Intervention as the Magic Moment in Mobile Suit Gundam 00
November 27, 2015
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“Consistency is found in that work whose whole and detail are suitable to the occasion. It arises from circumstance, custom, and nature.” —Vitruvius
After defeating the AEU’s Enact prototype during its maiden flight, the Exia continues with its mission and draws out additional Hellion squadrons from the AEU’s orbital elevator pillar. Despite the Exia’s technological superiority, its pilot, Sestuna F. Seiei, is unable to dispatch his opponents owing to their numbers. Back on the ground, the Dynames (piloted by Lockon Stratos) provides sniper fire. Shooting down the Hellions with pinpoint precision, Lockon buys Setsuna enough breathing room to destroy the last of the Hellions. Back in space, terrorists attempt to hit the Human Reform League’s anniversary parties, and while they successfully evade the forces scrambled to intercept them, they find themselves promptly defeated by the Kyrios and Virtue. The opening moments to Gundam 00 thus serve as another example of a magic moment (given here to be “an event or moment in an anime that succeed in convincing the audience to continue watching”) that occurs early on in the series that captivated my interest. Despite being a sequence created eight years ago, the animation and execution in Gundam 00 reflects on the level of detail and attention that went into crafting the moments. In particular, the orbital elevators’ impressive scale provides an exciting backdrop to introduce the Gundam’s overwhelming power, creating tension and suspense. The high-speed angles seen when the AEU hellions are struggling to engage the Exia, and the distances mobile suits must travel to reach the HRL’s orbital platform both show that these are truly massive engineering projects, attained only because of serious advances in technology.
- While perhaps not quite as magical as the magic moment from Gundam Unicorn, the first episode of Gundam 00 was nonetheless a fun watch. Eight years might have elapsed, but I still clearly remember the day I watched the first episode; it was a Friday, and because my high school was undergoing HVAC maintenance, we were sent home to begin the weekend early. I was working on a German assignment with the main computer, and decided to take a break, watching the episode on a laptop.
- The assignment was eventually finished, and I found this episode to be entrancing; a friend remarked that Gundam 00 was quite unique in the fact that all of the Gundam units were working together right from the start. In comparison to the Universal Century, the pilots in Gundam 00 are there by choice rather than chance, and unlike the Cosmic Era, no Gundam thefts are involved.
- The fight between Exia and the Hellions is set to Kenji Kawai’s “Intervention”, a powerful, high-paced song with the Celestial Being motif that captures the intensity and firepower of a Gundam. The maneuvers between the different mobile suits around the orbital elevator allow their sizes to really give an impression of how large the pillar itself is.
- Here’s another moment depicting the size of the pillar, when AEU Hellions deploy from hidden hangers on the pillar itself. When I first watched the episode, I imagined that the trained forces would fare better against Exia than Patrick Colasour, but I was wrong: though the pilots employ various attack formations to engage Exia, the difference in armour allows the Exia to shrug off the rounds.
- Eight years to this day, I was experimenting with video conversion software, during the night of my old high school’s fall awards programme. The conversion was successful; as I watched the Tieren pilots enter their mobile suits and begin to sortie, it was time to set foot into a chilly November night and sit through the awards ceremony. The fall awards were somewhat duller compared to the spring awards, given that the latter had been for exceptional performance in classes, and the former was for students who had made the honour roll.
- Space-type Tierens are deployed to engage the terrorist Hellions. Equipped with thrusters on its main body for maneuvering in space, they can be seen firing to help the Tierens stablise and adjust their course. Again, the scale of the constructs are noticeable here: the orbital stations are large enough to house entire structures and mobile suit hangers.
- While the Tieren pilots must use head-mounted displays that project a HUD onto an image of what the Tieren’s main camera sees, I found that their systems are quite cool-looking, if somewhat busy; the Tieren HMDs resemble the Oculus Rift, which I’ve used extensively in my research project. It’s quite funny how eight years after Gundam 00 aired, I’m involved in research that involves virtual reality, and may expand said project to encompass augmented reality, too.
- One of the tensest moments in the episode is when the missiles streak towards the station. The Tieren’s inability to dispatch the terrorist Hellions suggest that the Tieren is an outdated mobile suit; of all the mobile suits fielded by the world’s forces, they’re the bulkiest and most models are intended to fulfil the role of a MBT rather than air superiority fighter.
- The Kyrios flies along the orbital ring en route to engaging the terrorists. Celestial Being’s timely arrival ensures that the missiles never impact the station, and making use of the Kyrios’ speed, Allelujah shoots down two of the Hellions. The remaining mobile suit charges the station on a suicide run.
- Compared to the other mobile suits’ control panels, and even the Gundam of earlier universes, the Gundams of the Cosmic Era have very clean interface, making use of touch screens and highly simple but informative displays. The displays improve by the second season, and are only eclipsed by the floating cockpits seen in the Universal Century.
Consequently, that an organisation such as Celestial Being possesses technology eclipsing that of the world’s is an impressive feat. However, the first episode chooses not to do so via dialogue: instead, the differences are depicted by shifting focus between the mobile suits’ cockpits and the battle from an outside perspective. It’s clear that even the HRL’s old, lumbering mobile suits are complex machines; their HUDs are very detailed and provide a great deal of information about the environment. However, these pale compare to the minimalistic multi-function touch displays found inside a Gundam. Coupled with their unparalleled combat capability, audiences can plainly see that the Gundams themselves are on a completely different level, thus piquing their curiosity with respect to what happens next; highly sophisticated war machines in the hands of an unknown organisation, interfering with international politics would almost certainly result in a response, and the remainder of the first season depicts what the ramifications entail. It was a strong start to the Gundam 00 franchise, and although eight years have since passed, the opening episode remains as impressive to watch now as it was eight years ago: together, the sense of scale and technological disparity piqued my interest in Gundam 00, which eventually would become my gateway into the Gundam franchise, leading to Gundam Unicorn.