Warning: this review may contain spoilers for Gundam SEED
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny
AKA: Kidou Senshi Gundam SEED Destiny, Gundam SEED Destiny
TV, 50 Episodes
By Sunrise 2004-2005
2 years have passed since the end of the Bloody Valentine War which raged in Gundam SEED. The war ended with a peace treaty signed by the Earth Alliance and ZAFT following the Second Battle of Jachin Due, to strive for a way to coexist. However, tension between the two forces still ran rather high, and despite pledges to reduce arms, the two sides continued to build up and ready their military, should the worst happen. Now, in the year 74 CE, Cagalli Yula Attha, Representative of the Neutral Union of Orb , accompanied by her bodyguard Athrun Zala, have arranged a meeting at Armory One with the current Chairman of ZAFT, Gilbert Durandal, to discuss the world's current state of affairs. However, the talks were shortly interrupted by the theft of 3 new ZAFT Gundams, who promptly laid waste to the Armory. Before they can destroy much more, they are confronted with a fourth ZAFT Gundam, the Impulse, piloted by former Orb citizen Shinn Asuka. Efforts to take back the 3 stolen Gundams eventually lead to a situation which could very well start another war...
Being a direct sequel to Gundam SEED, the backdrop has already been set. As such, the story in Gundam SEED Destiny is considerably more fast-paced than it's predecessor. While the first 5 or so episodes start out almost identically to SEED, it doesn't take long for it to take off on it's own plot. Where SEED focused most of the plot on the Earth Alliance, Destiny sheds most of it's focus on ZAFT, for a more indepth look at the other side of the spectrum (It's just as well too, because after Gundam SEED, I really don't see how anyone could begin to sympathize with the Earth Alliance...). The story does a good job of working up sympathy for some of the sides of the conflict. I found myself, just like the characters, to often question who was right in fighting, and who deserved my sympathy. Of course, it also performs excellently in working up strong responses to some of the most horrific crimes against humanity you'll see in an anime. Unfortunately, as was the case with SEED, I found myself to be somewhat cheated with the ending, which resolved EVEN LESS this time around!!! Here's hoping for a third series... Oh well, the ending notwithstanding, an excellent job.
Considering my review of SEED, this score should come as no surprise. As was the case with SEED, Destiny has some incredibly believable new characters, as well as the same great surviving characters from SEED. Although it should be worth noting that the new protagonist Shinn Asuka isn't quite as likable as Kira or Athrun are, it isn't a glaring issue as both Kira and Athrun are, at times, more prominently featured than Shinn is. That is actually a minor gripe I have. The new cast of characters in Destiny sort of lose some of their focus in the story towards the end in favour of the previous cast. Fortunately, the quality of the characters is enough for this reviewer to let it slide. One character worth note in particular is Chairman Gilbert Durandal, who is easily the most interesting of the new cast, and possibly even the previous cast. Everything he says seems so perfect that it is unbelievbly difficult to want to disagree with him. His ideals are exactly what a politician's should be like! And yet even through his agreeable speeches, you have to suspect something... A fantastic job.
Wow, that's all I can say. The character designs and color vibrancy are just as impressive as SEED's were. While I said in my review of SEED that the mech battles were fantastic, after watching Destiny, I cannot honestly say that I feel the same way. Destiny has mech battles the likes of which make SEED's look utterly feeble by comparison! I was utterly amazed at the true sense of how ferocious and powerful these battles could get. Well, I'm running out of things to say about the amazing quality of the mech battles, so I'll move on. Another point worth noting is that the mech designs in Destiny are the sleekest and downright coolest I've ever seen. *Spoiler Infinite Justice *drool* Spoiler*. My complaints about SEED are considerably lessened in Destiny. While there is still cel-shading on Archangel and now Minerva, it stands out far less as blatantly as in SEED. While there are still recycled animations used, I can let them go, given the overall good quality they all bear. The best animation I've seen in a TV series anime.
Sound/Voice acting: 9.5/10
As excellent as the music of it's predecessor was, Destiny's soundtrack is even better. It's all a new soundtrack as well, save for a few mid-episode songs. T.M. Revolution is really at the top of his game here, contributing the opening Ignited and insert songs Meteor and Vestige (I know the former was in Gundam SEED, but it's still fantastic). Further contributing to songs are the 2nd and 3rd openings Pride and Bokutachi no Yukue, by High & Mighty Color and Hitomi Takahashi respectively. The endings are equally pleasing to the ears, also. All this said, though, the only reason I am not giving this category a perfect score is because of the 4th opening, Wings of Words by Chemistry. It isn't a bad song, it is just so unfitting for the series, and the point that the series is in!! As for the voice acting, there is little to say here that I haven't already said in my review of SEED. The voice acting is well done for both the new and returning cast. I was particularly surprised at how much different Kira sounds now, so much calmer and more reserved now. In all, a real treat to the ears.
Wow, I already had high expectations for this series after watching SEED, and to my surprise, Destiny actually was better than I expected it to be. Everything about it is like a step up from it's predecessor, better mech battles, better soundtrack, better animation, and a more gripping storyline (they do such a good job of making you desperately want to see the next episode quickly!). With all this in mind, this anime was a prime contender for my favorite anime ever. Unfortunately, two things kept it from attaining such a title, the ending and the somewhat sporadical focus on the new cast. Still, it is a fantastic anime that any fan of mecha and drama should not miss.