The Gundam name has been around since 1979 with the original series, Mobile Suit Gundam. This series has in turn spawned a number of sequels, with each series maintaining a core theme of big human-controlled robots, known as Gundam, that deliver hurt on a large scale. Each new series brings with it new characters, stories and timelines, making each independent of the others. The latest incarnation of the Gundam universe is known as Mobile Suit Gundam Seed.
The synopsis above sums up the majority of the story presented in the first disc of Gundam Seed, but doesn’t shed much light as to the importance of the Gundam. Basically, the Coordinators, being far superior to the Naturals, use pilot controlled robots known as Mobile Suits to give them the edge in the war. Knowing that their days are numbered, the Earth Alliance develop their own Mobile Suits which they call Gundam. The twist is that the Gundam are superior to the Mobile Suits of the Coordinators, and so pose a major threat.
It’s difficult to gauge whether Gundam Seed is worth watching or not based upon the first disc. The first disc contains the first five episodes of what is a ten disc series. Unfortunately, five episodes are barely enough to introduce the main characters and still pack in enough mecha-on-mecha action to keep you entertained. Because of this, the majority of the characters, with the exception of Kira, are one-dimensional, but do have the potential to fill out as the series progresses.
As for the lead character, Kira, I cannot help but feel a sense of déjà vu whenever he is on screen. He has a surprising likeness to Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Shinji, in that each character is forced into the role they don’t want, and all they can do is whine about it (often in the heat of combat). Don’t get me wrong, they have every right to complain about their situation, (these series need some teen angst) but it gets annoying very quickly and doesn’t encourage our respect for the characters.
That said, I must admit that by the end of the fifth episode I was incredibly disappointed, not by the quality of the series, but because I didn’t have the next disc to shove into the DVD player. I was sufficiently drawn into the Gundam universe that I wanted to continue.
Overall, the first disc of Mobile Suit Gundam Seed is a competent introduction to the series. Whilst characters remain underdeveloped by the fifth episode of the series, there is enough action and intrigue to continue on with further instalments. The only problem that I can see is that the ten disc set is a significant financial investment, and you know that once you start, you’ll have to collect them all.