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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:59 pm 
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I've been wondering this for awhile but mostly didn't say anything because I know people would grab the pitch forks (jk) but why is Zeta Gundam held in such high regard? When I was young and impressionable I thought Zeta was the best Gundam ever only because MAHQ said it was. But when I watched it more recently I failed to see why it's considered so good. I could only watch about 5 episodes a day because any more would wear me out.

None of the characters were particularly likable save a few and spent most of the series bickering with each other. A lot of the battles were rather dull and it eventually felt like a chore to sit through the whole thing. I only really got excited when the last few episodes came around because it felt like stuff was actually happening.

I know there's the mind set of "It's dark so therefore it's mature and deep and automatically better!" Is that part of what's going on here? I freely admit that I used to have that mind set as well.

There are plenty of things I like about Zeta, but it's dead last in my Gundam ranking (yes, I like SEED Destiny more than Zeta). Love the Zeta movies though since they're shorter, have some great new battle scenes, and added that scene where the Argama crew has cake. Loved how it showed a time where they were actually getting along. The main reason I put Victory over Zeta despite Victory being darker is that the main crew of Victory actually got along.

Anyways, I'm interested in knowing why Zeta tops so many lists.

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:12 pm 
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I've always felt Zeta fell under "good ideas executed very poorly". Plenty of individually interesting pieces, but it feels like it lacks...direction overall? It certainly seemed like they didn't know what they wanted to do with the characters a lot of the time, and even when things were happening the plot felt like it dragged on and on in a lot of places.

I also found it difficult to take the Titans as credible antagonists after the first few eps; I'm not even sure why. A lot of the ruthless brutality comes off more as "comically evil", especially with all the bickering and ineptitude in the ranks. This really isn't helped by Jamaican and Jerid having more of an onscreen presence than Jamitov or Bask.

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:53 pm 
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Destiny_Gundam what you have just said was my reaction to Zeta...at first. When I first watched the series...I will admit I didn't really like it either. Well, that isn't true. To be more precise, I didn't really know HOW I felt about it and that almost made me dislike the show.

Then I started thinking about it.

I really started thinking about the characters, the situations, their reactions to each other, and the subtle character growth. I actually started to see where the bonds of the characters formed; when they actually started being like a family and not just a mash of people fighting a war together.

That is why to me, Zeta is a very unique series. No anime (or even TV show) has ever made me appreciate the show AFTER I watched it.

Zeta is a like a fine wine, it gets better with age. Just watch, in a few months you may actually suddenly realize that you really liked Zeta.

That is why I re-watched Zeta after a few years. And guess what? I enjoyed the hell out of it. I will admit that some of the episodes are a little slow, and the fight scenes aren't always the most exciting or memorable (I would even say 0079 had better fights at times) but that was never the most important part of Gundam to me. I always love the characters first, plot second, fights third, and mecha fourth.

Do I think Zeta is the "greatest gundam series ever?" not at all. Do I think it is a good, unique, and interesting TV series? Hell ya I do! But is it Tomino at his best in Gundam? Naw, Turn A for me will always be my favorite Tomino work (might even be my favorite Gundam series).

So maybe you will get burned at the stake for saying such "ludicrous" things, but I respect your courage to bring this up and having people discuss (key word: discuss) Zeta.

Just don't be surprised if people start throwing "why Zeta was so good" down your throat. ;)

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:15 pm 
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Homeless pretty much summed up basically how I feel about Z Gundam. It's not the best Gundam series. But it is a good one, and it's a seminal part of Gundam as a franchise as much because of the precedents it sets as for its own qualities as a series:
1. Z Gundam marks the entry of variable mobile suits into the franchise with the appearance of MS like the Asshimar and Gaplant, to say nothing of the Psyco Gundam and the titular Zeta Gundam
2. The character of Four Murasame and her interactions with main protagonist Kamille; revisiting and expanding upon one of the defining moments of the original Mobile Suit Gundam(Lalah Sune), it also creates a character development formula that would be revisited time and time again throughout the franchise - examples being Allenby and Domon, Stella and Shinn, Marida and Banagher, and one could also argue Shiro and Aina(though they are unique in a way because they actually get their happily ever after - none of the others do).
3. The Mid-Series Upgrade. Kamille moving from the Gundam MkII to the Z Gundam set the precedent for literally almost every major protagonist in the franchise from that point onwards - the sole exceptions thus far being Banagher Links(arguable), Seabook Arno, and Christina Mackenzie.
EDIT: And if you stray outside of UC, there's Loran Cehack. 00 is kind of a gray area but if you look at each individual season separately, there is strictly speaking no mid-season upgrade in Season 1 either - equipment is added to the existing machine.
Technically, there is an upgrade (such as it is) in both Season 2(from Exia to 00) and the movie (from 00R to 00Q).

But even on its own merits as a series, Zeta is pretty great IMO not because of the battles(there are a number of better examples), but because it's so strongly character-driven; IMO moreso than the original.

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Last edited by Dark Duel on Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:47 pm 
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Dark Duel wrote:
3. The Mid-Series Upgrade. Kamille moving from the Gundam MkII to the Z Gundam set the precedent for literally almost every major protagonist in the franchise from that point onwards - the sole exceptions thus far being Banagher Links(arguable), Seabook Arno, and Christina Mackenzie.


I think Loran Cehack would like to have a word with you about mid-series upgrades.

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:10 pm 
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Chris wrote:
I think Loran Cehack would like to have a word with you about mid-series upgrades.


He is too busy putting on dresses to worry about all that stuff. :P

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:26 pm 
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I think you hit the nail on the head with the "darker = better" assumption.

Gundam as a whole is lauded as this amazingly gritty war drama that gave us giant robots like never before, but it's still a franchise that got its start with psychic teenagers saving the day from the mustache-twirlingly evil Zabi family with their garishly colored action figures. Zeta Gundam is the ultimate expression of Gundam's faux-realism, culminating in a painful, ugly and nihilistic slog through a mountain of body bags.

Zeta was willing to up the ante and push boundaries with the scope of its brutality, the severity of the cast's dysfunction, the popular transformation gimmick and the Newtype mysticism that made characters like Cammy and Sirocco virtually god-like. It upped the stakes across the board, which is perceived as a bold move toward a more "epic" form of storytelling.

Never mind that this means the show is often bleak for the sake of being bleak and the characters are such a horrible combination of shallow, stupid or hateful that it's nearly impossible to empathize with any of them. There is something to be said for war being bleak and people being flawed creatures, but Tomino rams these facets into the ground by pushing them entirely too hard. There's only so much doom and gloom I can take as a member of the audience before I achieve my horror threshold and stop caring.

For instance, horror movie buff that I am, I can watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and be entertained, but there's no way I'm ever going back to An American Crime. It pushes the boundary too far to be comfortable, even if it is a true story. Why would I want to watch a perfectly nice young girl get tortured to death for no discernible reason?

By the same token, why would I ever want to go back to a fifty-episode marathon of hateful, shallow people who fly into vicious, self-deluded tirades for their crusades as they butcher each other? That's not entertainment. It's vicarious sadism.

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:57 pm 
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maybe that's the point. everyone is so dysfunctional you can't sympathize with them, and thus, there's nothing to get in the way of delicious mecha action.

...except Zeta's battles all kind of bled together into one monotonous drone to me and it boasts what i find to be some of the ugliest MS designs of the entire franchise, so i don't even get it on that score.


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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:12 pm 
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I've seen it described as 'good people making bad decisions', and I happen to agree with this.

A lot of people within the series are really neither good or bad, their just people. Jamitov, Scirocco only care about power, and the means justifies the end. The people in the AEUG want to make things better, but conflicting ideas on how to achieve their goals leads to some rather poor tactical decisions.

While I'm not always thrilled with the way characters are portrayed through the series, it's one of the few Gundam series that's driven by the characters and not other factors. The people on the Argama are pretty much the nerve center for the AEUG, so we get to watch them actively making decisions on what to do next, as opposed to them simply being handed orders.

Maybe my age has something to do with the way I feel about this show. I'm 27, and I first saw Zeta when I was 16. I wasn't too thrilled with it then, but I really enjoyed re-watching it on DVD.

I'll admit, it's not an easily digested narrative. But that's the beauty of it. If you want to enjoy it, you're going to have to really contemplate what's going on.


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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:28 pm 
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ShadowCell wrote:
maybe that's the point. everyone is so dysfunctional you can't sympathize with them, and thus, there's nothing to get in the way of delicious mecha action.

...except Zeta's battles all kind of bled together into one monotonous drone to me and it boasts what i find to be some of the ugliest MS designs of the entire franchise, so i don't even get it on that score.


Yeah, the battle choreography wasn't so hot, but that's shooting past the rather glaring error in your supposition: If the characters are really such a drag, then they're only going to grate twice as bad as you have to sit through their hang-wringing nonsense before you can get to the hot, robot-on-robot action.

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:38 pm 
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ah, but such is the purpose for which the good Lord invented the fast forward button =P

besides, to be honest, i sometimes wonder how many people have actually watched the Gundam shows they tout as the masterpieces of the franchise. i feel like this is probably the same result as what happened with Crossbone Gundam and it's been mythologized as something it's not.

example thereof: people fall all over themselves praising Gundam for its moral ambiguity, and then they throw Zeta on a pedestal and there is nothing morally ambiguous about Zeta.


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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:39 pm 
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Maybe its just me but I didn't have a hard time watching Zeta. Dark and bleak elements in any story don't bother me and with Zeta being a story about war they seemed to fit. Now as for the characters I can't say they bother me, Reccoa being an exception. In fact I could relate with Kamille in some ways.

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:08 pm 
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Chris wrote:
I think Loran Cehack would like to have a word with you about mid-series upgrades.

I was looking mainly at the UC on its own, but fair point.

Also, it's a bit of a gray area but strictly speaking 00 Season 1 was likewise devoid of mid-season upgrades - Existing machines got upgraded equipment, but nobody got a completely new ride.
(At least for the good guys - the bad guys got them, but they don't count).

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:13 pm 
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I don't know if I can speak on some wide-spread scale as to why Zeta is so well beloved, but on my most recent rewatch this past summer I came to really enjoy the multiple angles on both sides. You had thick-headed bastards like Wong to remind you that even if Kamille and company were dysfunctial even they could recognize when someone was a real pain in the ass. The Titans had Jamican and Jerid's own manueverings and thick-headedness while Bask (Gouri Daisuke!) and Jamitov ran the rest of the operations rather smoothly. Of course, there was also Scirocco's sceamings that eventually quasi-blindsided the multiple facets and brought them together. The Axis fleet really turns out to be the most functional of the three forces and even that is thanks to their devotion to Princess Artificial Human No. 18...er, Mineva. I guess it sort of goes to show that semi-cultish space fleets can get a job done without making a mess!!

I also really thought a lot of the humor helped alleviate from the grittier tone of the series. The older pilots and crew members picking on Kamille and Fa was always pretty humorous and even Shinta (Shoutmon!) and Qum were pretty funny. The Argama crew really felt like a family, so generally I felt those ship scenes had a warmth to them as the series progressed. I think that's what also made the Reccoa business so interesting, too. The betrayal really hit the pilots hard, maybe a little less so with Quatro because Char's not exactly that sort of guy, but it still made for engaging drama.

The battles were never really well animated or choreographed, but the drama, the music, and the cast really held them together. Jerid constantly using a new model to try to take Kamille out was also a little unintentionally funny when you consider how dead-serious Jerid was in thinking he'd finally beat Kamille. Hah.

Kamille, Fa, and Katz getting the Hell knocked out of them every once in a while was also reason to stick around, I suppose.


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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:16 pm 
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Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a website which had the most up to date and accurate mechanical profiles for various mecha series. This website had a forum, and on this forum were a number of very strongly opinioned fans. Now, in this age I'm describing it was very difficult to get hold of and watch many of the series. This was before the widespread popularity of DVDs, before high-speed internet was the norm, before bittorrent and before fansub groups were a concept. So what was available were often high-priced, limited variety VHS you had to go to a specialty store to purchase, or very poor quality rips of already very poor quality multiple-generational VHS HK subs.

It was in this day and age that Zeta Gundam gained its reputation, on this forum that existed on EZBoards. The people who had seen the series that others hadn't were automatically given the power to decide if they were good series or bad series. Thus did Zeta Gundam gain its reputation -- from those few people who were asked if something that others had never seen before was any good. So they, with this glorious power, espoused the virtues and epic tale that was Zeta Gundam. They spoke of the incredible might of the titular Gundam, of the furious power of The O, of the cunning beauty of Haman. This is how the series gained its reputation, like a virus spreading throughout the internet, as these people who had never seen a moment of the series other than a smattering of clips taken off p2p programs spread to other websites and forums and through their secondhand knowledge also bespoke of the masterpiece that had been described to them. This is also how other shows gained their reputations as well, unjustly earned as well either for good or ill. But nothing else underlined the phenomenon more than the reputation that Zeta Gundam had for years before its DVD release here in the States. And now, even with it easily accessable and with people able to form their own opinions concerning it, that reputation still looms over it as a dedicated fanbase seeks to protect that thing they had worshipped for so long despite never knowing its true form, like a cult worshipping some unseen cosmic horror.


Last edited by Thrawnma on Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:16 pm 
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...You hated the show, but still managed 5 episodes per day, Destiny_Gundam? At first I could only watch a couple of episodes per week, dropped the show for something much more fun (School Rumble), and then returned at a pace of 1 episode per day once things started to move along more.

My experience with Zeta may be somewhat skewed because my intro to Zeta material was actually through the Gundam vs Zeta Gundam game. I love that game to death, and beat it 100%. Unfortunately, the game had this certain "fail theme" that played whenever you lost and your MS exploded. When I watched the show, THE SAME fail theme is used whenever a character died "tragically" causing me laugh uncontrollably at how ridiculous the death happened to be.

To me, most of Zeta Gundam's execution was absolutely awful. The characters were trying so hard to be dark and dysfunctional that they just didn't make sense at all. They were inhuman and unrelatable. What exactly was Reccoa's problem? Why is Sarah such a mindless idiot? (You're going to blow up a lunar colony for "Master Paptimus"? How is that going to help anything?) She just doesn't have a brain wave. Katz was a ZOINKS frustration, and pushing him into that "tragic child casualty of war" bit was completely ridiculous.

Kamille was stupid at first, but then he mellowed out. Then he was trying too hard to save people in the wrong ways, and then he just grew emotionally numb, and his actions didn't make sense anymore. Kamille and Scirocco had nothing to do with each other before their fight at the end.

I am not impressed at all by anything Char did in Zeta. (The Quattro=Char? mystery dragged on too long and was a little silly.) I was surprised to see him act like a complete jackass around Haman. It was never explained in-show. I was a real fan of Char in CCA, though.

Haman seems interesting, but she barely does anything.

What exactly was Scirocco trying to accomplish?

Four and Rosammy had the exact same story. And were exactly the same as Lalah. They could have done so much more to save them. Most of the scenes involving them were so awkward.

Eventually, the cast comes out to be a randomly assorted group of dysfunctional, frustrating, and irrational people. Sure it's tragic, but writing-wise it barely does anything to add to a cohesive point. The only scene that ever affected me was when Reccoa and Kamille met again on the battlefield and he was trying to have her return to the Argama.

The death of Kamille's parents were completely idiotic, and I felt no sympathy because they could have been avoided so easily. Kamille's dad was an idiot. As for what Jerid did: keep your soldiers informed. That easy.

People were hijacking mobile suits out of the Argama hangar left and right. You'd think they'd have a little more control over what launches and when. It's fine that this happens a few times, but every damn episode....

The Titans cycled through MS too quickly, so none of the designs were really fleshed out. I really liked the Gaplant and Gabthley, but they were just tossed aside for no real reason. Was it necessary to have that many designs in a show?

The fights were awful, ranging from awkward/stupid to boring. Beam rifle fights are extremely dull to watch. (It's basically watching the MS sit still as colorful lines dart across the screen harmlessly.) These pilots are ZOINKS terrible when it comes to close combat. What's with all the harmless grappling? USE YOUR VULCANS! DRAW YOUR SABER! SOMETHING!! Kamille/Jerid could have ended their fight soooo many times....

The Char/Haman/Scirocco/Kamille fight at the end was very boring because it was just a drawn out beam rifle fight. Nothing really happened until the two pairs broke off from each other.

...I just can't think anymore. To me, Zeta did almost everything poorly, and a small number of things well. I'm interested in watching a New Translation, but I'll probably never return to the show for a long time.

Now, someone please convince me that the show nearly isn't as bad as I saw it. =(

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:35 pm 
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Seraphic wrote:
...You hated the show, but still managed 5 episodes per day, Destiny_Gundam? At first I could only watch a couple of episodes per week, dropped the show for something much more fun (School Rumble), and then returned at a pace of 1 episode per day once things started to move along more.


I don't hate the show, but I'm not particularly fond of it. It's my least favourite Gundam series which isn't saying that much since I love all of Gundam.

I suppose I should have said "in one sitting." I got the Anime Legends sets and watched it dubbed for the first time. I wasn't about to let it go to waste and not watch the DVDs.

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:33 pm 
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I've got a serious two questions for everyone here:

1. How old are you people?

2. What was your first Gundam series?

These two questions may help explain why some people like Zeta better than others.


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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:53 pm 
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1) 25.

2) Technically? Wing. The first one that I saw that I actually liked, however, was 08th MS Team. MSG and G Gundam sold me on the rest of the franchise. (All of this was on Toonami in 2000-2001.)

3) You didn't ask, but I'm not really fond of Zeta. I first watched it back when it came out on DVD in 2004. I thought it was pretty good the first time through, but over time (and with exposure to more of the franchise) I've actually come to like it less. The characters are largely unsympathetic, the story is pointlessly dark, and characters have a disturbing tendency to suddenly act completely against their previous characterization in order to move the plot in whatever direction Tomino decided it should go next (eg, Reccoa's defection, the multiple cases of terminal stupidity during the final battle).

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:11 pm 
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To answer GumdamMKII's questions.

1) I turned 28 just a few days ago.

2) It was Gundam Wing, nuff said.

As for my reaction to my first time of watching Zeta all those months ago , and mind you all that I was watching the show on Crunchyroll to see if it was really worth the planned purchase of the Zeta DVDs, it was more or less a "meh".

I didn't find it too bad, outside certain character and mecha interactions, but I didn't find it too good either. Trust me, I tried to find something noteworthy about the series either positive or negative but I didn't find a thing. Granted the characters didn't really hook my interest at all, especially with either Amuro and Char and this was from watching the original almost immediately before. As for Bright, well, this is Bright we're talking about here.

I may sound shallow, might be my autism talking, but if I'm not interested enough in the characters the first time around then its more than likely that I'll never find anything interesting about the characters to relate, emulate or whatever. But long story short, even if it is a "meh" for my vote, it's a definite "no" for any DVD purchase. Not really sure how I'd feel about the Zeta movies but I can't help but feel that I'm just going to have the same reaction, a simple "meh".

Though to be truthful, I'd still hold it higher than Destiny, but that's just being too generous even for me.

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