Sometime after the Azadistan incident, JNN airs a report about how numerous scientists and engineers have gone missing in the past 200 years. They make a connection to Celestial Being on how new mobile suits take many years to develop, meaning that Celestial Being’s plans must have been in place for over 200 years. Watching this report is the representative of one of the three main world powers, and he then heads into a meeting about the Gundams with representatives of the two other powers. Meanwhile, Ian and Allelujah are working at the secret Celestial Being base inside an asteroid field near a Union space colony, and Ian comments on how Allelujah should leave things to him. Allelujah is fine with being here and admits that he had stuff that he wanted to think about, but Ian warns him against regretting what they’ve already started. The rest of the Celestial Being group is on Earth, and Wang Liu-Mei is at this moment talking with Sumeragi about how, because of nanomachines, the adverse effects of living in space have dropped. However, from a mental health point of view, they still need to come down to the Earth’s surface, and Sumeragi feels that it’ll take time for man to be able to live in space outside of the colonies.
This causes Wang Liu-Mei to ask if Sumeragi hates humanity’s advancement into space, and Sumeragi answers that humans are still a life form in its infancy, though she doesn’t thinks that that’s bad, and she likes drinking alcohol with gravity around. Wang Liu-Mei then warns that drinking alcohol during the day is bad for her, but Sumeragi feels that she can’t stop even if she wanted to. As for the Gundam Meisters right now, they’re all over the place, with Setsuna returning to Japan, Lockon revisiting a place from his past that’s been rebuilt, and Tieria studying data inside Wang Liu-Mei’s place. Tieria notes to himself that after Celestial Being started acting, disputes around the world dropped 38%. In addition, 68% of companies with military industry connections have withdrawn from that business. The problem is that in accomplishing this, they’ve revealed to the world both the Nadleeh and the Dynames’ ability to fire up to high altitudes, and Tieria also considers Setsuna to be a problem. Meanwhile in Japan, Kinue’s boss tells her that they got amazing ratings for the JNN program earlier, and he wants the next story to be about Celestial Being’s effect on the world economy. Kinue, however, wants to continue investigating Aeolia Schenberg because she wants to find out Celestial Being’s true purpose, and although her boss allows her, he warns her of the potential dangers of going too deep into this.
Around this time, the Union president talks with his adviser about a “Project G” concerning Taklamakan, the Human Reform League, and the choice of a region that has enriched uranium buried underground. His adviser notes that it’s the most suitable place for testing because of its geographic features. The leaders of the AEU are also discussing this topic – specifically how they’ll lag behind Union and the Human Reform League if they don’t deploy their army. They’re worried about public opinion, but they feel that if they produce results, then the public will accept it, so they have to obtain a Gundam at any cost. And as for the Human Reform League, its president feels that their current strategy is needed for his party to lead the world. Meanwhile, at MSWAD’s base, Graham tells his men that the Gundam investigation unit is being officially named Over-Flags. It’s being organized as a Flag-only unit, and they’re joined by several of their elite Flag-piloting peers from across the United States. Graham also reveals that all their Flags are being custom fitted by Professor Eifman, and they’re getting 12 Flag pilots in all.
Over at a Human Reform League desert base, Soma asks Sergei about them mobilizing, so he reveals they and other mobile suit units have received orders even though he personally doesn’t know the details of the operation yet. At the same time, at an AEU base, Patrick is getting punched by his new commanding officer Cathy Mannequin for being late, and he immediately takes a liking to her. Back at Wang Liu-Mei’s place, Sumeragi gets a message from Billy who has something he wants her to read and get her opinion on. Unaware of any of this, Setsuna returns to Japan just in time to see Louise’s mother leave. Since Louise’s mother isn’t dead, Setsuna doesn’t understand why Louise would cry since she can still go see her mother if she wants. Setsuna also surprises Saji by commenting on how peaceful it is here, despite Louise’s crying, and he eventually excuses himself when he gets a message from his comrades. As it turns out, Wang Liu-Mei has learned that joint military exercises will be conducted between the Union, the Human Reform League, and the AEU. Felt realizes that it’s because of them, and Sumeragi thinks that the Human Reform League is teaming up with the others in an effort to contain Celestial Being.
Since it’s just a military exercise, Lasse thinks that they don’t need to intervene, but Tieria suspects that something is going on because he knows how much money it takes to send an army somewhere. Sumeragi agrees with this and tells everyone to enjoy themselves while they can because she knows that they’ll be mobilized soon. She personally heads out to meet with Billy that night to discuss the file she read about the possibility of capturing a Gundam. He wants her opinion as a tactical forecaster, so, without letting on her real identity, Sumeragi says that there’s not enough information about the Gundams. Billy knows that they can’t defeat a Gundam with their current military strength, but the plan is to use overwhelming force to surround and exhaust the pilot. Looking a little worried now, Sumeragi points out that the Gundams might be able to move on autopilot or might even self-destruct to preserve the secrecy about them. She gets even more uncomfortable when Billy praises her for being able to analyze Celestial Being in her own way, and as she gets up to leave, Billy tries to convince her again to come to the Union base since Eifman was worried about her too. When Sumeragi claims that she has something to do, Billy wonders if she has someone waiting for her, so Sumeragi asks him back what he’d do if there was. Regardless, Billy is just content with being able to see her again.
A little while later, the three major powers officially announce the joint military exercises in the name of training for the defense of the orbital elevator. By now, the Union forces are on their way via a Pacific Ocean route, and Daryl and Howard survey the new Flags, but they’re still not sure about opposing a Gundam. Having overheard them, the pilot named Joshua derides their cowardly manner and notes how badly this reflects on First Lieutenant Graham’s own capabilities. In response, Howard points out that Graham has been promoted to the rank of Captain, and Daryl gets angry when Joshua makes a snide remark about Graham being responsible for a superior officer’s death. Graham personally arrives to break up the argument and says that he doesn’t care what Joshua thinks because he’ll clear away any disgrace on the battlefield. Meanwhile, word reaches Wang Liu-Mei that a United States fleet is crossing the Pacific and that the AEU is also headed towards the Human Reform League. Sumeragi by now has figured out that the destination is the Taklamakan Desert where there is enriched uranium buried, and they’ve learned that the facilities there are being targeted by terrorists. If those facilities are attacked, then radioactive substances would leak out, and the damage would reach a global scale. The major powers are holding their military exercises there because they know that the Gundams will come to intervene, and they’ll do whatever they can to get their hands on one.
Despite this, Tieria still thinks that they should go because Gundam Meisters prioritize carrying out their objectives and preserving secrecy over their own lives. He feels that they can’t pilot Gundams without this resolve. And with that, all the Gundam Meisters are mobilized, though Christina notices that Setsuna is currently in the Middle East. Setsuna is actually paying a secret visit to Marina to ask her why this world has been warped. He wonders if it’s God’s fault or if it’s the fault of humans, and after thinking for a moment, Marina replies that God is impartial and that people understand each other, but she still thinks that the world is helplessly warped. By the time she finishes answering him though, Setsuna is already gone. Meanwhile, at an AEU French Foreign Legion base, Ali Al Sarshes meets with a commanding officer about a clandestine mission. After the officer hands him some written orders and entrusts something called the Agrissa to him, Ali Al Sarshes accepts the mission under a fake name. Walking out of the building, he unties his hair and is overjoyed at the prospect of this war.
ED: 「フレンズ」 (Friends) by ステファニー (Stephanie)
Watch the ED!: Mirror 1, Mirror 2
The OP’s not bad (I’d almost say it was like a typical Gundam OP in style, though it did show a lot of interesting match-ups and some new Gundams), but the new ED really blew me away. Not only is Friends a good song, the accompanying animation was incredible – I love the contrast of the peaceful haircut with the shots of the sea of blood and of everyone in pain.
You know, when a guy sneaks into a girl’s room at night, it’s usually not to ask philosophical questions and then leave before she’s done talking. It’s not that I was really expecting any romance between the two of them since this hasn’t been that kind of show, but I thought the entire situation was almost surreal. How exactly did he sneak in anyway? Where were her guards? There was already one attempt on her life, so you’d think there’d be more security, not less.
As for the rest of the episode, I didn’t think things would feel so different, but with the new OP/ED, all the new characters, and all the stuff that’s now going on, it really feels like we’ve entered the next stage of this series. It even managed to make me laugh when Patrick’s new commander punched him. I can now only imagine how different the second half of Gundam 00 will feel when that eventually airs in October. Anyway, this was clearly a set-up episode since it had a ton of dialogue and very little action, and next week is probably where things really get going again. I’m especially excited because all of the major characters and factions will take part, and the wildcard I think is what Ali Al Sarshes has been sent to do. Looking further ahead, Newtype’s description of episode 16 makes it sound like a recap episode, but the title of the episode (“Trinity”) makes me think that it won’t be since that’s the name of some new characters. I guess we’ll have to wait and find out…