Mobile Suit Gundam SEED C.E. 73: STARGAZER

Type: OVA
Episode Count: 3
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Vintage: 2006
Date of Review: October 20, 2014

When the remains of Junius Seven are dropped onto Earth by terrorists, a Deep Space Survey and Development Organization launch site is threatened by rising floodwaters from debris impacts as well as ZAFT insurgents fighting nearby. Despite escaping to the DSSD’s space station, there’s no time to relax as Coordinator scientist Selene McGriff desperately tries to keep her prototype mobile suit and its advanced artificial intelligence out of military hands.

This side story to Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny takes place right after the seventh episode of that series, but really doesn’t require you to watch that show or its predecessor. It’s a standalone tale, and while watching the other SEED shows helps flesh out the world in which Mobile Suit Gundam SEED C.E. 73: STARGAZER takes place, you can follow the main plot just fine without having to slog through a hundred episodes first! Unlike most other Gundam features, STARGAZER was a streaming OVA first, and then later released on DVD.

There’s something else that really makes STARGAZER stand out: the prototype mobile suit was not designed for combat purposes. Originally known by the model number GSX-401FW (401 for short) but soon nicknamed “Stargazer,” our Gundam and its artificial intelligence were built for space exploration. I’m a sucker for anything dealing with that stuff, be it the real-world exploits of NASA heroes or science fiction stalwarts like Star Trek. Seeing that in a Gundam show made my day.

Now, of course Selene does end up a serious battle, as she’s forced to defend herself and her Gundam against Phantom Pain agents. For all of the lofty focus on science and the advancement of humanity, those who would tear it down through the horrors of war are equally apparent. There’s a particularly brutal scene where lupine BuCUE mobile suits tear apart an enemy, brutally stabbing the pilot to death with beam fangs the way a pack of wolves would attack and devour their prey. Ouch. Contrast that with the stunning visuals of the Stargazer Gundam as it prepares for spaceflight, and the stark divisions between hope and fear couldn’t be more obvious. The conflict between Naturals and Coordinators is a backdrop here, not the main plot; sure, the Earth Forces want to steal the DSSD’s research for military purposes, but Naturals and Coordinators work there. Even Sven Cal Bayang, our de facto antagonist, was ordered to hate Coordinators by Blue Cosmos during his military training…but he brushed it off. These shades of gray help fill in the gaps between extremists on both sides of the conflict.

For those viewers used to the art style from SEED and SEED Destiny, you’re in for a surprise. STARGAZER uses a vastly different style; it’s very similar to the later Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn or other science fiction anime like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex in terms of character design in particular. Regardless, it looks gorgeous in high-definition, with superb visuals and immersive audio to match. Mobile suit design is of course stunning, with the Stargazer Gundam really standing out due to its Voiture Lumiere propulsion system and the flowing energy lines across its body. The enemy pilots use variants of the stolen Gundams from the first SEED series, and these upgraded mobile suits look fantastic, especially the Strike Noir.

As either a SEED supplement or a standalone piece, STARGAZER excels. In a universe engulfed in the flames of war, it’s nice to know that some folks still reach for the stars.

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