Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season 2 Part 3 (also w/LE) (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, October 11, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, October 19, 2010
As the A-Laws continue to alter the fabric of the Federation, it’s time for principled men of the military to stand up.
What They Say
Celestial Being has valiantly destroyed the satellite weapon Memento Mori, which wiped out the capital city of a Middle Eastern nation with one blow from space. While being pursued by the A-LAWS forces, however, they are forced to crash-land on Earth. Setsuna and his mobile suit are separated from the rest of Celestial Being, and Setsuna is confronted by the leader of the Innovators, the puppet master of the world government, who claims that he is the one who should pilot the 00 Gundam.
Meanwhile, an apocalyptic disaster unfolds around one of the orbital elevators, as a dissident group within the Earth Sphere Federation Forces dares to carry out a coup d'état against the cruel policies of the Innovators. A spectacular aerial battle ensues as the Gundams and the enemy mobile suits witness the aftermath of the catastrophe.
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 Anew and Lockon together while another of the Gundam machines stands powerfully in the background. 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 two more on this set with episodes fourteen and seventeen getting some discussion and frivolity. The new ending sequence gets a clean version here as well as a clean version of the fourteenth episodes ending and 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)
To say that Gundam 00 has been losing me this season has been an understatement, though some of that is due to the awful release schedule the show is getting with numerous delays. With the series having a sizable cast to it, numerous factions, plenty of politics and lots of personal grudges and relationships mixed into it, a significant gap between volumes and low episode counts overall can really hurt a show like this. Add in that Gundam tends to play wonky with stories to begin with, and Gundam 00 is no exception, it’s a recipe for disaster. So much so that the previous volume had me just about ready to write off the rest of this season as little more than lots of action with pretty but shallow characters.
I’m still close to that feeling, but they’ve managed to salvage some of it in this set of episodes by focusing on a significant story arc for several of them that works out well. Of course, after it’s over, they bump up the timeline by several months which in turn takes a lot of the wind out of the sails of the series, something that I’ve felt has happened several times over in the course of both seasons. One of the thrusts of this particular arc of episodes is that it’s starting to force Setsuna to stop looking at everything from the point of view of fighting, a familiar trajectory for many a Gundam series leads, as he now wants to be a force for change that doesn’t involve wholesale destruction. It comes nicely after a few years of in-show destruction at his hands under the guise of changing the world through that form.
What does prove interesting is the arc involving Hercury, one of the military men of the Federation, who sees what’s going on with the A-Laws and just can’t stand by idly anymore and watch it. The similarities to the Titans are certainly blunt enough as the A-Laws are running roughshod over everything and are slowly but surely acquiring more and more power through overt and subtle means. They’ve managed to insert themselves fully into the Federation while still standing apart so as to get all that they want while co-opting the government as well. So when they do actually go too far with things, they’re the ones in the position of power to be able to direct the narrative as they see fit.
And that’s where Hercury enters as he’s decided enough is enough and with a good group of reliable men, they take control of one of the lower orbiting segments of the Africa Tower and try to force the issue onto the public mind about what the A-Laws are actually up to. When good men see things going too far, when they see the military they’ve sworn to obey becoming corrupt and killing indiscriminately, Hercury opts to make a stand to trying get the information out there. Of course, it doesn’t go quite to plan and the A-Laws set things up so that the information that gets out paints the group as pure rebels that are killing people left and right, whereas they’ve done a rather good job of making sure nobody is hut and is about to be sent back earthside. The A-Laws instead want to make it seems like Hercury’s group is all about mass murder, so they use the news to broadcast lots of falsified video of people being gunned down and plans to destroy the low orbital facility in order to kill anyone who knows the truth.
The whole arc is good in general, but I definitely appreciated the fallout from it as the fight goes on and it spills over to the planet as the low orbital facility is attacked and huge chunks of the elevator starts to fall. Having so many different factions, grudges and personalities fighting it out down below only to have a lot of it crashing down on top of them changes things up nicely, but watching to see which ones would try to snipe an enemy in between falling targets gave it a nice edge. Unfortunately, while that section was a lot of fun, well animated and had several thrills, they then shift the story forward several months showing us how the Gundam Meisters are still on the run, the A-Laws are more fully in power now and the Innovators are firming up their grip to take control of everything because of their inherent destiny.
The other frustration I have with the show, and a lot of anime in general at this point, is that realizing that yes the series is a couple of years old at best, it’s woefully nearsighted in how its approach information. Alternate world timelines and all taken into account, having a society this advanced in many ways yet having so little real communication tools comes across as a poor story element. When the Orbital Elevator is under attack, as the coup starts, the only news that filters out is that from the A-Laws. There’s some easy belief to that depending on how the Federation has locked things down, but it’s poor storytelling for a world that should be far more data connected and intense when it comes to how people communicate. It’s something that takes you out of the show a bit in that information is so poorly handled to the masses. The coup could have been handled much differently and the way people got the news out there could have been far more interesting if it had more “social connected” context to it, something that was very much a big thing even when this show was being written and designed. But this is an issue with so many shows even airing now in even in the modern day where the connected nature of people is not taken into account, leading to standard sitcom plots we’ve seen for thirty or forty years that would play out much differently.
Gundam 00 has not won me back over, but it has provided several solid episodes of action and decent storytelling for the most part. There are things to like here but it’s largely setup for the final run of episode sin the next volume. Taken into context of other Gundam series, these episodes fall into the late thirties and early forties which is when things pick up, the action becomes more defined and the characters focus on what they really want to accomplish or are motivated to save. The quality of animation picks up some as well as we’re getting towards the money episodes and that’s apparent here, particularly during the end stage of the coup. Gundam 00 has a lot of potential but I keep finding its execution to be lacking and the whole thing suffers under a truly terrible release strategy.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Tactical Forecast, Audio Commentary: Episode 14, Textless Opening: "Namida no Mukou" (Beyond the Tears), Textless End Credits Sequence: Episode 14, Audio Commentary: Episode 17, Promotional Video: Mission 06SE Features: Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Second Season Manga Vol. 3
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: A-
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