The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Gundam 00

Intervention as the Magic Moment in Mobile Suit Gundam 00

“Consistency is found in that work whose whole and detail are suitable to the occasion. It arises from circumstance, custom, and nature.” —Vitruvius

After defeating the AEU’s Enact prototype during its maiden flight, the Exia continues with its mission and draws out additional Hellion squadrons from the AEU’s orbital elevator pillar. Despite the Exia’s technological superiority, its pilot, Sestuna F. Seiei, is unable to dispatch his opponents owing to their numbers. Back on the ground, the Dynames (piloted by Lockon Stratos) provides sniper fire. Shooting down the Hellions with pinpoint precision, Lockon buys Setsuna enough breathing room to destroy the last of the Hellions. Back in space, terrorists attempt to hit the Human Reform League’s anniversary parties, and while they successfully evade the forces scrambled to intercept them, they find themselves promptly defeated by the Kyrios and Virtue. The opening moments to Gundam 00 thus serve as another example of a magic moment (given here to be “an event or moment in an anime that succeed in convincing the audience to continue watching”) that occurs early on in the series that captivated my interest. Despite being a sequence created eight years ago, the animation and execution in Gundam 00 reflects on the level of detail and attention that went into crafting the moments. In particular, the orbital elevators’ impressive scale provides an exciting backdrop to introduce the Gundam’s overwhelming power, creating tension and suspense. The high-speed angles seen when the AEU hellions are struggling to engage the Exia, and the distances mobile suits must travel to reach the HRL’s orbital platform both show that these are truly massive engineering projects, attained only because of serious advances in technology.

  • While perhaps not quite as magical as the magic moment from Gundam Unicorn, the first episode of Gundam 00 was nonetheless a fun watch. Eight years might have elapsed, but I still clearly remember the day I watched the first episode; it was a Friday, and because my high school was undergoing HVAC maintenance, we were sent home to begin the weekend early. I was working on a German assignment with the main computer, and decided to take a break, watching the episode on a laptop.

  • The assignment was eventually finished, and I found this episode to be entrancing; a friend remarked that Gundam 00 was quite unique in the fact that all of the Gundam units were working together right from the start. In comparison to the Universal Century, the pilots in Gundam 00 are there by choice rather than chance, and unlike the Cosmic Era, no Gundam thefts are involved.

  • The fight between Exia and the Hellions is set to Kenji Kawai’s “Intervention”, a powerful, high-paced song with the Celestial Being motif that captures the intensity and firepower of a Gundam. The maneuvers between the different mobile suits around the orbital elevator allow their sizes to really give an impression of how large the pillar itself is.

  • Here’s another moment depicting the size of the pillar, when AEU Hellions deploy from hidden hangers on the pillar itself. When I first watched the episode, I imagined that the trained forces would fare better against Exia than Patrick Colasour, but I was wrong: though the pilots employ various attack formations to engage Exia, the difference in armour allows the Exia to shrug off the rounds.

  • Eight years to this day, I was experimenting with video conversion software, during the night of my old high school’s fall awards programme. The conversion was successful; as I watched the Tieren pilots enter their mobile suits and begin to sortie, it was time to set foot into a chilly November night and sit through the awards ceremony.  The fall awards were somewhat duller compared to the spring awards, given that the latter had been for exceptional performance in classes, and the former was for students who had made the honour roll.

  • Space-type Tierens are deployed to engage the terrorist Hellions. Equipped with thrusters on its main body for maneuvering in space, they can be seen firing to help the Tierens stablise and adjust their course. Again, the scale of the constructs are noticeable here: the orbital stations are large enough to house entire structures and mobile suit hangers.

  • While the Tieren pilots must use head-mounted displays that project a HUD onto an image of what the Tieren’s main camera sees, I found that their systems are quite cool-looking, if somewhat busy; the Tieren HMDs resemble the Oculus Rift, which I’ve used extensively in my research project. It’s quite funny how eight years after Gundam 00 aired, I’m involved in research that involves virtual reality, and may expand said project to encompass augmented reality, too.

  • One of the tensest moments in the episode is when the missiles streak towards the station. The Tieren’s inability to dispatch the terrorist Hellions suggest that the Tieren is an outdated mobile suit; of all the mobile suits fielded by the world’s forces, they’re the bulkiest and most models are intended to fulfil the role of a MBT rather than air superiority fighter.

  • The Kyrios flies along the orbital ring en route to engaging the terrorists. Celestial Being’s timely arrival ensures that the missiles never impact the station, and making use of the Kyrios’ speed, Allelujah shoots down two of the Hellions. The remaining mobile suit charges the station on a suicide run.

  • Compared to the other mobile suits’ control panels, and even the Gundam of earlier universes, the Gundams of the Cosmic Era have very clean interface, making use of touch screens and highly simple but informative displays. The displays improve by the second season, and are only eclipsed by the floating cockpits seen in the Universal Century.

Consequently, that an organisation such as Celestial Being possesses technology eclipsing that of the world’s is an impressive feat. However, the first episode chooses not to do so via dialogue: instead, the differences are depicted by shifting focus between the mobile suits’ cockpits and the battle from an outside perspective. It’s clear that even the HRL’s old, lumbering mobile suits are complex machines; their HUDs are very detailed and provide a great deal of information about the environment. However, these pale compare to the minimalistic multi-function touch displays found inside a Gundam. Coupled with their unparalleled combat capability, audiences can plainly see that the Gundams themselves are on a completely different level, thus piquing their curiosity with respect to what happens next; highly sophisticated war machines in the hands of an unknown organisation, interfering with international politics would almost certainly result in a response, and the remainder of the first season depicts what the ramifications entail. It was a strong start to the Gundam 00 franchise, and although eight years have since passed, the opening episode remains as impressive to watch now as it was eight years ago: together, the sense of scale and technological disparity piqued my interest in Gundam 00, which eventually would become my gateway into the Gundam franchise, leading to Gundam Unicorn.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 A Wakening of the Trailblazer: Final Impressions

A Wakening of the Trailblazer is the first original feature-length film to be released for the Gundam franchise in over 19 years. at the time, this was my first experience with anime movies and as such, at the time, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the movie. The experience would prove to be a curious one: whereas most anime movies release on BD/DVD around six months after their theatrical release, A Wakening of the Trailblazer went to BD/DVD a mere three months after its original release. The movie was not disappointing, impressing audiences with its breathtaking visuals and intense combat. Three years after I drafted my review, I decided to port the original article over to this blog: when published back at the old website, this was the only review online to have a substantial number of screenshots, and as such, every day, readers linked to that article to point out a solid discussion with plenty of high-resolution screenshots. At its peak, the post alone drew in a thousand unique visitors each day, and on AnimeSuki, was praised for being a “very nice and in-depth summary…better than the one on Gundam Wiki”, as well as for its diverse, high-quality screenshot collection. At present day, interest in A Wakening of the Trailblazer has waned almost completely, but nonetheless, for accessibility reasons, I’ve decided to port the article here so it’s easier to find. I’ve largely retained most of the content from the original review and have gone back to make minor grammatical corrections, but other than that, the reflection is mostly intact and true to its original form, bearing hallmarks of my writing style from three years ago.

  • This represents my last major project for 2013: now that Five Centimeters per Second and A Wakening of the Trailblazer are done, I can finally say that there are no more major, planned posts that will be published in the foreseeable future beyond the Six Weeks of Unicorn project. Come 2014, I will kick the year off with a Girls und Panzer calendar, and a series of posts about Battlefield 3‘s campaign.

My overall impressions of the movie were largely positive: the introduction of extraterrestrials into the universe represents the first time anyone has done so in the franchise. With no yard stick to make a reference to, the movie is literally trailblazing into new grounds. The immediate impression of the plot is one that is solidly crafted; while execution could be a little smoother, it nonetheless flows very well. In essence, the movie is about the appearance of aliens, and humanity’s fight for survival. This sounds similar to the dozens of other movies out there about aliens invading, but the reality is dramatically different. The extraterrestrials are metallic shapeshifting beings that bear absolutely no resemblance to humans whatsoever; this is a highly realistic depiction of how intelligent life can develop from completely different environments with a completely different biological constitution. Through the portrayal of the extraterrestrials, it becomes clear of how much though went into the movie. Thus, we come to the question of how this movie about aliens is any different than most existing media about aliens. Films like Independence Day and War of the Worlds present the extraterrestrials as beings with technological superiority, and regard the human presence on Earth as humans regard lesser organisms. This sets us up for a climatic battle in which humanity somehow wipes the floor of an alien fleet using heat seeking missiles and tank shells (in the case of Independence Day), or sometimes, the aliens disagree with our micro-fauna (War of the Worlds). There’s nothing wrong with this, and in fact, Independence Day was an excellent film. The main point here is the contrast between the two films; in A Wakening of the Trailblazer, the plot is more concerned with understanding the ELS and their intentions, a theme which we have seen recurring since Setsuna became an Innovator.

  • The GN-X IVs seen throughout much of the movie are not antagonist units. This represents the first time where a ESF and private faction are not at odds with each other.

  • Setsuna effortlessly divides a GN-X in two in one of the earliest combat sequences in the movie.

In A Wakening of the Trailblazer, plot execution is consistent but is also a little rough at times, and events may be difficult to follow outright at certain points in the film. Things start slowly, punctuated by the occasional combat sequences, but focus on developing the background for the movie. We see the defecation hit the oscillation once Descartes Shaman wipes out the derelict space station, and afterwards, the movie takes on a horror-like tone as unusual phenomenon begin occurring. It is not until the appearance of the ELS Ribbons that we know things are truly starting to escalate. After this point, the pace of the story picks up and accelerates: the remainder of the movie becomes an exhilarating ride that remains with the viewer right up until the credits. This manner makes the first portion of the movie a little less exciting than usual, although I feel that this isn’t too unusual for a movie of this type (for instance, War of the Worlds is mostly about running from the aliens until the scene at the farmer’s house). When the ELS replicate the derelict space station, the pace dramatically rises from there; each battle after this one pushes the intensity further than the previous one, almost as if the producers were deliberately trying to surpass the ferocity of the previous battles. At the end of the movie, the epilogue comes as a refreshing moment to viewers- after all that non-stop action, it is relaxing to take in what the world has become since the ELS appeared. The ending sequence is set after the credits, and ends on a highly optimistic note.

  • There is actually quite a bit of English in the movie itself; with English being my second language, I am very impressed with anime that make the effort in getting the grammatical details correct.

  • People may feel a little shafted about the minimal amount of romance in Gundam 00.

From a character growth perspective, each of the main characters have expanded roles suited for the story. There are a few notable aspects I particularly found enjoyable. The reintroduction of Graham Aker as a protagonist was simply glorious; no longer obsessed with surpassing Asura, he is now a mature commander who bravely leads his soliders into battle. Graham brings the Sol Braves in to save the Meisters on their first appearance. Saji may be a civilian again, but he is a lot more decisive now. When the ELS Ribbons appears and makes a move towards Louise, he responds by throwing a chair at Ribbons, and goes to assist the effort against the ELS in his way by helping out with the maintenance of the orbital elevators. This action shows us that he fully understands that fighting does not necessarily mean picking up a weapon and pointing it at someone’s head, and that each action contributes to a cause. The newly introduced characters see little development with respect to their backgrounds, although each character has had their share of distinct and memorable elements in the movie. Descartes Shaman’s initial appearance in the trailer led many to assume he’d be the new antagonist, but he is merely a pure innovator who happens to be a pilot for the ESF. Meena Carmine is the “girl who looks like Nena and clings to Billy like static makes wool cling to a cotton shirt”. Amia Lee will be remembered by everyone as “that girl who got picked up by the ELS”. Finally, all those ESF commanders we see are simply there; I’m sure people don’t mind that, given that nameless commanders are present in every other science fiction film out there. Despite receiving minor development, each of the aforementioned individuals contributed to the story. I’m certain many have heard that there are no small roles, only small actors, something that definitely applies to A Wakening of the Trailblazer.

Meena is a minor character, but that doesn’t change the fact that her interactions with Billy are hilarious.

  • Descartes Shaman reacting to the arrival of the ELS fleet. If this moment was thought to be scary, it is dwarfed by the arrival of a moon-sized space station.

  • For those who insist on the “pics or did not happen” paradigm, Saji does indeed throw a chair at the Ribbons look-alike.

Seiji Mizushima continues working his magic to ensure that the animation quality in the Anno Domini universe is top-of-the-line. When it was released in 2007, Gundam 00 was the first anime to ever be animated in HD. The visuals were incredibly detailed, and set the standard for all anime to come. It comes as no surprise that Awakening of the Trailblazer raises the bar further, only this time, it is in the form of subtle details. Whether it is watching the ELS assimilate a Federation Cruiser or the displays the characters are viewing, every detail is masterfully attended to. Of particular note were the behavior of the ELS Swarms. I understand the complexity involved in building computer models of swarm-based systems, and animating such systems cannot be any easier; when we see the quantities of ELS on screen, we cannot help but be blown away. Their assimilation of whatever they contact is also masterfully portrayed; ranging from behaving like sucrose crystal growth to virulent liquid mercury, the ELS have the appearance of solid metal, but distinctly feel organic when they begin to assimilate their victims en masse. It is the attention to these kinds of details that make the movie worthwhile, and even viewing the movie in 480p, there is little doubt that the quality of the art is astounding. For those doubting me, my images are 720p images condensed into a width of 640 pixels for the sake of convienience. We move from this topic to execution of all the combat scenes. There is no surprise that the battle sequences are what define a Gundam series, separating an excellent series from a good one. In the case of Awakening of the Trailblazer, no words can really describe the action we see on screen whenever a faction sorties. The sheer scope and intensity of the battles give testament to just what humanity is up against, and at times, it feels like I am piloting a mobile suit alongside the characters in the movie.

  • The sheer number of things happening on screen is a sight for eyes to behold. It seems that every moment in the movie exists to be topped by awesome several orders of magnitude in a moment later on.

  • Assimilation is a fate worse than death: subsequently, infected pilots all use trans-am in an effort to escape the pain of assimilation and take out as many ELS as possible.

  • Fans of Hallelujah will rejoice; he will not fail to impress throughout the movie, putting on a spectacular performance using Harute’s arsenal.

My lasting impression of the movie is one that is very well done, but not quite a masterpiece; Seiji Mizushima’s decision to trail-blaze and introduce aliens into the Gundam franchise was very smooth and reasonably portrayed (not all the aliens we may meet will be bipedal vertebrae). Animation and attention to details are of a high grade, making every scene visually pleasing. There are some shortcomings in the movie, especially with respect to execution of the plot. Those who are seeking a emotional journey for the Feldt’s unrequited love will not find anything remotely to the same level as Five Centimeters per Second, but for everyone else looking at the battle sequences, I doubt viewers will be disappointed. Although those new to the Gundam 00 franchise may find themselves lost as events unfold early on in the movie, A Wakening of the Trailblazer is definitely worthwhile for existing Gundam 00 fans, representing a bold new direction in the Gundam franchise.

  • Since December 2010/January 2011, my anime library and collections have since expanded dramatically, well beyond Gundam, although Gundam 00 will hold the distinction of being the first Gundam series I watched. The next series of Gundam-related posts will concern Gundam Unicorn, where I will port all six of the episode talks from the original website to this blog in the weeks before the finale is scheduled to air. Happy reading!

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 A Wakening of the Trailblazer: Epilogue

Centuries ago, a younger Aeolia Schoenberg mentions his plan to evolve humanity to evolve and overcome their differences, and how disappointing it would be for human progress if the first thing they do is start a war once they became space-faring. Fifty years have passed since the conflict between humanity and the ELS. Setsuna had left on a journey to understand more about the ELS, and the flower-like space station is now Earth’s foothold for humanity’s first voyage into deep space. A ship, called the Sumeragi, full of awakened Innovators (including a quick glimpse of Tieria and the Aima Lee, who has since recovered) prepare for their maiden voyage into space. 40% of humans have become Innovators and as they were physically evolved; they were to spearhead the first voyage until the rest of Humanity evolves. Out in the country in a field of flowers lies Marina’s retirement home. Marina has since aged and has lost her sight. She senses someone entering her room and politely asks who is. It is none other than Setsuna; despite the 50 years that had passed, he has not aged in the slightest. He tells Marina how he finally came back and kept his promise, even if it was rather roundabout for both of them. They embrace each other as a token of understanding. Outside, the 00 Qan[T] is resting in the field of flowers, glistening in the sunlight.

  • This is E.A. Ray, the man who assisted Aeolia Schoenberg and formed the basis for Ribbons Almark. Here, he is discussing the roles and ideals of Celestial Being and what their desired fate of the world is to be.

  • With no fewer than eleven monitors and some five computer towers, Aeolia’s personal workstation does not appear dissimilar to those

  • Aeolia looks a little like Ian in his younger days, and reveals that his plan was for humanity to achieve interstellar capabilities after they could advance beyond its current point of evolution, this is a common theme behind a lot of Gundam series, although it was not apparent until the end of the first season.

  • Fifty years after first contact, the world is a radically different place. The ELS’ flower-like space station serves as a space port now, and the ELS have acquired the ability to use the original solar furnaces.

  • This is the Sumeragi, a deep space exploration vessel crewed by Innovators. In the fifty year span, human technology has become more asthetically pleasing to the eye, with gentle curved structures becoming more prevalent over our current preference for angular structures. I posted this image to AnimeSuki a while back, captioning it A rear view of the Sumeragi. Another member jokingly wished it were more fanservice-y

  • The interior of the Sumeragi is very minimalistic; we can assume this to be the bridge of the vessel. By this point, GN technology has been used to develop faster-than-light travel, which uses GN particles to generate quantum pathways not unlike the mode of operation for the Shaw-Fujikawa drives used in HALO.

  • Amia Lee has since recovered from her infection with ELS crystals, and is partially ELS now, as her hair and left eye have metamorphesized to a silver colour.

  • We get a nice view of the holographic table here. I’ve been interested in computers like these, as they offer a lot more functionality than the current inputs offered by keyboards, mice and printers. It appears that the different space suit colours reflect on different roles of the personnel.

  • Tieria glides behind the guy who’s giving the announcement about the Sumeragi’s objectives wearing an irritated expression on his face.

  • Klaus is being interviewed here, having become the captain of this exploration vessel.

  • Marina’s country home is in a field of flowers. Setsuna has made a brief return visit to her.

  • Marina lost her vision with age, but she remains a proficient piano player nonetheless. Following the release of the movie, many fans were clamouring for cam-rips just to see these few moments.

  • ELS Setsuna is now semi-immortal, having not aged a day since he left for the ELS’ homeworld.

  • Setsuna and Marina fully understand each other now; the former has learned to address problems with peaceful and diplomatic approaches, while the latter has seen that Setsuna has indeed found his happiness. They embrace. In the manga, what happens after is that Setsuna calls upon the ELS healing techniques and makes Marina young again. Setsuna and Marina then tie the knot by marrying. To be honest, I don’t care what those opposed are saying, but this is the ending I’m going with.

This is the end of the A Wakening of the Trailblazer, a movie that would eventually receive mixed reactions from critics and the anime community alike. The underlying thematic element throughout the entire Gundam 00 series, that understanding is key to human progress, is hammered home again and again throughout the movie. Proponents of the movie cite its direct message, brilliant visuals and willingness to go where no Gundam has gone before to be its strongest point: indeed, three years after the movie has aired and released on DVD/Blu-ray, no other Gundam franchise has explored the concept of extraterrestrials: the “Unknown Enemy” in Gundam AGE turns out to be human in origin, meaning that even now, A Wakening of the Trailblazer holds the distinction of being the only installment in the Gundam franchise to have integrated extraterrestrials into their story, and arguably, did so in a successful manner.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 A Wakening of the Trailblazer: Part IV

On the battlefield, the ESF forces are slowly folding under the sheer numbers of ELS units. Patrick’s GN-X IV is hit by an ELS probe and is absorbed by the probe. He messages Kati a final goodbye, which causes her to nearly break down, but before the ELS can fully assimilate him, Setsuna’s sharpshooting allows Patrick to break free. Encouraged by Setsuna’s success, the remaining Gundams sortie and engage the ELS forces in face-to-face combat. During the renewed effort, Andrei dies during an ELS Kamikaze attack in an effort to prevent the alien ship from reaching Earth. In order to clear a path to the planetoid, Setsuna activates the Trans-Am system on the 00 Qan[T] and directs a massive beam sabre to the planetoid’s surface in the hopes of cutting a path open. However, this fails, and it is only through Graham’s selflessness (he rams his Brave to the planetoid’s surface in a kamikaze attack) that Setsuna finally gains access to the planetoid’s core. Back in space, Zabanya and Harute enter Trans-Am to combat the endless waves of ELS. Their efforts are to no avail, as the Ptolemios is infected by the ELS and is slowly being consumed. In spite of this, the crew’s trust in Setsuna holds, and thus, they remain on board.

Setsuna, having found his way to the ELS’s core, learns of their origins. The ELS were forced to leave their home world when their system’s star entered the final stages of its life. They became spacefaring and travelled in search of a new home, eventually finding a system to settle in and call their own. They also began to explore other systems, including the solar system, but panicked when they encountered the human Innovators. In an attempt to understand humanity, they had arrived to assimilate and learn about them, but their intentions were not known, leading to open conflict. Sympathetic to their story, Setsuna shares his own memories and thoughts on humanity. Finally reaching mutual understanding, the ELS agree to end hostilities with humanity. Setsuna and the alien race decide more understanding is required between species, and Setsuna decides to open a gateway to the alien world as humanity’s ambassador. As a token of understanding, the planetoid expresses itself as a massive flower, which is seen on Earth by its citizens.

  • A colony-guard type flag fires its linear cannons at the ELS forces before being decimated itself.

  • Patrick apologizes to Kati for being unable to follow her order of not dying, and prepares his unit for Trans-Am in the hopes that he’ll take out the ELS GN-X locked with his unit. Before anything can happen, a single particle beam tears the ELS off and sends Patrick flying into space, denying him of a sacrifice.

  • The 00 Qan[T] soars into battle as Kenji Kawaii’s Final Mission- Quantum Burst plays in its full glory to set the tone for the battle. The song is a brilliant remix of Trans Am Raiser and pieces of Masurao; in fact, most of the best songs on the OST feature remixes of the old songs. Throughout the OST, Kenji Kawaii’s style cycles between his styles in Ip Man and Dark Water.

  • The 00 Qan[T] is capable of projecting holographic images, and here, Tieria shows Setsuna their destination at the ELS mothership’s core.

  • The 00 Qan[T]’s arrival instills a new sense of hope in the Meisters. Lockon deploys the Zabanya’s bits again and powers on his holographic targeting system, which is radically different than the simple CRT screen the units from Cosmic Era have.

  • Unlike its predecessors, Zabanya dispenses with a separate rifle controller, integrating their functionality directly into the controllers. The use of a holographic targeting system allows Lockon a wider field of view, making this configuration superior to the rifle controller; the full-screen targeting display allows him to maintain full awareness of the battlefield.

  • The rifle bits are stored inside the shield bits; when deployed, the shield bits provide cover, while the rifle bits clevery remain behind them and fire. Using this tactic, Lockon wipes out a massive number of ELS. I’m guessing ideas for the movie generation units were developed in advanced, and then scaled back for the second season; had Celestial Being deployed Gundams with this capability, the season would have been over in less than an episode. Even the Reborns would have lost to Setsuna in a matter of moments.

  • Allelujah and Marie are also empowered by the 00 Qan[T]’s arrival. Hallelujah returns, and together with Soma’s quantum brainwaves, they activate the Marute system.

  • Named after a angel, the Marute System is a MS combat mode that works in parallel with the Harute’s OS. When both Hallelujah and Allelujah combine their latent quantum abilities, their abilities can be extended into the Harute’s frame through the Marute System. The crown forehead and under its primary optics reveal four additional eyes that emit a red hue.

  • This was a long awaited moment: as soon as Hallelujah activated the system, the audience is treated well to the Marute absolutely demolishing the battlefield. On the whole, I am very pleased that Lockon and Allelujah are receiving more screen-time, in contrast to their roles in the second season.

  • The Marute deploys all of its Scissor Bits simultaneously: stored within Harute’s GN Cannons, the bits are essentially pairs of flying scissors. The blades are lined with the same materials as the blades of the GN Sword Rifles, allowing them to store large amounts of GN Particles to greatly increase their damage potential, and operate by bifurcating enemy targets.

  • Zabanya is seen dual wielding rifles, something I have not seen since 007 GoldenEye, where it was possible to dual wield sniper rifles, M16s and even rocket launchers.

  • Zabanya organising its bits into an array to fire a devastating shot. Each diamond will amplify a shot to match the output of the Virtue’s GN Bazooka.

  • At one point, people thought that he particle blast came from the planetoid itself, but the beam is actually from the Zabanya’s firing in the above configuration.

  • With an ELS-free path cleared for him, Setsuna soars towards the ELS mothership. Upon seeing the movie, a handful of fans expressed disappointment that the 00 Qan[T] only appeared during the last section of the movie and participated in very little combat.

  • On my original website, I had no words to describe these final moments. Admittedly, there is a challenge in porting articles from the old site to here, but for the most part, I’ve left most of the original content untouched since they are up to standard.

  • The Braves are amongst some of the most well-equipped units in the 00 universe, and illustrate fully how far technology has come since Graham’s first encounter with Setsuna in his Union Flag.

  • Graham gives Setsuna covering fire and words of encouragement: “Go, young man! You’ll live to blaze a trail towards the future!”

  • Hesitant to fire, Setsuna dodges everything the ELS throw at him while attempting to find a point of entry into the super-structure.

  • However, necessity soon forces Setsuna to return fire: it turns out there’s a beam rifle mounted inside the shield, although the MG model kit isn’t flexible enough to mimic this scene.

  • Activating the 00 Qan[T]’s Trans Am, the Gundam is able to generate a massive beam large enough to put a gash on the mother ship’s surface.

  • This image is given to illustrate the differences in scale. Gundam 00 began pushing the envelope of what is ‘realistic’ for a GN system back during season two, and by the time the movie is premiered, realism is discarded in favour of thrilling visuals.

  • The ELS mother ship begins regenerating, precluding Setsuna’s entry. In his final moments, Graham, who has been hit and is slowly being assimilated, decides to charge through and create an opening for the future’s sake.

  • So passes Graham Aker, one of the most capable and well-known pilots in the entire Gundam franchise.

  • Setsuna is unable to find words for Graham after the latter’s final, heroic act creates a large opening for him to enter the mothership.

  • Personally, I’m not quite sure how a spherical explosion would result in a cylindrical hole in the surface, but I’ll set that aside for the present.

  • The interior of the mothership feels like a vast sea of neurons.

  • The Ptolemios is hit, too, and slowly undergoes assimilation. However, Sumeragi and the others believe in Setsuna, and decide to continue fighting. Viewers with an eye for detail will notice that the nebulae that formed the background are more or less absent for much of the space sequences, implying that both the space battles from the second season occurred further from the planet.

  • Lockon continues fighting on despite a massive gash in the cockpit of his suit. Lyle had proven himself to be a worthy Meister, but his abilities truely shine in the movie.

  • Even as the 00 Qan[T] approaches, the situation on the surface worsens as the ELS gradually overwhelm the last of the remaining forces defending the planet. In spite of all this, everyone in Celestial Being stakes their trust in Setsuna’s capacity to negotiate with the ELS.

  • A massive piece of the ELS breaks through the central command center. According to the Art of War, war can be won by removing the opposition’s will to fight. Assuming that to hold, the ELS have seemingly shifted the battle once more in their favour.

  • The Celestial Being space station begins undergoing assimilation, as well, with the sheer number of ELS probes overwhelming the human forces.

  • Massive ELS branches reach menacingly towards the Earth. I personally found their branching behaviors similar to the Tarsians in Voices of a Distant Star.

  • In an actual biological system, neurons are packed much more closely together.

  • Closer inspection of the UI where the Quantum system is activated reveals, strangely enough, the buttons for purchasing what appear to be Gunpla parts.

  • Derived off the Trans-Am Burst System, the Quantum system is meant to expand the conscious thoughts and feelings of an Innovator, such as Setsuna F. Seiei. Upon its activation, the GN Drives behind the shield and in the torso section are physically joined for direct particle generation – a second phase of the Twin Drive System. While its effects are far stronger than that of the 00 Raiser’s systems, further details surrounding this system were never elaborated upon.

  • This brings me to the point where I would like to note that almost immediately following the A Wakening of the Trailblazer‘s release on DVD/BD, English translations from official sources stopped, and all remaining discussions have been limited to what fans have been saying.

  • Talk of the Gundam 00 movie has technically ended: most fans of the franchise consider it to be a reasonable, if unconventional, installment in the series, although the occasional naysayer may still have complaints about not understanding the movie despite claiming to understand it. These individuals are rare, though.

  • Somewhere, someone said that the star the ELS home-world orbited was a red dwarf: they are mistaken, since red dwarfs have a theoretical lifespan exceeding the age of the universe and are predicted to fade out rather than become giant stars. How do I know this? A long time ago, I loved reading about all things astronomical, and some things still endure: for instance, I still can recall that the sun is a main sequence class G star, and that the stellar classifications for stars are O, B, A, F, G, K, M, with O and B class stars being blue super giants, while red stars are classified under class M.

  • Tieria and Setsuna finally learn of the ELS’ origins, and come to the conclusion that they were not aggressive beings. The ELS could only learn and understand other worlds through assimilation, and reacted violently when they were confronted with Quantum brainwaves, something they had never seen previously. Thus, the entire war was over a misunderstanding, much like how some of the wars in human history were instigated because of poor communications.

  • A small, Earth-like planet is assimulated quickly by the ELS as their new homeworld. Once they had that, they continued to explore the universe. On many levels, it’s a good thing the ELS are not anything like the flood, despite their similarities. For one, their central consciousness is not an aggressive being that only aims to consume all life in the known universe.

  • Milena loses control of her emotions as Ian and Linda’s room are infected by ELS crystals.

  • After dumping the GN Sword V, Setsuna prepares to teleport to the ELS’ home world.

  • Teleportation is still firmly in the realm of science fiction right now: there are no means to transport matter from one location to another. Some theories suggest that teleportation can be accomplished by storing the information of an object at one point, then transmitting that information to a destination, although the implications behind this approach would be that the object coming out of the destination is a copy of the original, and that the original would be lost forever.

  • Despite having suffered immense damages, Lockon continues fighting on. Elsewhere, the Harute has been so extensively damaged that Allelujah and Marie are forced to abandon it.

  • Swarms of ELS reach as far as the orbital elevators even as Saji continues contributing to the defensive efforts.

  • The 00 Qan[T] can indeed teleport at the will of the pilot, and Setsuna uses it here to head for the ELS’ homeworld in the hopes of learning more about them.

  • After nearly half an hour of non-stop action, laser fire finally comes to a close once Setsuna finishes his task.

  • The ELS, having reached mutual understanding with humanity, shift their mothership into the form of a massive flower.

  • This final scene of Marina gazing at the massive orbital flower concludes the movie proper.

The movie itself has now concluded, and with it, the main body of these posts. By all stretches, the ending was outrageous, bold and entertaining , which was surprising considering how the 00 Universe had maintained a great deal of realism back in the TV series. The deviation from realism eventually led me to consider A Wakening of the Trailblazer as a solid movie that lacked the attributes of a masterpiece on several grounds. I enjoyed A Wakening of the Trailblazer thoroughly, but it was and remains something I would only recommend to fans of the AD continuity: much of the storyline is dependent on material covered in the TV series, so to enjoy A Wakening of the Trailblazer fully, one would need to cover seasons one and two first. However, for long-time fans of Gundam 00, the movie is two hours of awesomeness.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 A Wakening of the Trailblazer: Part III

The ELS finally reveal their main body; a massive planetoid 3000 kilometres in diameter and a fleet of close to a million vessels. The ELS begin their course for Earth, forcing the ESF to declare a state of war. They deploy every unit stationed and place these as a final defensive line against the ELS forces. The first strike by the ESF is initially successful at demolishing some of the ELS vessels, but this is short-lived; the ELS manage to replicate GN Fields and deploy them to halt the effectiveness of the missile bombardment. As the combat escalates, Andrei, Patrick and Graham immediately sortie to take on the ELS. Even Saji goes as a volunteer to assist with maintenance of space facilities. The situation worsens as the ELS replicate hardware to repel the ESF’s weapons; even the superlaser mounted on Celestial Being is ineffectual. Despite the increasing bleakness of the situation, Kati Mannequin resolves not to lose hope, and tells her units to continue resisting the ELS. Despite the combined ESF/Celestial Being effort to repel the ELS assault, the ELS manage to break through their positions and begin to assimilate all the technology in their path, allowing them to take on the form and function of all human technology.

On the Ptolemios, Setsuna remains in a critical state from his previous ordeal. With her emotions breaking forth, Feldt runs to his side and grasps his hand. Still in his coma, Setsuna enters a flashback, where older members of Celestial Being remind him of his motivation, and what his fight is for. He sees the flower Feldt gave him years ago and grabs makes a grab for it. Finally regaining his strength and resolve, Setsuna returns to consciousness to a tearful Feldt at his side; she hugs him warmly. With his objective in mind, Setsuna boards the newly built 00 Qan[T] and roars off onto the battlefield. Feldt returns to bridge, and is asked why she didn’t go with Setsuna, to which she replies that she had to let Setsuna go to fulfill his destiny.

  • That’s no moon…that’s a space station! Those who thought the ELS fleet from earlier was something will see the envelope being pushed even further; at around 3000 km wide this is the ELS mothership.

  • The ESF President’s advisors discuss the appearance of the new planetoid, as well as what emergency precautions need to be taken.

  • The ELS differ radically compared to the aliens of Independence Day: the latter had no intention of being understood, and were compared to locusts in that they only wished to consume a planet’s resources and move to a different world once the resources were exhausted.

  • Kati looking over schematics of the ELS probes in what was once Ribbon’s command center during the previous battle.

  • Marina and Shirin discuss the events that have unfolded recently, and how the government is trying to secure the best possible solution: to get people into shelters while fighting for humanity’s right to survive.

  • Civilians are moved to shelters as the ESF forces prepare to launch a massive counterattack against the approaching ELS forces.

  • The superlaser sees deployment again, although this time, it is on the side of the protagonists. It was capable of wiping out a majority of the A-Law’s fleet, and is said to be able to hollow out an asteroid fields in seconds. However, whether or not it has the power to wipe out a planetoid 3000 km wide has yet to be seen.

  • This screenshot is a scene depicted in one of the trailers and was included for completeness.

  • The completed 00 Qan[T] is delivered on board the Ptolemios. Sumeragi states that this is the last mission that Celestial Being needs to complete.

  • GN missiles are fired in a massive salvo reminiscent of the final scene in Independence Day, where squadrons of F/A-18s launch missiles at an alien vessel over Area 51.

  • The central command center for the last battle occurs here. On the main monitor used to track the battle’s progress, the two opposing armies are lined up, like pieces of a chess board.

  •  The first salvo reaches the front-line ELS vessels and blow them from the sky. As soon as the first of the missiles are fired, the final battle begins: the intensity tops anything seen previously, and that is saying something.

  • However, subsequent salvos are met with the same fate as the missiles from Independence Day: the ELS manage to duplicate the function of powerful GN fields for their vessels and repel the missiles effortlessly.

  • The mobile suits begin sortieing after the missiles are fired. One of the aspects about the battles in the movie that impressed were the sheer scales of everything; there is activity everywhere on the screen during this last battle, and it is virtually impossible to keep track of everything. The experience was amplified in the theatres, where it felt like one could really be hit by stray laser fire

  • Andrei’s GN-X IV is equipped with a beam rifle and large GN sword similar to the one wielded by the Gaddess. Patrick’s unit is equipped with two binders to offer him twice the defensive capabilities.

  • Graham addresses his Sol Brave pilots prior to their joining the battle. His only order for them is not to die.

  • As the first time extraterrestrials make an appearance in the Gundam Franchise, their portrayal is very well done. Unlike the use of genertic ‘green men’, the movie stretches things by giving rise to a species that operates with a hive mind and assimilates other beings to learn. These ideas are not new, but refreshing from the humanoid aliens we’ve seen in Independence Day and War of the Worlds.

  • The superlaser’s first shot pierces the ELS mothership and does some damage to it, but doesn’t nearly have the same destructive firepower of the Death Stars.

  • A “no-sell” in professional wrestling occurs where one exhibits no reaction at all to an opponent’s offensive moves: it becomes an intimidating factor if one uses their trump card, only to have it seemingly have no impact. The ESF forces here have fired off their most powerful weapon at the ELS mothership, but the latter keeps on advancing as though nothing has happened.

  • When the times are desperate, any unit that is combat capable will be fielded, accounting for why this space-type Tieren is here. The same held for WWII, where old biplanes were deployed with the newer Spitfires and Hurricanes when the first aerial battles broke out between the Nazi Germany and British air forces.

  • The formation of ELS mobile suits was one of the most amusing and surprising moments in the movie. These suits are the source of the purple particles that were so prevalent in the trailers, and have approximately the same combat capabilities as the original GN-X IVs deployed by the ESF. Subsequent forms of the ELS suits are a little more refined, and lack the terminator-like appearance of the unit shown here.

  • Patrick’s dual wing binders serve him well during the course of the chaotic battle. With the ELS now in possession of their own GN weapons, the ESF forces have their hands tied. It’s a little unusual to see how quickly the ELS were able to understand GN technology to that extent in such a short period of time. This was foreshadowed earlier when one of the Harute’s missiles become assimilated and begin emission of purple particles.

  • The Gagas are re-equipped with laser cannons to be actually useful, although they are still sunk in massive numbers.

  • Graham’s Sol Braves arrive to the scene of the battle and immediately join in on the festivities. The commander type sports a blue finish and uses a pair of GN-Tau drives to increase its performance, although these drives are not synchronised and therefore is not classified as a twin drive unit.

  • The intensity of the battle is exemplified in the quantity of particle beams filling the space to the extent where even the highly trained Sol Brave pilots cannot dodge all of them; indeed, we see a few Braves get shot down during the course of the battle.

  • By Sun Tzu’s standards, Graham Aker is an excellent commander, caring deeply for the soldiers under his command and leading them courageously into combat.

  • The Celestial Being space station’s superlaser doesn’t feel that super anymore, as the ELS conjour up  a shield powerful enough to deflect it. Unless the ESF engineers had accidentally downgraded it during the two-year time skip, this is a subtle note at the proportions and scale the ELS possess. Josef Stalin himself said that quantity is a quality all its own, which certainly applies to the ELS.

  • The Strike Freedom’s title of having the greatest capacity to track and engage multiple targets is lost with little question to the Zabanya. Lockon uses Zabanya’s full arsenel liberally througout the course of the battle, raining particle fire onto the ELS for the sake of humanity’s survival.

  • Despite the full efforts of the ESF fleet and Celestial Being, the space station’s superlaser is hit, forcing Kati to order the weapon’s self destruction to prevent it from falling into ELS knowledge.

  • For those who are curious, Ishikawa Chiaki’s Mou Nanimo Kowaku Nai, Kowaku wa Nai plays as the superlaser begins to break up. The song suits the moment, even more so when I looked up the lyrics’ English equivalent, as humanity decides to continue the fight for their right to survive.

  • Andrei realises that an ELS vessel has broken ranks and is charging towards the Earth. He activates Trans-Am on his own unit and damages the ELS vessel, but his unit becomes infected in the process.

  • The GN Drive on Andrei’s GN Drive are pushed over the maximum levels for safe operation. Much like how vehicles have a maximum land speed, they usually cannot be operated safely if they are pushed over a certain speed. Recalling that GN Tau drives could overload and explode if they were abused, it’s likely that the OS in mobile suits with a Tau Drive has a built-in indicator to denote safe operating levels.

  • Andrei’s decision to scrifice himself to prevent the ELS vessel from reaching the planetary surface was an unexpected fate, but allowed him to atone for his actions and live as the soldier Sergi always wanted him to be; he died to protect people, even if it is not immediately apparent. In this sense, his death was not meaningless and was not a karmic death, although not every fan will share this viewpoint.

  • The probe finally detonates in a ball of purple light, contrasting explosions we’ve seen thus far in the series. In Gundam 00, most explosions behave as if they were in an atmosphere, and diffuse randomly due to the slight differences in air pressures at the center of the explosion. With a near-vacuum in space, explosions are perfectly spherical.

  • Feldt calls out to Setsuna as he writhes in the recovery room.

  • As his coma progresses, Setsuna’s consciousness is taken to a few places, including Azadistan, where Shirin is participating in a humanitarian effort to assist those in need. A delivery automaton is present to the right of the image, suggesting that the ESF has progressed a good deal from the days when we saw the same automaton gunning civilians down.

  • Marina accepts a flower from a girl who is very pleased to have met her inside the palace. Meanwhile, even Saji joins the effort against the ELS. Despite choosing not to fight by taking up arms, he nonetheless assists the effort by performing the maintainance of the orbital platforms.

  • Setsuna is able to see everyone at their combat stations, save Feldt, who is currently with him. The scene fades, and he encounters Lichty, Christina and Neil. They impart on him the reasons that he has to keep fighting, and not let their deaths be in vein. Setsuna sees the flower that Feldt had given him two years previously. He reaches for it, realising its purpose.

  • This is the rather famous scene that led to speculations that Feldt and Setsuna enter a relationship. While Setsuna was making a grab for the flower in his dream, Feldt had taken his hand unto hers and grasps it. Her emotions and feelings come through to Setsuna, who finally gains the strength to exit from his coma.

  • Feldt is very grateful that Setsuna is conscious once again and embraces him warmly. The latter immediately heads to the 00 Qan[T].

  • Tieria thanks Milena for helping construct a compact VEDA terminal in the 00 Qan[T] to help process the vast quantities of information that will be present when interfacing with the ELS again.

  • Mileina declares her love for Tieria, regardless of his physical form, was one of the most heartwarming moment in the movie. When watching this, people in the theatre collectively expressed joy and, after which they laughed at Ian’s reaction. This is one of the most heartwarming scenes in the movie, and is delivered extremely well. I myself saw this one coming, as Milena once said in her sleep to Tieria: “Don’t fall in love with me”.

  • Ian and Linda complete their work on the 00 Qan[T] as it awaits its pilot. The cockpit has been moved back into the abdomen region, and the head resembles the Exia’s. The 00 Qan[T]’s design is a combination of the best features from the Exia and 00 Raiser. Again, look very carefully at the chest orb, and notice it reflecting the hanger inside the Ptolemios.

  • Linda is pleased to hear Milena’s announcement, sharply contrasting Ian’s response.

  • The HUD of the 00 Qan[T] is a powerful interface for managing the 00 Qan[T]’s most powerful functions. It has an almost alien feel to it due to its shape, which is, to some extent, ironic, because the main antagonists in the movie are extraterrestrials. I remember an evening where a friend and I discussed the future of computing technologies after  showed him this image, and he showed me a 3D HUD from Mass Effect 2.

  • The idea of integrating a holographic representation of an individual into a Gundam is one I have looked forward to seeing for a very long time. My requests to get an image of Setsuna using Belldandy in the 00 Qan[T] fell on deaf ears, as I was not that proficient with Adobe Photoshop at the time. I am more skilled now, although at present, I’m occupied by other things and probably won’t have time to actually produce such an image.

  • Feldt is able to let go of Setsuna because she understands him. She assures everyone that she is alright.

  • We are treated to a spectacular shot of launch deck III opening on the Ptolemios II while it is still firing an unending stream of particle beams and GN missiles.

  • Unlike the 00 Gundam, the 00 Qan[T] is fully operational without any additional equipment. In the movie, every new Gundam is equipped with remote weapons of some kind: Zabanya has its rifle and shield bits, Harute wields the scissor bits, Raphael had its two remote GN cannons and Seravee II, and 00 Qan[T] uses six sword bits. According to movie sources, the sword bits on the 00 Qan[T] surpass the overall performance of the mobile-suit sized fangs the Gadelaza used.

  • The 00 Qan[T]’s design varied from the drawing board to the cinema screens. It originally had a slightly different design and colour scheme, but that was changed in subsequent renderings of it in the trailer. The trailers I saw during the summer showed the 00 Qan[T] shows the 00 Qan[T] deploying all of its sword bits, but in the movie, the bits remain mounted on the unit to conserve particles.

The events leading up to and during the final battle are beyond words to describe. So grand in scope and scale is the final battle that a great many viewers considered the A Wakening of the Trailblazer to be the most solid anime movie of 2010, even edging out The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi as the best of that year. This is saying something: having seen both movies, I consider Haruhi to be a remarkable work that can be considered to be a masterpiece in terms of story. If asked to choose between the two movies, back in 2010, I would have picked A Wakening of the Trailblazer any day, but now, I would be sitting on the fence. In this third act, humanity unites under one to fight for survival, but despite putting up an impressive fight, the ELS’ overwhelming numbers slowly turn the battle away from humanity. Upon watching this for the first time, I was on the edge of my seat, observing every moment with great suspense and excitement. Before I continue on to the next act, I note that the practise of dividing movies into acts is purely for my convenience, and in the Gundam 00 movie’s case, I have done so based on different points in the movie.