The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Mobile Suit Gundam 00

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam 00 aka Kidou Senshi Gundam 00
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: 25 episodes
Date: 10 Jun 2007 – 29 Mar 2008

Synopsis: The year is 2307 AD. Fossil fuel reservoirs have been largely depleted, resulting in the creation of three solar powered orbital elevators. These massive structures are controlled by the world’s three superpowers, and the distribution of energy has become highly unbalanced as a result. Numerous wars have started in those regions unable to access the solar power costing a countless number of lives. In the midst of this chaos, a secret organization called Celestial Being has sent down four Gundams to wage a war to end all wars.

The Highlights
Story: First 2/3 lays the groundwork; the final 1/3 sets off the “bang”.
Visuals: Fluid, consistent and dynamic.
Action: In itself, doesn’t disappoint for a single moment.
Music: Usual Kawai Kenji goodness that works well with the series.

Like with any alternate universe Gundam series, forget that the originals ever existed when watching Gundam 00. It’s not because this incarnation is a complete bastardization of the source material, but because it’s a whole new flavor not in the usual franchise repertoire. The normal “teenage boy hijacks weapon of mass destruction” formula is eschewed, and the focus is shifted away from the characters towards the story. The first two thirds of the series is fairly mediocre fanfare with occasional spurts of quality. The final third is a dramatic rollercoaster that makes numerous, unpredictable turns all the way to the screeching end.

In many ways, Gundam 00 is really an anomaly. Ignore all the advertisements and fan pictures of the four Gundam Meisters. This show does not have a main character. No, this is not like Baccano!. Baccano! showcases 18 main characters, but it has a few that jump on the stage, do a number and steal the whole damn show. In Gundam 00, characters just sit around, do their gig, and then disappear until the plot needs them again. This set up is quite humorous since the plot really has no direction besides random missions, arcane politics and various character events. All this is mildly entertaining, but the overall experience is hampered by the flat, impersonal presentation.

The original Gundam may have helped usher in a new era of “real” robots, but there is still plenty of homage to the super robot roots. Case in point, all the Gundams in Gundam 00 are invulnerable. Get used to it. In this series, Sunrise doesn’t even bother pretending that the Gundams are in distress. Despite the exceptionally well choreographed fight scenes, the pilots display zero tension in the battles, and they seem bored as they mow through hordes of enemies, which pretty much sums up how a typical audience member should feel.

While the first third is fraught with mediocrity, the show becomes good in the final third… really, really good. The characters grow, bonds are formed, and the story goes into a series of unpredictable twists and turns. All expectations are toppled with each passing episode, giving the show a breath of fresh air from previous incarnations. The top notch action actually becomes exciting as the Gundams lose their God-mode hack and get their massive comeuppance in turn. Probably the greatest part of the change is the ensuing melodrama which is relatively understated but powerful nonetheless due to sporadic genius in the writing.

I admit, before I even started watching the show, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 was very much a false hope for me. Despite the fact that the show has stellar seiyuu, director Mizushima Seiji, and series composer Kuroda Yosuke, Gundam SEED Destiny has left a healthy dose of cynicism. I approached this show with a fake smile mentally calling this “that show I have to watch before I get the second season of Code Geass.” After watching Gundam 00, I can calmly say that a large part of my animosity has been washed away, and I eagerly await the second season.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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