From the back of the DVD case:The new government of the Earth Sphere Federation is carrying out a program of peaceful reconciliation, and preparing for the appearance of the Innovators who will lead the human race into a new era. But the return of a derelict Jupiter exploration ship marks the beginning of an unprecedented crisis. What are the alien entities known as Extraterrestrial Living-metal Shape Shifters? What do they want? And can Setsuna F. Seiei and his fellow Gundam Meisters be able to answer these questions before humanity is wiped out?
First I'd like to apologize for boring you all with my obsession. Rest assured that this will be my final, definitive review on the 00 universe. That said, when I watched this movie online it was posted in roughly twenty minute segments, and had only subtitles. As I've said before, I feel like I miss out on a lot of content while I'm trying to read the text, particularly with fast paced action anime such as this. Also, I was so annoyed and disappointed after watching the segmented version that I swore I wouldn't spend money on this movie...but I did. I'm almost finished collecting the series proper, and I felt like (no matter my opinion on the movie itself) I needed to get this if only to complete the collection. Not only that, but being able to actually focus on the animation (without having to stop) was too good to pass up. I mean, I have all of Gundam Wing, and since 00 is very similar I figured what the heck. So, have I reconsidered my previous opinion? No, not really.
Ok, first things first - I really thought there would be some good, or at least decent, extra features included in this, but the sad thing is there aren't, unless you count trailers for other Bandai titles, which I do not. Other than there is literally nothing. You just watch the movie and that's it. There is of course the language and sub options, but I don't really consider those extras since they are standard in (as far as I know) every anime title released in the U.S. nowadays.
The movie starts out with a short bit of Ian and Linda Vashti doing engineering stuff with the Gundams. Meanwhile, Marina Ismail (Princess Royal of Azadistan) and Shirin Baktiar (Marina's former advisor...I think) are on a trip to see firsthand the development of a new space colony. Now, I'm still fuzzy on exactly why this happens, but there is a guy on board that ends up pointing a gun at Marina, only to be shot twice by Gene 1 (a.k.a. Lyle Dylandy, or Lockon Stratos if you prefer).
Switch to the movie within a movie. Apparently, after Celestial Being had gone dark, some moron decided to make a movie about them, which was painful to watch to say the least. Seriously, I get the movie within a movie thing, and I guess the fact that the voice overs and dialogue were just awful, resembling Power Rangers more than Gundam was added in for the sole purpose of poking fun at the franchise as a whole. Like I said, painful, partly because before the guy playing Setsuna launched an attack, he shouts out the name of his special attack in a most dramatic fashion. Shift point of view to the actual movie, where Saji Crossroad and a friend are watching the end of the movie. Naturally, Saji is disconcerted to say the least. He was there and saw what really happened, and comments on how whoever made the movie apparently wasn't interested in the real story - that it was sanitized to the extent that no one died except the bad guys in season one. Thus ends annoying point number one.
Meanwhile, the ESF has sent out a ship to intercept and do away with the aforementioned Jupiter exploration ship. So, they launch a large number of missiles at the ship, effectively blowing it into small pieces which the ESF thinks will burn up upon entering Earth's atmosphere. However, some of the pieces don't disintegrate like they were supposed to, landing at various places (and making DBZ style craters) , mainly in Europe. Not long after that, strange things start to happen; subway trains start crashing into each other, cars crash for no apparent reason. And then there is the matter of the school girl who, when she tries to enter her house, is over taken by a bunch of shiny metal shards. Later she is shown as having half of her body comprised of the "living metal." The military decides to investigate the fragments that fell to Earth, and quickly learns that they're not inanimate objects.
At this time (there's a lot of stuff that happens simultaneously in different places), it appears that Saji's girlfriend/ex-A-Laws Warrant Officer is in the hospital being treated for ongoing symptoms of severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Saji goes to visit her, and as the aliens are emerging onto the scene, Louse starts to freak out, not because of the aliens themselves, but because of what they want: people that use quantum brainwaves. After the hospital loses power, Saji and Louise leave the building, and are corned by a shapeshifter who has taken on the guise of the dead Ribbons Almark. Lucky for them, Setsuna is there to save the day! Well, except that after he empties his pistol into the clone which keeps walking towards the three, he pulls a grenade out of his pocket (I don't know about you, but I always carry at least one with me at all times XD) and it does the trick, blowing up the body from the waist up. In another location, Allelujah and Marie are investigating one of the crash sites, and before they know it they're being chased by personnel carriers that drive themselves. Ok so, back to the point about missing quite a bit of the animation - Alle/Halle can scale concrete walls like he's freaking Spider Man. Honestly, it was a little weird. Enter Lockon (Lyle) with Zabanya, who literally blows away the vehicles that are chasing Alle/Halle and Marie.
At first glance, A Wakening of the Trailblazer seems like a fairly standard alien invasion flick, minus the presence of mobile suits of course. The ELS seem to be the parasite type of alien which assimilates the human race and then takes the planet for themselves. It actually reminded me of a cross between Independence Day and anything Terminator. While I am not really a huge fan of invasion movies, I do like the simplicity of Earth forces taking on the marauding alien hordes and winning. For a long time that is how Trailblazer plays out. Unfortunately, it must have been decided that this movie should keep with the seres' mantra of "understanding each other", and that is where this movie starts to fall apart. One would think there would be mass panic all over the globe, but there isn't. One would also think the Meisters and crew of the Ptolemaios wouldn't be acting like this kind of thing is a common occurrence, but they do. The series itself revolved largely around obtaining world peace, and only briefly mentions toward the end of season two that the "dialogues to come" would involve E.T.'s I would have liked this movie to have a more X-Files-ish feel to it, dark and sinister with the aliens only ambitions being conquer and colonize, but instead it gets all touchy-feely. End annoying plot point number two.
Annoying plot point number three and four are character based. Setsuna has visions, or hallucinations or whatever where the people that died in season one are talking to him, and Neil reiterates for one time too many that "You have to change, Setsuna. I couldn't so you have to." This is important because it doesn't fit with the original Lockon's character at all. It makes him sound like an old dejected man who is on his death bed, not a super talented twenty four year old who joined Celestial Being because he believed in their cause. Then I have to wonder who had the bright idea to introduce new characters into the story and expect the audience to just accept they had always existed. The new Innovator I understand, but then there's this astrophysicist named Meena Carmine who wants Billy Katagiri in the worst way. While traveling on the linear train, Meena is doing her makeup and flirting with Billy. At some point in the conversation she crosses and uncrosses her legs in a way that's reminiscent of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, while wearing a very short skirt.
I almost feel generous giving this two stars as there are really only two things going for Trailblazer, the characters and the spectacular battle scenes. I have also looked around the web a bit to see what other people thought of it, and reactions are mixed. Some say the addition of the ELS is genius, and then there are those like myself who have a hard time seeing this as part of the canon-verse. For some reason the people in the first camp seem to think the ELS were trying to show us humans that fighting isn't the answer, but they fail to explain the aliens' unprovoked attacks on the people of Earth. It's such a shame. Trailblazer had so much potential. It could have been an epic end to the 00 saga, but instead of making us cheer for the good guys, hoping they'll wreck shop and send the ELS packing it left a lot of people disappointed and scratching their heads. Trailblazer is billed as "A brand new, all original Gundam theatrical feature for the first time in 19 years!" In reality, there isn't really anything original about it. They took an existing Gundam-verse and added aliens. I wouldn't really call that original.
For a DVD with nothing but the movie on it, I'm not sure it was worth the $21 I spent. With that in mind, I recommend this as a rental. Personally, I can't explain why I'm so fascinated with 00 over all. There's just so much wrong with it, and yet I continue wanting to watch it.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
What's your opinion on Gundam 00: The Movie: A Wakening of the ...?