Reviews: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny
Overhated and Underrated
I believe the amount of flak this series receives, especially from the overbiased U.C. and Western Gundam fans, is just too damn ridiculous or unjustified (I could get flak myself for saying the latter right about now from said group/s for saying that). Sure, this series has a lot of flaws, but for the most part, I actually enjoyed this series, especially when I was in high school when I first watched it, despite said flaws, as well as the problems the writers had at the time they were doing this show. About Shinn, I do dislike him, I do. I really do. I used to think a lot of his wangstiness, especially towards the end of the series, was unjustified. At some point, however, I came to realize that he was actually, probably, the most realistic character in the series. Sure, his character development was all negative. But, come on, how would YOU feel if you were in his shoes? Personally, I would feel heavily traumatized and go into the despair-horizon if all the people I cared for died around me one by one and had no one left to cling to for comfort. Secondly, about Kira and Lacus "stealing the spotlight" at ep. 39, I think it was a mixed blessing (it was foreshadowed in the openings, after all). I'm not saying I was ENTIRELY happy with it, but it was kind of good, for me at least, that they did that, although at first I myself didn't quite get it until I reached college when I watched the HD Remaster. I realized during my rewatching that Durandal really was a manipulative trickster akin to Hitler and the Nazis, despite what those pesky fanboys and fangirls of his would say otherwise about him being the real "Big Good". Although, I do kind of agree with the haters that Lacus did somewhat act like a villain, although based on what they did in the previous series, I think saying that she was the real main villain was too much or just plain trolling. What I loved about the series most especially were the MS designs, which I still love to the point that I still collect the Gunplas. The music comes a close 2nd place. The story was the weakest, as it took me several rewatches to finally get everything. To conclude, I think the series deserves much more love from the Western fanbases. The overbiased Western Gundam fans are to blame. and, just in case you're wondering, I loathe Gundam AGE, so don't worry about me not having good tastes.
I think that about sums up Gundam SEED Destiny. It had the potential to be one of the best Gundam series ever. For whatever reason, that never materialized. Let's start with the mid-series shift from Shinn to Kira as the main character. While I have heard theories that the shift was intended all along, I have serious doubts, mostly due to much of the early plot threads being abandoned. The Rey vs. Neo that was teased at early? Never materialized. The Zala Loyalist faction that dropped Junius 7? Never even mentioned after that. Possible character development for Auel when we start learning about his mother? He died a couple episodes later, ending that forever. Heine was brought in, died, and served no purpose in storytelling. We never even found out what Sting's block word was. Another problem is the lack of character development for the SEED cast. The mid-season shift focused the story on them, but were their views ever challenged? Did they ever make mistakes that the show acknowledged as mistakes? Did anybody ever call them out on the shit that they pulled? The answer to all of those questions is no. Later Destiny shifted the focus to them, but they received zero character development, positive or negative. Another point that Destiny could have been great on but dropped the ball was arguments. And by arguments, I mean the lack thereof. There were very rarely any actual arguments in the series, instead what would happen is one side would say something, and the other would stand there with their jaw hanging open, their minds utterly blown. This becomes especially irritating when there are valid counterpoints to be made. It happened to Cagalli, it happened to Shinn, it happened to Athrun. Plain bad writing. While I do not subscribe to the theory that Kira and Lacus are self-inserts, I can see where those who do believe it are coming from. Lacus is always portrayed as right, and the entire series runs on “That which aids Lacus Clyne is good, that which hinders her is bad”, regardless of how much, or little sense it makes. Probably the best example is Mu La Flaga, who upon switching sides never gets anything even resembling comeuppance for his part in wiping three cities off the map, brainwashing child soldiers, or kicking off the entire war. There's too much I would like to say that I can’t in 400 words, but “Wasted Potential” sums things up.
A good show underneath all the stock footage and flashbacks.
Destiny is very much a mixed bag for me. I don't believe it to be even half as awful as many of the more rabid SEED fans claim it is, but it can't really be called a worthy sequel to the original show, either. The main problem I have with Destiny is the stock footage. The show has no shortage of genuinely good combat scenes (Nightmare and Kira of the Skies stand out in particular), but it also re-uses old footage (even some from the original series!) to the point that it becomes truly annoying. This problem only gets worse as the series goes on, culminating in a final battle that could be as much as 40% slightly altered clips from previous fight scenes, loosely strung together. A secondary problem is the plot, though this isn't as glaring as the first. The resolution leaves a lot of dangling threads, and the air of wasted potential hangs over the series like a bad smell. The plot isn't really bad, but it's also rather formulaic, especially towards the end. As soon as Shinn locks into his berserk mode and the Chancellor reveals his agenda, you know exactly how things will progress from there, and the show doesn't 'disappoint.' The moral conflict is basically redundant, with the philosophy of both parties essentially boiling down to 'whoever is left standing is in the right'. Thus far I've just talked about what I dislike about Destiny, but there remains a lot about it that I like. The fight scenes that aren't riddled with the malignant cancer of stock footage are genuinely engaging and quite thrilling. The Strike Freedom and Infinite Justice are two of my favorite Gundams ever, and there is something deliciously poetic about Kira gaining a machine equipped with weapons based off the Providence Gundam. Shinn's character arc is realistic and believable (despite what his legions of haters would like to believe), not to mention extremely tragic. The fact Destiny also brings back the pure, concentrated awesomeness that is Mu La Flaga is just icing on the cake. All in all, Destiny is a perfectly good show up until the last eight or nine episodes. Up till then it's solid, if a touch predictable. The ending is really where the show starts to fracture, with its copious amounts of stock footage and boring, tension-free ending. Yet despite these flaws, I still vastly prefer Destiny to Zeta, and other parts of the supposedly 'better' UC.