Review: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom


So there I was, sitting at the world premiere of the English dub for Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom. I was graciously invited to attend the premiere by the fine folks at the Japan Society and I was jam-packed in a theater full of diehard Gundam fans. The film, which serves as an epilogue of sorts for the 20-year-old Mobile Suit Gundam SEED franchise, has been a monstrous hit in Japan. It’s become the highest-grossing Gundam film of all time, which is saying a lot given how extensive the franchise’s history in films has been, and a love letter to an era of Gundam that is beloved by many.

I’m not one of those people though.

I’ve only recently gotten into the Gundam series, mostly thanks to shows like Iron-Blooded Orphans and Witch From Mercury. Since then I’ve been slowly delving into older eras of the series and learning more about what makes the franchise tick, so I went into Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom with a simple question: could I, a newcomer Gundam fan, find something to enjoy in this film? Is it going to be inaccessible nonsense to me or is something about it going to click?

By the end of this nearly two-hour film, I did most certainly find something to admire and enjoy about this movie, but man oh man is this a microcosm of every Gundam trope, for better or for worse, that requires previous knowledge of everything SEED related. But, if you like Gundam SEED, like the people at my screening did, you’ll be over the moon.

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED FREEDOM 2nd Trailer

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom
Director: Mitsuo Fukuda
Release Date: April 1, 2024 (Japan Society World Premiere) May 7, 2024 (Limited Theatrical)

For those unaware, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and its sequel Destiny ran for 100 episodes and premiered in the West on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block. Since then, it’s become a beloved part of the fandom over here with plenty of dramatic twists and fan-favorite characters. SEED Freedom takes place a few years after the events of Destiny and has basically every major character return in some way, shape, or form, as well as minor characters, as the cast deals with the two things that all Gundam fans should be familiar with by this point: war crimes and pretty boys with problems.

I joke, but the actual plot of the film is a fairly standard one for a film that’s a follow-up to and a check-in on characters from two decades ago. Our heroes are still attempting to create a lasting peace within the universe, mostly through forming a universal peacekeeping organization called Compass. They’re trying to find and eliminate the leftover members of a radical group called Blue Cosmos, who were antagonists in the anime, and team up with a fledgling group called the Emerging Countries Foundation, a new group introduced in the movie, to do so. From the moment we see Foundation, it’s instantly clear that they’re up to something sinister and have ties to a previous villain in the series, leading all of our heroes to be framed for some good old-fashioned war crimes, resulting in them not only trying to clear their names but also stop Foundation from committing genocide to attain their goal.

To answer the question I posed at the beginning, no, a newbie can’t simply jump into Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom without watching the two shows that came before. I quickly realized this when the other audience members began to cheer at every single development and how the weak narration barely set the stage and recapped 100 episodes worth of television in about a minute. I was able to follow things pretty well in the middle once the plot got underway and the film started to do its own thing, but it wasn’t an easy time.

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom

Copyright: Bandai Namco, Sunrise

I guess what helped make the transition easy for me was how simple it was to understand all of the characters. I learned pretty quickly that a character such as Kira, the protagonist from SEED and Destiny, is a nice guy with blood on his hands who wished for nothing more than a peaceful world. His love interest, Lacus, shared his vision, and while other characters felt more generic and basic, that simplicity did help to identify their characteristics and relationships. For example, it took me only a minute of listening to Shinn Asuka speak for me to understand why a subsect of the fandom hates him. Eventually, it all clicked for me and then it was easy to follow along, but man those first fifteen minutes were rough going. That’s not a criticism of the movie, mind you, but a problem with my approach.

A lot of the references will undeniably fly over a newcomer’s head, but to its credit, SEED Freedom does take some time to connect its conflict with the larger issues of the series making it feel like a continuation of the plot. Issues of free will versus destiny are a prominent theme of the film, with the antagonists all but spouting diatribes ripped straight out of a eugenics textbook and, at least if the flashbacks are any indication, were also overarching themes of the show. All of that is wrapped in an extremely over-the-top and melodramatic package which is oozing with delicious cheese. My favorite bits of the film were when the film’s antagonist openly talks about how he was genetically designed to be the perfect mate for Lacus, only for one of his lieutenants to consistently look away in tears every time he mentions it since, OH NO, she’s in love with him! Doesn’t matter where he is, she’s always around ready to shed a single tear that she’s not genetically good enough to be his lover.

Again, I’m not exactly a veteran when it comes to Gundam, let alone Gundam SEED, but at the very least it nails exactly what a Gundam entry is meant to do. The fight scenes are consistently entertaining and are bursting with energy, showing off just how good the animation is for this film. The entire climax is just a showcase of how the folks at Sunrise can make giant robots beat the crap out of each other and make it a spectacle. Sometimes things would get a bit too chaotic where it was hard to track who was who and what was happening, but if you just want to turn your brain off and watch the giant robots beat each other up, then it does its job well, much like how Godzilla x Kong turned its brain off to have giant monsters do the exact same thing.

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom

Copyright: Bandai Namco, Sunrise

That being said, while the film goes all in for fan service by giving each character a scene or moment to shine, at times it can be a bit excessive. Sometimes it’s from minor points, like having classic characters cameo in the last third of the movie that do nothing to advance the plot, but other times it’s a lot more grating. I’m not exactly sure how much sexual fan service there was in the original show, but when even hardcore fans are uncomfortably chuckling and mumbling “Oh Jesus” when our main female protagonist debuts a skin-tight suit complete with bouncing breasts, then I get the impression that this comes across as an idealized version of the characters rather than how they were actually portrayed.

But all of that didn’t really matter to the people watching it. For fans that had been following the series for 20 years, they were floored. The melodrama was cartoonish and farcical, but it made everyone, myself included laugh. By the end of Act 2, when everyone was at their lowest point and Kira was wallowing and whining about everything to the point where I wanted someone to punch him in the face, lo and behold, someone did. The theater erupted in applause and I let out a laugh since at that moment, I knew that despite my unfamiliarity with this part of the franchise, I was being entertained. I was having fun and enjoying Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom, even if specific plot beats went way over my head or if certain moments were so rock stupid it came across as a parody of itself. Of course the Gundam film would drop a nuke on a little girl. Why wouldn’t it?

As a jumping-on point for the series, there is no way whatsoever I would recommend Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom. This is a film for Gundam SEED fans made by the very same people who made it all those years ago. It’s clear that director Mitsuo Fukuda still holds this series near and dear to his heart, especially given how it was originally conceived in 2006 but was put on hold due to the declining health and eventual death of his co-creator and lead writer on the series, Chiaki Morosawa. There’s a passion here and a love for Gundam that is infectious and right after I finished the film, I went over to Crunchyroll and started watching a few episodes. It may not be a good entry point for newcomers, but it certainly made me want to explore this era of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. Whether or not that’s an endorsement is entirely up to you, but as far as fun movies go, this is certainly a roller-coaster sci-fi soap opera at its finest.




If you're a fan of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, this film is for you. If you're a casual fan of the series, then parts of it may be impenetrable, but you'll still find the melodrama entertaining.

Jesse Lab
The strange one. The one born and raised in New Jersey. The one who raves about anime. The one who will go to bat for DC Comics, animation, and every kind of dog. The one who is more than a tad bit odd. The Features Editor.