“Anyone who’s ever cried because they felt weak and powerless has thought, ‘if only I had the power’. But the moment you acquire the power you dreamt of having, you become the one who causes others to cry. Try not to forget that.” –Athrun Zala
Two years after the Battle of Jachin Due, the PLANTs and Earth Alliance have reached a truce. Cagalli visits the new chairman, Gilbert Durandal to express her concerns about ZAFT’s latest weapons programme, but during their meeting, a group called Phantom Pain commandeers three units. In the chaos, ZAFT pilots Shinn Asuka, Lunamaria Hawke and Rey Za Burrel manages to intervene, but Phantom Pain manages to escape. ZAFT’s latest battleship, the Minerva, is deployed to pursue the Phantom Pain pilots, but upon encountering the Girty Lue, Phantom Pain’s vessel, the battle turns. It is only with Athrun’s help that the Minerva manages to escape. While the Girty Lue has the initiative, an unexpected change in Junius Seven’s trajectory forces the Minerva to intervene, and although they are successful in breaking up the abandoned colony, the remnants impact the Earth’s surface and causes widespread damage, giving the Blue Cosmos justification in pushing the Earth Alliance to declare war against the PLANTs. While the Earth Alliance immediately uses nuclear weapons, ZAFT deploys a new weapon to neutralise the weapons. Meanwhile, the Minerva arrives in Orb Union, and Cagalli struggles to convince the other leaders that they shouldn’t be hasty in joining the Earth Alliance. Athrun briefly meets with Kira before taking off: almost immediately after the Minerva leaves Orb’s waters, they come under attack from the Earth Alliance forces. Shinn manages to fend off the fleet, and Athrun rejoins ZAFT, being assigned to the FAITH Special Forces unit after speaking with Durandal about his wishes to prevent a conflict of the sort Patrick Zala desired. While Kira extracts Cagalli from Orb after an attack on Lacus’ life forces the Archangel to reactivate, the Minerva undergoes repairs at Carpentaria and receives a request to destroy an Earth Alliance positron cannon keeping the area locked down. Despite his reluctance, Shinn accepts Athrun’s mission plan and succeeds in the operation. In the aftermath, FAITH member Heine Westenfluß is assigned to look after Athrun and the others, and Durandal invites Shinn, Athrun, Lunamaria and Rey to dinner, revealing that ZAFT is investigating Blue Cosmos and their manipulation of the Earth Alliance; it is suspected that Blue Cosmos, under the organisation LOGOS, is creating war to drive profits. Since Shinn and the others have some downtime, he heads off to the coast and saves a mysterious girl, Stella Loussier, from drowning. Shortly after, the Minerva is attacked by the joint Earth Alliance and Orb fleets before Kira intervenes in the Freedom. Cagalli attempts to get the Orb forces to stand down, but are unsuccessful, forcing Kira to engage both the Earth Alliance and ZAFT forces. Kira’s actions frustrate both sides and ends with Heine’s death. While Athrun heads off to speak to Kira about his actions, the Minerva make a disturbing discovery; the Earth Alliance has a secret facility where they produce the Extended, enhanced humans made purely for combat. This is about the gist of things at Gundam SEED Destiny‘s halfway point, the sequel to Gundam SEED that continues with the Cosmic Era from a more ZAFT-focused perspective.
At the heart of Gundam SEED Destiny‘s first half is the idea the world’s events are likely to be manipulated and influenced from the shadows. Blue Cosmos and Patrick Zala’s supporters had manipulated their respective sides into open warfare, and here in Gundam SEED Destiny, things are no different: this time around, the enigmatic Lord Djibril and LOGOs is the main foe, allowing extremists clinging to the Zala ideology to drop a colony on Earth for the sake of renewing a new war with the PLANTs and continuing on with Blue Cosmos’ stated goal of destroying the Coordinators. On the other side of the equation is PLANTs’ Gilbert Durandal, who on first glance, appears to have no appetite for war, and even after the Earth Alliance uses nuclear weapons against the PLANTs, attempts to negotiate; he reluctantly agree to defensive operations only once all other options are exhausted. With such a leader at the helms for the PLANTs, it does appear that the Earth Alliance, and their secretive benefactors are indeed the root cause of this latest conflict to strike the Cosmic Era. While Durandal reassures the PLANTs and orders his soldiers to be cautious, the Earth Alliance has no qualms about committing genocide or employing excessive force on suspected PLANT synthesisers. However, even this early on, it is clear that Durandal is not being entirely transparent. He may have a reassuring way with words, so that even Athrun is swayed into returning to ZAFT, but the appearance of a second Lacus (Meer Campbell) and Durandal’s explanation of the necessity of such an image stikes doubt into his objectives. In the case of Durandal, the mystery is what Durandal’s true intentions are. Gundam SEED Destiny suggests that despite the outward differences in appearance, ZAFT and the Earth Alliance are no better than one another once the chips are down and warfare begins. The clear delineation of sides in Gundam SEED Destiny is, in a way, strikingly similar to the geopolitical issues of the real world at the time of writing, and while the different sides may purport themselves to be economically, culturally and morally superior to their adversary, the reality is that both sides remain more alike than unlike, conflict will benefit neither party, and moreover, the sort of political posturing seen in reality now could prove disastrous, allowing even the smallest misunderstanding to ignite into open conflict.
Of note is Durandal’s mention of a Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) during a dinner with Athrun and the others. A MIC arises when a nation’s economy and public policy is tightly coupled to the military and defense industry. Gundam SEED Destiny‘s explanation of an MIC is admittedly an abstraction of the concept: Durandal notes that during wartime, industries involved with arms and equipment production see a boom in business. Weapons are fired, ammunition expended, parts wear out and machines need to be replaced, providing a vast stream of revenue for these companies. By comparison, during peacetime, weapons, ammunition, gear and vehicles sit in their hangars and silos. There is no question as to which of these two are better for business, but the tradeoff is that, in order to drive the most revenue, such companies would necessarily require there to be warfare. Durandal postulates that some individuals might even be willing to start a war to turn a profit. In reality, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against how the United States was headed down such a path and that a nation where the military was too tightly coupled with the economy would endanger liberty and democracy itself. While Eisenhower suggested that diplomacy and other peaceful methods were necessary to ensure American prosperity with the rest of the world, his warnings would go unheeded. The problems with this relationship began to materialise during the Vietnam War; historian George F. Kennan suggested that, if the Soviet Union were to collapse, America would need a new adversary in order to maintain their economy. Today, the MIC is a concept that has fallen out of favour, but one that remains relevant in works like Gundam SEED Destiny; Durandal’s theory behind why some wars never seem to end certainly does have a rational basis, and where money is involved, there are those who would gladly discard any principals and cast aside morality to assure themselves of a future even if it comes at someone else’s expense. This unusual symbiosis is one that benefits both LOGOS and Lord Djibril – Djibril leverages LOGOS in order to fuel his war of genocide, and by helping Djibril, LOGOS gains a tidy profit. The extent of these excesses are most apparent in the Extended facility that the Minerva’s crew finds, and any sympathy viewers might’ve had for the Earth Alliance will have evaporated by this point in time, leaving viewers to wonder how many more atrocities will unfold so long as Djibril lives.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Gundam SEED had been a solid experience, but I never expected that I’d be watching Gundam SEED Destiny, as well – the sequel is one of the most reviled works on this side of the planet, and per discussions with a friend, the series’ inconsistency was a result of troubles during production. However, said friend also remarked that with the Gundam SEED movie upcoming, it would be prudent to catch up with the series, especially now that the means were available to do so.
- I therefore began watching Gundam SEED Destiny back in August, but ended up getting sidelined while trying to keep up with other things, and ended up delaying my journey until now. Gundam SEED Destiny begins similarly to SEED in that it starts with a special forces team taking possession of ZAFT’s Second Stage mobile suits on the same day Cagalli arrives to discuss disarmament with the PLANT’s leader, Gilbert Durandal. Inevitably, she and Athrun are caught up in things and end up boarding the Minerva in pursuit of the stolen mobile suits.
- While ZAFT felt more to be the antagonists in SEED, SEED Destiny‘s foes are the Blue Cosmos and LOGOS – their portrayal as a shadowy organisation is both figurative and literal, as their discussions are often held in dimly-lit rooms. It turns out that Blue Cosmos and LOGOS acquiesces to Lord Djibril’s conflict of interest; he leads Blue Cosmos in place of Maruta and simultaneously runs LOGOS, keeping both the Blue Cosmos members happy by promising them a war, and then promising the stakeholders at LOGOS a tidy profit by fuelling said war. However, Djibril is also uncommonly arrogant and prideful, reacting childishly whenever his plans fail.
- Early in Gundam SEED Destiny, Djibril watches the chaos unfold around the world from the safety of his base: to him, the deaths in the world are of little consequence because they occur behind his monitors. This is reminiscent of how people nowadays act wherever politics are concerned, and by dehumanising one’s opponents, arguments quickly become polarised. One could say that Gundam SEED Destiny, more so than its predecessor, represents what happens when short-sighted extremists are allowed to take charge – tragedy and chaos follows.
- The Second Stage mobile suits are upgrades over the original G Project suits: while lacking the nuclear reactors seen on the Freedom, Justice and Providence, the Second Stage suits utilise a wireless energy transfer system for extended combat, and Variable Phase Shift Armour replaces the original Phase Shift Armour, allowing a mobile suit to dynamically adjust its defenses as required. Here, the Chaos and Abyss can be seen evading a shot from a ZAFT mobile suit: Chaos is intended for high-speed combat and possesses wire-guided weapons, while Abyss is an amphibious suit. All of the Second Stage units are able to transform into MA mode to enhance their mobility.
- Besides the Gundams, ZAFT also fields the ZAKU (all-caps, to differentiate it from the Universal Century Zakus) – Gundam SEED Destiny‘s ZAKUs are an all-new mobile suit whose base performance exceeds those of the G Project suits, and unlike Universal Century Zakus, have an inner frame around which the armour is placed, rather than a heavily armoured outer shell. The average ZAKU thus has impressive performance all around and can be equipped with a wide range of weapons, making them formidable machines all around.
- Here, Shinn’s Impulse and another ZAFT suit attempt to load a drill onto Junius Seven after it is found that the colony remains have unexpectedly accelerated towards Earth. The perpetrators are Patrick Zala loyalists, and their presence shakes the otherwise calm Athrun: Athrun’s greatest concern is that he will eventually follow the wrong path and bring others to ruin as his father did, as well as the fact that there are those who still believe extremism is the only way to correct past wrongs. In the end, while the Minerva is able to break up Junius Seven, the pieces still deal massive damage around the world.
- The Vatican, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Monument National Park among the locations devastated: the entire scene is set to Rie Tanaka’s Fields of Hope, Lacus’ inset song for Gundam SEED Destiny. I’ve long been fond of Tanaka’s performances: Token of Water is the song that opened me to vocal music in general, and Fields of Hope is a similarly melancholy and wistful sounding song. I ended up using footage from Junius Seven’s earthfall and other parts of Gundam SEED Destiny as a part of an English project back in secondary school: because it’s been over a decade, I can’t remember what sort of project it was for, but I do remember that I excelled in English that year, enough to win the English award and surprise the folks who always figured the humanities wasn’t my jam.
- The reality is that being effective in the humanities depends a similar skill-set one requires to succeed in the sciences: an analytical but open mind, logical thinking and a willingness to be wrong. However, I’ve found that a lot of people do not see things this way; these individuals believe that humanities require an appeal to emotion. This is the main reason why the thinking behind contemporary trends like activism and cancel culture is flawed: it is dependent on accepting a logical fallacy as a valid argument. Here, Talia and Murrue meet for the first time: Talia is unaware that Murrue is the Archangel’s former captain, creating a bit of dramatic irony.
- The fact that the Earth Alliance strikes first, and with nuclear weapons, during their retaliatory strike on the PLANTs is actually not so unbelievable: in contemporary politics, I do not doubt that there are nations who have at least considered first-use in their efforts to get the upper hand over competition. In reality, there is no Neutron Stampeder to prematurely set off incoming nuclear weapons; ZAFT utilises such a device to render ineffectual the Earth Alliance strike, and this serious attempt at what amounts to genocide riles the PLANTs, enough for them to wish for a retaliatory strike.
- Durandal, however, plays his new trump card to placate the citizens: he has his own Lacus Clyne double, Meer Campbell, and through her as a mouthpiece, Drandal defuses the situation enough to indicate that he is raising ZAFT’s alert level and preparing for defensive measures, but otherwise, will not authorise offensive operations. At this point in time, Athrun has also confided in Durandal and ultimately decides to accept Durandal’s offer of returning to ZAFT as a pilot, as well as becoming a member of FAITH, a special forces group with license to operate independently. Athrun believes that becoming the Saviour’s pilot will allow him to shape the course of events and stave off open warfare.
- The phony Lacus, Meer, has fully embraced her duties as an idol and symbol of hope for the PLANTs. However, whereas the real Lacus was introspective and thoughtful, Meer is excitable and bubbly: she sings more energetic versions of Lacus’ iconic songs and wears more revealling outfits. Athrun is somewhat embarrassed by her manner: Meer tends to cling to Athrun, both because the original Lacus had been engaged to him before Patrick Zala called things off, and because Athrun himself exudes a very calm and composed demeanour.
- Upon returning to the Orb Union, Cagalli has her hands full in trying to convince the cabinet of declining the Earth Alliance’s demands to join them. Since the events of Gundam SEED, Cagalli remains an idealist and is committed to the belief that Orb’s survival is contingent on being resolute in neutrality. However, the other members in the government feel that it is a necessary evil to join with and fight alongside the Earth Alliance owing to the fact that their nation technically owes no favours to the Coordinators. Cagalli’s wishes are ultimately brushed aside, and she’s forced to wed Yuna Roma Seiran.
- While contemplating his next move, Athrun runs into two old colleagues, Dearka and Yzak. According to the materials, Dearka is reinstated into ZAFT, while Yzak now leads his own vessel and acts as a mentor for inexperienced pilots. While still somewhat impulsive, Yzak has matured. The group head out to visit Nicol’s grave: Nicol’s death had hit particularly hard, and Gundam SEED had done a fantastic job of showing how people on both sides of the conflict were human. This is something that I found to be absent in Gundam 00, where Celestial Being squared off mostly against nameless soldiers in the first season, and an openly evil organisation in the second.
- After Coordinator special forces infiltrate the castle the Archangel’s crew are staying at, Kira sorties in the Freedom to take them out, stating that while he would prefer not to employ physical force where possible, there are things that must be defended through force. The Kira of Gundam SEED Destiny is more mature and resolute than the Kira of Gundam SEED, but for the first half of Gundam SEED Destiny, Kira’s role is minimal as the story focuses primarily on Athrun and who he’s become after the events at Jachin Due. The Freedom’s return, then, signifies how Kira is returning to play a larger role in the unfolding conflict.
- The biggest action the reactivated Archangel crew take is kidnapping Cagalli from her wedding ceremony: while it saves Cagalli from an uncertain fate with the manipulative and controlling Yuna, Cagalli herself is unsure if this action would’ve been beneficial. One thing that is notable is how the Orb armed forces are actually reluctant to follow Yuna’s orders to recaptuire Cagalli, and several of the captains even salute the Freedom, placing their faith in Kira to do the right thing. This indicates that outside of Cagalli, Orb’s leadership has also grown corrupt and decadent, preferring band-aid solutions to options that would be more beneficial in the long term.
- With Athrun’s decision to rejoin ZAFT, Durandal assigns him to the Minerva, which has already made a bit of a name for itself after eluding the Girty Lue and participating in breaking up Junius Seven. Here, Athrun makes to familiarise himself with the Saviour’s controls and finds himself face-to-face with a curious Lunamaria. She quickly became my favourite character of Gundam SEED Destiny: friendly, respectful, competent but also prone to jealousy, having her as a part of Minerva’s crew means that there’s reason to support the Minerva and hope they get out of difficult situations alright.
- Whereas the old 4:3 aspect ratio of Gundam SEED Destiny meant there was a little screen space for things, 16:9 allows Lunamaria to put the ass back in the HD Remasster as she looks about the Saviour’s controls, giving me one more reason to be fond of her character. Compared to the Justice, the Saviour has superior technology, more efficient weapons and can hypothetically operate indefinitely so long as it was in range of a power transmitted, but lacks the Justice’s nuclear reactor, which enables the latter to definitively run on its own for extended periods of time. Overall, documentation suggests that the Second Stage Gundams surpass the Justice and Freedom in terms of pure combat capabilities and could theoretically overcome the older two suits if the circumstances are right.
- Gundam SEED had Rau Le Creuset, and Gundam SEED Destiny brings on Neo Roanoke, a mysterious masked man who commands Phantom Pain, a black ops unit answering directly to Blue Cosmos. While Neo has a preference for mobile armours, he also pilots a highly customised Windam. The Windam is one of the Earth Alliance’s mainstay mobile suits, being developed from the Dagger (itself developed from the Strike Gundam): these mobile suits are comparable to the Strike in terms of mobility and firepower, and moreover, are highly flexible because they can equip Strike packs: Neo’s rocking such a pack here for improved atmospheric performance, and his own skill as a pilot means he can fight ZAFT forces to a standstill. Conversely, conventional Windams are shot down left and right: these excellent mass production units are given almost no chance to shine despite their technical strengths to show viewers how capable the Minerva’s crew are.
- It feels a little unusual to watch a Gundam-type sortie alongside Zakus: of the pilots on board the Minerva, Shinn pilots the Impulse, which was itself a derivate of ZAFT’s ZAKU Splendor, a prototype ZAKU with a nuclear reactor. The Impulse’s main feature is that it can be assembled and disassembled on the fly, allowing it to be highly versatile in combat by switching out its loadout to suit whatever the situation demands. However, this does require that the Minerva be nearby. Save the nuclear reactor-powered Gundams, Cosmic Era mobile suits have always been particularly well-balanced and are employed in a strategic manner during battle. Moreover, their limitations continue forcing pilots to improve themselves, and here, Shinn fights Stella’s Gaia, a mobile suit that can transform into a quadrupedal form resembling the BuCUE.
- While the PLANTs’ citizens readily accept Meer as Lacus, there are several indicators to allow viewers to swiftly tell the two apart: Meer sports a star hair ornament, while the real Lacus has a more subtle hairclip, and whereas Meer dresses more provocatively, the real Lacus prefers elegant but practical clothing. To emphasise the idea that the two are similar, however, Rie Tanaka voices both Meer and Lacus, although even then, one can hear nuances in how Tanaka delivers the real Lacus’ and Meer’s lines differently.
- When the Minerva leaves a base on Carpentaria after undergoing repairs following a bout with the Earth Alliance forces, which saw Shinn enter SEED mode for the first time and single-handedly demolish several Earth Alliance ships, they come under attack again, and during the combat, Shinn disobeys orders and attacks the base. This earns him a reprimand from Athrun. Athrun later speaks to Shinn privately and notes that being a pilot comes with responsibilities (hence the page quote): this was something that Gundam SEED had spoken to well, by having Kira and Athrun pilot the more limited GAT-series Gundams before coming to an epiphany and gaining access to the nuclear powered ZGMF-series’ nigh-unlimited power.
- Athrun’s treatment of Shinn is tough but fair, and ultimately, Athrun is able to convince Shinn to use his prodigious skill on the battlefield without overstepping his duties. During an operation to take out a positron cannon, Shinn accepts the assignment after Athrun reminds him that he would not have been placed on the assignment, if Athrun hadn’t been confident that Shinn would be able to complete the mission. In the aftermath, the townspeople living near this cannon are overjoyed to see the Earth Alliance on the backfoot, although in response to the Earth Alliance’s brutal treatment of the locals, the remaining Earth Alliance soldiers are spared no quarter and summarily executed. Once the area is secure, Meer shows up to put on a performance for the ZAFT soldiers.
- In recognition of their accomplishments, Athrun, Shinn, Rey and Lunamaria are invited to dinner with Durandal and Talia, where they discuss the possibility of conflict being fought for profits. I was particularly impressed with how Gundam SEED Destiny brought this topic into the open: Gundam Unicorn only touched lightly on the EFSF government’s unusually close relationship to Anaheim Electronics, and similarly, while Gundam 00 presented the PMC Trust and mercenaries as a factor in warfare, the military-industrial complex was never explicitly mentioned. The idea of wars being fought solely to enrich corporate pocketbooks is nothing new, and in retrospect, is one of the reasons why wars continue to persist in the post-Cold War era: for some companies, wars are good for business, and this demands that there be an enemy to fight (in the absence of a foe, these companies would report quarterly losses).
- In private conversation, I’ve also noted that Gundam SEED Destiny captures real-world geopolitics surprisingly well, with there being analogues of both the Earth Alliance and PLANTs alike. The Earth Alliance is well-established and possesses vast resources, but is influenced by a shadowy group from behind the scenes, while the PLANTs are technologically advanced but led by a single entity, the PLANT Supreme Council. Misunderstandings between the two grow into open hostilities as a result of media rhetoric, and this is used as flimsy justification for increasingly extreme policies on both ends. Gundam SEED Destiny further suggests that whereas the Earth Alliance is openly corrupt, Durandal appears to be hiding something, as well; despite being the more sympathetic of the two sides, viewers should not be so hasty as to trust Durandal at this point in time despite his reassuring words and measured reasoning.
- While Gundam SEED Destiny is primarily about the causes and consequences of warfare, more so than its predecessor, there are more lighthearted moments, especially where Meer and Lunamaria are concerned. Their antics are often accompanied by the whimsical-sounding piece of incidental music, Kaze no Kodou. On their break from the front lines, the most outrageous moment occurs when Athrun wakes up to find a half-naked Meer sleeping beside him, and things are cranked up after Lunamaria barges in and immediately jumps to conclusions.
- Lunamaria spends the remainder of the episode in a huff over things: she’s not exactly good at concealing her jealousy, and this is another part of her character that I am fond of: while she’s a soldier and a pilot, she and her younger sister, Meyrin have common interests and worry about the sorts of things appropriate to girls of their age, on top of their usual duties. One thing I found especially noticeable in Gundam SEED Destiny is the fact that Meyrin will always append どうぞ to her ATC instructions to pilots (e.g. 発信どうぞ, hasshin douzo, literally “please launch”). This is something that carries over from Gundam SEED when Miriallia was running the Archangel’s comms, and because the Impulse has a lot of parts, this meant we got to hear Meyrin issue more instructions. I suspect that this is a way to indicate their youthfulness, standing in place of the usual “cleared for launch”.
- One of the pivotal moments in Gundam SEED Destiny occurs when Shinn meets Stella for the first time, unaware that she’s an Earth Alliance pilot with Phantom Pain. Shinn’s story is a familiar one: he loses his family during ZAFT’s attack on Orb. While the battle is under way, civilians begin evacuating, but crossfire from Earth Alliance pilots kill off his family. Since then, Shinn had desired to fight for a world without conflict, and being a Coordinator himself, ends up joining ZAFT. As a result of his losses, Shinn is very impulsive and arrogant, even challenging superior officers, but his skill as a pilot is also evident, and when the moment calls for it, he is understanding and caring.
- Being with Stella gives viewers a better idea of what sort of person Shinn is in the absence of conflict, and while Shinn is counted as an unnecessary addition to the Cosmic Era by some viewers, his brash attitude stands in stark contrast with Athrun and Kira, who both once stood in his place and ended up maturing as a result of their experiences. By the events of Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun has matured considerably, and so, when FAITH sends Heine Westenfluß to take command, Athrun has no qualms deferring to him, and the pair even share a conversation about the nature of warfare that leads Athrun to reconsider what he’s fighting for.
- This is why in the Saviour, Athrun’s combat is much more restrained than he had been in a ZAKU: his doubts are weighing him down and causing him to be more mindful of his actions. To the external observer, Athrun is pulling his punches. Conversely, Shinn has no qualms about beating the living daylights out of his opponents, and so, when the Minerva is faced with the combined Earth Alliance and Orb fleets, he sorties in the Impulse and sets about attacking Orb’s Astrays and new-fangled Murasames. The latter is a transformable mobile suit with strong all-around performance and a good mixture of both beam and physical weapons. The Murasame remains my best friend’s favourite mass production unit because of its characteristics; these suits have versatility, and the only reason they fall in large numbers is because they’re going against named characters.
- During this particular fight, the Archangel moves in to intervene, preventing the Minerva from firing its main armament, the Tannhäuser positron cannon, at the Orb fleet. With the distraction Kira provides, Cagalli gets onto the communications channels and orders the Orb forces to stand down, but an inconsolable Yuna orders the Orb forces to attack anyways: he is deluded into thinking that this isn’t the real Cagalli, and this ultimately forces Kira to attack the Earth Alliance, Orb and ZAFT forces alike. While the Freedom is two years old at this point and lacks the features contemporary mobile suits have, its nuclear reactor and corresponding limitless power means it remains a powerful presence on the battlefield.
- My friend and I have a fondness for drawing analogues between computer hardware and mobile suits in our discussions, and when it comes to computers, high on our list of priorities is designing a machine that gives good performance for value. There are some folks out there who enjoy building systems with the best parts money can buy, but because computer hardware always advances, one’s parts are obsolete before they even are launched. For instance, Intel just released their Alder Lake line of CPUs today, and while they look very promising, the reality is that Intel’s already got their eye on the thirteenth generation line, while AMD is going to be keeping a close eye on things as they develop even better CPUs of their own. As such, it is more prudent to build for a computer that does just a little more than what one needs for the present, and then upgrade parts if needed.
- This is more cost-effective than trying to future proof a computer, and at the end of the day, things like a ten to fifteen percent improvement in performance does not always justify the thirty percent increase in cost. A well-built computer needn’t break the bank but can still last a very long time. In Gundam SEED Destiny, while the Impulse makes use of newer technology compared to the Freedom, overall, I would count it as an inferior suit purely on the basis that its operational time is limited, whereas the Freedom can operate indefinitely. In spite of this, it is still a superior suit to anything from the original G Weapons programme, taking flexibility and versatility to the next level.
- Overall, I’d consider Shinn the inferior pilot compared to Kira: Kira’s strengths come from being able to fight with such a level of precision that he can disable enemy suits without much trouble, whereas Shinn typically goes for kills and struggles against foes in machines of equivalent power. While Shinn can only fight the Gaia to a standstill, Kira is able to lop off a limb without much trouble, showing that despite the Second Stage Gundams’ upgrades, the combination of Kira’s own prowess as a pilot and the Freedom’s still-impressive specs allow the Freedom to remain relevant by the events of Gundam SEED Destiny.
- Heine’s death hit me particularly hard – I took a liking to him because, despite being more senior than Athrun, he has an easygoing personality and contemplates what war is for, as well as whether or not there are “preferred” foes to fight during war. While engaging the Freedom, his GOUF is destroyed by Stella, who had also been trying to attack the Freedom from behind. In the chaos, Heine’s GOUF is bisected, killing him instantly. The pain of his death was amplified by the fact that unlike Nicol or Tolle, few seem affected in the aftermath. This speaks to the callous nature of warfare, and while Heine had his own story to tell, things were cut short as a result of bad luck on his end.
- After the events involving the Archangel, Athrun is determined to contact Kira and have him explain himself before miscommunication and assumptions lead to another tragedy between the two. To this end, Athrun speaks with Miriallia in an attempt to get in touch with Kira after the Archangel’s intervention, and is surprised that she’s got ways to contact Kira after all this time. It turns out Miriallia is now a freelance journalist, and she was present at the battle between ZAFT, the Earth Alliance and Orb forces, and the Archangel.
- While Kira is more of an idealist, Athrun is more pragmatic – the two part ways on rocky terms and neither can really reconcile with what the other’s decisions are. Kira and Athrun have clashed previously, with devastating results (Nicol and Tolle both die from crossfire when they get between Kira and Athrun); the two are more mature now, but still find themselves at odds because, despite sharing the same desires, Kira and Athrun do not agree on how the same outcome should be reached. The two part ways, resolute on sorting things out in their own way.
- For me, the Extended facility was probably the most difficult part about Gundam SEED Destiny to watch, and solidified the fact that the Earth Alliance and LOGOS were meant to be detestable: the extent they were willing to go in order to defeat the Coordinators is appalling, and Shinn rightly asks why the Naturals would stoop to such lows when they considered tampering with the human genome immoral. The site is traumatic to Rey, who collapses after entering, and if memory serves, for several episodes after, the horrors the Minvera’s crew witnesses inside the facility return to them in flashbacks.
- The revelation that the Extended facility has been infiltrated sends Auel into shock, and Stella sorties to protect him. While they are still unpredictable and dangerous, the Extended are much more stable than the Biological CPUs of Gundam SEED, and considerably more human; this aspect does look like it will continue to create tensions in Gundam SEED Destiny‘s second half, as Shinn has come to regard Stella as a bit of a younger sister figure in his life.
- One of the other challenges about writing for something like Gundam SEED Destiny is whittling down the screenshot collection into a manageable count for this post. I’ve opted to end with a shot of the Impulse cutting open Stella’s Gaia, surprising Shinn. With this, I am now ready to enter Gundam SEED Destiny‘s second half; I believe that things are slated to become more inconsistent and crazy in the second half, but this time around, since I do have some context as to what’s going on, it will be time to determine for myself as to whether or not the existing reception online to Gundam SEED Destiny holds any merit. With this post in the books, I will aim to finish Gundam SEED Destiny before 2021 draws to a close, and in the meantime, because it is Thursday, I now need to catch up on The Aquatope on White Sand.
Halfway into Gundam SEED Destiny, I am not experiencing the same level of confusion and lack of understanding that I imagined would be the case; Gundam SEED Destiny has a reputation in the West for being unpolished and inconsistent which, in conjunction with recycled animation and an overwhelming number of mobile suits, sets the stage for a series that could prove difficult to follow. However, at this point in time, I have had no trouble in keeping up with things. This was my main concern entering the series; I’d seen glimpses of Gundam SEED Destiny when it had been airing on television some fourteen years earlier, and further to this, had only seen clips of the more iconic moments on YouTube. Beyond this, I had no personal experience with the series beyond the decidedly negative reception surrounding it. Back then, the technology available meant that watching the series in full was only possible if one caught episodes on Friday nights, and during this time, I had Chinese school on Saturdays, so I always needed to sleep right as episodes were starting. The only way to have watched Gundam SEED Destiny would have been to rely on the torrents of that era, but between the fact that I had dial-up internet and the fact that the torrents themselves would’ve likely had malware, downloading them was off the table. Fast forward to the present, and things have changed completely: Bandai’s official Gundam channel, GundamInfo, is host to the whole of Gundam SEED Destiny on YouTube, and broadband internet makes it trivially easy to legally stream the series and watch it at my own pace. Technological advances have allowed me to experience Gundam SEED Destiny for myself, and now that I’m here, I’ve gotten some of the answers to the questions that had arisen when I watched snippets of the show fourteen years earlier. I now know the context behind the Extended, the destruction of Junius Seven and where Shinkai no Kodoku fits into Gundam SEED Destiny. While the series hasn’t aged quite as gracefully as Gundam 00, Gundam SEED Destiny‘s first half has proven satisfactorily engaging: for one, watching this series in a relative vacuum has proven to be a remarkably enjoying experience, and the absence of know-it-alls picking apart every second of the series in internet forums means that I am able to properly watch things at my own pace.