Pay attention, all you slavering mecha junkies - there’s a new Gundam in town, and it just smashed down the door, did your mum, and plundered the deepest recesses of your intellect without so much as a smirk. Gundam 00 S2 means mecha bigger than ever, careening across the screen in angled close-ups, swerving, whirling, dazzling acrobatics, and an eye-boggling, mind-melting style that would make even Van Damme break out in a sweat. Indeed, the show’s entrance is explosively potent and, with more ‘bang bang’ per minute than a machine gun, the action hits home again and again – constantly, persistently, awesomely.
Well, that’s the good news.
The bad news is that Gundam 00 S2 struggles to matter in almost every other sense. Despite the mighty promise of the first season, the plot here turns out to be the lowest common denominator, solely constructed to facilitate the battles and comprising the default menu of political mecha ingredients. It offers genetically superior human beings (tick!); a couple of tragic deaths (tick! tick!); and I vaguely remember some cobbled-together stuff about everyone fighting for world peace (tick!). On the other hand, delicate dilemmas regarding the effects of war and terrorism are manhandled or quickly bundled out of the way before they can raise eyebrows, and the character developments are, frankly, as thin as Setsuna’s spandex.
Luckily, Gundam 00 S2 seeps eye candy out of its very pores. While such insubstantiality would cripple an average-looking show from the onset, Gundam 00 S2’s action manages to excite for a remarkable length of time. Inevitably, however, just when Gundam 00 S2 should escalate the political conflicts in the last handful of episodes to bring events to a satisfying climax, the narrative wheezes and strains instead. The clichés become distractingly evident, the highfalutin speeches do not stand up to scrutiny, and there are simply no big surprises to make up for the hours of ‘wait for it’ build-up. Gundam 00 S2 may set the standard for raw machismo, but its action still lacks the stamina to entertain solidly across twenty-five episodes.
Nevertheless, the main conflict remains coherent and tackles a recognisable sci-fi question about the evolution of the human race. After the debacle present in other Gundam shows, where ignorant teenagers preach contradictory philosophies, Gundam 00 S2’s barefaced approach feels refreshingly unpretentious. For example, instead of stammering the usual drivel about war being wrong all the time, Setsuna learns to embrace fighting as a valuable tool when nothing else is left. While hardly a profound position to take, it’s still believable and respectable enough.
And on that note, so is the story.
Gundam 00 S2’s visuals set the benchmark for 2009 – in sheer loudness, if not in style. The Gundams are in-your-face, garish, bulky, have immense accessories that weigh more than a house, and in a real fight would be about as helpful as teaching an Elephant to carry out brain surgery. But this is not real life. This is Gundam. While everything may be inflated beyond believable proportions, it just looks so damn cool. For instance, I’m confused about the engineering behind the Exia’s potato sack cape in the first episode (doesn’t go with the blue), but in that notoriously windy outer space environment, it makes for a spectacular entrance.
Following Gundam 00’s superb opening theme ‘Ash Like Snow’, there come a host of brand new, and equally excellent themes to bookend the episodes. From the rocky first OP ‘Hakanaku mo Towa no Kanashi’ by UVERworld to the r’n’b-styled ‘Trust You’ by Yuna Itou, each one is suitably rousing and worth owning as a single.
The score doesn’t disappointing either. Imbuing the events with that all-important punchy atmosphere, it predominantly consists of riffs, drums, and DISTORTION. With the right sound system, picking out a few luxuriant choral pieces and instrumentals should also be no effort.
On the other hand, there’s little to laud about the characters, which have disappointing conclusions considering their initial potential. Offering bland dialogue and commonplace motivations, their performances here are barely convincing and universally underwhelming. The first problem is that there are too many of them. At a quick count, the cast includes four Gundam pilots, seven or more Innovators (superhuman evildoers intent on taking over the world, and distinguishable by their gaudy hair colours), the Ptolemy’s crew of ten or so, twice that number of military actors, and a handful of deadwood characters from the old season which have no meaningful role except to pop up and surprise everyone.
The next problem is the minimal plot space in which they can develop. Hemmed in by a simplistic plot and outstanding action, they end up following predictably static or one-dimensional paths. For example, Graham Aker blindly hunts for vengeance (irrespective of developments, revelations etc) due to the losses he suffered in the first season. He seems to have little other interest in the central battle except to emerge at random points in the plot and demand Setsuna drop everything to fight him. His single plus point is a new bushido persona, which grants him a mildly amusing fanatical edge. Similarly, the Innovators are particularly odious as their contrary behaviour has no convincing basis. Their leader Ribbons Almark’s megalomania wears thin after a while – his argument for wanting to rule everything runs along corny tautological lines: ‘I am better, so I am better!’
A minority of characters do stand out for undergoing personal journeys, and demonstrate at least a modicum of depth. Setsuna F. Seiei, the central hero, has matured in the interim years and evinces a calm conviction in stead of his dead stoicism of the first season. Key to his sympathetic development are his harrowing beginnings as a fanatical boy soldier; Gundam 00 S2 proficiently fleshes out his psychology in regards to this, transforming him into one of the most admirable Gundam protagonists in recent years. He shows the most potential for unique growth, and the series would have benefited much from dedicating more time to him than it actually does. In a lesser sense, Saji and Louise, despite their nondescript romance, have an interesting ‘caught in the middle’ role; their more proactive approach here leads to some of the meatier developments in the story.
If possible, watch Gundam 00 S2 in HD with the biggest LCD and the most obscene surround sound system available. It deserves nothing less. This testosterone-fuelled light display comes blasting onto the scene like few mecha shows in recent years, delivering a grunting, fist-pumping performance to leave any action fan thoroughly shaken and stirred. If you like your anime sexy, hard, and rip-roaringly marvellous, then feast your eyes on this. Just don’t expect much else.
Let the inspection begin.
At this point, it’s borderline common consensus for consumers that if nothing else, the second season of Gundam 00 does not surpass the first. While many feel it's a worthy enough sequel, I must strongly disagree: Gundam 00 Second Season is a mangled piece of machinery from beginning to end. The only salvageable aspect would be the fairly good production values that carried over from the first season, with some flashy mech fights and nice character designs. There is even less awkward CGI, and there is a notable improvement mecha designs. Additionally, the few new tracks they added in for the OST are pretty decent, notably the episode preview theme, though it isn’t up to Kenji Kawai’s standard when compared to say, Ghost in The Shell or Musekinin Kanchou Tylor.
This is where the positive reports end, however.
This virus-infected scrap heap wages a war against roughly every character from season 1 that survived.There are a few that thankfully come out relatively unscathed. There's Ali al Saachez and Ribbons Almark who pretty much remain stagnant. We have Colonel Smirnov aka the only decent character in this show aside from Saachez, and Setsuna, the marginally more fine-tuned Heero Yui, who is as static as ever. Even Nena who is a disappointment who largely suffers from this same fate despite us largely being meant to sympathize with her after what she went through at the end of the first season, is somehow one of the few safe characters here. Now for the rest.
Promoted to main secondary character status, Saji becomes an intolerable Kira Yamato knockoff for half the season (as if that invincible beam spam machine wasn't dreadful enough) and then becomes eerily similar to a bog standard Gundam protagonist. Louise, who while traumatized and in grief over her family’s circumstances in the first season, suddenly after the 5 year time skip that introduces this season, is a revenge-driven lunatic who borders on insanity. There is no concrete, justifiable through line between the two as she may as well be two completely different people. People do grow and change over the course of years, but there is always something to it, unlike here, especially when Louise becomes a terrible human being who gets nothing for her actions. Allelujah, one of the main characters of both seasons gets sidelined so hard he barely even exists most of the time after the first 6 episodes here. Marie, or Soma Pierez rather, goes all over the place at the drop of a hat, making her downright irritating. Keep in mind, nearly all of these characters are integral to the show. Even Gundam SEED Destiny, the same show that downright ruined Cagalli (one of the best characters in SEED) didn’t go this far. That is the same series that solidified Kira Yamato’s Gary Stu status and made him stagnant, and put Athrun on repeat from his season 1 arc. This speaks volumes, especially when not everyone who got damaged appeared in this complaint. Would anyone actually refer to this as a proper update?
The new cast is catastrophic as well. There are the innovade cronies that mean nothing (think Geass R2’s Knights of the Round, but even more irrelevant). There are other pathetic redshirts that thankfully get axed. The new Lockon Stratos is exceedingly terrible as well. For example, despite him wanting to be as far removed from his brother as possible (not even touching on how much of an asspull this character is), he pilots a borderline identical mech, and assumes the exact same role as him! It is almost laughable how stupid he is! There was only one remotely decent new addition here, who is about as conniving as Ribbons himself. However, the most drastic virus this mechanical monstrosity of a series, would be Andrei Smirnov. He is unspeakably intolerable and moronic, from beginning to end, and gets no real punishment from any of the things he does. He is one of the worst characters in the entire franchise, but delving specifically into why would be spoiler territory. If only this was an intentional showcase of how war can bring about the worst in people, but as it stands, it is a preachy, empty spectacle of intolerable husks in human shells, disassembling each other for the fate of a poorly-constructed world
Preachy was a peculiar word to use in that last sentence, at least, for those not overly familiar with Gundam. This franchise has generally been about using magnificently designed war machines piloted by people who are largely unstable in some way to demonstrate the terrors of war on a physical, societal, and psychological level. With titans of destruction looking better than last time but not up to par with any other mainline installment, 00 “makes up for this” with how direct its main characters about how “violence is bad”, “killing is wrong”, and that “people just need to understand each other better”. The series goes as far as to rip off the very worst portions of Zeta Gundam, the final few episodes where newtype abilities reach to the point of interacting with the dead in order to “understand people better”. At least SEED Destiny has the courtesy of ripping off an iconic portion of Zeta Gundam with the Four Murasame business (these fucking names, man). This series apes from that particular set of blueprints, less directly, with Anew, the lifeless Four clone of this series (also arguably the worst), but taking from that other aspect of Zeta, therefore ripping off an iconic series for extended periods of time twice over throughout the entirety of the second half, is downright unforgivable! It barely even matters at this point that there isn’t a battleship in space big enough to host all the flaws in the script. This second installment’s ultimate flaw, aside from being insultingly and relentlessly preachy is being one of the biggest pieces of plagiarism I've witnessed!
What a scrap pile this heap of a season turned out to be. Even with the major errors present within the first season, there was room for this second season to a newer model that worked off of what came before for a well-built conclusion. It may look clean and shiny, but this junk heap was plagued with critical malfunctions throughout. To think they kept this line of defective machinery going with a sequel. It isn’t the worst product the Studio Sunrise factory assembly line cobbled together, not with defective equipment such as Gundam ZZ having been sold to mass markets years prior, but even SEED Destiny is a more well-oiled machine. A faulty product that is short-circuits out of the box is of no use here.
WARNING, after looking back on this review I got carried away and my language is a little bad. So read at your own discretion, im not to blame if you are insulted or anything.
if you want to see my review of Gundam as a whole I will have a note for it. Check it out if you want a look at some of the great things and largest flaws of Gundam.
Another Gundam. In general, I really like gundam. It has moments scenes and themes that make me get into it, but there are also things that I obviously dont like about it. The funny things is that they are so much alike, so the things I do and dont like about them are pretty much the same.
9.5, that is a damn fine score. The only other 9.5 I have given at this time is Guilty Crown and that one was damn good too. 9.5 means that it was barely short of perfection in my opinion. So lets hop in because I really want to talk about it XD.
Story: Intense, Code Geass was even more intense and maybe that is why it got a 10 where this one didnt. It was insanity. This anime will keep you enthralled. If you are an action anime guy like me then you will like this. It never ends. Really awesome. Always watch in HD.
Animation: 10, boom, done. Of course there are OVAs and things that look nicer, but I honestly dont count those. Dont ask why, but I dont. This anime got a 10 in animation. My word is supreme SUCK IT UP, just kidding. My opinion is my own and thats the way it should be. I liked the animation a lot.
Sound: Nice and purtty. The op and end were all awesome expect one of the last ops. music was great in the anime. It got me in the mood for the anime.
Characters: OOOOOOOH, 10. The characters were awesome. The characters rarely didnt make sense. Most of the characters had very strong personalities. I dont mean radical or anything, simply that they didnt sway. Their identities were extremely solid, and I really really liked that. Also you just had to love the characters. However not in the same way as Pshyco Pass. I mean lets be honest who here actually likes Ali Al-Saachez? NO ONE HE WAS A [email protected]@rd, but he played one of the most peeeeerfect bad guys you have ever f***ing seen. Every role played here made this anime mother frickin fantastic. FURTHERMORE, the Gundam Meisters were AWESOME. At the beggining of the anime you are reminded of Gundam Wing. A small number of elite badass mothers with a desire to rip some serious @$$ and take names. BUT THEY WERE EVEN BETTER THEN THE GUNDAM WING DUDES!!! In Wing they had some really lame moments. "Why am I fighting, this is so wrong". SHUT UP KATRA YOU ARE A BITCH!! The Gundam 00 Gundam Meisters knew EXACTLY what they were fighting for and they didnt sway half as much as the Wing guys. They were solid, strong. They had their weaknesses, but that was part of their identity and their past. Otherwise they were completely awesome. I loved them all. Some of the greatest characters EVAR. BUT WAIT WHERE THE HELL WAS THE MASKED MAN?!?!?!?!? Its ok though, they still had Haro XD
Overall: If you like action
If you like mecha
If you like gundam
If you like epic stories
waste no more time
Go watch it.
The anime pretty much re-establishes its cast and its more central on the characters this time as opposed to the politics. I thought the politics of the first season were a nice twist and offered something different in comparison to the other Gundam series where they don't directly state modern day politics. But due to the events in this series, that factor has been conveniently written out. But does it make it up by being more character centric? In some ways, it can. But I still personally feel that the 25 episode format is still a major weakness for this series, especially if its a Gundam one. Since most of the major characters are back, the story is also allowed to be more fast paced. But the problems that it gave season 1 are still presented here. I felt they could have used Mr. Bushido more, as well as Ali Al-Saachez. This series does have a handful of characters and the 25 episode format just doesn't give any external characters such as those two the presence I felt they needed and deserved. And like season 1, I just felt it really rushed things and I felt with more episodes, we could have seen things much longer and I think it would have been given proper presentation. Not only that, I felt with more episodes, i think we could have seem more of Seraphim as well in addition to Nadleeh in season 1. With 15 to 25 more episodes, I think 00, especially season 2, could have reached its full potential.
I have nothing much to add about the art and animation that I've already said in my review of season 1, but I'll acknowledge a few things. I do like how the series makes Setsuna properly older by not just making him taller, but they made his face properly thinner, and they spreaded out his hair a bit, and made his eyes somewhat smaller. So I thought that was a descent touch to make him look 20 or 21, or however old he's supposed to be. But I'm very surprised at what they did with Saji, and how they aged him. I thought that was done very well.
As for the designs of the Gundams, well, they're pretty much more or less the same froms eason 1, except they now have the grilled mouth plates while in season 1, they didn't have the grilled mouth plates. But other mobile suits that come in later on, especially at the end, are pretty nifty and fresh.
As for the quality in HD, I saw this one Blu-Ray at a friends house, and its pretty sweet. As for the action, it does get a bit DBZ-ish. Especially when the Trans-Am system now being introduced. I'll admit in its own way, it is distinctive in comparison to other Gundam series, but i just felt that feature just made it too Shounen-esque. I'll admit the first time, at the end of season 1, it was awesome. Yes, it does make it more intense, but I just felt it was really abused. I think using it like once or twice as opposed to using Seraphim once or twice could have been better.
Well, what I've already said about the quality of the voice acting in season 1 can be applied here as well. I watched this series on bluray with a buddy of mine, and sadly, there was no dub included, but I do have intensions of seeing this dubbed when I can. The background music from season 1 is still utilized, but the soundtrack is of course slightly different.
The opening themes are not really dark from season 1, but are still striking in a different way that represents the tone in their own way. Uverworld sings the first theme, Hakanaku mo Towa no Kanashi and one of my favorite singers, Ito Yuna, sings Trust You, one of the ending themes. I'm sure Japanese music buffs will enjoy the soundtrack whether or not you're a Gundam fan. Hell, I hated the Cosmic Era Gundams, but I still dig their soundtracks.
In the end, if you liked season 1 for its politics, then unfortunately, you won't find it here, but those features I felt were taken out for the right reasons, but the overall atmosphere doesn't significantly change which is what still kept me hooked. Still, I think it's the true Gundam of the 21st century as opposed to SEED. I do hope to see more of Gundam based on this series. I think it has a lot of potential. I still think there are unanswered questions and the universe of this Gundam has me curios. So I hope more material comes out soon.