25 April 2008
So, the first season of Gundam 00 just finished airing in Japan a couple of weeks ago, and was apparently just licensed for overseas distribution. Hooray! Let�s review, shall we?
Gundam 00 is best described as a sort of cross between Gundam Wing and Full Metal Panic. In fact, it�s sort of hard to talk about Gundam 00 without mentioning Gundam Wing, as they share an awful lot in common. That is, more so than every other Gundam series.
For the uninitiated, most Gundams can be likened to Final Fantasies � while a couple of them might inhabit the same world or timeline, most them only have a few things in common: super powered giant robots called Gundams, space colonies, and lots of war rhetoric. At times, Gundam 00 almost feels like a modernized remake of Wing. Fortunately, the war rhetoric in Gundam 00 doesn�t get too tiresome, even if it veers a bit close whenever Marina Ishmal comes into the picture. Luckily she�s not yet quite a Relena Peacecraft, though there�s time yet for some far too long heartfelt speeches. The philosophy is admittedly sort of unavoidable when the story revolves around an organization called Celestial Being whose sole purpose is to eradicate war by blowing up anyone who starts one. It creates some admittedly delicious scenes when an army is �saved� by one of the Gundams, only to have the guns turned on them not a moment later.
So that�s the plot and premise. There�s a lot of political and religious background in there, as well as some cool science fiction with the orbital solar elevator, but it all comes down to Celestial Being and more importantly, the Gundam Meisters (a fancy name for pilots). It is necessary to talk about the characters with this series, as they�ve created a diverse and rather interesting cast. Just within the four Gundam Meisters themselves, you�ve got the protagonist Setsuna, the child soldier who at times will strongly remind you of Full Metal Panic�s Sousuke Sagara; Lockon Stratos, the easy-going sniper; Tieria Erde, the cold-hearted robot and Allelujah Haptism, the test-tube super-soldier with a violent split personality. These people are then ordered around by an alcoholic tactician and a computer program made by a long-dead guy. Naturally, everybody has terribly tragic back-stories. It makes for some pretty interesting results.
Though the characters are an interesting lot, one criticism worth levelling at the series is that its cast expands very quickly. This can then be forgiven as towards the end of the first season said cast is quickly decimated. This includes characters that are both LIKED and HAVE SIGNIFICANT SCREEN TIME. Props to writers who aren�t afraid of including consequences in their stories! The show is about the eradication of war, after all. People die, or at least suffer grievous permanent injuries. There are serious consequences for battles going wrong. This might sound elementary, but how many animes involve characters getting thrown into walls or blown to bits, and emerging only a little sooty and bruised? Prescription: bandages and bed rest! Works every time! Will bring any character back from the brink of death!
It is excellent storytelling. Certainly a higher standard than one expects from Gundam. The animation is similarly quite gorgeous, with vivid colours and some really eye-popping battles. Naturally, since it is Gundam and Gundam more or less prints money, the budget was there for some stunningly detailed animation. It�s not all just spent on the robots and explosions, either. There�s been good work coming through Sunrise lately, though there was one character that briefly confused the fans; Alejandro Corner, who everyone thought was Lockon Stratos�s twin brother. Later back-story reveals this not to be the case. Character designers: oops!
The soundtrack must also be mentioned. In addition to featuring excellent opening sequences (songs provided by the well-known �L�Arc En-ciel�), the soundtrack is also composed by Kenji Kawai. That should tell you everything you need to know: in the soundtrack world Kenji Kawai = awesome. It�s ominous, haunting, and carries a delightfully heavy mood that fits the series perfectly.
So, there are generally only good things to say about Gundam 00. It�s certainly one of the best shows from the previous season, and it was nice enough not to leave you on the sort of cruel cliffhanger Code Geass did during its season break. There were some delightful hints of things to come after the closing credits, so I shall hold my curses at Sunrise for tricking me into yet another multi-season series and content myself with Code Geass R2 until October.
Overall rating: 910,000 / 1,000,000