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Gundam Seed Astray (Gundam (Tokyopop) (Graphic Novels)), Vol. 1 Paperback – May 11, 2004
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From the Publisher
The Gundam series has been on Cartoon Network for several years.
Gundam has been immensely popular worldwide for over 20 years.
Gundam Seed Astray features edgier, hipper more irreverent stories that will appeal to more discerning readers.
Anime coming soon to the U.S.!
Illustrated by Koichi Tokita (Gundam Wing)
Will fan the flames of sales of existing Gundam titles and introduce readers to a brand new Gundam universe
Featuring story arcs not available in the animated series
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Top customer reviews
So, basically, this first volume follows Lowe and the gang and their discovery of two complete, secret Mobile Suits in an abandoned warehouse (along with an arm of a third suit). Lowe gets away with the Red Frame suit but not before the mercenary group Serpent Tail nabs the Blue Frame for themselves. The Mobile Suits, dubbed the Gundam Astray models, are just about identical but the mercenary who took Blue Frame, Gai, customized his with various weapons and boosters to try and out-match any opponents. When Lowe and the others investigate Artmeis, they find that Gai and the Blue Frame are keeping the pirates away and Gai is forced to fight Lowe; Blue Frame against Red Frame! After a bit of teamwork, they both escape with their suits and Lowe finds himself trapped in a weapons testing facility after a junk deal goes bad. Lowe's junk tech ingenuity gets him out and gets them to the colony Liteiria, where Liam comes across his long, lost brother and Lowe gets to show off his new Gerbera Straight sword for the Red Frame. However, soldiers of the Earth Alliance break off the reunion by attacking right when the people of Liteiria are trying to get out of there and it's up to Lowe and Liam to distract the troops so that the citizens of Liteiria can escape and make a new life elsewhere!
Overall, this whole manga is a nice introduction to the Astray series and I like it better than the Gundam SEED anime series already. Lowe is a likeable, yet goofy character and there's lots of funny moments and an equal amount of action. The Astray Red Frame and Blue Frame are the prominent Mobile Suits in this volume and the action is top-notch! This is a highly recommended manga if you're into Gundam already or just really like the whole SEED universe!
The series introduces two main protagonists, Lowe Guele, a civilain member of the Junk Guild who obtains the Gundam Astray Red Frame and Gai Murakumo, leader of the mercenary group Serpent's Tail, a combat cooridnator and pilot of the recovered Astray Blue Frame. These two unlikely allies have a series of adventures on their own and together fighting against new enemies. In all honesty, the original Seed anime is plagued with many issues and frankly unlikeable characters with much of the plot being a tiring rehash of the original MSG series, but the Seed universe offers a far more colorful and original look at this new universe and in some ways I wish the Seed Astray story was animated and the Seed story was in manga form.
The closest example to compare the story too maybe 'Megas XLR'. A few hours after the fighting which destroyed Kira's home colony of Heliopolis, the ship HOME of the neutral Junk Guild arrives to see what they can salvage. Lead tech Lowe Guile (TOKYPOP translated his surname wrong amongst other errors) happens across two brand new Gundams in the wreckage, cosmetically identical except for their paint schemes of red and blue. However, certain parties would prefer the MS to stay buried and an elite pilot of the Serpent Tail mercenary group shows up to assure this. When his clients betray him, Lowe and the mercenary known as Gai become uneasy allies and each claims a Gundam with Lowe taking the Astray Red Frame and Gai taking the Astray Blue Frame.
The core of this section of the overall Astray tale focuses on the crew of HOME and their attempts to keep the Red Frame out of the hands of others. Whilst some of these are original characters, some will be recognised by fans of the anime such as the forces at the Artemis space base. Those who have read Tokita's other works will spot similarities- Lowe is his typical 'big kid' lead who ignores the criticism of others and believes strongly in the good of humanity. Kisato is his long time female friend with a crush which is obvious to the reader but not so to Lowe. Rounding up the HOME crew are the mysterious and slightly insane female scientist 'The Proffessor', laid back Coordinator Liam and 8, Lowe's personal computer and assistant.
In terms of artwork, Tokita has definetly improved from where he was at this point a decade ago. Characters and mecha look great, bearing a resemblance to the style of the SEED anime. He also does a great job with scene setting- action scenes are nice and intense, character moments are peaceful and focused and comedy is well timed and goofy.
One of the biggest problems is a result of the sheer scope of the Astray project. Out of nowhere towards the end of this volume, Lowe's Astray is suddenly using the Gerbera Straight katana with little more then an editor's note to explain it's presence. This is because Lowe and friends have their adventures split between the normal Astray manga and the (only just starting in the US) Astray R serial. Whilst these sudden story jumps are annoying for pacing, the editor's notes at least make this somewhat easier.
If you're a fan of the SEED anime, this is pretty much a must buy. 'Plotholes' from that are covered here and it stands strong on it'w own merits too. A word of warning though- take TOKYOPOP's translation with a grain of salt. Various errors are made, such as stating that Coordinators are telepathic when they are not.