Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season 1 Part 3 (also w/Special Edition) (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Death and destruction rains down upon the cast of Gundam 00 as nobody is seemingly safe – though dead bodies are few and far between.

What They Say
For months, the Gundam Meisters have been carrying out armed interventions in an attempt to eradicate war from the world. Now a new group known as Team Trinity has appeared, claiming that it is also part of Celestial Being and that it can do the job better.

As Team Trinity's Gundam Thrones begin a rampage, mercilessly killing soldiers and civilians alike, Setsuna and his fellow Gundam Meisters fi nd themselves on a dangerous collision course with the newcomers. Meanwhile, the nations of the world are uniting their forces so that they can fi ght against the invincible Gundams. But is there a darker conspiracy manipulating these events from behind the scenes?

In this fi nal chapter of the first season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the epic story builds to a series of grand battle sequences unfolding high in Earth orbit. The future of humanity is at stake.

The Review!
Audio:
The bilingual presentation for Gundam 00 is about what can be expected with the series as it works well with the action, music and dialogue but nothing that truly stands out. The two audio tracks are done in a stereo mix encoded at 224kbps and there are some decent areas of directionality across the forward soundstage, but most of it is fairly straightforward and almost a little pedestrian. Gundam is a show that I really wish Sunrise would do some 5.1 work with in Japan since it is a marquee title, but they continue to skimp on that area like so many others. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and the music, particularly the opening and closing sequences, make out the best overall with a full dynamic feeling to them. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2007 and early 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This set is made up of nine episodes done in a five/four split which gives it a good amount of room to work with and they have really good materials in their hands. Unfortunately, some of the show at times just doesn’t look as good as it should. There are noticeable moments of line noise during panning sequences that seem stronger than some other shows and there’s a softness to a lot of scenes that feels out of place. By and large the series looks good, lots of vibrant colors and good fluidity with the action sequences without any break-up, but it also doesn’t feel as sharp and strong as it should either. The softness sometimes leads to some mild noise and blocking in the backgrounds but this is few and far between. Overall there’s a lot to like here, the opening sequence alone shows that, but there are a few smaller areas that really don’t shine as well for such a marquee title.

Packaging:
This two disc edition is in a single sized keepcase which doesn’t have a hinge inside to hold one of them. The Earth bound side of the series gets their time to shine with this cover as it features Graham and others in front of one of the new Gundam models that they’re able to produce, all of which is set against a very bland background. The back cover is very, very text heavy as it has a length rundown on the premise of the show and a full listing of the episode numbers and titles alongside the basic DVD features. There’s a very small strip of just four shots from the show before it shifts over to the discs extras, production information and a good technical grid. There really isn’t a lot here used to sell the show with actual material from the show, instead it tries to push the marquee name itself, some familiar artwork and a lot of text to cover the premise. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for Gundam 00 is relatively straightforward as it has a streaking background design with some appealing shades of blue-green that helps keep the attention on the main area. That main area is a small series of hexagons through which clips from the show play to some decent instrumental action music from the show. The left side of the hexagons has the very basic menu navigation structure which can be a little hard to read sometimes since it uses white on a mint green color and yellow for the actual selection tag. Submenus load quickly but I was disappointed to see that the discs didn’t read our players’ language presets and defaulted to English with no subtitles.

Extras:
The extras are yet again familiar for the most part with the music videos and the clean material, but we do get some good new material this time around as well. The first is a director’s interview serving as the prologue to the second season which runs about ten minutes. There’s discussion of where the show has been and where it’s going with its forward leap. There’s also a two and a half minute “new flash-like anime second season preview that’s done in hilarious style to have the characters introduce what’s going on. It’s pure comedy on crack. A new Japanese audio commentary track is included for episode twenty-five in which they get the main Meisters and the director as well as including a clean ending for episode twenty-five which is appropriate.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season draws to a close with this volume as the final eight episodes roll out. Like many Gundam series that operate in this format, where they're going to fifty-odd episodes and do a break in the middle, there's a good crescendo of action and story here that set things up for the second half. Often the second season can lose a little steam because of this, but with how Gundam 00 ends here, they seem to have figured out a way to potentially avoid that problem since it's left me intrigued to see what they're really up to.

Gundam 00 has left me a little less than thrilled with it in comparison to some other iterations of the franchise, but as this set of episodes plays out it offers me more that I do like. What threw me off with the previous volume was the introduction of the Gundam Thrones and the whole Trinity group themselves. Their introduction changed the dynamic and removed the Meisters we'd known from the picture for awhile as they opted to stand down while trying to figure out what it was that the Trinity group was all about since they appeared with solar reactors and real Gundams, things that gave them some amount of authority.

Their approach was certainly off-putting in comparison to how the Meisters did things and it changed how the world viewed the Gundam's as well. While the Meisters managed to acquire some goodwill because of what they did, that was all erased by the Trinity and their wanton destruction in their goal of ending wars. There was a methodical approach to how Sumeragi organized her missions as they would win over some of the populace and that could be viral. The Trinity goes even further in these episodes as you see Nena attacking a party of all things when doing a flyover towards someplace else. That the party was where Louise is and her family is slaughtered before her eyes changes that young woman immeasurably, as well as affecting Saji and his relationship with her.

The arrival of the Trinity has set other things in motion as Tiera is intent on figuring out exactly who they are and what their goal is. That leads him to realizing that someone is a traitor within them as information in Veda has been altered and sealed from him, something that shouldn't be possible. The information coming out of there is being used on Earth as well as someone has secretly gifted some thirty solar reactors which gives them the ability to build Gundam's of their own. This is certainly a game changer and much of the remainder of this set deals in this area with the various Earth nations forming under the UN in order to defeat the Trinity and the Meisters overall. But it rings hollow that as soon as they're gifted and Gundam's are ready, pilots are instantly ready to use them. That the Trinity and Meisters are able to push them back easily at first is a welcome sight since they have the skill on top of the superior firepower. But as the balance changes, we realize how much those in the Trinity were also depending solely on superior firepower.

There's a lot of personal interplay throughout this set as well. One of the big changes is that Ali gets a lot more involved again and uses his special skills to actually acquire a Gundam. His time in the air with this device gets him talking with Setsuna again and that brings about an important discussion among the Meisters themselves later on as Setsuna reveals who he really is and why he stepped out of his Gundam before. The true identities of some of the Meisters figures into this and that there are enemies in the mix isn't a surprise and watching them work through this new challenge while dealing with the larger challenges certainly makes it all very intense. When we get a flashback to two years prior when Setsuna came on board with the Meisters, it helps to illustrate hat the group has been through a lot together in all that time and helps to ease some of the tension.

In Summary:
As this part of the series comes to a close, events become bigger than they were before and nobody is safe from change – or death. That's always been a draw of the Gundam franchise, though until you see the body you can't be sure. The scale has always been big but the events being fostered on Earth changes the feeling of it all. The Meisters are thankfully back in action more this time and the stakes are certainly higher. The culmination of this season does give me all that I like from a Gundam series as it tries to change the world and the throws you for a loop by moving everything ahead four years. It'll be interesting to see how the surviving Meisters look when the next season comes around. I'm still ambivalent about this series overall, but this set of episodes helped to up its appeal pretty well.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Tactical Forecast, PV Mission 4, Clean Endings, Audio Commentary, CB Characters Announce Season 2, Director Interview

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 39.98/44.9
Running time: 200
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam 00