The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Gundam

Gundam SEED: Review and Reflection At The Halfway Point

“What the can you hope to protect when your feelings are the only weapons you’ve got?” –Kira Yamato

The creation of genetically enhanced humans, Coordinators, results in a rift that eventually erupts into open hostilities, prompting the Coordinators to settle in space in colonies called PLANTS. When an attack on the PLANT, Junius-7, is destroyed by nuclear weapons, the Earth Alliance and PLANTs go to war. With their superior technology, the PLANTS develop mobile suits, weapons that give them a massive advantage. To counteract this, the Earth Alliance strike an agreement with the neutral Orb Union to develop G-weapons at Heliopolis – when ZAFT catches wind of this programme, they mount an operation to steal these new mobile suits. Coordinator Kira Yamato ends up piloting the remaining G-weapon, the GAT-X105 Strike to fend off the mobile suits, and with his friends, boards the new model carrier, the Archangel, for a trip to the Earth Alliance’ base in Alaska. However, this journey is fraught with challenges – ZAFT’s Commander Rau Le Creuset is intent on destroying the Archangel, and Kira Yamato’s longtime friend, Athrun Zala, has become a ZAFT pilot. The Archangel manages to elude Creuset’s team on several occasions, and after an ill-fated stop at the Artemis station, stops to retrieve frozen water from the remains of Janius-7. Here, the Archangel captures Lacus Clyne, daughter of PLANT chairman Siegel Clyne. Resupplied, the Archangel manages to reach Earth’s defensive fleet. During the battle, Flay Allster’s father is killed by enemy fire, and Lacus manages to encourage him. In turn Kira chooses to return her to the ZAFT forces against orders. Kira’s friends end up enlisting to protect those around them, but after approaching Earth, Athrun and his team manage to destroy the entire fleet that had shown up. Kira and the Strike manage to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere with the Archangel, landing in Northern Africa. They meet a resistance force after fending off Earth-based ZAFT forces and their commander, Andrew Waltfeld. Kira also encounters Cagalli, who is with the resistance. Both are captured by Waltfeld, but Waltfeld chooses to spare them. Later, when members of the Creuset team join them, Waltfeld launches an attack on the Archangel, but is seemingly killed after Kira defeats his custom mobile armour. The Archangel subsequently heads for Orb Union, but in an engagement, Cagalli is shot down and encounters Athrun for the first time, but is later rescued. Upon arriving in Orb Union, Kira is asked to share his expertise on mobile suit operating systems to aid in their own programmes. With the Archangel’s arrival in Orb Union, I’ve reached the halfway point of Gundam SEED, a Gundam series dating back to 2002. With an intimidating fifty episodes, Gundam SEED had been a series I had difficulty approaching, but with encouragement from my friends, I’ve now opened my journey into one of the most recognisable and iconic Gundam series of the 2000s.

Out of the gates, Gundam SEED wastes no time in establishing its themes: with Kira and Athrun on opposite sides of the war, their simultaneous reluctance to fight one another and desire to do right by those around them creates an internal conflict that must be reconciled. For Kira, he fights to keep his friends safe, and constantly wonders what the point of war is. At the same time, as Kira becomes accustomed to the Strike’s capabilities, he also reluctantly accepts that there are things that only he can do, although in doing so, Kira also feels an increasing disconnect from his parents. At the opposite end is Athrun, a ZAFT pilot who seeks to end the war between the Coordinators and Naturals through force: after losing his mother in the Janius-7 incident, he resolves to beat down the Earth Alliance and help to bring about peace. Gundam SEED goes to great lengths to show the human side of warfare in its first half: behind every gun sight is a human being, and one’s enemies on the battlefield might get along fine as friends outside of war. Nowhere is this more apparent than Andrew Waltfeld, a devoted soldier but honourable man: while he and Kira might be on opposite sides of the conflict, Waltfeld is genuinely interested in Kira’s potential and greatly respects him. Similarly, having now spoken with Waltfeld, Kira hesitates to strike a killing blow in combat. As it stands, Gundam SEED suggests that in a given war, politicians and calculating officiers are the true enemy, seeking conflict as a means of achieving their own ends. Both the PLANT’s councillors and Earth Force brass seem quite unconcerned with the cost of war, and similarly, the calm, calculating but unstable Rau Le Creuset suggest that beyond Kira and Athrun’s genuine desire to protect those around them and end the war, more sinister forces are at work for both ZAFT and the Earth Alliance. These forces account for why the Orb Union has been developing their own mobile suits, as a means of defense against an increasingly unstable world.

No discussion about Gundam SEED would be complete without mention of the G-weapons, and in particular, the GAT-X015 Strike. Despite being a powerful prototype mobile suit equipped with a sophisticated OS and Phase Shift armour, which negates all physical attacks, the Strike (and its brethren, the Aegis, Duel, Blitz and Buster) is limited by its use of a battery. Owing to the constraints that Neutron Jammers introduce (it’s suggested they block neutron movement, suppressing fission reactions), mobile suits are forced to rely on batteries as their power supply, and as a result, despite offering firepower equivalent to that of a battle ship, mobile suits remain constrained by their operational time. This forces pilots to act in an efficient manner to achieve their goals, and initially, Kira pushes the Strike to its limits during combat, to the point where the Phase Shift armour powers down as a result. Limitations in the Strike’s capabilities forces Kira to grow as a pilot: from not being baited by enemy forces to placing his shots more carefully, Kira improves with each operation, assisted by his innate abilities as a Coordinator. While Kira’s prowess as a pilot has been the subject of no small discussion for the past two decades, Gundam SEED demonstrates that even Kira Yamato began as a novice, and it is over time that he ends up becoming the pilot that he is. Gundam SEED thus opens in a very strong manner, and being a re-telling of the Universal Century’s story, ends up with many parallels. In fact, having now seen Gundam Unicorn, it is fair to say that Gundam SEED‘s first half inspired Unicorn‘s progression: both Banagher and Kira are reluctant pilots who only get into the cockpit to protect those important to them, suffer a catastrophic loss while fighting an enemy combatant during re-entry, land in the desert and rediscover their will to fight in the process. However, unlike Gundam Unicorn, Gundam SEED takes its time in presenting its story, and in this area, Gundam SEED fully utilises its run time to flesh things out; in conjunction with a phenomenal soundtrack, Gundam SEED excels in conveying the emotions each of the characters feel as they navigate the horrors and desolation of warfare.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While character dynamics are just as integral to Gundam, the mobile suits are the centrepiece of any given Gundam series, so I’ll open the post with Kira destroying a GINN using the Strike’s anti-ship sword. Gundam SEED is no different: the first three episodes deal with ZAFT’s operation at Heliopolis and Kira boarding the Strike. I believe this marks the first time I’ve ever written about a 50-episode anime, which means that there’s enough going on such that I won’t be able to cover every conceivable detail, and even the collection of screenshots I’ve amassed only cover a very small faction of the series.

  • The Strike was very much an interesting lead machine for me: until now, every Gundam I’ve seen features a lead machine that was nigh-unstoppable, without limitations. The Exia had no equal in melee combat in Gundam 00, and its successors improved on the basic concepts further. while the Unicorn was leagues above its predecessors in performance. Amuro Ray’s RX-93 was similarly a highly powerful machine utilising unexplored technology. While these machines have their drawbacks, their base operations are solid compared to other mobile suits. Conversely, while the Strike is powerful, it is primarily limited by its battery’s operational time, forcing Kira and the Archangel to fight strategically with it.

  • Gundam SEED‘s Sai, Tolle, Miriallia and Flay are ordinary youth at the series’ beginning, thrust into extraordinary circumstances as a result of warfare. For a novice like myself, they’re equivalent to Gundam Unicorn‘s Micott and Takuya, Banagher’s friends from Industrial Seven who are brought on board the Nahel Argama. Unlike Sai, Tolle and Miraiallia, who become bridge crew, Takuya and Micott end up helping the engineers instead, and it is said that Takuya’s mechanical skill led to the conception of the Full Armour Unicorn. Similarly, Sai, Tolle and Miriallia end up contributing to the Archangel’s combat operations.

  • At the opposite end of the conflict are Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty pilots, Dearka, Yzak and Nicol fight alongside Athrun and the enigmatic Rau Le Creuset. Their operations at Heliopolis begins this conflict, and while Yzak is utterly devoted to ZAFT, the other pilots in Athrun’s group are more sympathetic individuals. In particular, I’m rather fond of Nicol: his moderate characterisation and preference for music over warfare serves to remind viewers that while Athrun and Kira might be on opposite sides, both Athrun and Kira have things they want to protect.

  • In the Universal Century, I have an inclination to side with the EFSF, and in Anno Domini, the Earth Federation and their A-LAWS made them the antagonists. The Cosmic Era suggests that things are more complicated: the higher ups in ZAFT are split between annihilating the Naturals and stopping their war, and similarly, while the Earth Alliance clearly despise Coordinators, there are some among them with a more moderate and tolerant outlook. Upon arrival at the Artemis space station, the Earth Alliance’ treatment of the Archangel’s crew gave the impression that the Earth Alliance military are conceited, more interested in themselves than the bigger picture.

  • Yzak’s Duel is a general purpose mobile suit for a variety of combat situations, while the Dearka’s Buster is an artillery-oriented suit intended for bombardment. Nicol pilots the Blitz, which uses the Mirage Colloid active camouflage system for stealth operations. Meanwhile, Athrun’s Aegis is the most advanced of the group, being capable of transforming into a mobile armour during combat. The stolen mobile suits offer the ZAFT forces an overwhelming advantage in combat, and it is only owing to Kira’s growing skill with the Strike, as well as the sophistication of the Archangel, that allows Kira and the others to escape the Le Creuset team’s clutches.

  • Gundam SEED‘s politics are on par with the Universal Century and Anno Domini’s in terms of sophistication, but as with the other universes, Gundam SEED also takes the time to properly flesh things out and make it clear on where each character and faction stands. This becomes important: my introduction to the Cosmic Era had actually been through Gundam SEED Destiny, whose execution left me confused for the episodes that I did end up watching. Gundam SEED Destiny became a lesson in why one should always start at the beginning, and while I had some apprehension entering Gundam SEED, it turns out that Gundam SEED is very focused and clear, making it very easy to keep up with.

  • Lacus Clyne is a Gundam icon: she’s voiced by the legendary Rie Tanaka, a voice actress of great talent and fame (her roles include Azumanga Daioh‘s Koyomi Miuhara, Chobits‘ Chii, Minna Dietlinde-Wilcke from Strike Witches and Girls und Panzer‘s Maho Nishizumi). Initially, Lacus is Athrun’s fiancé, and is presented as being a very happy-go-lucky, air-headed princess with an unparalleled talent for singing. While on a memorial visit, she happens upon the Archangel and is brought on board. The idea of a lead ship capturing a princess is similarly a Gundam staple: Minerva Lao Zabi similarly boarded the Nahel Argama and was used as a bargaining chip by the Federation Forces.

  • One aspect of Gundam SEED that was noticeably strong was the soundtrack: Sahashi Toshihiko’s music for the series is excellent, both for combat sequences and for melancholy surrounding warfare. Because Gundam SEED proceeds more slowly than Gundam 00, the selection of incidental music is much wider, and the series also has a chance to really allow the characters time in between combat to reflect on what’s happening. The longer runtime of Gundam SEED speaks to a time when anime series had the timeframes and budget for longer stories, really allowing things to be fleshed out.

  • After leaving Heliopolis, Marrue Ramius, Mu La Flaga and Natarle Badgiruel are the highest-ranking officers on board the Archangel, and in each battle, do their best to ensure everyone’s survival. Marrue was the one responsible for pressing Kira and the others into service, and decides to look after everyone until they can reach Earth Alliance authorities in order to determine how to best handle everything. Having now seen Gundam SEED up to the halfway point, the similarities between Sumeragi and Marrue are apparent, as they are between Natarle and Kati Mannequin. Here, the Archangel’s highest ranked officers speak with Lacus about her origins and objectives, determining her to be of potential strategic value similarly to how the ECOAS team attempted to use Mineva as a bargaining chip against Full Frontal in Gundam Unicorn.

  • The topic of racism is implicitly covered with the gap between Coordinators and Naturals: the former look down on the latter for their lesser abilities, while the former resent the latter for possessing what they do not. In particular, Flay’s dislike of the Coordinators is apparent, and while Kira is the exception, she displays open hostility towards Lacus when they first meet. Flay’s friends wonders if she is sympathetic to the Blue Cosmos, an extremist group that is politically involved with the Earth Alliance. The Blue Cosmos do not figure heavily in Gundam SEED‘s first half, but I imagine they’ll have a much larger role to play at some point, if they’re being mentioned now.

  • Having Kira’s friends around as assistant staff on board the Archangel really helped to create the sense that Kira was never really alone in his struggles. Gundam pilots have always been conflicted about doing what they feel is right, and initially, Kira is forced to accept that it might be necessary to take lives in order to defend those around him. However, even if Sai, Tolle and Miriallia don’t fully understand Kira’s situation, their presence helps him to regroup.

  • While appearing to be purely for show, the different beam colours in Gundam SEED were chosen to make it easier to identify what was being fired: standard particle beams are green, while physical projectiles are orange. Rail gun rounds have a yellow discharge, and plasma rounds leave a distinct blue-red trail. The plasma rounds are unsurprisingly the most powerful, and weapons that fire them have the highest energy consumption. The differences bring to mind the Universal Century, where mega-beam launchers are used in a similar capacity.

  • After the first half of Gundam SEED, Rau Le Creuset remains an enigmatic individual: possessing Char Aznable’s penchent for wearing a mask at all times, an air of confidence and calm assuredness, Rau is also seen to be consuming pills and appears to be in great pain at times when off duty. This does lead to questions of what Rau Le Creuset is about, but owing to the pacing in Gundam SEED, it does mean that viewers will have to be patient. With this in mind, Gundam SEED never once gives the impression that things are dragging on.

  • Kira finds himself face-to-face with the Le Creuset team on several occasions, and while he initially only just escapes thanks to the Strike’s capabilities, with time, Kira’s improvement as a pilot allows him to fight on even footing with Yzak and the others. This eventually culminates in Athrun and Kira resolving to take the other down if necessary, a sign of their resolve. Here, Kira’s equipped the Strike’s Aile equipment, which enhances the Strike’s mobility. During combat, Kira’s latent potential awakens: dubbed SEED (Superior Evolutionary Element Destined-factor), it greatly enhances a Coordinator’s focus and reflexes, giving them superior control and awareness in combat.

  • SEED mode is what gives Gundam SEED its name, and upon entering it for the first time, Kira disables Yzak’s Duel. SEED mode is something that, in-universe, is not fully understood, but what is known is that particularly advanced Coordinators can enter it at will. Initially, however, SEED mode can only be entered when one develops a resolve to fulfill their objectives during a situation of high stress. There is an analogue in reality: flow, the state of being so immersed in something that one’s perceptions are altered. Like SEED mode, circumstances can push people into a state of flow, but especially disciplined people can enter this state at will. For me, it always takes me a bit of warm-up to get into this state, but I can consistently do so.

  • This is why when it comes to different tasks, I always start out weaker and only hit my stride after warming up. For instance, whenever I play online multiplayer, I fare poorly for the first five minutes or so, but subsequently, I perform significantly better. Despite a rocky start, Marrue comes to respect Kira for both his skill, commitment to his duties and his drive to do what’s right; she acts as a big sister figure for Kira, looking out for him and offers him advice where needed.

  • While rendezvousing with Earth Alliance forces, Flay’s father accompanies the escort team, but they’re shot down. In the aftermath, Flay falls into a depression and becomes consumed with thoughts of revenge. However, lacking the technical skills of the others, and the ability to pilot a mobile suit on her own, Flay can only push Kira to fight and leave none standing, counting on Kira’s own emotional weakness and sense of loneliness to further her own aims.

  • Voiced by Sōichirō Hoshi (Higurashi‘s very own Keiichi Maebara), Kira Yamato is intended to represent a Japanese perspective of warfare. Because Kira is peaceful and frequently doubts the use of force, director Mitsuo Fukuda suggests that conflict is something that finds resolution when people reluctantly take up a weapon to defend what’s around them, but never otherwise participate in warfare for the sake of aggression. Time and time again, Kira steps up to protect his friends, and comes to see the bigger picture around him, much as how Amuro Ray had done in Gundam, and how Banagher Links would in Gundam Unicorn.

  • Realising that Kira’s power is key to getting revenge against the other Coordinators, Flay begins a relationship with Kira and encourages him to fight with greater aggression. Flay is probably one of the most reviled characters in the whole of Gundam, although with the benefit of hindsight, I can clarify that anime fans of the early 00s were likely lacking in the big picture: Flay enters Gundam SEED as the daughter of an Earth Alliance politician who is accustomed to being the centre of attention, but was otherwise unfamiliar with warfare.

  • As such, I count the hate against Flay the consequence of incomplete knowledge: while what she does with Kira is morally dubious, her actions were the result of her coping with what was happening given her background. Fellow blogger and peer Dewbond has written extensively on the subject, and I imagine there will come a point in the near future where we will be doing a collaborative series on Gundam SEED. Dewbond’s insights into the characters stands in stark contrast with that of my best friend’s intrigue in the hardware and politics: when I speak with my best friend, our conversations are largely on how the machines and leadership (or lack thereof) impact the way wars are fought in Gundam.

  • By comparison, Dewbond’s focus on the characters and their response to extraordinary circumstances serve to paint a more compelling picture of why characters act the way they do. As such, I foresee that when it comes to discussion, my goal will be to reconcile the hardware with the characters, and individual motivations with the conflict at scale. Gundam has always excelled at covering things at both ends of the spectrum, and Gundam SEED is no exception, so a collaboration would offer a chance to see how all of the elements come together to create a Gundam series that’s definitely deserves the acclaim it has received over the years.

  • This single scene probably created more controversy for Gundam SEED than any other: the implications were that Flay slept with Kira, and the idea of underage activity can be a bit of a minefield to write about. In Japan, viewers wrote to television studios to complain, noting that Gundam SEED had been broadcast at a time when youth would be watching. For me, the viewers’ concerns were legitimate, but I also imagine that this was originally written to show how warfare impacts people’s judgments, especially when all norms are thrown out the window, and also serves to illustrate the lengths Flay would go to have her revenge on the Coordinators.

  • While Gundam SEED is technically lighter on fanservice than Gundam 00, the latter of which took the pains of showing how hot Sumeragi was on several occasions during the first season, Marrue oscillates more than strictly necessary whenever the Archangel takes any impact from enemy fire. Gundam 00, on the other hand, only had one such moment during the second season, when the Ptolemiaos II is impacted by torpedoes. I’ve typically never found such moments to add any notable value to Gundam, but they are infrequent enough as to not be distracting from what I showed up for.

  • After Kira fails to protect a shuttle carrying civilians during re-entry, he becomes despondent, and Flay further saw this as a chance to fuel his desire for striking down his enemies. Gundam Unicorn would later present a similar scene, where during re-entry, the protagonists bear witness to horrors unmatched as they are captured by the Earth’s gravity well. Re-entry is considered one of the trickiest parts of space travel, and its presentation in Gundam is to suggest a sense of helplessness. Much as how Banagher accidentally kills Gilboa with a shot meant for Full Frontal, Kira is powerless to stop Yzak from destroying a shuttle carrying civilians.

  • Upon landing on Earth, the Archangel finds themselves in the Sahara desert, far removed from their original landing point. Amidst the desert sands, the Archangel crew learn that the resistance group, Desert Dawn, are fighting a war against ZAFT’s Andrew Waltfeld with the goal of trying to take back their homeland. Kira also runs into Cagalli, who is a member of the resistance. While the Archangel’s crew find the Desert Dawn’s aims to feel somewhat futile, seeing the extent the desert’s inhabitants are willing to go to defend their home leads Marrue to help out.

  • On Earth, ZAFT’s mainstay mobile suits are the TMF/A-802 BuCUEs. These panther-like quadrupedal mobile suits are designed for ground combat: their lower centre of gravity makes them more stable and capable of navigating rough terrain. For armaments, BuCUEs come with a pair of rail guns and missile pods. Against the Desert Dawn, who are only armed with RPGs, the BuCUE is a formidable machine.

  • When Kira fights BuCUEs for the first time, he quickly finds that the Strike’s inertial compensators have not been set to deal with the soft desert sands. After readjusting the configurations, Kira fares much better and decimates the BuCUEs attacking the Archangel. Gundam SEED‘s dialogue and materials indicate that Kira is actively re-writing the Strike’s OS to accommodate to different situations, and being a developer, I appreciate that writing an OS is probably the single most challenging and tedious task available. Without any core libraries or SDKs, one must build their own kernel, and write two programs: a loader, written in assembly, and then the OS itself. The way Gundam SEED presents things, there are two alternatives: either Coordinators are so far above ordinary humans that modifying OSes on the fly is trivial for them, or the writers mixed up their terminology, and Kira is simply writing subroutines and configurations to make piloting the Strike easier.

  • I personally am inclined to think it’s the latter, given that once the operating system is defined, it’s the routines and software above that communicate with the hardware. As such, it is not inconceivable that Earth Alliance developers have already defined a decent set of services for allowing software to interact with the mobile suit itself, but the intermediate software (such as balance algorithms, routines for movement, etc.) simply aren’t of the same standard. Thus, when Kira’s typing away, he’s working on improving functions and reorganising the high-level software that maps controller inputs to movement. Back in Gundam SEED, the Archangel’s crew finds that their provisions are running out, and must secure some from local inhabitants, who are all too happy to inflate their costs. However, without any options, the higher costs must be paid out.

  • While visiting the town market with Cagalli, Kira meets Andrew Waltfeld for the first time. Despite being a dedicated and serious soldier, Waltfeld has a likeable personality and outside of combat, enjoys a good cup of coffee. He argues with Cagalli about whether donair kebab goes better with hot sauce or yogurt. A scuffle breaks out, and in the aftermath, Kira finds the combination to be delicious. This isn’t terribly surprising, since the heat is diminished by the yogurt, which adds a creamy taste that also lets the hot sauce’s flavours be felt. Midway through their meal, Blue Cosmos extremists appear, and Kira manages to fend them off, saving Waltfeld’s life in the process.

  • Waltfeld is not ungrateful about this turn of events, deciding to bring Kira and Cagalli back to speak with them. Had they met under any other circumstance, Waltfeld would’ve probably let them off the hook, but because it’s warfare, Waltfelt notes that he’s within his bounds to kill enemy combatants – the moment a soldier sees his opponents as human and hesitates is the moment they could themselves be killed, and this is one of the grim aspects of war that Gundam SEED aims to convey to viewers. In spite of this, Waltfeld’s friendly and amicable personality, coupled with a sense of honour that Rau Le Creuset lacks, gives him a different vibe than other ZAFT commanders and suggests to the viewer that irrespective of sides in a war, there are fair and foul folks alike.

  • An entire episode is devoted to Athrun and ZAFT – as the ZAFT higher-ups discuss the execution of Operation Spitbreak, Athrun and Nicol are given shore leave. Nicol returns home to visit his parents, while Athrun catches up with Lacus and discuss Kira. It’s a change in pace that gives viewers a chance to watch the characters regroup; ever since the Archangel landed on Earth, it’s been nonstop pursuit and combat as the Archangel attempts to aid the Desert Dawn in resisting Waltfeld’s forces.

  • Indeed, true to his word, Waltfeld and his co-pilot, Aisha, take to the battlefield in a custom BuCue known as the LaGOWE, an upgraded mobile suit equipped with beam cannons and a double-bladed beam sabre that was derived from the G-project’s data. Although Waltfeld puts up an impressive fight, in desperation, Kira impales the LaGOWE with his daggers, defeating Waltfeld and Aisha. True to Waltfeld’s words, humanising an opponent made it much difficult to fight them, and I am reminded of a similar scene in Gundam Unicorn when Marida berates Banagher for thinking of her as a fellow human being when she’s fighting the Unicorn.

  • Amphibious mobile suits figure more prominently in the Cosmic Era and Universal Century than they did in Anno Domini. Gundam 00 only had a handful of mobile armours, like the Trilobyte, for underwater combat, although the Gundams themselves could operate underwater without trouble. Here, Kira fights a UMF-4A GOOhN, which looks like it was modelled after the Universal Century’s MSM-07 Z’Gok. Despite fighting a foe optimised for underwater combat during their flight over the Red Sea, Kira does manage to defeat a number of ZAFT mobile suits, attesting to his increased combat performance.

  • When a support mission goes awry, Cagalli and Athrun encounter one another on a desert island. Cagalli attempts to fight Athrun and is bested, but the two do share a conversation about their thoughts on war. While Cagalli had seen conflict as a matter of sides, her conversation with Athrun, a ZAFT soldier, does open her eyes to the idea that the enemy might not be wholly evil, and that warfare isn’t as simple as a matter of black and white. The two subsequently are rescued and returned to their respective allies, although given the episode title, this meeting should be is a fateful one that affects both Cagalli and Athrun greatly.

  • Having seen the Strike in combat now, it’s become a mobile suit that I greatly respect, balancing new technologies and combat advantages with operational limits to create a platform that is powerful, but not overpowered. If and when I’m asked, the Master Grade Aile Strike Ver. RM would be something I would’ve considered buying had I watched Gundam SEED earlier run: the Gundam itself looks powerful and has design elements resembling the classic RX-78 II. Of course, the Perfect Strike would allow me to run with any Strike setup, but as a P-Bandai exclusive, it’s not available in my area.

  • Upon approaching the Orb Nation’s territorial waters, the ZAFT forces are forced to retreat. Cagalli reveals that she’s the daughter of Orb’s leader, and Colonel Ledonir Kisaka vouches for her identity. The Orb fleet consent to not shoot them down on the spot and take them in. Although Orb is a neutral nation, their technological sophistication is impressive: the use of geothermal energy and a lack of discrimination against Coordinators has allowed Orb to develop weapons that gives their small military comparable power to a larger force, and it appears that Orb was founded by Japanese immigrants.

  • With their quarry lost, Athrun supposes that an infiltration mission might be needed to ascertain as to whether or not the Archangel are still present at Orb. As the first half draws to a close, Athrun’s team can be seen inserting into Orb’s islands and pick up phony identifications intended to get them past some security checkpoints. I had been curious to see what kind of operation this entails

  • Once the situation is cleared up, Orb Union’s command decide that they’ll repair and resupply the Archangel, as well as the Strike, on the condition that Kira assists their engineers with configuring their mobile suits. Cagalli is shocked to learn that Orb is developing mobile suits of their own, the MBF-M1 M1 Astray, a mass production model intended for use in defending Orb from foreign powers. However, while impressive from a hardware standpoint, their configurations are incomplete, and the Astrays can barely move.

  • The Astray series would end up getting their own spin-offs in Gundam SEED Astray, which follows the development of these mobile suits. With this halfway point post now finished, I’ll be pushing onwards with Gundam SEED, and given the average pacing, I’d estimate that it’ll be August by the time I wrap this series up. I am excited to keep going: with the characters, factions and objectives established, it’s clear that things will continue to intensify as the Archangel continues with its original mission. I will do my best to make this objective: at the time of writing, I’m actively following Yakunara Mug Cup MoSuper Cub, 86 EIGHTY-SIX, and Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. The first two, I intend to write about periodically, and the latter two is a bit of a wait-and-see type deal. Since I only need to catch up with Kamisama ni natta hi, I imagine that keeping up with Gundam SEED shouldn’t be too challenging.

Indeed, the long runtime of Gundam SEED was the main reason why I’d not gotten into the series until now. Having begun my journey, however, it turns out that Gundam SEED‘s pacing works to its ability: while perhaps slow by contemporary standards, Gundam SEED is able to fully portray emotions Kira and the others experience because of the extended time frame. From the transformation of doubt to conviction through Kira’s friends, or Flay Allster’s manipulative behaviours towards Kira, Gundam SEED is able to really show how different people are impacted by warfare. Some folks rise to the occasion to defend what matters to them, while for others, warfare exposes the worst traits in an individual. Here at Gundam SEED‘s halfway point, I am thoroughly impressed: the animation might not stand up to what was seen in Gundam 00 or later, but a captivating narrative, compelling cast of characters and solid music all come together to tell a strong story thus far. Moreover, Gundam SEED never overwhelms viewers: one long-standing concern I had with the Cosmic Era had been the idea that there were too many mobile suits and factions to keep track of, but because Gundam SEED is the Cosmic Era’s beginning, viewers are introduced to things at a proper pace. Kira only fights GINNs (ZAFT’s mainstay mobile suit, Cosmic Era’s equivalent of the Zaku II) in the beginning, and encounters BuCUEs in the desert. With its pacing, Gundam SEED never feels rushed, introducing new things to viewers at the appropriate time and allowing them to piece together what’s happening in a detailed world where resentment and past grievances between Coordinators and Naturals are every bit as strong as they are between the EFSF and Zeon. I’m definitely excited to continue on in my Gundam SEED journey, and given that I started watching back in January, I imagine that it’ll be closer to August by the time I wrap this one up. This suits me just fine: the slower pacing in Gundam SEED works to my advantage, and I look forwards to seeing what awaits Kira and the Archangel next.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season Two: A Review and Reflection, Chasing Shadows and Taking Responsibility For Bringing About Change

“The only thing the past can change is how you feel about things in the present.” –Neil Dylandy

Four years after Celestial Being engaged the UN forces in a titanic battle, the world has unified into the Earth Sphere Federation and established the A-LAWS autonomous peace-keeping unit. Although their objective is officially to handle security and deal with rogue actors, the A-LAWS begin committing atrocities in the name of unity. Setsuna F. Seiei has been keeping an eye on the A-LAWS’ activities during these four years, and during an operation at a colony, encounters Tieria, who rescues him. After rejoining Celestial Being, Setsuna gathers Sumeragi Lee Noreiga and recruits Lyle Dylandy as the next Lockon Stratos. He also acquires the 00 Gundam, a next-generation machine equipped with a revolutionary power plant that renders it superior to all existing Gundams. After rescuing Allelujah and Marina Ismail from a prison, Celestial Being sets about disrupting the A-LAWS and assisting Katharon, an anti-government resistance. Tieria learns that a shadowy group of individuals, the Innovators, has been manipulating the conflict from the beginning. Saji Crossroad, a civilian who despises Celestial Being, was also rescued and ultimately joins Celestial Being, hoping to reunite with Louise Halevy, who had joined the A-LAWS to take revenge on those who killed her parents. After Celestial Being disables a powerful new satellite weapon known as the Momento Mori, the Innovators begin taking a more active role in the combat. Wang Liu Mei decides to entrust Setsuna with VEDA’s location, desiring a changed world at all costs. Realising that retaking VEDA could bring an end to the Innovator’s influence, Celestial Being embarks on a titanic operation against the Innovades, genetically enhanced humans originally intended to serve as the intermediaries between ordinary people and evolved humans, Innovators. Elements of the Federation government and Katharon also participate in the operation. After Tieria secures Veda, Ribbons Almark, leader of the Innovators, sorties to fight Setsuna, claiming that humans were meant to be ruled by superior beings. While both Ribbons and Setsuna fight to a draw and destroy their respective machines, they resume their battle in the first Gundams both respectively piloted. Setsuna ends up victorious, and in the aftermath, the A-LAWS are disbanded, while Celestial Being vows to keep an eye on the world and begin operations again should the need arise. Gundam 00‘s second season continues directly on from where the first season had left off, airing a mere six months later and delves into the details the first season had only hinted at to complete the story and bring closure to unresolved plot elements, from Ribbons and the Innovade’s roles, to the mysterious nature behind benefactor Aeolia Schenberg’s plans – it turns out he intended his technology to assure humanity’s survival and push the species to evolve.

Compared to its predecessor, Gundam 00‘s second season is considerably more black and white in terms of its conflicts. The A-LAWS and Innovades are undeniably the antagonists, irredeemable and hurtling towards defeat from the first episode. Respectively devoted to the idea that the ends justify the means, and acting in selfish interests, the A-LAWS and Innovades interactions with Celestial Being, as well as their relationship with one another, paints a very clear picture of how the world’s excesses are often a consequence of powerful individuals acting behind the scenes to manipulate events and perceptions, creating a certain narrative that is convenient for those in charge. While Celestial Being’s initial goals were simply to destroy the A-LAWS, it became clear that the A-LAWS themselves were a symptom of the actual problem; they carry out atrocities with the Innovades’ blessing, confident that they are building a better world, but when the A-LAWS proved to be an impediment, the Innovades have no trouble wiping them out. This is a phenomenon that has been observed in recent years with respect to contemporary movements; social media activists and proponents of cancel culture act in the belief that they are beneficial to the world, unaware that those financing or supporting their operations are only doing so out of convenience. Much as how Ribbons vapourised the A-LAWS fleet and allowed Celestial Being to crush much of their operations, individuals participating in some causes have found themselves in trouble after their benefactors disavowed them because it became inconvenient to continue providing their backing. The benefactors had achieved their goals, but those working under them would be made scapegoats. Gundam 00‘s second season thus serves to indicate that in a given cause, it’s wisest to work for the position itself and not for an ideology – Arba Lindt and Arthur Goodman are dedicated to their work but end up dying, while A-LAWS commander Homer Katagiri commits suicide rather than facing criminal persecution. Conversely, Kati Mannequin, a stern brigadier general by the second season’s events, fights for peace but joins the A-LAWS to keep an eye on their activities, eventually defecting to help Celestial Being defeat the Innovades: unlike the other leaders, Kati fights for what she feels is right, and as such, is able to make key decisions at critical junctures that allow her to live according to her own principles. Blindly devoting oneself to a cause is presented as being destructive, especially if one isn’t aware of what one’s superiors intentions are, and Gundam 00‘s second season expertly portrayed the consequences of what results from subscribing to ideology without having thought things through entirely.

The central theme Gundam 00‘s second season presents to viewers through Celestial Being is the idea of atonement: it was Celestial Being’s actions that gave justification to the A-LAWS’ existence, and in a way, Celestial Being can be seen as equally responsible for the massacres the A-LAWS perpetrate. Setsuna, Lockon, Allelujah, Tieria and the others were aware of this, feeling that their actions would lead the world down a worse path before things could look up, and indeed, Sumeragi openly states that they’re responsible for what happened since their appearance before the final battle with the Innovades. She resolves to make up for these sins by defeating the Innovades and guiding the world back along a more desirable path. These sentiments have their parallels with activism: such movements are born of noble goals, typically with the betterment of humanity in mind, but as movements progress, people can lose sight of what these goals were originally, increasingly resorting to violence and force on the assumption that the ends justify the means. In time, the movement becomes distorted, removed from its original goals, and the world responds in kind with an equal and opposite reaction that can have far worse consequences than the conditions the activists sought to address. While the world has unified in Gundam 00, the A-LAWS routinely suppress dissidence with force, trivialising human life in the name of peace. Celestial Being had not meant for this to be the outcome, which has affected billions of lives. Rather than kicking back and calling it quits, Celestial Being owns the consequences of their actions and willingly put their lives in harm’s way to set things right. Goals do change when it comes to activism, and one of the challenges any cause faces is having a well-defined end goal. Celestial Being had achieved its goal for unifying the world, but not a unified world where people were routinely subject to unfair treatment, and in the name of easing this suffering, Celestial Being sets out to free the world from the Innovade’s grip. Here, Gundam 00 speaks to the necessity of being aware that getting what one wants might not necessarily be the end goal, and further to this, that it is important to possess the willingness to step up and do things correctly when things do not turn out as one envisioned.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • A half year after Gundam 00‘s first season ended, the second season began airing. Right out of the gates, I was treated to an immensely captivating episode: the incidental music when the Federation’s new model mobile suits appear indicates that the world has definitely changed since the events of the first season. In this time, Setsuna F. Seiei’s left Celestial Being to pursue his own path, but at a colony called Proud, he steps out of the shadows and encounters Saji Crossroad, who is being detained on suspected anti-government activity. After rescuing Saji from military automaton, Setsuna sorties in the Exia to fight the A-LAWS’ squadrons.

  • While the Exia looks menacing with its red eye and cape, and Setsuna’s improved as a pilot, the Exia hasn’t been well-maintained in the past four years. Setsuna finds himself being bested by the Ahead, a new-generation mass-production mobile suit modelled after the former HRL Tierens. With superior output compared to the GN-X III line, the Ahead here cuts through Setsuna’s GN Sword, demonstrating beyond any doubt that Setsuna will need some new hardware if he’s to make any sort of difference. Tieria’s timely arrival forces the A-LAWS to scatter, and Setsuna rejoins Celestial Being, intent on righting the wrongs that had resulted after Celestial Being’s actions four years previously.

  • After returning to Celestial Being, Setsuna successfully recruits Neil’s younger brother, Lyle, as well as convincing Sumeragi to return to their ranks. Sumeragi is initially reluctant to rejoin, feeling personally responsible for the deaths of her crew four years earlier. However, upon seeing what is at stake owing to the A-LAWS and the atrocities they commit, Sumeragi would turn around and find her reason for fighting anew. For now, with the A-LAWS hot on their tails, Setsuna returns to the Ptolemaios II, a hulked-out version of the Ptolemaios with dedicated catapults and a weapons system.

  • With Setsuna’s return, Ian was able to finally test the 0 Gundam and Exia’s GN Drives for the powerful new Twin-Drive System, where two GN Drives synchronise their operations to effectively square their output. Tests insofar had been unsuccessful, but when Setsuna decides it’s time to fight the A-LAWS head-to-head, he uses Trans-Am to kick start the system, which stablises and renders the 00 Gundam fully operational. The subsequent launch is a spectacle to behold, being set to Kenji Kawai’s appropriately titled track, “00 Gundam”. Kenji Kawai scores the incidental music to Gundam 00, and it is therefore unsurprising that elements from Ip ManHigurashiDark Water and The Ring can be heard.

  • On its maiden sortie, Setsuna and the 00 Gundam shred through the pursing A-LAWS formation without any difficulty: after one-shotting an Ahead with its GN Sword II’s beam rifle, Setsuna cuts a GN-X III in half after its pilot boldly claims that he’s got the edge in CQC. Saji has accompanied Setsuna and is confined to one of the holding cells on board the Ptolemaios II, but Lasse and Mileina (the latter is Ian’s daughter, a youthful but skilled mechanic) provide Saji with a laptop that gives him insight into what had happened four years earlier. Reading this information helps Saji to understand what Setsuna and the others are doing, and over the course of season two, Saji becomes an integral member of Celestial Being.

  • Ribbons Almark is firmly established as the antagonist in Gundam 00‘s second season: a genetically enhanced human known as an Innovade (equivalent to a Cyber-Newtype), Ribbons leads his group of Innovades with the intention of ruling the world. He is responsible for the events of the second season, and while originally a staunch believer in Aeolia Schenberg’s plan, came to resent his role as a placeholder. While supremely confident in his own skill and power, Ribbons is easily unsettled when there are surprises, such as the existence of the Twin Drive System. Ribbons is voiced by Tōru Furuya, the voice actor for Mobile Suit Gundam‘s very own Amuro Ray.

  • With the 00 Gundam activated, Celestial Being sets about recovering Allelujah, who had been captured and detailed at a HRL prison. This bold operation sees Sumeragi orchestrating Celestial Being’s actions, and she assigns Lyle to provide support. While Lyle indicates he’s a novice with mobile suits and combat, he manages to shoot down several GN-X IIIs here. One of the biggest questions early in Gundam 00‘s second season was Lyle’s loyalties; he’s a member of the anti-government group, Katharon, and initially, there was always the chance that Lyle might betray Celestial Being for Katharon if the need had arisen. However, this would never materialise, and Lyle would come to fully accept his duties as a Gundam Meister for Celestial Being.

  • Now a member of the A-LAWS, Soma Peries is sent to secure Allelujah after Setsuna frees him. The connection between Allelujah and Soma had been a major point in the first season, where it was shown the two had known one another. Because Hallelujah is Allelujah’s alternate personality, it stood to reason that Soma must also have another personality, Marie. However, there’s no time for a reunion, and Allelujah boards his new Gundam, the Arios, promising to free Marie in the future.

  • Setsuna also was able to retrieve Marina from the facility; I imagine that she was held because she was suspected of having knowledge on the whereabouts of her former political advisor, Shirin Bakhtiar, who had left for Katharon. Once Marina is recovered, Celestial Being figures it would be safest to have Katharon look after her: Azadistan had been burned to the ground when Ribbons sent Ali Al-Saachez there. For now, Marina remains with Celestial Being on board the Ptolemaios, which comes under siege from the A-LAWS, who are seeking them out for destruction.

  • With all four of the Gundams operational, even the A-LAWS find themselves sustaining losses as the Union, AEU and HRL had previously: GN-X IIIs fall quickly to the Gundams, and even the A-LAWS vaunted Ahead struggles: while the third generation Gundams were weaker than an individual Ahead, the upgraded Gundams have been given updates that leave them a step above. Prior to the second season, there were numerous debates as to whether or not the Cherudim, Arios and Seravee were all-new Gundams or rebuilds. Official documentation would later clarify this: the Gundams seen in season two are all-new machines.

  • While standard Aheads have troubles fighting the Gundams, the A-LAWS also begin developing customised units as well: Graham Aker, now “Mister Bushido”, seeks out a one-on-one with Setsuna, resolute in his belief that Setsuna stripped him of his pride and disgraced him. Things are at the point where Aker refuses to fight anyone else, and will even spare Setsuna if he suspects that the 00 Gundam isn’t in top condition. Aker’s one-sided rivalry with Setsuna means that viewers are treated to some of the most impressive duels in Gundam 00 whenever the two clash: even now, the combat scenes in Gundam 00 hold up very well.

  • Even compared to Gundam 00Gundam 00‘s second season was very light on the fanservice: Sumeragi’s being fetched the Celestial Being uniform in the wrong size is about as far as it gets, and the first season only had Sumeragi, Christina and Feldt show up in swimwear while on break between operations. The infamous mammary oscillation only happens once in season two with Sumeragi, when a Trilobyte mobile armour assaults the Ptolemaios: this stands in contrast with Gundam SEED, where Marrue Ramius seems to suffer from this every time the Archangel is hit. I’m now halfway through Gundam SEED, and I will say that I’m enjoying the series far more than I initially thought: SEED is on par with 00 in terms of enjoyment for me.

  • Allelujah’s promise to retrieve Marie is sorted out early in the second season: after the pair crash, Soma suffers from the same debilitating headaches that Allelujah did when the pair were in close proximity, and her Marie personality is restored. The pair reconcile, and Sergei Smirnov, who’d shown up to rescue Soma, decides to allow the pair their happiness, having seen how much war can take away from people. Despite being a dedicated soldier, Sergei is also an honourable individual, understanding what Soma wants. He subsequently allows Allelujah and Marie to depart, promising to note in his report that Soma was shot down in combat to keep the A-LAWS from pursuing her.

  • Tieria learns that the enemies controlling the world aren’t the A-LAWS, but rather, the Innovades. Gundam 00 has the characters refer to them as Innovators, but after A Wakening of the Trailblazer, I’ve defined an Innovator as someone who naturally developed the powers similar to that of a Coordinator or Newtype. Instead, the Innovades are artificial humans made to assist with Schenberg’s plan. Over time, they began pursuing their own interests, resulting in the conflict seen in season two. Tieria, being an Innovade himself, initially hesitates to tell Sumeragi and the others about this, fearing they might reject him, but with this information, Sumeragi is grateful, knowing now what their foe is.

  • Setsuna delivers Marina to a Katharon task force, where she reunites with Shirin. Fans have long wondered what the relationship between Setsuna and Marina would be during the first season, and the second season suggests that Setsuna views Marina as someone admirable, whose conviction in peace and desire for a normal life stands in stark contrast with his own experiences. While romance never explicitly happens, Gundam 00 does show Setsuna as being pulled by Marina: during an operation, his thoughts briefly stray to Marina’s invitation for him to set down his arms and return to Azadistan with her once they rebuild.

  • Ali Al-Saachez and the Throne Arche make a return, overpowering and damaging the Seravee while simultaneously fighting 00 to a standstill. My best friend remarks that Ali Al-Saachez’s return in the second season was quite unnecessary, since he represents Neil’s inability to let go of the past. This makes sense from a narrative standpoint, but I imagine that positive fan reaction to Ali Al-Saachez and Keiji Fujiwara’s excellent performance meant writers brought him back to life. The Arche is a highly customised machine for aggressive close quarters combat, enhancing the Zwei’s loadout further for Ali Al-Saachez’s fighting style. Lyle and Allelujah later arrive to back up Setsuna and Tieria, and Setsuna explains he was once in the terror cell that killed the Dylandys.

  • Lyle is disinterested in revenge, and instead, his biggest struggle is internal: he strives to set himself apart from Neil. After eluding an A-LAWS patrol, the Ptolemaios II returns to space and a hidden Celestial Being facility to pick up new crew and the 0 Raiser, a support unit meant to bring out the 00 Gundam’s true power. Meanwhile, the A-LAWS test an orbital laser called the Memento Mori, wiping out a Middle Eastern nation called Suille. The series really began to pick up here, and from this point on, it’s a non-stop ride to the end as Celestial Being squares off against the Innovades. However, at around this time, blogger “Dark Mirage” took it upon himself to proclaim Gundam 00 as the worst series of the franchise, more interested in selling models than telling an “authentic and mature” story by incorporating period events. He thus announced his intention to drop the series for the reason, and I quote, “due to real-life circumstances unrelated to World of Warcraft“.

  • What Dark Mirage had failed to understand about Gundam 00‘s second season was that, after Celestial Being had united the world, they created a simpler dynamic where things were more black and white. This is why the so-called geopolitical paradigm is simplified: the world has become simultaneously simpler to deal with (fewer in-fighting factions) and more complex to address (shadowy benefactors manipulating things behind the scenes). Dark Mirage was a bit of a famous blogger a decade earlier, widely respected for posting frequently about wide range of anime and was envied by many. Dark Mirage’s comments sections certainly gives the sense that many treated his word as gospel: after Dark Mirage announced his intention to drop the series, numerous people praised his decision and decided to follow suit. Why people would follow suit when someone popular does something remains a mystery to me, and while I constantly remind viewers to always make their own judgment, I can remark that this is a problem I’ve never had with my readers because this blog was nowhere near as popular as Dark Mirage’s.

  • While Dark Mirage gave the impression that he was an extraordinary writer with unparalleled insight into most everything, I found this to be quite untrue. Dark Mirage’s writing style was impeded by a jarring combination of elitism combined with self-deprecating humour, and his ramblings always came across as immature rather than helpful. Particularly egregious was a post about his declining some scholarship in a long-winded post because he did not intend to enter civil service (which is what the scholarship was for). This came across as a fine display of ostentation, making a seemingly self-critical statement that was actually meant to highlight how brilliant he was. Dark Mirage took similar tones towards Gundam 00, claiming that “[Gundam 00] is not going to suck just because I say that it sucks. It will suck on its own merits. There’s no need to argue about it on this blog because I am not the authoritative voice on anything”, implying that he was indeed the authoritative voice on things. Back in Gundam 00, following the Memento Mori’s test shot, Tieria finally makes the revelation that he isn’t a human, and instead, is an Innovade, specially made to interface with VEDA and carry out functions to assist Aeolia Schenberg’s plans.

  • Dark Mirage ended up being wrong about virtually every aspect of Gundam 00‘s second season: Memento Mori represented the extent of the A-LAWS and Innovade’s desire to rule the world, and it is not a single-shot weapon, instead, being able to fire multiple times on both surface and space-based targets. The existence of such a weapon spurs Celestial Being into action, but with A-LAWS and Innovade forces closing on their base, Celestial Being takes a gamble on the 0 Raiser. After Ian is injured when one of the Innovades fires on the Ptolemaios, Saji decides to deliver the craft to Setsuna instead: while Saji had been vehemently opposed to any operation where there were human opponents, he begins to take on a more active desire to help keep those around him safe.

  • Once the 0 Raiser reaches 00 Gundam, Setsuna initiates the docking sequence, and with the stablising gear connected, the 00 Gundam’s Twin Drive system finally works at full power on the battlefield. The docking sequence brings to mind how the Strike Gundam’s striker packs could be switched out mid-battle, as well as how Tony Stark’s Mark VII suit could automatically adjust itself to be equipped. With the GN Drives now reading maximum output, the 00 Gundam’s true potential is brought out: until now, Setsuna had really been fighting with a Gundam that only slightly surpassed the Exia in terms of combat effectiveness.

  • Setsuna’s first kill with the 00 Raiser is on Barack Zinin, the Ahead pilot who’d totally wasted the Exia during the first episode. Barack’s story is a bit of a tragic one: he joined the A-LAWS to keep the peace after his wife died to a Katharon attack and genuinely believes in his assignment, but in the end, this conviction amounted to nothing of note: the 00 Raiser gains such a considerable boost in performance that Setsuna is able to fly around the asteroid and emerge behind him for the kill. Once Barack is downed, Setsuna single-handedly destroys Bring Stability and Revive Revival’s mobile suits with ease, taking Ribbons by surprise.

  • The Innovades are forced to retreat, taken aback at their defeat, and the Gundam Meisters set off to destroy Memento Mori. A Katharon fleet is already on the attack, but lack the firepower to breach the A-LAWS defensive fleet. They begin taking losses from the Memento Mori and A-LAWS’ combined firepower, but Setsuna arrives ahead of the Ptolemaios to assist them. In return, Katharon sends Setsuna what data they have on the satellite weapon. This episode remains one of my favourite Gundam episodes ever, being reminiscent of the Rebel Alliance’s assault on the Death Start in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

  • As Setsuna mops up A-LAWS mobile suits and fights Hiling Care to a stand still, the Ptolemaios II arrives on station, travelling along the orbital ring to avoid the Memento Mori’s beam. This operation gave Lockon a chance to shine, as he’s tasked with targetting the optical resonator that regulates the weapon’s power supply. This also marks the first time that Cherudim deploys its shield bits, remote shields that also possess beam guns that make them highly versatile in offensive and defensive roles. Lockon counts on the on-board Haro to manage these, using them to great effect.

  • Once Memento Mori is destroyed, an unknown mobile armour attacks the Ptolemaios II and forces it to surface. From here, Setsuna is separated from the crew. He encounters Ribbons face-to-face for the first time and learns that Ribbons was the 0 Gundam’s original pilot, before very nearly killing Ali Al-Saachez in a fight shortly after. Meanwhile, the Ptolemaios receives assistance from Katharon and sets about defending themselves from yet another A-LAWS assault. However, the situation quickly changes when Pang Hercury, one of Sergei Smirnov’s friends, directs a coup d’etat and seizes control of the Africa Tower.

  • While it seemed little more than a detour at the time, the Africa Tower Coup represents the first time where those in the government express their discontent with the Earth Federation’s decisions and actions. In a manner reminiscent of Gundam 00‘s first season, the coup demonstrates the fact that warfare and conflict exists in shades of grey rather than the black-and-white Celestial Being versus A-LAWS fight. Pang’s rationale is to demonstrate to the world what the A-LAWS have been doing. To cover up the incident, the A-LAWS authorise a strike on the tower, and despite the 00 Raiser’s power, Celestial Being are unable to stop the Memento Mori from firing on the tower, causing it to purge its outer walls as as safety measure.

  • As the tower begins discarding its layers, the Katharon, Federation and A-LAWS forces work together to prevent civilian casualties on the surface. In the aftermath, Andrei Smirnov, Sergei’s son, kills both Pang and Andrei, holding his father responsible for his mother’s death years earlier. These deaths cause Marie to revert back to her Soma personality. Four months after the incident, dubbed “Pillar Break”, the A-LAWS’ hold over the world tightens, and Celestial Being destroys the second Memento Mori. However, their latest crew member, Anew Returner, is an Innovade and has inadvertently been broadcasting the Ptolemaios’ location to Ribbons.

  • Anew Returner’s story seemed quite tangential to Gundam 00, but in retrospect, it was meant to show that in the absence of bias and prejudice, different people could get along with one another to the extent where they might fall in love. Lyle, being much more open-minded and future-oriented than Neil, develops a relationship with Anew, and even after learning that she’s an Innovade, same as Ribbons and the others, declares that the labels are meaningless. Unfortunately, Anew is still susceptible to being hijacked by Ribbons, and on his overriding orders, returns to him after helping Revive steal the 0 Raiser.

  • Despite shooting up the 0 Raiser’s cockpit, Revive does little to stop Celestial Being: Ian swiftly replaces the unit and has the 00 Raiser ready to deal with the Innovade’s next assault on the Ptolemaios. During this fight, Setsuna helps Saji to reunite with Louise using the 00 Raiser’s quantum field, creating conflict in Louise – while she’d been a steadfast believer of the A-LAWS, seeing Saji again causes her to break down.

  • Lockon ends up duelling Anew and defeats her Gaddess, a mobile suit following the Gaddessa and Garrazzo in design. The Gaddess uses a heat blade and funnels as its primary weapons, being the polar opposite of the Cherudim’s emphasis on long-range combat. For the briefest of moments, Anew returns to her old self and consents to return to Lockon’s side. However, Ribbons takes over at the last second and has Anew nearly killing Lockon, until Setsuna snipes her. With the 00 Raiser’s quantum field, Lockon and Anew share one last moment together, affirming their love for one another, before Anew’s Gaddess explodes. While Lockon is grief-stricken and beats up Setsuna in the aftermath, Setsuna later confides in Saji, indicating that his gut told him there was no other way to save Lockon.

  • With Sumeragi’s plans to take back VEDA, help comes unexpectedly from Wang Liu Mei: desiring change to the world at all costs, she states that she’ll sacrifice anyone to achieve her ends, and compared to her composed self in the first season, Wang appears much more worn by the second season, sporting bangs under her eyes by the time she meets with Setsuna to hand him the coordinates to VEDA. Wang subsequently dies when Nena shoots down her transport, and Nena herself is killed by Louise’s new mobile armour, the Regnant. While the Regnant is powerful enough to match a Gundam in combat, Setsuna’s own skill at a pilot allows him to drive it off in their first encounter. Nena is not so fortunate: Louise uses the Regnant’s power to brutally kill her.

  • While Louise’s appearance is a cause for concern, Setsuna and Saji have a larger problem on their hands when Graham Aker appears, his heart set on duelling Setsuna. Without another way out, Setsuna reluctantly agrees to fight Graham, and the two engage their respective suit’s Trans-Am systems. Billy Katagiri had independently developed Trans-Am using Professor Eifman’s research: he installed the system to Graham’s Masurao, later redubbed the Susanowo. Modelled after the Flag, this purely-melee focused mobile suit boasts unmatched speed and ferocity for close-quarters combat, being a match for Setsuna and the 00 Raiser. As GN particles flood the battlefield from their duel, Setsuna and Graham enter a quantum field, where Setsuna realises that this combat is leading to unprecedented changes in the future related to Aeolia Schenberg’s plans.

  • Awakening fully as an Innovator, Setsuna disables Graham’s Susanowo and implores him to live on before heading off. Setsuna’s found the meaning in his fight now, believing that Aeolia’s plan had been about seeing humanity unite and evolve so that they could handle something that was cryptically called “the coming dialogues”. Graham is left to wonder about the nature of his opponent, and contemplates seppuku, but recalling Setsuna’s advice, that one can only fight by being alive, renounces his decisions and pursues a new path in his life.

  • Celestial Being’s final operation against Ribbons is of a hitherto unseen scale: their plan is to first smash through a massive A-LAWS fleet guarding the coordinates where VEDA is supposed to be located. By this point in Gundam 00, everyone’s got their own reasons for stepping onto the battlefield, whether it’s for the sake of a better world, protecting those they love, fighting for the memories of those fallen or securing a path into the future. The preparations for this final sortie is inset with Unlimited Sky by Tommy Heavenly6, who also performed the first season’s opening song, Ash Like Snow. Both seasons of Gundam 00 have an inset song with a youthful vibe: the first season had the Ptolemaios crew and Gundam Meisters bond while Taja’s Love Today was playing.

  • Feldt’s feelings for Setsuna came a little out of left field for me when I’d first watched Gundam 00, but in retrospect, seeing Setsuna becoming increasingly open and fighting for the future would’ve doubtlessly made him inspirational. Prior to their launch, Feldt gives Setsuna a flower that he carries into his final battle. For Setsuna, the strength of these feelings would have him associate flowers with peace and life. While Feldt wonders if Marina might disapprove, Setsuna remarks they aren’t romantically involved.

  • Once the Gundams sortie, they begin making quick work of the A-LAWS fleet. The combat sequences are jaw-dropping, and even after the A-LAWS deploy a gas disrupting particle beams, the arrival of Katharon and Federation forces led by Kati keep the A-LAWS on the back-foot. Setsuna ends up firing a blast from the 00 Raiser that kills Arthur Goodman, sending the A-LAWS fleet into disarray. At this point, Ribbons finally reveals himself, firing a massive particle beam that neutralises the remainder of the A-LAWS. While thrilling, static images cannot capture the battle, so I’ve opted to only showcase the absolute highlights from Gundam 00‘s second season for the remainder of this post.

  • Once the Celestial Being space colony is revealed, the Ptolemaios pushes to close the distance and land so that they can secure VEDA. Ribbons deploys a vast swarm of Gagas, a mass-production mobile suit lacking any legs. For me, this was probably the weakest aspect of Gundam 00, showing the enemy as being incompetent to the point of wasting resources on manned suicide units: cruise missiles equipped with a GN Tau Drive set to self-destruct would be more useful at this point. This perhaps speaks to the Innovade’s desperation in holding onto power even as the tide turns against them, and indeed, even though the Innovades’ mobile suits are upgraded, they simply lack the resolve to fight Celestial Being.

  • Despite being shot down, Tieria eventually manages to make his way to VEDA’s core. Ribbons kills Tieria’s physical body, but not before he and Regene Regetta merge their consciousness to become a part of VEDA itself. While Regene had been presented as a traitorous double agent, it turns out his plans align completely with Aeolia’s, and it is only his ego that leads him to comment how his goals are original. Ultimately, Regene and Tieria remain completely faithful to Aeolia’s plan, and Tieria finally has access to the most secure data in VEDA. Here, he learns that Aeolia’s plan had been to prepare humanity for “the coming dialogues”, contact with extraterrestrial life.

  • Setsuna, meanwhile, helps Saji to recover Louise. Fighting to neither kill or maim, Setsuna stops the Regnant while Saji opens fire on the Gagas, marking the first time he’s pulled the trigger of his own volition. Saji is able to pull Louise from the damaged Regnant and brings her to a dock inside the colony, where her conflicting programming causes her to try to kill Saji. Meanwhile, combat outside forces Setsuna into a corner, and in desperation, he taps into the 00 Raiser’s true power: the Trans-Am Burst system saturates the battlefield with GN Particles, forcing the Innovades to back off and filling the protagonists with a newfound resolve to win. Lockon had engaged Ali Al-SAachez deep in the bowels of the space station, and while outmatched, begins gaining the upper hand. Meanwhile, Allelujah defends Marie after she’s knocked out, and when she comes to, she forgives Andrei for his actions after he expresses remorse.

  • Sumeragi and Billy had been within moments from shooting one another, and after the quantum field allows the pair to reconcile, they fight off the automaton threatening the Ptolemaios’ bridge. Louise and Saji also embrace after the quantum field heals her. Trans-Am Burst creates an environment similar to the Universal Century’s psychofield, converting willpower into something tangible. Setsuna uses this to heal the combatants and help them reach an understanding with one another. The output from the 00 Raiser is impressive, allowing Setsuna to single-handedly turn everyone around in a moment that equals a scene in Char’s Counterattack where Amuro Ray and Char Aznable’s psychoframes resonated to push Axis away from Earth.

  • Tieria, meanwhile, activates the Trial Field on the Seraphim Gundam remotely, shutting down the remainder of the VEDA-connected suits, bringing the battle to a close. This includes Ali Al-Saachez’s Arche, which Lockon subsequently destroys. While Ali Al-Saachez attempts to flee, Lockon stops him, but gives him a chance at redemption. Being irredeemable, Ali Al-Saachez attempts to shoot Lockon and is met with a bullet to the face, the ghost of his last laugh written all over his face. Lyle is uninterested in revenge, and his defeating Ali Al-Saachez was probably meant to show that clearing up the past can only be done if one is motivated by something beyond vengeance.

  • Gundam 00 wraps up with Ribbons sortieing onto the battlefield himself, shooting down the Seraphim before facing off against Setsuna. The resulting battle was one of the best-choreographed I’ve seen, and while Setsuna’s 00 Raiser is still recharging from using Trans-Am Burst, Setsuna nonetheless manages to hold on long enough to gain a sense of Ribbons’ combat style. During this final fight, the ball was in Ribbons’ court the entire time: his Reborns Gundam is fully charged at the onset and Ribbons has been watching Setsuna long enough to know the latter’s fighting style. This is why early in the battle, Setsuna has no answers to the Reborns Gundam and its seemingly overwhelming performance.

  • The final fight in Gundam 00 was well-done to the point where forum-goers spent over three quarters of the year analysing whether or not the Reborns was a superior Gundam to the 00 Raiser, attesting to how much discussion can be had when an anime gives people the materials to go off of. Thoughts from fizzmaister and GN0010 Nosferatu suggested that the Reborns was the better machine: their arguments were that the Reborns had a proper Twin Drive System, a more versatile arsenal and didn’t require an external craft like 0 Raiser to operate. SonicSP added that the performance seen in Gundam 00 should make it clear that mechanically, the Reborns is superior to the 00 Raiser in every way. While I agree that the Reborns has a better loadout for combat, we only had Ribbons’ word to go on at the time about his having a Twin Drive System. As it turns out, the limitations of a Twin Drive System using GN Tau Drives are given by documentation, which states that a Twin Drive System with GN Tau Drives, while impressive, is still vastly inferior to a system with genuine GN Drives. As such, while perhaps a feat of engineering capable of performing in a wide range of operations, the Reborns doesn’t have any access to new technology that gives it a complete edge over the 00 Raiser.

  • While Ribbons and Setsuna fight, Hallelujah and Hiling fight. Having now accepted Hallelujah as a part of himself, Allelujah is able to completely dominate the fight, destroying Hiling’s Garrazzo after tearing out her escape pod. However, Allelujah has very little experience fighting against funnels, and is promptly knocked out of the battle afterwards. This was a particularly impressive fight, during which Hallelujah calls out Hiling for being overly dependent on VEDA: while the Innovades are formidable pilots, VEDA or no, they used VEDA’s support to provide intelligence that greatly assisted them.

  • Lockon, on the other hand, is outmatched: unlike his Cherudim, which suffered extensive damage in Lockon’s fight against the Arche, the Gaddessa is still in great shape. However, shaken by Setsuna’s power and stubbornly insisting on his own superiority, Revive dies after Lockon feigns defeat, only to engage Trans-Am and get behind the Gaddessa, subsequently blasting it into oblivion and taking Revive out in the process. Lockon’s final words after defeating Revive is that this is what Celestial Being is about, affirming the fact that is allegiance and loyalties lie with the organisation, implying that Lyle’s accepted the idea about fighting for the future even when one has sustained loss in the past. In this way, Lyle succeeded in differentiating himself from Neil in that he is able to let go of the past, which is something that the latter could not do.

  • As such, I am not convinced that the Reborns is outright better than the 00 Raiser. 00 Raiser’s greater endurance and mobility means that a pilot who could outlast the Reborns would be at an advantage. Setsuna has the skill to do so, but had already exhausted the 00 Raiser’s power earlier: he wasn’t fighting at his best. Indeed, when all of the factors come into play, the Reborns Gundam draws with the 00 Raiser: I note that while both are capable of going toe-to-toe in a one-on-one situation, the Reborns was built with heavy combat in mind, and it was Ribbons’ knowledge of Setsuna’s fighting style that initially gave Setsuna a hard time. Once Setsuna began seeing patterns to Ribbons’ fighting style and the 00 Raiser had begun recharging, he was fighting on a much more even footing, critically damaging the Reborns by using the 00 Raiser’s ability to quantise (in this context, teleport). However, because of the lag the 00 Raiser experiences after exiting quantisation, Ribbons manages to sever a GN Drive.

  • Both Ribbons and Setsuna continue fighting in their original Gundams, respectively, the 0 Gundam and Exia. Without the powers conferred by the Twin Drive System, it’s a back-to-the-basics fight where Setsuna is completely on the offensive; Ribbons doesn’t even land a hit in until Setsuna cuts the cockpit hatch, giving Ribbons an opening. Overall, Setsuna’s powers as an Innovator, and his piloting, surpasses Ribbons’. Here, I will note that while I disagree with SonicSP, fizzmaister and GN0010 Nosferatu, they put a respectable amount of effort into their explanations so that I can understand where they are coming from. Back then, forum-goers spent a considerable amount of effort explaining themselves, and so, even if their speculations proved completely wrong by the events of A Wakening of The Trailblazer, it was nice to follow their train of thought for how they reached their conclusions. My best friend and I similarly speculated about GN Drives and the tech, but similarly ate crow after more information was released. However, rather than being a matter of right or wrong, we found that these discussions were always fun, since they allowed us to simply explore whatever directions were appropriate.

  • Indeed, going back and reading Gundam 00 discussions and speculation now was generally quite enjoyable an experience because of this level of effort. Gundam 00 has aged remarkably well, and even now, the anime still looks amazing, with fight scenes that are comparable to those of contemporary Gundam series. Since Gundam 00, I hold that besides Gundam Build Fighters, there have been no real worthy Alternate Universe Gundam series – the only Gundam projects of note that I enjoyed since 00 were Gundam UnicornGundam: The Origin and Gundam Narrative. Similarly, I am looking forwards to Gundam: Hathaway’s Flash. All of these share the commonality in that they’re set in the Universal Century, the original Gundam timeline.

  • After Setsuna defeats Ribbons, he returns to Celestial Being and promises to keep an eye on the world. When the second season ended, the end of the episode showed five lights emerging from Jupiter and the enigmatic text, “Mission Incomplete”. Shortly after, A Wakening of The Trailblazer was announced, and I remember that the wait for this movie was excruciating: during the summer of 2010, I remember listening to Uverworld’s CHANGE constantly and watching the trailers featuring the new Gundams almost non-stop. A Wakening of The Trailblazer would release in September 2010, and in a rare move for an anime movie, saw a home release a mere three months later, in December 2010. Gundam has always been excellent about release timeframes.

  • Both Gundam 00‘s seasons are an A+ for me, having introduced me to anime, and showing what was possible within the medium. Having taken my best friend’s recommendation, I became a fan of anime, and Gundam 00 is where everything began: we spent countless hours speculating and discussing things offline, and I think for said friend, it must’ve been a breath of fresh air to finally have someone to talk to about Gundam to the depth he was looking for. Today, upon realising the impact Gundam 00 had on me (reading blog posts and forum discussions on Gundam 00 led me to start my own website and blog), I’ve made the call to begin watching Gundam SEED, as well – my best friend finds it a superb series, and Dewbond of Shallow Dives in Anime has also expressed a wish for me to check it out. Since Hathaway’s Flash is still a ways out, I am more than happy to oblige. At present, I am halfway through Gundam SEED and will look at writing about my experiences in the near future before continuing onwards: I am greatly enjoying the series thus far and look forwards to where it is headed.

Despite possessing a more straightforward, cut-and-dried story in its second season, Gundam 00 continued to impress as its predecessor did from a thematic and visual perspective; fights are much larger in scale in the second season to really convey the scope of the battles (and by extension, what the stakes were every time Setsuna and his team sortied). One-on-one battles were also captivating to watch, being more fluid than even those of the first season (especially now that mobile suit technology has advanced so dramatically compared to the more primitive suits seen in the first season). I especially had fun watching the attack on Momento Mori, which feels like one long love song to the iconic Death Star run in Star Wars, as well as the final fight between Setsuna and Ribbons, which was one of the earliest instances of characters reverting to their original mobile suits for a showdown. The second season was generally solid: there are a few decisions that felt a little questionable, including Graham Aker’s appearance as the masked Mister Bushido, and the fact Ali Al-Saachez was brought back purely to be an antagonist for Lyle, who had already made it clear he wanted to differentiate himself from Neil early on in the season. Beyond this, however, the second season continued on as its predecessor did: while it may not present the same political intrigue as the first season, or any of the mystery behind the Gundams themselves, Gundam 00‘s second season did excel in many areas, acting to decisively clear up lingering questions from the first season and bringing closure to a world whose problems could finally be addressed by diplomatic means rather than force. The second season was a conclusive end to Gundam 00‘s television run, setting the stage for A Wakening of The Trailblazer, where the unified world faces a new challenge in the form of extraterrestrial life in a first for the Gundam franchise. Since Gundam 00 ended, there’ve not been any full-length Gundam series that have had any of the same political relevance and technological depth – I’d love to see another Gundam series with fifty to a hundred episodes and really flesh things out in a similar fashion. With that being said, there have been some excellent Gundam series over the years, with Gundam Unicorn, Gundam Origin, Gundam Thunderbolt and Gundam Build Fighters acting to fill the void, and Gundam: Hathaway’s Flash is supposed to continue on with the Universal Century story later this year. In the meantime, it’s been a fantastic experience to revisit Gundam 00: besides being my first Gundam ever, Gundam 00 also holds the distinction of being the first anime series I’d ever watched in full, so returning to consider the magic behind Gundam 00 on the twelfth and thirteenth anniversaries of its finales airing (for seasons two and one, respectively) was a very pleasant trip down memory lane.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: A Review and Reflection, Remarks on Changing the World and The Price of Victory

Why our world is so terminally distorted?
Where did this distortion come from?
Why are there people who are unconsciously evil?
Why do they not realize that their evil hurts others?
Why is humanity an existence that only conflicts with itself?
Why are there people to rule, and those who are ruled?
Why do we wound each other?
In spite of all this, why do people go on living like they do?

–Setsuna F. Seiei

In the year 2307, the world has constructed three massive space elevators linked to an orbital solar array to address the growing demand for sustainable energy. These constructions demanded feats of engineering hitherto unseen, and the world unified around three power blocs: the Union of Solar Energy and Free Nations, Advanced European Union and the Human Reform League. While these blocs greatly benefitted from an nearly inexhaustible energy supply, nations unable to purchase access and sell fossil fuels fell into chaos. Amidst this changed world comes Celestial Being, a paramilitary organisation that claims to eradicate warfare. Armed with the highly advanced Gundam mobile suits, Celestial Being conducts armed intervention around the world, asssisted by their quantum computer, VEDA; Gundam pilot Setsuna F. Seiei had been a former child soldier and was selected to be a pilot. As he fights along the easygoing Lockon Stratos, rational and kind Allelujah Haptism and the serious, no-nonsense Tieria Erde, Setsuna realises that there is a greater meaning to what Celestial Being is doing. While the world is initially overwhelmed by the Gundam’s power and devise operations to capture the Gundams for research, Celestial Being members Alejandro Corner and his shadowy assistant, Ribbons Almark, deploys the Gundam Thrones, a group of pilots with a much more aggressive approach. They also leak the technology powering the Gundams to the world powers. With public opinion turning against Celestial Being, and the prospect of being able to fight the Gundams becoming more feasible, the world’s governments create joint task force between all of the blocs, unifying with the shared goal of crushing Celestial Being. Alejandro and Ribbons end up hacking into VEDA and seizes control of the system, leaving the Gundam Meisters at a huge disadvantage. During the combat, Lockon is killed, Allelujah is captured and Setsuna goes missing after defeating both Corner and the Union’s ace pilot, Graham Aker. In the aftermath, the world unifies under a single banner. Gundam 00 began airing during the fall season of 2007 and ran for a total of twenty five episodes. During its run, it became widely acclaimed for its portrayal of contemporary politics and the world’s reaction to the appearance seemingly unstoppable weapons whose operators claim to be fighting for peace. Gundam 00 was also notable for being the first Gundam series to be animated in native HD resolutions: compared to its predecessors, Gundam 00 featured incredibly fluid combat sequences and jaw-dropping visuals.

During its run, Gundam 00 had never been subtle about its themes: the idea of changing the world and acting on one’s own free will dominate the series. The Gundam Meisters each have their own reasons for stepping into their machine’s cockpit and challenging the world’s evils, as do the pilots for each of the Blocs and third parties. Whether it be for something larger than oneself, for money, glory or pushing one’s skill to the limit, each of the named pilots have a reason to be on the battlefield. However, protagonist Setsuna F. Seiei is different: while he initially fights to change the world and atone for his past sins, as he continues to pilot his Gundam, Exia, Setsuna becomes increasingly convinced that there must be something beyond fighting that makes his efforts meaningful. Indeed, he spends much of Gundam 00‘s second half pursing the meaning behind his actions, and comes to conclude that there are things in the world worth protecting beyond oneself, firmly setting himself apart from his foes, who fight for more selfish reasons. However, beyond the more obvious themes in Gundam 00 lie a very clever and thoughtful commentary on activism. The reason why contemporary politics figured so heavily is because Celestial Being’s interventions and actions can be seen as those conducted by activists, motivated by an ideal and a vision for the world. However, Celestial Being’s success in capturing the world’s attention can be attributed to their technology: the world has no answer for the Gundams initially, and can only watch as Celestial Being carried out its armed interventions. Activism today similarly depends on using technology to reach people in powerful ways and keep a step ahead of those who seek to suppress or silence a movement: social media platforms have become a means of swiftly rallying people. Much as how a Gundam represents overwhelming force, social media has similarly been a game changer, suggesting that it is by using the latest, mature technologies effectively that people can begin changing the world, reaching out to and inspiring people to rally behind a shared goal.

However, technology can be used for both great good and great evil. If Celestial Being represents the activists who are responsible and self-aware, then the Trinities, Alejandro Corner and Ribbons Almark would be the radical extremists and self-serving individuals who view a cause as justification for sowing chaos in the world or advancing one’s own ambitions. While Setsuna and his team usually aimed to disable enemy mobile suits and did only the minimum amount of damage needed to accomplish their aims, the Trinities are seen using extremely brutal methods, completely annihilating bases and leaving no survivors. Meanwhile, Alejandro is disinterested in the politics merely seeks to rule the world, unconcerned with how much devastation occurs so as long as he attained what he desired. Unlike Setsuna and the other Meisters, who constantly are aware of what they’re doing is wrong but feel they are a necessary evil to bring about positive change in the world, the other factions relish in destruction and suffering. It is therefore unsurprising that Michael and Johann Trinity are killed, while Alejandro himself dies at Setsuna’s hands after a joint operation to destroy the Gundams is conducted. Gundam 00 speaks to the idea that in activism, there must always be a modicum of self-awareness; those who lack commitment to a cause’s true tenants can easily be led astray and be manipulated by others, bringing about their own destruction. The Trinity siblings were convinced wholesale slaughter was appropriate and ironically died at the hands of Ali Al-Saachez, a cold-bloded murderer, while Alejandro, blinded by his ambitions, failed to see that Ribbons had architected his demise from the start. Conversely, Setsuna and Allelujah, who continue to question what they’re fighting for and wonder if their own destruction is a part of the plan, eventually coming to realise that fighting for survival, to live, is also something important. In this sense, there is no point in giving one’s life up for a cause needlessly, regardless of how strong one’s convictions are. With its progression and outcomes, Gundam 00 thus suggests that in activism, radical thoughts and selfish motivations lead one along a path of self-destruction. Further to this, Gundam 00 indicates that there will inevitably come a point when one’s convictions and commitment to a cause will be tested; during this point, it becomes clear that as long as one knowing where to draw the line and live to fight another day will be beneficial both for the individual, organisation and their cause.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Gundam 00 was the first anime series I’d watched in full – I had finished Ah! My Goddess: The Movie a few months earlier with my school’s anime club and was hooked, but back in those days, options were limited, and I never did get around to continuing with Ah! My Goddess. When Gundam 00 began airing, I was mildly interested, but as the season continued, I became increasingly engrossed with everything, from the narrative to the fight scenes. The series opens in the war-torn country of Krugis, where a boy sprints through a battlefield. This boy is Soran Ibrahim, a child soldier who would become Setsuna F. Seiei, a Gundam Meister for Celestial Being. The fateful meeting here between Soran and the 0 Gundam would change the course of his life forever.

  • To Soran, the arrival of a Gundam would change his world views forever, and the Gundam itself would come to symbolise a tool for salvation and represent hope itself. In every Gundam series, the eponymous machines possess a unique meaning, coming to be a metaphor for peace, possibility and power. Each Gundam series defines a Gundam differently. Universal Century Gundams were originally named because they were composed of a special alloy that rendered them much more durable than common mobile suits of the time (and later, any machine derived directly off the RX-78 II). Gundam Wing‘s Gundams were similarly named after their armour’s composition. In the Cosmic Era, Gundam is an acronym formed by a mobile suit’s operating system. The Anno Domini timeline presents Gundams as mobile suits equipped with a GN Drive, a special reactor that uses the products of particle decay to produce energy.

  • When they were first introduced, Gundams in Anno Domini are an unstoppable terror for the world’s militaries, who have no answers for their technological superiority. After a successful first intervention against the AEU’s Enact, Setsuna and the Exia soar into the skies to deal with an attacking AEU Helion squadron. For me, this was the magic moment in Gundam 00 – I remember that on the day I first watched this episode, my school had some HVAC problems that required afternoon classes be suspended while mechanical teams sorted things out. I thus went home, and after finishing off a project for German class, picked up the first episode.

  • In those days, anime wasn’t anywhere nearly as accessible as it was now, and the technology wasn’t quite up to the task, so I remember having trouble keeping up with Gundam 00 during its earlier episodes, rather similarly to how early in the season, Celestial Being is able to carry out armed interventions without any resistance. Setsuna fights Union pilot Graham Aker for the first time here – unlike Patrick Colasour, who was defeated in seconds, Graham puts up a much better fight. Setsuna later continues on with a mop-up operation in the Ceylon Islands and faces Sergei Smirnov for the first time.

  • Saji Crossroad and Louise Halevy initially feel like tangential parts to Gundam 00 – their dynamics and everyday life feel more akin to that of a romance comedy than a military story, but as the series progress, their presence now is to provide grounding as to how ordinary people might handle the appearance of something like Gundam. A part of the dramatic irony presented is that, despite Setsuna and Saji being neighbours, Setsuna is careful never to disclose his secrets, leaving him a bit of a mystery for Saji and Louise.

  • Besides the four Gundam Meisters, Celestial Being’s active crew include tactician and de facto commander Sumeragi Lee Noriega (completely unrelated to a certain onee-sama who troubled the military moé and forums some years later), engineer Feldt Grace and communications officer Christina Sierra, as well as helmsmen Lichtendahl Tsery and Lasse Aeon. These individuals operate the Ptolemaios, Celestial Being’s transport ship, providing transport for the Gundams and act as a mobile home of sorts for the pilots while they operate in space. Here, Feldt and Christina manage an armed intervention in Moralia while Sumeragi oversees them.

  • For this mini-series on Gundam 00, I’ve pulled my screenshots from the Special Edition, which enhanced a few of the fight scenes. Lockon was given the biggest boost: when he engages Helion squadrons, he and the Dynames, a Gundam specialised for long-range combat, really gets to demonstrate the Dynames’ capabilities. Using both the beam sniper and pistols, Lockon decimates entire squadrons with impunity in high-speed combat that demonstrates that, despite his preference for long-range combat, he is able to do well in close quarters, as well.

  • After the Exia, the Dynames is my second favourite of the third-generation Gundams: its typical loadout includes a beam sniper rifle with optics linked to a special camera mounted on the Gundam’s forehead, and for intermediate ranges, Dynames wields a pair of beam pistols. Dynames also possesses a pair of beam sabres and special missiles for special applications. When picking off distant foes, Lockon has access to a special gun controller, although the beam sniper rifle can be fired as a normal rifle, as well. Both Exia and Dynames share similarities in their frame design, featuring a glowing chest-piece and the iconic cone-shaped vernier for their GN Drives.

  • Exia, Setsuna’s Gundam, is specialised for close quarters engagements, and to this end, is equipped with seven swords: the GN sword is a large, bladed weapon that can fold to expose a beam rifle, and the Exia also equips two GN blades which are capable of defeating a GN Field, as well as four beam sabres. As a last-ditch weapon, the Exia has a pair of beam vulcans mounted in its forearms. For defensive purposes, the Exia also carries a shield into battle. Of the Gundams, the Exia has demonstrated the most agility in its movement; Setsuna uses the Exia’s power to effortlessly destroy and disable lesser mobile suits.

  • The Universal Century and Cosmic Era treated Gundam as experimental prototypes that could tip the outcome of battle when deployed properly, but were otherwise constrained by operational limits like battery life. By comparison, Anno Domini follows in After Colony’s approach: Gundams are immensely powerful, and their appearance is what brings about a change in the world. Early in Gundam 00, the Gundams that Celestial Being deploys are fully operational and do not appear to possess any weaknesses: the pilots that fight them quickly become terrified of their presence, and the anime takes the effort of portraying this to viewers.

  • However, while the Gundams are extraordinary machines, they are limited by their pilots. Against exceptional foes, it is only the Gundams’ abilities allow the Meisters to escape a bad situation unscathed. In the Moralian conflict, Setsuna comes face-to-face with an Enact pilot who seems able to read his every move. Celestial Being’s intervention in Moralia had been to take out the PMC Trust, a cabal of private military companies that offered military services to other nations for a fee. They’d been interested in capturing a Gundam, but when the tide of battle turns against them, they quickly surrender and are eventually folded into the AEU.

  • Ali Al-Saachez is one of the most interesting characters in the whole of Gundam 00: the antithesis to Setsuna, Ali Al-Saachez believes that warfare and profiting off chaos is the only way to live. Besides being an impressive pilot capable of fighting Gundams to a standstill in common mobile suits, Ali Al-Saachez is also a skillful tactician in his own right and is an expert with social engineering. It turns out that Ali Al-Saachez had brainwashed a group of children to join the KPSA, including Setsuna, and since then, Setsuna has renounced his religious teachings, intent on atoning for his past sins.

  • While the Gundam Meisters are united by their conviction in ending warfare, they do not always see eye-to-eye: after Setsuna exits his cockpit mid-operation, Tieria Erde threatens to shoot him here and now for having nearly compromised Celestial Being. One of the aspects about Gundam 00 I particularly liked was seeing the Meisters become closer to and more trusting of one another as the series progressed: their shared experiences and burdens means that the world has foresaken them, but they begin to understand that everyone’s in things together. Indeed, when Allelujah and Lockon both face their respective challenges, the previously unsympathetic Tieria begins to understand why they’re acting as they are.

  • In the aftermath of the Moralian conflict, the HRL develops a keen interest in capturing a Gundam and reverse-engineering Celestial Being’s secrets. Of the blocs, the HRL is the furthest behind in terms of military technology; their mobile suits are comparatively primitive, being based on the lumbering main battle tanks rather than the other blocs’ air superiority fighter designs. The design principles here stem from the fact that the HRL values reliability, and while the HRL is said to be developing a successor to their Tieren line of mobile suits, capturing a Gundam would accelerate this process, allowing the HRL to catch up.

  • It was with the HRL’s Operation Gundam Capture that I truly became enraptured by Gundam 00: to facilitate this operation, the HRL deploy a massive grid of communication units and use this to track the Gundams. The intent is to surround the Ptolemiaos and then separate the Gundams, allowing for Tieren teams to then surround, overwhelm and secure the unit. With Sergei Smirnov leading the operation, viewers get an idea of how vast the HRL’s resources are, but also additional insight into how Gundam 00‘s political antagonists are human: Sergei explictly orders his soldiers to be careful with their lives, contrasting leaders who view their subordinates’ lives as expendable.

  • The HRL’s operation marks the first time the Gundams have been given trouble of any sort: Sergei surmises that the Gundams must have limitations, and uses his own resources to offset the Gundams’ power. By creating a distraction and diversion, he is able to split Kyrios and Virtue from the Ptolemiaos. Sumeragi is completely thrown off by this move, and in the ensuing moments, the HRL squadrons, lead by Soma Peries, are able to capture Allelujah and the Kyrios. Meanwhile, Setsuna and Lockon have trouble engaging the space-type Tierens, who are keeping out of range and moving constantly, preventing Setsuna and Lockon from dealing with them at their preferred ranges.

  • The pressures induced by the HRL’s Operation Gundam Capture causes Hallelujah to manifest: unlike Allelujah, Hallelujah (his alternate personality) is sadistic and brutal, relishing death and destruction to almost the same extent as Ali Al-Saachez. After overwhelming Soma, Hallelujah slowly tortures an HRL soldier who’s sacrificed himself to allow Soma and Sergei to escape. It turns out that Allelujah is a failed super soldier from a top-secret HRL programme; that the HRL had been willing to resort to these means to maintain an upper hand over the Union and AEU shows the tragedy of warfare lies in the preparations for war as much as the fighting itself.

  • Meanwhile, Tieria was forced to reveal Nadleeh, the mobile suit concealed underneath the Virtue’s heavy armour. Tieria regards this as a great tactical blunder, as he’d been aiming to keep the Nadleeh secret; benig his first failure with Celestial Being, the incident sets in motion the events that would allow Tieria to be more understanding of his fellow Gundam Meisters and what it meant to be human. When Allelujah proposes destroying the HRL’s super-soldier research facility, VEDA accepts the plan, and Tieria feels that this is an important step for Allelujah, who ends up completing his mission.

  • Soma Peries is Allelujah’s nemesis throughout much of Gundam 00: she’s the single super soldier to have been successful, possessing greatly enhanced reflexes and the ability to use quantum brainwaves. However, while Allelujah’s alternate personality is uncontrollable and violent, Soma retains a very professional sense of restraint in combat. The idea of quantum brainwaves in Gundam 00 foreshadows the idea that humans are capable of evolving to new heights, and indeed, the HRL’s crude experiments do not sound dissimilar to those conducted to create cyber-Newtypes.

  • Once Allelujah ends the HRL’s super soldier program, Gundam 00 shifts its focus over to the nation of Azadistan, a Middle Eastern nation that fell into civil war after Ali Al-Saachez captured Rasa Massoud Rachmadi in the hopes of creating social unrest. While a coup was planned, Celestial Being’s intervention would prevent things from boiling over: in the aftermath, both Princess Marina Ismail and Rasa Massoud Rachmadi would express that they’d work towards mutual peace. Throughout Gundam 00, Marina Ismail would come to become a motherly figure for Setsuna, genuinely interested in his well-being, while Setsuna would see her as someone whose kindness is what the world needs to move past its troubles.

  • As Gundam 00‘s second half began airing, I was able to follow the series more regularly: I’d just upgraded from a beige IBM computer running a 600 MHz processor to a Dell XPS 420 with a 2.4 GHz Quad-Core, and with this machine, I had enough processing power to keep up with Gundam 00. After getting the XPS set up, I thus went back and swiftly caught up with the series with the time that was left during my winter break, and entered the new year ready to follow Gundam 00 with punctuality. The XPS 420 arrived right as Gundam 00 hit its halfway point, which saw Setsuna and Lockon secure Rasa Massoud Rachmadi from Ali Al-Saachez’s clutches.

  • The fight between Setsuna and Ali Al-Saachez was one of my favourite one-on-one fights during Gundam 00‘s first half, really accentuating how far animation had come. Gundam 00‘s predecessor, Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny, had been criticised for recycling footage. Gundam 00 only appears to reuse launch sequences in its first season, and together with how fluid and well-choreographed fights were, the animation in Gundam 00 is said to be far ahead of its time to the point where even now, thirteen years later, the series still looks and feels amazing. Having said this, I am now going through Gundam SEED for myself, and I am finding it to be a very enjoyable, well-done series with its own merits.

  • During the course of Gundam 00, Setsuna’s interactions and words with Marina have always left fans wondering if there had been anything happening between the two: Gundam is fond of pairing princesses with the protagonists (in other Gundam series, Banagher and Minerva, and Athrun and Cagalli come to mind), after all. However, speaking to Setsuna’s relatively lesser understanding of social convention and his objectives, I always got the impression that Setsuna sees Marina as a beacon of hope more than a romantic interest. Romance has always been a secondary part of Gundam, and I’ve remained largely neutral to it for the most part, since I watch Gundam for awesome space battles and story.

  • After a protracted incident in the Taklamakan Desert exhausts the Gundam Meisters and pushes them past their endurance, three new Gundams arrive to drive off the combined HRL, Union and AEU forces, who’d been participating in an “exercise” that was really a front for exhausting the Gundams to the point where they could be captured. The operation lasts hours, and the Meisters are unable to leave the AO. By the time the sustained fire stops, Allelujah is once again captured, while Lockon is pinned down by Aker’s team, and Tieria has been taken by an AEU squadron. Setsuna is able to escape, but finds himself face-to-face with Ali Al-Saachez, who’s rocking a plasma-field equipped mobile armour called the Agrissa.

  • The new Gundams that show up belong to Team Trinity, and their GN Drives emit a deadly-looking red particle. Nena Trinity takes out the Agrissa, while Johann Trinity snipes Patrick’s team before forcing Aker’s team to retreat. Meanwhile, Michael Trinity uses his Gundam’s Fangs to decimate the HRL squad that’s taken Allelujah. In a matter of moments, the combined exercise teams between the HRL, Union and AEU are broken, allowing the Gundams to retreat. The remainder of that episode was dedicated to reviewing Celestial Being’s performance up to that point in a bit of a recap episode, making the only time Gundam 00 went down this route. Unlike most recaps, however, this episode remained entertaining to watch because it created intrigue surrounding the Trinity siblings and their enigmatic Throne Gundams.

  • The Throne Gundams differ from the standard Gundams in that they possess a Tau Drive, a GN Drive missing a special TD Core that allows the drives to semi-perpetually power its own processes: instead, these knock-off pseudo-solar furnaces are dependent on being externally recharged to maintain function, and would be rendered useless once their power was depleted. The particles these drives emitted were highly destructive and harmful to organic matter. As the Thrones carry out their interventions, their brutality is unmatched: unlike Celestial Being’s pilots, who only did the minimum amount of damage needed to send a message, the Thrones utterly decimate all those who oppose them, and even fire on a wedding that Louise is attending.

  • The incident results in Louise’s parents being killed, and Louise loses her left arm in the process: owing to the highly toxic properties of the GN Tau particles, regeneration therapy is unsuccessful, and for Louise, her missing arm continues to remind her of the cost of war at the hands of those who have little desire beyond destruction. Despite their commitment to one another, Louise and Saji begin drifting apart. Both begin developing feelings of resentment and hatred for Celestial Being, although Saji eventually sets this aside and succeeds in his aspirations of becoming an engineer working on the space elevators.

  • The Trinity’s actions eventually spur Setsuna and Tieria to fight them, making the first time GN Drive equipped machines had fought one another. At this point in Gundam 00‘s airing, contemporary events had begun focusing on the Summer Games, and one of my classmates had started a movement with the aim of boycotting the games. Back then, social media was still in its infancy, and so, far from the hundred-strong movement they’d been seeking, only a tenth of that showed up on the day of the rally in front of the consulate building downtown. This classmate’s efforts would never quite reach the critical mass: while a couple of people supported the movement, it didn’t have a tangible effect on getting people to boycott the Summer Games as they’d hoped.

  • Fridays for the Future, on the other hand, is an example of a movement that a much larger reach precisely because the technology had now matured to the point where it was possible to reach a large number of people very quickly. This is why rallies were seen everywhere around the world: large followers and retweet counts made it easy for a message to spread and compel people to act in solidarity. Celestial Being had similarly been contingent on the fact that their GN Drive technology and Gundams were sufficiently ahead of the rest of the world’s technologies, while at the same time, be functional enough to operate as expected; had the GN Drives been deficient in any way, they would’ve been left at a disadvantage, unable to complete their goals.

  • Celestial Being did have a number of aces up their sleeves on top of a mature technology: Schenberg had foreseen bad actors interfering with his plans, and equipped those loyal to Celestial Being with key failsafes, such as the TRIAL System, which allowed Tieria to remotely deactivate any Gundam connected to VEDA. During the duel with the Trinity Siblings, Tieria agrees with Setsuna’s assessment that the three are unworthy as Gundam Meisters and uses this system to put an end to the conflict. However, since Alejandro Corner and Ribbons Almark had gained access to VEDA, they were able to revoke Tieria’s clearance, deactivating the TRIAL System, as well.

  • In the aftermath, Lockon discovers that Setsuna was a part of the KPSA, which mounted a terror attack that killed his family. While Lockon initially seeks to take revenge, Setsuna’s remarks, that he is utterly dedicated to Celestial Being, convinces Lockon to stand down: Setsuna has completely reformed and seeks to atone for his past actions by righting the world’s wrongs. Dialogue in Gundam 00 was the subject of no small debate during the series’ airing, and the versions I watched had dialogue completely inconsistent with what Random Curiosity blogger Omni had wrote out. In those days, internet speeds and storage media had reduced capacity compared to their modern counterparts, so with blogs like Random Curiosity providing summaries and screenshots, it allowed for fans to pick and choose which series they wished to pick up in a given season.

  • While Omni was by no means an exceptional writer (preferring only to summarise and not discuss), he was known for its breadth, covering enough series to give readers an idea of what different shows entailed before they jumped in. Today, the site has many more writers and is more discussion-oriented, and while a few writers have fallen short of the site’s usual standards (Jaalin and Passerby come to mind), their writing is generally solid. Back in Gundam 00, after Alejandro leaks the location of thirty new GN Tau Drives to the world’s governments, each of the three blocs gains access to ten GN-X mobile suits. Far superior to anything fielded before, the GN-X proves its value when Sergei and Soma lead a full squadron in driving off the Thrones.

  • Supplementary materials indicate that the GN-X had been designed in secret, modelled on the Thrones’ frame. Compared to the Gundams, the GN-X has inferior performance individually, but is a versatile all-around machine. With the playing field levelled, the Thrones find themselves on the back foot, and even the Gundam Meisters are overwhelmed when confronted with GN-Xes for the first time. Until now, Celestial Being had operated with near-impunity, and so, when confronted with machines that rival their Gundams in performance, things suddenly become a lot tougher.

  • As it turns out, Alejandro Corner had secret ambitions to rule the world: he views himself as a god of sorts, and to this end, is the one responsible for compromising VEDA. During a critical battle between the newly-formed UN forces and Celestial Being, Alejandro and Ribbons seize control of VEDA from Celestial Being, shutting down the Gundams. Foreseeing this, Sumeragi had Christina and Feldt implement standalone OSes for the Gundams. This proved to save Celestial Being: after their Gundams were shut down, the backup OS kicked in, and Celestial Being was able to force the UN forces to retreat. However, Lockon became injured while protecting Tieria, whose Virtue was taking longer than expected to reactivate.

  • The Trinity Siblings meet their doom at the hands of Ali Al Saachez: with VEDA compromised, the biometrics in the Thrones are disabled, allowing him to take control. He seizes the Throne Zwei after shooting Michael Trinity and then destroys the Eins. While the Thrones had been terrifying machines despite the GN Tau Drives’ limitations in the hands of the Trinities, they become an unstoppable monster with Ali Al-Saachez piloting. He’s able to hold off Setsuna despite being unfamiliar with the controls, and it speaks volumes to how folks who resort to extreme means (or endorse them) are still counted as expendable, and as such, the folks running their may wipe them out in the blink of an eye.

  • Alejandro Corner’s gold-plated pistol mirrors his own hypocrisy: despite claiming to hate Celestial Being and Aeolia Schenberg for playing God, Alejandro views himself as a God, destined to rule the world and lead humanity in the manner of his choosing. However, his arrogance blinds him to the world around him: when he and Ribbons unlocks the last of the security levels in VEDA, a cryogenic chamber housing Aeolia’s frozen body. It turns out Aeolia had intended to revive himself at an appropriate time, but realising this, Alejandro shoots Aeolia in the head. However, Aeolia had foreseen even this: in the event someone had seized control of his plan, he would enact countermeasures to ensure that Celestial Being could continue operating, entrusting the Gundam Meisters with both the GN Drive’s full power and the schematics for a next-generation setup using the GN Drives.

  • After the devastating battle with the UN forces, Setsuna and Lasse return to Earth briefly to investigate the HRL’s operations against the Trinities on Lockon’s suggestion. While the operation sounds difficult, Lasse suggests using the newly-acquired GN Arms; Setsuna takes the operation to also understand what the purpose of a Gundam is. When they arrive, Setsuna finds the Trinities exhausted and beaten: it turns out that Ali Al-Saachez managed to get there first. After shooting Michael, he swiftly kills Johann and destroys Eins, before prepareing to execute Nena.

  • Despite being completely new to the Zwei’s controls, Ali Al-Saachez manages to completely disarm Setsuna. However, Aeolia’s death results in the activation of a new system called Trans-Am, which bolsters a Gundam’s performance three-fold by dumping out the GN Drive’s stored particles. Realising that this system was entrusted to them, Setsuna concludes that being given access to a Gundam’s true potential means that Celestial Being has a responsibility to see things through to the end. With this newfound power, Setsuna completely overwhelms Ali Al-Saachez, who is forced to flee.

  • I’ve always been fond of the Ptolemiaos’ crew: they represent a considerable departure from the mature crews seen in the Universal Century, bringing to mind the youthful and inexperienced, but determined and spirited crew that operated Gundam SEED‘s Archangel. Sumeragi reminds me a great deal of my secondary school fine arts instructor in appearance and manner; my old arts instructor was very friendly and supportive, going above and beyond her obligations to provide support and advice where I needed it. I was always welcome to hang out in the arts room, even during classes, and towards my final year, I spent many a spare here studying or drawing for fun.

  • With the Trinities out of the picture, the UN’s attention returns to the original Gundam Meisters. While a handful of GN-Xes have been destroyed, the UN forces still have access to most of their machines. Their fighting force is further bolstered by the fact that Ali Al-Saachez now pilots the Zwei. The odds against Allelujah, Setsuna and Tieria seem impossible, but fortunately, Celestial Being mechanic and engineer Ian Vasti has a few surprises. Besides the Dynames and Exia’s GN Arms, the Kyrios is given a powerful new Tail Booster which increases the Kyrios’ mobility and firepower, while Tieria receives an extra GN Bazooka, doubling his already impressive firepower. Even then, the combat is gruelling, and Allelujah is finding it difficult to keep up with Soma Peries, now that she’s got a GN-X.

  • In Gundam 00, Lockon rejoins the battle with the GN Arms but remains the only Gundam to never use Trans-Am. The Special Edition, on the other hand, has him use Trans-Am to trivially destroy the UN carriers. The GN Arms were a special support unit designed to greatly augment a Gundam’s individual combat characteristics against overwhelming enemy numbers. The Dynames’ GN Arms provides a double-barreled beam rifle for long range combat and a large missile container carrying enough missiles to engage a small fleet. While immensely effective for bombardment, the Dynames’ GN Arms ultimately prove inadequate against a single mobile suit.

  • Unable to let go of his hatred for Ali Al-Saachez and the KPSA, Lockon risks everything in a duel against his nemesis. Spurred on by raw emotion, Lockon manages to sever the Zwei’s right arm, but ultimately is disabled when Ali Al-Saachez quickly realises Lockon is unable to see out of his right eye. Deploying his fangs, Saachez puts the Dynames out of commission, leading Lockon to retrieve the gun controller and wire it to the still-functional GN cannon from the remains of the GN Arms. Lockon’s story is that of tragedy, and through him, Gundam 00 meant to show that rightous or not, fighting for the past would have detrimental consequences. While easygoing and amicable, Lockon is the opposite of Setsuna.

  • While both Lockon and Setsuna have lost in their pasts, Setsuna fights because he feels this is the way to atone, while Lockon is driven purely by vengeance, to use overwhelming force against those who wronged him. It was very easy to empathise with Lockon’s way of thinking, but his death really drove home the idea that one can only fight for the future, if their heart is genuinely about using power to guide an outcome towards what one desires. Lockon’s death marks the first of the Gundam Meister to be KIA, and for many fans, this moment counts as one of the most poignant in the whole of Gundam 00‘s first season.

  • Allelujah, on the other hand, struggles to deal with Hallelujah: his conflict is the classic tug of war between the rational and primal self. As Hallelujah, Allelujah is more than capable of fighting Soma and Sergei to a standstill on his own. He does end up besting them using his own innate skill and Trans-Am, but later realises that he recognises Soma as a fellow test subject. Allelujah and the Kyrios are ultimately captured: Allelujah is sent to a secure HRL prison, while the remnants of the Kyrios were brought to a secret research facility. Allelujah had managed to eject the GN Drive to keep Celestial Being’s secrets safe, but acquisition of the Kyrios gave the HRL a massive leg up in mobile suit development.

  • During the course of the penultimate episode, Tieria’s Nadleeh is disabled when Alejandro Corner opens fire with his mobile armour, and the Ptolemiaos suffers catastrophic damage, killing Christina and Lichtendahl. Feldt, Sumeragi and Ian manage to escape. During this fight, Setsuna and Lasse engage Alejandro, although early on, even the firepower conferred by the GN Arms is insufficient: Alejandro’s Alvatore was a mobile armour purpose-built for firepower, sporting a flexible beam cannon with firepower far surpassing anything seen previously. Setsuna realises that Exia’s Seven Swords system was purpose-built for such an eventuality, and uses his swords to punch through the Alvatore’s GN field.

  • Once the Alvatore is destroyed, Alejandro emerges in the Alvaaron, a mobile suit derived off the 1 Gundam (successor to the 0 Gundam). Despite being a powerful all-purpose machine, Alejandro is ultimately defeated when Setsuna uses Trans-Am. Up until this point, Gundam 00 had remained in the realm of plausible with its portrayal of mobile suits, but once the GN Tau Drives were introduced, things quickly begin escalating. The Alvaaron’s design was highly distinct and stands out: despite only showing up in the finale, the Alvaaron sported a design that was quite over-the-top.

  • The final, final fight of Gundam 00‘s first season was with Graham Aker, and this fight felt like it came out of the blue; while Alejandro is ultimately defeated, Graham appears out of nowhere to duel the Exia. The two clash, exchange opinions about the state of the world and then destroy one another. While perhaps unnecessary, the final fight between Setsuna and Graham was thrilling, a final bang to close off the first season. Gundam 00 led me to approach current events and politics a little more differently than I had previously: and I ended up concluding that a lot of the things that we value are often misrepresented. In particular, I adamantly reject the idea that because everyone has their own unique traits, they become “special”. I assess people based on not who they are, but based on how they treat others, their choice of actions and ability to keep their word to others.

  • As it stands, thirteen years after Gundam 00‘s first season ended, I believe I’ve got at least some answers to the questions that Setsuna posed to Marina: I find that the world’s ills originate from greed and laziness. These two traits account for why conflict exists at a very abstract level, why people are willing to commit atrocities for their own ends and why people desire power even if it comes at a terrible cost. Building any sort of meaningful future requires selflessness and hard work, but people accustomed to an easy life will vehemently object to the idea that hard work is a necessity, not a nice-to-have. This is further compounded by the fact that those same people often have aversions to seeing other people succeed through hard work: this is why inequalities exist. When arbitrary rules are put in place that punish or hinder people based on who they are, they exist purely so those in power can retain it (and avoid working hard as a result).

  • When coupled with the sense of entitlement resulting from the idea that being “special” renders one exempt from the social contract, a set of responsibilities and obligations that accompany rights and freedoms, the stage is set for discontent and conflict. There isn’t exactly a silver-bullet solution, but I find that addressing the root causes of these problems, and encouraging the idea that people aren’t special, but rather, team players, would go a ways in helping people to be more selfless and accept that others can succeed, as well. At the end of Gundam 00, I was left with a cliff-hanger: a second season was announced. In the four years that pass, the world unifies under one banner, one step closer to Aeolia’s dream of a unified world, but the world faces new problems. Celestial Being, meanwhile, has developed a next-generation Gundam, ready to advance Aeolia’s plan to the next step.

  • With this, the first half of my Gundam 00 revisit is complete, and my next post will deal precisely with the second season. Up until now, I do not believe that there’ve been very many comprehensive discussions of Gundam 00 out there, and I note that even mine do not fully capture every detail or thought I’ve had surrounding events within the series. It’s been a challenge to keep these talks concise: since Gundam 00 was my first-ever anime that I watched in full, the combination of solid story-telling and reminiscence means I could go on for days about the things that made Gundam 00 so enjoyable for me.

Beyond a superb story possessing political relevance (and, with the benefit of hindsight, was a very accurate bit of speculation on how the world would turn out), Gundam 00‘s great strength lay within its artwork, animation and mobile suit design. Gundam 00‘s fight scenes set the bar for mobile suit combat, being highly fluid and fast-paced. One-on-one fights convey the weight of every blow and the tenour of every emotion, while large scale battles smoothly demonstrate how powerful the Gundams themselves are. Even today, Gundam 00 has aged gracefully: the fights still look amazing and crisp. No discussion of Gundam 00 would be complete without mention of the characters: Setsuna F. Seiei is quite unlike Amuro Ray and Kira Yamato, resembling Heero Yuy in manner, but despite his taciturn mannerisms, he, like the other Gundam Meisters, undergo a great deal of development that make them more sympathetic to viewers. Gundam 00 also similarly features antagonists that are both honest and likeable (Graham Aker, Sergei Smirnov and Patrick Colasour), as well as menacing and clearly difficult to sympathise with (Ali Al-Saachez, Alejandro Corner and the Trinities). With such a large cast, the twenty-five episode runtime worked very well for Gundam 00, providing plenty of opportunity to build up the characters’ stories and create a convincing world to explore notions of activism, discovering one’s own reasons for being and building up a potential direction for humanity, as well. In conjunction with a stellar soundtrack from Kenji Kawai, Gundam 00‘s first season was an exceptional experience that acted as my gateway into the Gundam universe: all of the different elements in Gundam 00 worked together in a fantastic manner and, while I had been a little slow to start, by the time Gundam 00 hit its halfway point, I was following the series weekly. While it’s been thirteen years since the first season aired, returning to this series has found that the story and animation hasn’t aged a day: Gundam 00 still looks absolutely amazing and holds up very well in terms of visuals, while thirteen years of life experience hasn’t altered my final thoughts on the themes and messages Gundam 00 sought to convey during its run.

Mobile Suit Gundam Narrative: Remarks On the Outcome of Possibility, A Review and Reflection

It has been found again.
What? – Eternity.
It is the sea fled away
With the sun.

–Eternity, Arthur Rimbaud

Jona Basta, Michele and Rita Bernal were friends who foresaw the devastating outcome of Operation British and became dubbed the “Miracle Children” for their part in helping reduce casualties with their prediction. They were subsequently sent to a Newtype research facility, where it became clear that Jona and Michele did not exhibit the traits of a true Newtype. Rita was ultimately sent off for further study, while Michele returned to Luio & Co, and Jona ended up joining the EFSF navy as a pilot. Some seventeen years later, in UC 0097, the enigmatic Phenex Gundam, brother unit to the Unicorn and Banshee, makes a return. A year earlier, the Laplace Conflict revealed that the original UN Charter had encompassed the existence and rights for Newtypes, but the world’s policy remained unchanged. The tremendous power that the Unicorn and Banshee demonstrated was seen as a threat, and the two Gundams were dismantled. However, the reappearance of the Phenex prompts the Federation’s Intelligence Bureau to capture it, secretly collaborating with the Sleeves remnants to capture the Phenex. two years previously, the Phenex was lost during a test when its psychoframe resonated and it destroyed the Shallot, an Irish-class battleship supervising the test. Because the Unicorn and Banshee were purportedly dismantled, the Phenex remains the only Gundam with a functional psychoframe that could be studied. Jona is sent to participate in the operation Phoenix Hunt with the Narrative Gundam, but lets the Phenex escape. Later, when following the Phenex’s psycommu signal into the Metis Colony, Jona encounters Zoltan Akkanen, a Sleeves remnants clone who, like Full Frontal, was created from Char’s memory. Zoltan’s instability leads him to engage Jona, and the Phenex intervenes. The Narrative begins resonating and makes to engage the Phenex, taking control of the II Neo Zeong Zoltan had called in, but the process is stopped when Rita’s spirit helps Jona come to his senses. Back on board the Damascus, Captain Averaev forces Michele explain the details of Operation Phoenix to the crew. It turns out that her interest in Newtypes stemmed from the promise of eternal life that it could bring. In order to draw the Phenex out, Michele provided the Sleeves remnants with the II Neo Zeong and hoped that the Narrative would resonate with it. However, the failure to recapture the Phenex casts doubt in the Phoenix Hunt programme, and the superiors order the operation stopped. Zoltan, learning that his usefulness has ended, seizes the II Neo Zeong and intends to destroy the colonies, feeling that people are incapable of change and will only cause further harm by exploiting Newtypes as a military asset. Jona sorties in the Narrative to engage Zoltan, but the II Neo Zeong overwhelms him. Michele, realising that she’d been indebted to Rita for giving her a chance to live, decides to sacrifice herself to save Jona, who escapes the destruction of the Narrative Gundam. Boarding the Phenex, he destroys the II Neo Zeong and stops Zoltan’s spirit from triggering a runaway fusion reaction in the Helium-3 storage facility. In the aftermath of the battle, Banagher Links appears to rescue him, and the two watch as the Phenex departs.

In its hundred-minute run, Gundam Narrative deals with the aftermath of the Laplace Conflict, which shows that humanity ultimately did not develop or progress considerably in the year since Laplace’s Box was opened. Instead, fear of the possibility that the Unicorn and Banshee represented led authorities to suspend all research into the psychoframe technology, which has come to represent forbidden knowledge in the Universal Century. The ability to cheat death and achieve eternal life, physically manipulate the world on a hitherto unprecedented scale and even turn back time itself is seen as transgressions that violate the very laws of nature. In the pursuit of knowledge, and by pushing technology and science further than it had ever been pushed, the unknowable can occur. Historically, humanity has always struggled with the duality of science and technology – improved knowledge has led to advances in quality of life and standards of living, but has also introduced new dæmons on the world. When fission was discovered, humanity could grasp a cleaner power source that produced negligible emissions, but the same technology has also birthed atomic weapons capable of horrifying destruction. Similarly, fears that highly sophisticated AI may destroy humanity exist and temper excitement in the great benefits their applications bring. This is a theme that Mary Shelley similarly covered in Frankenstein, whose titular character created a monster that haunts him, representing his guilt and horror at having succeeded. In Gundam Narrative, psychoframe technology is forbidden knowledge: while offering limitless possibility, the potential for destruction and chaos is equally great, and while characters can see the good that is possible with the technology, fears of it being applied for harm are equally present. This endless conflict is ultimately why despite the potential and possibility for change exists, there is always going to be concern for what might arise if knowledge is abused – this is why the world has not changed too dramatically since the Laplace Conflict in the Universal Century, and Gundam Narrative closes without a clear idea of which perspective it champions, leaving audiences to draw their own conclusions about the implications of ceaselessly advancing knowledge on human civilisation.

Besides dealing with one view on forbidden knowledge, Gundam Narrative also extends on the concept of a Newtype with the aim of speaking to human nature in a more visceral way – Zeon Deikun postulated that human evolution would accelerate to adapt to the voids of space. The Universal Century portrays Newtypes as having precognition skills and the ability to communicate telepathically with other Newtypes, making them exceptional pilots. With the introduction of psycommu technology, Newtypes could manipulate physical objects, as well. The introduction of this abstract series of capabilities into Gundam creates invariable comparisons between a Newtype and Force-users from Star Wars. While the capabilities of Force is similarly discussed, ultimately, the Force and being a Newtype are means to an end: Gundam Narrative builds upon but also deliberately leaves details vague. From a storytelling perspective, Newtypes and the Force are meant to be tangible representations of human intent. In particular, it’s what one chooses to do that ultimately matters. The Jedi use the Force for compassion, understanding and mediation, the Sith use it to increase their own power and control through fear. In Gundam Narrative, the power conferred by a psychoframe can be used to shorten a conflict and empathetically connect with others, or it can be used to inflict harm upon others by performing feats that are otherwise impossible. Gundam Narrative reminds viewers that one’s choices, rather than whatever power they may possess, is what is most relevant: in light of this, Gundam Narrative hints at the idea that forbidden knowledge, in the hands of those who would intend to do good and have selfless aspirations, can greatly advance humanity, and at the end of the day, the hope for a better world will always be something meaningful.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Gundam Narrative was announced back in April 2018, and released in theatres during November 2018. Ahead of the screenings, a 24-minute preview was uploaded to YouTube to drive excitement: the film opens with a flashback to the moments leading up to the colony drop event at the end of Operation British. For six months, this was the most of Gundam Narrative that I saw, and as a successor to Gundam Unicorn, my curiosity was piqued. While screenings were held in Singapore and Malaysia earlier this year, I’m actually surprised as to how limited the discussion to Gundam Narrative is, and even though it’s been three weeks since Gundam Narrative‘s home release, I am surprised that this post is probably the only proper full-length talk on the movie around with a respectable collection of screenshots.

  • In the present day, Michele Luio is a special advisor to Luio & Co., a large manufacturing company with its headquarters in Hong Kong. Luio & Co. were mentioned in Gundam Unicorn, providing fortune-telling services to politicians as a part of her roles in keeping the EFSF close at hand. The Hong Kong seen in Gundam Narrative is a far cry from the one seen in Char’s Counterattack, whereas the latter appeared run-down and destitute, New Hong Kong in Gundam Narrative is modern and clean. Despite lacking any of the landmarks of Hong Kong, such as the IFC and the Hong Kong Bank of China, the streets are shown to resemble those of Wan Chai.

  • Michele is presented as being driven by a near obsession with the power that the psychoframe possesses: her descriptions suggest that the psychowave the Unicorn emitted during the final moments of the Laplace Conflict are said to have dismantled the generator cores to the Federation mobile suits sent to disable Magallanica, rather than disabled them. The psychowaves appear to give the Unicorn series the ability to manipulate time itself, and this is why Michele desires to take possession of the Phenex.

  • As Operation Phoenix gears up, Jona is deployed as a part of the task force to intercept a convoy carrying Martha Vist Carbine, who was previously involved with the Laplace Conflict and still being held in EFSF custody. He operates a MSK-008 Dijeh for this assignment, a mobile suit designed for ground operations that was based off the Rick Dias, and possesses features that are common in Zeon mobile suits because Zeon engineers contributed to its design. Michele intends to capture Martha for the wealth of knowledge she still has on the Phenex: one can surmise that Martha answered Michele’s questions in a satisfactory manner.

  • A few weeks later, Federation forces are out pursuing the elusive Phenex. The Phenex was the third of the Unicorn-type Gundams, possessing the same technical specifications and combat performance. However, it is equipped with a pair of Armed Armour DE shields, and these offer the Phenex superior acceleration and mobility even compared to the Unicorn and Banshee: the Shezarr squadron are completely ineffective in hitting the Phenex, whose manoeuvrability is such that it moves like a dancer more than a mobile suit.

  • The Shezarr squadron is made up of six pilots, commanded by Iago Haakana, who leads his squadron into combat despite his own unease about Operation Phoenix. While they manage to corner the Phenex and deploy a net to ensnare it, the Phenex escapes, promoting the squadron to wonder how any pilot could survive those movements. During the course of Gundam Narrative, numerous characters are introduced, but the film’s run-time of f minutes means that beyond Jona, Michele, Rita and Zoltan, it’s difficult to recall the names of the other characters, even if their roles are non-trivial.

  • In Gundam Unicorn, the Jesta was a limited mass production suit with higher performance than a Jegan. Intended to be used as a support suit for the Unicorn, three Jestas were operated by the Londo Bell Tri-Star team. A year later, Jestas have become more common: the Shezarr pilots each operate Jestas of their own. These modified Jestas sport an upgraded backpack unit that resembles the Stark Jegan’s, and possesses additional hard points to mount booster packs.

  • Even with only the twenty-four minute preview, it became clear that the Phenex is a ghost machine, having no human pilot. The unnaturally long operational time of the Phenex and flashbacks foreshadow that the Phenex actually has no pilot, and the fact that it’s been loose for two years means that it ran out of fuel long ago. Close-ups show the psychoframe of the Phenex glowing even though the NT-D is disabled, giving credence to the idea that the Phenex is willing itself to move through the void of space.

  • At the age of twenty-five, Jona is now an ensign with the EFSF navy. He is given a special normal-suit embedded with psychoframe material to enhance his connection to the Narrative Gundam, and his appearance is a surprise to the Federation forces, who were unaware that they’d be getting a Gundam to help with their operation. The Narrative Gundam is one of the more unusually-named Gundams I can recall, and the name “narrative” is used to describe the Gundam’s role in a story about possibility, having nothing to do with its colloquial usage in social media or news.

  • When it first appears, the Narrative Gundam is in its A-packs configuration; besides boosters, the A-packs setup allows the Narrative to carry a variety of equipment parts to restrain and capture the Phenix. The RC-9 Narrative Gundam itself was originally designed and built by Anaheim Electronics, intended to be a testbed for the RX-93 ν Gundam, and as such, did not require the same external armour pieces of a standard Gundam. Throughout Gundam Narrative, Luio & Co. provide the Narrative with interchangeable parts.

  • The tails on the Armed Armour DE shields resemble General Borcuse’s Hykelion from Break Blade, which similarly had a secret weapon dubbed the “scorpion tail” concealed under the Hykelion’s cloak: these were used to stab through enemy golem units. Break Blade was made into a six-instalment OVA between 2010 and 2011: I picked up the anime during the summer of 2011, and felt that the format was somewhat similar to Gundam Unicorn. Like the Hykelion, the Phenex’s tails can be used as piercing weapons in addition to acting as stablisers.

  • Special equipment known as the psycho-capture system allows the Narrative to temporarily disable the Phenex, using technology similar to the jammers found on Angelo Sauper’s Rozen Zulu. However, when Jona hesitates, the Phenex escapes capture, disappearing into the depths of space and leaving Michele furious at having come so close to achieving their goal. The music of Gundam Narrative is composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, who provided the awe-inspiring incidental pieces for Gundam Unicorn, as well. Overall, I found Narrative‘s soundtrack to be a little weaker, recycling motifs from Unicorn and favouring an electronic element over orchestral ones.

  • Mineva Zabi makes a return in Gundam Narrative, retaining her regal composure and calmly speaks with a Zeon politician. It is not lost on me that five years have passed since Gundam Unicorn‘s finale aired, which means that five years have also passed since I worked on the Giant Walkthrough Brain. This is probably a mere coincidence, but I find it intriguing that five years since the Giant Walkthrough Brain, there have been a fair number of parallels between this year and the summer of five years previously.

  • Captain Averaev commands the Damascus, a Clop-class cruiser. His appearance suggests that he is an older officer who’d seen combat previously, and the Clop-class is an older design: these are essentially stripped-down versions of the Ra Cailum that Bright Noa commands, and in Gundam Unicorn, Full Frontal is mentioned to have single-handedly defeated two of these on his own, suggesting that the Clop-class have some degree of resilience in combat despite their limitations.

  • On board the Damascus, Michele chastises Jona for having let the Phenex get away. During the combat, Jona had heard Rita’s voice as clear as day and hesitated to engage, feeling that shooting to kill would’ve defeated the purpose of their mission. Throughout Gundam Narrative, Rita’s remarks on whether or not the soul could exist haunts Jona, who greatly regrets not being able to save her from being taken away years previously.

  • The depth of my knowledge in Gundam is nowhere near as sophisticated as those of dedicated fans, and admittedly, after watching Gundam Narrative, I did have a few lingering questions. I ended up speaking with a friend whose encyclopaedic knowledge of Gundam is unparalleled in order to clarify certain details for this post. Besides being able to identify almost every mobile suit and its variants, plus combat characteristics, said friend has an appreciation for the thematic aspects of Gundam that extend well beyond politics: he argues that meaning in a fictional work is better defined by the morals characters learn, rather than any allegories and analogues of real-world political systems.

  • Erika Yugo briefs Sleeves remnants soldiers on the Phenex, which disappeared and then resurfaced shortly after Mineva made the Laplace declaration. Feeling it’s impossible for the Phenex to be operating independently, she gives no indicator that Luio & Co. have been driving things from behind the scenes. However, believing that they have an edge with the psycho-monitor, a technology Full Frontal employed to track down the Unicorn previously, Zoltan is prepared to deal with a confrontation with the Federation, since it’s likely they’ll be fighting special units rather than the regular forces.

  • At the same time that Erika is briefing the Sleeves remnants, Michele explains to Captain Averaev their use of a psycho-monitor, before thanking him for the EFSF’s assistance. Both Narrative and Unicorn present civilian interference in military affairs as having detrimental consequences, speaking to the negative effects of the military-industrial complex. Both Luio & Co. and Anaheim Electronics have enough influence to impact policy, which creates the instability that civilians and soldiers alike must deal with.

  • During a training exercise, Jona tests the Narrative Gundam’s B-packs configuration, which replaces the bulky support unit for pair of wire-guided assault units. Jona’s experience as a pilot appears lacking: the Shezarr pilots quickly paint him in an exercise, and remark that his skills aren’t up to scratch for someone who is supposed to be enhanced. After leaving the Newtype research facility, Jona enlisted with the Federation forces and has a very unremarkable career, although he was chosen to specifically work with Luio & Co. on the Phoenix Hunt assignment. While Jona remains distant with Michele for having abandoned her, Michele still remembers and so, requested that he operate the Narrative.

  • The psycho-monitor soon detects a signal emanating from Metis Colony, a facility dedicated towards higher education. While Averaev protests that he does not have permission to deploy a mobile suit squadron into the colony’s interior, Michele pulls a few strings and grants them permission. Quite separately, the Sleeves forces have also deployed and entered the colony, which is comparatively quiet at present because term has ended and most of the students have gone on break.

  • Zoltan pilots the Sinanju Stein, a prototype mobile suit designed to test the psychoframe. Originally, this was the original form of the Sinanju before the Sleeves stole the unit and used it to create Full Frontal’s Sinanju, but Gundam Narrative revises this – there were actually two units, and the second unit was acquired by the Sleeves remnants. Compared to the Sinanju, which was modified for Full Frontal’s style of combat, the Sinanju Stein lacks the Sinanju’s high-performance thrusters and uses a bulkier rifle. While inside the colony, Zoltan decides to engage the Narrative against orders: this is a live colony and there are inhabitants still inside it, hence the restrictions weapon usage.

  • After a hole is punched in the colony thanks to Zoltan calling in the II Neo Zeong, the Phenex appears. The page quote is from Arthur Rimbaud’s “Eternity”, which speaks of the impermanence of life in an existence that is endless. This poem is referenced in the light novel, being a recurring theme about how human existence is finite and ultimately, inconsequential. While this sounds pessimistic, from another point of view, the finite nature of human existence is a blessing, as suffering is also finite. Further, this also gives weight to moments that we do experience: we treasure them precisely because they are ephemeral.

  • Rita’s question about whether or not heaven and the soul exists is echoed several times in Gundam Narrative. She decides that heaven might not be real, but is certain that the soul beyond the bioelectrical impulses in the brain must exist. The question, seemingly an open one, suggests that Rita had always been an inquisitive and carefree individual: this is reinforced by the fact that if given the choice, she would wish to be a bird, signifying her desire to be free.

  • While Rita longs to be free, Jona is tormented by the fact that Michele had lied to him and in the process, cost Rita her life. The researchers, unable to tell who the real Newtype was, decided to play a sort of Prisoner’s Dilemma game with Jona, Michele and Rita: they falsely claim that the real Newtype will be spared, while the other two will be executed. Michele ultimately was discharged, while Rita was hauled off to be dismantled.

  • Whether or not the soul exists is something that is the subject of no small debate amongst theologians and philosophers. Modern science describes our consciousness as the sum of billions of neurons interacting together to create a system of immeasurable complexity, but the notion that memories and the essence of a being can endure in the absence of an energy supply (cellular respiration producing the energy needed to drive neurological processes) is not supported by contemporary models. Having said this, there are some phenomenon that simply cannot be described by any craft that we possess, and while some postulate that quantum mechanics might be involved, research in this area is so limited that it’s difficult to say for sure what’s happening.

  • Gundam Unicorn and Gundam Narrative extend on the idea that the psychoframe; made up of billions of nano-scale processors that can capture human intent and translate that into movement, the pyschoframe’s architecture mirrors the brain and therefore, it is able to replicate the complexities of the human mind. Over time, psychoframe can even “store” the consciousness of its operators. The emergent properties from transplanting the human consciousnesses into a machine are completely unforeseen, and in Char’s Counterattack, this manifested in the form of a warm green light that emanated from the ν Gundam that projected enough force to push Axis back into space. Banagher uses the Unicorn’s power to absorb a colony laser in Gundam Unicorn.

  • Michele had always longed to come back for Jona and Rita, but circumstance drove them apart. Jona eventually joined the Federation forces, while Rita was made into an experimental subject and tested the experimental Phenex. The psychoframe resonance between the Phenex and Narrative brings back the pain of these memories in Jona and amplifies them: he takes control of the II Neo Zeong, whose systems begin to run wild and threaten to destroy the colony.

  • At the last moment, the Phenex approaches Jona and calms him. The friend whom I spoke with about Gundam Narrative speculates that the Neo Zeong’s systems were built in particular to amplify negative emotions, and while I initially thought that the psychoframe amplified what already was (per Marida Cruz’s assertions in Gundam Unicorn‘s finale), the fact is that the psychoframe from the II Neo Zeong emits a red hue, far removed from the green that is emitted whenever a positive phenomenon occurs. This dichotomy between understanding and hatred is apparent in the choice of colours, and brings to mind the colours of lightsabres in Star Wars. Originally, lightsaber colours were simply a consequence of the crystals used to focus the blade, and that the blood-red blades Sith Lords used simply came from them picking synthetic crystals because natural crystals were not available to them.

  • The new canon foists upon us the idea that the red blades of the Sith come from the tainting of crystals through their corrupt use of the Force, and that lightsabers were specifically powered by Kyber Crystals. I cannot say that I am fond of the new writing, but to delve further into this is to deviate from Gundam Narrative. Back on board the Damascus, Michele sheds tears at having lost the Phenex yet again, and Captain Averaev requests that Michele fully disclose what her intentions are, as well as what the Phoenix Hunt was really about.

  • Michele reveals that Luio & Co. had deliberately provided the Sleeves remnants with the II Neo Zeong, which had been confiscated, to draw the Phenex out for her own ends, but this ended up backfiring, since the Neo Zeong had been built with knowledge that seemed beyond what exists in the world. Michele had been motivated by a desire to cheat death and achieve immortality because she had been tired of living in a world where people had to hurt one another to survive, but seeing the cost her dreams have accrued leads her to change her mind. This conversation here drives Michele and Jona’s growth: Michele comes to accept that the ends do not justify the means, and Jona realises that Michele had never given up on her promise.

  • With the secrecy of the operation of utmost importance, Luio & Co. close off the Phoenix Hunt and strikes a deal with the Republic of Zeon’s Monaghan Bakharov, a politician who intends to restore the Republic of Zeon’s glory. In exchange for keeping Zeon out of the operation, the Federation will be allowed to kill anyone attached to the project. Monaghan indicates that Erika is to be spared, but Zoltan overhears Erika’s conversation, summarily killing her and decides to take matters into his own hands. I initially felt that Zoltan’s role was ill-developed, but said friend suggested a different perspective: rather than treating Zoltan as presenting a character-versus-character conflict, regarding his contributions as being more of a character-versus-nature conflict was appropriate.

  • Finally taking control of the II Neo Zeong, Zoltan begins engaging the EFSF forces that have deployed from the Dogosse Giar-class General Revil to carry out the mop-up operation. He orders the Sleeves ship to hide behind the Helium-3 tanks, reasoning the Federation will not risk damage to their resources, before making to engage the Jegans that begin firing him. Using the II Neo Zeong’s wired funnel bits to effortlessly eliminate the Jegans, Zoltan’s combat approach is more brutal than Full Frontal’s – the differences between Full Frontal’s combat approach in Gundam Unicorn and Zoltan’s in Gundam Narrative bring to mind the differences between Thanos in Infinity War and Endgame.

  • Whereas Infinity War‘s Thanos is calm and introspective, only using as much force as necessary to subdue opponents because he genuinely wanted the snap to randomly decide who got willed away from existence, Endgame‘s Thanos lacks the Infinity Stones and resorts to a more combative approach to seize the Stones. As as result, Thanos in Endgame is shown as fighting with a much greater ferocity, fighting toe-to-toe with a Stormbreaker-equipped Thor, Iron Man’s Mark 85 suit and even overcoming Captain America, who is wielding Mjolnir. In particular, watching Thanos crack and destroy Captain ‘s shield with his sword was terrifying. The fight in Endgame was a sight to see, allowing audiences to truly appreciate just how dangerous of an opponent the Mad Titan was even without the Infinity Stones.

  • Zoltan is similar to Endgame‘s Thanos in this regard: unrestrained and lacking the same contemplative manner that made Full Frontal fight with efficiency, Zoltan runs wild on the battlefield, making full use of the II Neo Zeong’s weapons more liberally than Frontal ever did. The end result for viewers is a better idea of what the Neo Zeong was capable of – the scale of the destruction it can cause is immense, and Gundam Narrative shows that Full Frontal never really made full use of the Neo Zeong’s weapons against a fleet in his fight against the Banshee and Unicorn.

  • When the General Revil’s commander orders the vessel to target the Helium-3 tanks, the resulting explosion from the tanks destroys the Sleeves’ ship, killing those on board. Zoltan retaliates, using the II Neo Zeong’s psychoframe to accelerate and compress a single Helium-3 tank to the point where enough pressure allows the Helium-3 to spontaneously undergo a fusion reaction. The intensity of the reaction vapourises the General Revil instantly along witha large portion of the task force sent to destroy the Sleeves forces.

  • The friend who lent time towards helping realise this post remarked that the reason why people are so reluctant to cover the human aspects of Gundam and fixate on the politics or technologies themselves is because they fear looking into the mirror and relating how the lessons of Gundam apply to their own lives. In the end, politics and the mobile suits themselves are the catalysts that shape the world and its conditions to make the story worthwhile, rather than being the focal points, and so, I’ve found it rather more fruitful to focus on the aspects that Yoshiyuki Tomino aimed to portray with the Gundam series.

  • The fusion reaction that Zoltan triggers is nowhere near as impressive as Naga Sadow’s use of Sith techniques to tear the core out of a star and trigger a supernova to destroy the Galactic Republic’s fleet. Although Naga Sadow’s feat was augmented by Force crystals, its scale vastly exceeds what Zoltan can pull off. However, the threat posed by Zoltan is nontrivial. Forcing all of the stored Helium-3 to undergo fusion would create an explosion powerful enough to torch an entire Side and create a debris field that would make a colony drop look like picnic – in response to this, the Phenex reappears to engage Zoltan, who has seized a number of Jegans and are remotely controlling them in the same manner that Full Frontal had.

  • While the scale of Gundam Narrative (both the battles and the storyline itself) is much smaller than that of Gundam Unicorn, the combat sequences remain impressive. Here, the II Neo Zeong has engaged its psycho-shard system to fully allow Zoltan to manipulate his surroundings with his will alone. While I supposed that the psycho-shard system was designed to destroy enemy weapons in Gundam Unicorn, it turns out that the utility of this function is to greatly enhance an individual’s physical control over their surroundings. Full Frontal had merely used it to disable Banagher and Riddhe’s weapons systems during their final showdown.

  • While the Narrative Gundam had been packed away for transport, Michele convinces Jona to sortie to engage the II Neo Zeong. Here, the Narrative is equipped with its C-packs, which loads psychoframe directly onto the unit. Despite being an outdated suit, the Narrative remains effective because of the additional gear that Luio & Co. provide for it. Thus, despite lacking the same dedicated weapons as the Unicorn, the Narrative is able to hold out against the II Neo Zeong’s overwhelming firepower for a period and even does some damage of its own.

  • A review that was published to Anime News Network in December, shortly after the film’s release in November 2018, stated that Gundam Narrative attempted to do too much with its shorter runtime, and the dependency on prior knowledge from Gundam Unicorn would diminish the experience for those unfamiliar with the Laplace Conflict. These remarks are, incidentally, the same thoughts that I have about Infinity War and Endgame: these two movies are technically excellent movies that masterfully incorporate elements from previous films to drive its plot forwards, but for first-time viewers without an idea of the context regarding the Infinity Stones and Thanos, the films do come across as overwhelming.

  • Ultimately, the reviewer at Anime News Network finds that while Gundam Narrative might be a bit difficult to follow for those who did not watch Gundam Unicorn, they do recommend the film for folks who have seen Gundam Unicorn. This is a fair assessment of Gundam Narrative and is ultimately how many would likely feel after watching Gundam Narrative. Coming in with my background (and assistance from a friend), I’ve come to enjoy the contributions that Gundam Narrative adds to the discussion surrounding Newtypes and psychoframe technology, even if some of the aspects were unclear.

  • The reason why I’ve mentioned the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this talk in Gundam Narrative is because of the similarity the two radically different universes share – both had predecessors that began in a more realistic manner and shifted towards the fantastical at the end. Iron Man and Captain America: The Winter Soldier both remained quite grounded and were presented as events that could plausibly happen. Similarly, Gundam Unicorn‘s first few episodes featured more realistic mobile suit combat and placed a focus on the military details. However, introduction of the Infinity Stones had the same effect as the psychoframe did, and by their series’ respective ends, the feats and events that occur resemble magic rather than science. This does not diminish my experience of either Gundam or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although it is to my understanding that what is tantamount to magic did lessen the experience for some viewers.

  • Captain Suberoa Zinnerman makes an appearance in Gundam Narrative, operating another freighter and working with Banagher, who has remained with the Mineva faction, which exists in secret to act as a sort of check-and-balance against the more nationalistic Zeon proponents like Monaghan Bakharov. Zimmerman no longer bears the same grudge against the Federation that he once did, and works with Mineva to ensure that the old conflicts do not flare up again. Sensing that something is wrong after one of the Helium-3 tanks undergoes fusion, Banagher takes off to engage the threat.

  • Jona is pushed to his limits after Zoltan uses the remote bits to take control of the Federation Suits. Despite putting his own life in danger, Jona refuses to return fire even as the hijacked Jegans open fire on him. Discussions on Gundam can become as heated as the mobile suit battles themselves, and the last time I wrote about the events of Laplace’s Box five years previously, some folks sparked off a flame war when they shared my talk on Gundam Unicorn to Tango-Victor-Tango. I learned of this through my site metrics and followed the link that led to a vociferous discussion where during the course of this debate, one of the forum-goers began attacking this blog rather than the argument at hand.

  • Ultimately, Michele sacrifices her life for Jona, realising that what she had longed for all this time was to give something back to Rita after Rita had sacrificed herself. She pilots the transport directly between a beam meant for Jona. Her assistant, Brick, had revealed earlier that Michele had something she wanted to prove to Jona, as well: that if the psycho-frame and Newtype phenomenon had worked the way she postulated, then death would not be the end. She would therefore kill two birds with one stone, allowing Jona to live and continue fighting to end what the living had created, as well as reunite with Rita.

  • Devastated with Michele’s death, Jona loses the will to continue fighting, wondering what the point of anything is if suffering is what lies ahead, but Michele’s spirit spurs him on. The most vocal detractor purported that I believe that “‘effort’ (which seems to mean ‘word count of the post’) makes an argument more valid” and then went on to compare my style as being equivalent to “[spending] twelve pages explaining why 1 + 1 actually = 3, [I’m] still wrong even though [I] put more ‘effort’ into it” before immediately contradicting themselves by saying “this sort of criticism [isn’t] objective”, but nonetheless needing it to prove that my methods were invalid. I note that my posts are lengthy not because of this reason (which is, incidentally, a disingenuous claim), but because I find it enjoyable to cover a range of topics in movies.

  • Rather than looking at my content and then figuring out counterexamples to illustrate that I was off or that there’s more to consider, by adopting a pseudo-academic stance and using such a poor analogy, the individual in question implies that my opinions are objectively wrong because they did not align with theirs. Naturally, I could say the same, but this isn’t too productive, since all opinions are subjective. Instead, I would suggest that the individual first begin by figuring out what I was saying: “the lies and cover-ups that brought about Laplace’s Box created a problem that became increasingly difficult to address as time wore on, and Gundam Unicorn uses supernatural phenomenon, in the shape of the psychofield, in order to get over this particular barrier to show what lay ahead”.

  • Knowing what I intended with the post, it then becomes a simple matter of finding another solution to show how and why the Newtype phenomenon was not necessary in conveying the themes of Gundam Unicorn – this is what proper discussion looks like, and there’s certainly no need to regress to petty arguments, which to me, shows that the detractors of my article actually had nothing meaningful to say. Back in Gundam Narrative, the Narrative Gundam is destroyed, and Jona makes use of a core fighter to reach the Phenex. When he enters the cockpit, he finds it empty, confirming suspicions that Rita had long been deceased and has become a spirit with the power to control the Phenex. His combined acting as a conduit for the Phenex’s NT-D and Rita’s presence allows the Phenex to activate its Destroy Mode for the first time since the incident two years previously.

  • With the NT-D active, the II Neo Zeong proves to be no match for the Phenex, which subsequently destroys the II Neo Zeong’s psycho-shard system and disables its remaining weaponry. The speed of these actions were great enough so that I wasn’t able to acquire screenshots with good composition, and this is something curious parties will simply have to watch. The final fight between the Phenex and the II Neo Zeong is rather one-sided: while capable of great destruction, the II Neo Zeong is unlikely to be able to track the movements of the Phenex, which can allegedly accelerate to speeds approaching that of light despite the clear impossibility of such a feat.

  • Jona’s emotional baggage and the Narrative’s configuration are closely related: as Gundam Narrative progresses, the transition from the A-packs to B-packs and then C-packs shows a decrease in hardware. The A-packs is essentially a mobile armour, while the C-packs simply has additional psychoframe. Over the course of Gundam Narrative, as Jona comes to terms with Michele’s actions and his own past, his internal burdens lighten, as well. Jona also sheds the heavy psychosuit before entering the Phenex’s cockpit, leaving the last vestiges of his doubts and concerns behind. The Narrative is ultimately destroyed, marking one of the few cases where a lead Gundam was defeated totally, and Jona escapes in a core fighter. Zoltan makes to destroy the core fighter, but a familiar weapon makes a return: Banagher manages to destroy the wire bit with a well-placed shot, giving Jona time to board the Phenex.

  • While the II Neo Zeong was destroyed, Zoltan is not finished yet, and makes to engage the Phenex with beam axes. The performance gap between the Sinanju Stein and Phenex are obvious: there is no fight as the Phenex impales and destroys Zoltan outright: Jona is assisted by the spirits of Michele and Rita, who briefly appear. After his death, Zoltan’s spirit performs one final act of defiance, insistent that people cannot change and cannot accept possibility: he triggers fusion of the remaining Helium-3 tanks. However, before the reaction can go critical, the Phenex engages its own psychofield and calms the reactions, suppressing them and preventing catastrophe.

  • Ultimately, this act would be counted as deus ex machina in any other realm, and the only reason why it would even be passable is precisely because Gundam Unicorn had already previously established the mysteries of Newtypes and the psychofield’s unknown properties. Viewers are made to accept that Newtypes are similar to Force users, and in conjunction with a technology that is essentially the equivalent of the Infinity Stones, Newtypes are capable of feats otherwise known to be impossible. The psychoframe does have parallels with the Infinity Stones: besides similarly being referred to as singularities, their feats are similar, affording Gundams the ability to turn will into physical energy (Power stone), traverse incredible distances quickly (Space stone) and even store the consciousness and will of beings (Mind and Soul stones). The more outrageous feats the psychoframe have been seen to pull off include creating compelling illusions (Reality stone) and even undo events locally (Time stone).

  • I admit that for this month, my posting frequency has been very limited, and preparing this post was one of the reasons why: it took a bit of effort to get the party started, but once I developed momentum in writing about Gundam Narrative, the writing process became much easier. Between this lengthy post and taking the time to review this month’s Jon’s Creator Showcase submissions, plus keeping up with Battlefield V‘s Tides of War, time for writing about other things has been reduced. This has been exacerbated by the fact that I’ve been having a little too much fun with the complementary Oculus Quest I received from attending F8.

  • In particular, SUPERHOT VR has been a blast, and the wireless experience that the Quest confers takes this game to a whole new level, offering a truly immersive experience that is unparalleled. While I’m having a ball of a time with SUPERHOT VR, I’ve also finished Valkyria Chronicles 4 and can finally begin making my way into Metro: Exodus. It has not escaped me that today also happens to mark the première of both Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s second instalment, as well as the Aobuta movie, Seishun Buta Yarou wa Yumemiru Shoujo no Yume wo Minai (Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl). My grievances with anime movies and their release patterns are well-known at this point: the reality is that, as I am unwilling to drop several thousand dollars to fly over to Japan for the sake of two movies, I won’t be writing about these for quite some time.

  • Thus, for the time being, I will enjoy Metro: Exodus and the Oculus Quest: I will discuss the films once they available and focus my attention on things available in the present, since there’s naught I can do about the films and their availability. Back in Gundam Narrative, the ending to the film greatly resembles Gundam Unicorn with the emphasis on psychofields and the positive energy they can confer. I’ve become rather fond of Michele’s character for her progression: she begins the film as being thoroughly unlikable, but dealing with the psychoframe and being forced to confront her past changes her outlook on things. In death, she finds peace and is reunited with Rita.

  • Tielle’s “Cage” begins playing as the Phenex stills the Helium-3 reaction. Cage is a brilliant song that was originally written as the theme song for the life-sized RX-0 Unicorn Gundam model in Japan, and its composition has made it one of my most favourite songs of late, speaking of whether or not the world is worth saving from itself. Callbacks to Gundam Unicorn are frequent in Gundam Narrative: once the Phenex has halted the criticality event, Banagher retrieves Jona. In the psychofield, the original RX-0 Unicorn can be seen, as well.

  • Ever since the Unicorn was decommissioned, Banagher has since been piloting the ARX-014S Silver Bullet Suppressor, a variation of the Silver Bullet: this series of mobile suits were intended to test quasi-psycommu systems and have solid performance. However, because Banagher continues to use the Unicorn’s beam magnum, the Silver Bullet Suppressor has been outfitted with a unique rack that allows the mobile suit to rapidly change out the unit’s arms, which become damaged from the beam magnum’s sheer recoil. While questions have been cast about the Silver Bullet Suppressor’s design, the beam magnum remains a choice weapon for Banagher, allowing him to target distant objects with precision and firepower: despite their power, even beam mega-launchers lack the range to hit distant targets with any reliability, and the beam magnum happened to be the weapon that suited Banagher’s objectives.

  • Looking at the Phenex in Destroy Mode here, I’m reminded of an alternate ending to Gundam Unicorn that I’ve only heard about, where Banagher sortied in the Full Armour Unicorn Plan B, where the Unicorn was equipped with parts from the Banshee and Phenex and engaged in a different fight with Full Frontal’s Neo Zeong. This post has been a ways in the coming: I’ve been chipping at it since early June, and tonight, after picking up a new Magic Trackpad at a store near the edge of town (to replace a Magic Mouse that unexpectedly stopped working), I spent time with the family at a Chinese restaurant where the evening’s centerpiece was a seafood yi mein that had fish, calamari and shrimp.

  • Jona and Banagher watches as the Phenex soars off into the cosmos: Banagher remarks that it’s impossible to catch up with it now, and this marks the ending of Gundam Narrative, with the Phenex’s ultimate fate left ambiguous. Having Banagher make a return was a very nice touch – it turns out that following the events of Unicorn, Banagher did end up returning to the world of the living, giving some closure to his fate. However, his role in events after UC 0097 are less clear, and Gundam Narrative can only offer some insight as to what his fates are after UC 0100. Hathaway’s Flash appears to be the next Gundam series on the horizon, and there are unconfirmed statements saying that Unicorn itself might be getting a continuation in an unknown form.

  • With this, I’m very nearly done writing about Gundam Narrative, although unlike Gundam Unicorn five years previously, I am a little more reluctant to give this one a recommendation: on one hand, it is a fun watch that anyone who appreciated Gundam Unicorn will enjoy, but at the same time, the narrative is a bit more confusing. With this being said, I enjoyed it, and found that it was worth the wait – after seeing the preview in November, I’d longed to see the story in full. Overall, it appears that impressions of Gundam Narrative elsewhere are fairly consistent with my thoughts on it, and with the general absence of discussions out there, I’m guessing that Gundam Narrative has not generated the same level of engagement as Gundam Unicorn. With this one in the books, upcoming posts, besides this month’s Jon’s Creator Showcase, will be talks on K-On! and Yama no Susume: Omoide no Present.

Gundam Narrative is very much dependent on a familiarity with Gundam Unicorn for its themes to be clear: while both Jona and Michele mature over the course of Gundam Narrative (Jona accepts that Michele had cared about him after all this time, and Michele comes to understand that Rita’s sacrifice gave her a chance to live life in place of being dismantled in the name of science), numerous other characters’ backgrounds are minimal, whereas Gundam Unicorn takes the time to better explore secondary characters like Marida Cruz and Suberoa Zinnerman. Zoltan was not explored to the same extent as Full Frontal did, and unless one accepts him as more of an abstract representation of hatred and resentment (rather like a force of nature), his place in Gundam Narrative can seem unnecessary. Despite lacking the time to create the same compelling characters as Gundam Unicorn did, Gundam Narrative ended up validating the themes initially presented in Gundam Unicorn, that possibility will always exist alongside the capacity for great good. The messages remain cautiously optimistic, dealing more with human nature than with politics through the Newtype phenomenon: weaker characters do not result in diminished thematic elements. Likewise, while Gundam Narrative does not have the same fluidity and detail in the animation as did Gundam Unicorn, the overall quality of the artwork and animation, especially during combat sequences, remains of a high standard – Gundam Narrative was a visual treat to watch. Despite its limitations in characters and dependence on Gundam Unicorn to provide context, Gundam Narrative is a welcome addition to the Universal Century for covering themes of forbidden knowledge and presenting a plausible portrayal of the world after Laplace’s Box was opened.

Rise of the Red Comet: Mobile Suit Gundam- The Origin Finale Reflection

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt

Dozle’s fleet retreats after sustaining damage, but the mobile suit groups push into the Revil fleet, inflicting heavy damage on Federation forces. The Black Tri-Stars destroy the Ananke and capture Revil himself, while Char single-handedly destroys several Federation cruisers on his own. The Battle of Loum thus becomes a victory for Zeon, and Zeon prepares to mop up remaining resistance elements in space. While Degwin feels that their objectives have been fulfilled, Giren and Kycilia conspire to continue the conflict, desiring to totally annihilate the Earth Federation. Meanwhile, Dozle gives Char his own battlecruiser, asking him to investigate the Federation’s Project V. Char accepts the assignment and sets about bringing his subordinates up to speed. While on a training exercise, Char runs into a Federation cruiser and boards it, learning that Revil had been freed. He chooses to let Revil go. Amuro later attempts to gain access to his colony’s military section and get an answer to what Gundam is. He meets William Kemp, who discloses nothing and warns him to never speak of the Gundam to anyone. Returning home, Amuro finds that his father’s research has been removed from their home. When the Antarctic conference begins, Revil makes a live speech on the state of Zeon, encouraging his men to continue fighting and enraging Degwin, who asks Garma to crush the Federation forces. Sayla Mass prepares to transfer to Side 7, away from the conflict, and the Federation sends out the Pegasus-class assault carrier to take delivery of the RX-78 II, an instrumental weapon against the Zeon mobile suits. This is the scope of what happens in The Origin‘s sixth and final instalment: from here on out, the events of Mobile Suit Gundam begin, and The Origin thus comes to a close a shade more than three years after its first episode was released. Over its run, The Origin‘s primary focus has been on Char Aznable and his rise to prominence, as well as portraying the events that led to the formation of the Zeon and instigation of the One Year War.

By the events of Mobile Suit Gundam, Zeon had already been established as a fanatical, war-warmongering group spurred on by the Zabi family: The Origin explains how things reached this state and in doing so, humanises Zeon to some extent, similarly to how Gundam Unicorn had blurred the lines between justice and evil. Zeon had not been born of a desire to eliminate Earth-born humans, but rather, to establish an independent government in space for their people and promote exploration of what would later be referred to as the continued evolution of humanity. After Zeon zum Deikun’s death, Degwin Zabi’s rise to power and his subsequent actions with the Zeon armed forces suggests that his intentions had been to make it clear to the Federation that Zeon should not be treated lightly. Throughout The Origin‘s finale, he is presented as being moderate compared to Gihren and Kycilia; having felt that their goals have been accomplished, he arranges for Revil’s release such that peace negotiations can begin. Degwin’s disgust for Gihren’s blood-lust is apparent in the finale: he openly compares Gihren to Hitler and Napoleon. The complex dynamics within the Zabi family show that even here, there is a divide as to what the proper course of action for Zeon is. However, when Revil publicly proclaims his intentions to continue the war, Degwin is shocked and immediately renounces Revil, ordering Garma to smash the Federation despite his own desire to end the conflict. The complexity of war is a central theme to most Gundam works (save spin-offs like Build Fighters, which deal with sportsmanship and craftsmanship): within the dialogue, characters wonder openly if it is in our nature to fight, as well as whether or not humanity can ever be free of war. There is no easy question, and The Origin shows that once a conflict has started, it can be very difficult to stop things from spiralling out of control: much as how the world was dragged into two World Wars within the past century, once things reached a tipping point in the Universal Century, bloodshed became unavoidable, with the only inevitability of war being that suffering and loss results.

The horrors and futility of war notwithstanding, The Origin‘s other focus is on Char Aznable. While a fearsome pilot, Char’s ultimate traits are his charisma: he has a powerful ability to inspire and also deceive those around him depending on his intentions. Char’s subordinates respect him, while his superiors place their faith in his ability; he is trusted and wears his roles well as a leader and pilot. Seeing Char wield these while outside of a mobile suit show that he’s also a terrifying individual to be around. The combination of these attributes make him the perfect foil for the more selfless Amuro Ray — The Origin can be seen as showing the milestones in Char’s life that set him apart from Amuro. Merciless and utterly focused on achieving his goals, Char only fights for himself and stands in stark contrast to Amuro, who, over the course of Mobile Suit Gundam, comes to fight for those around him and in the process, mature as an individual. Because The Origin offers additional insight into how Char came to be, seeing the endpoints for both Char and Amuro’s journey throughout the Universal Century suggest that one’s worldviews are deeply influenced by their own motivations and raison d’être — those who fight for others, for a selfless reason will continue to fight for the hope of a better future, whereas those who fight for themselves end up losing sight of what their goals are and succumb to despair, as Char does by the events of Char’s Counterattack. Watching the two clash provides a powerful visual metaphor for the conflict between two opposites, and this dichotomy, vividly portrayed within The Origin, is why the Char-Amuro rivalry remains such an enduring one.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Despite a delay of two and a half months from the original release date for this finale, the wait between episodes four and five for The Origin still remains longer by around a half-month. There’s quite a bit that happens in The Origin‘s finale, and as such, I’ve chosen to extend the post by ten images for a total of forty. We pick up where we left off last time, with Char flying into the heart of the Revil fleet with weapons at the ready. I open with the note that the fight depicted in The Origin‘s finale deviates considerably from what was seen in the first episode: Char sorties with a bazooka rather than an anti-ship rifle here, and while originally flying into combat with wingmen Slender and Denim, The Origin revises him to flying into the enemy fleet on his own.

  • Befitting of the finale, the space combat is fierce and vividly animated: the Battle of Loum far surpassed anything of Gundam Unicorn in terms of scale, and here, Tianem smashes through Dozle’s forces. The Federation initially believe themselves at an advantage – the Magellan-class ships are more heavily armed and have a higher broadside capacity compared to the Musai-class (a maximum of fourteen mega-particle shots per broadside against the latter’s six), and with their initial defeat of Dozle’s forces, victory seems straightforwards. Broadside mass is not the singular determinant of superiority in naval combat, especially considering that different factors, such as projectile energy and fire control accuracy, also impact a battleship’s effectiveness, as well.

  • As the engagement continues, Admiral Tianem loses the position of Dozel’s fleet. In order to facilitate the unique space combat of the Universal Century, writers imparted unique properties into Minovsky Particles to justify the necessity of close range combat and the ineffectiveness of long-range sensor arrays in space combat, as well as the presence of mobile suits. In the absence of this limitation, capital ships exchanging fire from a distance would be the norm, and doctrine would center around tactical manoeuvres and fire control, similar to battleship combat during the Second World War.

  • Degwin and Garma watch the Battle of Loum unfold in a cruiser on the front lines. Garma’s inexperience is mirrored here, when he begins panicking as Zeon forces begin folding under the Federation bombardment. Garma’s great weakness is a thirst to prove himself, and this comes into conflict with his inexperience.

  • Dozle’s gambit to smash into the Revil fleet unexpected is successful, catching the Federation forces completely off guard. The page quote for this talk is another line from Franklin D. Roosevelt: sourced from his Address on Hemisphere Defense in Dayton, Ohio on October 12, 1940, this speech was made more than a year before the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbour and referred to the European conflicts, as well as the Japanese conquests of Asia at the time. While the Americans were reluctant to enter the Second World War at this time, Roosevelt was planning to build up his Arsenal of Democracy with the aim of assisting Allied forces in Europe and Asia. With the attack of Pearl Harbour, Roosevelt formally declared war on the Axis nations.

  • Dozle’s fleet reappears amidst the Revil fleet, and at extreme close ranges, they deal serious damage to Federation vessels. It is here that I am more impressed with both Musai and Magellan class ships: they do not explode in one salvo and it takes sustained fire to damage them. This brings to mind situations in other Gundam series where some large vessels could be destroyed in a few shots. Gundam 00 was notorious for this: during both seasons, the Virginia-class explode immediately after being hit, and the 00 Gundam was capable of destroying the Federation’s Baikal-class cruisers in one shot. This is probably meant to accentuate how powerful Gundams in general are, similar to how military hardware is useless against extraterrestrial forces in other films.

  • The vast differences in how Federation and Zeon ships are designed is meant to remind viewers that different environments result in radically different capital ship designs. Zeon forces have more skeletal ships, a consequence of their need to maximise the number of ships built given a finite amount of resources, and also to reduce their profile in combat engagements. By comparison, Federation vessels resemble ocean-going vessels given modifications to operate in space. These larger vessels can carry more firepower but ultimately present a larger profile for enemies to shoot at, as well.

  • While Char sorties with only a bazooka, one of the Black Tri-Stars utilises an anti-ship rifle during the Battle of Loum. This high-powered weapon distinctly has an anti-materiel role and resembles the M39 EMR, albeit one sporting a distinct muzzle brake. It’s been seen with a fast firing rate for a weapon of its size and appears to fulfill the equivalent of a designated marksman weapon. The anti-ship rifle that comes with Char’s Zaku II High Grade model is apparently large enough to be comfortably wielded in the hands of a Master Grade and feels more akin to a mobile suit-sized Barrett Light Fifty.

  • Details such as using rocket motors to provide additional cutting power are incorporated into The Origin: here, the Black Tri-Stars finish off the Ananke. While the finale’s portrayal of the Battle of Loum differs from what was seen in The Origin‘s first episode, the general order of events are the same, with Char racing onto the battlefield and the other mobile suit forces following suit. With only space fighters and anti-air defenses available to them, Federation capital ships are completely outmatched, becoming little more than sitting ducks for the agile mobile suits.

  • Char destroys a Federation space fighter with a well-placed kick, and earlier, fighters launch very similarly as one might see fighters taking off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The Origin is similar to Gundam Unicorn in the presentation of details – from things like operation of various switches to change a mobile suit’s configuration to the loading of ordinance into chambers for firing, The Origin is very similar to a Tom Clancy novel, depicting even minor elements to show that everything has an engineered, mechanical nature to remind audiences that even among the horrors that arise from war, the incredible engineering that goes into the design of war machines mirrors humanity’s great capacity for inventiveness.

  • Ultimately, however, Gundam intends to show its viewers that impressive engineering notwithstanding, war is fought by people, and that the impacts of warfare on people are very real. Tom Clancy holds a similar belief: his portrayal of competent HUMINT and individual soldiers are meant to show that at the end of the day, people ultimately make the difference, as well. Back in The Origin, Char earns his moniker, “Red Comet”, during the Battle of Loum, after streaking about the battlefield at three times normal speed, drawing the Black Tri-Star’s attention: they begrudgingly dub him the Red Comet after seeing his exceptional speed.

  • The last time I anticipated writing about The Origin‘s finale, I had just come back from a fantastic steak dinner at a local restaurant, and it was a beautiful spring evening. I was unaware that the finale was unavailable for simulcast, and so, it is nearly two and a half months later that I’ve finally had a chance to watch it. By a curious turn of fate, this coincided with another delicious steak dinner earlier today. Under warm summer skies, I enjoyed a cheesecake in the afternoon, as this time of year is a time of celebration and of excellent food. As afternoon turned to evening, I went to The Keg during their Lobster Summer event, during which they import fresh Atlantic lobsters from the East Coast. I ordered their eight ounce sirloin with half-lobster – their steaks are as good as always, and the freshness in the lobster was apparent. On its own, the lobster meat was tender and lightly sweet, but with clarified butter and a dash of lemon juice, the flavour can only be described as heaven on earth.

  • With naught more than a bazooka and his wits about him, Char eliminates several vessels on his own, firing rounds into specific areas and making use of his heat-hawk to slice open vulnerable areas. While the Black Tri-Stars are savage in their attack, Char is much more pragmatic and conservative with his ammunition, only dealing enough damage to cripple ships and in one instance, carefully targeting a cruiser’s magazines that triggers secondary explosions which subsequently tear a Magellan-class cruiser apart.

  • Kycilia and Gihren discuss the need to continue their war after witnessing the Zeon victory at Loum. Dozle, on the other hand, orders a moment of silence for the fallen in combat in the aftermath of the Battle of Loum. Kycilia is counted as one of the more enigmatic of the Zabis – tasked with handling intelligence, Kycilia resents that Gihren holds more responsibility and power. While demonstrating loyalty to Zeon and the cause, Kycilia also secretly plots a military coup to seize power, and to this end, created her own secret police. Her death comes at Char’s hands years later, when he kills her with a man-portable shoulder-fired rocket launcher in a scene that is counted as one of the greatest headshots of all time in fiction.

  • The likes of Adolf Hitler are rarely mentioned in anime: besides The Origin, the only other time I’ve seen Hitler was in Makoto Shinkai’s 2011 film, Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, where the Führer is seen in a tapestry depicting the world’s incursions into Agartha. Gihren’s thirst for blood and conquest here brings to mind the sort of thing that Odin worried seeing in his son, Thor, in Thor – Odin had previously contended with Hela’s lust for destruction and imprisoned her. Fearing that Thor would turn out no better, Odin banished Thor to Earth until such a time when he was ready to return. However, with the turmoil in Zeon, Degwin’s unable to reign in Gihren’s bloodlust, and eventually is reduced to little more than a figurehead.

  • Garma confesses that he feels under-accomplished, asking Dozle to help him transfer to the front lines rather than remain behind as an officier, where he may earn his own stripes and prove himself worthy of his position. Of the Zabi family, Dozle is perhaps the most reasonable – even while dedicated towards Zeon, Dozle cares for those under his command and does not share Gihren’s genocidal tendencies towards the Federation. His daughter, Mineva, would play an important role during the Laplace Conflict of Gundam Unicorn, helping Banagher Links uncover the secret behind Laplace’s Box.

  • At a gala celebrating the Zeon victory at Loum, Gihren gives a speech about his intentions to utterly destroy the Federation. Of the various Gundam universes, I’ve heard that Gundam SEED‘s story was built off the Universal Century, and so, the villains in SEED seem to inherit the worst of Gihren’s traits. By comparison, Gundam 00 is said to have drawn inspiration from Gundam Wing, although by the time Innovation and the ELS come into play, the divergence becomes large enough such that the similarities are superficial. Gundam 00 was the first Gundam series to feature extraterrestrials, and so when I began watching Gundam Unicorn, I thought Unicorn to be much better grounded (at the time, we were only up to episode three).

  • The verbal exchange that Char and Garma have draws stares from onlookers, and here, the contrast between Garma and Char could not be more apparent. Calculating and calm, Char steers Garma into playing right into his hands, infuriating Garma and encouraging him to stick to his path simultaneously. Char’s grudges against his enemies are carefully concealed behind a veneer of charisma, to the point where Char can betray his foes without giving them any indication that they have been had.

  • Degwin and Revil share a conversation after the latter’s capture, where Degwin admits that he has no appetite for warfare. Such conversations are very instructive, and as important to the development of story in Gundam as the combat sequences themselves, as they give insight into how individuals within the Universal Century see things when faced with a fellow human being, rather than when seated behind the cockpit of a mobile suit. The Origin places a bit more weighting on conversations and details than it does the combat sequences, to reiterate that war is more about the humans fighting them, rather than the hardware itself.

  • Kycilia speaks with M’quve, a Zeon commander whom she tasks with heading the negotiations. M’quve has a particular liking for cultural artifacts and is earlier seen stating to a museum curator that his relics are fakes. The scene was reminiscent of a similar moment in Black Panther, when Erik Stevens (birth name N’Jadaka) is browsing at a British museum and informs one of the curators that their Wakandan artefact is made of vibranium, prior to stealing it. Back in The Origin, despite his aristocratic nature and preference for trickery over direct confrontation, M’quve is a devoted Zeon who will step onto the battlefield when necessary.

  • Dozle summons Char for a private discussion on Zeon’s knowledge of Project V, or Project Vinson. This Federation project became known informally as Project Victory, intended to produce the first Federation mobile suit. Much as how the Soviets held the advantage early in the Space Race, Zeon’s advancements with mobile suit technology gave them a significant edge over the Federation. However, with time and the efforts of capable scientists (Wernher von Braun for the United States, and Tem Ray for the Federation), the technology gap would eventually be closed and then surpassed: the RX-78 II was far more sophisticated than any Zeon machine, mirroring how the Saturn V rocket would be the only rocket that brought man to the moon.

  • Dozle assigns Char his own Musai-class ship and staff. While the staff are initially reluctant to wear their roles, feeling that Char is a superior commander, Char makes it clear that he still sees himself as a pilot, first and foremost. His captain’s struggles to lead effectively are the object of humour, but in spite of his initial ineffectiveness, Char (somewhat sardonically) guides him towards leading his men more effectively.

  • During the covert operation to break Revil out of Zeon captivity, Federation soldiers can be seen firing bullpup rifles resembling the modern-day FAMAS, a French service rifle with a distinctly-placed charging handle (visible in this screenshot). Throughout The Origin, real-world weapons can be seen alongside fictional weapons. In earlier episodes, Federation forces are seen using the Colt M72A1, a fictional 4.8mm bullpup rifle. However, the carrying handle and sight assembly seen in earlier episodes differs than the ones seen here, as does the placement of the charging handle.

  • Revil’s escape is revealed to have been an inside job: Federation forces manage to “infiltrate” a Zeon prison and spring him with limited resistance, but this was deliberate so that Zeon had a justification to invade Earth. While a bit of a messily-explained aspect, it is worth noting that the whole of the Universal Century can be inconsistent in places owing to the number different stories, rather similar to how there are contradictions in the Star Wars Expanded Universe as a consequence of the sheer amount of material. Large franchises invariably will pick up inconsistencies as a result of authors not being fully aware of existing materials or else deliberately introducing discontinuity to better suit their narratives: this is the nature of the beast.

  • Char’s crew panics when they find themselves face-to-face with a lone Federation vessel. Ever composed, Char offers the acting captain suggestions. In the English dub, Char is voiced by Keith Silverstein, who had previously performed Full Frontal’s voice in Gundam Unicorn and absolutely nailed the role, presenting Full Frontal as charismatic and focused as Char is. In the original Japanese dub, Shūichi Ikeda repraises his role as Char, having voiced Char in his previous appearances.

  • The Federation officers, after the initial shock wears off, attempt to eliminate Char. This backfires when Char uses his own weapon, a ceremonial-looking rifle resembling a saber, to fire a disabling shot that knocks the sidearm from one of the Federation officer’s hand. Before Char can press forward with his questioning, Revil himself appears on the bridge. In response, Char promptly apologises, wishes Revil safe passage and heads off. When he returns to his allies, he explains to his men that he feels as though he stepped into some sort of political game and has no inclination to interfere.

  • One touch in The Origin I particularly liked was how there are short moments depicting all of the classic Mobile Suit Gundam characters in their lives prior to and a short ways into the One Year War before they become involved with White Base. Mirai Noa (née Yashima) is a pilot for a civilian transportation service by the events of the One Year War, and following the attack on Side 7, she joins the White Base crew. Here, she meets Bright Noa and helms the vessel. From a quiet young woman of a wealthy family, Mirai’s presented as being more confident now, although she’s still susceptible to moments of embarrassment.

  • Amuro’s curiosity about the Gundam project leads him to try and enter the military installation on the far end of Side 7. The guards manning the front post turn him away, but when Amuro mentions the Gundam, they take him in and bring in William Kemp, who warns Amuro to never discuss the Gundam with anyone. In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Amuro was presented as a skillful mechanic and had an innate understanding of machinery, which, coupled with the RX-78 II’s overwhelming combat performance, allows him to stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Char in combat. The Origin reveals that he studied his father’s work extensively, which would explain his ability to operate the RX-78 II later on.

  • In order to prevent a future leak, military intelligence units pay a visit to the Ray residence and clear out everything related to the Gundam. The Origin ultimately makes several changes to the progression of events in Gundam, but overall, I never found them to be terribly disruptive towards the existing flow of events that I am familiar with. Compared to most folk, I am a freshman when it comes to the Universal Century, having first taken an interest in it through Gundam Unicorn and Char’s Counterattack – my story with Gundam began with 00 back eleven years ago, and I ended up skipping over AGEReconguista in G and Iron-Blooded Orphans, which I personally felt to have deviated from the stories that made the Anno Domini and Universal Century so engaging. In particular, my friends advise against watching Iron-Blooded Orphans because of the series’ excessive focus on drama over meaningful themes.

  • The Antarctic Treaty is so-named because it was signed in Antarctica. A climate-controlled geodesic dome houses a large metropolis, a far cry from the present-day Antarctica that was seen in the likes of A Place Further Than The Universe. The treaty of the Universal Century has nothing to do with the real-world Antarctica Treaty, which was signed in 1959 and bound signatory nations to the terms that the southernmost continent was only to be used for scientific research, and that no country may claim sovereignty over the continent.

  • With instability brewing, Sayla mass is offered a chance to transfer over to Side 7, away from the conflict. This sets in motion the events that lead her to cross paths with Amuro Ray. At this point in time, Side 7 is far removed from the Zeon-Federation war, but once the events of Mobile Suit Gundam begin, Zeon attacks Side 7, and Sayla boards White Base. She eventually becomes the second pilot for the RX-78 II and develops feelings for Amuro.

  • The negotiations begin at Antarctica: they were originally intended to be a discussion of the surrender terms, but when Revil appears and delivers a speech ordering the Federation to continue fighting. While not as memorable as John F. Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the Moon” speech or George S. Patton’s address to the Third Army, Revil’s “Zeon is Exhausted” speech is very well-known in the Gundam community. Realising the condition of Zeon, the Federation regroups, and rejects the surrender terms. The end result is a ban on WMD and colony drops: the Zeons are left with an advantage, as they possess mobile suits.

  • The abruptness and unexpectedness of Revil’s declarations anger Degwin, who had been anticipating a transition to peace once the surrender proceedings had concluded. He orders Garma to crush the Federation, continuing the war. Zeon forces subsequently launch an invasion of Earth itself. The Origin ends with the message that the story continues in Mobile Suit Gundam, and while there have been a handful of depictions concerning the events of the One Year War in other series and games, I would love to see a modernised adaptation of Amuro and his time as the RX-78 II’s pilot.

  • As Revil’s speech is broadcast, it is listened to by many, including Kai Shinden. Here, Fraw Kobayashi (née Bow) frolics in a pond with other children and invites Amuro to join her, but Amuro declines, his mind weighted down by thoughts of the Gundam project. A longtime friend of Amuro’s, Fraw looks after him in The Origin, but he seems unaware of her feelings for him. As the One Year War progresses, Fraw and Amuro grow apart: Fraw eventually marries Hayato Kobayashi. Her fate in the original Mobile Suit Gundam and retelling differ.

  • On board a flight to Side 7, Sayla listens to Revil’s speech. When accosted by some unsavoury men, she manages to cool their advances with little more than a cold glance. Sayla has since reached her aspiration to become a doctor, and despite the dramatic difference between her and Char’s careers, the two siblings share the ability to intimidate with a look. During the One Year War, Sayla searches for her brother and later meets him again, where he explains his desire to avenge their father. The two will cross paths again as the war continues, where Sayla reminds Char of his goals to destroy the Zabi family.

  • While The Origin does not show the Gundam, White Base is shown en route to take delivery of the Gundam following the credits. White Base, officially SCV-70 (although it is known by a few other designators), was commissioned to act as a mobile suit assault-carrier and was capable of independently exiting and entering the Earth’s atmosphere without additional equipment. Besides carrying a maximum of six mobile suits (including the Gundam), White Base also had comparable firepower to a Musai-class. The deployment of White Base is reminiscent of the gradual change in naval warfare doctrine during World War Two: whereas battleships and long-range guns dominated previously, aircraft carriers soon displaced them. This is mirrored in Mobile Suit Gundam, where engagements between mobile suits become the staple of space combat.

  • Seeing the interior of White Base’s bridge in a modern form was superb: the remastered designs are entirely faithful to the original layout as seen in Mobile Suit Gundam. On its inaugural mission, White Base is state-of-the-art and will serve as the home base for the RX-78 II, participating in numerous operations throughout the One Year War until its destruction at the Battle of A Baoa Qu, which would also see the defeat of the Zeon forces. However, unresolved hostilities resulted in Operation Stardust, which saw a second colony drop. The Titans were formed to prevent another Zeon incursion, but the group became worse oppressors than those they sought to stop, resulting in the Gryps Conflict. Zeon itself splintered into factions that sparked the First Neo Zeon War and later, the Laplace Conflict.

  • Bright Noa is one of the most famous commanders in all of Gundam, and in The Origin, his career with the Gundam and their pilots is just beginning: he is an ensign at this point. A dedicated leader, disciplined and forward-thinking, Bright exhibits all of the traits of a capable captain, preferring simple and effective tactics over flash. Best known for his Bright Slap, Bright guides many Gundam pilots throughout his career to follow their own hearts: by the events of Gundam Unicorn, Bright is able to convince Banagher Links to confide in him and follow through on a mission to keep the RX-0 away from the Vist Foundation.

  • With Project V finishing and the Gundam operational, Tem is overjoyed and remarks that he’d made life rather difficult for Amuro. While he might’ve been short with Amuro because of pressure from his research and development, Tem genuinely cares for Amuro. The Gundam’s completion marks a moment of hope for the Federation, and the post-credit scenes in The Origin exude this sense through and through – Gundam marks a point where the Federation finally had a weapon to match the Zeon mobile suits, and hope is kindled. The music in the final scenes accentuates this feeling, as does the positive atmosphere on White Base’s bridge and above all, Tem’s optimism.

  • When The Origin‘s first instalment was shown, it was March of 2015. I was nearly done my second term of my graduate studies, and had supposed that The Origin would be the Gundam series I would watch throughout my Master’s programme, much like how Gundam Unicorn was something that I watched during my undergraduate studies. I predicted that the fourth episode, then assumed to be the finale, would finish by September 2016, which was when I had expected to defend. However, I ended up defending my thesis a full three months earlier, and The Origin had two extra instalments to showcase The Battle of Loum in greater detail. I thus ended up finishing The Origin well after my Master’s thesis: the finale meant that the series wrapped up nearly a year-and-a-half later than expected, but the wait was one that was worth it, as I enjoyed The Origin much more than I thought I would. With The Origin behind us now, I remark that Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s second episode also has a known première date now, being set for June 2019. A little extrapolation shows that the sixth episode will likely be available on Blu Ray by September 2025 at the earliest.

The Origin ends up being a solid animated addition to the Universal Century for showing Zeon’s perspective of the war and how the situation became what was seen in Mobile Suit Gundam. In addition, it also solidifies Char’s character, giving more exposition as to what motivates and drives him, as well as what makes him a suited opponent for Amuro Ray. While the artwork and animation in The Origin is not as impressive as what was seen in Gundam Unicorn, it nonetheless remains of a very high standard, capturing the scope and scale of major battles in the Universal Century prior to Mobile Suit Gundam and giving viewers a modernised glimpse into the events that precipitated the formation of Zeon and the One Year War. Through details, from control panels to watching munitions being chambered, The Origin succeeds in presenting the early weapons of the Universal Century was being proper pieces of military hardware rather than cannon fodder. Coupled with its concise narration, the end result of The Origin is a greater understanding of why Zeon undertook the actions that it does, which enriched my appreciation of the story in the Universal Century. Consequently, I would recommend The Origin to folks who are fans of the Universal Century. The Origin is also suited as a gateway into the Universal Century: how the different factions and mobile suits came to be are explained in excellent detail, so those unfamiliar with the first Gundam timeline would be able to see a very succinct presentation of how things come to be. The only real disappointment is that the RX-78 II itself does not appear in a combat role, only appearing in blueprints: anyone looking to see a modernised RX-78 II in The Origin will not find that in The Origin, but beyond this, the solid origin story and modern visuals make The Origin an excellent experience overall.