Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Episode 01: Celestial Being

Finally watched Episode 01 on the net, and I’m giving mixed reviews.

Gundam 00 started off like the usual way a Gundam show starts – there’s fighting, the new Gundams showing off against other mobile suits, plus a battle in space – so there’s nothing new here. Now for the finer details.

Mobile Suits – the core of any Gundam series is the mecha in the story, but I feel Gundam 00 doesn’t come to par with other series, especially Universal Century, which is the benchmark. While I’m still ranting about why the Excia looks like a malnourished second cousin to the Turn A Gundam of the series of the same name, it was saved by the other three – Dynames looks like a cooler version of the SEED’s Buster (probably so as to avoid Buster’s bad merchandising results), Kyrios looks mean in its Waverider mode, and Virtue is awesome with that particle cannon. Too bad Virtue had very minimal show time – I think I’ll enjoy Tiera’s MS over Setsuna Excia.

We also have to consider the grunt MS. The first one (Patrick’s) looks to be an Acguy wearing something out of a ballet recital – the color and wings made it look bad. Same goes with Junkekuren’s mono-eyes in space. So in the mecha division, Gundam 00 is currently ranking below Turn A Gundam for me – even Gundam SEED Destiny, for all its failures, has cooler, if not cartoonish, mobile suits. Gundam 00 better up the ante in MS design.

Characters – I agree that most of them seemed to have jumped from Loveless and right into the action with Gundam 00. Well we can’t help that – the success generated by SEED with the female demographic of fans indicates that Gundam, once a predominantly male oriented show, is going more mainstream and attract more teenaged girls into its fandom. The Gundam Meisters (they sound like hamburgers) are yaoi-attractive, and I won’t be surprised 00 will go the way Wing did. For the rest of the characters, most of them looks to be rehash of people in SEED (female captains, songstresses, princesses, etc.), and the trends seems to continue there. Thankfully Haro makes a comeback – Haro is integral to a Gundam show as the Mobile Suits.

For me, notable characters that I currently like is Lockon, Dynames’ pilot and Haro’s partner, Tiera of Virtue, the Chinese singer agent Wong Ryumin, and Marine Ismail, who looks to definitely be the main love interest of the story, as well as Lacus Clyne’s successor as a princess of peace. The main protagonist, doesn’t interest me that much, except that he acts eerily like Heero Yuy’s I-am-nothing-but-a-soldier character.

Animation – this is where I could say Gundam 00 stands out a little over its predecessors. I find G00 as the best Gundam show to use CGI to its highest quality. G00 uses SEED’s style of multiangled, panoramic and close-in action sequences for MS battles and character shots (several of Setsuna’s shots remind me of Shinn Asuka’s, and the Excia’s first battle brought back memories of Impulse vs. Gaia Round 01), but the environmental shots and backgrounds are more detailed and fluid in their integration in the fast-paced animation. I really hope G00’s animation quality will decline as the show progress, because the first episode has this clean yet detailed animation feel I last experience with Blood Plus.

Overall, Gundam 00 seems to be good at the start, but there are a lot of things that I feel that it needs to improve to feel more like the revered Gundams of old. I hope G00 maintains its impressive animation, have excellent characterization for its cast, and have a story comparable to Zeta Gundam at least, and never stray from focal point of the Gundam franchise’ success – that Gundam is a story of the realities war, hope, and coming of age for those surrounded by it.