to form among those who preferred society unaltered, and those who preferred augmentations. SEED’s writer, Chiaki Morosawa had made some remarks about various aspects of the story that suggested the show borrowed a lot of its themes from past and present points in human history, as well as the aftermath of September 11th. She probably would not have thought at the time that her story would resonate more in today’s contemporary fights over fighting COVID, genetic screening of children for illnesses and defects, and other social issues. Which had she not passed away in 2016, she might’ve been able to offer some more introspection into whatever plot this will be.
Morosawa was married to the series director, Mitsuo Fukuda. So while SEED was pretty damn good, when it came time to do SEED Destiny, our excitement turned to middling and often sad disappointment about halfway in, and persisted until the end. I don’t know if this was due to them, or other writers or studio decisions, but by three-quarters into the series they had all but made Shinn and the new cast background characters as Kira and Athrun barreled forward into some of the most fanservice-y bullshit imaginable. Shinn was a whiny and insufferable asshole throughout most of the series, motivated only by simple revenge, but right as he began to develop as a character and really gain a better perspective, Kira and Lacus just pop up and go NOPE WE DON’T NEED YOU ANYMORE, WE’LL SAVE THE DAY! Almost all of this stems from his whole ultimate coordinator bullshit from the first series, despite them never really broaching that plot or doing any kind of deep-dive as to how he became a test-tube baby and Cagalli didn’t.
But speaking of Cagalli, she got the worst fucking treatment out of the whole original cast in Destiny. In the first she was the tomboy rogue, spying on the Morgenroute projects to protest her father getting into the war, and then joining a local resistance against ZAFT in the Middle East. She wasn’t just a useless side piece in the story, she actually kicked shit and took names. Even when they gave her Strike Rouge, she hauled ass with it and helped take down Patrick Zala. Destiny then introduced this whole her becoming the new sovereign of Orb, with Athrun at her side. It wasn’t her, but I was okay with it because it just meant she could diplomatically fight while she secretly authorized Kira and Co. to get shit done. She could have been to Gundam what Leia Organa was to Star Wars, or maybe even Mon Mothma. Instead, Athrun runs off to ZAFT like a fucking baby, and she is reduced to a crying mess because they wouldn’t let her get into the shiny fucking gold suit and win back the fucking year.
What makes SEED the wildcard is that because it soft-rebooted MSG, it reintroduced younger anime fans and would-be mechabros to the wonderful universe of SUPERPOWERED HYPERACTIVE BACKPACK GANDAMS moreso than their more ground-based, commonplace real robot mobile suits. Every Gundam series was always about that one overpowered-as-fuck mobile suit either called a Gundam or made of Gundam. In SEED, it was Kira who first called it a Gundam because of the operating system, and then never called it that again. Destiny then went and brought back many of MSG favorites like the Zaku and Dom and modernized it. The whole series was awash with great battles and mobile suit fun, until it stops and everyone remembers, WAR IS BAD. Every Gundam series is WAR IS BAD. It’s just SEED tried to inject that zoomer shit in so you didn’t really think about the overarching theme, at a time when zoomers were either not born yet, or shitting in diapers. It makes sense to re-re-introduce SEED in 2023, because while the old people sit and reminisce about them good-ol-days, the young people can be all like “This looks like [insert newer Gundam series here] I bet it’ll slap no cap frfr” as they fix themselves a New York Glizzy.
Which brings us to Gundam SEED: Freedom. The story was left pretty open-ended after Destiny, and the extra bit you got at the end of the movie version showed Lacus becoming part of ZAFT’s Supreme Council along with Dearka and Yzak, and Kira joining ZAFT’s military with Shinn and Lunamaria. Why? The kid famous for not wanting to be part of the Alliance military at the start of SEED and only joined Orb’s forces for defense-only is now convinced he needs to bat for a side? Will they explain that? Probably with something cliche and convoluted like a bumper sticker slogan. The one thing I disliked about SEED is how they’d go off on these tangents about freedom, justice, who to fight for, and twist their logic every ten seconds to fit. It’s what made Athrun insufferable in Destiny when all he needed to do was be Cagalli’s badass body guard and then defend Orb against ZAFT and the Alliance. Now he looks like some discount movie version of Tenkawa Akito, another character famous for being wishy-washy until they fucked with him and his woman, and he went and fucked them all up hardcore. Is Meyrin Athrun’s Lapis? Probably not.
Which brings me to the characters for this movie. When this project was initially announced in 2006, we got glimpses of the regulars, along with a mystery girl. That turns out to be Agnes Giebenrath, who just kinda looks like Lunamaria with different hair and lipstick. A few other new characters are noted in more recent promo materials, but much of the names and faces here are familiar. Meyrin’s been upgraded from bridge bunny to dommy mommy (lieutenant junior grade), the Dom trio have returned thank god, and dommy mommy (grand admiral) Murrue is back as well. My hope is that even if the story is a complete trainwreck, we’ll at least get some good character interactions. Yzak screaming at everything, Dearka shrugging, Murrue’s tits bouncing when the ship takes damage, Shinn being emo, Athrun being the most emo, and Kira ascending into whatever the next form of superhuman abilities he has, like Goku.
Finally, we have the mobile suits themselves. The third trailer showcased more suits and their abilities, as well as introducing the third iterations, Rising Freedom, and Immortal Justice. Where they went a little too much wing on Strike Freedom, they scaled Rising Freedom back to look a little more like the OG. Immortal Justice looks more similar to Infinite Justice. Both seem to be doing beam shields again, which was a bit gross in the previous series, but at least you know there are still some seventy-something year old staff members on this project who remember what they did twenty years ago. Even if the movie is a massive fucking nothingburger, the Gunpla is still pretty awesome, and you know I’ll be buying an HG Rising Freedom to put on my desk at work. I am curious though, if Freedom was ZGMF-X10A, and Strike Freedom was ZGMF-X20A, is this going to be ZGMF-X30A?
I want to be optimistic about this movie. I truly do. SEED is not by any means my favorite Gundam series, an honor floating somewhere around Wing and X, but it’s the first one I got to watch as it aired concurrently in Japan, and participate hotly among fellow (wo)/m/en on 4chan because they’d constantly kick our Gundam threads off /a/. It was also a favorite series among my post-high school friends, and I famously rejected driving 700 miles to “rescue” my ex-girlfriend to build the METEOR model because I am chad as fuck. She was fine by the way, it was a way stupider thing than you’d think. It’s just that Destiny left such a sour taste in my mouth in the same way the Star Wars sequel movies did. It was a serviceable show, it had the characters and the mecha. It just did not live up to the original, and it felt like they put more effort into Gundam AGE than go back and actually do right on the SEEDverse when it was still hot. I also wonder if it will even hit the same as it did back then. They aimed for a younger demo, kids five years younger than me, and I was nineteen when SEED premiered, twenty when Destiny premiered. I’m now forty. All my gunpla is in the attic of my house, and has been largely stored away for probably three-fifths of that time. I’m not optimistic they’re in good condition since it’s hell up there, but it also just represents a time in my life when I had no responsibilities and just a part-time job at a grocery store bakery. You’d think that wouldn’t matter just to watch a fucking weeb robot show, but I still watch Star Trek to, perhaps foolishly, recapture a little bit of that wide-eyed wonder I had about the future and that universe as a kid. I want to watch this Gundam movie and just be like “Holy fucking shit this is amazing as fuck I love this!” but my analytical, probably-autistic brain then goes “But you’re kind of an online contrarian, you can’t like this, it’s whimsical wish-fulfillment fanfiction written by a dead woman and regurgitated by her husband for money!”
I used to hate how Adult Swim made content for degenerate stoners, but perhaps that is how one has to consume contemporary entertainment now. At least before Zaslav’s WB snaps it from existence.