When Gundam SEED first aired in 2002, people were kind of expecting another fantastical series, based on the last few non-UC entries, like Wing (1995), X (1996), and Turn A (1999). Indeed, the Cosmic Era universe would be new, but the show would essentially be a modern retelling of the original Mobile Suit Gundam from 1979. New faces, new suits, but largely the same plot. But the two sides had an interesting sub-element to them; It was a battle over human genetics and genome, the quest to create perfect human beings that naturally swayed into attempts to make perfect human soldiers. As with any Gundam series you watch, no matter how flashy and cool the mobile suits are, WAR = BAD is always the premise. It was true of The Witch From Mercury, it was true here too.

Ah shit, here we go again.

When we last left off the SEED universe in 2004, Destiny basically established that behind all of the major military players, there were these shadowy cabals that were trying to enact some kind of plan that would bring about peace by assigning everyone a job at birth based on genetics. Honestly, I still, twenty years later, do not fucking understand half of what Durandel said in that show, or what the writers were trying to do. It sounded like some kind of space-communism with a side order of “we’ll just fucking kill you if you don’t like it”, so I guess that made him Space Stalin. Fortunately as all plots do, the heroes won, Yzak and his mother took over the council and got ZAFT to back down, the Feds tucked tail and retreated or whatever, and Orb went about their usual holding down the fucking planet from melting down. In the extended movie cut, there were a few scenes at the end that kind of set up what this movie would open with, which was the formation of a new independent team that would try and mediate conflicts, made up of military units from every faction. Enter TEAM YAMATO of COMPASS, Kira, Shinn, Lunamaria, the DOM trio, and Agnes Giebenrath. Sunrise and Bandai even teased two new mobile suits for Kira and Shinn, Rising Freedom and Immortal Justice. With this elite squad, they can’t possibly lose this new conflict with Blue Cosmos, right?


I’ve ragged on SEED on Twitter many a time, and alluded to some of my issues with the franchise in the preview post for this movie last year. As I said then, I do like the franchise. It still holds a weird dumb place in my weeb heart for being a show I watched through-and-through back in 2002-2004, as did my friends at the time. My old Livejournal avatars were Kira themed, my Otakon 2003 badge was Kira’s SEED eye scene from episode 30-something when he returned to the surface with the X10A Freedom. Most of the gunpla I have is from SEED, mostly because I stopped buying them because of too many apartment moves and nowhere to display them. I endeavor to approach this movie and strike and chord between “I really enjoy this from an action-movie perspective” and “God fucking dammit this franchise deserves better”, which will require me to dunk on it a bit. Most of that will be in the spoilers, so peep that shit on the streets, dawg.

Space Marx: Volume One: So You Have a Giant Space Laser…

The biggest upgrade to the SEED franchise with this movie are the visuals. Twenty years since Destiny, Bandai-Sunrise opted to keep everything pretty much the same as it has always been. No overt CGI on the mobile suit and ship fight scenes, characters look largely the same with some facial upgrades, especially female characters with glossy lips or lipstick. It felt a bit odd for some reason, and I wonder if that was just a call by the animation leads to make them stand out a bit more. While there was no issue with key frames, some of the far-away shots had some interesting faces we’ve grown accustom to in anime when they don’t want to animate room shots with people in them. Really, it was mostly the pupil placement on some characters, especially Lacus. I could not figure out if they employed CGI though for the SEED-mode transitions and Newtype-tinge scenes, especially between Lacus and Orphee Lam Tao. The FPS seemed to support a yes on that, but I didn’t go digging for an answer.


No changes I am aware of in voice acting. All of the original, and heavy-hitters of that era like Tanaka Rie and Sakamoto Maaya reprised their roles, and although I did not watch the English version that aired in theaters because it fell on a Tuesday, I see the English cast from back then also reprised their roles. So that was kind of cool to listen to. Most of them haven’t really changed, though Cagalli’s VA, Shindo Naomi may have changed a little. I thought she might’ve been recast. Music and sound effects were pretty on point, though apart from the title theme, they reused a lot of previous series music and epic themes for the epic fights. I like nostalgia, but I might’ve appreciated a new epic theme song for the epic movie battle. Otherwise it just makes it feel like you overspent your budget and the fallback was to just pull out TMR’s Meteor and rock that again. I also especially noted the Star Wars laser sound effects being used for beam weapons at the start of the movie and maybe elsewhere. It was very distinct, though not completely unheard of in Gundam. I recall Wing used a couple Star Trek sound effects as well back in the day.

Cue that FF8 waltz theme here.

The overall plot of the movie was rather mixed. Much of it makes callbacks to Destiny and the titular “Destiny Plan” that our heroes defeated at the end of that series, implying it was done and out. Well not only was it not done and out, a whole-ass organization somehow sprang up in the four years between the last series and this movie, and they thought “Well it worked for them, that’s good enough for us, and it’ll be good enough for you too, WITH FORCE!” as they set about this whole motion of trying to push that plan onto everyone again, complete with the stupid fucking death laser from the previous series. Turns out whomever was tasked with decommissioning that thing fucked up their one single job. Plot device! I think you can really kind of guess how the rest of the movie unfolds and ends, because unfortunately, given that this is not a series and is instead a feature-length film, there is really only one ending you can deduce from either the trailers or the six-minute preview they put out after it hit theaters in Japan.


As I was discussing this plot with someone, it dawned on me that almost every set piece of this movie had been done before in Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, albeit some changes, and also borrowed several themes from Gundam 00. COMPASS is basically a restyle of Waltz’s Preventers and 00’s Celestial Being, and Foundation is pretty much The Barton Foundation and Mariemeia, right down to kidnapping Relena “Lacus Clyne” Peacecraft and insisting she rule alongside the real leader of the Earth Sphere. Kira is pretty much Heero Yuy, right down to getting his shit kicked in by Wufei aka Athrun, before saving the princess and saving the day, though Relena ain’t shit to pilot a backpack unit and then EMP the fucking universe.

Yes, this movie went in some wild directions with the plot that I both liked, and disliked, for a number of reasons. For starters, our two showcased mobile suits in the trailers, Rising Freedom and Immortal Justice, were completely trashed by the Skittles Gang Black Knights after they mind-hacked Kira into thinking the Blue Cosmos guy was beyond the fight zone, along with the Archangel, the franchise’s WHITE BASE from the original 2002 anime and bestest ship. She didn’t deserve a shitty death like that, she deserved a more noble death than a bunch of test tube punks. Obviously the writers needed to highlight both the strength and resolve of Foundation and its cast of characters, as well as depict Kira and Co. as weak, and especially drive that wedge between Kira and Lacus so that Orphee Lam Tao could swoop in and be the hero. I don’t completely hate that plot, but it felt very hamfisted in execution, mainly because we didn’t really have a lot of set-up in the previous two series for Kira and Lacus as a power-couple. Yes, they were implied together and such, and off-screen probably rolled around on each other, but this kind of love test story commands a better performance when the viewer has more investment in that side of those characters. We’ve never really seen them as an intimate couple, only Kira blowing shit up and Lacus commanding battleships and being a diplomat.


So at the halfway point, they’ve established that the leader of Foundation I guess is a clone or something of the person who essentially engineered all of the kids, Lacus, and maybe Kira and Cagalli? Not precisely sure. Durandel was also involved, sponsor maybe? Fuck if it matters. They like his plan and they have Requiem. What do? Well, Athrun finally channels the collective rage of SEED fans over the last twenty years for how Jesus Yamato thinks he is All the Jedi and knocks his head around until he realizes he’s been dumb this whole time trying to single-handedly end the war on his own, without letting his team help him. Wow. That’s all it takes, eh? Look Athrun, you seem like you’ve finally found yourself as Cagalli’s shadow agent, lurking around corners, piloting GELGOOGs, Master Hacker Meyrin at your side piloting and getting you into shit. Good for you buddy. Kira needed his teeth kicked in. But where the fuck have you been on all this? Athrun as a character has constantly frustrated me since the end of SEED. He clearly has the chops and the potential, but when he really could be slotted in, they don’t, and he instead acts as the weird support character called in to distract everyone while the real fight takes place. If that had been better established for him in previous series that’d be fine, but he spent both shows trying to be the main character, and constantly got upstaged by Kira. Did he just give up and take his place as side character? Hell, even he and Cagalli confused me at the end. I actually thought they weren’t together because they kinda drifted apart towards the end of Destiny due to his ZAFT PTSD and other dumb moves that Meyrin basically saved him from and it was kind of implied they were together. Well I guess Cagalli and him must have figured their shit out in four years, which is great, but again, no prior setup, no investment, so we just take that nice scene at the end at face value.

The original trio, back together.

So after everyone figures their feelings out faster than a season of Discovery, we’re shown the original three mobile suits from the end of Destiny, with upgrades. the X20A and X19A Strike Freedom and Infinite Justice, and the X42S Destiny, all now classified Type II variants. Again, I enjoy the classics, but we were sold on the new units, and then they demolished them for this. It felt like it should have been the other way around, though I think the goal was to probably put Shinn back in the Destiny so he could prove his worth. As was the last series, they once again have to beat the big bad and destroy Requiem. Again. They brought out a lot of fun shit for this fight as I alluded to. Buster, Duel, Impulse, Strike Rouge, the METEOR units, the Eternal, the works. I probably enjoyed this a little more than the main cast, because I’ve always thought a really good SEED series or film should revolve around many of the characters who previously fought against each other, fighting with each other. That is what made their decision to angle Kira towards this whole solo Jesus gig almost like a fourth-wall break, like they were intentionally leaning into the critics over the years calling him Jesus Yamato and how he could do no wrong. Except when it came to the final fight, not only did they reunite the two, they double-omega-EX-hyper-alpha-seven-downed on the monkier when Lacus launches with this backpack swap for Strike Freedom, turning it into the Mighty Strike Freedom, and sang the song that ended the fucking universe.

Sup, bitches. We’re here to COMMAND DOT COM – FULL DELETE your stupid ass.

Look man, I ain’t gonna lie. Watching Lacus fucking wreck everyone with force lightning was pretty fucking badass. And considering the whole premise of this movie was built on Foundation having this advanced shielding and tech no one somehow noticed was being built for four years, you had to have a very convincing counter for it. This was it. It gave me the kinda chills like I had when Kira first picked up the X10A Freedom and unloaded on Yzak’s team defending the Archangel. I’m not quite sure why the fanservice was needed, but I am not going to complain, even if Twitter did when it flagged my butt tweet as inapprops. They won’t let me embed it. I also kind of appreciated Athrun’s nod to Tenkawa Akito in Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness by busting out of the GELGOOG as Infinite Justice. That was a nice touch.

Specific musings and one-off observations:

  • Kira Yamato: I guess I didn’t really understand the intentions for his character in this movie. The first series was him piloting Strike and Freedom to defend his friends, until he discovers the truth about how he was born. The second series he didn’t really get involved until Durandel attacked Lacus, for which he began defending her, Orb, and others while being pinched from several sides. His overall character arc has always been this kind of wishy-washy “I hate war, but I am the ULTIMATE CORODINATOR so therefore I must war”, but he always approached it from a very level-headed perspective, never targeted cockpits or people, he even sparred Shinn and Luna in the final battle. Presumably they joined his squad because he needed their strengths, so it was very off to me that he would go through this movie implying everyone else was weak, that only he could do the job, and that only he could give Lacus universal peace. It’s a valid emotional journey, but it would have been far better suited during Destiny instead of this movie, where we would have had the episodes and emotional investment to travel that journey with him. Instead he just goes through a typical anime training arc where he gets his face clobbered, realizes he is a dumb piece of shit for not trusting his girlfriend, friends, and squad, and he powers the fuck up and wins the day.

    Edit: I rewatched a few of those Kira-centric scenes, and while I did understand his position a little better, being kind of the go-to guy so many people relied on through both shows to protect everyone and try and see the war’s end, one of the biggest flaws he has, which is shared by every character except maybe Cagalli, is that they are massively ignorant of the various external forces that go into war. I say this only because if he had at least an intermediate understanding of geopolitics, he’d understand that there is no possible way he can achieve global peace without the help of numerous individuals AND organizations. Presumably this is why COMPASS was created, and presumably Kira was just not satisfied with the slow-burn of achieving peace, which is why he fell for the mind hack, thinking if he secured Michael and ended Blue Cosmos, everything would work out. the parallels to this would be America’s actions post-9/11, which lead to terrorist cells like ISIS, and realizing it’s just one of numerous resistance cells in a region of the world that will always be volatile until they work more closely together to achieve peace. Given 9/11 was an influencing factor in the story for SEED in 2002, it stands to reason they continued some of those themes in this movie.
  • Athrun Zala: Like Kira, Athrun had seemingly clear character traits and motivations throughout most of the first series, that also went off the rails in the second. I didn’t care for him rejoining ZAFT at the beginning of Destiny, but he’s essentially your militaryaboo guy who can’t deal with civilian life and constantly re-enlists any chance he gets. Only, when it came down to ZAFT versus Orb, he fucking dropped the ball on that shit and it almost cost Kira his life. In the movie, it seems like he finally found his niche as an undercover brother running special ops missions with Meyrin. His outfit looked a little too much like Rika from Pokemon Scarlet/Violet, but it suits his weird fucking style. I would have liked to see more of him with Cagalli though.
  • Lacus Clyne: For the first 30-40 minutes of this film, I thought they were going to really have Lacus play the role of Relena in Endless Waltz. She comes into a peaceful kingdom, wanted for her political prowess, only for it to turn upside down and we find out she too was born from the Ultimate Coordinator project opposite Kira, as part of this group of “Accords”, who apparently are to be the system administrators of the Destiny Plan. All I could then think of was Tieria Erde and the Innovades from Gundam 00 and that kind of soured the plot for me quite a bit. It really did feel like the writers chose to just fully lean into the Jesus Yamato and Mary Sue Clyne meme from the last twenty years, especially when she pilots Kira’s new backpack, and then just owns everything.
  • Cagalli Yula Athha: Once again, they did not bother to use the first series’ sassiest and best character to any real extent in this movie, other than take a bunch of Zoom calls, get really frustrated at them, briefly pilot Strike Rouge, and remote-control Athrun while he thinks of lewd thoughts of her. It was a funny scene, but again, no extended scenes of the two, no good action scenes of her in Rouge, and continued wasted potential. But at least she wasn’t crying.
  • Shinn Asuka: I never really cared for Shinn as a character in Destiny. Certainly I felt for his loss of his family and sister, but to lay the blame on Freedom and Orb without really understanding why is some basic bitch kid shit. Which is why I actually was amused at how everyone around him treated him as such in this movie. Perhaps that was a bit shitty, he did earn his place on the squad and as a capable pilot of Destiny. I guess in the end he actually got more character growth than probably anyone else in this movie, especially since he has a lock on both Luna and Hilda. Sly dog.
  • Sai and Milly made a brief appearance alongside Cagalli before she boarded the mobile suit, implying they were still part of Orb’s military. Still no Kuzzy though, that bitch-ass rightfully fucked off after the first series and was never heard from again.
  • It was pretty obvious that given twenty years and a number of successful Gundam series since Destiny, a number of homages were paid to in this movie. The various suits of the Accords/Black Knights had that signature red tinge from 00, and the name Black Knights especially invokes the same namesake from Code Geass, another Bandai-Sunrise series. Hell, almost all of Foundation’s look and feel seemed like it was cobbled together from 00, Geass, Wing, with dashes of all the others.
  • They killed two of the three DOM pilots, with only Hilda surviving. The actual fuck? Why? That was like offing the Astray girls in the last series for no good reason other than to show SACRIFICE MUST BE MADE TO DRIVE PLOT. You blew up the Archangel. We sacrificed enough!
  • “I learned how to miss every shot from Vice Admiral Todoka” is the deepest cut in this movie that will absolutely land on observant fans of this franchise.

I almost forgot to mention a specific scene in this movie that many might find disturbing, as I certainly did. It was the near-rape scene between Tao and Lacus right before the rescue attempt. He came barreling into her room and once again being full babyrage mad that she wasn’t fawning all over him as her love, as he is delusional and believes she is his by genetic birthright, and by the plan set forth by their mother-creator.

The franchise has historically never dipped its toes into this kind of territory before. In fact, the most risque thing they did in the special edition re-release of SEED was depict Kira and Flay having sex, but mostly in shadows. They’ve certainly never been shy about blood, people being shot and blown up, being irradiated, nuked, microwaved, and other forms of death. But this? This is new, and thankfully it did not get too far before Tao runs away. The sheer amount of incel rage dripping off this kid in this scene was incredible, but fucking Lacus man, she held herself together ice cold. I’m told in the novelization she is much more scared and frightened of what he might do, and rightfully so by the looks of the final shot of the scene.

And let’s be clear, I am not praising rape scenes when I say this; This scene was very much more powerful than Kira’s scenes. Her story and character growth was thrice of Kira or any other character. This entire movie was a Lacus story, one we definitely should have gotten long ago, and maybe would have if they tried to make any followup shows or movies in the SEED universe over the last twenty years. I hate this scene has to be one that contributes to that character growth, but it most definitely allowed her to have her Super Saiyan moment for what came after she linked up with Kira. She truly is the Final Boss of the SEED universe.

At the end of the day, if you’re a Gundam fan, and especially a fan of the SEED universe, this was a great two-hour flick that satisfies that itch for answering the question of what the fuck they’ve been doing the last twenty four years. Unfortunately, what it does not do is really advance the CE universe along by any meaningful measure. The timeskip was four years, but no one really looks like they’re four years older, or wiser. Everyone is roughly the same. I can tell you four years for me has absolutely changed me. I’m tired as fuck, my back hurts constantly, and I have more grey hair in a short timespan than most people get in ten. Having a kid shortened my fucking life a bit, dawg. I know these characters are only about twenty in the movie, but man, when I was twenty… oh.

Giant Robot Observations and Laser Pointers

  • As expected, Fukuda Mitsuo directed and was the primary writer for the screenplay, with Gotou Riu also credited on the script. I don’t know how much involvement Morosawa Chiaki had in the script prior to her death in 2016, but it’s been said she had rough drafts for the characters beyond the last series that never manifested.
  • A lot of side characters from the previous shows make cameos, but few had spoken lines. Sai Argyle, Miriallia Haw, and Andrew Waltfeld to name a few. I would have appreciated Waltfeld commanding the Eternal again, or being the one to slap Kira’s shit.
  • One of the original series big tech set pieces was the Neutron Jammer, which rendered nuclear weapons inert and unusable. Sadly they did not let this tech persist throughout the first or second series, making several of the events in this movie pretty horrific, especially for Japan. They did not spare details either. This is why people need to remember the ethos of any Gundam series is War = Bad.
  • Cagalli did not cry the entire length of the movie.
  • Kira cried though.
  • While I haven’t built a gunpla in probably over ten years, I do very much want 1/100 HG models of Rising Freedom and Strike Freedom Type II and Mighty Strike Freedom. Fortunately my local anime con is in less than six weeks, so I’ll probably peek at some booths there to see if they have some at decent prices.

Final Score: Eight fists to Kira’s whiny face out of ten BIG FUCKING BACKPACK GANDAMS LET’S GOOOOOOOOOO~

MFW watching most of this movie.

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