Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom Review: A Stuffy Epic Mecha Anime Movie

By   |   April 4, 2024   |   Entertainment

Movie Diva Caroline Cao does it again with a review of this Japanese animated feature.

“I don’t need qualities to be loved!” So goes the declarative message in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom.

I deliberately didn’t brush up on my Gundam — a four-decade-old mecha anime franchise when coming into the Japan Society NYC screening of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom (produced by Bandai Namco Filmworks and its animation studio Sunrise). I’m from the generation that watched Witch from the Mercury, but I am a rookie in knowing its forebears.

The basics might help. This Gundam SEED generation sprouted in 2002 with the anime series. Its beings live in a sci-fi era where human “Coordinators” have genetic modifications and augmented abilities, while “Naturals” humans are born without augmentation.

Regarding the worldbuilding, there must be multitudes of mecha-factions to follow, but most central to this cinematic chapter is the Compass peacekeeping force led by Gundam Commander Kira and its pink-haired president Lacus Clyne. Did I mention they are an item? But their relationship is on the rocks. Especially when Compass makes an alliance with Foundation, a kingdom run by shady regents who preach (their version of) equality.

The Foundation Prime Minister Orphee has set his designs on Lacus. When he and Lacus lock hands, the romantic starry sparks backdrop them, but the supposed chemistry is deflated by his hidden agenda. His uncomfortable lust for her, leading to this hilarious threat: “You were destined to be attractive to me”—injects stakes into the operations.

Directed by Mitsuo Fukuda, Gundam sells its load of cosmic mecha punches and saber duels. This movie is a stuffy epic, though one that pleased the crowd I was sitting with. When an audience raise-your-hand survey was conducted at the intro, an estimated 80 percent of the audience were Gundam viewers, and 60 percent had never attended Japan Society events. The visual batshittery that strikes the climax may be worth it for a newbie. 

Above all else and the stars, it’s corny. It’s romantic cheese. And it’s exactly the romantic cheese the fan crowd feeds on. The biggest roars filled the theater when Lucas reproached, “You are not the man that I love!” It’s that love between Lacus and Kira that resonates throughout the universe.

This English dub version was viewed at Japan Society NYC. For more information on Japan Society events and screenings, see here.

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom will have a Fathom Event screenings on May 7 and 8.

Photo credit: Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc

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