Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season 2 Part 2 (also w/Special Edition) (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, August 02, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, July 06, 2010
The world becomes more complicated as certain relationships take on a dangerous new edge.
What They Say
The A-LAWS, the Earth Sphere Federation’s elite military force, continues to ruthlessly crack down on Katharon, an anti-government organization that cooperates with the Gundam Meisters. As the fighting continues, Allelujah is reunited with Soma Peries, a female enemy pilot whom he recognizes from his time as an experimental subject at the Super Human Institute.
Other members of Celestial Being must also face up to their own pasts. Tieria, the pilot of the Seravee Gundam, learns that he is genetically related to a new breed of artificially created beings called “Innovators.” These Innovators are responsible for the twistedness of the world, and their leader is the puppet master of the Federation government. In order to unite the will of humanity, the Innovators are about to unleash a terrible weapon against the nations that still resist Federation rule.
As a huge showdown unfolds in Earth orbit, Setsuna’s 00 Gundam docks with the 0 Raiser, and reveals an ultimate power that resonates within the warriors’ minds…
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 192kbps 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.
Originally airing in 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 six episodes done in a three/three 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.
This two disc edition is in a single sized keepcase which doesn't have a hinge inside to hold one of them. This installment works with the mixed pairing of Soma and Lockon together while another of the Gundam machines stands powerfully in the background, even with the awkward color of it. They've changed up the background a bit by making it white here which makes it very stark compared to the bland covers of the first season. 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 five 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.
The menu design for Gundam 00 changes things from what we saw in the first season, though I'm not sure it's better since it has so many different colors and no clear theme to it. The background is a hazy piece overall that has the look of a V to it while the foreground has a block where action clips from the show plays along the left. The center has the navigation selection which each selection being a different color which feels pretty garish. The right has one of the logos from the show itself while the top has the series logo with the season two tag. It just doesn't feel like it comes together well and almost feels like it's being done by a fan group if anything. 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.
The Japanese commentaries continue to be the big draw for this series as we get one more on this set with episode eight receiving it. The new ending sequence gets a clean version here as well as the return of the Tactical Forecast video that we saw on a lot of the first season.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The further along that I get in the Gundam 00 series, the more I find myself losing interest in it. The first season opened well but once they introduced the Thrones and changed things up a bit there, it started to fall apart for me. The second season moved everything forward a few years and brought in a bunch of new characters while tweaking the setting a bit, but that just added to the disinterest because it increased the disconnect with things. And the further in we get and the more new characters are introduced, the less it appeals. While having enjoyed many different Gundam series over the years, this is the first one that I can think of that really just isn't working for me.
This set of episodes adds more of the general buildup aspect of the season as we see more of what the Innovators are doing, particularly during and after a party in which Tiera dolls himself up real well and plays the role of a girl so he can get closer to everything. The Innovators cast seemingly grows with a variety of people with unusual names taken from English in order to sound exotic and standout, but none of them have had any real depth if they've been introduced previously and little is added here to the newer ones. Tiera's doing what he can to learn the truth of what happened with Aeolia's plan and the basic reveal is that everything the Meisters were doing was right but that the Thrones upended it all with a false program. So with the Meisters out of the way, the Innovators started in on their own plans for what's likely just complete domination.
The A-Laws really feel like a very poor mans imitation of the Titans. It's hard to not compare newer incarnations of the Gundam universe that stand on their own to the original core material and its UC timeline sequels, but when they riff so hard from it you can't help but do it. Watching the A-Laws, they're playing a similar game as the Titans via the Innovators in how they're dominating over the Earth Federation and taking the fight to the Meisters and others so they can force their brand of peace and control over the world. Some see through it and play along to be a part of what they think is the winning side while others are oblivious and just see things getting better in their own part of the world, ignoring the catastrophes happening elsewhere.
There's a whole lot of battles to be had here as different sides end up fighting and the Meisters decide to get back into the game to fix what's happened. It's nice to see Sumeragi getting her groove back and a touch of background on her as a Tactical Forecaster with someone she admires that leads into the two of them going against each other in the present. Ali Al-Saachez makes some time in this set of episodes as well as he battles against the Meisters and there's a revelation to the new Lockon about what he's responsible for, which in turn is what Setsuna is also responsible for considering his past. The size of the cast has a lot of connections to each other and some like this are fun since it puts people on the same side that have a grudge against each other.
The one arc that I liked seeing in this block of episodes was that they finally moved forward in showing what Louise and Saji are up to. Saji's been spending his time with Setsuna and the Meisters since getting out of the problems he was having, but it's here that we see Louise taking up a piloting role within the A-Laws and having both of them meet in battle when Saji is forced to take over one of the Gundam's in order to keep it from being destroyed or captured. It's a shock for both of them considering how their lives were before the Meister's arrived on the scene at the start of the series, but with what Louise has gone through it's little surprise that she's taken to making the most of the remainder of her life that she can.
At the halfway mark of the second season of Gundam 00, I'm having a hard time placing my finger on the why I should care for what's going on. None of the characters have been particularly likeable and there aren't even any that I really hate either. They're all there and it feels like they're just going through the motions. Very familiar motions at that. It's competently animated but the story and its execution feels overly convoluted and filled with too many characters so that there isn't enough time to really focus on any of them and make them more than just pawns to the story. I've loved a lot of Gundam over time, but this is one of the incarnations that's doing less and less for me as it goes on.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Promotional Videos, Commentary Track, Clean Ending
SE: Second Season Manga Vol. 2
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: C
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
Running time: 150
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam 00