Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"I just wanted to look up for the time being..."

I recently watched the Gundam SEED Destiny Stargazer miniseries, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised by both the quality of the story and how much is covered in such a short time period. Stargazer clocks in at about 60 minutes total, divided up into three 20-minute episodes. It chronicles the aftermath of the ‘Break the World Incident’, which occurs in SEED Destiny. Earth is bombarded by pieces of the colony Junius Seven, causing massive floods and entire cities to be wiped off the face of the planet.

The series follows two primary characters. Sven Payang pilots the Strike Noir and carries out mercenary missions against the coordinators, who have resorted to using children as their primary pilots and soldiers. Selene McGriff is a scientist working on Project 401 (aka Gundam Stargazer) aboard a colony research facility orbiting Earth. Due to how short the series is, it’s difficult to label any of the other characters as major or minor players, as many of them play large roles for only one episode.

The Strike Noir, Verde Buster, and Blu Duel all appear as their name implies – throwbacks to the major mobile suits in the original Gundam SEED series. They look nice and have some really cool fight sequences, but the artists didn’t try to make them as ridiculous as many of the mobile suits that appear in SEED Destiny. The Stargazer is a deep-space exploration mobile suit that utilizes solar winds to propel itself at an increasingly rapid rate through space. A mobile suit that is in fact not intended for combat, the Stargazer is quite well protected, though its A.I. proves insufficient enough that two pilots are required to operate it properly.

The series delves deeper into the conflict between the naturals and the coordinators, something that I feel should have played a larger role in the original series. No longer is the conflict based on politics, it is based on emotions and firepower. This causes the series to come across as much darker than any of the other stories set in Gundam SEED’s Cosmic Era timeline.

Gundam SEED was initially set up to be a re-imagining and alternate take on the original Mobile Suit Gundam series (though some may find that hard to believe due to how Gundam SEED ultimately played out). If SEED Destiny was the equivalent of the Universal Century timeline’s Zeta Gundam, then Stargazer is definitely the Cosmic Era’s version of 08th MS Team. Stargazer is dark and gritty – not the kind of anime series one would show to kids. The teen audience on up, however, will be able to understand the series better, sympathizing with the characters and feeling the moody atmosphere about the whole miniseries. Stargazer is short but really delivers a strong story. If you’re looking for a quick anime series to watch, it is definitely worth your time.

My rating: 8.75 (out of 10)

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