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Gundam SEED Freedom (Theatrical Release)

Gundam SEED Freedom (Theatrical Release)

Written by Dawfydd Kelly on 20 Mar 2024

Distributor Bandai-Namco/Anime Limited • Certificate 15 • Price n/a

Cosmic Era 75. Following the events of the 2nd Bloody Valentine War, the governments of the Plants, Earth Alliance and Orb created COMPASS: a multinational peacekeeping force mandated to counteract aggression from the terrorist Blue Cosmos remnants and to prevent conflicts escalating. Headed by Lacus Clyne, Kira Yamato and his comrades continue to fight for a world where each individual is free to choose their destiny…

Right, off the bat I’m gonna hold my hands up and say that I thoroughly enjoyed this film. However it IS the most Gundam SEED thing to ever Gundam SEED, and if this part of the Gundam franchise has never been your cup of tea then this is likely not going to change your mind, as it manages to encapsulate both the best & worst traits of the SEED universe in one, pretty much non-stop, 2 hour experience that is very much a "Best Of" experience for long-time SEED fans. My only issue with that is it has so much going on that will go over the head of viewers unfamiliar with the SEED universe. I would like to think that the film still works on a surface level as an entertaining spectacle for new-comers, but it's the fans who will gain the most from this cinematic outing.

 But let’s talk specifics, beginning with the negatives.

I’m going to slap a great big “TRIGGER WARNING” at the start here here as on the BBFC ratings card the film is immediately flagged for “sexual assault” as the only content warning. Now thankfully the scene in question, whilst indeed disturbing, does not go where such a warning might indicate, and is handled in a much more sensitive manner than might be expected. I just want to make sure that folks are forewarned as I will admit to finding the warning a shock when the rating card flashed up, as did a large portion of the audience I was viewing with.
Beyond this my only real gripes are the slightly OTT nature of Lacus’ space suit towards the end of the film that leads into the worst tendencies of the SEED universe and a wish that it was set a few more years down the timeline - 1 year after the events of SEED Destiny feels too short for the rise of the Kingdom of Foundation and the creation of their bespoke Black Knight mobile suits.
Oh, and a criminal lack of Andy Waltfeld (bar one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo)…..

The positives though. Oh my the positives!

Let’s start with the music - SEED has always had excellent soundtracks and Freedom dips into that bag with aplomb, as well drawing on previous SEED contributors for an opener from Takanori Nishikawa (aka T.M. Revolution), closer from See-Saw and insert by Mika Nakashima for some thematic continuation of the sounds associated with the universe. Put another way, I really want a copy of the OST…
Animation? Well despite rumours I’ve heard of work being done to tighten things up ahead of the US Premier in a few weeks, I found that Freedom looked excellent on the big screen. Visuals were crisp, clear, and a real glow-up from even the HD remasters of SEED and SEED Destiny. Unsurprisingly the mecha scenes in particular are intense, and it’s great to see the suits from across the whole of the SEED franchise getting a chance to shine. And of course Freedom continues the tradition of ZAFT suits being nifty reworks of classic Zeon suits from the Universal Century - in this case the Gelgoog Menace, Gyan Storm and Athrun’s Z’Gok- whilst the Black Knight Squads suits are a fun & distinctive designs that stand apart from the styles associated with Orb, the Earth Alliance and Zaft. 

Gundam SEED Freedom The Black Knights
The Black Knights - they don't look like the goodies, do they?

That segues us in nicely actually, as it’s to the film's credit that no time is wasted on making it quite clear that the Kingdom of Foundation’s Queen Aura, Prime Minister Tao and the whole Black Knight Squadron are dodgy as all get out, but they do make some wonderfully hissable villains. New girl on Team Yamato Agnes Gieberanth (the “midnight Valkyrie”) though could have done with some more development. There is very much the impression that she was perhaps supposed to have appeared in Destiny to give her story more time to marinate. What works really nicely though is the arcs taken over the course of this film by Kira & Lacus, both struggling somewhat with their place in this new world and with the responsibilities they have taken on despite their youth. Honestly it’s wonderfully compelling stuff.

Oh, and this is complimented by Shinn taking the spot as Kira’s wingman and the more goofy aspects of his personality (that the Destiny  series plastered over with angst) being allowed free reign. Honestly his scenes are some of the most fun in the whole film. 

Other highlights? Well I’d happily sit through more of Izak & Dearka, Athrun & Meryn or Miriallia & Sai as the roles of each of these pairings in the film hinted at more to their adventures than we saw in the film. 

 Overall then it's a resounding success, and I’d be quite happy if this was where the Cosmic Era ended if we did not see any more of it. However given that it has become by far the most successful cinematic release in the Gundam franchise to date (26.82 million USD globally as of the 19th of March), rumours are already circulating that this may not be the last we see of Naturals and Coordinators…..

Gundam SEED Freedom is showing on screens across the UK on the 23rd & 24th of March. Tickets & showing information here.   

An impressive, if long awaited, capstone to one of the most beloved parts of the Gundam franchise.

Dawfydd Kelly
About Dawfydd Kelly

Wargamer. Anime fan. Giant robot enthusiast. Congenietal absorber of science fiction & fantasy. Dawfydd is most definitely too old for this ****, but see's no point in stopping now. If only he could cut down on his use of the words 'dude' and 'groovy' in everyday conversation...


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