Step aside, Lacus Clyne. Your ridiculously powerful basement Gundams that you just happened to have lying around don’t belong here. It’s time for Gundam Exia to show how it’s done.
That is, by turning into Gundam F-91.
But in all seriousness, Gundam 00 continues to be remarkably clever and fresh. Rather than replacing a now inferior unit with a superior one, which usually ignores the fact that four to six months is certainly not enough time for any sort of significant research and development, or discovering yet another earlier prototype, Gundam 00 pulls a unique twist on an old hat of the giant robot genre: the mid-series upgrade. As of episode 22, the Gundams of Celestial Being have had their limiters removed, allowing them full access to the GN Drives’ true power. This only happens at the climax of episode 22, so it’s impossible to see the full extent of their potential, but it’s not a difficult guess that this will give Celestial Being a fighting chance against the hordes of counterfeit GN Drive-powered mobile suits being fielded by the world’s governments.
I have a lot of respect for Gundam 00 because of this development. The show presented what is probably a worst case scenario for Gundam pilots, to have their technological edge completely neutralized by giving everyone else a Gundam. Suddenly, mass-produced units are no longer the typical cannon fodder we all know and love, but a substantial threat. Nor do they have weaknesses such as a lack of human pilots in the case of the Mobile Dolls of Gundam W. To turn the standard armies into such significant threats, and to breathe life into them through introducing the viewer to just a handful of characters like Patrick and Soma, it gives the impression that maybe, just maybe, that every pilot has a story worth telling.
UNLOCKING FULL POTENTIAL is almost as old a concept as the mid-series upgrade in giant robot series. I can think as far back as Daimos as an example. But Gundam 00 is different, not necessarily in concept but in the fact that the air of conspiracy surrounds this development. We now have not one, not two, but THREE independent figures working towards the goals of celestial being from behind the scenes. Wang Liu-Mei, Alejandro Corner, and now Aeolia Schenberg have positioned themselves as complete wild cards, and so the upgrade simply for the sake of increasing power to fight the enemy is not so cut and dry. If Aeolia Schenberg’s true goal isn’t to eradicate war, if this is all a deception disguised as a charade masquerading as an untruth, then Schenberg’s objective I can only begin to imagine. Maybe some kind of survival of the fittest mentality, but determining it by whoever doesn’t blow themselves up.
Oh, and Aeolia Schenberg is one smooth bastard. Aeolia would perform a mental and strategic Tiger Driver on Lelouch and Light at the same time, from what I can tell.
All of this, and it isn’t even the season finale yet! Damn, Gundam Ooooh.