Mobile Suit Gundam 00, MBS/TBS
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Um... I guess this is technically an "alternate universe" Gundam series, since it's not set in the Universal Century era. But unlike the other alternate universe series, the "era" of this one is A.D., as in good old Anno Domini. It's set in A.D. 2307. (By then I'd expect most people in the world would have accepted the "Common Era" dating system, which is the same as A.D., but without the religious connection. Still, if this series used "C.E.," I suppose it'd get confused with the "Cosmic Era" of Gundam SEED.) Of course, as far as I know, every Gundam series, U.C. or otherwise, is set at least partly on our Earth, with presumably the same history as us up to one point or another, so I don't see how this is really different, but whatever, it doesn't matter.
Um... I'm probably going to say alot of stuff out of order in my review, but anyway... By the year 2307, most of the Earth's resources have been depleted. There are now three main powers: the Union of Solar Energy and Free Nations (or just "Union," made up of the U.S., Japan, and Australasia), the Human Reform League (Russia, China, India, parts of South Asia), and the Advanced European Union (AEU, made up of... Europe). Each power controls an orbital elevator, which provide solar energy. There are other countries that aren't part of any of these powers, and they wage war against each other for control of what natural resources are left on the Earth (among other conflicts). Then suddenly, a private armed organization called Celestial Being reveals itself, through the actions of its four Gundams, which are much more powerful than any other mobile suits on Earth. Celestial Being plans, ironically, to use armed force to put an end to all war on Earth. Which makes them the enemy of pretty much every other power in the world.
The Exia is piloted by 16-year-old Setsuna F. Seiei, the Dynames is piloted by 24-year-old Lockon Stratos (who has a helpful Haro), the Kyrios is piloted by 19-year-old Allelujah Haptism, and the Virtue is piloted by Tieria Erde (age unknown). These four young men are called the Gundam Meisters, and each has his own troubled past, and secrets (the names they use are pseudonyms). It seems as if Celestial Being may have been founded around 200 years earlier, by a scientist named Aeolia Schenberg, who had discovered the GN particles, which power the Gundams and their various weapons. He disappeared two centuries ago, but now reappears as a video spokesman for the organization. The Celestial Being headquarters is a spaceship called the Ptolemaios (or Ptolemy), which houses the four Gundams. The "tactical forecaster" in charge of Gundam missions is a woman named Sumeragi Lee Noriega. There's also a supercomputer or artificial intelligence called Veda, which performs a function similar to Sumeragi's, I guess. Other people who work on the Ptolemy include combat operators 22-year-old Christina Sierra and 14-year-old Feldt Grace, helmsan Lichtendahl Tsery, and gunner Lasse Aeon. The organization has any number of other operatives around the world. There's a celebrity, 17-year-old Wang Liu-Mei, who uses her connections to gather intelligence and so forth. She's accompanied by her bodyguard, Hong Long. There is also a U.N. ambassador (from one of the Union nations) named Alejandro Corner, who serves as an observer for Celestial Being.
As hard as it may be for me to keep track of all the Celestial Being characters, it's harder still to keep all the characters from other groups straight. There's a mobile suit pilot named Lt. Graham Aker, who works for the Union. He pilots a Flag mobile suit, which can transform in midair between mobile suit and fighter jet. Graham's skill as a pilot almost makes him a match for the Gundams, even in the inferior Flag (though Graham thinks highly of this type of mobile suit). (The older Union mobile suits are called Realdos.) There's an AEU mobile suit pilot named Patrick Colasour, who pilots a new model of mobile suit called the Enact, which is similar to a Union Flag. (The older, primary model of AEU mobile suits are the Hellions, which are also widely used by PMCs- Private Military Companies). There's a Human Reform League mobile suit pilot, 18-year-old 2nd Lt. Soma Peries, who is the product of the HRL's secret super-soldier program. (It eventually turns out that Allelujah Haptism was a product of the program, as well, and when the two are in proximity, it causes them both terrible pain, because of their quantum brain waves. We also learn that Allelujah has a split personality, and the other one is crazy and just wants to fight, though Allelujah tries to keep that side at bay.) The main type of mobile suit currently used by the HRL are Tierens; Lt. Soma pilots a heavily modified Tieren, which seems almost as good as a Gundam. (The older, retired HRL mobile suits, originally called Fantongs, are now being used by other nations, such as those in the Middle East, where the suits are now called Anfs- Arabic for "nose.") Soma is under the command of Lt. Col. Sergei Smirnov, a respected veteran mobile suit commander.
There's an independent republic, Moralia, which has ties to the AEU. And there's the PMC Trust, based out of Moralia, which includes a mobile suit pilot named Ali Al-Saachez, who years ago had recruited young Setsuna into a terrorist organization called the KPSA. I think he pilots an Enact mobile suit. He becomes interested in beating Setsuna, now. There's a Union scientist named Billy Katagiri, who works with Graham and investigates the mysteries of the Gundams and how they work, as members of the Union's Anti-Gundam Investigative Task Force, the technical chief of which is a professor named Leif Eifman. (Or Ralph Eifman, I dunno. I've never heard his first name spoken, and websites report it conflictingly.) I should also mention that Sumeragi is an old colleague of Katagiri and Eifman, and Katagiri seems to have romantic feelings for her. Later, the task force gets some new recruits, all top Flag pilots from different squadrons, who form a new elite squadron (called Overflags) under Graham (who's been promoted to captain). At the same time, Patrick Colasour joins an AEU battle group commanded by Col. Kati Mannequin, and while she can't seem to stand him (and is prone to punching him in the face), he develops an interest in her.
Oh, we also get to see some civilians... There's a student named Saji Crossroad, who I'm not sure at this point what to say about. Though he has a girlfriend named Louise Halevy, who I also don't know what to say about... except that she's a babyish, self-centered, spoiled, demanding, domineering bitch. (Oh, and I should mention that they seem to be neighbors of Setsuna.) Saji also has an older sister named Kinue, a reporter who begins investigating Aeolia Schenberg's connection to Celestial Being. Then there's 24-year-old Marina Ismail, the princess of the small kingdom of Azadistan, though she's supposedly just a figurehead. She wants to establish an orbital elevator in her country, I guess (or solar collectors, or something), to turn around Azadistan's troubled economy and all. She seeks help from various countries, and ultimately is helped by U.N. ambassador Alejandro. Marina's advisor, Shirin Bakhtiar, doesn't trust Alejandro, or much of anyone. Azadistan is troubled in many ways, and eventually civil war breaks out there. (Setsuna Seiei comes from Krugis, a neighboring republic which was absorbed by Azadistan, and it was around that time that he was recruited as a terrorist by Al-Saachez.) The main conflict within Azadistan is religiously based, between the conservatives and the reformists. While Marina is a reformist, there's an imam named Rasa Massoud Rachmadi who is a conservative, and effectively the head of the opposition, though he and Marina do seem to be friendly. At one point Al-Saachez's group kidnaps Rasa, setting off the civil war between the two sides, who seem to blame each other for Rasa's abduction. But he's rescued by Celestial Being and taken to Marina's palace, where they make a joint statement to quell the civil unrest. I suppose I should also mention that Marina and Setsuna have a number of brief encounters. There seems to be a connection, because of the history of their homeland. They seem to share similar goals, though they have very different ideas about how to accomplish them.
Of course, practically every power in the world would like to get ahold of a Gundam or Gundams, so that they could take the lead in the world. The Gundam Meisters would rather self-destruct than allow that to happen, though. Anyway, eventually the three major powers start working together to achieve their goal of capturing a Gundam, though I'm sure each would still intend to keep the machines for themselves, if they managed to get them. Anyway, there's a major joint operation in the desert, with thousands of mobile suits pitted against the four Gundams, which are nearly captured. That is, until three new Gundams called Thrones come to the rescue, who apparently none of the four current Gundam Meisters (or anyone in their group) knew about. The Gundam Thrones include the Eins, piloted by 26-year-old Johann Trinity, the Zwei, piloted by 19-year-old Michael Trinity, and the Drei, piloted by 16-year-old Nena Trinity. Yep, they're all siblings. They help the other four Gundams escape, but it seems there's more to Celestial Being than even the crew of the Ptolemaios realized. (This kind of reminds me of Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels, which is a flattering comparison, let me tell you.) Meanwhile, Alejandro has an audio-only conversation with other observers, who collectively have veto power over Celestial Being, but only if they reach concesus on a given issue. And they vote to accept the three new Gundams, which even they knew nothing of heretofore....
Well, but Team Trinity aren't satisfied with the way Celestial Being has been doing things, they want to be more forceful. They begin attacking military bases indiscriminately, even if it means killing civilians. And while Johann seems to be somewhat level-headed, and keeps his younger siblings somewhat in check, Michael and Nena are both clearly crazy. One of Nena's actions leads to a dramatic change in the lives of Louise (who becomes a nicer person) and Saji. Meanwhile, Setsuna and Tieria decide to attack the Trinitys, believing they've given Gundams a bad name. Anyway... Team Trinity has been receiving missions from a man named Laguna Harvey, who also supplies GN drives to the Union, HRL, and AEU, which are now officially working together. So that the next time Team Trinity attacks a base, they're surprised to find their enemy have mobile suits that can match them. Al Saachez, btw, is working for Harvey, under the assumed name Gary Biaggi, and he kills Kinue, which makes me hate him more than I did before.
Meanwhile, Alejandro Corner seems to have his own plans, and he's aided by his mysterious companion, Ribbons Almark. And Wang Liu Mei and Hong Long approach Team Trinity to tell them they might offer some support. Yes, things get very confusing, and it's impossible to tell what anyone's true motives are or what side they're on, though at least Wang says she adheres to the original plans of Aeolia Schenberg... but I'm not even sure at this point what that means, seeing as even the various groups that claim to be part of Celestial Being each seem to have a rather limited knowledge of the full scope of those plans, and the different pieces often seem to be contradictory. Still, it is intriguing, and I hope to learn how everything fits together....
Season two picks up 4 years later, in 2312. The world seems to be now governed by the Earth Sphere Federation, but being united under one government hasn't stopped the violence. There's an autonomous peace-keeping force known as the A-Laws, which reports to the Federation, but doesn't seem to be directly controlled by it. Anyway, they root out and attack any possible anti-Federation groups, most notably one called Katharon. There are a number of familiar characters in the A-Laws, including Aker (now called Mr. Bushido), Katagiri, Peries, Colasour, Mannequin, and surprisingly, Louise Halevy (her family had been randomly killed by Nena, and she herself had lost an arm, though she seems to have a replacement arm, now). New characters include Sergei Smirnov's son Andrei, and a man named Aber Rindt (who is apparently of equal rank with Kati Mannequin, though the two constantly disagree on how to conduct missions). And there's a general named Arthur Goodman, who... well, he just sucks. Anyway, I'm probably forgetting to mention some people....
So now, after all this time, Celestial Being again becomes active, though it seems their original Gundams are outdated, as the A-Laws have more advanced mobile suits now (new models called "Aheads"). So, the Gundam Meisters also get new Gundams. Tieria is piloting the Seravee. Setsuna apparently hasn't been seen by his comrades for the past four years, but he now shows up with Exia, a component of which was needed to activate the new 00 Gundam, which he now begins piloting. He also rescues Saji, who had been falsely imprisoned on a colony that came under attack from the A-Laws (or the A-Laws repelled an attack by Katharon, who were attempting to free prisoners; I couldn't really follow what was going on). They also rescued Marina Ismail from the prison. And Setsuna found Sumeragi, who had been out of touch for some time, and brought her back to Celestial Being. He also recruited the late Lockon Stratos's brother, Lyle Dylandy, to assume that code name and join Celestial Being, piloting the Cherudim. (I guess he was a member of Katharon, and maintained ties with them later, though somehow I seem to have missed that point until some time after he'd joined Celestial Being.) Allelujah also returns, piloting the Arios. They're all on the Ptolemaios II (the original ship having been destroyed), though there are also some new crew members to replace those lost in battle in season 1. As usual, I don't get to really know most of the crew, but there's a girl named Mileina Vashti, who seems to have replaced the late Christina Sierra. Mileina is the daughter of Ian Vashti, the main engineer on the Ptolemy (I don't recall if he was in season 1 or just season 2), and Mileina's mother, Linda, also seems to work for Celestial Being.
Well, lots of things go on, as always, it's complicated. The Gundams come to the aid of a Katharon base that was attacked by the Federation. There they find Shirin Bakhtiar, much to Marina's surprise. Marina wants to return to Azadistan, but it's attacked by Ali Al-Saachez, and there's not much left of it, so she stays with Katharon, as the Federation begins to reorganize the Middle East. Marina spends a lot of time with refugee children living with Katharon, and eventually gets them to sing a song of peace that gains popularity around the world. There's also an important member of Katharon named Klaus Grad, who seems to be close to Shirin, but somehow I've never really felt familiar with the character, took awhile for me to start remembering him at all. Meanwhile, Saji stays with Celestial Being, even though he blames them for hurting Louise, though he does learn the Thrones weren't part of their group. It's kind of tragic, though, that he and Louise are now on opposite sides without even knowing it.
Also, there's strained relations between Colonel Smirnov and Andrei, who doesn't believe his father really cares about family. Ironically, at the same time, the Colonel is making plans to adopt Soma Peries. However, Allelujah eventually manages to get Soma to remember her original personality, Marie Parfacy. They had been friends in the HRL's superhuman facility, before he and some other children escaped. "Soma" was another personality Marie had been implanted with. Now, she finally has both sets of memories, and regrets everything she's done as Soma. Colonel Smirnov finds her and Allelujah after the two crash during a battle, and decides to report her dead so she can go with Allelujah and live a happy life (I should mention they can now be around each other without quantum brain waves hurting them).
And then there are the Innovators. These are people who are more evolved than ordinary humans, and Tieria is one of them, though he apparently didn't know it. (They, like the super-soldiers, also have quantum brain waves.) Ribbons Almark seems to be their leader. It seems each Innovator has a genetic twin, nearly identical except that one is male and one female (though even the males look feminine, and sometimes both twins look identical as far as I can tell, so I'm not always sure which is supposed to be male). Ribbons has a twin named Hiling Care, and Tieria has one named Regene Regetta. Both of them are working with Ribbons. There's another one named Revive Revival, who works with the A-Laws. (He has a license, like Mr. Bushido, which allows him to act independently, though he follows the battle strategies of Kati Mannequin, who is btw an old friend of Sumeragi's, and Kati and Sumeragi become rival tactical forecasters.) Revive's twin is Anew Returner, who becomes a sleeper agent working with Celestial Being (and Lyle falls in love with her). And there are other Innovators I never particularly got to know. The Innovators eventually reveal to Tieria that they are working on Aeolia Schenberg's true plan. Celestial Being was only Phase One. The A-Laws are Phase Two, and Celestial Being should have been destroyed four years ago. The Innovators are meant to guide humanity. But it's unclear whether anything Ribbons and the others say can be fully trusted, and anyway, Tieria decides to stick with Celestial Being. Although he is curious about Ribbon's control over Veda, since he himself had lost his special connection to Veda in season 1.
Eventually, the 00 Gundam will get a new system called the 00 Raiser, which increases its power (Saji pilots it, and it docks with the 00 Gundam which Setsuna pilots). At the same time, Saji and Louise discover each is working with the enemy (I'm not sure how this happened, it was odd, and seemed to involve quantum brian waves, or the 00 Gundam's Trans-Am field, or something, I dunno). Saji becomese desperate to get to Louise after that, though she begins thinking he must have always been involved with Celestial Being, considering he used to live next door to Setsuna, and starts to hate him. Meanwhile, the A-Laws have a new satellite weapon called Memento Mori, which both Katharon and Celestial Being want to destroy, as it is wreaking terrible destruction on the Federation's enemies (as well as innocent people) on Earth....
After Celestial Being succeeds in destroying Memento Mori, there is a coup d'etat against the A-Laws and the Federation government, by members of the regular military, led by Sergei's old friend, Colonel Hercule. They take control of an orbital elevator, and attempt to tell the world of the attrocities committed by the A-Laws, though the government controls the media and feeds the public lies. But Katharon forces as well as Celestial Being come to the aid of the rebels.... However, a second Memento Mori fires upon the elevator, and everyone has to work together to destroy as much falling debris as they can, though some of it will still get through to Earth and cause a great deal of destruction. In the midst of the battle, Andrei Smirnov kills his father, which causes Marie to revert to her Soma Peries personality, much to Allelujah's dismay.
Then the story picks up four months after the orbital elevator incident. But I think I've given away enough plot details, so I'll let the remainder of the series remain a mystery, though there are some twists, some tragedies, all kinds of complicated stuff that's hard to follow, as always. But in the end, the world is going to be changed one way or another, depending on whether Celestial Being or the Innovators win (though one twist is that... the so-called Innovators aren't true Innovators, but we'll see one emerge, perhaps the first of many, it's hard to say). Anyway, the end is reasonably happy, I guess. And I can't think what else to say....