Gundam Week: Gundam 00

Greetings Moar Powah, hope you’re enjoying your new year, because I’ll be continuing “Gundam Week” with the first HD Gundam title, Gundam 00!

There's a good reason why people think this is a modern day Gundam Wing...

As I’ve mentioned above, Gundam 00 happens to be the first HD Gundam. Coming off the massively popular Gundam Seed mini-franchise (in Japan, not so much in the West), this new series had large shoes to fill in Japan. Similarly, 00 was often referred to as a modern reimagining of the classic Wing (which was a gateway series in the US), so many in the West were brimming with anticipation. With all this massive hype, you might be inclined to think that it failed spectacularly. I’m letting you know right now that Gundam 00 happened to be the first Gundam series split into two seasons, rather than a single fifty episode run: the verdict is really rather interesting, as a result.

Gundam 00 starts off with a really original premise. What if the main characters, the Gundam pilots, are actually terrorists, and the antagonists are just soldiers who defend their homelands? This premise, surprisingly, works really well, as the plot itself has some consistently good ideas that keep it working well for quite a while. The plot is generally gripping, and its secretive nature makes users ask for more. It’s got fantastic themes, with a morality system that truly does not have a perfect good or a perfect evil. There’s a ton of politics in the series, and interestingly enough, they’re clearly influenced by real world post-9/11 issues. Funnily enough, this system is a result of scarce resources in this timeline (which, by the way, is A.D. for the first time in Gundam history), as all the fossil fuels have burned up, and solar power fed from panels built on an orbital ring connected by space elevators provide power for “everyone”. This new system of energy has created both familiar and new power blocs, and that’s where the background stops. For a Gundam series, the lack of clear morals, a very somber political atmosphere, and a plot involving a good deal of secrecy is quite rare, and just the variation needed to help the series not only stand out, but actually be legitimately good. Of course, everything I said applies to the first season. The second season throws all of that completely out the window and settles for a setting that rips Zeta and Wing off too much. Gone are the terrorist organizations and the questionable morals, in are a secret police organization being evil for whatever reason and a rebellion group that is the bastion of hope, justice, and all that is good. The plot of the second season follows this rebellion in their quest to prevent the secret police organization from doing evil things. That being said, this new plot isn’t executed badly: the execution is standard for a Gundam series, actually. What’s disappointing about the plot is that they created an interesting setting in the first season, but proceeded to toss that out of the White Basethe window. Oh yeah, there’s a new major theme introduced in the second season, but that’s handled pitifully. Overall, what started as a great story quickly turned south to something more derivative and mediocre.

While this isn't exactly official, this world map details the main power blocs: the Union in blue, the Human Reform League in red, and the AEU in green.

The characters are an interesting lot. Many of the main characters are quite austere since there’s not much room for fooling around (and the only real fooling around is used to brighten the otherwise dark mood). Nonetheless these characters also have relative amounts of depth. Many of the main characters have their inner demons, and it’s evident that many of their actions are influenced by these flaws and regrets. However, in spite of this, many of these characters happen to be fan favorites. The Gundam pilots, in particular, have reasons for piloting their machines that are also rather original, and a bit more believable. Of course, all this goes out the window with the second season, again, as the characters somehow develop into either much less interesting people, or way too over-the-top parodies of cliches. The antagonists introduced in season two also happen to be extremely flat. I will commend the second season for at least keeping the serious nature of most of the characters, but at some points, it becomes somewhat too serious. Overall, another disappointment, but not as bad as what happened to the plot.

It's also quite interesting to see a series with a protagonist from the Middle East who has some very relevant issues.

I can’t really comment on the art of Gundam 00 too well. The designs were pleasant, and nothing stood out (in a bad way). The mechanical designs are also a bit different than the Gundam standard, as the main Gundam, Exia, has a few design choices that separate it from the normal main Gundam procedure (such as the chest area). This being said, the mechanical designs are still pretty good.

As for animation, Gundam 00 has some fantastic animation for a TV series, which is even more impressive because of the new (at the time) HD format. Battles are highly dynamic and fast paced, and there’s almost never any stock footage (at least in season 1, season 2 dabbled in it a bit, but not too extensively), a problem that has plagued a few previous Gundam series. While some may say that the battles devolve into beam spam, it’s hard to think that the beam spam doesn’t at least look great. Overall, both the art and the animation are at the least, good, and luckily, they don’t take a hit in the second season.

Despite what I said about the beamspam, 00 often has incredible shots like this, even in the show itself.

Gundam 00 had some really great vocal songs. It’s hard not to like at least one of them: hell, it’s rather normal to like most of them. However, the BGM won’t get as much praise: the music is, by and large, forgettable, even though it has many good tracks, some even being stellar. While Kenji Kawai does a great job composing the soundtrack, I have to say that it’s not his most memorable performance. Meanwhile, the voice acting is pretty good, with most characters sounding very believable, though some sound extremely hammy and over-the-top, which doesn’t fit well with the setting. Overall, sound happens to be pretty good.

Rating Breakdown
Gundam 00 presents an interesting world with realistic politics, a shades of gray morality system, and a generally somber atmosphere. Unfortunately, the second season throws all this out the window with a plot that copies Zeta and Wing quite a bit too much, bringing it down.
Like the plot, most of the characters are austere, complimenting the serious atmosphere. And like the plot again, the second season simplifies many of the characters too much, making them parodies of their former selves and flattening motivations.
The artstyle is good, with no real negatives. The mechanical designs also stray a decent amount from the norm, with new and interesting designs.
Though many mock Gundam 00 for its high amount of beamspam, it's hard to deny that the animation is pretty good, what with very active scenes and highly dynamic battles.
Though the vocal themes are nice, and the voice acting solid, the BGM is not very memorable, despite having a plethora of good to great tracks.
While Gundam 00 has very high production values, many controversial changes to the show's content introduced in the second season drag down what was originally a great show quite a bit.
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A mad scientist who's so cool!


A mad scientist who's so cool!


  1. what were you watching. the animation in season 2 dies off after the first few episodes, and stock footage gets blasted. they burnt up the budget animating 00's fancy bootup sequences we see early on. anything after ep 10 or so is almost guaranteed to have absurd amounts of QUALITY

    id also poke at the claim that the mech designs were unoriginal, because gottdamn, look at those grunt suits, but thats more opinion than the first thing

    • I was probably bedazzled by all the particles then. I'm not the best at noticing good animation, but I don't have very high standards for Gundam, considering the first series and all of Seed. Still though, I only remember all the 00 Raiser transformation sequences being explicitly reused often. I can't remember any instances that were too overt.

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