Not Enough Has Been Said
It’s been a while, again.
There are two conditions under which I find it difficult to write: when the entire universe seems to be caught up in celestial doldrums and nothing seems to happen, and when the universe catches a celestial jetstream and events blast by without me even being able to process them. As of late, it’s been the latter.
Before we go there, though, I want to express a little frustration about this blog. I prefer to write with a passion, to write about the things I believe in and the things I do at work. I want people to know about what I do and what I think of the world.
Unfortunately, despite my blog receiving at least five hundred hits every week (closer to a thousand in actuality), most of them seem to be hits on my old posts about topics that just happen to have a lot of people interested in them. Most of my hits go to an old Gundam 00 post, as well as that old “Drizzt in Magic” post. It’s more than a little vexing because instead of this blog being my own personal way of communicating with the world, the world seems to say “OH LOL GUNDAM 00! OH LOLZ DRIZZT IS TEH WIIIIIN!!@!@!!!1111111oneone”. Thus it seems that a lot of my endless hours sitting here and tapping away my angsty blather goes to waste. Maybe it’s just as well.
Of course, I’m not the type to move around, closing blogs and starting new ones (completely deleting the older ones in the process). I’m still going to stubbornly slog through hordes of meaningless hits here and continue to write, hoping that someone will get the point somewhere along the line.
In any case, I haven’t really said much about this school year’s end. Let’s begin with that and work toward the viral marketing of anime.
This year was rough. It really was. It was my first time to handle this many classes, and it was very difficult for me to keep up the checking pace. (As you know, checking is the thing I hate the most about teaching.) The students were not really a part of the problem–it was the schedule. Several times during the year, the schedule just exploded, with deadlines heaping upon one another. It was only through the gentle guidance that I received from Mrs. Oblepias that I got to finish my work, and finish it well.
She will be around no longer, however. Maam O retired this year as her son graduated. It was not a tearful goodbye, but it certainly was fearful. We still don’t know who’ll be replacing her as the unit head, and well, it’s really too soon to say anything about what to expect next year.
Maam O was an awesome boss. She took me under her wing and gave me hope that I was actually good at something. She never judged me, always encouraged me, always supported me. She made me believe that I was better at what I did than I thought I was.
She even left me with a parting gift: The Writers’ Ultimate Fantasy Reference. It’s full of awesome stuff that I could use for my D&D campaigns (HOBGOBLINS WITH TWO-HANDED RAZORS, BABY!)
It’s just a same that I won’t have her as my boss anymore, but I’m holding my breath–I don’t really want to expect any great boss in PSHS after her. Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, but I don’t want to really get attached to anyone anymore. As you may know, I intend to leave PSHS by 2009.
Oh, and about that post where I had to perform an unnecessarily tedious operation which involved the signatures of three dozen teachers: By the grace of God, it’s done. The impossible became possible, the invisible hand of God became invisible, just like that Gurren-Lagann song said: I finished all of those signatures in a day. Isn’t God awesome?
Speaking of God’s awesomeness, I also managed to find a good summer source of income (which really helps, since the Agency isn’t really zealous about compensating us for our work.). It’s a bit of a surprise, so I wont’ really talk about it yet. All I can say is that the events came together so well that I swear on my blood that it was God’s idea.
Now on to the viral marketing of anime. I’d just finished watching Gundam 00, and I sort of had a love-hate relationship with it.
It began really well despite the ominous pronouncements of naysayers that it was Gundam Wing all over again, and that the Gundam franchise had perished after the unholy mass of blasphemy that was Gundam SEED Destiny. (The SEED franchise did redeem itself, I hear, with Stargazer, especially since Fukuda had nothing to do with it.)
The first episode of 00, as I’ve said in a previous post, was awesome: no stock footage, slick animation, and the ability to remain different form Wing despite the similarities (bishounen cast, small organization vs world, etc.)
However, as the episodes came, they eventually became rather repetitive until the villains were introduced: Graham Aker of Union, Patrick Corlasour of the AEU, and Lt. Col Sergei Smirnoff and Lt. Soma Pieres of the HRL. Lastly, there was Ali Al Saachez. Apart from Patrick, these characters were more than a match for the Celestial Being pilots, each of them soundly beating their share of bishounen at one point or another in the series.
Now for the spoileriffic part:
The villains actually grew on me: Smirnoff for one was totally awesome. He has that “old soldier” thing going, which is pretty common in anime now—but he was also among the most human and most humane of the villains. He actually cared about ethics in war and treated Soma like his daughter. (The apparent anatomical underdevelopment of Soma made me think she was 11 years old, despite her actually being 18.) Smirnoff was really one character I didn’t want do die, even if he was to lose again the Gundam pilots.
Soma was a less likable, despite the common trend of me liking female characters more. (Obviously.) However, her single-minded determination and obedience, as well as her fierce dedication to Smirnoff grew on me. In the last episode, after the two of them beat up Alleluia/Hallelujah, they shared a touching moment as Soma left her cockpit to check if Smirnoff was still alright. She said that she couldn’t go on alone if Smirnoff were to die. I guess it showed that Smirnoff’s treatment of Soma, who is otherwise robotic, made her a little more human. Good way to end the series.
Graham Aker was awesome at first: he seemed to me like a typical “awesome ace pilot,” who was more of a fan of traditional mobile suits. He could make the old school look good, kind of like how Zechs Merquise used the Tallgeese in Gundam Wing. He even refused to use the super-advanced GN-X mechs later on, though he did have his old Flag fitted with a GN-Drive. I loved how he swore vengeance on the Gundams with his Flag. However, I was sorely disappointed when he suddenly became concerned with ego and self only. This kind of came out of nowhere in the last episode.
All of a sudden, Graham is this egotistical jerk who doesn’t care about the world and not even about his fallen comrades. He just wants to kick Setsuna’s butt. He does, but seems to die in the process. His sudden OOC dialogue and actions in the last ep really disappointed me. He may have done justice to his friends, but not to himself. What a way to go. (He survives, though—he’s seen wearing a mask in the epilogue)
Patrick Corlasour became a joke most of the series, getting shot down abruptly while he rushed to the forefront. However, he eventually improved: He eventually became a decent and survivable pilot and almost kills Tieria—only to be saved by Lockon, who got severely injured in the process–losing his sniping eye. What made me like Patrick the most, however, was when he began hitting on Colonel Kathy Manekin and actually succeeded taking her out.
<Kathy> Lieutenant, the world is on the brink of a great revolution. Don’t you have any thoughts on that?
<Patrick> No, madam, I have none!
<Kathy> …you really are something. I’ll go get dressed.
That was awesome. Of course, he got smacked around and finally killed in the last ep. I almost thought Lockon was going to end up killing Kathy, but I’m glad he didn’t. (Though I sure wish he didn’t get killed.)
Lastly, Ali Al Saachez. Now he is a Chaotic Evil jerk who wants everyone to die. He killed Kinue (adding to poor Saji’s sorrows) and also killed Lockon in cold blood. He killed the other Chaotic Evil person in the series (Michael Trinity), sure, but all the way I expected the jerk to die. However, the last episode really turned my expectations on their heads. Al Saachez was responsible for the deaths of Lockon’s and Setsuna’s family, as well as Setsuna’s atheism, since he used the name of God to convince Setsuna to kill. A true jerk to the core.
Lockon’s final stand against him was awesome—Al Saachez had disabled the Dynames, and Lockon took the sniper guncon out, linked it to a remaining cannon from the GN Arms, and used it to snipe Al Saachez. However, Ali managed to evade at the last minute and blew up the cannon, vaporizing Lockon.
It really sucks, however, that Al Saachez didn’t get his just desserts. I hope to see him really get what he deserves in the sequel.
A surprise villain (though not really) was Alejandro Corner. Sinister people typically have sinister ends in mind, though I didn’t expect Corner to actually try to kill Aeolia Schonberg. He succeeded, but thanks to his lack of foresight (Livonze does say that Alejandro is a smaller man than he thinks), he instead activates a failsafe in the GN Drives that enables their Trans Am system—a sort of hyper mode that gives the Gundams the ability to go MEPE, like Gundam F91.
Alejandro got his just desserts as well, dying as his Bling Angel GM (Alvaaron) blew up.
The ending..was not what I’d expected. Far from the “everyone wins” endings of Wing, G, and perhaps SEED, Gundam 00 had a lot of the major Celestial Being characters die in the end (it was really painful to see Licht and Chris die, even if they were rather minor). The body count in Gundam 00 probably is nowhere as high as that in Victory Gundam, but most of the deaths hurt—even the villains. (Except for Corner. I wouldn’t have grieved for Al Saachez, either.)
The body count by Ep 25:
Okay, so the body count isn’t that extreme. The deaths, however, were quite painful. None of them had that redshirt feel, and each death added to the tragedy of the series. In the end, however, Aeolia Schenbergs’ dream does come true in one way—the Earth unites under one banner. Since there are no space colonies in Gundam 00 (at least, not independent ones as we’ve seen them in the past), I can’t really tell what’s going to happen now.
It’s not known what happens to Setsuna or Allelujah, as they aren’t shown in the epilogue. (Tieria, however, is shown in a Lockon hairstyle. Strange.) Hallelujah, Allelujah’s Chaotic Evil personality, seems to fade away, however.
Wang Liu Mei creeped me out by her willingness to see the world destroyed, but it seems she’ll continue to play a big role in the sequel—she’s shown rolling out the Gundam 00.
We also don’t know what Livonze’s plan is–he seems to be the head of a new group, the Innovators. They may be the new villains in the sequel.
The series seems quite rushed, and somewhat like Code Geass, leaves a lot of its questions unanswered. However, the quality seems to have gone down. There was some stock footage in the final battle (though not much), and I hope it stays that way. Let me summarize this:
-The characters actually stirred a reaction. The most painful of all was Lockon’s death, but even Chris and Licht were painful deaths to watch. The villains were easy to like or hate as well.
-Action was never boring and overdrawn. The Gundams all went out in a blaze of glory, as they should have.
-Minimal stock footage.
-As far as I can tell, the series wasn’t a sellout. There were no real extreme upgrades to the Gundams, which goes against the common “protagonist gets at least two Gundams” trend in the past.
-I’m not so sure Code Geass’s “time skip, then the next half of the series” formula works well with Gundam 00. The plot was overall much more predictable than Code Geass, although I didn’t expect to see the Earth Federation actually form.
-Quality did go down as the use of stock footage appeared in the end.
-Some characters got really sidelined in the end. Sumeragi, for example, becomes useless in the final battle.
-Graham Aker’s OOC actions in the end.
-Kinue’s death was just brutal.
-In the same vein, poor, poor Saji. We don’t really know his role apart from an actual, living illustration of collateral damage, apart from burning houses, corpses and teddy bears we see in other Gundam series. I do think his story is a good addition to the series, because otherwise we don’t really feel the dehumanizing effects of war on people in Gundam, apart from random extras dying.
-Ali Al Saachez is still alive. Being a man of faith, I hate to see how he used faith to kill people. I consider it a defilement of everything sacred, and as such I want to see him die.
Anyway, I enjoyed watching the series, and most of my trouble watching it was the annoying encoding problems caused by the .mkv format. (I mean, a couple of years ago we didn’t even have these annoying compatibility problems. Why now, all of a sudden?)
Yay. Now, a lot has been said. I hope to be writing a lot more this break, so my brain doesn’t stagnate.
Saying What I Have to Say,
Your Black Lion