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Gundam 00 – A wakening of the Trailblazer

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「A wakening of the Trailblazer」

Back in May when I posted about a couple of the trailers for the theatrical conclusion to the Gundam 00 story, there wasn’t a whole lot revealed about what Celestial Being would be getting into in this final installment. The official site only makes brief mention that it takes two years later in A.D. 2314, when a 130-year-old scrapped research vessel in Jupiter’s orbit makes its way towards Earth with a new crisis, so I really wasn’t too sure what to expect. Looking back, it’s almost as if the trailers at the time purposely avoided the real threat that was approaching too, and instead diverted most of the attention to a second pure Innovator, Descartes Shaman. As a result, I was in for quite a surprise when the startling revelation of a new alien threat was made — one that would force all of mankind to unite or face extinction. Extraterrestrial Living-metal Shapeshifters, or ELS for short, turn out to be a sentient metallic life-form much like their name suggests, and marks the first time that I ever recall a Gundam series introducing an alien threat. Up until now, the franchise has always been about humanity’s migration to space and the conflicts that occur from that separation, so when a swarm of ELS started pouring out of a wormhole at Jupiter’s Big Red Spot, I was suddenly hit with the feeling that I was watching something straight out of Macross.

With no concept of “folding” or “warp”, contact with an alien species was simply something that Gundam series have simply never addressed, making ELS’ arrival into the Solar System the biggest surprise in an otherwise fairly straightforward plot. There weren’t really any major twists afterward, but the rest of the movie wasn’t the least bit dull, as the Earth Sphere Federation scrambled to find out exactly what they’re dealing with when fragments from the research vessel made their way to the Earth’s surface and started assimilating both machines and humans. Those with strong quantum brainwaves and on the verge of Innovation (i.e. evolving) began suffering from inexplicable mental stress and were primarily targeted for assimilation by ELS, causing plenty of confusion for both the world and me as the viewer on exactly what was going on. The search for answers was what had me hooked immediately, especially when Celestial Being had their first run-in with ELS, and Setsuna was unable to fight back when he was overwhelmed with a flurry of alien thoughts he couldn’t make any sense of. This movie wasn’t short of any timely entrances with a lot of impact, and this particular incident saw the return of Tieria back in the body of an Innovade and piloting Raphael Gundam, saving Setsuna from being assimilated along with his repaired Gundam 00 Raiser (Condenser Type). Ignoring the fake-out opening where Saji was watching a Celestial Being movie with friends, and the brief armed intervention Setsuna and Lockon undertook in a Flag Kai to protect Marina, Tieria’s return proved to be the tip of the iceberg on several fast-paced, action-packed battles to come.

If there’s one area that this movie absolutely did not disappoint in, the action was undoubtedly it. The climactic battle at the end with the Earth Sphere Federation united in their last line of defense against unimaginable 10,000:1 numbers had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, in what felt like the final hour for mankind. What started out as insurmountable odds soon became impossible ones once ELS taking the form of mobile suits and battleships and firing their own beam weaponry. All the hope that rested on the Celestial Being space colony’s 80-meter GN Laser to destroy the moon-size ELS mother ship was quickly shattered, and it was just a losing fight from that point on as Ishikawa Chiaki’s “Mou Nani mo Kowakunai, Kowaku wa Nai” (There’s Nothing To Be Afraid of Anymore, I’m Not Afraid) played in the background. Even with the Ptolemaios 2 arriving with Graham’s elite Solbrave squadron, and Allelujah/Marie and Lockon in their Gundam Harute and Zabanya tearing everything up, I couldn’t shake the sense of hopelessness. I’m still not sure why, but I have a real soft spot for seeing people continue to struggle against impossible odds, to the point that I get pretty emotionally caught up in it. Watching this desperate battle in space gave me chills and put me in a bit of a cold sweat, and seeing Setsuna finally come to from the mental damage he sustained earlier and finally launch in the Gundam 00 Qan[T] as everyone’s last hope brought a tear to my eye. The ESF forces were getting absolutely slaughtered, the Celestial Being command center containing Veda had been breached, and even Ptolemy was being assimilated. Logic went completely out the window as Sumeragi, Kati, and everyone else only held onto the belief that Setsuna would open the way to a new future. In short, it was intense.

The story on the other hand deserves more praise than it will probably receive from most viewers, since it brings together all the characters established over fifty episodes to provide multiple layers to it and to further wrap up some of their subplots. People who either haven’t seen both seasons of the television series or bothered to remember all the characters will likely have most of those developments go over their head, but as someone who could immediately identify with them all, including brief mention of deceased ones such as Sergei Smirnov, I appreciated their inclusion in the final chapter of the Gundam 00 story. Some characters had more prominent roles with their dramatic sacrifices, whereas others simply provided a sense of nostalgia by reminding me of everything they’ve been through. In the latter case, some added more to the story than it seems, such as Saji and Louise, whom a lot of the initial suspense centered around with what appeared to be the revival of Ribbons Almark. To a lesser extent were the introduction of astrophysicist Meena Carmine (Kugimiya Rie) who’s particularly fond of Billy, and the unnamed White House secretary (Shiraishi Ryouko), two characters that resembled Nena Trinity and Anew Returner respectively. On paper, a large cast tends to pose the risk of spreading the plot too thinly, but that really wasn’t an issue considering how the script was written under the assumption that the viewer is already familiar with everyone. Little to no time spent was spent on reintroductions, which allowed for a little bit of one-sided development between Feldt and Setsuna to be explored, while making it clear that this movie is intended for audiences who have watched the series.

Despite the story’s fairly straightforward progression, the delivery from multiple perspectives before having it all come together at the very end made it work well as a movie. The ending came somewhat abruptly with Setsuna’s decision to travel to the ELS’ world after learning how their original one was consumed by a red dwarf star and how they assimilate other species to communicate; however, the silence that swept through space when the ELS’ mother ship transformed into a giant flower from Setsuna’s memories went on to reiterate the “peace through understanding” theme of the series, and gave new meaning to Aeolia Schenberg’s belief that mankind needs to evolve to do so. It’s a stark contrast to what his plan appeared to be at the onset with Celestial Being’s armed interventions to put a stop to war, as the three key elements — a GN Drive, Veda, and an Innovator — came together in Setsuna and the Gundam 00 Qant[T] to realize his vision of a new future. The fifty-year time-lapse showing mankind coexisting with the ELS and the birth of a new hybrid species was still pretty unusual given that this is Gundam and all, but I commend the producers for taking the franchise in a “new” direction. It pretty much drove home the point that this movie wasn’t anything I was expecting, adding another dimension to the series as a whole. The moral of the story may be overused, but I didn’t see any problem with conveying it to younger generations and reminding older ones by quoting Albert Einstein in the final scene. “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”

Overall, this movie brought together everything that I liked about the Gundam 00 series, and threw in a bunch of aspects that I wasn’t expecting at all. The animation was absolutely beautiful and sheer the amount of high-speed action scenes blew my mind. As a long-time fan, it delivered two hours of exciting entertainment as well as a meaningful message that altered my view on the two seasons that came before. There were probably numerous ways the producers could have gone about giving closure to the story, and while I can’t really say this will be the most agreeable way to fans, I for one like how it used contact with a T-1000-like alien race to put an end to conflict on Earth. From the very beginning of the movie, the revelation that Gundam Qan[T] was designed with Setsuna’s hopes of a mobile suit putting an end to fighting through understanding hinted that we’d get something different, and that’s exactly what we got in the end.

Note: If for some reason you figure that watching this movie would be a good way to get into the Gundam franchise, I strongly recommend against doing so since it’ll just ruin the experience. Watch the TV series first, then the movie in its intended order.

 

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January 2, 2011 at 11:25 am
246 comments »
  • January 5, 2011 at 6:58 pmanimeE

    OK – time for me to weigh in. This movie sucked in the story department, and it was so predictable. The viewers were given no explanation as to what these aliens truly wanted, and in the end, Setsuna does some hokey pokey crap and drop a huge flower in the sky and everyone is happy and the aliens are pacified?
    It just does not live up to the series. The freaking aliens were violent from the moment they were introduced onto the screen. They were taking over cars, killing people etc. How is their home world being destroyed influencing this behaviour? What will going to their planet do? The fights were totally uninteresting and the only thing that stood out to me was Strao’s shield bits and rifle bits and the combined ability of Sowmya and Hal’s crazy arse to combine their brain waves to destroy everything in their paths.
    Anyways, the gg torrent is floating out there. Grab it if you haven’t watched this crap yet. It’s so bad I’m going to delete the 4.5 GB file now.To think that I waited anxiously for this for 2 years+?? I’m so disappointed in myself!

    • January 6, 2011 at 10:01 amJusuchin (Military Otaku)

      This comes from a person who probably saw battle scenes and nothing else. Not tying in the numerous themes built upon the series and the all so ‘alien’ concept that maybe extraterrestrial life forms evolved from distinctly different evolutionary paths than humans.

      I enjoyed the movie and helped bring in what I thought was overshadowed by the releases of Unicorn and Gravity Front in the past few years. (well, I’m a UC junkie)

      And although the moral is overused, I liked the epilogue. It had a good story, pacing was very good considering this is what we can see would happen in a first contact scenario.

      • January 9, 2011 at 5:42 amBlacksun88

        I’m glad there are reasonable gundam fans like u :)

    • January 9, 2011 at 1:12 pmEdgewood

      It’s so nice to hear your polite and well-stated opinion. I’m so sorry that this film was a disappointment for you. May I suggest going back to SEED DESTINY and pretending that 00 never happened? Surely the travesties of Cosmic Era and its beam-jaculation combat scenes will keep you satisfied while you wait for the next Gundam series. Let’s hope it’s poorly written and heavy on redundant action so we can keep you happy!

    • January 11, 2011 at 12:38 amxybercutie

      read this….it will explain most of what happened..

      http://gundam.wikia.com/wiki/Setsuna_F._Seiei

    • January 16, 2011 at 12:00 amleon

      Hey Hey Hey, the story’s not shit. I’m got to admit, I didn’t come in expecting much, but this movie delivered so much more than I can ever hope for. It’s got all the good stuffs, drama, Best of the best, beautifully animated action, thrill, HORROR, and universal scale war. The atmosphere was serious from the start and the build up was incredible, The disapearence of suzumiya Harihu level. I mean, I figured that the aliens were going to come from the shuttle only, never guessed that it burst out of Jupital’s red spot. Apocalyptic. Universal scale, that’s a master piece

      Well, I will admit, the final conclusion to the moral of the story was weak. If they only had invested 10 more mins to fully explain that….

      Regardless, Gundam 00 movie is the BOMB.

  • January 5, 2011 at 8:36 pmZaki

    Genius.

  • January 5, 2011 at 8:45 pmreilina

    is that old marina with young setsuna i see in the last scenes?

  • January 5, 2011 at 9:31 pmBloody Ovaltine

    I gotta say this is going on my “guilty pleasure” list. While the visuals and animation were dead on to mind blowing, it was the story that kinda made me laugh at times. Honestly, the dialogue went from quasi-meaningful to cheesy at the drop of the hat. And the use of deus ex machina plot devices were lazy at best. But hey it was a fun and pretty movie. And I’ll watch it again. But the giant space flower… Well I yelled at my screen and woke up my neighbors. Come on seriously!? A giant space flower? Fuck you too Sunrise…(Yes I have watched the series. I just thought that damn flower was hokey as all get out.)

  • January 5, 2011 at 11:53 pmFreya

    Yeah I’m with the consensus. AWESOME visuals/beam spam but the ending….oh how that kicked all our asses.

    LOL @ old Marina and Metallic Setsuna.

  • January 6, 2011 at 6:23 pmasyph

    The flower at the end was a bit of a ‘wtf’ moment, but I liked how it was used to convey the whole understanding thing.
    Not what I was expecting but I really enjoyed it :) Gundam 00 did not disappoint for me.

  • January 7, 2011 at 12:09 ampaulrenzo

    After watching the movie, I have to agree: this is more Macross than Gundam, but instead of using music to stop a war, they used science.

    The fight scenes though, were better than what a lot of people are saying online. Then again, I love my beam spams.

  • January 7, 2011 at 12:12 amKixmachina

    It may not be the best Gundam movie, but it was really good enough for me.
    This movie is not for hard core gundam fans who are used to usual gundam plots and scenarios. I kinda applaud this Gundam movie(and series in general) for trying to be different. As one comment said, you may place it in the likes of Turn A(Gundam, and yet not totally Gundam).

    Trailblazer was like Gundam 00 series mixed with element of Macross and Eureka Seven, in my opinion. It may not be your usual Gundam cup of tea, but for me its kind of refreshing to take in some unusual elements in a Gundam series. Also, while it may not be THAT clear, it somehow really took what was developed in the 1st and 2nd season.

    The action was superb, the battle scenes intense, and the plot, you may have to think a bit hard about it. But it was not bad, there might be some flaws though. I find the character of Shaman kinda, useless. Still, Trailblazer did not disappoint nonetheless. Some fans may think they are trolled because they are not used to some new elements, but for me the new elements emphasized what was built upon the series and made the experience refreshing for me. May just need a second viewing though.

    Awesome review by the way.

  • January 7, 2011 at 3:31 amFrito

    This film is by far one of the best Gundam films I’ve seen. The theme was conveyed nicely and it was wrapped up neatly. With the quasi angel metaphor and the flower.

    That said this Gundam lacked the involvement of a much hyped character, Descartes. He was suppose to be the main baddie. Sunrise really botched his character development and wasted a really good opportunity to have an assimilated Shaman fight Setsuna. His character could’ve created a whole new subplot regarding survival and who really deserve to live etc…

    I suppose Sunrise didn’t see that to be a fitting end. I mean the whole motto of the film is “Peace through Understanding.” Fighting and killing the antagonist would definitely overshadow that.

    And WTF. Where the hell are my one vs ones in this flick. The beam spam makes Gundam Seed look like a junior varsity team. One on Ones is what people really love about the 00 series and how personal the battles was. This one is rather lacking in that department. That said I still enjoyed it.

    Neil vs Ali, Lyle vs Ali, Allelujah vs Sergei/Soma, Setsuna vs Alejandro, Tieria vs Ribbons. Where the hell were those? Am I the only person bothered by this? Whole movie lacked one vs one confrontation. GRAHAM vs SETSUNA fights were like the best.

    • January 7, 2011 at 10:36 pmGhostalker

      One on one battle against our first contact doesn’t make any sense to me at all. If anything else, this movie clearly shows the good side of humanity —> Unity against a common enemy/ unite or face extinction theme. This Gundam show deviate from the usual interpersonal battle our characters are facing as they set aside their difference to counter what is thought to be an impossible odds. Maybe, just maybe, but this is what I am thinking…”The childhood of mankind” ends with the conclusion of the Gundam 00.

      • January 7, 2011 at 10:45 pmFrito

        They could’ve easily created a whole new character with the assimilation of Descartes. Sadly Sunrise didn’t really pay attention to his character. One vs One can still be essential and personal in the midst of unsurmountable odd type of battles. They’ve done it the first two seasons, why lay off now?

  • January 8, 2011 at 12:35 amiamandragon

    Great one!

    Lockon is really making Freedom look like a wimp lol…just how many funnels did he have?

    • January 8, 2011 at 6:35 amFrito

      Had ones for defense and offense. Not just have a cluster of funnels doing both.

  • January 8, 2011 at 7:20 amJC

    This is undoubtedly one of the best anime movies ever and surpassed my expectations from all fronts… the flow of the story, music, closure for the characters and most importantly, the fighting scenes were extremely well done
    Having that said, the movie or the OO franchise is probably not everyone’s cup of tea and I can see why some of the younger audiences would not appreciate it
    I like the fact that the back story of the ELS/aliens was not explored since they will not be able to give us a satisfactory explanation within the short time frame of a movie… but at the end of the day, does it really matter?
    The central theme of the franchise surrounds “understanding one another” and the happy ending with Setsuna and Marina hugging each other rounds up Gundam 00 perfectly
    I was slightly disappointed with the second half of its second season, but I think the movie more than compensate for that and puts everything back into the right place…
    Most looking forward to the next Gundam franchise… well done, Sunrise!

  • January 8, 2011 at 12:05 pmTheWolfStriker

    The movie was great in all the ways except the ending. Setsuna did not fight either. How the hell did he come in understanding with the aliens. They also didn’t show any details about what exactly he did by visiting the alien’s planet.

  • January 8, 2011 at 12:28 pmXanathos

    My opinion is… that they should simply show some way to end the whole series in good terms related with the original plot, i mean, the plot is coherent, really. Just that, they tried to do a new conflict and resolution of this in a 2 hours movie. Something that was obviously better done in a 25 episode series. If they thought that in a 4 episodes and more time they would be able to do something decent, i think that was a wrong guess.

    An OVA series with long interval release (like Unicorn) would have been better. Anyway, I expected more, that’s all i’m saying.

  • January 8, 2011 at 3:42 pmBrian

    In my opinion, Gundam 00 is getting worse and worse. I thought season 1 was excellent, season 2 was decent, and finally the movie, I thought, was pretty bad. I didn’t like the alien premise that most gundam series are geared towards. The epilogue felt like crap was melting in my mouth because they didn’t show what happened to the rest of celestial being’s crew and the fact that I felt that the time skip was completely unnecessary. And, I’ll admit, I raged at the non-Feldt ending. They gave the development some push during the movie, only to let it all go.

  • January 8, 2011 at 8:17 pmLee0013

    The story is FCKN Bullshit
    complete train wreck
    veerryyy disappointed
    this kind story didn’t go well with gundams
    leave those alien thing to macros + evangelion

  • January 8, 2011 at 11:35 pmsin1505

    The only thing that annoyed me was Feldt, and the giant flower. The flower was a bit cheesy and i really wasn’t expecting it. However, that flower was present in S1 and maybe s2 if my memory is correct therefor it is kind of reasonable i guess. But Feldt was just plain annoying! Get OFF Setsuna! Poor Lock on :( (original)

  • January 10, 2011 at 8:21 amRasmiel

    Great movie. The people complaining about the lack of details towards the end need to use their imagination and common sense to figure out themselves instead of expecting Sunrise to spoonfeed everything to them in a 2 hour timeframe. They did a goodjob covering the most important plot points and allowing some character development. They gave you the theme and why’s. The rest is using x to figure out y. The theme is very befitting too for what is happening in our world.

    On another note, I like how 00 focuses on ending war through communication and understanding while SEED focused on using force to end the war. It’s almost as if 00 with this movie is telling SEED franchise to gtfo.

  • January 10, 2011 at 6:31 pmCaiSter21

    did anyone think of the Borg from Star Trek when they saw the ELS?

  • January 11, 2011 at 12:15 amkureejii

    I think what was lacking in the movie was the characterization of the ELS. By character, I mean, give them more substance or purpose than to be used as a way for Setsuna to save the world. This lack of character is easily seen by the non-existant one on one confrontations which would have given them more purpose. Even Descartes ended up not doing much before dying. All the writers did was just stick the theme on like a post-it. If the ELS were communicating via metal transformation, then what good does Setsuna being able to tell the difference do to the world and the ELS? Nothing! The fact that he understood seemed to be a good enough reason for the ELS to stop communicating with the humans and form into a space flower. This also had no correlation with his desire to visit the ELS’ home.

    Some people are going to disagree with me, but I think that was one of the most disappointing aspects of the movie. They could have easily done a traditional Gundam movie and still have same character development and the same theme.

  • January 11, 2011 at 5:48 amDaveGan

    Halo all Iam Gundam Fans
    (Gundam Neo-gundam wing-gundam Seed-gundam Destiny-Gundam 00-gundam 00 S2-Gundam 00 Awaking of the trainbazer)
    i still not yet wacth gundam 00 awaking of the traibazer but,, how the story suck or what..i will always support the gundam movie..
    special is. the gundam song.. its very nice to hear it..
    i hope all the gundam fans will forever support all the gundam movie.
    Cheer Up Gundam ^^

  • January 11, 2011 at 6:28 amAxis

    I liked the movie,story wise and animation wise,people are bitching about the movie is laughable ,it had a happy ending,which is vague which i like cuz its debatable and im a UC fanboy,and I liked the movie,why? cuz im a gundam fan and appreciate every gundam that comes out ^_^ cheers

  • January 11, 2011 at 9:21 amSaiko

    Plain Freaking Epic.

  • January 15, 2011 at 9:52 pmDarkgosh

    ok, i have lots questions, what happen with all gundam meister in the end? we see Setsuna and Marina but the others? thats why I dont like too much the end.

  • January 15, 2011 at 10:55 pmSj

    I liked to movie, but the only thing was the ending was rushed. Setsuna just quantinizes and then somehow the ELS understand the humans perfectly in an instant. Also we have no idea what happened to the rest of the characters and I think Setsuna may have come back to earth before the epilogue (im a setsunaXfeldt fan XD) because I doubt he would have just left like that for fifty years. Other than the ending the movie was good.

  • January 19, 2011 at 6:34 amHC

    So, like a lot of the Gundam fans (especially the 00 fans) i would i have to agree in saying:
    -Great Movie
    -Great Action and art
    -Great Battle scenes

    BUT…
    the ending….??? w.t.f.
    Big flower in space!? Yeah i get that it promotes the moral of the movie saying how force isn’t the answer to war but still..
    Also Setsuna goes to the land of the ELS’ and comes back 50yrs later as a mettalic man and meeting up with a blind old Marina..(poor Marina..she was so beautiful) lol!?

    Anyway that’s enough ranting from me.
    In Conlusion, Great battle scenes and animation, satisfactory story but I liked how all the characters are brought up in this one movie in some way or another..but random and confusing ending.

    Peace.

  • January 30, 2011 at 1:46 amdxb_blackwolf

    I dont understand why the “W” in “wakening” is lowercased everywhere.

    Great movie, even though I was a little disappointed. The ending was what made it worthwhile for me.

  • February 20, 2011 at 7:18 pmCHS

    It wasnt bad, it was okay. but i know they could have done a better plot !
    But the last scene between SETSUNA AND MARINA were epic ! <3 <3

  • February 28, 2011 at 2:02 pmbunny

    LOL at the fake gundam meisters (pink haired version of Allelujah!)

  • March 11, 2011 at 6:26 pmsevenfarn

    I watched the movie only recently. I think my comment probably would not been seen. However, I still want to vent it.

    People should give credit to the staff for innovation. In terms of style, Gundam 00 is closer to the real Star Trek than other Japanese cartoons.

    For those who have seen Star Trek the next generation, it is worth to compare the 00 movie with the Star Trek episodes-the best of both world (the first battle with the Borg). You can then see the real cultural differences across the Pacific.

    Knowing a little bit of Japanese history, it is also worth pointing the story line of 00 movie has borrowed some modern Japanese history. It can be compared to Captain Perry’s Gun boat diplomacy. The power was so one sided that the old Japanese samurai simply collapsed in front of the modern steam ship and its cannons. If one follows this line, the 00 movie is actually educational, on top of being an entertainment.

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