Reviews: Gundam 00 A Wakening Of The Trailblazer

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Where's the rest of the movie?!
Trailblazer suffers from an acute case of F91 Syndrome. It is grandiose, beautiful, choppy, incoherent, spastic, terribly edited, and just plain incapable of telling the story it desperately wants to tell in the amount of time it has to tell it in.

Let's start with what good we have to work with here; the ELS. They make brilliant adversaries, being implacable, lethal, unfathomable and terrifying. Even faceless and voiceless, they manage to sail right to the top of my 'Best Gundam Antagonists' list, just below Rau Lu Crueset. The 00 writers knew exactly how to go about introducing alien life into a previously humans-only series series, and my only regret is that they were forced to be part of this movie rather than getting a season devoted to them.

Now, onto the bad. There are too many characters; the movie visibly struggles to give everyone from the series at least a tangential role in the plot, and suffers for it. On top of that it wastes precious time introducing new characters that are promptly killed off after doing precisely NOTHING of any importance. Descartes Shaman is the perfect example of this. He is introduced piloting a Mobile Armor that Ribbons Almark wishes he'd had a few years ago, and generally screams 'I will be a boss battle at some point!' in his attitude and initial prominence, but then gets killed off in a total anticlimax less than halfway through the movie. What was the point of his inclusion other than to establish Innovators are occurring naturally and justify the animation budget? Precisely none, at least in this movie.

Furthermore, Trailblazer displays traits of F91 Syndrome by not actually giving us the upgraded Gundam 00 until the last few minutes of the movie. Worse, when the upgraded 00 does appear, it plays the role of glorified taxi. The lack of any real 'antagonist' means that the movie is devoid of the climactic conflict between morally opposed, equally matched characters that usually defines the Gundam franchise. This is yet another reason why Descartes is wasted; his set up makes him the perfect villain, yet this potential is never capitalized upon.

Overall, Trailblazer isn't an awful movie. It's just far more flash than substance. The good parts at best only manage to balance the bad. It really feels like this was supposed to be Season 3, and it's a shame it didn't become that.

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Gundam 00 deserved a Great Finale. This isn't it.
Spoilers below.

A Wakening of the Trailblazer. The great finale that 50 episodes of Gundam 00 we're building towards. After the spectacular but still inconclusive ending of S2, I'd been hoping for something that would finish off this series in style.

Sadly, the same flaw that many argue plagued Gundam 00 cripples Trailblazer. Trailblazer attempts to cover too much in the 122 minutes or so that it has, and in it's effort to provide a epic finale for everyone noticeably fails to provide a real one for anyone.

The first problem is the rather large cast from 00, and the movie's attempt to provide a bit of screen time for everyone plays to the detriment of them all. The vast majority of characters see no character development, and frequently the movie forces characters into stasis so that they can play their predictable role in the plot. Sumeragi comes to mind, who despite the hints of romantic resolution with Billy at the end of 00 is winded back to late S2 status to facilitate her role on the Ptolemios. Setsuna, despite seemingly developing at the end of 00, reverts back to a introvert.

Others, most noticeably Louise, get regulated to extras and mostly sit the movie out.

The biggest problem is however that with the exception of Graham, Klaus & Shirin Setsuna, and perhaps Saji & Feldt most of the characters are static. None see a marked change during the movie, or during the 2 year time skip.

Meanwhile, the cast of new characters added is understandably weak, and frequently unnecessary. The only one that the movie makes an attempt to explore is Descartes, and when I say "explore" I mean have him fly around a new proto-type unit and kill him off to show the seriousness of the situation without killing off anyone's favourite. Meanwhile even thought the Ender's Game style story should work, the complete absence of any real antagonist does let the story flounder a bit. And then there was the ending.

The ending wasn't noticeable for what it solved, but for what it didn't. Feldt x Setsuna? It was suggested, and then left completely unaddressed. With the exception of Marina & Setsuna, no one from the central cast receives a mention in the 50 year later epilogue. "What Happened to the Mouse" Abound. While not exactly a bad story, don't walk into Trailblazer expecting something that will do the finale justice.

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