Archive for the 'gundam' Category



Mobile Suit Gundam 00: UNITY

BORING ANECDOTE TIME!

After work yesterday, needing a break from some of the sonic insanity that had transpired all day at work, I stuck the Gundam 00 soundtrack in my car as I drove home. I had noticed before that Kawai Kenji’s score for the series sounded awfully similar, with many of the tracks (at least on OST 1) providing various interpretations of certain musical leitmotifs that cross and intercross between the various tracks. Before, I’d kind of ignored it, not thinking ill nor good of it, but I stuck it in and then I thought “wait, this is Kawai Kenji and Gundam, there’s got to be something here” and, while stuck in traffic, decided that leitmotifs, far from being musically bland, served the purpose of “unifying” the various factions of the first season, and of humanity in general–the leitmotifs are performed by different instruments on each track they are present, and, thus, humanity is various interpretations on a single theme. And then, earlier today, I watched episodes 10 and 11, which more or less justified that rush hour train of throught.

Let’s clarify that a bit.

One thing that seems to happen in 00 a lot is that, as it’s wound on, everyone on all sides has suddenly started to seem a great deal closer than they did at first. Sumeragi went to school with Billy Katagiri and Kati Mannequin; Setsuna was a member of the terrorist cell that killed Lockon’s family; Soma/Marie and Allelujah were, essentially, two sides of the same coin. It adds dramatic weight, but the connectedness of everything seems to take on especial meaning after 10 and especially 11.

Equipped with the 00 Raiser, the 00’s Trans-Am system has some decidedly Newtype-ish effects: suddenly, people are capable of sensing other people that they know and do not know. Soma/Marie senses her beloved Colonel, and (perhaps most importantly) Saji senses Louise in her A-Laws unit. It’s an ethereal awareness humanity doesn’t normally experience, and seems to be on the same wavelength that the Innovators use for their silent communications.

I can’t quite remember what Aeolia Schenberg said when the unlocking of Trans-Am occured (and I do not have an easy way to find out, sadly), and even though his plan is still shrouded in mystery and unknown factors (and, as I thought, much more complicated than it seemed at the beginning), if the 00, Trans-Am, and the 00 Riser are all integral parts of his plan, it’s starting to seem strangely like the way out of the labyrinth he left behind is not Libbon’s tactics of domination through being the Illuminati of the world, but, rather, the unification of the world through the realization that humanity is, essentially, one: hence the corruption of the 00 into : two interlocked 0s, different yet part of the whole.

Dripping with obvious and pendulous symbolism? You bet.  And yet, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed when the giant infinity mark appeared at the end of the episode, while basking in the post-Prototype haze (that is the most amazing Ishikawa Chiaki song I have heard to date; I’m amazed at how she tops herself consistently). Gundam’s never really been known for subtlety, though. Mizushima has more Gundam in him than his Gundam background of Zeta and nothing else would suggest.

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Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Setsuna F. Seiei, Ph. D (peace studies, piloting giant robots)

Setsuna, apparently, has the uncanny ability to channel Socrates or Plato or Aristotle or Zeno or Archimedes or Epicurius or something from really old Greek times, because, man, is he waxing philosophical here. Or at least reciting truisms. Or something. Also I like Greek names and words, because certain words have a disturbing tendency to look like romanized Japanese, wreaking havoc with my mind when I’m in some crazy religion class (of which I have taken far too many).

The statement that goes with the above picture, “Are you okay with being the only one at peace?” highlights, or at least made me think far too hard, one of the great problems that seems to be part of human conflict and the lack thereof: how absolutely and interminably difficult it is to acheive peace without sacrificing other people’s peace (temporarily or permanently) in the process. Indeed, it may be impossible to actually acheive an ideal peace where everyone is at ease and peaceful, since someone’s idea of peace can differ wildly from other people’s. It’s a horrendously complicated issue evidenced through the fact that it’s almost impossible for me to even start addressing the issue, but the message carried from Setsuna to Saji is quite clear: if peace is to be acheived, then sacrifice must be made. Saji’s perspective seems selfish and naive by comparison, in the sense that his own personal peace was disrupted (and continues to be disrupted) for the sake of Celestial Being’s greater mission, even if it was a certain charmingly crazy member of Team Trinity who started the whole problem, and not Setsuna. By the same token, however, one could argue that Setsuna’s postion–that in order to acheive peace, peace must be sacrificed–seems, well, foolish and naive at best, for how can it be “peace” when there’s people who are resentful of the manner by which peace was acheived? Still, however, if there is a way to peace, it is only by the sacrifice of personal peace, on some level, be it restricted to a small group of people dedicated to preseving said peace, or be it a global removal of personal peace in favor of interpersonal peace.


Clearly the preceding paragraph, in its entirety, is what was running through Saji’s head for the two seconds of shocked reaction pictured here. You can tell from his expression that the full philosophical weight has fallen upon him, a veritable piano of enlightenment, with the discordant sound of truth as accompaniment.

On a less, uh, philosophical note, the actual plot of Gundam 00 (part the Second) seems to be slotting into place nicely. Feldt-tan still has her lovable habit of saying, alternately, “Lockon Stratos…” or “Lyle Dylandy….” or “Haro….” and not much else in a poignant scene of silence that makes me love her even more. That and her happy face when Sumeragi consented to drawing up tactical plans. I also quite liked the deepening of the relationship between Soma and Alleujah. We’d known the two were connected, emotionally, true; but now we’re getting added dimensions to Soma’s character as she becomes the one who gets to flip out when confronted with Allelujah, instead of the other way around. We’re still in the setup phase of the second half of the series, a lamentable problem of the split-season concept, but given the time skip, it’s to be expected, and it’s working well. They’re also setting up to spend much more time this season going in-depth into the myriad characters, a prospect which I (and, I somewhat suspect, only I) relish indeed.

Or maybe I’m just an intractable fanboy trying to justify my bounciness through the careful, applied use of calm words and rational discourse. All I know is, I’m probably going to be even more upset when the second season is over than when the first one was, but at least we’ll have a conclusion. Unless there’s a green light lit for a third season…

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Welcome (back) To This Crazy Time

このふざけた時代へようこそ
君はTOUGH BOY TOUGH BOY TOUGH BOY TOUGH BOY

Or, uh, maybe not…

At any rate, despite being an extended 24-minute cameo sequence with explosions an episode focuing on what will probably be a series-long conflict between Setsuna and Saji (opening joke aside, I quite respect his emotional outburst and the subsequent aftermath of it. He’s had a harsh life up to this point) with brief cameos of other major characters there to set the stage and create palpable excitement for the second and final installment in the Gundam 00 saga. First, the cameos:

  • Soma and Sergei are living together? What kind of insanity is this? Soma is still a bundle of cute (doubly so now that Sunrise’s sinister plot has been revealed), but is this an assertion that Sergei is actually a dirty old man? Pretty good job, however, bagging a cute girl like Soma with a scar like that, though, so he wins.

    (yes, I know he’s probably just her protective, legal ward. Just like Julian was Yang Wenli’s “protective, legal ward”. Keep the snickering to yourself, ‘kay?)

  • I don’t know if I just missed Graham’s mask in the ending of Gundam 00 Part the First or if I’d forgotten it, but I still had a moment of both unintended hilarity and overwhemling manliness. Graham is probably the only person who could wear a mask like that and still be a manly man.
  • Billy and Sumeragi living together (or at least sharing a bed)? I saw it coming, but…
  • Ribbons, you bastard. You and your corruptive, manipulative ways, luring Wang Liu Min into your clutches.

    (she was evil before, yes, but she was hot evil. Speaking of, there’s someone noticably missing at the moment. I wonder who it could be…)

  • Felt will have very un-feminine thoughts when Neil Lyle Dylandy struts onto the bridge, according to the episode preview. I miss her poufy twintails, though, but she is still the Felt we all know and love. Complete with Haro.

More important, I think, was the establishment of conflict between Setsuna, the strict devotee of Celestial Being’s policy of armed interventions as a means of bringing about world peace forcibly, and Saji, whose life has been so affected by Celestial Being’s methods of bringing about world peace that he’s now on the complete opposite side, refusing to even shoot Setsuna because that would make him exactly like them: killing to save lives. I don’t think Mizushima is planning on pulling any punches in the philosophical war of how to end physical war. If it can even happen. Apparently, even though Earth united at the end of the first season, now we’ve got war in space with colonies, a much more familiar setting for a Gundam series, yet somehow having the backdrop for how Earth unified has the potential to make the subsequent colony/Earth war much more interesting. On the other, the terrestrial nature of the first season might be gone, but I don’t think the addressment of real-world issues will be gone.

In short, uh, I’m strangely estatic and happy and overjoiyed and ready to spend the next half a year finding out what goes on in 00 this time. In light of recent events, I’d been a bit worried about what’d happen when Gundam 00 started back up, but such worries have faded for now. Or else the Gundam 00 fanboy in me has just kicked into full gear again, ready to obsessively dissect and analyze the series again, for little reason.

Here’s to hoping that the drama will be contained in weekly 24-minute chunks and not a constant six-month battle. That’s almost as bad as the current election season!

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: The Levithan of Character Development


My Custom Haro is preparing for battle. You would be wise to be terrified.

So after a protracted “discussion” with Owen S from Cruel Angel’s Theses he practically instructed me to write this post, so I am!

The most common criticism I hear leveled against Gundam 00 is the supposed lack of character development. Now, first, I checked Wikipedia for what is most likely intended by the phrase “character development” and, lo and behold, I was looking at it slightly funny. Character development, of course, is the procees of a character changing in some significant way over the course of a work of fiction. Which I already knew. However, I had somehow folded characterization into the definition of character development, as it makes more linguistic sense to me. If you are “developing” the characters, wouldn’t it track both a deepening of the personality and a change over the work?

Thinking about it, it’s probably somewhat accurate to state that Gundam 00 did not have “character development” in the sense of the actual definition. What happens to the characters, especially the Meisters, isn’t a gradual change in their personalities, but rather a deepening of the viewer’s understanding of their static character–the process of characterization. I posit two things: one, that it is most likely outside the scope of Mizushima’s intent with Gundam 00 to “develop” the characters as one might expect; and two, what we have at the moment is only half of the entirety of Gundam 00. We have no idea what’s going to happen in season 2, so it’s possible that all the change was saved up for then. And as for the first, as SDS points out, Gundam 00 is more like the original Mobile Suit Gundam than any of the other AU series, in the sense that it portrays how war affects people. Technically they should change, but what we have in season one is a 25-episode study in how war affects the human consciousness. Mizushima accomplishes this more through portraying the character’s emotional reactions to events in the series. A character having a strong emotional reaction to some kind of external event that they can’t control is valid characterization, as it shows you what they find upsetting; you may not like it, which is perfectly acceptable, but it isn’t invalid.

In conclusion, I guess, the main difference between fans of Gundam 00 and not-fans of Gundam 00 is a difference in how they wish to see characters portrayed in their anime. Characterization has a certain kind of style to it, and if you don’t like the style of a certain series’ charateriation, then you’re going to like that series less. It’s like how I’m ambivalent (or, really, downwright bipolar) towards Kaiba: objectively, it’s good; subjectively, it fails to grab me in any significant way that makes me appreciate it the way Yuasa intendts me to appreciate it. DIfferent strokes and all that.

I also notice that a lot of the criticism of Gundam 00 of this nature comes from those with limited exposure to the Gundam franchise, and so therefore they’re bringing a different perspective to the matter. Most people with more exposure to the Gundam franchise I’ve seen do one of two things: enjoy Gundam 00 wholeheartedly, sometimes with reservations; or watch two episodes of it and declare it Gundam Wing Part the Second and dismiss it out of hand. That’s not to say one is better than the other, it’s to say that there’s two ways of looking at the series: as an anime that started in Fall 2007, and as a part of the Gundam franchise. SInce I subscribe to the latter, the former is a mystery to me.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: “We are Gundams!”

Well, this was certainly a bloody episode. Like the past, oh, three episodes.

First: To all three of my Loyal and Dedicated Readers, yes, I did not post last night. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have been comprehensible. This post might be only a slight improvement over what it might have been last night, but, trust me, last night would have been baaaaad.

I don’t think I’ve talked about this before, and it’s probably too late for it, but this episode laid blatantly clear the reasoning behind Setsuna’s deep-seated Gundam-mania. The simple, summed up, and obvious answer is that in Setsuna’s time of need as a child-soldier in a horrific war, a Gundam (you know, the one that suspiciously looks like the original Gundam) came down to end the fighting. He became fixated on the image, like, say, a Christian becomes fixated on the image of Jesus on a cross. The fervor that Setsuna feels for the image and concept of Gundam is nigh-on religious in nature.

But what does the Gundam in Setsuna’s mind represent? As he said himself in this episode: “When I only knew how to fight, Celestial Being showed me the reason to fight.” That reason, the eradication of conflict from the world, is what the Gundams are used for. The Gundam, then, stands for the ultimate justice, a kind of, well, Celestial Being, sent to Earth to pass judgement. Schenberg is going for the religious parallels like crazy here.

As these “Celestial Beings”, the early episodes where the Gundams stomped over everything without the slightest hint of resistance aren’t a failure in the writing department, as some argue, but rather a concerted message to the viewer: the Gundams are almost walking mechanical gods. It’s kind of like Turn A, where the Turn A was hidden inside a wooden statue used in an almost mystical rite of passage for the youth of Nocis City. In TUrn A, the Gundam rose from its slumber to defend the Earth against the incursion of the Moonrace (and also to fill a giant gap for long-distance cow transportation). The implication there was that the Gundam was an ancient, revered figure. In 00, however, rather than being revered gods, they’re viewed almost as the devil incarnate, sowing chaos wherever they go.

The progress of the first season, then, is a story of humanity rising to triumph over their heavenly judgement, except, instead of casting humanity as the protagonists, the four Gundam Meisters, the judges, are our protagonists. The first season, then, was the tale of their fall from grace, as humanity slowly wised up, teamed up, and cornered them. Schenberg’s plan is seemingly completed, with Celestial Being simply being a means to an end via their destruction, but it’s quite clear that, even at this stage, something is Not Quite Right in Gundamland. Libbons and his army of clones certainly seem to have Something Up Their Sleeve, the war-crazy Ali Al-Sarchez still walks, and, despite the unification of humanity, they still maintain an army. You would think that with no one to fight against, there would be no reason for an army, but perhaps things are not as smooth and stable as they seem on the surface.

And obviously so, as this is not enough for Celestial Being. There is the shadowy mysterious 00 Gundam that we have not seen yet, and they’re certainly interested in recruiting new Meisters, such as a short-haired Louise (first we get to hear Kugimiya voice a Gundam pilot, now we get to hear Saito Chiwa? Now all we need is for a third SEED series to be made where Meyrin inexplicably gets a Gundam to pilot and then I can die a happy man). There is practically no way of predicting how the second season will go based on the tantalizing next season preview in 25. Will there be Saji vs. Louise? Louise vs. Nena? Some kind of complicated three-way between them? Will Nena be redeemed? What is Libbons really up to? And why doesn’t anyone have a mask in this series yet? Give one to Graham, he’d probably be ecstatic to wear one. It would increase his awesome level by several points. And Graham is all about the awesome level.

I am amused that this post changed tack about three different times throughout the process of writing it. There might be some more things to think about while bored at work, so hopefully there won’t be a six-month hiatus for Gundam 00 here.

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. :(

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.


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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