Review for Mobile Suit Gundam 00 - Part 2
Gundam 00 (or Mobile Suit Gundam 00) is a great addition to the Gundam canon. My review of part one is here and I’ve been really looking forward to watching the second half (or Series 2 if you prefer). In common with the first 25 episodes, the second 25 (26-50) continue the great work, looking spectacular. Indeed, I can’t imagine how an HD anime could possibly look any better than this with some of the Gundam tech looking unimaginably detailed and pristine.
From a story perspective, it carries on the almost perfect mix of character relationships, high octane action and the impossible politics of war. But for me, it was a tougher watch because it gets really depressingly dark at times – far more so than part one. Whether that deserved a point docked (8 out of ten for part two, as opposed to the 9 out of ten awarded for part one) I’m not sure, but let’s face it, these things are subjective and it just felt a little tougher to take than part one, to begin with at any rate.
I’m guessing that, if you are reading this, you have probably already watched Part One of the series. Joining in the fun at episode 26 won’t make much sense but, having said that, it’s not too complex a plot so you ‘may’ enjoy it, but hardly recommended.
So, to recap, it’s 2312, four years after the United Nation forces destroyed Celestial Being, an organisation dedicated to bringing an end to war, even if that means (ironically) figuring out who the aggressor is and beating them into submission with their un-matched Gundam technology. At first their actions were welcomed by some, but before long the United Nations branded them as terrorists and had set about destroying them. Before the United Nations destroyed their small ‘army’ of Gundam Meisters, much work had been done to bring unity to the world under the Earth Sphere Federation. But now the Gundam Meisters are on the run, missing in action. A so-called ‘peacekeeping force’, the A-LAWS, are using automatons to suppress any resistance to the Federation. In short, life is bleak.
The only hope for humanity is a re-grouping of the Gundam Meisters. Setsuna, as spirited as ever, tries to take on the forces on his own with his beaten up Gundam, and is soon joined by Tiera Erde who, after rescuing Setsuna, reveals that he has a ‘new’ mobile suit, the Seravee Gundam. It combines elements of both the Exia and 0 Gundams, meaning it has twin drives (I’ll just pretend I know what that means for now…) and more power than ever. So the Gundam 00 is born and Setsuna is to be its first pilot.
In one of those slightly absurd but convenient narrative spins, Lockon Stratos (who perished in a previous episode) is seemingly brought back to life by the arrival of his identical twin brother, who is invited to take on his brother’s old codename and Gundam. Which leaves the slightly religious sounding Allelujah Haptism, now rescued prison, to take command of Arios Gundam.
Saji Crossroad joins Setsuna to pilot the 00 Gundam, albeit with a very heavy heart. His fiancé Louise Halevy has joined A-Laws and it’s likely they will meet in mortal combat. (See? I told you this was getting dark…).
In addition to the feud between the revived Celestial Being and the A-Laws, another group is manipulating them. The "Innovators" (Alejandro Corner's old assistant Ribbons Almark and half a dozen or so cohorts) who are focused on humanity's survival and who hope lead the world into deep space to where ‘Innovation’ will take place, fusing humanity with machines – whether humanity likes it or not. Recognising this greater threat than their initial conflict, Celestial Being join forces with dissident members of the A-Laws to stop the Innovades.
Beating them at their own game, and after being exposed to the GN particles of Gundam 00, Setsuna himself undergoes so-called ‘Innovation’, becoming far more powerful than Ribbons and his group ever dreamed possible.
So – let the battle between Setsuna’s gang and Ribbon’s begin!
Series 2 of Gundam 00 continues on with the superb mix of intelligent characterisation and high octane mecha action, arguably shifting up a gear to new heights. But the second half of the series loses some of the initial optimism of the first, residing in the dark, almost dystopian reflection of a future world filled with conflict, war and tragedy. Yes, there is light at the end of the dark tunnel but its conclusion won’t necessarily fill you with a warm ‘happy ever after’ glow. (Maybe the continuation of the story in the ‘Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer’ will deliver that, though I doubt it).
If you can cast aside any reservations about how depressing the series gets, there is no doubting that the series delivers the finest, most imaginative battle sequences ever committed to film (well, digital storage, but you get my point). It just looks spectacular and the choreography and design is utterly breath-taking.
The music works well too (Kenji Kawai), particularly through the battle sequences, of which there are many. There are also new opening and closing themes; UVERworld’s “Hakanaku mo Towa no Kanashi” and Stereopony’s “Namida no Mukou” which work well enough.
I elected to continue watching the series with the English dub which was pretty much faultless and entirely in keeping with characterisation and the action, rarely slipping into the OTT ‘Brian Blessed meets the narrator of the X-Factor’ performances which can plague these dubs.
If you bought the collector’s edition of Part One, this standard Amray release will slip neatly into that box, along with the art book that comes with the special edition of this one. I haven’t seen any packaging (other than pictures) nor the artbook, so cannot comment.
Extras features are a little less light than some anime releases and include the same style episode previews (called ‘Tactical Forecasts), clean opening and endings, and Japanese audio commentaries with subs for Episodes 1, 3, 8, 14, 17, 20 and 25 which I actually found a little irritating as I tend to when it comes to ‘talent’ commentaries. Lots of bonhomie and excitement but not much insight – at least not in the few minutes I listened through on your behalf. Also included is a short trailer, promoting the next chapter, the Gundam 00 movie, A Wakening of the Trailblazer. It looks great.
Series Two of Gundam 00 had a lot to live up to and, for the most part, it does, and then some. It goes a little deeper and a little darker than the first series, though gets a bit stuck in its narrative loop, more than compensated for by its fun action sequences. However, it didn’t quite blow me away as much as the first series, and that may be a combination of its darkness and the wince-factor of reviving a key character by bringing in his identical twin. But really, I’m nit-picking here. Gundam 00 is a perfect entry point to the Gundam franchise as it needs no previous knowledge. It’s also a strong series in its own right and an absolute visual feast for action fans. In short, highly recommended.