Japanese Title: Kidou Senshi Gundam SEED Destiny
Related: Gundam SEED (prequel)
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed C.E.73: Stargazer (side story)
Similar: Gundam 00
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 50 episodes
- The return of SEED characters.
- More of SEED’s great music.
- The narrative parallels SEED too closely.
- Most new characters are dull, or worse, irritating.
- More Cagalli than before.
- Overuse of flashbacks and two recap episodes, even with the HD remaster.
- Many repeated animations.
If you read my Gundam SEED review, you know that I have a fondness for that series. However, it’s with a heavy heart that I must convey how disappointed I am with Gundam SEED Destiny. My greatest issue is with how unnecessary this sequel feels, as I shall illustrate.
We start with a tenuous diplomatic mission, where Cagalli, now head representative of Orb, takes umbrage with the idea of ZAFT having a military, even for defence. (Whose bloody idea was it to keep her around? She presents the best case never to have a monarch in power.) Mid-diplomacy talks, Earth Federation agents infiltrate the ZAFT compound and steal three new Gundam units, destroying much in the process. (Wait a minute…) Cagalli and her bodyguard Athrun must flee aboard Minerva, the latest ZAFT vessel on her maiden voyage, where he is forced to pilot a Gundam as the only veteran aboard. (This sounds oddly familiar…) The three infiltrators are “extended” humans, always squabbling with each other. Stop, stop… Am I watching SEED again? All of this is the same, save for a few faction swaps and minor details. I could understand if they wanted to start this way (as in each Harry Potter book), pay tribute to the prequel or draw a parallel, but here, the similarities ring true throughout the plot.
Forced descent through Earth’s atmosphere with a Gundam trapped outside? Yes. Nukes launched against the Coordinator space colonies? Of course. Effeminate villain in the shadows that loathes Coordinators? Naturally. Weird, out-of-body, space floaty-thingy, experience after the loss of a lover that broke a main character? Why even ask? Destiny is the definition of a Hollywood sequel. Most of the new characters, and Athrun in parts, go through the same events as Kira and crew the first time around.
Destiny is at its best with the new events for returning characters. Lacus and Kira run an orphanage in the countryside, but their peace and quiet cannot last, especially with the advent Cagalli forced into a political marriage. Of interest to me, was Lacus’s plotline and how the new ZAFT chairman, Durandal (most interesting new character), handles the aftermath of her actions from SEED. Kira, though he remains important, serves as a weapon, more than anything else, for Lacus. The Archangel’s plot line is interesting, even with less screen time than the new ships.
Seeing the old crew is a pleasure – except Cagalli. (Die already!) How the hell she is the leader of a nation, I will never know. It’s not just that she makes bad decisions; she makes no decisions. A deer in the headlights is more decisive than her. For the majority of the series, she spends her time crying. What a pathetic leader. I knew she should have died episode one last season.
Oh, I haven’t even mentioned the protagonist – that should indicate how weak a character he is. Shinn, an Orb war refugee turned ZAFT soldier, pilots Minerva’s strongest Gundam, Impulse. Which reminds me… The launch sequences, bloody hell, what a chore. What feels like every second episode, we have to watch Impulse and its individual parts load into the launcher and then take off one by one (why not go pre-assembled?) before they fuse Megazord-style – twice per episode if he swaps loadout mid-battle. Just wait until Impulse launches with several other mechs. The repeated combat animations aren’t as bad this time around, but these launch sequences certainly pick up that hot poker and start stabbing you to make sure you never forget the pain. This is a case where they jumped the Rule of Cool.
Anyway, back to Shinn (do I have to?) and his incessant whining. He’s the kid who would have the snot beaten out of him every time he speaks – yes, he is that annoying, and even worse with the Japanese voice. He’s lucky Cagalli is there to nab the spotlight. And yet, Shinn’s greatest issue isn’t even his personality, but his purpose here. I cannot comprehend why they chose him, of all characters, to be protagonist. Yes, I understand that the loss of his family in SEED’s Orb battle ties him to the conflict; however, you could say that about anyone. Everyone has lost something in war. The writers didn’t do anything with Shinn, which is a strange statement to make, as he partakes in most fights. Seriously, why him? Shinn has no impact on the grander plot, unlike Athrun, Lacus, or Durandal.
Gundam SEED Destiny is by no means a bad anime. Not by a long shot. If Gundam SEED hadn’t come first to tell all these familiar plot points already, Destiny would have left a better impression. As is, however, the similarities are too obvious. And more Cagalli? Really? Why?!
Art – Medium
Slightly better quality than SEED’s HD remaster, as the art style was already in place. The remaster removed an episode’s worth of recap and added a few new scenes to go with the HD resolution and widescreen. Repeated animations, launch sequences in particular, are still a plague.
Sound – High
The English track is better, Ocean Studios returning with another great dub, and Shinn’s Japanese nasal makes me want to go deaf. Like SEED, the electronic and techno music is great.
Story – Medium
I know that war never changes, but plots do change. Destiny sticks too close to original.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: Only for fans of Gundam SEED who want to see more of Kira and crew. Regardless of whether you watch Gundam SEED Destiny, you should watch Gundam Seed C.E.73: Stargazer, the side story. It shows the war from civilian perspectives, taking an approach more for adult audiences, and the only context you need is that the space battle impacted a country on Earth.
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)