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Mobile Suit Gundam 00: “Not God, but me, by my own will”

Gundam 00 is fast becoming a vast repertoire of memorable quotes.

Setsuna, in his own atheist ways, has a point with that little speech near the beginning of the episode. Regardless of whether or not you believe in a God, ultimately you are the sole person in charge of you and your actions ((unless you’re a Calvinist, of course). Praying might make you feel better, or help you to encourage yourself to accomplish something, but, in the end, it is up to you, the person, to alter your own reality. Whether that urge to alter reality derives from a secular or spiritual source, it doesn’t really matter–you simply have to grasp reality with your own hands and give it a good smack or two and tell it to shape up. Gundam 00 is an extreme example of reality-altering–budding Aeolia Schenbergs take note, organizing a vast and far-reaching conspiracy to bring about some kind of massive change in the world, such as, oh, say, world peace, usually end in massive failure (because, after all, there is only room for one vast and far-reaching conspiracy in the world, and we filled our allotment with the Illuminati a long time ago, so just go join it)–but this lesson has practical, daily use.

So much for Setsuna-chan’s Phiilosophy Corner. On to the main event.

We have witnessed the deaths of quite a few of the main cast of 00 in this episode. Apparently losing Lockon wasn’t enough torment for Felt, so she had to lose her lesbian lover good friend Christina Sierra as well. Since Patrick isn’t dead, according to official rumors of some kind (the cockpit of his GN-X unit was left intact after the explosion, so he may be shaken a bit, but he’s allegedly alive), Christina is the most impactful death of the episode, and, as such, it got the high-class treatment. Like Lockon’s two-episode “hey he’s going to live! Pranked!” death sequence, Christina looks like she is going to make it through the massive explosion, having lost Lichty, the only man she has ever loved (last-minute just-before-death love interest developments are always harsh), but then, of course, we find that she has a shard of the Ptomemaios wedged in her suit, effectively piercing her and killing her.

I already felt a strong upwelling of moe for Felt, far greater than any previous feeling of moe towards said Felt, when she composed the letter for Lockon and her parents, but when she broke down in tears in the normal suit after the death of her second half, I had to sternly remind myself that, no, you cannot hug an anime character, unless one buys the special limited edition $300 dakimakura and somehow finds a pillow big enough to fit in it, and anyway those things aren’t usually meant, strictly speaking, for “hugging”, so it’s kind of a moot point. At any rate, whatever grip Nena Trinity and her Kugimiya wiles might have on me, Felt is currently the strongest female in the series for me, although, given the wide array of 00’s cast, and their respective developments, that’s saying something, I think. For a character who’s had an almost bit role to date, she’s the strongest supporting character, and I can only hope that they expound on Felt’s moe-ness for the second season.

Hopefully the second season won’t have Alejandro Corner piloting a gigantic mobile armor to kick the tattered remnants of Celestial Being around. Especially not after they’ve found their purpose in existence even stronger than ever before. 25 promises to be a spectacular mid-series conclusion. I want it to be Saturday already. :(

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The Mysterious Enigma of Why I Like Nena Trinity (when no one else does)

ALTERNATIVE TITLE THAT THE ASTUTE READER WILL CONTEXTUALLY PICK UP WITHOUT A SECOND THOUGHT: feeble excuse to post Nena Trinity fanart. Again.

It is a mysterious enigma, though. She’s been compared to Fllay Allster from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, on the basis that they’re both, pardon my French, crazy-ass bitches. Really crazy-ass bitches. The Colossus of Rhodes of crazy-ass bitches. Yet Fllay didn’t get my engine revving in the “oh god this girl” department, and Nena is not only revving the engine, but shoving me out of the driver’s seat into the passenger’s side, disengaging the parking brake, and gunning it full-blast down the street. Yes. That kind of “oh god this girl.”

So why the difference? First, Fllay and Nena aren’t the same kind of crazy. Fllay was meant to be a cruel manipulator of emotions, someone you despised and detested throughout the series. That didn’t stop some people from proclaiming her the best character in SEED. From the perspective of a character, Fllay was effective in being enough of a cruel manipulating bitch to tease out more interpersonal drama all throughout the series. I’d have to watch the series again to be a better judge of how effective the writers were using this for added melodrama power (I seem to remember her plotline getting a bit forced towards the end, but that may just be hazy memory), but I do remember that she very effectively made the viewer loathe every moment she was on the screen. It was like Madoka from Full Moon o Sagashite all over again: every time you see her face, you shake your fish at the screen and shout “Go away!” at the top of your lungs (thereby waking up other members of your household/apartments, because this is without a doubt occuring at 3am on a Saturday night/Sunday morning). She’s a character you loathe.

Nena Trinity, on the other hand, is potentially even crazier than Fllay. I mean, she blew up an entire wedding for no reason, because she felt like it, and it amused her. She, too, isn’t a character you’re supposed to love–but she is one you’re supposed to love to hate. Unlike Fllay, she’s deliciously crazy–she’s extremely impulsive and impatient, she takes great delight in killing (although not as much as the late and [un?]lamented Michael, who was also crazy, but he isn’t a girl, so I don’t care at this juncture), and so forth. The thing is, even though yo’re supposed to hate her, and love hating her, Mizushima still manages to make you feel sorry for her when both her brothers are killed in front of her eyes. Or, well, at least I felt sorry for her; I’m rather biased in this regard, so your mileage may have varied. She isn’t a character without viewer sympathy. Maybe it’s just a matter of taste, but I think Nena is much, much better in the likability department. She’s inhumanly crazy, but that just makes the shock of her brother’s deaths even more horrifying. I have the nagging feeling that Nena wasn’t killed for a deeper reason than Mizushima not wanting to kill off a character voiced by the one and only Kugimeister, but rather to keep her around to redeem her character through her subsequent actions. We won’t find out until this fall, sadly, but as long as she still lives, there’s hope for her to become a better person.

There’s this, and then there’s the fact that I suffer terribly from Kugimiya Disease. There is no cure. Tread carefully in the waters of anime, my friends: it’s highly contagious.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: “Are you satisifed with this world?”

Felt-tan is weeping for Lockon Stratos. I would like to give her a hug. But I can’t, because she is made of pixels. :(

The difference in ideology between Lockon (standing in for the Meisters in general) and Ali Al-Sarchez (standing in for, uh…Ali Al-Sarchez) certainly reared its ugly head, here at the end of the road. Both Ali and Celestial Being are terrorists, of a sort–but it gives an insight into what terrorism really is. Ali is, of course, the way we want to view terrorists: insane, war-mongering, and bloodthirsty individuals. And, certainly, in our world, there are quite a few of them out there, although I personally have not met one and therefore cannot vouch for this fact. But the thing you have to remember about terrorists is, there’s also ones like Lockon out there, who aren’t fighting because they want to, but because they want to change the world somehow. It’s a shady gray area that Gundam 00 is touching upon here. Terrorists are like any other  human: they fight for what they feel is right, even if it means violence to get their way. We may not agree with their methodology (in the case of the real-world, I certainly don’t), but, at least in their minds, violence is the only path to change. The eradication of war is certainly a noble goal, but to what means Celestial Being will take to achieve this end is in doubt. How far is too much?

The difference is clear, however: the story is a conflict, as Gundam series always are, between those who wish for more chaos and war, and those who wish to stop it. We had this in Gundam X, we had this in Gundam Wing, we had this in the UC series, we had it in Turn A, and we had some bizarre, Imagawa-influenced version of it in G Gundam. Of course, in this case, rather than either side working for any one government or military, it’s instead paramilitary versus paramilitary. The actual military is left to unite against the threat.  It’s a complicated mess of a situation, like any war, and, on this, at least, Celestial Being and the military stand a chance at agreeing on things, except for that pesky methodology problem of intervening in conflicts.

We already saw the Trinity’s approach to eradicating war, namely, blow everything and anything up to prevent conflict from ever happening in the first place. Yet even this subsidiary branch of the great Schenberg plan may be in for some posthumous redemption in the form of Nena joining into possibly-tenuous alliance with Setsuna & Co. Or, at least, that’s what my Kugimiya-addled brain wants to happen, what may actually happen might differ from my ideal scenario.

And, finally, a eulogy for Lockon:

Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. (etc.)

No, really, Lockon’s final words (see title for handy reminder) point out one critical thing: the world we live in, however advanced it might be, still isn’t the ideal world for humanity to live in. The real question posed by Lockon, then is: do humans really want the world to change? Or would they rather stay in the “comfort zone” of wars and turmoil, unwilling to change due to general acceptance of the way the world is?

Or is Lockon really a crazy bastard, and the suave cool guy demeanor was just a front? THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Is this….TRANS-AM?

Wow. I am wondering if words can describe this episode.

It truly is nearing the season 1 closer for Gundam 00, because this episode was all over the place. To sum up, 1) Johann and Michael are dead, Nena mostly incapacitated, Aeolia Schenberg also (finally) dead, Ali Al-Sarchez in possession of Throne Zwei, and, as if this isn’t enough, Celestial Being has had their limiters removed, and the true power of GN Drives–the TRANS-AM system–is revealed.

Whew.

If what we’re seeing is to be believed, the hypothesis that Celestial Being end war by providing an antagonist for the world to unite and fight against posed earlier in the episode is garbage. The Gundams are supposed to eradicate war, and Alejandro Corner, in his mad quest for power, has inadvertently set in motion the full scope of Schenberg’s plans. What the Trinity siblings were, we don’t know, but with luck Nena will be fighting with the Good Guys now. Surely they wouldn’t kill of Kugyu’s character so soon!

The episode captured several things in superb fashion early on: Tieria’s depression over his failure to prevent Lockon’s injury, and Felt’s (good old Felt, we can always count on you to be cute) burgeoning love for Lockon growing ever more substantia. Tieria’s personality seems to be built on a foundation of an inflated sense of self-worth. He was an arrogant jerk before, but as the situation slowly unravels, layers of his personality reveal themselves. At this point, none of the Meisters are in any way underdeveloped (take that, critics!) and seem to be gaining, as the plan crumbles around them, a renewed interest in bringing peace to the world, Setsuna in particular. But then, he’s just a Gundam otaku at heart. If this takes place in our timeline, maybe he’s been boning up on his anime history…?

In totally unrelated news, Lockon looks like a badass with an eyepatch. Losing his sniper’s eye certainly made his manliness levels go up. Maybe Felt likes a man with an eyepatch too…

Gundam 00: “If we’re in similar units, I, who have never been shot down in combat exercises, have the advantage!”

Patrick is awesome. Best Gundam comic relief character ever. Also: emphasis on “exercises”.

So, it looks like the crew of the Ptolemy/Ptolemaios/whatever (It’s changed so much I can’t remember) has now officially gone rogue from Celestial Being as a whole. Or are they really Celestial Being? Or what? Why isn’t Alejandro wearing a mask? I don’t know! No one knows! Everyone get along! Get along! AAAAAAAAAA!

The plot has, shall we say, thickened considerably. Wang Lie Ming has gone off on her own, and Celestial Being is revealed for what it truly is: a front agency for something much, much deeper, a fact hinted at in the recap episode, and fully explored now. The obvious hypothesis here is that Aeolia Schenberg didn’t want to end war after all (how drab and dull of a plot by someone who has a sinister monocle), but something much more involved and complicated and probably involving cryogenics. I want the “boss Gundam” at the end of the series to be piloted by Aeola Schenberg’s talking head in a jar, monocle and all, but, alas, this is not Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, so I must resign myself to disappointment, at least here.

The Sumeragi faction is probably going to split off and fight whatever Schenberg cooked up 200 years ago, and go from being the hated enemies of the world to being the saviors, or something like that. I like the direction it’s going–conspiracies always turn in upon themselves, and watching them do so is oh so fun. I expect there’s going to be quite a fair bit more to it than that, though, since we’ve got 29 episodes proper left in the series.

On Patrick: he is now my new character to cheer on relentlessly. He’s so…stupid. So wonderfully…stupid. He’s brilliant comic relief in a series that has excelled at comic relief, and even here, Patrick is a bit more than comic relief. It was he who stabbed Lockon in that battle, not Daryl, who would have been my peg for scoring the hit in this episode. But I forgive him for stabbing Lockon, because, well…he’s Patrick. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s done. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the beauty, the the bliss, and the stupid that is Patrick.

On Tieria: He’s gone from being a stuck-up bastard to being a pansified wuss, if you can somehow extract the negative connotation of both of those terms, do so,  as he’s now got real depth to his character. He’s even using “boku” to refer to himself instead of the harsher “ore”.Someone’s trying to compensate for something. It looks like Mizushima was correct once again: by the time this season is over with, we, the viewers, will be intimately familiar with the Meisters. Not bad for a series decried at the beginning for having the main characters be a bunch of personalityless bishounen. Now they’re bishounen with personality! (although I, personally, don’t really understand how you can apply the term “bishounen” to them, because they don’t look particularly willowy to me, but the lengths some people will go to to find an excuse to not watch Gundam 00…) Quite an improvement, don’t you think?

“That’s the highest compliment I could hope for.”

Well, it certainly doesn’t take much to please Setsuna, in the end.

We finally get some more tenuous light shed on Setsuna’s situation in life, as well as Nerd Dylandy Neil Nudity Neil Dylandy’s (can’t you say it properly, Felt)…or, err, Lockon’s. I’m guessing this is what MIzushima meant by the Meisters being fairly fleshed-out characters by the time the season closer pops up, an event which is getting dreadfully closer by the day. We’ve even learned a bit about Tieira Erde, and, while there’s still no explanation as to why he’s a humorless ass, he’s very obviously still human, somewhere in that ice cold heart of his.

The satisfaction of having pieces of the puzzle we call Gundam 00 slowly slide into place is nigh-on incomperable. It’s a great conspiracy series, made all the better because it’s a Gundam conspiracy series. With hot girls. I won’t say it’s the best Gundam ever oh my God you have to see it (although at times I might want to) but we’re six episodes from the end of the first half, and the series has only improved with each episode. Or, rather, not necessarily improved, but it’s kind of a Eureka Seven effect: you start out more intrigued than enthralled, and as the series slowly doles out bits of plot and what-not you find yourself loving it more and more. Of course, it hasn’t really “improved” per se, the standards of quality were there in the beginning, and the rather inauspicious start was just a clever prank by the writers to make lesser mortals abandon ship early. The Eureks Seven effect is, of course, why I rarely drop series whose first episode is lacklustre but intriguing anymore: it’s not really failed me much yet. Ghost Hound falls under this category as well (speaking of, need to watch next episode for my dose of creepy psychology) , so it’s a good sign that it’s in there.

Now I’m just sad that I have to wait until 2009 to find out how 00 ends. Curse you, Japan. At least we have Code Geass conclusion to watch in the interim between series. God bless Taniguchi Goro.

A Brief Glimpse into the Soul and Being of Nena Trinity

Setsuna F. Seiei saw it. Did you?

Yes, yes, probably late on the news, and I’m sure you all have actually watched the pertinent episodes by now, but Nena Trinity is a psychopath. A loveable, cute, V-flashing psychopath.

The Trinity siblings are truly despicable. However, it’s the fun kind of despicable, the kind where you find yourself loving to hate them. At this point, they’re all pretty much off their rocker in that way that makes them impossible not to like as villains. The stereotypical VIllain You Love to Hate, in other words. I think what’s working for them in that regard is that they’re so caricatured and over the top. Seiji is not using subtle plot devices to show how evil the Trinities are here, Seiji is taking a giant mallet from his personal hammerspace and whacking you over the head with it. Repeatedly. Of course, they weren’t going to be anything but indescribably evil, but they’re so lovably evil that’s they’re perfect antagonists for a Gundam series. They’re like Azrael’s team of drugged up crazies in SEED, except instead of being drugged up and crazy they’re sober and crazy. Big difference there.

Deliciously evil villains aside, the introduction of the Trinities has left a decidedly bizarre impact on the conspiracy. If only Professor  Eifman hadn’t died in that attack, maybe we would have had some answers! Instead, it confirms what we already guessed a long time ago: Celestial Being might only be the front organization of an even shadowier, even more ominous organization. The original four Gundam Meisters clearly believe that what they are doing with the armed interventions is the correct thing to do, which is probably the way they were indoctrinated in the organization: if the frontmen don’t know about what’s going on in the back, how can they spill the beans? I have the funny feeling the first season will end with Sumeragi, the Ptolemy, and related people breaking off from the main Celestial Being group and starting to combat the real conspiracy, along with everyone else who wants to fight. Maybe by the end of the second and final season we’ll have every major rival fighting not against the Gundams but alongside them, in a battle against the common enemy!

Or the show could surprise me half to death and not do what I think it’s going to do. That can only be a Good Thing, as it would improve my opinion to an even more ridiculously high stance. It might even match Turn A or G, then.

Anniversaries are a wonderful thing. Thank you, Sunrise. You know how to party like it’s 1979.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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