I watched this for the first time in 2008 and I merely wrote a paragraph about it. Okay that does not do justice so I am writing a new entry for this great anime since I just finished rewatching it yesterday.
Set in the Cosmic Era, the colonies vs Earth takes a deeper meaning with Coordinators (or genetically-manipulated human beings) in the PLANTs vs Naturals on Earth. The conflict worsened with earth's nuclear attack to the agricultural Junius Seven colony which resulted in death of hundreds of thousands civilians. In retaliation, the Coordinators dropped N-Jammer to the Earth, disabling all nuclear activities and plunging the Earth into an energy crisis.
The story opens at Heliopolis, a neutral colony owned by Orb. Although it tries to be neutral, some people are helping with the development of latest machines (i.e Gundam) and battleship (called Archangel) for the earth. The Coordinators know about this and attempted to destroy the latest battleship and to steal the Gundams. Well, the Coordinators are able to steal 4 Gundams setting the fight with the remaining Gundam and Archangel which they fail to steal and destroy.
The first half of the series deal with Archangel attempt to regroup with Earth Alliance forces and PLANT attempt to destroy this latest machines of war. The next quarter deals with Archangel defection to the neutral ORB and the destruction of ORB for its refusal to side with any of the warring party. The last quarter is the climax of the conflict with an all out war.
In my opinion, this is the best and most solid Gundam series which I have watched. And there are plenty of reasons for that. Firstly, the relationship between the various characters in the different factions make the conflict an emotional roller coaster to watch (and I like stories which make me cry). There are a lot of characters here but you can remember most of them as they are somehow connected to the "main" characters.
Secondly, the Coordinators vs Naturals conflict is relate-able to various discriminations in real life. Blind hatred and discrimination can be very scary as shown by both parties in the anime. The Naturals are infiltrated by Blue Cosmos who aims to wipe out every Coordinators while the Coordinators are led by Patrick Zala who wishes to wipe out every Naturals. Ironically, these "racist" leaders are the ones driving the war. The civilians and the solders want a truce after seeing the devastation of the nuclear attacks. However, these leaders are the ones who want to wipe out every single enemies. Interestingly, the main antagonist of the show is none of these people. It was actually Rau le Creuset. He is a clone and thus does not consider himself as a human, be it a Coordinator or a Natural. His ultimate goal is to make the two sides hate each other enough for the outbreak of nuclear war which will destroy both earth and colonies.
Thirdly, the fights in battleship is something fresh and as exciting as the mecha battle. Not to mention that more female characters are taking part in the war.
In contrast to total pacifism theme from Gundam Wing, the neutral party in Gundam SEED (Orb and then subsequently the Three Ship Alliance) has weapons to stop both sides from fighting. Rather, it invokes emotion that war brings nothing. Killing someone will just make other people want to take revenge. But even if you take revenge, another person will take revenge on you and the vicious cycle of war continues. The question is ultimately: will revenge bring back the person who has been killed in the first place? And it's good to see Lacus to actually participate in war rather than seeing Relena in her ivory tower of total pacifism.
If I have to mention something negative about Gundam SEED, it will be about the mecha as there is not much focus on the Gundams here. Oh ya, I should also mention Flay Allster. Haha.. I understand why so many people hate her sia.. She is just irritating and eye sore. Lol.. I thought the last few episodes are quite rushed. In one episode, Muruta Azrael gets hold of N-Jammer Canceller technology which allows the Earth Force to use nuclear weapon again. Then BAM!, in the next episode, tonnes of nuclear missiles are ready for use already. Got so fast meh? Haha.. And character-wise, Calamity, Raider, and Forbidden pilots are just WTF! Looks like they are too lazy to write in substantial characters from the Earth side.. But anyway, near the end, almost all the "central" characters become the neutral party as Three Ship Alliance that there is hardly anyone to lead the two warring sides.
There is also Gundam SEED OVA (which only lasts for 5 minutes) which basically gives preview on what happens to the characters after the war. Well, the anime ending is kinda abrupt. Haha.. I get this from Youtube. Surprisingly, it is impossible to find it online, be it direct download or torrent.
I also manage to get hold of Gundam SEED Tanakyara Gekijo (or Gundam SEED Character Theatre). It is basically a 4-part short parodies with characters from Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny. Each part is about 5-minutes long. They are very hilarious as they use elements from the the original series like Athrun's hairstyle, Kira as crybaby, Yzak's kiasuness, etc and the characters are in SD (super deformed) form. The mismatch between the serious voice actings (as in the anime) with the lame SD faces and plots is just priceless. Haha.. Anyway the first 2 parts deal with Yzak rivalry (jealousy) towards Athrun. Dearka suddenly becomes a very interesting character in these parodies! Lol. The last 2 parts deal with Gundam SEED Destiny characters' missions to break Kira-Athrun and Kira-Lacus relationship. I really recommend you to watch this if possible, particularly the last part when Shinn is cross-dressing as Lacus and singing Lacus' Shizukana Kono Yoru Ni in hardrock style.