The second episode of Gundam 00 came out last night. My geekometer is off the chart; this is a giant robot anime series I’m downloading off the internet the day it airs because of how much I’ve loved previous shows in the franchise. It’s equivalent to a Chinese Trekkie downloading episodes of Enterprise as they come out.
Why do I have such devotion to an entire franchise? Because so much of it is so good. It tells serious war stories. It has some amazing action sequences. It’s created some of the greatest characters in anime. And, while the quality has varied over the decades, it’s rarely disappointed for long.
So, I’ve been watching the buildup to Gundam 00, the latest series, with some interest. It has a top-notch crew (the director of Full Metal Alchemist, the writer of Trigun, and the composer for the Ghost in the Shell movies), and planned to springboard off a popular past Gundam concept: that the Gundams are rare, super-powerful war machines dropped into a gritty militaristic conflict.
I greatly enjoyed episode one, but first episodes are poor indicators of an entire show’s quality. It was a solid, action-oriented, broad introduction to a large cast of characters. Episode two was a better test.
And it performed well. A narrator explained the general political situation, a welcome addition to typically politically-oriented Gundam. Several characters were developed a little, also welcome after that broad first episode.
And, you know, making any large-scale artistic work is hard. It’s hard to balance characters, story, character design, setting, artistic style, music, sound, voice acting, backstory, mechanical design, and a hundred other elements in a way that keeps them all from stepping on each others’ toes.
So, it’s nice seeing something that works. And works well.