Mobile Suit Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer – Movie Review

For me, Gundam 00 quickly became my all-time favorite Gundam series of all time. There was just so much to like about it. So when it was announced as soon as the second season ended that the series would be concluded with a movie, I was very excited. This was to be the first movie since Gundam F91, so it was big news. But I don’t think any of us fans knew just how truly big this movie would be for Gundam, as it would change the way we think of the iconic mecha series forever.

From the beginning of the movie, one can tell things are going to be very different. As the opening song plays, various shots of alien landscapes and worlds are shown. Yes, this is the big thing; aliens. For the first time in Gundam history, non-human extraterrestrials are the primary antagonists. Gundam has always been about wars between humans, so to introduced a truly alien enemy was defenitly a bold move, but in the end I think its one that truly works, but I’ll get to that later.

The primary plot of the movie starts when a long-dormant exploration vessel from Jupiter mysteriously starts to hurtle towards Earth. A task-force, led by Earth Federation Innovator Descartes Shaman, intercepts the ship and destroys it, though all is not well. IN the resulting explosion, pieces of metal begin to rain towards Earth. These are not shards of debris, but ELS fragments. Soon enough, strange things begin happening worldwide. Cars and other vehicles with no one operating them begin running amok, and a young girl is even attacked at her home by a mysterious figure. This figure is none other than a seemingly revived Ribbons Almark, the main antagonist of the TV series. This Ribbons then goes after Saji and Louise at the hospital, but is later destroyed by Setsuna, with the revelation that its not in fact Ribbons, but something else; an ELS copy. At nearly the same time, Allelujah and Marie/Soma are on a bit of a personal journey of their own when the come across a facility seemingly abandoned. Upon further inspection, all of the plants personnel have been crystallized. They are then attacked by a group of unmanned vehicles, which possess the ability to regenerate any damage inflicted upon them. They are only saved by the timely intervention of Lockon Stratos in a rebuilt Gundam Dynames. It is after this we have the reunion of the Meisters, who then go into their first battle against the ELS. However, Setsuna finds himself unable to attack the ELS, likely due to his new-found quantum brainwave capabilities. We later find out that the ELS are drawn by these brainwaves, and Innovators especially are negatively effected by the ELS presence. Thankfully, in this first battle, Tieria arrived to save the day, but in the second engagement, Setsuna attempts to perform a Trans-Am Burst in an attempt to communicate with the ELS. The massive amount of information received through the burst is too much for Setsuna to handle, and it leaves him comatose, and the 00 Raiser destroyed. The ELS then make their way to Earth and engage the human forces in a desperate battle, and only when Setsuna awakens and deploys in the new 00 Quan[T] do things begin to shift in humanities favor. Setsuna makes his way into the ELS planetoid and activated a new system, the Quantum Burst, which coupled with a new VEDA Terminal, allows him to process the information and successively communicate with the ELS. Both races are able to come to an understanding because of this communication (The ELS were never hostile to begin with, but I’ll get to that later as well) and Setsuna uses his Gundam’s quantization to teleport to the ELS home-world and begin a new dialogue with them. Now, this is just a very basic summary of the movie. There’s a lot going on, and since this is a review and not a summary, I’m not going into too much depth here. This is a movie that needs to be seen, and not read about, really.

One of the high points of this movie is the climactic final battle between the Humans and ELS. Gundam 00 has always focused on much smaller engagements compared to other Gundam series, but the movies epic final battle blows any other major battle from any other Gundam series out of the water. It is absolutely chaotic, with weapons firing in every direction and no place on screen is without some sort of goings-on. It truly feels like a last-ditch battle for survival, as at no point do you feel that the humans have a chance in hell of wining. My favorite portion of this fight is near the middle, as it becomes clear this is a losing fight for humanity. In a move that I feel really hits home this point, the insert song Mou Nanimo Kowakunai, Kowaku wa Nai by Chiaki Ishikawa, starts playing. It really sets the mood for this particular part of the battle; its the breaking point, and humanity is on the verge of defeat. Andrei Smirnov, Sergei’s Smirnov’s son from the 2nd season actually manages to redeem himself for selfishly killing his father by overloading his suits Trans-Am and destroying a large ELS probe heading for Earth in this scene. In all fairness, its really hard to describe this portion of the movie in words, and it really is worth watching for yourself. Its perhaps one of the most powerfully emotional moments in any Gundam work I have seen to date.

The ELS themselves are truly what makes this movie so damn interesting. I for one am glad they did not go with the stereotypical humanoid aliens normally seen in science fiction, and instead went with something truly alien. For those interested, the ELS are a sort of Hive-mind race that consist of metallic-based lifeforms capable of assuming the forms of anything they have assimilated into their collective. This is also how they learn and understand other beings, which of course sets off the conflict with humanity. The ELS are unaware that assimilation is harmful to the humans, and so in the end the entire conflict is truly one large misunderstanding. The ELS themselves fled from their original home-world, a planet much like Jupiter, when their sun went supernova.

Character wise, everyone was fantastic. The only new characters introduced in the movie are Billy’s assistant and love interest Meena (who is essentially a “decent human being” version of Nena Trinity from the Tv series, and the Federation Innovator Descartes Shaman. Shaman is defenitly the most interesting of the two, as he’s clearly been forced into his position against his will (being an Innovator, who the Federation seem quite interested in as tools of war) and his seething hatred is sort of what escalates the conflict against the ELS, as they take his anger as aggression and attack Earth in full force. The other character that really drew me in was Feldt, who clear now has feelings for Setsuna, but does not get those feelings returned. Setsuna has become very much about the missions of CB, and clearly has no interested in a relationship, and though this defenitly seems hard for Feldt, she is able to move on from Setsuna and become a much stronger person because of it.

The ELS are also an interesting choice for primary antagonist as they come in a number of forms. There are two small “probe” forms, which take the shape of a spear-like shape and another which resembles conjoined rectangular prisms. There are larger ship sized ones, which are able to open up like claws and grasp enemy targets. There is also of course the ELS Planetoid ship, which acts as the brain of sorts for the swarm. The ELS other nifty feature is the ability to assume the form of any thing they assimilate. The first examples of this we see is near the beginning when we see them take the forms of vehicles and other equipment, and even a cop-Ribbons (though, those familiar with the 00 Manga side-stories will realize that this is not in fact Ribbons, but another Innovade who shares Ribbons form who was on the Jupiter ship on its original mission). Of course, the deadliest use of this ability comes later on when multiple probes are able to fuse together to take the form of GN-XIV’s. The awesome thing about this is that they are able to use any weapon the GN-XIV’s were using by simple shape-shifting their arms into those weapons. Its a very awesome concept for Gundam, and its cool to see it in action in the movie. The manga side-stories also show us ELS versions of Descartes Mobile Armor Gadelazza, Arios Ascalon and even the 00 Raiser.

The Mobile Suits of this movie are another high point. All of the designs are spectacular. The Gundams in particular are especially awesome, as they combine the best of the Gundams from both Season 1 and 2, and this is best seen in Setsuna’s Gundam, the 00 Quan[T]. IT clear melds the best of both the Exia and the 00 Gundam, while adding in some new cool features. Its interesting to note that nearly every new suit/mecha in this movie has some form of remote weaponry. The Quan[T] has its sword bits, Zabanya has rifle bits, Harute has scissor bits, and the Raphael has 2 large remote controlled claw cannons. However, the new Mobile Armor, the Gadelaza takes the cake though. It has 14 large GN Fangs (00’s version of Funnels/Remote weapons) with each of those containing 140 small fangs. Seeing this in action in the movie was just mind-blowing, and really puts the beam spamming mecha of Gundam Seed/Destiny to shame. Heck, every MS in this movie puts those MS to shame when it comes to sheer firepower. But the battles against the ELS call for it. As I said earlier, the final battle is pretty much one massive clusterfuck, so the ability to attack in nearly every direction is necessary to survival. The other most notable MS in this movie are the new Union Flag-inspired Braves. They clearly meld the best of the Flag/Enacts and Grahams two previous MS, the Masurao and Susanawo. The first time we see them in battle is quite a visual treat as well, as not only are they quite well armed, but their pilots (commanded by Graham) are clearly some of the best examples of ace pilots in Gundam. They use all sorts of fantastic maneuvers and a good dose of teamwork to make short work of an ELS swarm in the middle of the movie.

Of course, one cannot talk about this movie without discussing the prevalent theme; peace can only be achieved through understanding. Its a concept brought up numerous times throughout the film, and it is what brings an end to the battle. During on the early scenes, Princess Marina is on a visit to a colony under construction, and the workers are citizens of her own country. The Corporation in charge tries to back-stab her by killing her, but she is saved by Setsuna and Lockon. Its during this time that Marina brings up the point of trying to understand each other if peace is to be obtained. Understanding is also brought up later on by Soma, when she says they should try and communicate/understand the ELS before rushing headlong into battle with them. Thankfully, both humanity and ELS reach an understanding, and a new age of peace is ushered in.

There are some interesting things I noticed when watching this movie. One of these things that struck me as really cool was the use of the A-LAWS automatons as robotic helpers. When we see the people on earth taking shelter from the ELS, you can see numerous automatons milling about helping civilians. Its a nice concept, that technology is only evil or hurtful when we use it with those intentions in mind. Also, there are quite a few interesting sound effects used in the movie. The ELS have a very distinct humming noise associated with them. Whenever something ELS-related is around, you can clearly hear the sound, and at the beginning of the movie, it actually has an eerie effect to it. The Braves also have a strange sound effect to them in regards to their weapons. When the Braves fire their main rifle, it has a very hard twang-like sound to it. Its very distinct when compared to the weapon sound-effects of other mobile suits.

The soundtrack is also a great part about this movie. A lot of the early tunes used in the movie have a dark mysterious sound to them, which fits with the fact that at the beginning we don’t exactly know whats happening or whats causing it. The later songs have a real epic feel to them, as the battle with the ELS heats up. A lot of the tunes are remixed or extended versions of songs from the TV series, so if you liked those soundtracks, you’ll defenitly like this one.

I don’t really have any criticisms for this movie, but there are a few things I didn’t care for. One is sort of selfish, but I wish we would have seen more of the 00 Quan[T] in action. Now, it makes perfect sense as to why we didn’t see too much of it till the end, as it is more of a tool for peace, not war. However, its such a cool machine its a shame we didn’t see more of it. The other would have to be that we didn’t get to see what happened to a large portion of the cast after the battle. It would have been nice to know what happened to the cast of characters we’ve following for 2 TV seasons and a movie. However, the ending still works well with me.

All in all, this is a stunning piece of work, and likely the best anime movie I have seen. Its clearly one of the most thought-provoking, and brave additions to the Gundam universe, and I personally think it has raised the bar for future Gundam projects to come. I am sad to see the Gundam 00 Universe come to an end, but at least it went out with a hell of a bang.


One thought on “Mobile Suit Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer – Movie Review

  1. great review, learned a lot of stuff from it.

    watched this like a few weeks ago, and I must says it was really one hell of an experience. And I’m with you, its really sad and hard to let this Gundam universe go. 😦

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