What They Say:
As the bitter war between the League Militaire and Zanscare continues, Üso’s skill with the Victory Gundam has grown, but so has his stake in the war’s outcome. Between Katejina’s betrayal and his parents’ involvement in the League Militaire’s war strategy, there is no turning back for Üso now. The only option left is to fight until the very end!
The audio presentation for this release delivers on what’s wanted and expected at this point as we get the original Japanese language track in the uncompressed PCM format in stereo. The show doesn’t work a huge soundstage but it’s pretty representative of material at the time and it works well for what it’s trying to do. The dialogue side is mostly center channel based with a clean approach to it where there’s depth and placement as needed in some scenes but mostly just problem beyond that. The action scenes boost things up a bit more as there are more events going on but it’s not something that works the flashier designs of the past ten or fifteen years to make it more immersive. The end result is something that hits the right notes and presents the mix as it was originally designed in a clean and problem free way.
Originally airing in 19983, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twenty-five episodes for this half of the series are spread across three discs in a nine/eight/eight format. Animated by Sunrise, the series is one that looks very much of the time and shows a shift from the previous series that came out with the designs, notably in the color design. Colors tend to be a bit brighter in just about all tones while still sticking to the real world design that it has when on Earth and a clean simple approach in space. While not hugely detailed, the show does things right with the design of the ships and mobile suits while backgrounds are largely pretty well done considering how minimal they could go if they wanted. The transfer definitely brings all of this together well as it’s a clean looking piece that avoids problems like dust and dirt or scratches and the color saturation is spot on. There’s some film grain noise to be had, often in the ship interior scenes with the beiges and grays they use, but even that’s very minimal overall and doesn’t distract. For fans of the show, this is the best it’s probably looked in general
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds two of the discs on a hinge and the third against the interior wall. The front cover works with a decent image that has Uso and Shakti going in for an embrace as they float above the mobile suit. It’s a familiar piece of imagery for the Gundam universe and with the purples and whites in the background, it has a light and appealing feeling even with the heavier colors. The logo adds some nice pop of color and the mix of red and yellow continues to work well for me. The back cover works the traditional layout for Sunrise releases with a good mobile suit image along the right, some background material given a little time, and a very clean and easy to read summary of the premise. This is also where we get the listing of the episode count and extras so you know easily what’s in it. The strip of shots from the show are decent with what can be done in that space and we get a full listing of episodes by number and title, a practice I still find a little bewildering. The technical grid covers everything in a clean and easy to read format so you know exactly what you’re getting. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release work a simple but solid approach that may not be flashy but it’s appropriate and works well. Each disc has a static image of some sort from the show that highlights different characters and settings, such as the first with a couple of mobiles suits walking along, and they have a solid gray banner stripe along the bottom where everything is for the navigation. With a really fun logo kept to the left with bright yellow and red, the navigation itself is done with a small white font with a lot of empty space to the right. That gets used up for the episode selection submenu where you get the list of what’s on that disc by number and title. The discs have little beyond the show so the navigation mostly serves as something functional but it’s kept simple in the right way and works smoothly and without a problem.
The extras for this release are a bit standard fare as we get the clean versions of the second opening and closing sequences, which are always welcome, as well as the end of episode previews for a few more episodes. This set also comes with some of the TV spots for the series and commercials as well as recent home video releases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
V Gundam in its opening half was a complicated work for me in that there were things that I liked and a lot of things that just frustrated the hell out of me. There’s the appeal of old school Gundam here in that the body count continues to rise, significantly so in this set with both name characters and the faceless masses, as putting characters through the wringer of what war is like serves to change and grow the leads that do survive. The flip side is that this series feels so ungrounded when it comes to the larger war, a problem that was dominant in the first half of the series, that it’s left me very uninterested in the actual war itself and the reasons and motivations behind it. That may be workable in some series but when you have a show focused on the totality of war, being invested in a side is important. Even more so when it’s hard to connect with thirteen-year-old characters in this setting.
The twenty-five episodes of this set also end up feeling like a strong thematic and structure revisiting of previous Universal Century series. There’s the movement back and forth between earthbound adventures and space-based ones and that always just feels a bit forced because not matter how hard they indicate it is to move between the two areas, it always feels like it’s done with far too much ease. The shift between locales also doesn’t do much to really change the flow and feel of things because the majority of the show is all about the action. It really does feel like there’s little downtime in the show as even when the characters are involved in important dialogue they’re doing it amid battles or ship movements through larger fights that are going on. One of the things that really frustrated me with the first half, and sadly continues here, is that it’s just constantly on the action without any important downtime to breathe and really humanize the characters. They’re at what seems like constant war.
A lot of this journey when it comes to character development is on Uso and his struggle with the war that he’s been thrust into. This is a familiar path for a Gundam show but unlike Amuro or Kamille or a host of others characters, Uso’s even younger and his attempts at putting it to words just rings hollow for much of it, as though he’s playing at being wise beyond his years instead of actually having the wisdom to formulate how he feels about all of this. As he sees more and more of his friends fall in the war, where there’s supposed to be some real impact for the viewer because we know them (yet we don’t because it’s so superficial), Uso’s our window into all of this and it really is just hamstrung by the age of the character. There are good moments to be had and the more he questions what the adults are asking of him the more you want to see him rebel against it and find a new path, but the reality is anything but that and his struggle is complicated because of that.
Uso does have some interesting material along the way that shows why his life is complicated beyond this as well. Discovering the whereabouts of his parents certainly throws him as he ends up coming across his mother along the way and fights with her to survive for a while before they’re separated again. She’s pretty gung-ho and capable so it’s a nice change of pace from the son having to be protective. Uso’s father is a different story since he’s a part of the Earth based resistance to Zanscare and a leading part of it at that. While he’s glad to see his son alive and capable, and flying the V2 as he is to great impact, he also has to keep a certain distance because Uso is a subordinate. Yeah, I’m still struggling with a thirteen-year-old in this situation. I know it’s pretty common in some parts of the world but this isn’t that kind of storyline and it just becomes problematic. Uso’s interactions with his father are fairly minimal but it does take Uso some time to really get it through his own head that he can’t have his father treat him like he would because of the war and his command position. It’s understandable that it would take some time but I liked how the other crewmembers he’s aligned with essentially smack Uso upside the head to get him to realize it.
A lot of this half turns its focus to the new Zanscare weapon, which comes up amid dissent in the ranks and a fracture within Zanscare, with a massive weapon called the Angel Halo. It’s an interesting design with its multiple rings and how it connects but it kind of lost me later on with it breaking into component parts that reconfigure and the way through Shakti’s involvement that it’s able to regress people to sleep. It’s not terribly in-depth but it provides for a superweapon that threatens anyone not on the Zanscare side and makes it clear how they would essentially dominate and overtake Earth with ease by removing any resistance through it. There’s a lot of movement on the Zanscare side throughout this set but it faces the same problems that Uso and his side does in that nobody really feels like they have any weight to them. With subplots within and some like Tassilo looking to take over himself, there’s just no one singular strong opponent. Even Cronicle simply disappears for far too long to attempt to hold that role. And while Katejina gets the final moments of the series, carrying the weight and scars of the war, it’s without resonance for the same exact reason.
One of the main reasons to enjoy this series is that it really is just a whole metric ton of mobile suit action. There’s a good bit of variety to it with the configurations, though I really can’t get behind the whole Motorad thing and the massive single wheel that rolled over the landscape. I could write paragraphs on just how crazy that is. The action is the real strength to the show and it’s something that’s definitely appealing as it’s well done amid the shift from 80’s style Gundam to what the 90’s wanted to try. The part where it’s lacking is with the characters themselves and the all-important foundational aspects of the war that I really struggled with in the first half. This half just wants to go to the wall with the action and it embraces it, which makes for some very good times to be had if that’s your bag. I like more meaning with my action so this kind of felt more and more hollow as it went along. As one of the last pieces of the UC timeline back in this period, it’s easy to understand why that era was shelved for a while.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening 2, Clean Closing 2, End of Episode Promos, TV Spots and Commercials
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Right Stuf & Sunrise
Release Date: November 1st, 2016
Running Time: 625 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.