Posts Tagged 'gundam'

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.

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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. :(

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.

New Mobile War Chronicle Gundam W: The Ravages of Technology

It occurred to me, while watching more of Gundam Wing (or New Mobile War Chronicle Gundam W, or whatever you want to call it) that there’s a certain theme pervading the series in a somewhat quiet fashion. They don’t make a huge deal out of it, but it’s there nonetheless.This is, of course, the issue of technology as applied to warfare. We can use more advanced technology, but at what price?

The first example that this occurred to me was when Zechs piloted the Tallgeese for the first time. The Tallgeese, if you recall from your hazy memories of the 1990s, was the original mobile suit that was never completed. It was, of course, completed, but the dangers of the prototype were very clear in the series: Zechs, Mr. Masked, Skilled Pilot himself, cannot even pilot it without suffering major injuries. It’s the most basic example of improved warfare technology having a drastic effect on human life–not only does the Tallgeese function as a fearsome weapon of destruction, but it takes a severe toll on the pilot himself. In other words, the weapon harms both the enemy and the ally, and it is impossible to use the weapon without causing harm to your own forces as well.

The second example comes from the mobile doll system. Again, here we have a new technology used to fight a war; in this case, it’s machines fighting the war in stead of actual people. This appears to be the wave of the future, as, hey! War without bloodshed! But, as the series is careful to point out, war without bloodshed and sacrifice isn’t war at all, but a game, and one that people could find themselves badly addicted to. In this sense, war without sacrifice simply means that there will never be an end to war. You can say what you will about the questionable philosophy of Wing–this one’s got it right. If humans are not being killed, and the only thing being lost is money, then there’s no real reason to ever end a war–war is, as has been proven time and again, a serious moneymaker for governments, and a way to distract the populace from pressing issues such as civil rights. Without sacrifice, resistance to war seems futile.

(And speaking of sacrifice, that reminds me of the question posited by Giant Robo: “Can happiness be acheived without sacrifice?” If we take “happiness” to mean “peace”, then Wing’s answer is a resounding “no”, as the case of Quatre clearly shows.)

The third example is similar to Tallgeese: it’s the Wing Zero itself. The system renders the pilot insane and charged with bloodlust, as demonstrated by the normally upbeat and pacifistic Quatre turning into a crazy psychopath. If the system can turn the pilot into an inhuman monster, what good does it do? Is it really a system someone should use? What good is new technology if it makes humans lose their humanity?

I don’t know if this issue is one frequently lambasted by the many detractors of Gundam Wing, but it’s an interesting thing to think about. I think it’s a legitimate point of the series as a whole, even if you consider the rest to be bunk. Even if there are no real answers, it’s something fun to chew on, and ruminate about, and write thesis papers on.

Or not.

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.


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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