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Dated 17 July 2006: Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition I

I love Gundam SEED Destiny. Wait, that's not true. I love railing on Gundam SEED Destiny because it's so flawed. And yet I still find it endlessly entertaining to watch.

Athrun and Cagalli find a Zaku
Athrun shelters Cagalli in a Zaku, now with more fire!

I think most people will agree that Gundam SEED Destiny has a lot of great parts, but is a terrible show as a whole. I certainly feel this way, and I've heard others express similar opinions regarding the series. There is a school of thought that speculates the SEED Destiny compliation movies will actually be good, since they'll cut out all the stupid parts, leaving only the good stuff. To some extent, it appears this theory is accurate. It turns out that the first of the (eventually) three four compilations movies is pretty good.

Athrun kisses Cagalli
The ring scene from episode eight.

I credit the improvement to liberal editing and unrepentant retconning. For example, it appears Sunrise is packing the compilation movies with Meyrin scenes. Perhaps I just don't remember these early-episode scenes very well because Meyrin was a fairly minor character during these episodes, but I get the feeling that every single second of Meyrin screentime was preserved—and that perhaps a number of new bits were added. I'd have to do a scene-by-scene comparision to be sure, but I did notice an unusually high number of Meyrin scenes in the first Destiny movie. Some of them seemed designed to enhance her importance to the show.

Athrun kisses Cagalli
Revisionist ring scene from the movie.

Naturally, along with the Meyrin boost, there's obvious intent to diminish Cagalli's importance. For example, the infamous ring scene of episode eight was altered so that instead of a warm embrace and tender kiss, Cagalli gets a chaste peck on the cheek. She also laughs at him a little more.

Cagalli
Cagalli cries. In other news, fire burns.

They also made sure to include the bit where Cagalli bawls her eyes out after Shinn rips into her, only now Athrun's attempt to console her seems half-assed. It seems he immediately runs out into the hall, and gives Lunamaria the brush-off before heading off to do something more important. Speaking of Lunamaria, the entire plot line about propping Athrun up to be Lunamaria's love interest is gone. I'm pretty sure there's a new scene with Lunamaria and Shinn together, though.

Athurn consoles Cagalli
"Not this again. Can I skip ahead to my shower adventure with Meyrin?"

I have no doubt that Sunrise intends to prop up the Athrun + Meyrin "romance" that they discovered lying in the middle of left field towards the end of the series. To that end, there are little edits and new cuts underscoring Meyrin's character and her low-key interest in Athrun. For example, during the Junius-7 arc, there's new chatter among the other pilots and the mechanics where they mention that "Meyrin says he used to be in ZAFT," and they learn that ol' Alex Dino is really Athrun Zala

Lunamaria is shocked
There's always time for gossip.

Perhaps the final nail in Cagalli's coffin is the surprising change to Jona's character. All the scenes of Jona being a craven little bitch are gone. Going strictly from his scenes in the first compliation movie, Jona is the cool voice of reason who is acting purely in Orb's best interests while an indecisive, worthless Cagalli at the reigns almost steers the Orb chuck wagon off a cliff. Revisionist Jona is a decisive, take-charge sort of guy instead of a manipulative doucebag. I wouldn't be surprised if the compilation movies omit all of his scenes of cowardice and idiocy in order to make the viewer less sympathetic of Cagalli. Such are the machinations of the Athun + Meyrin Illuminati.

Jona and Cagalli
Jona and Cagalli.

Most significantly, Shinn is no longer the focus of the show. In fact, you have to get about an hour into the first Destiny movie before you see the full "Shinn's family dies" sequence. Instead, they've shifted the primary focus onto Athrun, where it should have been in the first place. The story is much more from his point of view, and Athrun has frequent voice overs during the movie (and will narrate the next two three, I've heard). Moreover, he flatly states the Gundam SEED Destiny thesis statement. (It sure took the writers a while to come up with one.)

Core Splendor launces
They still kept the entire Impulse launch sequence, though. At original speed, no less.

It's a damn shame the writers hadn't mapped all this out before the start of the series and referred to it before making any creative decisions. Had they set out these themes and remained loyal to them, Gundam SEED Destiny could have been a really good show. Why they tried to make us care about Shinn and then careen back and forth going nowhere instead of just making the series about Athrun all along (the way the first SEED series was about Kira), I have no idea. It sure would have worked a lot better than trying to do it retroactively now via the compilation movies.

Meyrin
Expect to see a lot more Meyrin.

Anyway, the first Destiny movie is quite good, and I remain optimistic that the next two three will also be good. Then again, the first third of the series was the strongest and most cohesive, so maybe I'm unjustified in thinking that the next two three movies won't be train wrecks. I can tell you this, though: If things keep going the way they've been going, we're going to see a bare-chested Jona wrestle alligators to save Cagalli's stupid ass in Part II, and Meyrin is going to ball Athrun's lights out in Part III. (This will be right after a comic sequence featuring Athrun struggling to peel off Meyrin's LCL-soaked plug suit—don't ask—as that funny-type music plays. You know which one I mean.)

Oh, and don't expect that bit about Meyrin thinking she's fat to make it into the second movie. That's going to be cut for sure, unless the "Include All Meyrin Scenes" motion carries. P.S. "Join."

Dated 5 August 2006: Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition II

Alas, the "Meyrin thinks she's fat," the Hawke shower gossip-o-rama, the "waking up with Meer," and the Meer concert scenes were all cut from the second Gundam SEED Destiny compilation movie. Well, parts of the Meer concert made it into the high-speed Meer montage and Athrun voiceover segment. On the one hand, it's kind of a pity because those bits were TOP FUEL HILARITY.

The Woe of Meyrin
Meyrin misses her chance.

On the other hand, it makes sense that those cut scenes were omitted because nearly everything that could be construed as filler (and there was a damn lot of filler mid-season) was dropped from the second compilation movie. The second "Special Edition" movie is mostly aggression and fighting (the final 30 minutes consist almost entirely of fight scenes), and briskly moves through the most laggard part of Gundam SEED Destiny.

If the term "Special Edition" evokes images of Lucas-esque revisionist filmmaking, it should. There is some hard core retconning in the second movie—substantially more than there was in the first one. For example, as expected, the wedding/kidnapping bit was edited to make it look like the whole mess was Cagalli's fault. (Well, it really was, but the series at least tried not to make it appear that way.) You almost feel sorry for Jona, who doesn't even look like a douchebag or a coward.

Jona
Anger leads to hate.

The most substantive changes were clearly orchestrated to hilight the Shinn + Lunamaria and Athrun + Meyrin end games. The scene where Lunamaria creams her panties over Athrun's new Gundam is gone, naturally. (Athrun just blows by Lunamaria, ignoring her completely, and she gives a small frown.) But most significantly, Shinn's wild night with Stellar was largely redone to remove Athrun from their rescue entirely. Now, it is Lunamaria that comes to retrieve them from the cave. Stellar's reunion with Sting and Auel is much the same, except Athrun has been replaced with Lunamaria. There's even a bit where Lunamaria displays jealousy over Shinn's attention to Stellar.

Athrun
Athrun is surprised by Shinn's predicament.

Lunamaria
Lunamaria is surprised by Shinn's sexy predicament.

Athrun
Athrun checks on the rescued couple.

Lunamaria
Lunamaria checks on the rescued couple with suspicion.

Stellar, Athrun, and Shinn
Stellar, Athrun, and Shinn.

Stellar, Lunamaria, and Shinn
Stellar, Lunamaria, and Shinn.

Athrun, Stellar, and Shinn
Athrun waits for Shinn to say his goodbyes to Stellar.

Sting, Lunamaria, Stellar, and Shinn
Lunamaria waits for Shinn to say his goodbyes to Stellar...

Sting, Lunamaria, and Stellar
...impatiently.

The few Athrun-mentoring-Shinn scenes are also gone. Their relationship is almost entirely adversarial, now, although Athrun is shown protecting Impulse in a number of fight scenes.

Most welcome are the changes that make Kira appear less heroic. Freedom's intro music in the Big Meddlin' Battle sounds much less heroic, and the editing makes Kira and Cagalli look like jackasses—Cagalli particularly, since the cuts give the impression that Kira's intervention came at her direction instead of the Archangel crew's mutual agreement. It was tough to pull off, but Jona even manages to retain most of his dignity in the sequence.

Oh, and there are new bits showing Kira working on a Haro, and a shot of Lacus' bare ass. And new dogfighting scenes for Saviour. (Thank God it's not all just stock footage anymore.)

Meyrin, Athrun, and Lunamaria
Meyrin's shameless flirting...gone.

There aren't any new Athrun + Meyrin bonding scenes, but the second movie does retain some of Meyrin's shy stalking scenes—they weren't all cut. It's a pity her playacting from the Meer concert is gone, though.

Overall, there is not enough to fully establish an Athrun + Meyrin romance, but the retconning sets a better foundation for potential exploration (and exploitation) in a possible sequel.

Dated 20 August 2006: Gundam SEED C.E. 73 Stargazer

So apparently Stargazer's big secret is that it's powered by bad HTML.

Stargazer HTML
This HTML is not standards compliant, yo.

I can only hope this is a semi-sly wink at the fact that Gundam SEED Stargazer is an Internet-distributed OAV.

Dated 9 October 2006: Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition III

Shinn punches a woman in the gut.
Shinn punches a woman in the gut.

Okay, first of all, I was wrong about one thing: There are four Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition movies, not three.

I find it rather appropriate that the third movie begins with (1) Athrun continuing his voice over, and (2) Shinn punching an innocent doctor (nurse?) in the gut. I mean, that's the series in a nutshell right there. Oh, and naturally Shinn's out of the brig in like five minutes. It's a bit blatant in compliation form.

Stellar and Shinn
I so don't rememember Shinn and Stellar having
astral plane nookie during the regular broadcast.

On the whole, it seems there is a lot less retconning in the third Destiny movie than in the first two parts. Most of it seems to be straight-up clip show—not like Gundam SEED Destiny needed another clip show. Sadly, this means no extended Athrun + Meyrin escape sequence, and no post-traumarama sickbed canoodling while Neo Mu the Invalid cheers raucously. It also seems rather rushed for some reason; the pacing is all kinds of off.

Meyrin
The perfect ruse.

Frankly, I'm shocked they didn't fool around with the Meyrin/Athrun/Cagalli sequences in the third compilation movie. Considering the changes in the first two parts, it seemed a sure thing.

Infinite Justice
Oh yeah? Well let's see you parallel park the sumbitch.

I don't remember Lacus landing Athrun's new ride onto Archangel by herself, though. Maybe my memory is just faulty.

The third Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition movie is the weakest thus far. Like I said, it's basically just another clip show both insofar as content and pacing are concerned. But surely the fourth and final movie will be good! After all, it will feature Lacus' ascension to Empress of PLANT and appointment as Supreme Commander of ZAFT. And it will reveal that she's actually an evil mastermind soon to become the primary villain during the third and final Gundam SEED season.

P.S. Spoilers.

Dated 14 October 2006: Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition III

Lunamaria and Meyrin in the cafeteria.
Lunamaria and Meyrin at a zafeteria.

I would have expected Meyrin's tray to have contained either a lot more or a lot less food than Lunamaria's. Opportunity wasted.

Athurn and Meer
Meer barges into Athrun's room again.

Meyrin
Meyrin uses the Information Superhighway.

Athrun has a big honkin' workstation in his quarters, while Meyrin only has a notebook—proof that rank doth have its privileges. Either that or Athrun's just a GIANT NERD.

Meyrin and Athrun
Athrun surprises Meyrin.

Meyrin and Athrun on their second date.
Natural couples utilize photo booths at amusement parks
and keep their memories in sticker albums. Coordinator
couples utilize security cameras at military installations
and keep their memories in their Permanent Records.

I want a third season of Gundam SEED that features, as a running gag, frequent attempts by Meyrin and Athrun to go on dates that inevitably result in perilous situations necessitating gunplay.

Dated 12 January 2007: Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition 4

I didn't spot any major changes to the fourth and final Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition compliation movie. The biggest thing I noticed was an additional scene showing Cagalli taking off THE RING and stowing it in some random box in a desk, just in case the original scene was just TOO SUBTLE for some of y'all. I guess it also serves to eliminate any potential doubts such as fears that maybe Cagalli just lost it down a sink one day while washing dishes.

Cagalli
At least she didn't throw it into Mount Doom.

Oh, they did fix Meer's Engrish note from the double-date segment.

Meer's note.
Help!! I'm trapped in an Idol Factory.

God damn, those really were shitty Soldats knockoffs.

The fourth movie also clearly showed that Shiho Hasenpfeffer is now one of Empress Lacus' goons. Oh, I guess the fourth movie also showed that Kira now apparently holds a ZAFT command position in the Clyne Empire, although Athrun had to settle for being an Orb flunky.

Lacus and ZAFT-type Kira
Empress-type Lacus greets ZAFT-type Kira.

Shiho, Lacus, and Yzak
Empress Lacus and her goons. So much better than Meer's goons.

Empress Lacus
Ha ha. It's ARTHUR!

I guess that's the biggest change right there: Remember how Gundam SEED Destiny screwed up by first being about Shinn Asuka, and then switched gears trying to be about Athrun Zala and his harem of girls with the bedroom-type eyes and the aerodynamic-type boobs, and then fucked everything royal by being about Kira's pacifistic moralizing and brush with omnipotence? Well, the movies basically said, "Forget all that, the series was really about Athrun Zala narrating the epic story of Lacus Clyne's sinister rise to power." It's quite an accomplishment for the "Ara? Ara?" airhead of yore.

Everything else was pretty much from the Final Plus version of the last episode, including Shinn finally being introduced to Kira.

Shinn meets Kira
"So sorry I accidentally killed your family."

Anyway, I hope there is a third SEED season that reveals Lacus was behind it all, and that the source of Kira's newfound strength arises from the ghost of Flay, whose regular Obi-Wan Kenobi-isms get him through the night when he's blueballed from his years of impenetrable celibacy with Lacus. And Meyrin and Athrun should go on more dates that get interrupted because people keep trying to kill them.

Dated 24 January 2007: Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition 4, Lunamaria CHECK

Lunamaria without her skirt.
Lunamaria without her skirt. Oh, and Kira in a ZAFT uniform for some reason.
And Meyrin needs to take Athrun to the mall again.
I think all his non-Orb clothes went down with the Minerva.

I somehow completely failed to notice that Lunamaria ditched her skirt in the final moments of the fourth Gundam SEED Destiny compliation movie until Zyl pointed it out.

This raises the question as to WHY?

  1. Hack job by Sunrise animators suffering from the Itis after too much free Pizza Hut caused genuine error.
  2. Wants to be taken seriously as a Gundam pilot. (Hey, it could happen.)
  3. Finally realized that all those elevators at PLANT are made of glass.

It was probably the first reason, but I can almost argue that it was the second reason since Lunamaria did get herself some non-trampy street clothes with phony FAITH logos on the lapels.

Lacus and Lunamaria
Lunamaria, this is a prime opportunity to start sucking up.

Clearly Lunamaria has Special Forces envy.

Dated 26 February 2007: Be back later

Lunamaria

Don't worry; I found someone to watch the place while I'm gone.