|One of the overhyped titles of the Gundam franchise.||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
Like Gundam Wing, SEED got a great deal of hype and praise from fans in the early to mid 2000s among Gundam fans. At the same time, there are folks that accuse SEED of being a poor-man's Gundam 0079 with its blatant rip-off of story elements and structure from the original 1970s series and its nice load of angst and melodrama that are regularly pushed throughout the course of the series. Having plowed my way through this series' 50 episodes, I'm gonna have to go with the latter camp.
I might as well deal with the elephant in the room and address the obvious dilemma with SEED in its blatant use of elements, themes and plot structure from 0079 and several older titles in the Universal Century continuity of the franchise. If you've seen your fair share of older Gundam titles, you will see enough parallels in what gets rehashed from UC titles here in SEED. The clashes between humans and enhanced humans with Naturals and Coordinators? That's a recurring plot element with many later titles in the UC continuity with Oldtypes and Newtypes. The struggle of the lone battleship's journey to get to allied headquarters against enemy forces with the Archangel? The same thing happened with White Base in 0079. The enemy stealing allied Gundam units here? The same thing was done in Gundam 0083. A great tragedy starting war between Naturals and Coordinators with the Bloody Valentine massacre? Same thing occurred with the 30 Bunch Incident with Zeta Gundam. Kira getting a Gundam upgrade in SEED's second half? Same thing done in Zeta with Kamille. I could go on, but I don't want to drag this review out any further than necessary.
Setting aside its obvious use of Universal Century themes and elements, the series does make some attempt at adding in some new elements to its plot by adding modern issues into the story of the series such as cloning, genetic engineering and nuclear weaponry. Plus, some of the major characters do get enough focus and depth where you know who they are and can care for their issues, like Cagalli and some members among both Naturals and Coordinators. However, this series has a pretty large cast and characterization suffers in this series greatly thanks to SEED's greater focus on plot development and advancement. Characters who get introduced either get reduced to archetypes, don't get enough focus for viewers to connect with them or the series rushes through any developments that could have been built up on throughout SEED's episodes. Like many past Gundam titles, this series has a high kill count with mooks, supporting and even major characters. You'll be caring less for many of the character deaths here since SEED never bothers to devote enough focus on many of its characters and the nice amount of angst that gets packed during such moments.
Ah, the angst. SEED loves pushing its angst and melodrama quite heavily at many points throughout its run in its superficial attempts to have you care for the issues faced by the show's characters. However much like Gundam Wing, the series gets too overbearing with its angst and melodrama where it makes what should be emotional moments pretty irksome and even laughable as characters either get reduced to pathetic angsting messes, screaming out character names if they get killed or get in the habit of spewing random philosophic rhetoric during heated battles in a vain attempt to sound like they are saying something meaningful. The plot does become a bit of a mess in later episodes of the series when multiple story developments get rushed through and resolved during the climactic final battle of the series, as well as trying to toss in some unconvincing romantic pairings among major characters that seemed artificial and lacked natural chemistry. Also, expect some clip shows and recap episodes to pop up at points in the series.
The animation to SEED is a mixed bag. The series sports a diverse number of scenic shots in space, Earth and on space colonies that are nicely detailed and sport vivid color. Mecha designs look slick and pleasing on the eyes, despite their obvious influence from past Gundam titles and there is some decent use of CG animation in rendering space battleships and weapons moving or being used despite sticking out prominently compared to the cel-shaded animation. However, character designs are a bit on the plain side and the series likes resorting to a nice number of animation shortcuts rather frequently throughout the course of its run such as speed stripes, still shots and reused animation frames. The soundtrack consists of dramatic music inserts and upbeat J-Pop tracks used for OP and ED tracks that are pleasing on the ears, do well at flowing at whatever scenes they are played in and is perhaps the highlight of the series for me.
Overall, I feel Gundam SEED is just as overhyped as Wing in being a quality addition to the Gundam franchise thanks to its complete ripping of major elements and plot structure from Gundam UC titles, its heavy reliance on angst and melodrama, limited depth and focus on many of its characters and rushed later episodes. You would be better off watching Turn A Gundam if you are looking for a good quality alternate continuity title in the Gundam franchise.