Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Date of Review: February 4, 2014
Set two years after the end of the Gundam 00 television series, we’ve got the followup piece Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie -A wakening of the Trailblazer-. (Cripes, what a mouthful.) Our heroic pilots have to square off against the first truly alien life ever seen in a Gundam series; how do they handle it?
Everything seemed peachy after the series’ end, but in Trailblazer (I am not writing out that full title again), mankind encounters a mysterious race designated “extraterrestrial living-metal shapeshifters.” Man, Trailblazer really loves those long phrases, doesn’t it? Even the characters in the film just call ’em ELS for short. Anyway, the aliens first appear at Jupiter, then start making their way towards Earth. Much like the Borg from Star Trek, they can rapidly assimilate whatever they touch, but unlike those cybernetic foes, communication with the ELS seems impossible. Bring on the mobile suits, and of course, Celestial Being gets involved.
Fear not, Trailblazer isn’t a by-the-numbers alien invasion story. The ELS are not merely the latest alien race looking to conquer everything; once you learn their origin, the Borg comparisons are no longer accurate, either. Even the way Celestial Being is dragged into the fight is clever. While everything moves along at a nice pace, the plot starts to get slightly jumbled in the second half of the film. In particular, the technobabble gets a little excessive, especially towards the film’s climax.
Like the television series that preceded it, Trailblazer was produced in gorgeous high definition. During some scenes, the sheer amount of crap flying around on the screen is truly impressive, and there’s plenty of detail to boot. The ELS are 3D rendered, as are the flashback sequences explaining their origin. The downside is that the ELS are often just depicted as liquid metal blobs, without much form or definition until they assimilate something. They also don’t always match up well with rest of the 2D artwork; it almost seems too sharp. The room-filling score was once again composed by Kenji Kawai, and it’s a fine extension of his work on the Gundam 00 series. Many of the familiar themes are there, along with some appropriate new ones.
But what about the mobile suits? There’s plenty of new mass-produced units, but more importantly, there’s all-new Gundams. Each Meister has a new machine to fly around in, and they’re all impressive. None of the Gundams’ designs are a radical departure from their predecessors; in fact, without knowing their names or who they are assigned to, you could easily figure it out based on visual cues alone. They feel like natural upgrades to their older machines, as well they should.
Trailblazer provides not only a fitting end to the Gundam 00 saga, but also gives us the final fate of protagonist Setsuna F. Seiei in a unique and unexpected manner. Overall, the film doesn’t quite reach the heights of the Gundam 00 series, but it’s still recommended for fans.