Gundam 00: Space Battlewagon


We can come away from a good action sequence saying more than ‘wow’ or alternatively ‘it left me cold’. So, for example, in one of Legend of the Galactic Heroes‘s side-stories it’s extremely fitting that a certain character dies with the loss of his right arm just before the revelation that he was less of a dangerous Machiavel than he had seemed. That revelation would have felt different if he had lost his left arm instead, or for that matter if he had died with all his limbs attached.

Entertainment value is hardly irrelevant, though, as it’s going ‘wow’ that fuels curiosity: I play closer attention to action sequences that I enjoy. Gundam 00 is at a bit of a disadvantage here because, after the initial time spent being very impressed at the sheer newness of the animation, I realised that the complete dominance of Celestial Being’s handful of Gundams didn’t really suit my taste. Of course, most parts of the franchise tend to concentrate power in their title Mobile Suits’ hands by virtue of their relationship to the Super Robot tree00 just takes it further than many of its stablemates.

In conversation with other fans, however, I was recently able to pick out one of the things I do like about 00‘s action: the bigger role that the Ptolemaios (or rather the Ptolemaios II, or the Ptolemy II, if you want) has played in the second season. The creation of an artificial tsunami in the third episode comes to mind, but the recent attack on the Memento Mori (for which minor spoilers below) was really the ship’s time to shine.


People were quick to point out the Death Star echoes. Past experience has taught me that when an anime might be playing with the Death Star, the differences can be instructive. In LotGH, the Death Star-alike space station isn’t unique, which points us to the general lack of game-breaking technology, appropriate to a story about military geniuses rather than arms races. The trench sequence in Pailsen Files, which I mentioned just a few posts ago, replaces Luke’s proton torpedoes with the story’s heroes, which is really a very VOTOMs move: there’s nothing high-tech to do the job, so men in metal suits are thrown in to do it instead.

Besides reminding us that the Ptolemaios can go very fast and blow things up (perfectly valid purposes for an action sequence!), the destruction of the Memento Mori was achieved by a united team in a big spaceship, rather than by a single pilot in a single X-Wing. (Even Saji was there, doing some damn fine Sitting Still and producing at least one impressive Gasp of Fear. Bless ‘im.) Anyway, in 00 the Cool Ship is not an armed and mobile home for the protagonist’s surrogate military family, and I like this very much. My only fear is that after the Memento Mori’s demise the Ptolemaios will recede into the background again.

12 responses to “Gundam 00: Space Battlewagon

  1. While watching 0079 yesterday I was thinking about how limited a role the ships play in most Gundam series compared to it. The scene in question had Amuro & Hayato in the Guntank telling Kai to cover them and Kai being Kai was all, “lolwut? Mobilize White Base for cover too.” As such it is nice to see Ptolemaios getting some spotlight. I just hope Celestial Being doesn’t run out of salt…

    As for whether an action scene impresses or not, I seem to be in the minority when it comes to 00. Shiny new animation tends to be a lot like shiny new special effects to me. Certainly they look impressive, but a few years from now there will be bigger, better special effects with twice as much retina piercing shine. I would much rather have a more detailed and well crafted scene such as the opening sequence of War in the Pocket which Mitsuo Iso had a large part in. Then again I did really enjoy the action in the last few episodes of 00 such as the Ali/Lockon battle so maybe I’m just not terribly impressed by the typical budget friendly action sequences…

    Either way, this comment has only increased my desire to go back and watch CCA which had quite a bit of delicious action.

  2. Oooh yes, I CAME. Been looking for a post like this. Now that my thirst is slaked.

    I loved this fight. I already accepted that 00 mecha behave like supers so I don’t get bothered by their power levels anymore. The power levels increasing are actually gratifying in some ways. It is not a story of pilots.

    And I’m very glad for your acknowledgment of the role of the Ptolemaios. I like Sumeragi as a tactitian (or ‘strategic forecaster’ in their parlance), and her rivalry with Katie.

    Visit We Remember Love when you have the leisure. This post of yours confirms a hunch of mine.

  3. I have a differing opinion on the Ptolemy II, it was fairly game breaking in the grand scheme of things as teleportation essentially saved the day, Trans-Am was once limited to the Gundams but now the cap ship is nigh invincible at this stage. I liked how in past Gundams the cap ships were vulnerable and hardly invincible, lending to a more combined arms approach. So far Ptolemey II for better or for worse is less of a carrier and is closer to a Gundam in terms of raw power, heck it even survived Gadessa blasting clean through every single deck.

    Sure it was pretty, but at the end of the day something prettier will come along, and unlike Synapse and Albion, I doubt Sumeragi and Ptolemy II will be any where near as timeless.

    For me the mass produced Feddie Frigates (I call them Dauntlesses) fit more along the lines of a capital ship I like to see in my Gundams. Not overly powerful, but still useful so long as combined arms tactics are used. Still I tend towards the 8th MS Team side of the fandom and love grittiness more than this hybrid they got going so far. Gundam 00 is not awesome enough to be super robot (Like G Gundam), but not gritty enough to be real robot (like UC OVAs). In terms of the Gundam family tree, Gundam 00 tends more towards SEED without the teenage angsting.

  4. I still can’t really say I like Gundam of the Galactic Heroes, but I can say that the soundtrack makes me want to climb the ranks to the top, command the respect of cohorts of men and conquer Poland.

  5. >Sure it was pretty, but at the end of the day something prettier will come along, and unlike Synapse and Albion, I doubt Sumeragi and Ptolemy II will be any where near as timeless.

    Eh? Albion was a boring White Base refit, and Synapse was a forgettable captain. They never stood out in the show they were in.

    I like the Ptolemy 2, if only for its ramifications on SRW. Mobile blitzkrieg ship? Do want.

    My only gripe is Al. He was relegated to Ptolemy battery duties. Needs more Arios and its unique weaponry.

  6. @schneider
    I don’t know if Synapse was that forgettable of a captain, considering what became of him in the end. Besides Kou wasn’t that great, I felt Gato and Delaz were arrogant assholes. Besides collectively I liked the Albion and its crew more than I like Ptolemy and its crew at this stage. Besides it seems you are only interested in game breakers, so in terms of raw power UC cap ships won’t be your cup of tea. :P

    Also blitzkrieg implies mobile warfare, and more importantly combined arms warfare, Ptolemy II is mobile, but is not a component of combined arms. It’s more of a pocket battleship along the lines of the Admiral Scheer or Graf Spee. It’s too fast too furious and packs firepower greater than everything else.

  7. @ crusader

    Thanks for that correction.I admit that I’ve never been really interested with capital ships in mecha shows, except for the usual “I wonder how strong its main cannon is” shtick.

    No argument with the Albion crew being likeable, it’s just that they never left a mark on me (operator chick was kinda hot I guess). They did their job well, even better than expected, which can’t be equally said for Ptolemy’s crew. As for Synapse, I felt sad about his fate, but that’s about it. Yargh Titans.

    >Besides it seems you are only interested in game breakers, so in terms of raw power UC cap ships won’t be your cup of tea.

    I found myself substituting the Ra Cailum for the Archangel in SRW often, so shoot me. :P

  8. He’s alive, he’s alive, he’s alive! Sorry, it has nothing to do with your post but I just got back from a massive pre-exam armageddon so I didn’t see your latest post. Really, glad to be able to read you once again, it’s awesome!

  9. @ Absolutely_Steve: Ah, the salt episode. Proof, if any was needed, that the original MSG, while good, is not the Holy Grail that some make it out to be.

    I really enjoy the attention to detail you get in some of the OVA and movie battles (whatever F91‘s plot is like, gotta love the animation), and I think it makes them more rewatchable. Speaking of retina-piercing glare in particular, though, I think there’s sometimes a ‘dimming’ effect on the non-existant camera when we see flashes of light from a position outside the cockpit in 00, but that might just be me.

    @ ghostlightning: Hey, I’ve accepted that 00‘s Gundams are closer to the super end of the spectrum too, and I don’t say that that makes it a bad show. I just don’t like it.

    I think ‘tactician’ is a much better term for Sumeragi than ‘strategic forecaster’. We rarely see her going beyond tactics.

    @ Crusader: I’m sure some would say that the idea of SEED without the teenage angst sounds attractive – regardless, the fact that 00 occupies similar ground suggests that SEED was no fluke, and that things might stay this way for some years to come. We’ll have to wait and see on that one.

    Ideally (in terms of me liking it, not whether or not it’s good) 00 would have less powerful Gundams, and Celestial Being would be using a ship more like the ‘Dauntlesses’. I fondly remember the fleet actions in CCA, with missile waves and point-defence weapons. But if it must occupy a hybrid position as you suggest, then I’m all for CB’s ship having a bigger role to play.

    @ Mark: Isn’t wanting to conquer Poland a recognised mental illness? Better get a doctor on that.

    @ schneider: On Arios, in my experience the transforming-into-a-plane Gundam usually gets the short end of the stick unless it’s also the title suit (Zeta, Wing). I’d expect an episode focusing on Al in the near future, and then more time as a battery until the series finale. We shall see . . .

    @ ZI: Heh. Thank you for the kind words. Good luck with the exams!

  10. Oh this episode had me coming, especially when Lockon goes alltrans amwith his spiffy AI defense thingies. So /m/agnificent.

    I was also wondering, when [the grey haired bad guy who is Katy’s rival] asked about the charge status of Memento, both times it was at 28%. Hmm.

    I also loved this episode for the awesome teamwork – Sumeragi is delicious…in many ways. Maybe Crusader was peeved at how the ship was suddenly able to transport, and I’d agree, I was like “uhhh”.

    Also, I love (sarcastically speaking) how G00 sort incidentally breaks the 4th wall. After Allelujah goes trans am, we see him in his cockpit, and he even says “trans am” – who’s he saying it to? – I think those subtle things play out the anime as pandering (oops), or at least very very very audience-centric.

  11. There’s no way they are making 08th MS over SeeD. Do you guys even remember the sales numbers? Even scaled, SeeD is godly and untouchable to any other Gundam series to date.

    Personally I liked Pre-Trans Am. I was most into Gundam for action during the time all the factions got their new custom suits that were still dirt cheap bikes compared to the CB’s Suzuki Motorcycles. Mainly because, firstly it felt more “balanced” with superior pilots in inferior suits fighting inferior pilots with superior suits. The second being that the action was better animated than any other scenes.

    Watch them again if you don’t believe me. Don’t watch it for the story plot, or who wins and what not, don’t watch it for the talks and hype, watch the fights purely for the animation and quality. I mean, how many 00 fans realize that Ali actually used backpedal to dodge in conjunction with spin stick shield to block Setsuna’s spray and pray in their second fight? Probably close to 1%. Yet it was animated well despite not being zoomed in like Lockon vs Graham.

    Fact is, Princess Alto and Prince Ali are the royalties of 00 action =]

    And lelangir, the dumb crap like Alle going Trans Am is pretty much just a bad way of going “I WAS IN THIS EPISODE WATCH ME SOUND COOL WITH MY HELMET ENHANCED VOICE”. I mean, even if I think Tieria is the worse of all pilots, he still SOUNDS the coolest with his BILLIONS of different phrases with his equally numerous amount of USELESS attacks. The guy is just an excuse to make a SOUNDBOARD. And he’s an awesome one. Don’t look too deep into it, because you guys are giving Sunrise way too much credit if you do.

  12. @ lelangir: I find those little moments of ostensibly useless self-explanation odd myself, and they must be ‘audience-centric’, I suppose. It might be partly a relic of the super robot tradition of named attacks (there’s a much more overt example near the end of the third Zeta retcon/compilation movie, which springs to mind). As D= says, from a pragmatic point of view it’s an excuse to give Allelujah a line in an episode when he’s mostly piloting a humanoid battery.

    @ D=: I don’t think anyone mentioned The 08th in particular. SEED was obviously a big success (and the style of mecha action direction was apparently influential, not that I’d be able to tell) and, while I can’t speak for the others here, I’m fairly sanguine about whatever kind of Gundam they want to make in the future. The franchise needs to make money, after all.

    As for giving Sunrise too much credit, I should probably refer you to this, which explains why this blog gives Sunrise no credit, while looking as deep as possible into throwaway mecha action sequences.


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