“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 Man, Higurashi, Dark 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 00, Gundam 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.
- Owing to the fact that documentation indicates the Tau TDS is inferior to a true TDS, I am not convinced that the Reborns Gundam 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 Unicorn, Gundam: 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.