Never accept substitutions.
So, the Gundam adventure rolled onward with me to Gundam Seed (although I’ve been watching Zeta Gundam as well). The voluminous gnashing of teeth over Gundam Seed Destiny, truly, is the siren song that called me to it. A show people hate and say is horrible? Sounds terrific, sign me up! You would think I would’ve learned my lesson by now, though, given my experiences with Gundam ZZ and Brain Powerd, but, no, hit me up with some more shit shows from Sunrise! However, to get to Seed Destiny did seem to require watching Seed… although, then again, I did watch ZZ before getting to Zeta, so perhaps I could’ve skipped it anyway. There is something foolishly amusing about watching Gundam so chronologically out of order (if anything, too, watching ZZ before seeing the preceding series probably prevented me from getting as angry as some fans do when sacrilege like one of the really obnoxious teenagers getting Char’s mech occurs).
Sadly, Gundam Seed is… not good. At all. And not good in a way that isn’t particularly entertaining to witness since its soul-crushingly dull. The characters are bland and uninteresting, and a large amount of time is sopped up at the start of the show with insipid background-setting for our core cast. For a show that really wants to pin its strength on the rivalry between the lead and his perhaps-traitorous friend, there is an odd lack of energy to their disagreement. And, speaking of traitorous, the show doesn’t really mine much from Kira’s possible quandary about being a Coordinator who isn’t siding with the designated Coordinator militant group; sure, he has some intensely-staring-at-stuff-and-remembering-other-people’s-words moments, but there’s a weird lack of depth to it. I wasn’t really expecting deep psychological meditations, but it still feels like there should be more to it than him whining and staring at walls angstily.
Of course, part of the issue may’ve been that I was fresh off of the original Gundam, and Seed apes that pretty strongly – but without managing to grant the same characterization to its characters in the opening portion of its story. Sure, Amuro’s irritating, but at least he provokes a reaction – if you asked me if I liked Kira or Athrun, or if I hated them, or if I liked or hated most of the cast, I wouldn’t be at all capable of saying. They’re just sort of there. And after watching Amuro, Kamille, and Judau spend lots of screentime jabbering about how they’re not going to fight, and they don’t want to fight, Kira’s objections fall pretty flat. I already know how this is going to go! And the kid certainly doesn’t introduce anything new to it! Judau’s a pretty terrible character, but even he at least put a slightly new spin on it!
The only characters in exception to the above are La Flaga and Flay. La Flaga is a character we’ve seen before quite a bit, but his good-natured approach helps, and in a desert even a cup of stale water will do. Flay is irritating, but she comes off as being the only one of the teens who reacts in a way that feels normal for someone in her situation; the rest of them bouncing off to be bridge bunnies (male and female!) as their home colo… err, Plant, is torn to shreds feels artificial. She is also clearly meant to be the character the audience is meant to scorn and hate for not being super-thrilled to be on a warship suddenly with no home to return to and no idea of the fate of her family, and for identifying Kira as the Gundam pilot and a Coordinator when hostile folks board the ship and start threatening people. Oh, my poor child, you’re the designated Shit Character – I am so, so very sorry. I want to pull her aside and tell her that I’m sorry that she’s gotten stuck with this role. This is the danger of creating characters who are too blatantly meant to be loathed by the audience – the audience may end up sympathizing with the character who is being essentially bullied by the production staff.
Maybe it bears mention that when the OP started up I got really indignant and snorted, “This shit ain’t a Gundam OP! This is some Valvrave crapola here!” For a person who didn’t manage to get around to most of UC until the past several months, I’m weirdly snobby about what constitutes “Gundam”. I really don’t want to talk about the alleged OPs and EDs for any Gundam after Turn A, thank you.
It actually genuinely pains me to drop Gundam Seed, even though I haven’t been able to wring any enjoyment from it. I don’t drop Gundams! And if I got through Victory I should be able to endure any Gundam! Admittedly, I did drop Gundam Build Fighters, but I must also confess that, although it is Gundam, I also tend to not fit it into the Gundam pantheon since it just makes me think of Angelic Layer. But I haven’t dropped any other! (And, no, I will never touch AGE because I *know* I would drop it, and I can’t have that.) But I have to drop this. I just can’t make myself watch it. Maybe I’ll just skip to Seed Destiny; I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to not have the intervening forty-three episodes!