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 tree – 00 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.