Notes on Gundam 00 Second Season

Posted by Demian @ 11:00 pm, October 7th, 2008

1. Needs a snappier title than Gundam 00 Second Season. G00SS is not a viable alternative.

2. I’m not completely sure if I’m watching a new gundam or just rewatching Zeta. A-Laws (it’s a pun, get it?) as fascist military? Check. Louis as an artificial newtype? Check. Can’t wait to see her Rosamia impression.

3. G00 apparently got a musical upgrade for the new season, cause all of the sudden the soundtrack kicks ass. The battle themes here were perfect, or I’m just a sucker for ominous choirs.

4. Pirate Exia is extremely badass. All gundam need tattered cloaks that flap in space. The gundam head on the back of the Seravee makes no sense to me, as all I can think of is the Devil Gundam.

5. Ribbons is even gayer. I don’t think that’s an actual surprise though.

6. Embarrassed teenage Soma is adorable, though her and Papa Bear have some weird vibes going on. Smirnov’s son also needs a good bear slap. Guy already sounds like a jerk, though he is an A-law.

7. New OP is also very good. Like the mixture of scenes from the past and future. Looks to promise a lot of good action and intrigue. This first episode was a rock solid start, so I hope they can keep the pace from here.

Gundam X 10-14: Newtypes in the After War Era

Posted by Demian @ 5:08 pm, August 15th, 2008

Gundam X is the only AU gundam to deal with the idea of Newtypes. Indeed, even more so than the UC gundams newtypes are the focus of Gundam X. The Frieden’s goal isn’t to fight some space threat seeking to colonize Earth, but just to search for and protect newtypes. Starting with episode 10 the show introduces the first newype other than Tiffa, Caris Nautilus (the tradition of nonsensical gundam names continues) and what an introduction it is. Caris doesn’t want to be rescued or protected and is actually an elite soldier under Mayor Namoa of Fort Severn. He pilots the unique newtype suit the Vertigo, which reminds me a lot of the Quebley with its curves and use of bits. Long story short, he kicks Garrod’s oldtype ass and kidnaps Tifa.

The Fort Severn arc is basically all about the rivalry between Garrod and Caris. There’s some other stuff in there also, like a vengeful colonist and the biggest mobile armor ever, but the relationship between Garrod and Caris, and in extension Tiffa, is the heart of the drama. Once Caris beats Garrod it sends him into a deep funk, which only Jamil’s manly training can kick him out of. But even back to normal Garrod laments his own weakness and wishes for the power to defeat Caris. This is a pretty normal shounen element, and since the Gundam X is upgraded into the Gundam X Divider you could say Garrod gets his power, but then the show goes and turns the idea upside down.

It’s discovered that Caris is actually a cyber-newtype, the latest in a long line of failures. And unlike the cyber-newypes of Zeta Caris actually wanted the treatment, just so he could get the power to change the world. Caris is also a great deal more sane than the Zeta newypes, but that’s just my observation. There’s then a final twist on the story, as it’s revealed that Caris didn’t know that natural newtypes like Tiffa existed. This throws his whole life out of array as he suddenly feels guilty for all the lives that were sacrificed for him. Garrod also starts to think that maybe power at any cost isn’t worth it and actually starts to empathize with Caris.

This being gundam, the two meet in battle once again and Garrod can’t bring himself to fight Caris. Jamil then gives him the greatest piece of advice in gundam ever: “When a man strays from the right path, a kind man needs the courage to raise his fist and correct him.” So badass. Garrod and Caris engage in an epic fight in the middle of a raging blizzard, matching the storms raging inside them. At one point you can only distinguish the light of the beam sabers clashing. It’s one of the best fights I’ve seen in gundam, cinematically and emotionally. Garrod eventually comes out on top, showing that newype power isn’t everything. The story easily could of gone the redemption is death route here and killed Caris, for a moment it looks like he is dead, but instead he survives, partly because the really big mobile armor needs him as a power source.

The fight with the Patulia isn’t as good as Garrod and Caris’s fight, but it is pretty grand with explosions and lasers everywhere. Mostly the fight works because it has the creepiest sounding music I’ve ever heard in gundam. It’s a low orchestral piece with dissonant male and female vocals moaning in the background and even the occasional hellish shriek. Just insanely evil and weird sounding. The Fort Severn arc ends with Caris going back to his hometown to help rebuild it. It’s a bit disappointing because I wanted him to join the Frieden crew. Him and Garrod work so well together, but at least he didn’t die like he probably would’ve in a Tomino gundam. Gundam X really is the best gundam I’ve seen so far with being able to pull out such an emotional arc early on. I’m eager to go on for more.

Impressions: Gundam X

Posted by Demian @ 9:49 pm, August 5th, 2008

On a whim I decided to pick up Gundam X, even though there’s a lot of other stuff I should be watching instead, since Hero Legends is releasing it in DVD quality in easy to digest releases of five episodes. Gundam X has always been maligned as the weakest of the Non-U.C. gundams, all based on the fact that it was cancelled after 39-episodes. People think that this must mean that there’s something wrong with its quality, even though it was actually cancelled because of executive meddling. But if the first five episodes of Gundam X are anything to go by, then this is actually one of the stronger gundam shows.

The show seamlessly opens up by introducing the world of After War 15. Fifteen years previously the Seventh Space War ended with dozens of colonies falling on the Earth, killing almost all of its ten billion inhabitants and inducing a nuclear winter on the world. Fifteen years later the environment is only just beginning to stabilize and the rest of humanity lives out a meager existence among the rubble. One of the groups that has formed in this post-apocalyptic world are the Vultures, scavengers of lost technology from the war, including the most valuable of prizes: mobile suits. Gundam X is the story of the young gundam pilot Garrod Ran, his relationship with the innocent newtype Tiffa Adill, and the efforst of the Vulture group Frieden to protect all newtypes from the military.

Garrod Ran is probably the most refreshing gundam protagonist in a while. He’s outgoing, confidant, skilled even before he starts piloting the Gundam X, and immediately goes after what he wants, that being the cute Tiffa. Unlike many other couples in gundam history these two actually have chemistry together that’s apparent from the first time they meet. Garrod breaking out of his jail cell nightly just to bring Tiffa flowers is one of the sweetest moments in gundam history. The rest of the cast has only been introduced so far but they all provide a unique twist on the formula. There’s the two gundam-for-hire pilots Roybea and Witz, both much older than the usual gundam pilots and possessing much more maturity (well, Roybea does). There’s Jamil Neate, the captain of the Frieden and a very cool mix of Bright and an older, more war hardened Amuro. He doesn’t just slap people, he punches them square in the face! The Frost Brothers are the other gundam pilots introduced so far, both suitably creepy villains in a yaoi-incest kind of way.

The animation is pretty good considering when the show was made but I don’t really find the mecha designs so far all that interesting. The gundam designs feel very derivative by this point. Leopard is just a slightly boxier Heavyarms, the Virsago is the lovechild of Epyon and Altron, and the Ashtaron is just kind of dull. The grunt units are similarly dull with the requisite knock offs of the zaku and GM. The only two suits that are really interesting are the Gundam X, which has the awesome satellite canon and a unique beam sword design, and the Airmaster, mainly cause I like how its two guns hang off the body.

The show immediately hits you with just how good its musical score is. The opening scenes of apocalyptic destruction are accompanied by a powerful orchestra that breaks into the catchy OP Dreams by Romantic Mode. Elsewhere the music always kicks in when most appropriate and always in a way that makes you stand up and take notice. I love the soundtrack for Zeta Gundam, but even it only had a few tracks that really made themselves noticeable in-show. All of Gundam X’s music is like that. If the rest of the show can stay as strong as its beginning is then I’m in for one good gundam experience.

Final Thoughts on Zeta Gundam

Posted by Demian @ 5:14 pm, July 26th, 2008

Pros:

Comparing Zeta Gundam to Ideon I can definitely say Tomino’s directing has improved. There’s still some weird plot progression and odd characterization, but the story flows much smoother. Thankfully the show manages to stay interesting with just a few weak episodes here and there.

The animation for the show stays mostly consistent, with the final few episodes looking awesome. The final four-way fight between Kamille, Char, Scirocco, and Haman is one of the best animated and epic final fights in mecha. The mecha designs themselves are pretty cool (the Palace Athene is so badass), but there are the usual wtf models (Baund Doc anyone?). The music is pretty good with some real stand out tracks that sadly don’t play that much.

Zeta definitely has a diverse set of characters. Kamille quickly differentiates himself from being an Amuro clone and develops into a very unique character. His suicidal and cynical attitude towards the end is particularly noticeable. Bright of course is awesome no matter what. Char is mostly the same but you can see his evolution to his CCA self by the end. There’s so many great female characters - Emma, Reccoa, Four, Mour, Sarah- with only Fa and Rosammia really being annoying. Fa takes the cake for being both the worst pilot in the show and the loudest. Not a good combination. Scirocco is a suitable enough villain, but he’s really more the Gihren of the show. He’s one hell of a player though.

Cons:

Sorry, but in no way can the Gryps War compare to the One Year War. While the emotion in the show is very intense it’s hard to tell that there’s really a war going on. The Argama is chased by the same two ships for the whole show, and very rarely does the AEUG fleet come together for any major battle. The show doesn’t even make clear how large the AEUG or Titans are. The Titans can’t be that much of a threat if they’re all killed by a single laser blast in the last episode. I also didn’t like how the final battle was set up, with the Argama suddenly being summoned to defend the Colony Laser without any build up to the battle.

Throughout the show various characters disappear and reappear way too randomly to really be developed evenly. Rosammia disappears at the middle of the show only to suddenly show up at the end to be another cyber-newtype foe for Kamille. Scirocco disappears so much you wonder how exactly the guy becomes head of the Titans and there’s no real dramatic tension between him and Kamille, as they literally meet face to face only in the last episode! Jerid is built up much better as a rival and enemy for Kamille, but his death is way too anti-climatic. He’s killed as soon as he appears.

The ending to Zeta Gundam is sadly kind of a non-ending. The Titans are defeated, somehow, but Axis is still out there. The final scene is Fa carrying a critically injured Kamille to the Argama with no denouement at all. With the immediate sequel of ZZ Gundam, however, these aren’t really too big issues, but it would of been nice if Zeta could of ended on its own terms.

Everything considered I can understand why so many people find Zeta Gundam great, but it just doesn’t strike that high for me. Tomino thankfully did a much better job here but there’s still that weirdness that stops me from taking the show completely seriously and really get absorbed into its narrative. Still, I have to admire his vision as he once again uses gundam to show the true brutality of war in such an intriguing way as not other gundam I’ve seen has tried. Now it’s on to ZZ Gundam and just hope it doesn’t piss all over that vision.

Some Info on Gundam 00 Season 2

Posted by Demian @ 9:27 pm, July 7th, 2008

Gunota has compiled all the new info for the second season of Gundam 00 coming out. Most of it is pretty simple stuff, but there’s a couple things that really caught my eye:

The second season will revolve around an independent security enforcement organization within the Federation called “Arrows” that suppresses anti-Federation elements.

And

Most people aren’t aware of the severe oppression of Arrows due to the Federation’s complete control of information.

Oh lord it’s the Titans all over again. It also looks like Lockon’s twin brother will be joining the group, so would he be the Quattro?

Impressions: Zeta Gundam

Posted by Demian @ 1:07 pm, April 20th, 2008

Finally got my hands on the first boxset for the series and marathoned the first five episodes. It’s a surprisingly addicting series, full of intrigue and action from the start. Zeta Gundam is the sequel to the original Gundam, set in 0087 where the Earth Federation has transformed into the fascist Titans and only the resistance group AEUG stands in their way. The very first episode offers an immediate surprise to gundam fans when the AEUG ace is shown to be Char Aznable - one of the main villains of the original Gundam - here known as Quattro Bajeena and sporting a ridiculous pair of eighties sunglasses. The real main character of the show is the angry youth Kamille Bidan. Like every other gundam protagonist he’s angry, smart, a newtype, and annoying. The guy yells for most of the first episodes, though he does have very good reason to.

The animation is very solid for the mid-eighties. Some of the designs are a little funny, especially the multiple chins on various Titans officers, but the rest is very good. The battles, which really matter, are also great and I love new designs, especially the Rick Dias. The only disappointing thing so far is that somehow Bandai failed to get the song rights for the OP and ED, so they’re replaced by instrumentals. The new songs aren’t exactly bad, though I wonder why the OP sounds like the Gunbuster march, but a far cry from the original OP. Zeta Gundam so far is a true joy for a fan like me to watch, and I can’t wait to see how everything develops.

Halfway Thoughts on Gundam 00

Posted by Demian @ 7:24 pm, March 31st, 2008

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Only characters who wear sunglasses deserve gold mobile suits, not fabulous characters!

Now that half the cast is dead, it’s probably a good time to call it a wrap and wait until next fall for even more shit to hit the fan. If Sunrise starts making a habit of these season long cliff hangers I’m going to have to kill someone over there. Right, back to Gundam 00. Overall, I feel G00 has done a pretty good job for a gundam series; it’s not the best or most serious, but it’s proved very entertaining and fresh while still paying homage to Gundam. The first half was pretty slow, but after Trinity was introduced things really got rolling. The characters *gasp* actually matured in tiny increments throughout the show, to the point where I now find Setsuna an admirable protagonist and Tieria just misguided and not a complete bastard. The action was always cool and I absolutely love every single design in the show, even that Hyaku Shiki-wannabe Alvatore. I’m torn between wanting to conclude Code Geass and wanting more G00 right now. Once again, goddamn Sunrise. Now for some more specific thoughts on the final episode:

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Merged Allelujah looks like more of a villain than any of the actual villains.

Allelujah finally gets his epic final battle, after being mostly shafted for the second half of the series. Seriously, I feel like he disappeared a lot. The idea of Allelujah just needing to flip his hair out of his face to merge his personalities and become a badass pilot is just ludicrously awesome. Sadly Hallelujah does die, taking the funner part of the personality with him. Allelujah may be dead, too, but hopefully not.

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Thank god the Wild Bear lives.

Sergei x Soma ftw! There’s never been a better slightly creepy father/daughter relationship out there. There’s also the stunning revelation that Soma is actually named Marie and is somehow even more connected to Allelujah. Shocker there. We’ll probably have to wait all the way to episode 49 just to figure this one out.

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RIBBONS!/RIBONZE!/LIBBONZE!/WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS!

Damn you Ribbons and your JUST AS PLANNED! I do enjoy Alejandro actually being dead but I just can’t take Ribbons seriously as a villain. He still feels too shota. With that harem of clones and new couch he may be going down the Alejandro FABULOUS route anyways. I’m really starting to think my earlier prediction of G00 becoming a conflict between androids and humans might actually come true. I, Robot, with Setsuna as Will Smith, anyone?

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And as this episode makes clear, Graham loves Setsuna, because Graham loves Gundam.

FUCK YEAH GN-FLAG! FUCK NO TWO MINUTES OF SCREEN TIME! That basically sums up my feelings on that. Seeing GN-Flag and Exia completely trash each other is still good fun. As awesome as Graham is I really think now he’s not supposed to be another Char clone. If anything, he’s more similar to Anavel Gato: both obsessively loyal to their nation/military and driven to revenge. As the season has gone on Graham has actually become more and more obsessive, losing here whatever logic he had at the beginning where he freely admits all that matters is fighting. Of course, he still gets the mask four years later, which is one ugly mask. So hope they don’t keep that.

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This is no Knightmare MAI BOY!

Finally, there’s the obligatory time skip with all the old favorites returning (why hello there Patrick) except for the main cast. I don’t think G00 has actually killed off all its main characters. Probably just Sunrise keeping us in suspense. Tieria coming back as a girl is a kind of want, though. And what better way to end the first season with a shot of the legendary mid-season upgrade Gundam 00. I think I know just how that suit will change the world. Two words: DG cells. Believe it.