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:
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.