*This is a review of both seasons of Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
While some people were still recovering from the endings of two of the most popular shows of the early 2000s, Madhouse’s Death Note and Sunrise’s Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, they may have missed another entry into Sunrise’s impressive catalog, Mobile Suit Gundam 00. It’s interesting that Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (Gundam 00), which is a part of a series that has been airing since the late 1970s, isn’t more popular than it is. While I’ve known about the Gundam series for several years, I had never even heard of this particular entry until recently. Is there a good reason why this series has been overlooked by so many, or is it a hidden gem that many people haven’t yet had the pleasure of discovering.
In the year 2307, the people of Earth have exhausted its most precious resource, oil. In order to combat their reliance on fossil fuels, several countries have banded together to form three super powers: The Union of Solar Energy and Free Nations (Often shorted to “The Union”)—the Americas, Australasia, and Japan, The A.E.U. (Advanced European Union), Europe, and the Human Reform League—Russia, China, India, as well as parts of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. These three powers were formed with one major purpose in mind, to harness the power of the sun. They all are in control of one Orbital Elevator, an extremely tall structure extending from the Earth’s surface all the way into space. These orbital elevators are used to harness solar power and transport it to countries that are a part of each of the super powers—thereby excluding those who refused to join—as well as serve as a transport into space, military base, and a colony of sorts. But, unfortunately, each one of the superpowers still only looks out for their own individual interests. The result of these nationalistic tendencies is a world of perpetual war. But, during the unveiling of a new A.E.U. Mobile Suit, a large robot controlled by humans usually for military purposes, a brand new entity joined the fray, an entity known only as Celestial Being. Their purpose, to eliminate war by forcibly stopping any armed conflict and eliminating those who proposed a threat to world peace. In order to accomplish this goal, they will use the most advanced mobile suits that the world has ever seen, Gundams.
Gundam 00’s story gets off to a pretty clunky start. The first episode throws you right into the action, which would have been perfectly fine if that’s all there was to this series. But, as you’ve probably gathered from the plot synopsis, there’s a lot going on. The story is stretched across the globe and features several main and supporting characters, different factions, and a totally different world than the one we currently live in. The scale of the story is fairly massive, and you’re hit with all of these characters, factions, and new world landscape right at the beginning with little explanation. Thankfully, all of these issues are resolved later on in the series, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’ll be “hung out to dry” for the first couple of episodes.
Gundam 00 does recover from its shaky start, and starts to fill you in on what exactly is going on in this world you’re observing. But, there are still plenty of surprises to come. There are several mysteries in Gundam 00’s story that will slowly be unveiled as the series progresses, and I think that they’re all executed well and help to make the story more dynamic.
The main theme of Gundam 00’s story is war, and how exactly is the best way to go about ending it. How to obtain world peace has been something that has been discussed for many years, and most people have probably already dismissed the notion as an impossibility. But what if there was an organization that, essentially, declared war on war. Even if they were to bring about peace, would that peace be real peace? Would that peace, which was created by violence, even last? These are some of the questions that were proposed during course of the story, and, honestly, it made me think. While watching this series I actually questioned some of my own personal beliefs about war and violence. Watching dozens of characters on different sides of battle, all having different ideologies reasons for doing things was really interesting to watch. Seeing several people who have the same goals, but disagree about the means of attaining them, or vise-versa, provides you with an opportunity to see multiple perspectives on the same issue and I really enjoyed that about the story.
Gundam 00’s story was interesting, thought provoking, and well thought out, but it does have issues other than it’s clunky start. One of those issues is a lack of a proper explanation of certain topics. For the most part, Gundam 00 did a really good job of explaining everything that was going on, and the reasoning behind it, but other times the series’ explanations for how and why things happened the way they did weren’t exactly the greatest. Another problem I had was the series very open ended ending which didn’t really wrap anything up, and I’m talking about the ending to the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 not the series concluding movie Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie -A Wakening of the Trailblazer which is…a review for another day. I was also mildly annoyed when things would just pop up out of no where using the excuse that it was all apart of Aeolia Schenberg’s, the founder of Celestial Being, plan, but that just piggybacks onto my earlier complaint about some of the series’ lackluster explanations.
When it comes to characters, Gundam 00 is a prime example of too much of a good thing. I can’t think of one character in the entire series that I really disliked. I was really interested in getting to know the characters as the series progressed, but there was one big problem. There are just way too many of them. Gundam 00’s story just covers too much ground. When you are showing several characters from each of major factions in the series, there is no way that you’ll have enough time give us all of their background stories, and properly develop each and every one of them.
There are 37 supporting characters just in the first season. And it’s not like they’re just throw away characters either, each one of them does play some role in the progression of the story or in the development of the main characters, and most of them are given a fairly good amount screen time. As stated earlier, with so many characters there’s no way you can go into great detail on all of them, but, thankfully, all of the main characters are taken care of. Each one of the Gundam Meisters (German for master): Setsuna F. Seiei, Lockon Stratus, Tieria Erde, and Allelujah Haptism, all are given a good amount of development, and background information. Of course, some are given more than others, but all of the main characters were solid in terms of background information and development. It’s just a shame that there wasn’t enough time to properly develop all of the interesting side characters.
Another problem with having so many characters is that it’s harder properly develop the relationships between them. I think that it was handled really well for the most part, the only real issue that comes to mind is when two particular characters meet, have one conversation—which was very short and didn’t really show any signs of being romantic—and the next time we see them together they’re a couple. While it was fairly obvious that that was the direction that their relationship was going to go in, it would’ve been nice to actually see that relationship progress. But, other than that, Gundam 00 did a great job of developing the relationships that involved main and main-supporting characters. Of course some of the less important supporting character’s relationships weren’t given nearly as much development, but overall it they were handled well.
I found Gundam 00’s animation to be a bit of a mixed bag. That’s not to say that the animation isn’t generally really good, because it is. It’s just that there are some interesting things to note about it. Without a doubt, the best part of the animation is the fights between mobile suits. The action scenes are really engaging, and genuinely exciting to watch. I was really impressed by how all of the mobile suits looked, everything looked really detailed and it really helped to elevate the series’ fight scenes. But where the mobile suits, and I do mean all of the mobile suits and not just the Gundams, all looked really distinct and detailed the character models were lacking a little. It not so much that they weren’t distinct, that was actually just more praise for the mobile suit models, but they just seem to lack detail. Especially when the camera would zoom out and show a particular character’s full character model. The series’ background scenery was also good, but certainly nothing spectacular. But, with all of that said, the animation in Gundam 00 is still really good.
Gundam 00 has a massive, and varied soundtrack (OST), with an abundance of songs that can fit the tone and setting of each scene that they are used in. As I mentioned earlier, Gundam 00 has some really cool fight scenes, and the music that the series uses only makes the scenes that much more fun to watch. It uses grand, orchestral songs to bring a little more intensity into the already engaging fight scenes. While the OST does have a lot of songs that make you feel like you’re about to jump out of your seat, it does know how, and when, to slow things down. The OST also has plenty of slower songs to fit all of the more somber scenes as well. Gundam 00’s OST really nails the overall feeling of the songs that they are using in each scene. Each song that was used feels like it was made specifically for that scene, and in some, cases they probably were.
Complimenting its massive OST, Gundam 00 also features a pretty large number of good openings and endings. Between its two seasons, Gundam 00 has four openings and five endings. They are all really well done, but the first and last openings, and the first, third, and last endings are the ones that really stood out to me.
I had a really good time watching Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Like a said earlier in the review, it was able to make me think about some issues that I might not have thought about otherwise. Add that to the great action sequences, intriguing story, and interesting characters, and you’ve got one really entertaining series. There wasn’t a dull moment in any one of Gundam 00’s fifty episodes, and, while I wouldn’t say that it has a really high re-watch value, it’s definitely something I could see myself watching again at some point down the road.
Verdict & Breakdown:
Final Verdict: 4.2/5
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is a great series that you should definitely check out, whether you’re a huge Gundam fan or are just hearing about the franchise for the very first time.