Monday, January 17, 2011

Gundam 00: Awakening of the Trailblazer (Movie) - Review

Gundam takes a new Direction


"Mobile Suit Gundam" has been one of the biggest anime and science fiction franchises in the world. Centering around various incarnations in which mobile suits (large, piloted robotic machines) have become the military standard, and conflicts exist between those living in space, and those who live as the "Earth Born Elite." A Gundam is a specialized mobile suit, having a samurai-style face, specialized armor (gundarium alloy), and overall better quality parts and mechanics. These series always focus on the pilot(s) of these specialized mobile suits, trying to find an end to man's conflict.

"Mobile Suit Gundam 00" was the newest series installment to have an alternate universe storyline, in which the Gundams were part of a private armed organization called Celestial Being, whose objective was to eliminate acts of war through armed intervention. Basically, if two armies were fighting, the Gundams would show up and take out both sides until they stopped being aggressive. This was all part of a grander Watchmen-esque scheme to unite the world and stop all wars altogether.

The show had two seasons and ended with an image of Jupiter, and a strange signal being shown from the planet's orbit.

"Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Awakening of the Trailblazer" is the movie sequel to both series, and has an incredible twist:

ALIENS!

Never in Gundam history have any series dealt with extraterrestrials. A series that has mainly explored the philosophies of human evolution and war, has taken the next step into the understanding of intelligent life outside of humanity. The verdict: It works.

It's not the best, but it works. Something just feels right about it, though it doesn't seem to fit as well. That's usually the problem with jumping into unknown territory in the realm of story telling, you just can't tell if what's new is good or not.

Basically the alien life form is a sentient living metal that talks telepathically. It enters the solar system latching on to anything living thing that has the potential to speak without using words. It's numbers are vast, and it can evolve on the fly to combat threats.

The Gundam Meisters, or pilots of the Gundams, are prime canidates, so they're relentlessly targeted while trying to protect civilians. The whole thing ends with one of the biggest battles in Gundam history, with all of the world's military going against an unfathomable onslaught of alien-metallic craft.

The ending is the strangest thing, however, as it ends with the main character, Setsuna, using his new found mental powers to have a mental conversation with the hive mind and understand their intentions. The result is very similar to the ending of "Ender's Game," in which the whole thing was a misunderstanding of culture and communication. The main collection of alien matter turns into a giant metallic flower in space, in the shape of a flower that Setsuna had used in season one as a motivator from a close friend.

This suggests that they're finally understanding of one another, and Setsuna uses his new Gundam to travel deep into space to talk to the collection of the alien beings.

The story concludes fully with the newly evolved humans, innovators, preparing for their own deep space voyage to explore the stars.

To sum it up, this isn't a traditional story in terms of a popular franchise. It'd be like if Batman suddenly could walk through walls. But the progression to this point throughout the "Double 0" universe feels like it fits, even if it is a bit scary.

It just goes to show you that sometimes taking a series in a new direction can be fun and frightening at the same time.

4 comments:

  1. Hey, Kenny.
    Enjoyed the review, and wanted to add my perspective on the film.
    I agree with you overall that the whole alien aspect of the movie was handled well.
    The ending, while abrupt and suprising, did somehow feel like it worked for me.
    Still, I have a couple of main gripes, the first of which regards Descartes Shaman.
    All the promos for the film obviously portrayed him to be a character of significance. During the first scene in which he talks with Katy and Patrick, it gave me a really interesting impression. To me, it felt like Shaman was some kind of a caged devil or something, serving the Govt for the time being until his ulterior motives could be achieved. And with the way he seemed to act so superior, eerily like Ribbons Almark, he really had me believing he was real villain material.
    But the movie never cashed this check, having him fight in his mobile armor twice and then just end up assymilated.
    They never even mentioned anything about who he really was, or what his motives were.
    It's as if they put him in the movie just to kill him off.
    After all that hype and buildup, that's all that was done with his character? What a waste!
    My other major issue was with the ELS appearing on earth in the form of Ribbons Almark. I don't think there was any explained reason for why this happened, though I watched the film with a not-so-good sub so I don't know...
    Anyway, after watching the film I felt the whole thing was a little unnecessary, and very undeveloped.
    When I first saw Ribbons coming out of that one girl's house, I thought "No WAY!"
    My initial thought when this happened was that the plot was trying to do something a bit similar to the plot in the DBZ movie, "Revenge of Cooler".
    In that movie, Frieza's brother Cooler somehow assymilates with the Makio Star, allowing his consciousness to take on a new form, as well as replicate himself over and over.
    Similarly, when the ELS Ribbons appeared,I got the impression that some part of his innovator consciousness somehow assymilated with the ELS (potentially when the ELS infected the Jupiter recon ship), and now Ribbons with his desire to become a god on earth uses the ELS as a vessel to become one with everything on earth, in essence, becoming the god he wanted to be.
    Then it would have been Setsuna's role to separate Ribbon's malicious will apart from the ELS, thus leaving the ELS pacified and able to peacefully co-exist with humanity.
    To end up seeing that nothing like that happened makes me wonder why it was included in the movie at all; what the purpose of it was.
    Not that I have a problem with the way the ELS were actually portrayed in the movie, but this is just my interpretation of the whole Ribbons thing.
    Other than that, though, I didn't think the movie had any other real problems, and I did enjoy it overall.
    Anyway, once again, good review dude.
    Catch ya later!

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  2. crapmunky99, i totally agree with you on the descartes. as for the image of ribbons, i think that was explained by the ptolemaios crew, that the els took over copies of his innovador body (or something?) that got sent to jupiter 100 years back. i was really expecting more ribbons in the movie, and as the crew talked about humanity being unprepared for the invasion, i totally called an ender's game ending, especially with setsuna's ability to talk to aliens. i thought the movie was ok, but i'm sure i'll buy the model kits then decide the movie was great.

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  3. "...I got the impression that some part of his innovator consciousness somehow assimilated with the ELS (potentially when the ELS infected the Jupiter recon ship)... Setsuna's role to separate Ribbon's malicious will apart from the ELS, thus leaving the ELS pacified and able to peacefully co-exist with humanity."

    That would've been so much better than the actual movie itself. : /

    And would've made a lot more sense. You pretty much wrote a better plot in a few sentences than the actual writers were able to come up with. It would've been better if that fake movie at the start was the real movie.

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  4. I agree with the poster above that the plot involving Ribbons would have been more interesting as well as resonated more with fans.

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