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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:31 pm 
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Lackey GM Pilot

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Last night I watched the first 5 episodes of Gundam Seed (in Japanese with subtitles), so here's my first impressions and thoughts and ask-out-loud questions as I watch this series for the first time (well, I saw the first 2 or 3 episodes years ago when it first came out, but it's been so long, so this is like a fresh re-watch of them for me anyway). I was also taking some notes as I watched, and I'm going to shotgun you all with a smattering of stuff. The only thing I ask anyone who replies in this thread is please don't spoil stuff for me. If there are any big surprises, I'd like to discover them myself. But opinions are certainly welcome!

First off, my visual impressions of the look, style and visual quality of the series. As I mentioned in another thread when I recently signed up on the forum and made my hellos, I was getting out of Gundam (and anime in general) sometime between Turn A and the release of Seed. It wasn't any kind of hate or disgust or anything like that, just a severe case of burnout (a burnout which has taken me 10 years to get over :P ). But having seen the start of Seed back then, and the trends of anime in general... I honestly don't like the modern style of character designs of most anime. There's just too much of the cartoony, big eyes/small mouth thing, with the funky sharp pointy noses, and the wild and unrealistic hairstyles that look more like bad sculptures rather than actual hair.

That said, Gundam has a lot of this in its character designs. Like, all the ZAFT pilots so far in these first 5 episodes. With the exception of perhaps the dark-skinned Buster pilot (Dearka?), they're all effiminate pretty-boys with goofy hair. A serious, real robot/scifi mecha anime series with lots and lots of effiminate pretty-boys. I don't have anything against them per se, but I like realistic, normal looking people.

That brings me to Kira Yamato, his friends and the makeshift crew of the Archangel - which fortunately doesn't suffer this phenomenon. Though Kira himself... seriously, he needs a haircut. I wouldn't call him a pretty-boy, but the long spikey sharp locks of hair hanging over his face and sticking out front is just goofy looking. But for his friends, and Earth Forces folks... they actually look alright. The facial styles overall I can't say I'm crazy about, but at least they're not ugly. And Murrue Ramius... she's kinda hot. :D

Now, for the mecha. Junichi Akutsu's principal designs for the Gundams overall look very nice. When I look at their profiles on MAHQ, I see (and it's obvious) that Kunio Okawara did the cleanup. And I have to say, after 30 years, that frankly I'm tired of looking at Kunio Okawara designs. Heck, I was tired of them 10 years ago. But watching the Gundams in action in this series, their styling and their dynamic movement and posing and such... they don't -look- like Okawara designs. They look neat (aside from some color issues on some).

The Strike Gundam itself is a very dynamic and stylish design, for a "conventional" Gundam, and looks just as good when equipped with the Launcher, Sword and Aile packages. The Aile is the most impressive to me, adding a good ol' shield and beam rifle, and the thruster/wing backpack is simply awesome (and gives me big-grin flashbacks to the Lifter-equipped Dragonar-1, one of my all time favorite non-Gundam mecha designs). Plus it has yellow eyes! The usual green eyes we've seen on Gundams since Zeta is all well and good, but sometimes it's nice to see the ol' yellow eyes from the original Gundam revisited. I think I see an Aile Strike model on my shelf in the near future. :P

The Launcher Strike, with its combination of shoulder weaponry and BFG, reminds me of some of the plug-and-play variants of the Gundam F90. The Sword Strike... looks very cool, though I question the wisdom and logic behind outfitting a basic mobile suit for primarily melee combat (no matter how big and impressive the beam sword is), in a battlefield where you have things like ranged beam weapons, machineguns and missiles. It makes no sense to me... but it looks cool. Though I suppose outfitting a MS for strictly melee combat might make some sense, if you're fighting inside a space colony/plant/whatever and want to avoid excessive collateral damage from ranged & explosive weaponry. (More on this below.)

As for the other 4 Gundams, I have mixed feelings. The styling of the shapes and designs, for the most part, I like. The Duel Gundam strikes me as another "conventional" Gundam design, despite its being described as specializing in melee combat. So far it's my 2nd favorite behind the heroic Strike. The Buster I would rank 3rd favorite, simply because I love heavy artillery type MS's, though I'm not too crazy about the olive drab & orange on white colors. The Aegis is my 4th favorite. It looks kinda, neat, though that super-tall helmet crest/scalp camera is just odd, and the giant flying claw mobile armor form... I dunno. It's not impressing me much, visually. Last place is the Blitz Gundam. Though honestly we don't see a whole lot of it up-close and in action much in these first 5 episodes, but so far it just strikes me as another black-and-red colored, lots-of-sharp-pointy-bits generic "bad guy" Gundam, a la the Master Gundam or Gundam Virsago (though initially my mind flashed to Patlabor's Griffon).

Mu La Flaga's Mobius Zero is really neat. I love the "balanced" (if that term makes any sense) space fighter style of it, and its 4 gunbarrel weapons are neat, even if they do seem to be very large, expendable funnel-type weapons. I assume they have some sort of basic AI control - the pilot tells then what to shoot and they go after it? 'Cause Mu is apparently a Normal... more on this topic later. :)

That brings me to the GINN. *sigh* Solely an Okawara design, and it shows. I swear, when it comes to enemy mecha, Okawara has only been capable of recycling 20-year-old Crossbone Vanguard designs from F91. The GINN's huge forehead fin simply looks ridiculous, and the big sharp cone shoulder thruster/binder things and other bits of kibble just add to the ugliness. I would have loved to have seen something more original for a frontline enemy grunt suit. The same can be said for Rau Le Creuset's CGUE - recycled design, too much kibble, the giant forehead fin is dumb. Boring. Especially if the Char-wannabe doesn't even have a stand-out color for his personal MS.

Alright, let's talk about ships for a bit. The ZAFT ships... meh. Ugly and strange. The Nazca-class Vesalius confuses me when I look at it. I can't grasp the overall shape of it from different angles. It looks like it should be a strange mobile armor, not a MS carrier/battleship type. The other ZAFT ship seen in the first 5 episodes, the Laurasia-class, is rather boring to look at - kind of lumpy. Doesn't have anything dynamic and stylish about it that stands out to me.

Last, and certainly not least, is the Archangel. Ohhhhh I could gush all day about the Archangel! It's White Base... with STYLE! It's awesome, on so many levels. A fantastic reimagining of First Gundam's Pegasus class, with enough armament to make it very impressive as a warship, much less doing double duty as a MS carrier. The fact that it was able to hold its own and survive a very deadly looking alpha strike from the Buster Gundam made me grin and grin big!

The Archangel is awesome. And it's captained by the highly competent and sexy Ramius. Have I mentioned that Ramius is hot? And the Archangel is awesome. I thought I should say that. :P

That takes care of the visual designs and styling. I want to just give a couple of comments about the animation itself, and the music. The music is solid, dramatic and operatic. No particularly memorable pieces yet, though if it's anything like past Gundam series, some good ones will get stuck in my head. The animation is -very- sweet! For a television series, I thought Turn A looked good, but this looks fantastic. It's a little strange now, watching television series anime produced with modern digital tools for coloring, linework, etc. It's crisp and vibrant and looks good. Of course, I'm seeing these same tools on Gundam Unicorn, and I love it. I would love to see more classic Gundam re-animated with modern techniques like this. (*crosses my fingers and hopes The Origin animation will be a full-fledged series or OVA or movie series and fulfill this dream*)
One more thing about animation and visuals, before I get into the story and characters.

The opening credits animation looks good, though a touch -too- fast at times. I understand an opening credits sequence needing exciting visuals to draw the viewer in, but the fast flash-cutting between still shots of mobile suits and characters and such is a little disconcerting. Gimme a few seconds on each shot before moving on to the next one, folks. I'd like some time to absorb things, instead of being spammed with a bunch of stuff that goes by too fast. And thinking out loud here, I wonder what the significance of the wreath of flowers floating by at the start of the credits is...?

And also speaking of the opening credits... does a Gundam series really need a naked woman with giant, bouncing, balloon-like breasts? This seems just a little too fanservice-ish and in-your-face by the usual Gundam standards. A brief nude scene in an episode once in a while is no big deal, but the boobies in the opening for every episode seems... kinda cheap. But then again... is that -Ramius- who is naked with the big bouncing boobies? It's a little hard to tell. If it's Ramius... well, I won't complain quite so much. Did I mention that Ramius is hot?

Oh, and the commercial eyecatch is neat. Love the heroic music que, and the dynamic triple visuals of the Strike.

Story time! Diving right into it, the parallels between Seed and First Gundam are obvious and welcome, but just as interesting are the ways in which this series is different from First Gundam, as well. Prototype Earth military warship carrying prototype Gundam(s), said Earth military's very first MS's, docked at a "neutral" colony long enough to get ambushed by the enemy trying to steal or destroy their prototypes, and for a local nerd to hop in the cockpit and save the day. Oh, and pick up some more hitchhikers (the kid's friends, of course), help man the understaffed ship's crew, take off, dodge the enemy forces being led by the Char-wannabe, and flee to (supposedly) friendly territory at an asteroid base. Good stuff, I don't mind familiar tropes being re-used, if they're re-used well, and so far, Seed seems to do it well.

Kira Yamato seems like a nice kid. The fact that he seems to be a pretty normal kid with a normal life and normal friends is rather refreshing. Well, normal (no pun intended) for a Coordinator. The fact that his friends know he's a Coordinator, and accept him as he is, means he has a good taste in friends. Well, Sai's girlfriend, Flay Allster, though... she's trouble. I can tell. She'd be cute if she weren't so annoying and hysterical. And her reaction to hearing that Kira is a Coordinator... yeah. Trouble.

So here we have Kira, a nice kid who simply needs a haircut, and he's faced with taking charge of the Strike Gundam to protect himself and his friends. But instead of Kira being a snarky, introverted boy who has some serious father issues, he has to face his long-lost best friend, who's now an enemy MS pilot. I love that we have this instead of whiny Amuro crying and complaining about his jerk of a dad, but the Kira/Athrun dynamic... not sure I actually "feel" it yet on Kira's part. Though in episode 5, when Athrun says with a shaky voice that Kira will have to come with him, or he'll be forced to kill him, ratchets up the tension and hesitation Kira's part. Here's two friends, who don't want to fight each other, but their situations are forcing them into being enemies. Kira's dillema doesn't feel as strong as Athrun's, who has to answer to his teammates and commanding officers. Kira's just the nice kid trying to do what's right, but Athrun's truly caught in a bad place, and I'd hate to be him. I was also surprised to see that Kira attended a MILITARY prep school with Athrun. Hmm...

And speaking of Kira and Athrun's friendship... were the silly cherry blossoms and soft pastel lighting necessary in a yaoi-implied flashback to them parting ways? That scene would have felt more real if it had focused on the two and their words and feelings, rather than distracting us with the fake, unbelievable "romantic setting."

That brings me to Athrun. He seems like a good kid making bad decisions. I can understand his anger and hatred of the Earth Alliance for killing his family in the Bloody Valentine incident (I assume that's the flashback war scene we see at the beginning of the episodes, with some ships launching big nuclear missiles at and destroying a colony/plant/whatever?). So he joined ZAFT to take out his anger, to become a MS pilot who kills people and destroys things, rather than deal with his issues. Or perhaps the spacenoids feel forced to take violent action because the Earth forces are interested only in violence and not negotiation. I'm curious to see what background and motivations for the sides in the conflict are revealed through the series, to understand what's going on and why people like Athrun are doing what they're doing. So far we're only seeing this war through this one tiny conflict focusing around the Archangel and the Gundams. I hope we get a feel for the wider scope of the war soon beyond a flashback/narration of the Bloody Valentine incident an a scene of ZAFT mobile suits landing on Earth at the start of Episode 1.

Speaking of the space colonies... what -are- they called? Colonies? Plants? I've seen both terms so far in this series, and a mix of classic UC Gundam-style O'Neill type rotating cylinder colonies, and those weird joined-at-the-point dual cone with round mirrors on a pole types that make no sense.

Murrue Ramius... ahhh, be still, my heart! She's sexy, she's smart and capable, and she doesn't have an attitude problem. At least so far in these first 5 episodes, she's a female Bright Noah but without the anger and frustration and constant Brightslapping of uncooperative underlings. She's got some technical know-how when it comes to MSs and the ship she's forced to take command of, and some good battle tactics and soldiering - both as a warship captain, and holding her own against a -very- well coordinated and capable ZAFT commando team who came to take her Gundams away. And Ramius is hot! :D

Ensign Badgiruel... she seems like a bit of a hardnosed angry young woman. I'd find her attractive if she didn't seem to have a beam saber hilt up her rear. We'll see where she goes...

Kira's friends are nice. And they step up to help crew the Archangel to help their friend - no Brightslapping or strongarming or conscription required. They step up and show what good friends they are. Whether they're capable, time will tell.

Mu La Flaga - he's a pretty cool guy. Nice to see he's not judgmental of Kira's Controller-ness, either. He steps up and becomes a mentor/sempai to Kira right off the bat - I love his suggestion to Kira that he lock out the Strike's controls as they're about to dock at Luna II - I mean, uh, that asteroid base with the big forcefield that kinda reminds me of Iserlohn Fortress from Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I shoulda written the name down - I'll be watching Episode 6 here shortly, so it should be in my head good soon. Anyway... here's hoping Mu doesn't die a sempai death anytime soon. And his surprise attack on the Vesalius to give the Archangel the break to get through to not-Luna II.... simply awesome. Go Mu!

Alright, time to talk about the Char-wannabe, Rau La Creuset. Many Gundam shows have had "Char clones," to varying degrees of success, but this Rau guy seems to be trying a little too hard to be Char, beyond the blonde hair (*sighs in annoyance at the long pretty-boy hairstyle*) and the metal mask. It's the voice. He sounds and talks too much like Char in mannerisms. It just annoys me. However, in other ways, he's not like the real deal Char. He doesn't have a cool, custom-colored mobile suit. When I watched him the -one- time he sorties in the first 5 episodes, I honestly thought he was in a GINN, in standard colors. I had to look around on the MAHQ mecha profiles to find that he was, in fact, in a CGUE and not a GINN. Just goes to show that the GINN and CGUE are so Okawara-generic that at first glance they're unimpressive and indistinguishable. And he only sorties the one time, has a pretty good (and obviously long-time-rivalistic) dogfight with Mu and his Mobius Zero. But otherwise, he spends the rest of these 5 episodes sitting on the bridge, spouting orders... feeling like yet another ordinary ship captain. He doesn't -feel- like a Char-level threat yet. So far he's pretty unimpressive as a "mysterious villain."

I'm going to wrap this overview of the first 5 episodes of Gundam Seed with a smattering of comments and think-out-loud questions. Please don't spoil anything for me!

ZAFT's commando and MS infiltration of Heliopolis to steal the Gundams is very impressive - far better than the Slacker Squad's (a term an old friend of mine had for Slender, Denim and Gene - slender denim jeans, anyone?) invasion of Side 7 in First Gundam.

Cagalli - I wanna know more about this girl. She's mysterious, and she speaks mysterious things. Who did her father betray...?

I love the Strike Gundam's rotating, balanced cockpit! Why hasn't Gundam done this before?

Naturals vs. Controllers. Are all ZAFT MS pilots Controllers? Or all member of ZAFT, period? And Mu indicated that the Earth Forces' trained pilots for the Gundams were Naturals and could barely get the Gundams to move in simulations. Ramius got the Strike on its feet but had a lot of trouble. It's only after Kira does his lightning-fast reprogramming of the Strike's OS and takes the controls that it becomes effective (and awesomely takes down a GINN with a couple of pig-sticker knives!). Does this mean that only Controllers, with their genetically engineered mental calculation powers, reflexes, or whatever, have the mental and reflexive capability to control something as complex as a machine designed to mimic the complex movements and motions of a human body? It makes sense to me, and if it's true (for this Gundam universe, at least) it's good to see this requirement for MS piloting skill put into play.

Space colonies - MUCH more fragile in Seed than in UC. In one episode of Zeta, that one colony where Char was having a bad day fighting the two Hi-Zack Customs put SEVERAL holes in a colony, but otherwise it came through fine, despite some damage (and possible loss of life). In Seed, Heliopolis only takes a few hull/wall breaches as well... and collapses completely. This feels more believable to me.

I wrote down a note from some dialogue - what's "enhanced APSV"? (Please answer this question if you want, I don't mind a spoiler on this bit.)

So the Archangel and the Gundam prototypes belong to the Atlantic Federation... and not-Luna II is controlled by Eurasia. I guess Earth isn't so united in this Earth Alliance, huh?

The ZAFT uniforms are very bland and boring. Villains should have -cool- uniforms! I miss the stylishness and more classical militaristic look of Zeon, Crossbone, Zanscare, OZ, etc. uniforms.

GREAT tension when the Strike Gundam's battery ran out (why did it run out so fast, and the other 4 Gundams were still going with no problems?), and the Duel almost took it down as the Strike was changing out equipment so it could get power back. Fun scene!

Okay, that's it for Episodes 1 thru 5! Whew... geez, I'm sure long-winded! :P I'll be watching Episodes 6 thru 10 sometime today, I'll be back tomorrow with more to talk about.

P.S. Ramius is hot! :P

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Last edited by Burke Rukes on Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:49 pm 
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I remember my first impressions by and large were the same as yours when I first saw Seed (except I loved the Blitz because A) I loved the idea of integrating the shield, beam saber, and beam rifle into a single weapon, and B) it's a ninja.

A few points regarding your questions at the end there:

- They're simply called PLANTs, which is also the name of the civilian government of the colonies. ZAFT is the PLANTs' military. IIRC "PLANT" is an acronym, but I forget what it stands for. "ZAFT" is the "Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty", which sounds IMO kinda silly.
- All residents of the PLANTs are Coordinators, period. All of them - not just the pilots, the civilians too.
- The Earth Alliance is primarily composed of the Atlantic Federation and the Eurasian Federation. And no, they don't like each other much. Basically the only thing they have in common is that they hate the PLANTs.
- Up until this point, only Coordinators were able to pilot mobile suits and only they had them. A Natural-use MS control system will of course come into use later on, because obviously the Feddies get MS too.

- I honestly have no idea what "enhanced APSV" is, as it's never explained nor mentioned again. I presume that these are especially powerful armor-piercing rounds. Maybe Mr. Simmons has more information.

Quote:
does a Gundam series really need a naked woman with giant, bouncing, balloon-like breasts?

It should come as no surprise to you that that's Murrue Ramius. And expect a lot more bouncing to take place in the future. Personally I prefer Natarle, but to each his own.

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:56 pm 
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Lackey GM Pilot

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Dark Duel wrote:
- All residents of the PLANTs are Coordinators, period. All of them - not just the pilots, the civilians too.


Including Heliopolis? Because Kira's friends all seem to be Naturals. Or does Heliopolis' status as a neutral colony make it a special case, as having a mixed population of Naturals and Coordinators?

Dark Duel wrote:
- Up until this point, only Coordinators were able to pilot mobile suits and only they had them. A Natural-use MS control system will of course come into use later on, because obviously the Feddies get MS too.


That makes sense, and I'm liking this. I've always wondered how in previous Gundam shows, a pilot could simulate complex human body movement with just a couple of joysticks and foot pedals. Aside from G-Gundam's trace suit system, this is one area of Gundam technology that's always struck me as a bit unbelievable. But having humans with enhanced reflexes and mental calculation powers would make sense to me, as being truly capable of operating such complex machinery. Now, I'm curious to see how a Natural-use system will look... :D

Dark Duel wrote:
It should come as no surprise to you that that's Murrue Ramius. And expect a lot more bouncing to take place in the future. Personally I prefer Natarle, but to each his own.


*grins* :D

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COLONIES RISK GRAVITY LOSS DISASTER FROM LABOR STRIKE!
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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:03 pm 
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Burke Rukes wrote:
Dark Duel wrote:
- All residents of the PLANTs are Coordinators, period. All of them - not just the pilots, the civilians too.


Including Heliopolis? Because Kira's friends all seem to be Naturals. Or does Heliopolis' status as a neutral colony make it a special case, as having a mixed population of Naturals and Coordinators?


The PLANTs are the hourglass-shaped colonies under ZAFT, so that wouldn't include Heliopolis, which is O'Neill style and belongs to Orb.

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:13 pm 
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Chris wrote:

The PLANTs are the hourglass-shaped colonies under ZAFT, so that wouldn't include Heliopolis, which is O'Neill style and belongs to Orb.

And Orb is, as you wondered about Heliopolis, is a neutral government that will house either group of people.


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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:57 pm 
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If you want to check some more info about the Cosmic Era, you can check the Gundam Seed section of the Gundam Official site:

http://www.gundamofficial.com/worlds/ce/

According to it, PLANT stands for Productive Location Ally on Nexus Technology.

There's even a timeline of the events before the start of the series, though be warned that both the timeline and glossary contain spoilers. You might actually want to watch the the complete series first before checking that information.

As for APSV, all I could find is this site which says that it stands for Armour Piercing Super Velocity (maybe the complete designation for the ammo of Rau's CGUE would be something like "Enhanced Armour Piercing Super Velocity Rounds").


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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:04 pm 
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Burke Rukes wrote:
The only thing I ask anyone who replies in this thread is please don't spoil stuff for me. If there are any big surprises, I'd like to discover them myself. But opinions are certainly welcome!

"Our lips are sealed." :)

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I honestly don't like the modern style of character designs of most anime. There's just too much of the cartoony, big eyes/small mouth thing, with the funky sharp pointy noses, and the wild and unrealistic hairstyles that look more like bad sculptures rather than actual hair.

Think of it as having the character designs of the Sci-Fi Seventies anime getting updated, not the Eighties' anime with the mostly realistic proportions.

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That said, Gundam has a lot of this in its character designs. Like, all the ZAFT pilots so far in these first 5 episodes. With the exception of perhaps the dark-skinned Buster pilot (Dearka?), they're all effiminate pretty-boys with goofy hair. A serious, real robot/scifi mecha anime series with lots and lots of effiminate pretty-boys. I don't have anything against them per se, but I like realistic, normal looking people.

One of the things about gene-sculpting is that it will conform to the desires of the people who want it done. I suppose the trend was for "beautiful" rather than "statuesque" when Coordinator-making came about. In contemporary terms when the anime was out, the proclivity of bishonen and bishoho characters made for popularity. Newtype and Animage polls were full of them.

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Though Kira himself... seriously, he needs a haircut.

That is a valid criticism of just about every young mecha pilot, though! :lol: Sorry, but it seemed like you were searching for something negative to say about him.

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Mu La Flaga's Mobius Zero is really neat. I love the "balanced" (if that term makes any sense) space fighter style of it, and its 4 gunbarrel weapons are neat, even if they do seem to be very large, expendable funnel-type weapons.

Not really, they are cable-guided, like Zeong hands. The animation depicts the action rather well.

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Last, and certainly not least, is the Archangel. Ohhhhh I could gush all day about the Archangel! It's White Base... with STYLE! It's awesome, on so many levels.

Best Gundam hauler ever made, no contest! Properly equipped and crewed, it can hold an enemy squadron at bay by itself, as you will eventually see. It is more of a fast battleship than white Base or Argama, who were modestly armed and armored outside of their MS complement.

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The music is solid, dramatic and operatic. No particularly memorable pieces yet, though if it's anything like past Gundam series, some good ones will get stuck in my head. The animation is -very- sweet! For a television series, I thought Turn A looked good, but this looks fantastic. It's a little strange now, watching television series anime produced with modern digital tools for coloring, linework, etc. It's crisp and vibrant and looks good.

SEED is stuffed full of great songs and BGM. You will find yourself buying song collection CDs later on. SEED was the first Gundam anime to showcase the new animation production method. Nothing then has been quite the same.

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Story time! Diving right into it, the parallels between Seed and First Gundam are obvious and welcome, but just as interesting are the ways in which this series is different from First Gundam, as well....Good stuff, I don't mind familiar tropes being re-used, if they're re-used well, and so far, Seed seems to do it well.

Yeah, that's what a lot of early SEED is like, same feel, different story. Later on this series will establish its own identity and even spawn a few tropes of its own. But for now, everything old is new again.

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Kira Yamato seems like a nice kid. The fact that he seems to be a pretty normal kid with a normal life and normal friends is rather refreshing. Well, normal (no pun intended) for a Coordinator. The fact that his friends know he's a Coordinator, and accept him as he is, means he has a good taste in friends. Well, Sai's girlfriend, Flay Allster, though... she's trouble. I can tell. She'd be cute if she weren't so annoying and hysterical. And her reaction to hearing that Kira is a Coordinator... yeah. Trouble.

Kira is a nice guy, very appealing, the Japanese fans really took him to heart. Even the merican fans could tolerate him. :) He eventually became the third most popular Gundam male character, and even now is still appearing in the Newtype Top 10 male character rankings.

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But instead of Kira being a snarky, introverted boy who has some serious father issues, he has to face his long-lost best friend, who's now an enemy MS pilot. I love that we have this instead of whiny Amuro crying and complaining about his jerk of a dad, but the Kira/Athrun dynamic... not sure I actually "feel" it yet on Kira's part.

There's nothing to make Kira match Athrun's level of intensity yet. Kira iat this point is still a little naive about his new position as the Strike pilot. Don't worry about it changing, this is a Gundam series after all. :twisted:

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And speaking of Kira and Athrun's friendship... were the silly cherry blossoms and soft pastel lighting necessary in a yaoi-implied flashback to them parting ways? That scene would have felt more real if it had focused on the two and their words and feelings, rather than distracting us with the fake, unbelievable "romantic setting."

Oh, this is only the beginning of the fangirl service. If you ever come across a doujinshi with these two guys on the cover together, do not pick it up, do not look inside, just leave it alone. Trust me....

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That brings me to Athrun. He seems like a good kid making bad decisions.

Best short summary of Athrun to date! :D

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Murrue Ramius... ahhh, be still, my heart!

Ah, so she is a favorite of yours now? ;)

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Naturals vs. Controllers. Are all ZAFT MS pilots Controllers? Or all member of ZAFT, period?

Yes, by default of all citizens of PLANTS being Coordinators.

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Does this mean that only Controllers, with their genetically engineered mental calculation powers, reflexes, or whatever, have the mental and reflexive capability to control something as complex as a machine designed to mimic the complex movements and motions of a human body? It makes sense to me, and if it's true (for this Gundam universe, at least) it's good to see this requirement for MS piloting skill put into play.

ZAFT had designed their MS to work at Coordinator levels, which the Naturals of the earth Alliance were of course having a difficult time trying to equal. Kira gave Strike his own version of the full Coordinator-capable OS, so it worked for him. Thanks to his work,OMNI will later be able to deploy its own MS with simplified versions of Kira's OS.

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:22 pm 
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Ah, a first-timer watching SEED. It's actually kind of refreshing in a way.

Re: character designs...yeah, that's Hisashi Hirai for you. He's one of those artists who started off awesome (the man did character designs for Dancougar), but kind of decayed into the same-old-same-old, to the point where you can tell his shows instantly just by looking at them. SEED, Infinite Ryvius, Fafner, Linebarrel, etc etc. The common meme is that he only has six basic faces and swaps around hairstyles in order to make different characters. And sometimes not even then: Fafner's hero Kazuki looks identical to SEED Destiny's Shinn Asuka, the only difference being their eye colors.

Re: mecha designs...yeah, I love Okawara and respect him as an elder statesman, but really, I'm getting tired of his blocky chicken-legged designs too. That's actually one of the reasons I prefer Katoki's versions of the Wing Gundam Team, as silly as they get at times. But of course, BEE-CRAFT is always awesome. I'm also quite amused by the early concept lineart that's been floating around the net for ages and shows things like Launcher Strike's Agni cannon being twice as large and Blitz being equipped with funky-looking beam tonfa.

Also, while the swappable backpacks concept of the Strike was kinda cool at first, the Cosmic Era timeline milks it a little too much. I know that logically it's a sound idea, but it still feels overused, especially when most sets of packs can be broken down into "Aile Clone, Sword Clone, Launcher Clone".

The animation quality is pretty nice, but later on they start taking some rather frustrating shortcuts (LOTS of stock footage in battles). There's been talk of a hi-def remaster coming out soon, and personally I'm just wondering if it'll be anything more than making things a little sharper.

Yeah, Kira and Athrun's so-totally-not-gay past is pretty ludicrous. To their credit, the staff themselves recognized this and made fun of it themselves in the super-deformed SEED Character Theater shorts. (Which are awesome and you should totally check out after Destiny.)

And no, Rau doesn't have his own custom color scheme; it seems that white is the standard commander color for all ZAFT mobile suits regardless of who pilots them. However, since IIRC we never see anyone BUT Rau using them, for all intents and purposes they might as well be his personal colors.

About Strike's cockpit, it's not quite the same but the Wing Gundams have spherical cockpit pods whose movement is slaved to the head; look left, and your cockpit rotates left to simulate that its vision is your vision.

The setting does kind of lean on Coordinators a little heavily, I find. In First Gundam, the Earth Forces were slow to adopt MS because they didn't really get proven until the One Week War. In SEED, it's because MS are so complex that only a Coordinator's advanced brain can multitask well enough to maintain all the necessary functions. ...Which is kind of silly, as not every Coordinator has a super-advanced brain. Simply put, anyone who has had ANY kind of genetic modification is a Coordinator, even if it's merely cosmetic. Unfortunately, in many ways the show does treat Coordinators as if they're universally better than natural-born humans; I think the only one we ever see who isn't super-fantastic is Elijah Kiel from the side manga Gundam SEED Astray.

Anyhow, that's my two cents for now. I hope to hear more of your thoughts - this is all really fascinating stuff!

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:23 pm 
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does a Gundam series really need a naked woman with giant, bouncing, balloon-like breasts?

It should come as no surprise to you that that's Murrue Ramius. And expect a lot more bouncing to take place in the future. Personally I prefer Natarle, but to each his own.


Are you sure about that? I always thought it was Flay Allster in silhouette? In any case, this is why I call Fukuda the Michael Bay of Gundam. :)

Speaking of Ramius (and I agree with you, one of the most beautiful women in Gundam), by episode five of SEED had they started doing the you-know-what with her when enemies would fire on the Archangel?

EDIT: Just went back and watched the intro. Kira's face is also in silhouette in that scene so I think it may be Flay, but it also could quite possibly be Murrue. If so that kinda begs the question why the naked ghost of Murrue is floating next to a silhouette of Kira? :?

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:27 pm 
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Re: Strike running out of power in ep.5 when the other are still going: I think that had to do with Kira spamming his beam rifle a bit too much and not really being able to hit much of anything with it. Thus, his battery drained a lot quicker then Athrun's team who know what they're doing in a mobile suit and don't just fire their weapons all over in a vain attempt to hit the enemy.

I think Yzak even makes mention of this that the Strike shouldn't just sit back and keep shooting at them or something to that effect.

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:19 pm 
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Re: 'goofy hair,' this is something that's hardly unique to SEED; go back to Zeta and line up Paptimus Scirocco, Yazan Gable, Rosamia Badam, and Gates Capa next to Yzak, Dearka, Athrun, and Nicol here. I'll agree that the faces of a lot of SEED's characters are depressingly interchangeable.

I think 'nice kid' sums up Kira well, and his first character arc, starting in the five episodes you've seen and continuing over the next several, does a lot to highlight just how poorly equipped a 'nice kid' is to handle being thrust into the kill-or-be-killed environment of a battlefield. He's sweet, well-meaning, and utterly lacking in the kind of emotional maturity that being a mobile suit pilot demands, as episode 3 aptly demonstrates.

Athrun... hasn't really had as much to his character arc yet, but Yzak, Dearka, and Nicol exist primarily for Athrun to bounce off, and in particular I tend to see Nicol and Yzak as reflecting the extremes on the spectrum of Athrun's personality. How he interacts with the three of them and which he gravitates toward in any given situation are worth keeping in mind as the series progresses.

Re: the MS, I share your fondness for Strike and Duel, but I'm not all that crazy about Buster, albeit for different reasons; I don't mind the colour scheme at all, but its style of heavy weapons fire support doesn't seem to benefit at all from the mobile suit concept, I keep asking myself "What sense does it make to design a mobile suit to fill this role?" Aegis likewise never really grows on me; it and Blitz haven't really had opportunities to perform to their full potential in the episodes you've seen, however. And I'm actually quite fond of the GINN design, with its big booster binders/wings, but I'll agree that the CGUE is underwhelming, and on both MS the oversized head fins just look absurd.

Rau... yes, is a Char wannabe, but while he may be a confirmed ace pilot, he doesn't share Char's role of playing rival to the protagonist (that's more Athrun's role) nor even, for most of the series, to Mu; Rau simply doesn't sortie often, so think of him in terms of what Char is other than a rival pilot and an excuse to crank out recolour kits of every mobile suit under the sun.


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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:19 pm 
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Im surprised there would be hate on the Blitz. Its design actually makes a whole lot more sense then the duel, aegis or buster. Its supposed to be a expensive specialty ms. Its design would allow for it to sneak up on enemies and melee them. In addition to this it has range weapons and missiles. Even if a ms saw it creeping, they would not know it had a hidden beam saber. Honestly the bandai team could have done a whole lot more with this unit. It should have received some stargazer action. The colors however could have been better. They should have made it all black and gray. Maybe still red for eyes and faceplate.

I have been experimenting with the design for my ms battle simulator game ive been working on (on the low) and It's weapons layout kicks so much ass.

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:25 pm 
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While the whole "10+ Gundams per series" in the AU's can be a bit tedious, that first batch of Gundam's in seed were all pretty cool, a few operations that the Blitz took part in made me really like it's weapons layout, the stealth thing was really cool.

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:44 pm 
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Thanks for the comments and corrections and information, everyone! It's giving me a lot to think about and keep an eye out for. I watched episodes 6 through 10 earlier today, and I'm still impressed and enjoying this series quite a bit.

Kira's arc is certainly progressing, particularly after the Archangel rescues Lacus Clyne, and he's again trapped in others' conflicts due to his status as a Coordinator and the Strike's pilot. I see the same youthful idealism we saw in Amuro, Kamille, Shiro, Loran, etc.... and leading to the same emotional turmoil and personal tragedies. Well, no -big- tragedy for Kira -yet- (aside from being so distraught that he killed 2 pilots in that recon GINN.... and then realized they were simply out looking to rescue Lacus). But I can see big tragedy for Kira coming. His actions still speak his heart, at least in how he treats Lacus and helps her get back to the ZAFT forces and Athrun. And now that the cat's out of the bag on his relationship to the Aegis Gundam pilot, and that he and Athrun have said the next time they meet, it will be as enemies... ah, the tragedy of the foolish, fatal folly of war. I feel sorry for those two and the turmoil they're about to go through.

And the sad part is... they don't have to. So often, people in bad situations are victims of their own choices. More so for Athrun than Kira at this point, I'd say. Kira simply wants to protect his friends, but it's cost him another friend. Athrun wants revenge for his mother's death (I assume that the grave of Lenore Zala is his mom?), and is probably being pressured by his military minister father (who isn't hesitating to keep beating the war drums within the rest of the PLANT council). He -could- say no and walk away from all of that. But I haven't a feeling he won't. (At least, not now - that could change in the future.)

And as Gundam often does so well, we see the "war is hell" idea from both sides of the conflict, which have good and bad people., such as...

The general/admiral/whatever at Artemis is a flat-out jerk, not above threatening and rough-housing teenaged girls just to get some information about the Strike and its pilot.

Minister Zala doctoring the report on Rau's forces' activities regarding the raid on Heliopolis, ratcheting up the threat of the Earth Forces' Normals and their military capabilities - even though the "dangerous" Gundams the Alliance has developed are barely effective out of the factory, and it's only because Coordinators got their hands on them and reprogrammed them that they're now a serious threat. The question is, is he seriously concerned and believes ratcheting up their war effort against the Alliance to beat them swiftly is best to protect his citizens... or does he have other ulterior motives, wanting to be the political war hero in some grab for power?

Flay Allster. She's a bigot and a racist (or whatever "-ist" would be appropriate in a "Coordinators are bad!" worldview). I'm curious about what this "Blue Cosmos" might be, some sort of anti-Coordinator hate group? The fact that she's a daughter of an Alliance vice minister isn't too surprising, giving her the sociopathic attitude she exhibits, and threatening to kill Lacus, and going ape-feces when her father's ship is destroyed just sends her over the edge. I had her pegged as trouble early on, and it's coming painfully true. Considering her actions in these episodes... I could see her becoming a pure, hate-filled, raving psychopath and a very deadly enemy. Katejina Loos Mark-II?

Natarle Badgiruel... the more I see of her, the less I like her, as well. Taking Flay's cue and using Lacus as a hostage... just downright dirty. To me, that makes her a monster, but it's no excuse for desperation. And yet.... Ramius let it go. Even Mu La Flaga stood up for it, when Kira questioned the morality of using Lacus like that. But seriously... I've been happy that Ramius keeps a level head and doesn't resort to Brightslapping her crew, but if anyone deserved a Brightslapping from her, it was Natarle right there on the bridge for what she pulled.

The big new thing from episodes 6 thru 10 - the introduction of Lacus Clyne, daughter of PLANT leader Siegel Clyne... and pop idol. I gotta be honest, I never got the whole Japanese idol thing. It's just weird and creepy and coated with far too much saccharine for my taste. But the Japanese are into that sort of thing. While I could certainly handle Lynn Minmay from Macross/Robotech, which was fairly tame... I just don't get the appeal. I guess it was inevitable that such a thing would turn up in Gundam, though.

Lacus is ditzy and weird, and far too nice in that innocent and unassuming way. And her fixation with Haros (and the breed of Haros in this series are much more annoying and pointless than in previous incarnations)... it's rather disturbing. Her singing is nice, I suppose, if you're into cute Japanese slow pop, but the song she sang over and over bored me. Not my cuppa tea. I want to hate her, because she's too cute and sweet and feels so very artificially nice. And yet... and yet... she surprised me completely at the end of Episode 10, after Kira handed her over to Athrun, Rau flew out to start some trouble... and she suddenly spoke with The Voice, that voice of authority and seriousness, ordering Rau to stand down and not cause trouble. I blinked. Where the heck did THAT come from? So as much as I want to hate Lacus... it looks like this girl may be full of interesting surprises. And I can't help but wonder how much her father and the PLANT government use her for propaganda purposes (and whether she's aware of it or not). Is the cutesy airhead thing all just an act? Either way, I could still do without the Haros.

Okay, that covers the more in-depth stuff, now for the shotgun of the little things.

Blitz Gundam's Mirage Colloid system, finally seen in action and what the purpose of this model MS is. A true stealth Gundam. My likeability for this model just went up a notch, though I'm still not crazy about the looks.

Kira a "traitor" to Coordinators and ZAFT/PLANT? Could he -really- be a "traitor," if indeed he went to a military prep school with Athrun, being groomed for military service for "his people"? Is Kira keeping secrets from his Normal friends, aside from being best buds with the enemy Aegis pilot?

Athrun's engagement to Lacus Clyne. It seems like he truly cares about her. I hope it's truly a consentual thing between them, and not just some political arrangement on the part of their parents. And why is Athrun so hesitant to go rescue her, when he and Rau are ordered to do so by his dad?

Junius 7 debris zone. I got the impression that it's VERY close to Earth, since they mentioned needing to pass it to try to get to the Earth Alliance's HQ on the Moon. Their memorial of the site, releasing the origami flowers and such was rather touching. But I still want to learn more about this place and the Bloody Valentine incident - who did what, what led up to such a tragic massacre? But it's good to see that soldiers on both sides see the event and the place for the horror that it was and are willing to pay their respects to the victims.

Kira doesn't want to stay in the military, and yet he's burying himself in maintaining and upgrading the Strike, knowing he may very well no longer be the pilot soon. Just trying to keep his mind of his problems? Or his person away from Coordinator-hating Flay?

The Earth Alliance ship designs look pretty decent. I wanna see more of them in action.

Two quotes for LOLs:
Kira: "What's the matter with the lock on this room?"
Sai?: "Just wondered for a moment how she became pregnant." :P

Yay, our first unauthorized Gundam launch, when Kira takes the Strike out to help Lacus return to ZAFT. It wouldn't be a proper Gundam series without an unauthorized launch! :P

That's it for this round, Episodes 11 thru 15 coming up next!

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:02 pm 
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As a way of preemptively covering up for myself, I will say I'm working from the memory of a show I have not seen in well over a year. That said...

Yes, Lenore Zala is Athrun's slain mother.

The pop idol archetype is not at all far removed from our celebrity fixation here in the West. How tired of you to hear about the latest Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton or Britney Spears debacle? Why are Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber such cult figures? How much media coverage do we really need devoted to the passing of stars like Michael Jackson? It's the worship of celebrity, pure and simple. We Westerners just have a tendency to think we're so above it because we don't refer to the subjects of our obsessions as "idols."

I believe Kira and Athrun were just regular schoolmates. One of the major reasons Athrun had to go away, I believe, was to start his life as a burgeoning soldier as Earth-PLANT relations broke down while Kira remained in the civilian sector. The point of contention that he is a "traitor" stems mostly from the fact that the world of the Cosmic Era is rigidly, genetically divided in almost every corner of the Earth Sphere. In past shows, the war has been between those on Earth and those in space. In this show, where you live is a distant second to the genes you possess. It's not an Earth-Space war. It's an all-out race war.

Athrun and Lacus's engagement is political.

Blue Cosmos, Lacus, Junius 7 and a great many other things will be elaborated upon as the series progresses. I'll not spoil it here.

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:52 pm 
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One thing to keep in mind with this "race war" however is that essentially every Coordinator we see is the child or grandchild of naturals. Coordinators haven't been around long enough to hit a fourth generation yet, they're barely into the third. This is a point the staff conspicuously ignore.


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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:58 pm 
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Black Knight wrote:
One thing to keep in mind with this "race war" however is that essentially every Coordinator we see is the child or grandchild of naturals. Coordinators haven't been around long enough to hit a fourth generation yet, they're barely into the third. This is a point the staff conspicuously ignore.


True

On another board, I remember someone making the claim that Patrick Zala was a first-generation Coordinator, which had some interesting implications for his unseen parents. Had they passed away? Did he have a falling out with them? Or was he so fanatical as to throw even his parents under the proverbial bus?

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 11:01 pm 
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Imperial wrote:
On another board, I remember someone making the claim that Patrick Zala was a first-generation Coordinator, which had some interesting implications for his unseen parents. Had they passed away? Did he have a falling out with them? Or was he so fanatical as to throw even his parents under the proverbial bus?

Zala is born CE 23, only 8 years after Coordinators are made public, so it's practically impossible for him to have anything but Naturals for parents.


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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 11:57 pm 
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Burke Rukes wrote:
Thanks for the comments and corrections and information, everyone! It's giving me a lot to think about and keep an eye out for. I watched episodes 6 through 10 earlier today, and I'm still impressed and enjoying this series quite a bit.

Good! Although the series is just hitting its stride, here. The next segment will really take off and draw you into it!

Quote:
Kira's arc is certainly progressing, particularly after the Archangel rescues Lacus Clyne, and he's again trapped in others' conflicts due to his status as a Coordinator and the Strike's pilot. I see the same youthful idealism we saw in Amuro, Kamille, Shiro, Loran, etc.... and leading to the same emotional turmoil and personal tragedies.

Kira gets off a little luckier than most of the heroes you have cited, for various reasons. He gets some lucky breaks, and manages to find the back door out of some others. He can still play Big Damn Hero when he needs to, though.

Quote:
The general/admiral/whatever at Artemis is a flat-out jerk, not above threatening and rough-housing teenaged girls just to get some information about the Strike and its pilot.

The Eurasians get to play the heavies the most on the EAF side. That being said, he is a jerk, and does not sell the EAF cause very well to Kira and friends.

Quote:
The question is, is he seriously concerned and believes ratcheting up their war effort against the Alliance to beat them swiftly is best to protect his citizens... or does he have other ulterior motives, wanting to be the political war hero in some grab for power?

Minister Zala really does think he is doing the right thing to protect ZAFT by escalating the war. The whole matter of the Bloody Valentine really drives him on, with some big consequences later on. His position on the war, compared to President Clyne will become apparent before too long.

Quote:
Flay Allster. She's a bigot and a racist (or whatever "-ist" would be appropriate in a "Coordinators are bad!" worldview). I'm curious about what this "Blue Cosmos" might be, some sort of anti-Coordinator hate group? The fact that she's a daughter of an Alliance vice minister isn't too surprising, giving her the sociopathic attitude she exhibits, and threatening to kill Lacus, and going ape-feces when her father's ship is destroyed just sends her over the edge. I had her pegged as trouble early on, and it's coming painfully true.

Flay is not a bad person at her center, but she has been well-taught to hate the different people. Blue Cosmos doesn't really have an ideology, other than lethal amounts of envy and contempt for Coordinators. "Kill them, they're different!" Flay's outbursts serve warning that the war is the creation of people with extreme viewpoints, willing to go to extreme measures to justify them. As for Flay herself...keep watching.

Quote:
Considering her actions in these episodes... I could see her becoming a pure, hate-filled, raving psychopath and a very deadly enemy. Katejina Loos Mark-II?

Quick someone, post the picture of the original Strike Rouge pilot, to mess with his mind something fierce! :lol:

Quote:
Natarle Badgiruel... the more I see of her, the less I like her, as well. Taking Flay's cue and using Lacus as a hostage... just downright dirty. To me, that makes her a monster, but it's no excuse for desperation. And yet.... Ramius let it go.

It was not an honorable ruse de guerre, but in military terms it was a good gambit. Archangel was able to escape combat at a disadvantage, so that's why Mirrue and Mu did not stop her. And it set up Kira to play White Knight later...

Quote:
Lacus is ditzy and weird, and far too nice in that innocent and unassuming way. And her fixation with Haros (and the breed of Haros in this series are much more annoying and pointless than in previous incarnations)... it's rather disturbing. Her singing is nice, I suppose, if you're into cute Japanese slow pop, but the song she sang over and over bored me. Not my cuppa tea. I want to hate her, because she's too cute and sweet and feels so very artificially nice. And yet... and yet...

Ah, now you have met the other most popular character of SEED! Nearly as popular as Kira, probably the most popular female character ever in Gundam, the idol of idols, and pretty in pink. Speaking of pink, don't let the kawai idol act throw you, though. Lacus is a Coordinator, and every bit as formidable as the Gundam Boys, even if she's not a MS pilot. She has some definite views on the war herself, and her meeting with Kira has given her food for thought.

Quote:
Kira a "traitor" to Coordinators and ZAFT/PLANT? Could he -really- be a "traitor," if indeed he went to a military prep school with Athrun, being groomed for military service for "his people"? Is Kira keeping secrets from his Normal friends, aside from being best buds with the enemy Aegis pilot?

Oh yes, Kira gets to be labelled such by both sides, just for having the nerve to be other than expected.

Quote:
Kira doesn't want to stay in the military, and yet he's burying himself in maintaining and upgrading the Strike, knowing he may very well no longer be the pilot soon.

Denial, it's not just a river in Egypt.

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 Post Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:09 am 
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Burke Rukes wrote:
Junius 7 debris zone. I got the impression that it's VERY close to Earth, since they mentioned needing to pass it to try to get to the Earth Alliance's HQ on the Moon. Their memorial of the site, releasing the origami flowers and such was rather touching. But I still want to learn more about this place and the Bloody Valentine incident - who did what, what led up to such a tragic massacre? But it's good to see that soldiers on both sides see the event and the place for the horror that it was and are willing to pay their respects to the victims.

It's never really said in-series, but IIRC apparently a nuke got mixed in with a batch of regular long range missiles and hit Junius 7 or something like that.
As for where the belt is, these maps will help you.

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