What They Say:
Through destruction, Celestial Being will bring rebirth to the world.
Eradicating war by means of armed interventions. The year is 2307 AD. As three superpowers, the Union, the Human Reform League, and the AEU, are vying for global influence, the private armed organization “Celestial Being” suddenly appears.
Celestial Being, using the mobile weapon “Gundam” in an attempt to eliminate war, brings astonishment and chaos to the people of the world with its contradictory actions. Before long, it begins to provoke even hatred and anger. However, this will become the power to compel the world into a drastic reformation.
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo done up in the uncompressed PCM form as now English language dub was previously created. The show is fairly standard modern Gundam fare in that there’s a strong mix of dialogue and action to it with both sides served well. The dialogue angle gets plenty of placement throughout through the use of various communication devices and being in space and the like. There’s often a decent number of characters on screen as well that gives it a bit more life too. The action goes for a bigger and fuller feeling overall with some good impact along the way, though a 5.1 mix would have added a good bit more of that. There’s a lot of solid directionality across the forward soundstage and placement in both action and dialogue which results in a really appealing and fun mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2008 and 2009 before being compiled, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The three OVAs are spread across three discs and clock in around 100 minutes each. Animated by Sunrise, the series has a really strong look to it when it comes to the visual design with colors that pop really with some great vibrancy throughout that lets it stand out compared to many of the prior series. There’s a fluidity that works really well and a whole lot of appeal in the character designs that Yun Koga provided for it that has a kind of languid and lanky feeling that oozes off the screen. The encoding here is a crisp and appealing one with colors that are strong and solid throughout and avoids problems such as cross coloration and noise. With the DVDs looking decent before that were released almost a decade ago, this is a significant upgrade that’s very worthwhile across the board.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than usual Blu-ray case where we get the three discs held on hinges and the back wall. The front cover artwork is a familiar piece with two of the leads facing off against each other with their respective mobile suits in space battling behind them to good effect. It works well here with the colors of the character/mecha material and the brightness of the Gundam logo along the bottom to help offset it a bit. I’d have preferred something with more of the cast as a whole as opposed to just one here but it’s not an unexpected design choice. The back cover does a fun hexagon stripe down the right with lots of shots from the show there before we get a mobile suit overlaid on top of it. That leaves the rest of the cover to break down the extensive summary of the premise and layout the extras. The text is a bit smaller than I care for, especially with the shades of green used with the black text, but it gets the job done. The layout is good overall with some nice design effects with greens and blues to help tie it all together instead of just empty space.
The menu design for this release is pretty slick looking as it goes for an almost faux-widescreen approach with clips playing through the middle. The bottom is mostly white with some touches of green but the top has a really nice layering of green with the logo and the navigation strip. It has a kind of futuristic feeling that’s appropriate for the show and its design that connects well with the logo design. It may be a bit gaudy green in the eyes of some but I really like the look of it across the set. The navigation is simple but easy to navigate and works well both as the pop-up menu during playback or as the main menu with quick access and load times.
The extras for this release come with the various endings for each of the works as well as a trailer for the Trailblazer film.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a popular TV series produced and then a big feature film put into production coming out not long after, how can you ensure that new viewers can enjoy it with the extensive backstory that exists? I’m still not largely convinced that you can but anime studios/committees continue to churn out a range of compilation films. I’m always fairly uneasy about these things because when we get them it’s not exactly useful when you get down to it. After wrapping up watching the TV series within the past week, I’ve got these compilation works and the new feature film to check out. So what this becomes isn’t exactly a chore but rather something that reinforces that it doesn’t quite work as intended when it comes to how these are produced.
Having seen several more recent ones as well I’m almost at a point where I don’t think distributors should bother to bring them over at this point, but the simple truth is that fans are collectors and the studios know the compulsion is there so they put in new bridging moments of material in order to get them fully on board. Even after just watching the TV series I’ll say it’s pretty impossible to tell if there are any new scenes in here. I’m just not that wired into it to be able to tell. What this project does across the three OVAs is to basically bring out the ideas of the series that ran for over 1200 minutes into something just under 300 minutes. With the structure and style of the modern Gundam series going back to the early 2000’s, that’s just not something that works as well as it once did. The OVAs work well enough in a kind of barreling down a hill way where a lot is thrown at you and you get the gist of things but it falls short on character and nuance, which is to be expected.
With the Gundam universe, I think fandom for it is partially predisposed to believe the compilation films will be decent if not better in some ways. The original TV series was such a mess that when it got the re-edits into the film trilogy that worked better and more cohesively there was a view that it could be done with any of the series as time went on. But the structure and style, and the conditions under which newer series were made, really meant that we weren’t getting more of the same of what had happened there. I’m still one that firmly believes that the original Gundam series is best in its film compilation edit but I haven’t found much since then – in most any franchise – that made out just as well because of it.
The main question at the end of this is does it serve up things well enough for someone new to the franchise to get into the Trailblazer movie. In a way, I think it does but at the same time the Trailblazer movie is its own weird thing with so much going on and so many characters in it that even after watching everything before it I still felt somewhat lost by it all. The OVA trilogy here covers the main TV series well enough and I think it covers the basics right so it’s just a matter of whether you want an overview of the series or not. Or that you’re a completist or not. Compilation projects leave me mixed at the best of times and this project is one of the reasons why. The release itself is well put together as it looks great and has a solid track to it and includes a couple of basic but welcome extras but mileage will vary for the fans.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Clean Endings and Gundam 00 Movie Preview Promotional Video
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment / Sunrise
Release Date: September 4th, 2018
Running Time: 270 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.