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Why Are You Such a Jerk?!

January 22, 2010

     The sequel to my favorite Gundam series, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny, takes place a few years after the end of the Bloody Valentine War.  During the Battle of Orb, young Coordinator Shinn Asuka lost his whole family.  He blamed the Orb Union and the idealism of the Athhas, so he moved to P.L.A.N.T. and joined Z.A.F.T.  In the present day, he and a few of his friends, including Lunamaria Hawke and Rey Za Burrel, are a part of the crew of Z.A.F.T.’s newest ship, the Minerva.  The new head of Orb, Cagalli Yula Athha, along with her bodyguard, Athrun Zala, comes to P.L.A.N.T. to meet with its current head, Gilbert Durandal.  However, radical members of the Earth Alliance’s independent military force, Phantom Pain, hijack three of Z.A.F.T.’s newest, state-of-the-art Gundams just before the Minerva’s christening.  The Minerva launches early to chase after them, with Shinn piloting the only Gundam that wasn’t stolen, the  Impulse.  Along the way, the Minerva, along with reluctant passengers Cagalli, Athrun, and Durandal, get caught up in the vengeance of pro-Patrick Zala radical Coordinators, leading the world into another war.  But on whose side does righteousness lie this time?

     Now, I love the Cosmic Era timeline, and I love a lot of its characters.  Unfortunately, most of its great characters take a back seat for most of Destiny.  Instead, we get the single biggest dick in Gundam history, Shinn, as the protagonist.  Shinn has basically no redeeming qualities, as he enjoys flaunting his abilities, defying authority, and insulting just about everyone around him as naive and foolish, especially poor Cagalli.  The only times you feel sorry for him are at the beginning, when his family dies, and when someone else important to him, Stella Loussier (a copy of Four Murasame, except that you actually like her) dies.  Aside from that, he’s just an ass, and an arrogant one at that.  Other new characters, like Rey and Lunamaria, are never fully realized.  Poor Rey slowly gets this interesting character arc over the course of the show that is just derailed by him going totally evil at the end (so much for subtlety).  On the other hand, Captain Talia Gladys is an interesting captain, stronger in comparison to Murrue Ramias, and Durandal is an extremely enigmatic man who is a great, more morally ambigious successor to Rau Le Cresuet.  Then, returning protagonists, like Cagalli and Athrun, get totally derailed, forgetting everything they learned from the past series and basically becoming stupid (largely due to Shinn’s idiocy, oddly enough).  Then, Kira, Lacus, and the gang come sweeping in and take over the show, becoming the clear heroes, and Shinn and his group turn into the enemy.  Oh yes, and Mu La Flaga, who was clearly dead at the end of Seed, is resurrected by retcon as the masked man of the show, Neo Roanoke (not Lorrnoke or anything like that, for anyone who doesn’t know how to read romanji).

     So, with a weaker main cast, and the more interesting characters of the first show relegated to smaller or weakened roles for most of the show, this series isn’t as fun as the first one.  Sure, the animation is just as good, the music is just as good (though the opening and closing theme songs are less exciting), and the mobile suits are, for the most part, as good.  The notable exception to that is the Impulse, which is the most idiotic idea for a mobile suit I’ve ever seen (obviously based on the Victory).  Tell me, what’s smart or efficient about having a mobile suit constructed in multiple parts that can only assemble in mid-air, in the middle of a fight?  Plus, all those parts are self-propelled, meaning that there’s more fuel used!  That is just SO brilliant!  I do like the ZGMF-X42S  Destiny and the ZGMF-X20A Strike Freedom (though the Freedom has a better design), and there’s plenty of interesting mobile suits.  Yay for Zakus, by the way!  And the voice acting is just as good as in the first series, minus Koyama Mami’s rather weak performance as Talia Gladys.  Great additions to the cast include Ikeda Shuuichi (Char Aznable) as Durandal, Kuwashima Houko as Stella Loussier (she’s back, folks!), Seki Toshihiko as Rey Za Burrel, and Suzumura Kenichi as Shinn (the only good thing about the character).  But with a weaker plot (retreading old philosophical points that never got answered) and weaker characters, this just isn’t as good as the original.

Story: 8.8      Animation: 9.3      Soundtrack: 8.8      Acting: 9.5      Overall: 9.0

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