The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Stella Loussier

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: Whole-Series Review and Reflection At The End of a Fourteen-Year Journey

“No matter how many times people blow away the flowers, we’ll always plant them back. I’m sure of it.” –Kira Yamato

Shinn brings Stella on board the Minerva for medical treatment, and the Minerva heads towards a ZAFT medical installation at Crete, while Lacus and Andrew Waldfelt head back to space by commandeering a transport meant for Meer. Meanwhile, Miriallia reunites with the Archangel and takes up her old post. En route to Crete, the Minervan comes under fire from the amassed Earth Alliance and Orb forces. The Archangel intervenes, and Kira manages to destroy Athrun’s Saviour, while Shinn eliminates one of the stolen Gundams. When Shin learns that Stella is dying, he decides to return her to the Alliance against orders. Rey ends up helping Shinn, who implores her handler, Neo Roanoke, not to send her into combat. For their actions, both Shinn and Rey are detained, but Chairman Durandal orders the charges dropped after the Alliance deploys their new mobile armour, the Destroy, and annihilates three European cities for harbouring people supporting ZAFT, including Berlin. To stop the Destroy, Kira sorties, while Shinn does the same. However, Shinn is shocked to learn Stella is piloting the Destroy, and although he tries to talk her down, Stella ends up panicking when she spots the Freedom, forcing Kira to annihilate the Destroy. Stella succumbs to her wounds, and Durandal comes forward, identifying LOGOS as the culprits behind the latest atrocities and declaring war on them. In the aftermath of Berlin, the Archangel also capture Neo Roanoke and are shocked to learn he’s actually Mu La Flaga, although Mu has no recollections of anyone. The Minerva sets off in pursuit of the Archangel after Durandal determines that their inability to control them renders them a dangerous foe, and during their engagement, the Archangel is seemingly destroyed, while Shinn bests Kira in combat. When Durandal assigns Athrun and Shinn to the latest ZAFT mobile suits, Shinn takes his offer with enthusiasm, while Athrun begins to doubt his role in ZAFT and ends up being branded a traitor. During his escape, he ends up taking Meyrin with him, and although Shinn shoots down Athrun, both Athrun and Meyrin survive. Durandal subsequently orders an attack on LOGOS’ main headquarters, Heaven’s Base. Despite taking the upper hand early on, LOGOs falls after Shinn and Rey sortie. LOGOS’ leader, Lord Djibril, manages to escape and takes refuge in Orb, leading ZAFT to mount an assault on Orb. Having received the Strike Freedom from Lacus, Kira arrives in Orb and saves Cagalli from the attacking forces. During the battle, Lacus also gives Athrun the choice to fight for what he believes in, or turn his back on those who need him. While Djibril escapes yet again, Kira and Athrun are able to force ZAFT to retreat. Durandal retreats his private base, the Messiah, to makes a press conference on the events with Meer, Lacus overrides the broadcast and questions Durandal’s intentions. Lord Djibril arrives at the Daedalus Lunar Base and fires the Requiem laser at the PLANTS’ capital, Aprilius. The shot misses, but several PLANTS are destroyed in the process, prompting ZAFT to mount a massive counteroffensive. The Minerva sorties, and Lunamaria manages to disable Requiem’s main emitter, while Rey kills the fleeing Djibril, who sought to escape when the battle turned against him. To find out more about Meer, Lacus, Kira, Athrun and Meyrin visit Copernicus City and decide to spring a trap set for them. During the meeting with Meer, she ends up taking a bullet meant for Lacus. Durandal unveils his Destiny Plan, which is intended to assign people to their roles based on genetics, and awaits the world’s decision. Orb and the Atlantic Federation reject this plan, leading Durandal to order Requiem to be used against Arzachel, killing the Altantic Federation president. The Archangel reunites with the Eternal and begin an assault on the Messiah. The Minverva is sunk during the combat, Kira defeats Rey, and Athrun shoots down Shinn. Kira enters the Messiah and confronts Durandal, but is shocked when Rey shoots Durandal after taking Kira’s words to him, to live on his own terms, to heart. Durandal’s death brings the Second Bloody Valentine War to an end, and in the aftermath, Shinn, Kira and Athrun make amends, while Cagalli and Lacus work towards a new peace. So ends Gundam SEED Destiny, the sequel to 2004’s Gundam SEED that remains mired in controversy even a full sixteen years after it finished airing.

Par the course for a Gundam series, Gundam SEED Destiny deals in several themes during its run. Despite suffering from production challenges, as well as a desire to show warfare from three different perspectives (Shinn’s, Athrun’s and Kira’s), which resulted in the conclusion rushing towards a dénouement, Gundam SEED Destiny nonetheless has several key points to make. The first of this is that situations are never as black and white as they initially appear. Gundam SEED Destiny portrays Gilbert Durandal as a reasonable and accommodating leader, willing to hear other sides out and weigh all possibilities before acting. Through his words, viewers are given a sense of reassurance, that under his command, ZAFT will not repeat the mistakes its predecessor had. Indeed, it is easy to see Durandal as a natural leader – he identifies rational causes of warfare and then focuses his efforts on stamping that out. Unlike his counterpart, Lord Djibril, Durandal’s weapon of choice are words, rather than bullets, and his proposals initially seem attractive. Whereas Lord Djibril is busy using mobile armours to flatten cities and has no qualms in firing a superlaser against the PLANTs, Durandal, seems to believe in using the appropriate amount of force to achieve his aims. All of this is, ultimately, a sham – Durandal ends up playing most of the world, save a few (such as Archangel’s crew and the Clyne faction), for fools. Kira’s misgivings end up being correct, and Gundam SEED Destiny hints at this during its run. Durandal is seen with a chessboard in hand, and the world is his game, to manipulate and set up according to his design. All of the atrocities that Lord Djibril are responsible for ends up provides the justification for Durandal to implement his Destiny Plan, and this plan ultimately ends up being a world where genetic determinism will be imposed on all humans. The Destiny Plan similarly sounds attractive, promising society prosperity and a harmonious existence at the expense of stripping away free will. In this second half of Gundam SEED Destiny, determinism and free will are pitted against one another. Durandal champions determinism, arguing that as a species, people would be okay with giving up freedom in their lives for stability, whereas Kira and the others believe humanity should have the power to make their own choices, so long as they accept responsibility for the consequences. This topic is of no small significance in reality, and the debate between free will versus destiny is vociferous and unending amongst philosophers. Similarly, the question of where control and power should rest is a major point of contention in politics: proponents of liberal democracies view socialism as evil for diminishing an individual’s rights to choose their future and limiting power to a small group of elites, while socialists perceive democracies as inefficient, being constrained by the will of individuals who may not fully understand the scope of their decisions. Gundam SEED Destiny, on the other hand, has a much more concrete conclusion – through Athrun and Kira, the series posits that it is preferable to be given an uncertain future that one has a hand in shaping; acquiescing to a pre-determined fate would be equivalent to giving up everything that makes living worthwhile, and that any happiness found as a result of someone else’s design isn’t genuine. At the very least, Gundam SEED Destiny shows that the will to pursue one’s own future freely will prevail over any desire to precisely control humanity’s future, because where power is allowed to be concentrated in any one individual’s hands, tragedy may potentially follow. My stance on the matter is a little more unremarkable; I’ve seen enough of the world to conclude that life is a combination of destiny and free will, in the sense that the set of possible outcomes for an individual is finite, but every individual has the capability to choose which outcome they wish for, in turn affecting their path in life.

While broad themes are present to a satisfactory extent in Gundam SEED Destiny, where this series shines lies with its mobile suits, and in particular, how the Cosmic Era presents the progression of mobile suit technology. Gundam SEED established the idea that mobile suits are a powerful weapons platform, versatile in functionality, but limited by the fact that their operational time is determined by its battery. Mobile suits thus were strategic weapons, to be deployed for special assignments or when defending high value assets. By the time ZAFT acquires the first-generation Gundams, they begin working on the neutron-jammer canceller, allowing their newest mobile suits to equip a fission reactor and attain limitless operational time. This technology remains costly to implement, and so, in Gundam SEED Destiny two years later, most mobile suits continue to retain a battery. However, by this point in time, mobile suit design has improved such that battery life becomes less of an issue. The Second Stage mobile suits use variable phase shift armour and improved beam weapons to lessen power consumption. Common mobile suits, like the ZAKU, GOUF and Windam, are now comparable to the Strike owing to how much technology has improved. In addition, the technology for recharging a mobile suit on the fly is also developed. Orb, meanwhile, has optimised their Astrays and created the venerable Murasames, a transformable mobile suit capable of equipping a diverse loadout. Rather than investing in powerful but highly expensive individual suits, Orb has focused on developing a reliable, all-around suit in the Murasame. Indeed, the Murasame is a force to contend with: during the battle of Berlin, a squadron of Murasames destroys the Chaos Gundam, marking one of the rare instances where a mass production model defeats a Gundam in direct combat. However, despite the thought and consideration that went into the technical aspects of Gundam SEED Destiny, the series has been maligned for the Strike Freedom’s so-called seemingly unfair performance, which might be seen as contradicting the principles the Murasames and ZAKUs embody. with a chest-mounted plasma cannon, a pair of hip mounted railguns and dual-wielded beam rifles, plus eight DRAGOONs, the Strike Freedom is a mobile suit capable of independently engaging entire fleets on its own. Viewers continuously assert Kira depends on his mobile suit’s power to win battles over any merits of his own skill. This is untrue: Kira’s progression as a pilot was clearly shown in Gundam SEED, and the Strike Freedom is essentially Freedom with remote weapons. The Strike Freedom is, in short, a logical progression of the Freedom design; in reality, we are closer to mounting a large number of independent lock-on weapons to a given platform than we are of semi-perpetual motion machines or harnessing thoughts and converting that into physical energy. This stands in contrast to Setsuna F. Seiei’s 00 Raiser and 00 Qan[T], which are capable of teleporting, or between the ν Gundam and the RX-0 Unicorn, whose psychoframe can shift an asteroid’s trajectory and even turn back time itself. By this standard, the Strike Freedom is certainly not overpowered; while it can eliminate weaker mobile suits in the blink of an eye, the Strike Freedom it doesn’t incorporate any technologies capable of supernatural feats. Instead, simply is as effective as it is simply because it’d been tailored to Kira’s combat style and building on the Freedom’s known strengths and capabilities. Altogether, the portrayal of mobile suit development in the Cosmic Era is remarkably similar to real-world trends, strengthened by using Gundam SEED‘s mobile suits as precedence, to show a very clear progression of both technological capabilities in a manner that is plausible and consequently, offering open-minded viewers with much to discuss even in the present day.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Last I wrote about Gundam SEED Destiny, Shinn had taken Stella back to the Minerva and was met with reprimand; he tends to act on his feelings rather than through thought, and while this makes him a fearsome pilot against lesser machines, it also means against a competent pilot, he will struggle. This is something that doesn’t affect Kira by Gundam SEED Destiny‘s events; he has no qualms intervening where appropriate. This post will cover the remainder of Gundam SEED Destiny, and because the second half does offer a bit to consider, this post will be correspondingly longer.

  • I was all smiles to see Miriallia return to the Archangel; she’d been one of my favourite characters of Gundam SEED despite her reduced presence compared to Flay, Cagalli and Lacus because of everyone, she tries her best to keep a cool head about her, and in fact, the only time Miriallia loses it is when Dearka badmouths Tolle. According to dialogue, Miriallia actually did end up dating Dearka briefly, but they end up going their separate ways, and both appear to be doing well. Back on board the Archangel, Miriallia resumes her old duties as the communications officer.

  • One of the lingering debates resulting from Gundam SEED Destiny that endures to this day is which pilots and mobile suits are superior in combat: at first glance, Gundam SEED Destiny is very inconsistent in its portrayal of a machine and pilot’s capabilities. However, beneath this apparent inconsistency is a simple pattern. Pilots are at their best when they have resolve, and this resolve trumps which machine is superior from a technical standpoint. When two pilots of equal resolve and similar skill battle, then the superior will to win dominates. This is why when Kira confronts Athrun and his Saviour, he is able to rend the Saviour outright: while the Saviour should technically put up a good fight, Athrun’s resolve is wavering at this point, so he’s in no condition to fight at his best.

  • The battle at Orb between the joint Orb and Earth Alliance forces ends up very poorly for Orb; Yuna’s incompetence means countless Orb service members give their lives needlessly in a battle for nothing. The Archangel ends up picking up survivors, and they wind up joining with Cagalli. The additional manpower and resources mark a turning point for Cagalli; while she’d previously felt powerless to prevent Orb from succumbing to war, realising that Orb’s soldiers are largely with her, as opposed to Yuna, does much to help Cagalli regain her determination to do right by Orb’s citizens.

  • For no reason other than to show the visual updates Gundam SEED Destiny‘s HD remaster makes over the original, I’ll feature a screenshot of Talia Gladys here: without additional screenshots, I’d say she’s even more stacked than Murrue is, although she’s never seen oscillating as much whenever the Minerva gets hit by enemy fire.  Talia is a cross between Murrue and Natarle in personality, torn between doing what she feels is right for those around her and following orders to fulfil her duties as the captain. A capable tactician in her own right, Talia was in love with Durandal but the pair’s genomes were incompatible, so she ended up leaving him, even though her feelings never faded.

  • In the end, Shinn decides to return Stella to the Earth Alliance and Neo Roanoke; on the condition that Stella never be made to fight again, Shinn reluctantly hands her over. The alternative would’ve been for Stella to be sent to a ZAFT facility and dissected for more information about the Extended. While Neo gives his word, the nature of warfare is such that one can hardly take their foe’s word at face value. For his troubles, Shinn and Rey, who helped abet Shinn in returning Stella, are placed under arrest, only to be released after ZAFT learns that Lord Djibril and the Earth Alliance have launched a massive invasion of Western Eurasian in retaliation for aligning themselves with ZAFT.

  • Under the frigid German winter, ZAFT deploys its Compton-class land battleships along with BuCUEs and other mobile suits to meet the Earth Alliance threat. However, the Earth Alliance has an ace-in-the-hole: the massive GFAS-X1 Destroy Gundam, which can transform between a mobile armour and mobile suit mode. Built purely for destruction, the Destroy is aptly-named and is three times larger than the average mobile suit; it can crush mobile suits simply by stepping on them and possesses a formidable array of beam weaponry, as well as two remote controlled detachable arm cannons. The ZAFT forces sent to stop it are completely wiped out.

  • The Destroy is piloted by none other than Stella; Neo persuades her that this machine is the only way to eliminate the scary things of the world, and so, Stella ends up laying waste to three cities. The fact that the Earth Alliance, and Lord Djibril, were willing to resort to atrocity after atrocity in Gundam SEED Destiny made it clear to viewers that there was no sympathy to be had for them; when the Archangel and Minerva sortie to stop the Destroy, viewers end up simultaneously rooting for both. It was among the snow-covered ruins of Berlin that I got my first exposure to Gundam SEED.

  • This would’ve been back during my secondary school days: Gundam SEED Destiny was a curiosity, and came to become a part of my time as a student in interesting ways. I ended up using footage from the episodes of Junius Seven impacting Earth, and where Lacus and her allies manage to steal a shuttle from Meer, for an English project, discussed whether or not the Destroy Gundam could overwhelm elements from the Warhammer 40k universe in maths with the friend who had been curious to have me try out Half-Life 2, listened to VESTIGE and METEOR with another friend during free-study periods, and during a particularly memorable moment during German class, I’d been about to wrap up my work for the day when “Kira, Sono kokoro no mama ni” began playing on my iPod.

  • I subsequently said, more to myself than anything, “this song sets me on fire”, prompting the entire class, even the instructor, to break out laughing. That Gundam SEED Destiny still evokes such memories speaks to my curiosity in the series. For my best friend, who was watching Gundam SEED Destiny at about this time, he found that the series greatest strengths lay in its portrayal of mobile suits. Secondary school was the time when I gifted him an HGCE 1/144 Murasame kit, and the Murasame had been something he’d taken an interest in. During the Battle of Berlin, three Murasames shoot down the Chaos, marking the first time he saw a common mobile suit take down a Gundam.

  • In the end, Kira ends up being forced to impale the Destroy’s chest cannons, causing it to explore. Stella dies from her wounds, and Shinn, who had been close to talking Stella down from firing, vows revenge on Kira. It is not lost on me that Stella continues on in the trend of female pilots being exploited to pilot mobile armours; off the top of my head, Char’s Counterattack had Quess Paraya, Gundam 00 had Louise Halevy, and Gundam Unicorn had Loni Garvey. Back during secondary school, I wouldn’t have known this: Gundam 00 was still airing, Gundam Unicorn wouldn’t air for another two years, and I hadn’t watched Char’s Counterattack.

  • However, I do remember watching the Minerva and Archangel square off against one another back in secondary school; the Archangel’s goal was to evacuate Western Eurasia after taking out the Destroy, while the Minerva’s received orders to destroy the Archangel. Despite the Minerva being better armed, the Archangel’s better experienced and is able to escape in the end. Meanwhile, Kira has his hands full fighting Shinn and his Impulse. While the Impulse is an inferior suit compared to the Freedom, Kira’s similarly preoccupied during the entire fight with the Archangel and is holding back his punches, while Shinn himself is fighting to kill.

  • As such, it isn’t correct to say that Shinn is the better pilot, or the Impulse is the better Gundam. Kira ends up surviving, since the Freedom’s cockpit is actually located in the upper chest, and Kira powers down the Freedom’s reactor, preventing it from going critical. The massive explosion seen at the end of this episode is actually the result of the Minerva’s positron cannon striking the ocean. Altogether, this single moment speaks little about actual combat capability and was more meant as a bit of an excuse to give Kira a new mobile suit, as well as take the Archangel out of the picture for a while.

  • Back in the Minerva, Shinn is given a hero’s welcome for having shot down the Freedom in combat. Athrun is completely dissatisfied with this outcome, and the attitudes of those around him lead him to increasingly doubt his place in ZAFT. With the Archangel and Freedom seemingly out of the picture, Durandal capitalises on the moment to reveal LOGOS as being the root of the world’s evils, rallying those in the PLANTS and on Earth to denounce LOGOS. When citizens take it upon themselves to punish known LOGOS members, Lord Djibril flees his mansion for a facility called Heaven’s Base, along with several other LOGOS higher-ups.

  • During the Battle of Berlin, the Archangel also manage to capture Neo Roanoke, and to Murrue’s surprise, it turns out Neo is none other than Mu La Flaga. While his memories have been tampered with, Mu retains his old spirits and enjoyment of making witty remarks even during serious moments. He vaguely feels things are familiar, but otherwise cannot put his hands on why. The Archangel’s crew regard him cautiously, but over time, Mu does show that despite the conditioning the Earth Alliance put him through, he still remembers Kira and Murrue. For the time being, the Archangel decides to return to Orb for repairs and resupply.

  • Meanwhile, Durandal grant Athrun and Shinn new mobile suits, the Legend and Destiny, to replace their older units. Both mobile suits are equipped with a neutron jammer canceller and a nuclear reactor, giving them the same limitless combat potential as the Freedom and Justice. However, Athrun is far from thrilled and wonders why there is a need for such weapons, as well as why ZAFT is embarking on what appears to be yet another show of force. These thoughts lead Athrun to be branded as a traitor. On the other hand, Shinn eagerly accepts his new Gundam, which is equipped with the Voiture Lumiere system, providing unparalleled mobility and speed in combat.

  • Lord Djibril arrives at Heaven’s Base in Iceland, prompting ZAFT to demand the installation to immediately surrender Djibril and other members of LOGOS. The Earth Alliance’s incompetence and propensity for committing atrocities is augmented by the fact that Gundam SEED Destiny makes extensive use of flashbacks to remind viewers of what they’ve done, and for me, it was clear that, so long as Djibril lived, whatever Durandal had planned would be far from the viewer’s minds. In this way, Gundam SEED Destiny‘s writing did come across as being inconsistent, but the finished product is surprisingly effective at conveying the sort of smoke and mirrors that exist in politics – at this point, it can be said that ZAFT and Durandal have succeeded in distracting even the viewers from his plans.

  • Meyrin had played a limited role in Gundam SEED Destiny during the first half, being the young communications officer who maintained a cheerful demenour, as well as possessing a bit of a crush on Athrun but, unlike her sister, never had the courage to admit it. Moreover, Meyrin’s figure is a little less slender than that of Lunamaria’s; she’s unable to wear a skirt that Lunamaria has no trouble wearing. When Athrun comes under suspicion and is ordered to be detained for questioning, Meyrin suddenly finds herself thrown onto centre stage; she creates a diversion to buy Athrun some time to escape, and ends up escaping with him on a stolen GOUF.

  • My fondness for Meyrin grew once she was given a chance to show more of her character beyond being a capable, if shy, communications officer – she is seen wearing her hair in twintails throughout Gundam SEED Destiny, but after escaping with Athrun, she lets her hair down and looks more mature as a result. In fact, her appearance is similar to that of Flay’s, although minute differences in their facial expressions mean that Meyrin’s allegiance and intentions are never questioned; like Athrun, she ends up choosing to do what she feels is right.

  • The Destiny’s first kill is against Athrun’s GOUF; this machine was custom-built to match Shinn’s fighting style, but unlike the Impulse, equips all of Shinn’s preferred weapons without needing additional parts to be launched. The transition from the Impulse to the Destiny would imply that Durandal counts Shinn as being capable enough to make his own decisions, much as how Kira graduates to the Freedom from the more limited Strike. However, the analogy doesn’t hold in Gundam SEED Destiny, which is meant to show what happens when Shinn finally attains the power he thought he would need to make a difference. Whereas Kira uses the Freedom’s power to stop a fight at JOSH-A in Alaska, Shinn’s first act is to “kill” someone who his higher ups have deemed a traitor.

  • I will concede that in Gundam SEED Destiny‘s second half, the characterisation goes out the window – Lunamaria’s relationship with Shinn seems to have been conjured out of nowhere, and Shinn’s characterisation was particularly weak. While he is ostensibly a Gundam pilot and therefore, a protagonist, Shinn exhibits the traits of an anti-hero: he is impulsive and brash, shows little respect for authority and fights for revenge. Unlike Athrun, who begins hesitating, Shinn convinces himself that Durandal’s way is the only way to achieve a peaceful world, where tragedies like the one he suffered will not occur again. While seeing the consequences of Durandal’s actions do change his mind, this occurs very suddenly, giving viewers little time to empathise with or understand his character.

  • However, not all of the criticisms surrounding Gundam SEED Destiny are valid. One complaint is that the mobile suit performance is completely inconsistent: for instance, the battle among the snowy wastes of Heaven’s Base sees Shinn, Rey and Lunamaria effortlessly wipe the floor with Destroy Gundams, whereas Kira struggled to fight Stella despite the Freedom’s power. However, it is established that Destroy Gundams are vulnerable to melee weapons. Knowing this, the Minerva and ZAFT forces are able to turn the battle here around quickly, prompting Lord Djibril to flee once more. The snow-covered locales in Gundam SEED Destiny stand out vividly to me mainly because they were the episodes I saw on TV back when I was in secondary school. Having now seen Gundam SEED Destiny in full, all of the contexts become clearer to me, and I no longer feel that the series is an impenetrable fog to understand. In particular, the technical aspects of Gundam SEED Destiny are strong, although these strengths are all-too-quickly forgotten.

  • For me, the most memorable moment in the whole of Gundam SEED Destiny occurs when ZAFT orders an assault on the Eternal; while the Archangel is undergoing repairs at Orb, Kira sorties in the Strike Rouge and, in the HD Remaster, deals some damage to the attacking ZAFT forces before boarding the Eternal to reunite with Lacus. It turns out the Clyne Faction has managed to complete two state-of-the-art mobile suits, and with this, Kira finally feels whole again; he reassures Lacus that he’ll rejoin her after disabling the ZAFT forces and boards the new Gundam. After Kira finishes configuring the Strike Freedom, he boots up the OS and activates the Gundam.

  • Originally, Kira’s first sortie in the Strike Freedom was set to T.M. Revolution’s VESTIGE, a beautiful song that captures Kira’s determination and resolve to do right by those around him, with the power he is granted, in the manner of his choosing. The Strike Freedom is probably the most advanced mobile suit in the Cosmic Era: it is built off the Freedom’s design and tailor-made for Kira’s combat style, but similarly features a newer reactor and the Voiture Lumiere system. In addition, the inclusion of eight DRAGOONs (remote weapons, similar to the funnels of the Universal Century) allows Kira to engage multiple targets simultaneously or concentrate firepower onto a single target.

  • During my time as a secondary school student, I found myself rewatching Kira’s actions in defending the Eternal repeatedly: for me, this was the magic moment in Gundam SEED Destiny, and while the HD Remaster chooses to utilise “Kira, Sono kokoro no mama ni”, the combat itself is no less intense (although overall, I still vastly prefer VESTIGE to instrumental music here). Subsequent combat sequences are diminished by the fact that key frames are recycled en masse in Gundam SEED Destiny, and a part of me feels that the series was perhaps a little more ambitious than the animation of the day allowed. Once the animation techniques caught up, fight scenes in Gundam become better presented, and as Gundam 00 demonstrates, the resulting scenes hold up even today.

  • It was quite amusing to see a ZAFT captain recoil in shock with the fact that Kira’s basically taken out the entire complement of GOUFs and ZAKUs pursing the Eternal, and on top of this, has disabled his Nazca-class’ engines, as well. The Strike Freedom’s capabilities have been vocally criticised by detractors of Gundam SEED Destiny – in their eyes, Kira was already plenty powerful with the Freedom, so giving him an upgrade that seemingly came out of nowhere was to unfairly tip the scales even further. Gundam SEED Destiny does not directly mention that the Clyne Faction and Terminal, a Celestial Being like organisation, had managed to infiltrate a large number of organisations and thus, were able to access the cutting-edge technology needed to construct something on par with the Legend and Destiny.

  • Back on the surface, the Minerva has arrived at Orb in preparations for an assault. All pretence of diplomacy is abandoned; Durandal demands Orb to hand over Djibril and, when Yuna refuses, the ZAFT forces launch a major offensive. During this fighting, Orb’s forces are slowly overwhelmed, and Cagalli is given the Akatsuki, a gold-framed Gundam built from the Strike’s data and utilising new technologies from Orb. Its greatest attribute is the fact that its armour can repel and reflect all beam attacks, even from positron cannons. However, despite its invulnerability to beam weapons, the Akatsuki is susceptible to damage from melee weapons. Although Shinn is caught off-guard by the Akatsuki’s capabilities, he begins to intervene, only for Kira and the Strike Freedom to arrive.

  • In the end, Cagalli’s return allows her to take control of the struggling Orb forces. She relieves Yuna of his duty and orders him arrested. While Gundam SEED Destiny is almost universally reviled, fans do share the commonality of despising Yuna even more and note that his arrest, and subsequent death, stand among one of the more satisfying moments in Gundam SEED Destiny. While satisfying the role of a comic relief character, Yuna does show how individuals who care more about their political career and living a comfortable life can lead nations to ruin; this sort of thing is happening en mass in liberal democracies, where elected leaders are more concerned with elections than they are about their nation’s well-being. While Orb had gone down a slippery slope by joining the Atlantic Federation, Cagalli’s return puts new hope into the other soldiers.

  • On the whole, I found that most of the criticisms surrounding Gundam SEED Destiny are overblown at best, and invalid at worst; the more gratuitous complaints are nitpicks that fail to take into account the complexities of interpersonal dynamics and the interplay of warfare on the human psyche. For instance, while Athrun rejoins ZAFT to prevent Patrick Zala loyalists from perpetrating another atrocity, he begins to find that Durandal’s leadership ultimately will lead to a world that is no better than the one Athrun thought had died with Patrick. Consequently, Athrun is reluctant to accept the Infinite Justice from Lacus she brings the unit onboard the Archangel.

  • While the critics are often in the wrong, Gundam SEED Destiny‘s proponents were not always in the right, either – people who flocked to Kira as the “perfect” Gundam pilot who can do no wrong failed to account for the fact that Kira’s beliefs and abilities stem having cultivated them during the events of Gundam SEED. He gains no character development in Gundam SEED Destiny because he has already made peace with himself and understands why he fights: his aim is simply to protect those around him and act in a way so that battles are minimised. To this end, Kira never uses more force than is necessary to end a battle and prefers to disable rather than kill.

  • During the Battle of Orb, one detail I was fond of were the inclusion of the DOM Troopers (highly customised variants of the Universal Century’s Rick Doms): piloted by Hilda Harken, Mars Simeon and Herbert Von Reinhard, these machines and their pilots are a reference to the original Black Tri-Stars, a similar group of three ace pilots whose signature move was the Jet Stream Attack. The DOM Troopers’ primary armament is the Giga-Launcher DR1 Multiplex, an upgrade over the 360 mm bazookas the Rick Doms carried: weapons of Gundam SEED Destiny are built with versatility in mind, and the DOM Troopers’ Giga-Launcher is a bazooka with an under-barrel beam rifle, allowing them to switch from attacking fixed targets to engaging other mobile suits without a lengthy weapon swap.

  • The battle at Orb begins turning against ZAFT once Cagalli takes command, and Athrun decides to board the Infinite Justice. Here, Lunamaria attempts to shoot down the shuttle carrying Lord Djibril in a last-ditch attempt to complete ZAFT’s original mission of terminating Djibril, but this is unsuccessful. The Minerva and remaining ZAFT forces retreat after their flagship is sunk. During this battle, the Infinite Justice and Strike Freedom are instrumental in turning the tide of battle, providing the physical power to back Cagalli and Lacus’ resolve. While the mobile suits themselves are an asset, they are a means to an end, and Gundam SEED Destiny does seem to suggest that long-term solutions and soft power are the foundations for peace.

  • Back on board the Archangel, Athrun continues to recover while Meyrin looks over him. By choosing to accept the Infinite Justice, Athrun demonstrates beyond any doubt that he’s found his path again. In Gundam SEED, the Justice was a mobile suit that Patrick Zala had granted to him with the goal that Athrun use it to destroy the stolen Freedom. However, Athrun ends up using it to destroy the GENESIS weapon. In Gundam SEED Destiny, the Infinite Justice is offered to Athrun under different circumstances, and in this way, the series suggests that by accepting the Infinite Justice, Athrun has come to terms with his own choices.

  • Durandal’s use of Meer Campbell as Lacus speaks very cleverly to the idea that a pretty face can indeed sway public opinion quickly; he’d long foreseen that having a powerful symbol to act as his mouthpiece would be able to work in his favour. This tactic had allowed Durandal to quell the public’s wrath after Junius Seven was dropped onto the planet, and similarly, using a fake Lacus to give concerts raised the morale for ZAFT troops. Gundam SEED Destiny correctly captures the idea that people are easily manipulated by appearances – in the present day, people gain Twitch donations and Twitter followers on virtue of their appearances alone, and this has created a world where looks, rather than skill, are sought-after attributes. Durandal is therefore shocked when the real Lacus appears on the airwaves and challenges him.

  • Meanwhile, Djibril arrives at the Daedalus Lunar Base and prepares to use a new weapon, Requiem, against the PLANTs. With the viewers’ focus entirely on Djibril, I found that Gundam SEED Destiny presented a clever way of drawing parallels between the viewer experience and real-world tricks: as viewers, we’re more worried about Djibril right now, as opposed to Durandal. Small details like these are inevitably missed in the debates surrounding Gundam SEED Destiny; while directional issues and problems in production meant Gundam SEED Destiny is a little jumbled and messy in places, emergent properties actually do arise from the story, as well.

  • The rise of Durandal’s Messiah was one such instance of this: viewers had been so focused on Lord Djibril that it is feasible to suppose Durandal had secretly completed the construction of this space fortress while keeping the world’s eyes trained on LOGOS. Messiah itself is likely a reference to A Baoa Qu, a Zeon fortress that was similarly built from a hollowed-out asteroid. Durandal had intended the Messiah to be utilised as a stronghold from which to execute his vision of the world, and to this end, Messiah is equipped with a powerful computer, positron deflector shielding and the Neo-GENESIS, a miniaturised gamma laser which, while lacking the raw power of its predecessor, could still be used to eliminate fleets. Gundam 00‘s Celestial Being fortress would draw inspiration from Genesis: although originally built as a vessel for deep-space travel, the Innovators would convert it into their own private installation.

  • Djibril fires the Requiem, whose laser is redirected using a Geschmeidig Panzer array, intending to destroy the PLANT capital of Aprilius One. Although the shot misses, it still destroys Januarius One through Four, causing them to slam into December Seven and Eight. Djibril’s latest atrocity crosses a line, and ZAFT is now committed to exterminating Djibril and his supporters. In a massive battle, Lunamaria manages to disable Requiem’s emitter, while ZAFT forces aligned with Terminal assault the relay stations. Gundam SEED Destiny and Gundam SEED are unique amongst Gundam series in that a vast majority of the weapons in the series have German names: this is unique to the Cosmic Era, and while I’ve not read any interviews or behind-the-scenes materials for why this is the case, I imagine this was simply done for cool factor.

  • In the chaos, Djibril attempts to escape again on the Girty Lue, but Rey catches him and finally finishes him off using the Legend’s DRAGOONS, which vapourise him outright. In some cases, there is nothing left to do but exact the most severe punishment on those who refuse to yield to reason: Lord Djibril is one such example, and letting him live would only be met with further atrocities by his hand. However, once Djibril is gone, Gundam SEED Destiny‘s final curtain falls – this is the aspect of Gundam SEED Destiny that, despite having an inkling about previously, still impressed me because the viewers end up being just as surprised about Durandal’s so-called Destiny Plan. On one hand, this could be seen as hasty writing, where things were not well-thought out, but at the same time, the choppy pacing in Gundam SEED Destiny also meant that the series could illustrate the idea that existing conflicts can be used as a political diversion.

  • Because the conflict returns to space, Kira, Athrun and Lacus part ways with Cagalli. The remainder of Gundam SEED Destiny is a veritable rollercoaster ride, and while it is nowhere nearly as sound as its predecessor in thematic terms, to the me of fourteen years earlier, the space battles were awe-inspiring. Back then, I didn’t have the same context for the different scenes or why the conflict was occurring; because I was watching odd episodes here and there, the recycled footage was never really a problem for me. Nowadays, having experienced the level of quality from Gundam 00, use of stock footage in Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny is much more noticeable, but unlike the haters, I feel that stock footage was a sign the series was trying to be larger than was feasible at the time.

  • Once the real Lacus reveals the Lacus in Durandal’s employ is a fake, Durandal sends Meer and her manager, Sarah, to Copernicus. Sarah ends up convincing Meer that it’s necessary to bump off the original Lacus, and although Meer is reluctant to go along with the plan, she ends up agreeing anyways. While Sarah’s narrow eyes and sharp facial features firmly indicate she isn’t to be trusted, she’s also got a nice figure. Meer’s story had always been interesting to me because she represents someone who Durandal valued owing to her resemblance to Lacus and therefore, could be used as a tool for manipulate the masses. Meer herself is desperate to become her idol, and while Durandal has found her an asset, how he treats those who stops being relevant to his aims is a sign of what could happen if Meer ever outlived her contract.

  • It should therefore be unsurprising that should this day come, Durandal would have no trouble sacrificing Meer, or disposing of her, to further his own goals. One bit of imagery that stuck with me when watching Gundam SEED Destiny years earlier was this scene of Durandal playing chess. He’s seen with a chessboard throughout Gundam SEED Destiny, and having now had the chance to look through the series, it looks like his role as the final foe was long foreshadowed: Durandal isn’t nihilisticas Rau le Creuset was, nor is he xenophobic like Patrick Zala, but his plan to control human destiny is misguided and selfish. Gundam SEED Destiny betrays none of this earlier, mirroring how Durandal is an expert at concealing his intentions, like a chess master guiding pieces to create a trap for their foe.

  • In the end, Meer attempts to lure Lacus to a trap, but the tables turn quickly; Lacus implores Meer to be herself, and after a firefight that leaves Sarah wounded, Meer ends up taking a bullet meant for Lacus. The wound is fatal, and Meer dies in Athrun’s arms. In the aftermath, Lacus and the others read through Meer’s diary and learns that she was ecstatic to take up this position, thoroughly convinced that she was doing good in the world. In actuality, Durandal had been leveraging her voice and appearance to advance his own goals, and looking back, this small sub-plot in Gundam SEED Destiny is not to be underestimated in terms of relevance. It is the case that people are used and deceived because of their appearances, only to be cast aside once they’re deemed to be no longer useful.

  • That Meer was being utilised for her looks alone meant that I came to view her story as one of tragedy, and while she’d only had a secondary role in the series, I came to greatly like her character, too. While she tries to be regal and composed when on duty, befitting of the original Lacus, outside of work, she’s bubbly and cheerful; Meer was someone who desperately wanted to do something meaningful for the world, who ended up in a position that she began doubting, and who in the end, ended up paying the ultimate price. However, Meer does die in the knowledge that she was able to save Lacus from the assassination attempts, making for a very bittersweet moment in Gundam SEED Destiny that remains impactful even to this day.

  • While Lacus reads through Meer’s diary, a new song can be heard: EMOTION. This is the second of Meer’s songs, and until now, she’d only performed her cover of Lacus’ Silent Night in Gundam SEED Destiny. I first heard EMOTION after picking up the songs a few days before a Thanksgiving trip out to watch the salmon spawn; having set my music on shuffle, I was on a tour bus hurtling along the Trans Canada highway over the Kicking Horse River just outside of Golden when this song came on. A few weeks later, I was sitting in biology class and doing the day’s assignment. EMOTION came back on my rotation, and my thoughts flitted back to the moment when I’d been looking at the foggy skies above and the turbulent river below while out in Golden. Curiosity led me to watch the episode, and since then, Meer’s story has remained with me as one of the moments of Gundam SEED Destiny I found most memorable.

  • Because I’d been missing so much context in Gundam SEED Destiny, I’d initially thought that Meer’s death was the catalyst that pushed Durandal to initiate the Destiny Plan, but this is one of my own misconceptions. Durandal had been working on the Destiny Plan early on, and the simple version of this is that right from birth, people would be assigned an occupation and station in society purely based on their genetic makeup. On the surface, such a plan is very appealing, as giving everyone a fixed purpose and eliminating ambition would be attacking the root cause of warfare. However, upon closer scrutiny, the Destiny Plan falls apart. Almost immediately, Orb and a handful of nations reject the Destiny Plan, while the Archangel, Eternal and allied Terminal forces set off to put an end to Durandal’s machinations: as a show of force to the world, Durandal plans to destroy Orb using Requiem.

  • After Meyrin left the Minerva, another communications officer replaces her and plays the role differently. Meyrin herself ends up becoming the communications officer on board the Eternal, and she finds herself fighting against ZAFT loyalists; Lunamaria has sortied in the Impulse and is shocked to learn that Meyrin is still alive. Although she’s under the impression that Meyrin had betrayed ZAFT, Lunamaria holds her fire. As the battle progresses, the Archangel comes under fire from the Minerva: for Talia, the battle’s become somewhat of a personal one now, and by this point in time, Phantom Pain is forgotten entirely, having fallen apart once Mu was recovered, and its complement of Extended pilots falling in battle.

  • In a scene designed to deliberately draw parallels between Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny, Mu La Flaga pilots the Akatsuki directly into the path of an incoming positron beam to protect the Archangel, and the intensity of emotions in the moment are enough to overcome his brainwashing. After blocking the shot, Mu activates the Akatsuki’s remote weapons and uses them to form a protective barrier around the Archangel. These remote weapons are capable of offensive attacks, but the shield ability is a call-back to the ν Gundam and its fin funnels.

  • With Mu’s memories of the Archangel, and Murrue, back in full, Murrue smiles warmly. The Akatsuki’s special armour fully deflects the beam, and Neo Roanoke disappears. The moment was likely designed to bring Mu La Flaga back in style, and while perhaps a little overdone, seeing Mu back put a smile on my face: Neo’s character initially felt a little unnatural: beyond being an enigmatic masked man fulfilling a Gundam tradition, Neo never felt like a threat despite leading Phantom Pain. In fact, Phantom Pain itself never felt intimidating to begin with, and so, they were ultimately relegated to a secondary role in the series, especially after Junius Seven falls.

  • Thanks to their METEOR systems, as well as support from Terminal-aligned forces, Kira and Athrun end up dealing an appreciable amount of damage to the deflector system, enough to keep Requiem from firing on Orb. With the amount of damage they’re doing, Durandal finally sends out the Legend and Destiny to counter the Strike Freedom and Infinite Justice. In the original Gundam SEED Destiny, the final fight was far less impressive from a visual standpoint, ending much more quickly than it did in the HD Remaster, which sees Kira and Rey slug it out. As it turns out, Rey is also a clone of Al Da Flaga, whose attempts to find immortality resulted in Rau Le Crueset’s creation. Rey resents Kira for being the Ultimate Coordinator and sees him as an impediment to Durandal’s Destiny Plan, although this aspect of his character only comes late in the game.

  • Durandal’s designs for the Messiah means that his command centre resembles Palpatine’s throne room Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of The Jedi. The Destiny Plan’s implementation forms the basis for the series’ theme, which is less nuanced than that of its predecessor; Gundam SEED Destiny is suggesting that it is preferable to allow people to make their own choices and learn from their mistakes, rather than impose a universal system upon them and deprive them of choice. However, the route Gundam SEED Destiny posits as being the preferred one comes with a caveat: it assumes that people must be responsible enough to do so, as well. Those who stop at the idea that one should be able to make their own choices and omit the idea that this freedom comes with responsibility would argue that Gundam SEED Destiny is about “not allowing others to take your personal freedoms” when in fact, the theme is “a world where one can make their own decisions is preferable to one where another agent guides one’s path, but individuals must be willing to take responsibility for these decisions and accept that misunderstandings will arise”. This is the crux of all meaningful discussion in anime with a particularly large emphasis on social and political elements: themes are multi-faceted, rarely in black-and-white as some fans might suggest.

  • One of my goals as a blogger is to present themes in a proper level of depth such that all elements are considered, and I’ve long found that while politics form the backdrop of a given Gundam series, they are rarely the centrepiece of the series. Further to this, it is the case that very few online are capable of partaking in a civilised and constructive discourse on politics whether it be in the context of an anime or otherwise. This is primarily because politics has a tendency to boil down to identity, and this in turn precludes any meaningful conversation from happening; divergent ideas are seen as an attack on one’s existence, rather than an alternate mode of thinking that works for people of differing backgrounds. Politics nowadays amounts to little more than finger-pointing and name-calling: just recently, my home nation unwisely decided to join the diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Games. But unbeknownst to those who endorse such actions or call for more drastic measures, this is ultimately a meaningless gesture that only makes it look like the politicians are doing something useful where in fact, they have accomplished exactly nothing.

  • The Olympics are intended as an event to celebrate a nation’s athletic prowess and politics or not, I intend to cheer on Team Canada once the games begin. The pettiness of real-world politics is why for me, Gundam speaks more loudly about personal improvement, understanding one’s goals and accepting responsibility for the actions one takes, than it is about influencing political systems. In every Gundam series, pilots seek to understand why they fight amidst a twisted world, and when they find this reason (to protect what is dear to them and do what only they can), they become legends in their own right. This holds true for Amuro Ray, Banagher Links and Setsuna F. Seiei, and it holds true for Kira, as well. Similarly, ace pilots and mobile suit mechanics offer interesting discussion on operator skill, hardware constraints and making the most of what one has. Char Aznable and Graham Aker are pilots capable of fighting Gundams to a standstill despite using vastly inferior machines. These other elements of Gundam are more relevant to my discussions, since there are more concrete analogs between these aspects and reality.

  • For instance, parallels between Gundam and real life can be drawn in observations like how one is most effective in their career if they are able to see the value of their contributions, and just because someone has better tools do not mean they can surpass someone with better skills. I therefore choose to focus on these aspects of Gundam when discussing them, because it is the part of these series that can impact me as an individual and compel me to be a better person. These sorts of conversations drive Gundam more strongly than partially-baked assumptions about politics, and is the reason why when pilots clash in Gundam, they also have a frank exchange of ideas; Gundam SEED Destiny has Kira and Rey doing the same, but in the original, the fight was much shorter, whereas here in the HD Remaster, the might of Kira and Rey’s respective machines and prowess as a pilot is portrayed to a better extent.

  • With this being said, while the Legend is supposed to be an improvement over the Providence, I never felt that Rey utilised its capabilities anywhere as effectively as Rau Le Creuset. Kira ultimately defeats Rey after convincing the latter that no matter what is origins were, and what expectations there were for him, he’s ultimately still his own individual. The shock of this revelation distracts Rey enough for Kira to completely disable the Legend using the Strike Freedom’s full burst mode. Kira subsequently docks with the METEOR and uses its beam sabres to cripple Messiah.

  • While Athrun’s piloting skills have been inconsistent throughout Gundam SEED Destiny, they relate directly to the strength of his resolve. In the final fight, Athrun has no trouble fighting Lunamaria and Shinn at the same time, to the point where despite its powers, the Destiny Gundam becomes a bit of a joke to behold. This was probably meant to show that as Shinn’s conviction in supporting Durandal wavers, his ability to fight similarly fluctuates. As a result, Athrun is able to take down the Destiny even after Lunamaria steps in to try and break up the fighting, putting herself in harm’s way: seeing this prompts Athrun to act, keeping Lunamaria safe and allowing Athrun to cast down the Destiny.

  • Overall, I was never a fan of Shinn’s character because his experiences throughout the course of Gundam SEED Destiny do not have a more incremental change on him. While he begins to show the same hesitation about the Destiny Plan as Athrun, this comes much later in the game, and he continues to fight for the Destiny Plan (albeit half-heartedly) right up until he is shot down. I would’ve preferred to have Shinn realise the hazards inherent in the Destiny Plan as a result of his experiences, and then have him be the one to confront Durandal instead, as this would’ve made it clearer that Shinn’s changed, too.

  • Altogether, while Gundam SEED Destiny isn’t the same powerhouse its predecessor was, I still found there to be merits in this series overall. Gundam SEED Destiny‘s strengths lie in the mobile suits themselves, as well as the fact that the series does touch on some notable topics relevant to reality and present them in a plausible manner. While the overall story is inconsistent in places, and some of characters are not as compelling as they were in Gundam SEED, I do not believe that Gundam SEED Destiny‘s outcomes warrant the sort of hatred that has surrounded this series since its original airing in 2004: back then, viewers spent countless hours on forums picking the series’ flaws apart on their DSL connections and 1024 by 768 monitors.

  • I would imagine that most of these individuals have since moved on with their lives, although these early haters set the precedence for the reluctance people have towards seeing Gundam SEED Destiny today. I will note that the words of people back in 2004 and 2005 certainly do not hold any weight today; these individuals are no longer around to defend their claims or disparage those who are curious now: flaws notwithstanding, Gundam SEED Destiny is something that is probably useful to have if one is curious about the new Gundam SEED movie. So far, no information has been released about this film, beyond the fact that it’s releasing in 2022.

  • In a private conversation with my best friend, I learnt that it would be in my interest to finish Gundam SEED Destiny so that I could pass my own judgement on it and so I was fully caught up for whatever lies ahead in the upcoming movie. Because of my old track record with anime, watching Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny initially seemed quite daunting. I had actually started watching Gundam SEED since last September, but didn’t really pick up until earlier this year. After I wrapped up Gundam SEED, I switched over to Gundam SEED Destiny and paused during the summer, before deciding to continue on with things. My journey through the Cosmic Era has taken around twenty five months, but I am very glad to have finished the series, since I can now form my own conclusions of the series, and because I’ve finally got the full context for things I’ve been wondering about for the past fourteen years.

  • Because I’m rocking the HD Remaster, Gundam SEED Destiny ends with Kira and Athrun making amends with Shinn before they vow to keep the peace in their world. Kira’s also become a ZAFT commander now, and here, he reunites with Lacus, who’s en route to a meeting with Cagalli to discuss their plans for what directions the world will take next. As such, some fourteen years since I first caught wind of Gundam SEED Destiny, and almost sixteen years since the series concluded, I finally cross the finish line. Gundam SEED Destiny isn’t going to rank up there with my favourite Gundam series of all time, but I found that all of the anger and hatred directed towards the series is uninformed: I daresay that it takes a better mind to see what different Gundam series are doing, and broadly speaking, haters only succeed in demonstrating how little they know. As it was, I’ve no regrets about following my own judgement for something like Gundam SEED Destiny and saying despite its flaws, I still enjoyed the series.

Altogether, it should be evident that I enjoyed Gundam SEED Destiny. This series is not without its shortcomings – the pacing at which Durandal’s plan was revealed was abrupt, and Shinn’s portrayal meant he is not shown as learning to overcome the hatred and thirst for revenge that led him to join ZAFT. Kira’s role is similarly limited: having found his reason to fight, Kira becomes a static character, standing in contrast with Athrun, who is forced to rediscover his place in the world anew after the events of Gundam SEED. Animation limitations are also especially visible in Gundam SEED Destiny: the frequent use of flashbacks also breaks the flow of a moment, and similar keyframes are recycled for combat sequences. However, in spite of these negatives, Gundam SEED Destiny still manages to tell its story in a way as to expand the Cosmic Era. It is clear that, if production issues among the staff hadn’t been an issue, and more resources were allocated to animation, Gundam SEED Destiny would easily have had the narrative and visuals to back what was, fundamentally, a strong concept. While detractors of the series are quick to fixate on the superficialities of Gundam SEED Destiny‘s flaws, underneath the flaws is the groundwork for what is otherwise a worthy successor to Gundam SEED, as well as an exemplary demonstration of how attention paid to detail makes Cosmic Era’s mobile suits among the most realistically designed in the Gundam franchise. Rather than allowing the technology to run away with the series and perform acts bordering on the supernatural, all of the mobile suits seen in Gundam SEED Destiny are logical developments from existing technology. In short, Gundam SEED Destiny‘s haters are wrong; while Gundam SEED Destiny is far from perfect and is rough in many spots, the concept is fundamentally viable. Similarly, any issues in Gundam SEED Destiny are often erroneously applied to Gundam SEED, as well. With this being said, viewers do need a bit of an open mind entering Gundam SEED Destiny in order to get the most out of things, and now, having watched Gundam SEED Destiny to completion, I can say that I am glad to have finally finished a series that I’d been curious about since my time in secondary school. Back then, the local TV channels played the English dubs on Friday nights, but because of the hour at which they aired, I would only catch glimpses of the episodes before retiring for the evening. Thanks to what contemporary technology allows, I’ve been lucky enough to finish Gundam SEED Destiny and find the answers to the questions I’ve had for the past fourteen years. There are no more mysterious on the table, leaving me ready to enter Gundam SEED‘s Twentieth Anniversary events fully caught up with things – I’ve heard that the MG Eclipse is well-received, and I am now looking forwards to see what Gundam SEED The Movie will entail.

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: Review and Reflection At The Halfway Point

“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 SEEDSEED 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.