Anime Review: Gundam 00 Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer

(Originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 1/21/11)

Anime Review:
Gundam 00 Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer

What this is about: I made the promise that I would review every new subtitled anime show (excluding blatant yaoi and/or porn) released during the Spring, Summer and Fall 2010 seasons, so now I am going back to review a handful of shows that I missed over the past few months for one reason or another. This time around, it’s the Gundam 00 Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer, which has its theatrical release on September 18th, 2010.

tl;dr review: Unknown aliens threaten to destroy life on Earth as we know it; Endless minutes of shooting arcade grinding with 2001-esque WTF ending.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

Episode Summary: Set three hundred years in the future a couple years after the conclusion of the Mobile Suit Gundam 00 television series, Earth comes under a new threat it has never faced before. A century-old abandoned research vessel in Jupiter’s orbit suddenly starts making its way back to Earth, and they soon learn that it is under the control of the ELS, or Extraterrestrial Life-metal Shapeshifters, and inscrutable alien lifeform. Various factions make an all-out effort to stop the alien’s progress but are overwhelmed by the alien’s massive assault, and it is up to a special Innovator, Setsuna, to save the day.

My Thoughts: The whole Gundam universe has been going on FOREVER AND A DAY (well, actually just three decades), spawning countless shows and movies and books and games and what-have-you, covering an alternate-history future that spans centuries, hundreds of characters and dozens of intertwining storylines. I’m sure the comparison has been made by others before, but I would say that Gundam is to Japan as Star Trek is to the United States. All that being said, my personal exposure to the whole Gundam universe has been fairly minimal, because I generally dislike the concept of giant robots or mecha. That isn’t to say there haven’t been decent Gundam-related shows I’ve seen in the past (War in the Pocket immediately comes to mind).

This movie, however, is quite a big mess of a show. Set hundreds of years in the future with a massive back-story of which I am only vaguely aware makes it difficult for me to relate on a personal level. It deals with characters and settings that have been long established (this follows the end of two full-length television seasons), but are foreign to me. It also drifts pretty far from some of the hard sci-fi origins of the earlier (timeline-wise) shows delving into the more esoteric world of a new type of humans called Innovators with psychic abilities I don’t really understand fully. And then throw in the most un-Gundam-like plot twist of them all, aliens of all things in a mindfucking assault on logic lifted straight out of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001.

The movie is very clearly intended ONLY for those who are thoroughly steeped in the Gundam mythos already and not for neophytes like me. I was left largely confused and annoyed throughout the first half, and a large part of the second half devolved into a Missile Command shoot-em-up where the Gundam spacecraft are just pounding away at an endless swarm aliens in space; for every million they destroyed, there was another million right behind. Pew pew pew.

Movie Final Grade: D – This was a real chore to slog through, and left me quite unsatisfied. Based on the reception and reviews online, I was expecting a whole lot better, only to be disappointed once again by the “inside baseball”-ness of the Gundam mythos. Definitely NOT for the non-fan such as myself. For a much more in-depth review and analysis with a ton (180!) of pictures, check out Random Curiosity’s review.

Final reviews for a handful of Spring, Summer and Fall 2010 shows that I haven’t covered yet: Ring ni Kakero 1: Shadow-hen, King of Thorn Movie, Honey Tokyo, Strong World: Episode 0, Nanami Madobe Windows 7, Queen’s Blade: Utsukushiki OVA, and Mazinkaiser SKL

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