What They Say:
The year is 2312 A.D.; four years after the United Nation forces destroyed Celestial Being. Thanks to the actions of the now-missing Gundam Meisters, most of the world’s nations have been unified under the Earth Sphere Federation. But this world is still full of conflict, and an autonomous peacekeeping force known as the A-LAWS employs brutal tactics such as the use of murderous automatons in order to suppress all resistance to the Federation government.
It is time for the Gundam Meisters to make their second advent, and their new objective is to crush this formidable force of global oppression. Setsuna reappears with his battered Gundam and joins forces with Tieria, who has been working with the remnants of Celestial Being to create a new series of Gundams using their precious solar reactors. As they try to recruit a new member and rescue an old comrade, a revolutionary new machine known as the 00 Gundam is about to awaken.
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo and the previously created english language dub, both of which are done up in the uncompressed PCM form. The show is fairly standard modern Gundam fare in that there’s a strong mix of dialogue and action to it with both sides served well. The dialogue angle gets plenty of placement throughout through the use of various communication devices and being in space and the like. There’s often a decent number of characters on screen as well that gives it a bit more life too. The action goes for a bigger and fuller feeling overall with some good impact along the way, though a 5.1 mix would have added a good bit more of that. There’s a lot of solid directionality across the forward soundstage and placement in both action and dialogue which results in a really appealing and fun mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twenty-five episodes for this season are spread across four discs. Animated by Sunrise, the series has a really strong look to it when it comes to the visual design with colors that pop really with some great vibrancy throughout that lets it stand out compared to many of the prior series. There’s a fluidity that works really well and a whole lot of appeal in the character designs that Yun Koga provided for it that has a kind of languid and lanky feeling that oozes off the screen. The encoding here is a crisp and appealing one with colors that are strong and solid throughout and avoids problems such as cross coloration and noise. With the DVDs looking decent before that were released almost a decade ago, this is a significant upgrade that’s very worthwhile across the board.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than usual Blu-ray case where we get the four discs held on hinges entirely. The front cover artwork is a familiar piece with primary character visual material and the Gundam behind him, all set to the traditional white background that a lot of Japanese releases are like. It works well here with the colors of the character/mecha material and the brightness of the Gundam logo along the bottom to help offset it a bit. I’d have preferred something with more of the cast as a whole as opposed to just one here but it’s not an unexpected design choice. The back cover does a fun hexagon stripe down the right with lots of shots from the show there before we get a mobile suit overlaid on top of it. That leaves the rest of the cover to break down the extensive summary of the premise and layout the extras. The text is a bit smaller than I care for, especially with the shades of green used with the black text, but it gets the job done. The layout is good overall with some nice design effects with greens and blues to help tie it all together instead of just empty space.
The menu design for this release is pretty slick looking as it goes for an almost faux-widescreen approach with clips playing through the middle. The bottom is mostly white with some touches of green but the top has a really nice layering of green with the logo and the navigation strip. It has a kind of futuristic feeling that’s appropriate for the show and its design that connects well with the logo design. It may be a bit gaudy green in the eyes of some but I really like the look of it across the set. The navigation is simple but easy to navigate and works well both as the pop-up menu during playback or as the main menu with quick access and load times.
The extras for this release brings over some familiar pieces from the past incarnation such as the range of appropriate opening and closing sequences in clean form. We also get the tactical forecast preview pieces and a solid range of the original Japanese audio commentaries, which are always hard as hell to translate. The set also comes with a little more range such as the very cute if all too short Gundam 00 Flash-like Chibi Short.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a successful first season of the Gundam 00 series, the second season takes the down ending of the first and runs with it pretty well. While there were interesting areas with the first season there were things I had problems with so I went into this season without any serious expectations. While I had a lot of friends that loved this show when it first aired, the characters haven’t done much for me nor did the introduction of the Thrones and their game changing moves. The second season seemingly offers more of interest though in these first episodes that it managed to keep my attention a whole lot better and made me want to see where it would go from here.
Like a lot of Gundam shows, this one kicks off with a change in the time frame as we’re now bumped up five years from the first season. The world has changed a great deal as the Federation has now put into place a new group to deal with the trouble of the world called the A-Wals. This group is outside the normal military system and the conflict easily with the regular military when the two sides come into contact. Brash and full of themselves, they have no issues in using their power whenever they want to in order to get their point across. Through the use of this group, much of the world is in fear as they and the government behind them sets to putting the world on a course they can control. So much so that they are actively dismantling entire nations in order to rebuild them for better use.
While the world has certainly gone to hell in different ways over the five year period, the former Meisters have gone even further. Those who have survived have gone their own ways but there’s still the desire among most of them to realize Schernberg’s dream. What’s really driving events though, as seen through Setsuna who starts the season off by rescuing Saji Crossroad from LaGrange 4 where he’s been accused of being an anti-government supporter of the group Katharon, is the desire to make amends for what went wrong before. The Thrones not being part of the real plan is something that has weighed heavily on Setsuna’s mind and now he intends to correct things since their plans threw the world into such disarray. And to do that, a lot of those from the past that are still alive must be gathered.
A lot of that re-gathering of forces is pretty interesting as we see the diversity of those who now fight on the Meister’s side. Saji’s journey with Setsuna is interesting as he’s definitely got a grudge against the Meisters for his losses but he’s forced into a position of being with them for awhile. He also ends up causing a whole lot of harm on innocents before he realizes he mistakes which proves to be a very difficult moral issue for him, one that leads him to even more dangerous situations that puts his principles on the line. The other character that I liked seeing brought around again was Sumeragi. With what happened five years earlier, she’s spent a lot of her time out of the way hiding and drinking herself into a hole, staying with people she can lose herself in. Being dragged back into the game is a hard thing for her and she refuses it, though Setsuna has a creative way of bringing her back into it. There are shocks for her along the way too, especially the discover of a new Lockon who looks exactly like the previous one through a rather predictable angle.
There are a few stories that play out here as we see the rescue of Allelujah from prison, which also brings Marina back into play as well. For the last several years, both have been held separately in the same prison and the breakout of one leads to the other as well. Marina brings us a more human element as she’s wants to bring some kind of peace to the world but wants to start with her home country of Azadistan. The real fun though is the continued storyline between Allelujah and Marie as the two end up back in each others orbits. The two of them have a lot of past together that’s been undefined and we start to see their first meetings and how they ended up as badly off as they are with the split personalities each has. The most fascinating was seeing the reality of what happened to the young Allelujah after he and others escaped the institution and before he was picked up by Celestial Being. Brutal moments of reality for him and the others there that have certainly shaped his personality ever since.
As the show moves toward the middle part of the series, we get more of the general buildup aspect of the season as we see more of what the Innovators are doing, particularly during and after a party in which Tiera dolls himself up real well and plays the role of a girl so he can get closer to everything. The Innovators cast seemingly grows with a variety of people with unusual names taken from English in order to sound exotic and standout, but none of them have had any real depth if they’ve been introduced previously and little is added here to the newer ones. Tiera’s doing what he can to learn the truth of what happened with Aeolia’s plan and the basic reveal is that everything the Meisters were doing was right but that the Thrones upended it all with a false program. So with the Meisters out of the way, the Innovators started in on their own plans for what’s likely just complete domination.
The A-Laws really feel like a very poor mans imitation of the Titans. It’s hard to not compare newer incarnations of the Gundam universe that stand on their own to the original core material and its UC timeline sequels, but when they riff so hard from it you can’t help but do it. Watching the A-Laws, they’re playing a similar game as the Titans via the Innovators in how they’re dominating over the Earth Federation and taking the fight to the Meisters and others so they can force their brand of peace and control over the world. Some see through it and play along to be a part of what they think is the winning side while others are oblivious and just see things getting better in their own part of the world, ignoring the catastrophes happening elsewhere.
There’s a whole lot of battles to be had here as different sides end up fighting and the Meisters decide to get back into the game to fix what’s happened. It’s nice to see Sumeragi getting her groove back and a touch of background on her as a Tactical Forecaster with someone she admires that leads into the two of them going against each other in the present. Ali Al-Saachez makes some time in this set of episodes as well as he battles against the Meisters and there’s a revelation to the new Lockon about what he’s responsible for, which in turn is what Setsuna is also responsible for considering his past. The size of the cast has a lot of connections to each other and some like this are fun since it puts people on the same side that have a grudge against each other.
The one arc that I liked seeing in this block of episodes was that they finally moved forward in showing what Louise and Saji are up to. Saji’s been spending his time with Setsuna and the Meisters since getting out of the problems he was having, but it’s here that we see Louise taking up a piloting role within the A-Laws and having both of them meet in battle when Saji is forced to take over one of the Gundam’s in order to keep it from being destroyed or captured. It’s a shock for both of them considering how their lives were before the Meister’s arrived on the scene at the start of the series, but with what Louise has gone through it’s little surprise that she’s taken to making the most of the remainder of her life that she can.
As it moves into the final run of episodes they manage to salvage things a bit by focusing on a significant story arc for several of them that works out well. Of course, after it’s over, they bump up the timeline by several months which in turn takes a lot of the wind out of the sails of the series, something that I’ve felt has happened several times over in the course of both seasons. One of the thrusts of this particular arc of episodes is that it’s starting to force Setsuna to stop looking at everything from the point of view of fighting, a familiar trajectory for many a Gundam series leads, as he now wants to be a force for change that doesn’t involve wholesale destruction. It comes nicely after a few years of in-show destruction at his hands under the guise of changing the world through that form.
What does prove interesting is the arc involving Hercury, one of the military men of the Federation, who sees what’s going on with the A-Laws and just can’t stand by idly anymore and watch it. The similarities to the Titans are certainly blunt enough as the A-Laws are running roughshod over everything and are slowly but surely acquiring more and more power through overt and subtle means. They’ve managed to insert themselves fully into the Federation while still standing apart so as to get all that they want while co-opting the government as well. So when they do actually go too far with things, they’re the ones in the position of power to be able to direct the narrative as they see fit.
And that’s where Hercury enters as he’s decided enough is enough and with a good group of reliable men, they take control of one of the lower orbiting segments of the Africa Tower and try to force the issue onto the public mind about what the A-Laws are actually up to. When good men see things going too far, when they see the military they’ve sworn to obey becoming corrupt and killing indiscriminately, Hercury opts to make a stand to trying get the information out there. Of course, it doesn’t go quite to plan and the A-Laws set things up so that the information that gets out paints the group as pure rebels that are killing people left and right, whereas they’ve done a rather good job of making sure nobody is hut and is about to be sent back earthside. The A-Laws instead want to make it seems like Hercury’s group is all about mass murder, so they use the news to broadcast lots of falsified video of people being gunned down and plans to destroy the low orbital facility in order to kill anyone who knows the truth.
The whole arc is good in general, but I definitely appreciated the fallout from it as the fight goes on and it spills over to the planet as the low orbital facility is attacked and huge chunks of the elevator starts to fall. Having so many different factions, grudges and personalities fighting it out down below only to have a lot of it crashing down on top of them changes things up nicely, but watching to see which ones would try to snipe an enemy in between falling targets gave it a nice edge. Unfortunately, while that section was a lot of fun, well animated and had several thrills, they then shift the story forward several months showing us how the Gundam Meisters are still on the run, the A-Laws are more fully in power now and the Innovators are firming up their grip to take control of everything because of their inherent destiny.
The second season of Gundam 00 didn’t solve the problems I had with the first as it largely carried through with them, but balanced it with the fun that is here. There are things to like here but the show echoes a decent part of the first season, and other Gundam series, that there’s still that air of familiarity about it. What helps is that it has a different tone thanks to the character designs and the general feeling from that in how the cast acts and interacts with each other. The quality of animation picks up some as well as it moves into the bigger aspects of the final run with the action that dominates before we basically get a similar ending to other series in how it all wraps up. As I’ve found with Gundam over the years across many alternate universe timelines, it’s the journey that you have to really embrace as opposed to the destination since it runs through a lot of familiar key themes. This edition will definitely please fans of the show as we get a clean looking release with a great encode, a tight package, and the inclusion of some good extras and the dub itself.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings, Clean Endings, Tactical Forecasts, Japanese Audio Commentaries, and Gundam 00 2nd Season Flash-like Chibi Short
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment / Sunrise
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Running Time: 625 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.