On June 15, C.E. 71, the Earth Alliance attacks the neutral nation of Orb. The Alliance ships begin to bombard Orb’s shoreline and launch their complements of Strike Dagger mobile suits. Orb responds by sending out its mass produced M1 Astrays. At the same time, the rebel Alliance ship Archangel launches and deploys Kira Yamato’s Freedom Gundam. Nearby, 14-year-old Shinn Asuka runs through the forest with his parents and younger sister Maya. The four of them duck to the ground when the low-flying Calamity Gundam and Raider Gundam fly by. As they head for an evacuation ship, Maya drops her cell phone, so Shinn jumps down the side of a hill to get it. Weapons fire from the Freedom Gundam hits the ground and sets off an explosion. Shinn is knocked down the hill, and when he gets up he sees Maya’s arm and the bloodied corpses of his parents. He cries out in anguish as he watches the Gundams fighting overhead. In C.E. 72, ZAFT and the Alliance sign the Junius Treaty to bring an end to their long war. On October 2, C.E. 73, a shuttle carrying Orb representative Cagalli Yula Athha and her bodyguard Athrun Zala arrives at the PLANT Armory One. At the base, mobile suit pilot Lunamaria Hawke and mechanic Vino Dupre drive around in a jeep and are nearly crushed by a GINN Ceremonial Decoration Type. The entire base is abuzz over the impending launch of the Minerva, ZAFT’s first new post-war battleship. Nearby, pilot Rey Za Burrel watches the landing of a hovercraft carrying PLANT Supreme Council Chairman Gilbert Durandal. As Durandal exits the hovercraft, an aide informs him that Cagalli has arrived. In the spaceport, Athrun asks Cagalli why she couldn’t have worn a dress just for her meeting with Durandal, but she insists that her suit is fine. As Athrun looks around, he has a glance at three teenagers: Stella Loussier, Auel Neider and Sting Oakley. Athrun and Cagalli ride an elevator down to Armory One’s inhabited area, and Cagalli comments about how of all places, the meeting’s taking place the day before the Minerva‘s launch ceremony. Cagalli and Athrun arrive at Durandal’s office, and he thanks her for coming out to Armory One. He asks Cagalli what she wants, and she makes a request that ZAFT stop using Orb’s technology and human resources for military applications. In the city streets, Stella looks at dresses in a window and begins to dance by herself. She then bumps into Shinn, and he accidentally gropes her breasts while trying to prevent her from falling. She runs off with Sting and Auel, and Shinn’s friend Yolant Kent calling him a lucky pervert for feeling up a girl’s breasts.
Elsewhere, Durandal takes Cagalli and Athrun on a tour of the base. He tells her that despite their development of new mobile suits, ZAFT is not looking to start a war. Athrun looks into one of the hangars and sees ZAFT’s new mass production mobile suit, the ZAKU Warrior. Sting, Stella and Auel wait by a street corner and are picked up by two ZAFT officers in a car. Durandal tells Cagalli that ZAFT wants peace and freedom from aggression, but they need military power in able to make those desires a reality. Cagalli responds by saying that having so much power is almost asking for a conflict. Durandal responds that because there can never be a total end to human conflict, it will always be necessary to have power. The ZAFT officers smuggle Sting, Auel and Stella onto the base and take them to mobile suit hangar 6. They take them inside the hangar and give them a bag full of machine guns, grenades and knives. The three storm the hangar and kill all the pilots, security guards and technicians. Sting then jumps into the cockpit of the Chaos Gundam, followed by Auel in the Abyss Gundam and Stella in the Gaia Gundam. They raise the suits up from their restraints and activate their Phase Shift armor. A dying technician manages to set off the alarm and alert the base. The three then blast out of the hangar, and Sting tells them to destroy the mobile suit hangars before the pilots can launch. Stella transforms the Gaia Gundam into its quadruped mode and destroys a hangar filled with GuAIZ R suits. Pilots begin to launch in their GINNs, DINNs and GAZuOOTs, and Durandal orders his men to evacuate Cagalli and ask the Minerva for help. Lunamaria and Rey attempt to board their suits, but the hangar containing them is damaged. Athrun and Cagalli run away to seek shelter, but their path is blocked by the Gaia Gundam. Stella destroys a DINN in the air, which crashes into a hangar and knocks aside a ZAKU Warrior. Athrun grabs Cagalli and jumps into the cockpit of the ZAKU Warrior. On the Minerva‘s mobile suit deck, Shinn launches in the Core Splendor, followed by the Sword Silhouette Flyer, Chest Flyer and Leg Flyer. Athrun attacks Stella and knocks her beam rifle away. Stella then attacks with a beam saber, and Athrun blocks her with a beam axe. Sting attacks Athrun from behind and slices off the ZAKU Warrior’s left arm. He is then hit from behind by missiles from Shinn’s Core Splendor. Shinn docks with the various components in midair to form the Sword Impulse Gundam. Landing in front of Athrun, he combines his two “Excalibur” anti-ship swords and asks his enemies if they are trying to start another war.
So ends the first episode of SEED DESTINY. For a premiere episode, it’s certainly a lot better than the first episode of SEED. The series opens with a flashback to the invasion of Orb in episode 38 when Kira was fighting the drug addict pilots by himself. Unfortunately, it looks like he was a bit careless and accidentally killed Shinn’s family. The gore factor from SEED is carried on here, as evidenced by Maya’s arms and the bloody remains of Shinn’s parents. Although Kira seems to have settled down after the war, it seems almost certain that he will have an encounter with Shinn somewhere down the line. Surprisingly, for a protagonist we hardly see Shinn throughout the episode. Also, he is perhaps the first pilot in a Gundam TV series to be an enlisted military officer rather than a kid who accidentally stumbles onto a Gundam. This is certainly a welcome change. This series opens with yet another Gundamjack, and Cagalli has the unwelcome distinction of having been present at two such events. This time, things are a bit different. Who are those two ZAFT officers who let Stella and her friends infiltrate the base, and for whom do they work? Also, seeing as how ZAFT has in the past stolen Gundams and had the Freedom Gundam stolen from them, shouldn’t they have some more security surrounding prototype Gundams? And what’s Auel jumping around and shooting stuff like he’s Neo from The Matrix? So far, this series seems to be off to a pretty good start and will hopefully outdo its predecessor.