The following review contains spoilers for Part 1 of the series.
Four years after Celestial Being’s defeat, humanity is still far away from global peace. While the United Nations have formed into a single world government now known as the Earth Sphere Federation, it is a dictatorship and puppet state, heavily manipulated by Ribbons and the Innovators, where any anti-government resistance is shut down with the autonomous peace-keeping force known as A-Laws. Seeing A-Laws and the Earth Sphere Federation for what it is, the surviving members of Celestial Being regroup, along with some new recruits, and collaborate with the anti-government force Katharon to take the fight to A-Laws and bring down this corrupt new government.
In its second season, Gundam 00 remains a strong action and mecha series, delivering a lot of tense and exciting mobile suit battles, and is in some ways an improvement, thanks to its better dialogue and character development. Gone are the terrible lines of Setsuna wanting to be a Gundam, which are instead replaced by some genuine conversation on the current state of the world and how a lot of the fighting is meaningless destruction.
As a lot of the main characters realise this, they move away from simply following orders to moving on their own personal convictions; which makes Celestial Being in particular a more compelling group to follow. Setsuna, for example, feels a lot more human, as he tries to apply his own sense of justice, only killing his enemies when absolutely necessary, and is helped by the addition of Saji Crossroad, whose pursuit of his girlfriend Louise sees him and Setsuna pairing up in a pretty effective team with the 00 Gundam and its Raiser add-on. Meanwhile, Neil Dylandy’s twin brother Lyle, who takes over the position of Lockon Stratos, is a far more interesting character than his brother ever was, thanks to his multiple allegiances and his ties to Katharon.
Both Saji and Lyle appear fairly quickly in the opening episodes, as the show’s initial focus is on getting Celestial Being back together again, which sees the vast majority of the first season’s cast returning. While it’s nice to see them, it does threaten to retcon the first season’s ending and makes its final battle worthless. There are several Gundam series that seem particularly afraid to kill off their main cast, and this is one of them; and as a result, I feel like the gravity of the battles was lost slightly.
While there are some cool episodes at the start which get the gang back together, it also quickly falls into its old pattern of chucking Celestial Being into a battle that ends in a stalemate or close escape, before scurrying to the next fight and repeating the process. This results in a good quarter of the show running around in circles and padding out for time until the really big fights and plot development starts happening as we approach the half-way mark.
It’s at this point things really start to take off with some particularly intense battles as the show hurtles towards its conclusion, and it’s not hard to notice an apparent Star Wars influence with one particular fight being an evident homage to the first Death Star assault, and many of the villains being clones of one another. While some may pass this off as lazy character design, each of Ribbons’ Innovators has their own distinct personality and goals, with some of them being more compelling than the big bad himself, whose overall goal isn’t really anything new in terms of villainy. It must also be said that it does stray into common Gundam tropes with the token Char-like character and the token super-humans being more heavily present in this second season; and while the masked Mr. Bushido is more of a fun throwback, the psychic, Newtype-esque powers of those with quantum brainwaves can feel a bit too convenient at times in resolving some sticky situations.
It’s evident then that Gundam 00 is all about the battles, and it’s in these where Sunrise’s animation is at its best, taking the fast and fluid action from the first season and adding in more CG effects as the mobile suits power up and gain new weapons and techniques; it all certainly comes together to make these mobile suits look cool. Kenji Kawai’s soundtrack also continues to carry the action really well, while we get some new cool opening and ending themes such as UVERworld’s “Hakanaku mo Towa no Kanashi” and Stereopony’s “Namida no Mukou”.
Anime Limited’s release of Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Part 2 comes in a standard Amaray packaged along with a collector’s art book that both slip into the collector’s box from Part 1. It once again contains both the English dub and original Japanese audio with English subtitles. While the packaging and disc labels continue episode numbering from Part 1, the on-disc episode numbers use the original Japanese second season numbering, starting from Episode 1 again, which is an odd discrepancy. On-disc extras include episode previews, clean opening and endings, audio commentaries for Episodes 1, 3, 8, 14, 17, 20 and 25, and a short animation promoting the movie, A Wakening of the Trailblazer.
Overall, the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 cements the entire series as a fantastic action show full of tense and exciting mobile suit battles. While it improves in areas such as dialogue and character development over the first season, it feels weaker in its plot and spends too much time repeating itself in its first half where it could have cut some episodes to get to the point faster. Despite these issues, it’s still one of the strongest Gundam series I have seen, and one I’m sure both Gundam and mecha fans will love.