Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny / Vol 1 & Vol 2 : 3 of 5

It's time to start my second Mobile Suit Gundam anime series, and since I just finished Gundam SEED, there's no other choice than the immediate sequel Gundam SEED Destiny. Although I've read a few ho-hum comments on this series, I know I'm going to enjoy it simply because I already have a feel for most of the characters and the background of the Cosmic Era in this particular Gundam universe. The new main character is Shinn Asuka, whose family was killed before his eyes in the previous war, leaving him with quite a grudge to bear. Shinn carries around his deceased sister's cell phone so he can hear her voice message, which is a great example of the kind of tragedy than Gundam seems to express so well. This series begins a lot like the previous one with the theft of some new technology mobile suits (called Chaos, Gaia and Abyss), and at first it's very difficult to decipher what nations are fighting and who is to blame, but this only adds to the tension and uncertainty of the conflict! Athrun is kind of undercover as "Alex", acting as Cagali's assistant, and his association with Orb later sparks some animosity from Shinn, who thinks Athrun should be fully on the side of ZAFT and the Coordinators. Shinn pilots the amazing new Impulse Gundam, which can assemble itself in mid-flight and even change equipment, making for some cool launch sequence animation (that I'm sure I'll see again and again throughout the show!). The real problems begin when some Coordinator terrorists force the Junius Seven memorial to fall to Earth, causing catastrophic damage and prodding the Earth forces into declaring war against the Coordinators once again. It's sad to see a time of peace drawn inevitably into conflict, and even Athrun begins to be swayed to fight. So far I'm loving the opening and closing themes and animation (although Shinn and Athrun look extremely similar, making you depend on their uniforms to tell them apart at times), and I can't wait to keep watching this saga until the end!