Movie: Fans of Japanese anime have long had various choices in regard to the kind of shows they liked, from serious, to comedy, to almost nonsensical and even plain old fashioned dramas but the series that have repeatedly stood the test of time for me have almost always been those that took situations near and dear to our humanity and then painted them on a broader canvass. One such canvass has been the multitude of related series (in various timelines and/or universes) in the wonderful world of Gundam. The common theme of said series has long been a tribute to the futility of war, showing a more complex attitude than the usual shows that seem almost like military recruiting devices designed to sell young children toys for them to practice war with (don't get me wrong, Gundam have also had excellent licensing attributes over the years). The latest series under this universe is the Mobile Suit Gundam Seed show that focuses on a conflict in the distant future where technology has advanced to the point that mobile robotic suits can be manned by pilots to wreak havoc on one another. Science has also advanced to the point where space colonies are common and human biology can be easily manipulated, causing a rift between so-called natural humans and the genetically enhanced Coordinators. Each side sees the other in simplistic terms, the genetically superior coordinators thinking the riff raff of natural humans to be scum (since the coordinators are the natural leaders due to their superiority) while the naturally born humans see the coordinators as a threat to their existence. Needless to say, as with any other time in history that two sides think of themselves as significantly different from one another, this leads to war. In my last review of the series, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed 9: Evolutionary Conflicts, the major players all prepared for the inevitable final conflict with one another, some choosing sides not truly in line with their personal genetics. While I missed the early volumes of the series, having joined midstream, there was no doubting that it would lead to an all or nothing stance by both sides. In the concluding volume of five episodes, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed 10: Day of Destiny, there was nearly as much action and the tying up of loose plot threads as the previous four volumes had put together. Here's a brief description of what took place, limiting itself so as to prevent the review from spoiling it for you:
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed 10: Day of Destiny was notable for the themes revolving around weapons of mass destruction with one side freely using nuclear missiles (previously limited due to jammers) and the other unveiling a massive space based gamma laser known as Genesis. Each WMD managed to annihilate major portions of the enemy and threaten the tiniest thread of stability left after the previous battles, thereby forcing each side to take increasingly desperate measures in order to survive complete destruction. As the series came to a close, it was worth noting that while the larger scaled battles became dominant, the show did not leave out dozens of personal touches on the smaller scale battles taking place. This helped to personalize the events as they transpired and many of the supporting cast was killed in the fever pitch of the battles, again showing the futility of war over negotiation.
The Alliance shocked Zaft and Zaft retaliated with neither being able to claim the moral high ground as each moved past the conventions of military wisdom to employ the unthinkable against any and all targets that came in their way. The Archangel did what it could to remain neutral but in the end, the will of the war cries superseded the demands for calm reflection and with so much going on, fans of the series will be replaying this one a lot. In short, if you've come this far in the series, there's simply no way you'll pass up this last volume of episodes as the fate of the Gundam Seed universe is finally determined, with bodies littering the landscape of space as bases, cities, and pretty much everything else is on the line. The episodes this time were 46: A Place For The Soul, 47: The Nightmare Reborn, 48: Day of Wrath, 49: The Final Light, and 50: To An Endless Future.
There, that sums up the action in an admittedly generic manner since any specifics now would tear apart the replay value. If you want a description of the episodes that seems to mechanically list what happened to whom, I can point you in about a dozen directions but in the end, doing so would be reckless on my part. The series is paced as it is for a reason and I'm not going to rip that pacing apart to impress a few readers that can't think for themselves. The grander scheme of things was well served here, better than in any previous incarnation of the Gundam series, and that is why I think it was worth a rating of Highly Recommended, with the inevitable boxed set of volumes probably worthy of Collector Series status; particularly if it includes the upcoming duo of movie releases derived from the series. If you enjoy battles, advanced technology, well written stories that meld together over time, and the general chaos of war, the series will be one you'll have a great time with.
Picture: Mobile Suit Gundam Seed 10: Day of Destiny was presented in its original 1.33:1 ratio full frame color as made in Japan. The colors, image, and clarity of the show were all top notch with no compression artifacts or noticeable video noise. Most of the show looked like it was traditionally made with some help from computers but every once in awhile, some CGI was employed that stood out like a sore thumb. For the most part, the show was handled nicely in this area and I only wish other series had so much attention to detail.
Sound: The audio was presented with the usual two choices, a 2.0 Dolby Digital track in the original Japanese with English subtitles or the newly made English dub. I thought the voice acting on each had some merit, with slight nods to the original cast, but even the dub managed to give me a decent feel for the material. If you're a purist, you might want to at least listen to the dub, especially since the sound effects appeared to be remixed a bit in order to use the stereo aspects of the audio track more thoroughly. I also noticed the music score being somewhat richer this time on the dub, with a spot check revealing that this was the case in the last couple of volumes.
Extras: My favorite extra was still the music video of Nami Tamaki singing "Believe" although I would've appreciated something new for this volume a lot more. It wasn't just that she was so fetching but the way the song resonated with me on some level. Otherwise, there was a short Gundam Encyclopedia that gave some information on the series, a third textless ending, a set of other series trailers, and a paper insert that gave some more definitions of the technology.
Final Thoughts: Mobile Suit Gundam Seed 10: Day of Destiny proved my initial prediction correct in that it was the highlight of an already excellent series, earning my respect and admiration. The final fate of Kira, his friends, and even most of his enemies was a sight to behold with a lot to offer fans of space battles too. The underlying themes of war, senseless destruction, and how unspoken social pacts dissolve when pressed hard enough were all present in large quantities and suffice it to say that the series ended exactly as it had to end, given the manner in which the warring factions pushed one another into a corner. If it serves as a lesson against war, a lesson against stubborn wills engaged in taking the mindless path towards mutually assured annihilation, or simply gives pause for thought in a time when the shades of gray are swept aside by society in general; Mobile Suit Gundam Seed 10: Day of Destiny will have served its creators well but it was better than the preachy anti-war efforts of the past so it deserves extra credit in how it evolved over time, refusing to be rushed on an artificial scale as other series in similar vein have succumbed to.
If you enjoy anime, take a look at some of the recommendations by DVDTalk's twisted cast of reviewers in their Best Of Anime 2003 and Best Of Anime 2004 article or regular column Anime Talk