Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom: Love and War

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Freedom is the third mainline entry in the Gundam SEED series, following the two TV installments 2002’s Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and 2004’s Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny.


The film was first announced in May 2006 at “Sony Music Anime Fes’ 06”. The film project was stalled until it was formally revived May 2021 for the Gundam SEED twentieth anniversary project, “Mobile Suit Gundam SEED PROJECT ignited”. This multifaceted project also saw the installation of the life-sized Freedom Gundam statue in Shanghai, China, manga serialization of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED ECLIPSE,  and announcement of the development of a new Mobile Suit Gundam SEED video game. Gundam SEED Freedom finally released to theaters January 26, 2024.

Aftermath of the Battle of Aldrin, Sunrise

The SEED Freedom film takes place in C.E. 75, two years after the events of SEED Destiny, though the Alliance-PLANT Wars have ended, the world is still in turmoil due to emerging independence movements, and the remnants of Blue Cosmos. The global peace monitoring agency COMPASS is established as a joint operation by the Orb Union, Atlantic Federation, and ZAFT, with heroine Lacus Clyne as its first president. The force consists of protagonist Kira Yamato, and many of the major characters we met over the two SEED series, such as Murrue Ramius, Mu La Flaga, Shinn Asuka, and Lunamaria Hawke.

COMPASS members, Sunrise

COMPASS is essentially an augmented and legitimized version of the “Three Ships Alliance” introduced in Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny, which saw Lacus leading an independent coalition of Orb, Earth Alliance, and ZAFT forces to intervene in the wars.

Orphee Lam Tao and the Black Knight Squad, Sunrise

The film introduces a new antagonist faction, the Kingdom of Foundation, a recently established independent country in the Eurasian region. It is ruled by Queen Aura Maha Khyber and Prime Minister Orphee Lam Tao. Foundation seeks international recognition as a sovereign nation and offers to aid COMPASS in their efforts to assault the Blue Cosmos stronghold. Unbeknownst to our heroes, this is all an elaborate scheme for Foundation to revive former Chairman Durandal’s Destiny Plan.

Director Mitsuo Fukuda spoke in an interview:

We placed a lot of emphasis on entertainment this time. Rather than the themes or difficult elements, I just want to ask if everyone enjoyed the movie. If they enjoyed it, then that’s the best result. There are things that we want to say with each project, but that alone is not the objective. During the film’s runtime, how often do people laugh and cry? Is it the kind of movie that you’ll want to share with others so that more and more people can enjoy it? That’s our biggest priority. We tried to instill the film with our gratitude toward all the people who have cheered on the SEED series.

The director’s sentiment was very much observed. The film focuses less on the SEED series’ political aspects or the moral ambiguities of the Coordinator vs. Natural conflict and shifts the narrative towards being a love story, which is not new to the SEED series. Gundam SEED became popular among women for leaning more into romance-melodramatic elements. Despite the focus on romance, there are still political underpinnings throughout the movie, such as the factional tension within the PLANTS and continued mistrust between nations. The rising climax of the film involves Kira mistakenly crossing a demarcation line, prompting an international incident between the Eurasian Federation, COMPASS and Foundation.

Illustration by Hisashi Hirai, Sunrise

The prevailing theme of the movie is love, SEED Freedom explores the fractured relationship between Kira and Lacus. Despite pledging to fight with each other in the continued hostilities, the true battlefield appears to be their love for one another. This was highlighted from the jump with the film’s first promotional visuals focusing solely on Kira and Lacus, along with one of the taglines being “You are there inside me. Am I there inside you?”. Both the opening theme song “FREEDOM” by Takanori Nishikawa and the ending theme song “Sarigiwa no Romantics” by See-Saw feature strong romantic themes.


In the film, we witness a war-weary Kira bearing the weight of combat responsibility on missions, often relegating his team to secondary roles. As the endless fighting takes its toll, a growing divide emerges between him and Lacus. Despite Lacus’ efforts to be a supportive partner, eagerly checking in with him and preparing his favorite meals graciously, Kira remains distant and preoccupied with work late into the night.

This dynamic not only underscores the psychological toll of war but also highlights the strain it puts on personal relationships. Kira’s reluctance to engage emotionally with Lacus reflects the profound impact of his wartime experiences. The film delves into the complexities of duty, love, and the human psyche amidst the backdrop of conflict.

Lacus under Orphee's spell, Sunrise

The film’s main antagonist, Orphee Lam Tao, is genetically engineered to be the ideal partner for Lacus Clyne, with the intent of co-leading the world alongside her. His primary objective is to sway Lacus to the Foundation’s cause through hypnosis and mental suggestion.

This situation causes significant emotional distress for Kira, who believes Lacus is leaving him for Orphee due to Orphee’s charm and perceived suitability as a partner. This belief leads to Kira experiencing an emotional breakdown midway through the film.

As a firm proponent of the Destiny Plan, Orphee believes he is the only one qualified to be Lacus’ mate. Naturally, Lacus rejects this notion of qualification-based love and asserts the true meaning of love.

Kira and Lacus “dock,” Sunrise

In the final act, Lacus and Kira reaffirm their love for each other. In the climactic battle against the Foundation, Lacus joins Kira, and together they form the Mighty Strike Freedom Gundam, a powerful symbol of their unity, to defeat Orphee. The film concludes with Lacus delivering a poignant speech about love, culminating in a kiss on the beach between Kira and Lacus, professing their rekindled bond.

Agnes tearfully falls into Shura's arms, Sunrise

We are also introduced to a new character on Kira’s team, Agnes Gibenrath, known as the “Moonlight Valkyrie.” A high-achieving peer of Lunamaria and Shinn during their ZAFT military academy days, Agnes initially makes failed advances toward Kira. Eventually, she betrays COMPASS after being seduced by Shura Serpentine, a member of the Black Knight Squad. Much of her arc revolves around her immature and arrogant belief that any man should love her. As a flirtatious young woman, she primarily serves to enhance the romance drama elements of the story.

Mighty Strike Freedom deals finishing blow to Black Knight Squad Cal-re.A, Sunrise

Piggybacking on director Fukuda’s comments about the film being more focused on entertainment, the movie offers an absolutely amazing theatrical experience. The humor is well-timed, with many fan-pleasing moments such as familiar soundtracks and character references, a beautiful music score by returning composer Toshihiko Sahashi, intense hybrid 2D-3D CG mecha battles, and stunning modern animation from Sunrise Studio 1, providing a gorgeous update to the Gundam SEED series. Continuing the trend from Gundam SEED Destiny, director Fukuda requested mechanical designer Kunio Okawara to include more Cosmic Era versions of classic Universal Century mobile suits, the ZGMF-2025/F Gelgoog Menace, ZGMF-2027 Gyan Strom, and ZGMF-MM07 Z’Gok.

Mighty Strike Freedom Gundam, Sunrise

The film stands as an 18-year labor of love, a testament to the dedication and vision of director Fukuda. Despite the tragic passing of his wife and writing partner Chiaki Morosawa, director Fukuda forged ahead with SEED Freedom, producing a movie honoring not only the fans of the SEED series but also the broader Gundam community. Since its theatrical release, SEED Freedom has become the highest grossing Gundam film, earning 4.82 billion yen.

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