Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket was a beautiful insight into 'short but sweet' operation. It was a six-epsiode OVA that took me for a wild ride with laughs, smiles, tears and left me feeling rewarded for my two-hour-and-some investment into it. Characters were memorable, the plot was interesting and the theme was well-presented, understandable and touching. Under the assumption that what War in the Pocket was to the 'Universal Century' era of Gundam, Gundam SEED C.E. 73 Stargazer would be to the 'Cosmic Era' (C.E.) of Gundam, I spent no less than fifty dollars on three episodes of Gundam as I did with the six episodes, all promised "on one disc!" by the case of War in the Pocket.
My reward for that cash, having dropped it on War in the Pocket was a memorable experience worth revisiting that neither ate up my time nor did it feel shortchanged. My reward for that cash, having dropped it Stargazer was a bunch of loosely defined characters, strange visual effects, loose plot explanations and some general presumptuousness-- from what I gather, these are typical deliveries from the boys of the C.E. Gundam-verse. Onward with details, yes?
I don't really know.
No, I'm serious; I suppose I should preface this by saying that Stargazer, to the best of my knowledge-- as it is the only Gundam SEED content I have watched-- follows the events of Gundam SEED Destiny. Earth is in a panic as a colony is raining down on them in chunks, and I guess that means terrorists are out to play again. Selene McGriff, a researcher for the Deep Space Survey and Development organization (oh goodness, DSSD henceforth) is in the know for the "Stargazer Project," something about a Gundam that can go nice and deep into space using some solar thingy on its back, I guess. Science. Yay. It looks pretty, though.
On the other hand, we have Sven Cal Bayan, who pilots the (very nice-looking) Gundam Strike Noir. He is in the service of 'Phantom Pain,' who... I guess want to destroy the Stargazer. Or, wait, they just want to kill Coordinators, because they're Naturals. The Stargazer's in their way. I guess. Why's the Stargazer here, again? Anycase, Sven is accompanied by Shams Couza and Mudie Holmcroft, respectively the pilots of the Verde Buster and the Blu Duel. If you're a fan of Gundam SEED, then yes-- all three are very lovely redesigns of their similarly named ancestors. And yes, they are awesome designs. But I digress.
The story passed quickly from memory for me. It was hard not to; they jumped right into some really confusing, befuddling conflict, and started throwing out character deaths left and right as if I was supposed to feel bad about them. I'm not entirely sure why they decided this could be crammed into three episodes; it feels like War in the Pocket without the loveable characters or intriguing plot. It centers around a new Gundam and ultimately, the people who want it turned into a scrap heap, and really, that's about all I got out of it. An anime's story should not pass from the mind so quickly; one should at least be able to recall the finer points of the plot, but when it comes to Stargazer, it feels as though they were never delivered. It was all just a ruse, used to disguise a bunch of punctuated fights. Even those weren't all that interesting.
I give it a 3/10, I guess. The Naturals-vs-Coordinators thing is sort of neat, but I guess for the Gundam SEED crowd, that's been around for a while. I'm certain if I could remember the finer points behind the Stargazer itself, too, those would be interesting. So, I'm throwing it the benefit of the doubt.
I can't really put into words how disjointed and... not-presented the plot was. Nothing was really said, though-- or if it was, I certainly didn't get it out of the presentation.
Pretty, pretty, pretty. The high budget of the C.E. series Gundams are definitely showing off here. But animation alone won't save an anime, and quite frankly, good as it might be, there's nothing particularly memorable about it. The characters, as per usual, come with a wide variety of hair colors that just aren't feasible. But hey, it's anime, we didn't come here for silly realism.
That doesn't fix the fact that it's a bunch of gaudy special effects and flashy fights that seem to suck the budget out of the rest of the OVA, leaving me only to wonder if this presentation is supposed to be visual alone-- and, that being the case, if they honestly thought that this was going to get the job done. It's nice to look at, but it's no centerpiece, and unlike some other choice titles it does not enhance or accent the presentation or mood of the anime.
8/10. Distracting, but both in a good way in a bad way. Fortunately for Stargazer, it's good enough that I can give it a high score and it remains consistently so for all three episodes. Whee.
I award this a 6/10 strictly for the opening, Hoshi no Tobira... by, uh, someone. It's a nice song, I believe used to open the episodes and then end the series. It's an easy and pretty listen.
As for the rest of the anime, I remember nothing from it. That does not spell well for it since I recall songs from a good many things and Stargazer is not one of them.
As covered before, the ever-cool-and-collected Selene McGriff is arguably one of two main characters of the show. She loses her cool here and there but is otherwise really dry and seems a bit two-dimensional. Oh, and Sven. I guess he's a child soldier... or something? And he hates Coordinators, naturally. (ha, ha. little gundam humor there.) Not a one of the characters in this show is adequately explored and what little I've garnered from Sven is pulled from the few scenes of flashbacks. When I said 'loosely defined characters,' I meant it; they've got names and premises. I've mentioned Selene's, and Sven's is the 'cool, quiet soldier.' Not much for the spectrum of emotions here-- except Shams, who's full of life. I think he digs Mudie, and Mudie's kind of the 'femme fatale,' full of a forward, all-business personality, contrasting to Shams' sarcastic, fun personality. I guess. Don't let that fool you-- I could probably count all their lines on two hands. Perhaps all their lines combined. Well, no, that might be pushing it. Nonetheless, none of the characters feel like characters as much as they do cut-outs with some words printed on them.
If I were a cut-out with words printed on me while watching this anime, I would be 'quietly regretful.' I could have fed myself for two weeks on 50$.
It's like an empty box, really. A really pretty box with nice wrapping and everything. There's just nothing inside, and expecting anything more is probably foolish. Stargazer stands to prove that while 'short and sweet' exists, it probably does not exist with an approximate hour of run-time stretched over three episodes. What you go into Stargazer with is likely what you'll leave with-- not a whole lot. A muddled delivery of something exceptionally vague leads to an experience easily forgettable and trumped out by many of its predecessors.
Don't expect anything less than some empty, punctuated attempts to build characters between pretty fight scenes in Stargazer and, hey, you might just get what you came for. Expect anything else of it, though, and you're probably going to wind up disappointed.