Our look at the HD remaster of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED continues! With all the leg work done in regards to the story, plot and central characters, we now move to earth as the Archangel is pitted against one of the best commanders in ZAFT. There will be action, there will be drama, and even a little bit of spice. After the cut let’s take a look at the next arc in the series: The Desert Dawn!
The second arc of the series is one of the shortest, but also one of the most important in terms of development, for a bunch of characters. Upon entering earth, the Archangel is forced to alter their landing in order to save Kira after his fight against Yzak, which ends them in the African desert, thousands and thousands of miles away from Alaska. With minimal supplies and only the Strike Gundam and two fighter jets for support, the Archangel suddenly find themselves helping out a resistance cell against Andrew Waltfeld, the Desert Tiger. But things aren’t so black and white this time around, and when Kira comes across the Tiger off the battlefield, it leads to conflicting emotions.
Like I said last time, it is the personal relationships that make Gundam SEED as good as it is. While the overall story and themes of natural vs coordinators is a great background, in this first half, much of the onus falls onto the crew of the Archangel, and how they interact with each other. Kira’s conflict against Waltfeld, at first just another enemy to kill becomes complicated when he meets him in person and sees that there is a human there, a well to do, honest man who abides by the rules of warfare and doesn’t kill people just because. He is in many ways a more mature and experienced Kira, and that makes it difficult when the war forces them both to act.
In terms of Kira himself, this arc sees the strain of the war start to drag on him, and the realization that he let the shuttle full of civilians die puts him in a place of extreme vulnerability, one that Flay Allster is more than happy to exploit. For something created in the early 2000s, I am still impressed that Gundam SEED had the balls to show that Kira and Flay had sex, showing glimpses of it in certain scenes, and making it a part of the changing dynamics of the Archangel. It ruins his relationship with Sai, once one of Kira’s biggest supporters, and shows that our hero is still a fragile child, unable to handle all the chaos around him. It also really brings out Flay as a character, and she remains one of my biggest surprises in this re-watch. Flay is manipulative, cruel and vindictive, but you cannot blame her for that, because she is a character who has no place among the Archangel, and is incapable of stepping up like the others do. Like I stated before she is the contrast to characters like Miriallia, Murrue and Lacus, and her being there highlights how different people react to moments of crisis.
Of course, the Desert Dawn arc introduces, or rather re-introduces us to Cagalli, who will end up becoming one of the central heroines of the story. Now I’ve spoken in the past about my general dislike for Cagalli as a character. While I enjoy a good tomboy and tsundere, Cagalli to me has always represented the worst kind of that archetype. She’s the ‘rebel girl’ the person devoted to the cause with far more zeal and drive to make up for the perceived deficit of being a woman. Cagalli is a character who is almost all tsun, and hardly any dere, and while there is nothing wrong with that (and her bullish headstrong nature I believe is the point of her character, a contrast to both Kira and Athrun). She comes off as rude, arrogant, and deftly unaware of any real tact or grace. Frankly, there are just many times she just feels like a bitch. Now of course, it gets better, and the new dub gives her a spunk that was missing from before, I think this is just a character I really can’t get behind. Oh well, you can’t win em all.
The second arc of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is a smaller stakes side quest that does an admirable job of moving the characters in new directions. Every person among the Archangel and beyond is changing, and the relationships and dynamics remains in a constant state of evolution. That to me is the best kind of storytelling, and SEED has never been content (at least at this stage) with sticking to a status quo. As the war continues to rage, we will see if Kira and the rest can rise to meet the challenge, or surrender to their worst impulses. Either way, as we enter into the halfway point next, I’m sure things are only going to get better.
- The land based BuCUE suits are absolutely an homage to Zoids, and they are very much ‘take it or leave it’. They get the job done, and are a cool way to differ between land and spaced based combat. I love how they put the beam sabers in the mouth. So clever.
- Sai’s attempt to pilot the Strike is something I wish we saw more of in the series. His conflict with Kira kind of just happens, then gets resolved. I do wish it had been more of a on-going thing.
- Athrun runs off to escort Lacus home for this arc, but his journey to the PLANTs gives us a taste at the bigger picture surrounding ZAFT. That despite all of his father’s blistering about how they are the next generation, the Coordinators are actually going sterile, and not even arranged marriages can save them. It’s a cool bit of information that helps show the sheer ignorance of those in power.
- Yzak and Dearka, SEEDs‘ version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, stay on Earth, and they are as about as useful as you expect, though watching Yzak scream about ‘his rage’ gave me a good laugh.
- The dynamic between both Murrue and Mu, as well as Murrue and Natarle continues to get good development, and you can see that Natarle, while following the chain of command, really REALLY thinks she could do a better job at commanding the ship. Mu plays peacemaker most of the time, but it is clear he is in Ramius’s corner. Ther are the ships mom and dad, and their comments on the developing Flay and Kira relationship make it clear.
- There is a cute little moment of Natarle comforting a child, and it does a lot to help show the human woman underneath all that rank and by-the-book mentality.
- Athrun and Nicol’s conversations are plainly foreshadowing for what happens in the next arc, but I like how Athrun has someone among the team who support him.
- Furthermore, it is clear that his betrothal to Lacus, while there is fondness, isn’t something with love. Athrun is awkward and almost out of place, and it shows in the scenes they are in. Lacus fairs better, but even now you can see how Kira has affected her. I think she has a thing for super sensitive guys.