The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: A wakening of the Trailblazer

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam 00: A wakening of the Trailblazer aka Kidou Senshi Gundam 00: A wakening of the Trailblazer
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: Movie, 123 minutes.
Date: 18 Sep 2010

Synopsis: It is A.D. 2314, two years after the defeat of the merciless A-LAWS by the Celestial Beings. The Earth is enjoying global peace through the efforts of the newly established Earth Sphere Federation’s “weapon-free world” mission. One day, an abandoned exploration ship that was originally set on course to Jupiter, is discovered after it left its orbit. The ship however, is not completely abandoned; it is carrying what discoverers have identified and named as Extraterrestial Living-metal Shapeshifters (ELS). The ELS soon wreck havoc on Earth, destroying the world’s technological infrastructure and transforming some people into metallic entities. Humanity is faced with the greatest threat in history, and it’s up to the Celestial Being to stand up against the alien threat in a last bid to save Earth once and for all.

The Highlights
Action: Epic and awesome; final war between Earth and ELS is mindblowing.
Plot: Throws off viewers with a few curve balls; not as engaging as the prequels.
Characters: Playing puppets to the plot rather than driving the story home; new character’s purpose is questionable.
Anti-war message: Too superficial to matter to the viewers.

Gundam 00: Trailblazer is set to be the grand finale to Sunrise‘s latest alternate universe of its long-running Gundam franchise. It promises to deliver an epic conclusion to an inter-planetary war between humans and an evolved race called Innovators. The movie does not disappoint as it offers some of the most explosive Gundam action in existence. The sheer spectacle of the battles can be overwhelming but it often serves as good entertainmant for both Gundam and non-Gundam fans.

The movie brings the show’s normal adrenaline rush to a new level. The high budget fleshes out every single frame of every single battle. Deliberate pacing and buildup further complements the action by developing the tension that precedes the score of fast and furious mecha slugfests. The show starts out deliberately slow but after the first plot event, the story doesn’t slow down even once and rapidly builds up to the revelation of the true nature of Earth’s alien foe.

However, the plot is quite a mixed bag. While the buildup to the climax is well-done and a few curve balls do throw the viewers off-track with a couple of red herrings, Gundam 00: Trailblazer is eventually nothing more than an “anti-war” movie about Earth fighting against a sentient lifeform. It’s not like Gundam‘s previous incarnations where two races stand in opposing sides and how they turn the tables against each other. Basically, it’s a tale of two opposing sides going all-out for the fundamental need to survive. There’s nothing truly amazing about the antagonists per se; they are just a version of Terminator 2‘s classic T1000 villain. Having an antagonist whose actions don’t substantially change the course of the plot, the movie can only do so much in formulating a riveting storyline.

The action not only overshadows the plot, but also the characters and their motivations. In the prequels, the stories are driven by the characters’ desires, be it greed or resolution for world peace. Gundam 00 explores the world’s need for solar energy amidst Earth’s depleting natural resources, while Gundam 00 S2 explores terrorism with Innovators pulling the strings in the background. This time however, the humans are relegated to being puppets of the storyline, and their only purpose is to keep turning the plot cogwheel. There are no engaging conflicts of interests among the characters since the overall plot dictates their purpose of merely standing against the ELS. This seems to be the case especially when the new character Descartes Shaman is no more than a disposable element that’s there only to accomodate to the existence of the ELS.

The spectacular action scenes and high production values may make Gundam 00: Trailblazer an entertaining summer flick, but to call it a great grand finale is quite an overstatement. Being mere former shadows of their more imposing selfs in the prequels, the characters are underutilized and the plot is underwhelming because of the show’s new approach of introducing an antagonist that’s different from previous Gundam incarnations. The new approach may be due to the movie’s goal to drive home its anti-war message, but the message is hardly provocative enough to be taken seriously. Gundam 00: Trailblazer is a pretty good action movie, but it is hardly anything groundbreaking in comparison to earlier incarnations of the Gundam franchise.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: AC

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