Sunday, March 8, 2009

Oh, oh, Gundam 00

Since 1979, Mobile Suit Gundam has been the beating heart of the mecha anime genre (Japanese cartoons featuring giant bipedal robots). Having blazed a trail of well over a dozen series, the music and animation of Gundam has always reflected upon the times.

[Download this song]

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Gundam's latest incarnation, Gundam 00, is perhaps the weakest link in the franchise so far, following in the steps of the easily loathed Gundam Seed Destiny. Long having abandoned the original Universal Century timeline established in earlier Gundam series, 00 (pronounced: Double Oh) takes place in a near-future alternate universe. The depletion of fossil fuels led the world to band together in order to construct three massive "orbital elevators", pumping down endless amounts of solar power from space. However, the exclusive control of these elevators by the nations in which they lie has led to intense power disparity among nations. Strife, rebellion, and conflict are commonplace.

Enter Celestial Being, a technologically advanced rogue organization which fights to end fighting. Their methods are blunt and their origins unknown. They willingly take on all the armed forces of the world, and thereby draw the fury of the governments around the globe.

While an interesting backstory, Gundam 00 is plagued by an unforgivably contrived plot and paper thin characters who more resemble Pokemon than people (i.e. they don't know how to say much more than their name... Setsuna F. Seiei...). It also suffers from nonsensical design problems shared by so many such series. For instance, the protagonist's (Setsuna) robot fighter (00 Gundam) requires a transforming fighter jet-slash-backpack to dock with it in order to achieve its peak effectiveness. For some reason, it's always required for these two to dock after the battle has already started. This gives the enemy an opportunity to intercept, but one would think the smart thing to do would simply be to launch them already docked.

Indeed, it seems quite obvious that the Gundam franchise has been coasting along for some time now by the sheer power of its name. There is, at least, no other explanation for why I still watch it. But to my excitement, the last few episodes have made marked improvements in intensity, plot, and character development. This is important, because if you hate the main characters, it's deathly hard to watch a show. Moreover, the opening and ending themes have been swapped out for decidedly catchier tunes.

If Gundam can't celebrate a fine J-pop soundtrack, there is little left for it.

It was the newly reinvigorated soundtrack (arising from the second half of the second season of Gundam 00) that made me want to write about this topic to begin with. As a result, I've changed the website music to the new closing theme: Trust You by Yuna Ito. Not to exclude those viewing the blog directly, I've also embedded the TV Size version of the song into this entry (using the music player above).

The moral of the story? A great soundtrack and venerable namesake can make even the most obnoxious television series bearable. Keep that in mind, you aspiring filmmakers - although, if you'd keep your shows from sucking, that would be even better. Please and thanks.

This entry was
adopted by Brutus.