What They Say:
Two fates that never should have crossed paths…
Asemu Asuno, son of the Earth Federation Forces commander Flit Asuno. Zeheart Galette, a warrior who throws himself into battle for the sake of the Vagan people. For a brief while they spent time together, formed a friendship, and sometimes quarreled, even as they looked up at the same cosmos. But the time has come for a bitter parting. When those two boys met, was it the beginning of a tragedy, or the light that leads to hope?
Out among the stars, they cross swords, shout each other’s names, and shed tears. Tossed about by war, these two bring together their hopes and dreams in one future. The final conclusion happens right here, right now.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as does the English language mix, both of which are done up in uncompressed PCM. The series works the forward soundstage the way most Gundam shows do with some good placement and a sense of movement during the action sequences and more straightforward designs during the dialogue side. That area gets a little more from time to time when the characters float across the screen or amid the action as they move about, but that’s not all that strong overall. In general, it’s a solid forward soundstage design that plays as you’d expect from a TV series with no surprises. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2011 and 2012 as TV material, the transfer for these two compilation film pieces are presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The films clock in at about 70 and 80 minutes each and there’s plenty of room to work with on the disc for them. Animated by Sunrise, the show has a good look go it though I’m less sold on the character designs. In terms of mecha there’s plenty to like as we get something that feels like it’s adhering to the traditional concepts but bringing in a few at that time new modern concepts with how the screens would work and the like. There’s that sense of the familiar with minor changes so that it doesn’t stray from what works. It’s the characters that are a bit simpler in their design, particularly the hair, and it comes across as a little more kid-friendly to some degree. The encoding for this is definitely well done as colors are rich and vibrant where they need to be and more earthy in those areas. Details hold up very well with no problems and the more fluid action sequences definitely stand out well. All the space based scenes look great with solid backgrounds that don’t show anything in the way of noise or breakup.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc. The front cover gives us something darker than the series releases did I think as we get Asemu and Zeheart in a traditional back to back mode while getting a split for the mobile suits in the background that works nicely, if a touch murky. The back cover works a darker background with a few small shots from the show included. There’s some good mecha material along the bottom but the UE mecha blends a little too much into the darker background and the purple elements. The premise is covered decently without giving away too much and it has a solid breakdown of the extras included. While there’s no inserts included with the release there is a nice show of the Gundam on the reverse side against a blue sky that spans both panels.
The menu design for this series is pretty nice as we get some good combination mecha/character stills that look good and a lot more vibrant here than the cover, and avoids the split for the mobile suite in the background. There’s some good technical framing to it and I like the colors used as well as the block style tabbing systema long the bottom that’s for display. With the backdrop of stars underneath it all there’s a good science fiction feel here without it feeling like it’s over the top or too forced with what it’s doing. The navigation is simple and straightforward with easy to use selections and a pop-up menu that has some nice elements that are fun when playing over the show during playback itself. Everything works smoothly and without problems making it a fun and straightforward experience.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I have some real mixed feelings when it comes to compilation films. I can understand when they’re produced in order to introduce things ahead of a new original feature film. I can see them as a way to get fans into the theaters and market a show a bit more. There are plenty of business reasons that I get. But I’ve always struggled with most of them because even when they offer some new animation mixed in to bridge various elements it’s indistinguishable to me. What’s worse, in a way, is in getting these not long after just finishing the series they came from so it becomes an extended recap that whittles away some material and kind of turns into a project where it doesn’t have room to breathe, instead opting to just barrel forward.
With these two features, we get the to me unusual choice of doing compilation work for the second of three generations that the Gundam AGE series covered. The first main arc of the series was a fairly traditional show like we’ve seen with Gundam series before that focused on Flit and the setup for the dynamic between sides. With these films, we get something I don’t believe we’ve seen before. A time jump. And not a small time jump but rather a twenty-five year time jump. That moves Flit from a fifteen year old to a forty year old that is now a commander in the Federation forces and is manning the Big Ring that is protecting Earth from what the UE was discovered to be. What it wants to focus on isn’t Flit, however, but rather his son Asemu and the changes in the battle itself. Flit’s story is kind of integral to it at times but it’s smoothed over in order to focus more on the relationship between two young men from completely different worlds and sides.
Asemu, who is working his way through training but struggling with not being the same kind of person his father was, runs in parallel with Zeheart’s arrival there. Our focus on Asemu and his journey definitely is fun to follow, particularly since he was the target of some Vagan forces that inserted themselves into his life to try and find and destroy the Gundam. The main leader with the was a young man named Zeheart that Asemu became good friends with, and that Zeheart genuinely seemed to like, that turns into a larger rivalry in the stars. Asemu’s path is a little more direct than Flit’s was just because of him having parents and some guidance whereas Flit was a bit more lost from the start with the loss of his own parents.
The show works a pretty good series of events overall as the two sides unfold, though part of what bothers me is that there’s very little to the UE side beyond revenge. It’s kept as simple as possible for the younger audiences so it’s not steeped in any real ideology or anything as it’s more character/cult of personality driven with what it’s doing. And while Flit does have some key moments across it, its focus on Asemu means that he, like Zeheart, will pay only small lip service to the big picture and the details and mostly just go against each other until the inevitable moment where they have to work together. They do handle it pretty nicely overall and the end result provides for some good closer to this part of the AGE era, giving us just a one-year time leap forward for the moment to show some good epilogue material with a couple of intriguing twists.
The Asemu and Zeheart arc of Gundam AGE was in a way I think the weakest of the three main arcs that exist within it and the most poorly exploited as it went into the next arc. We do get a decent bit of time with the two young men as they grapple with the competition side of the mecha at school and how Zeheart struggled with becoming more familiar with his enemy than he expected. But the time to process that and really reaffirm those bonds are not afforded in these two just more than an hourlong compilation features. My problem with them was more that my mind kept trying to fill in the blanks from what was pulled from the compilations to smooth them out and then started thinking more ahead than anything else to where these arcs go. The release does, I believe, have new animation mixed into it but it’s all a blur to me in that sense. Everything looks great and the encoding is spot on in giving it a proper look but this was a case of too soon after seeing the series for me to be able to invest in looking at it with a fresh view.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment / Sunrise
Release Date: July 3rd, 2018
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.