Duo Himura wrote:Last I checked, I said that I found the show enjoyable but felt that it shot itself in the foot in certain areas...I feel that the setting Gundam 00 has created for itself carries with it a certain obligation to try and portray a complex world...
These statements reflect my sentiments toward Season 1. Duo, I think you totally have a right to voice your opinions. As you stated, a show shouldn't just be about its resolution, but about the journey. It's not a matter of "it's terrible" or "it's not terrible." Gundam 00 is not terrible; it's enjoyable. The thing being gauged by all us independent minds is "how strongly" does it carry out the interesting plot it set forth on episode 1. (That's a human reaction and is normal). And this can absolutely be evaluated at this point.
Why? Partly it is nomenclature, as was noted earlier in this thread. By saying "Season 1" and "Season 2," and reinforcing the idea of a "separation" by the 4 year gap, you have what are essentially two self-contained stories about the universe that just so happen to chronologically connect. The first story is about the rise and fall of Celestial Being; the second story setup is the results of Celestial Being's existence and actions. But here's the primary problem with the "Season 2" setup: it's erasing the unique 00 universe elements that were never even well-developed or played out.
The tri-polar universe of the Union, AEU, and HRL were glanced over at best, and their agents: Graham, Sergei, and Patrick were given bit parts that allowed minimal exploration of their characters and their given armies. Since Season 2 erases the tri-polar setup, those elements can never be expounded upon. This is doubly unfortunate, because these three armies, and their political ideals, were mapped out in the prologue as central to the plot; but they all became literary "Mcguffins."
The depth that three, separate, competing views gave 00's world in theory is now gone. As a casualty of this: Now we have Graham as a masked character with a grudge; his background with the Union can at best be told in flashbacks, which have less consequence, because he's operating outside of that Union framework now. He hardly even had time to be the character he was--one fascinated by the Gundams and trying to understand them. The whole investigation of the Gundams promised in the early episodes hardly had any playing out in the military...most of it was done by Kinue (piecemeal style). Thus, the mystery of the solar reactors largely became a Mcguffin. And when the Pseudo-solar reactors were added, the uniqueness of a solar reactor became more of less irrelevant. Ralph Aifman was another bit character as a result, as the gathering of data on the Gundams became scrapped as a plot point. For that matter, the orbital elevators as a centerpiece motif for the 00 world faded in Season 1, where it should have been strongest.
Further, the whole idea of a "Federation" doesn't make sense. It's a forced plot point to allow for a shift in the tri-polar plot that didn't even fully play out. In the latter episodes of Season 1, the world was under a UN coalition; however, there was no incentive for these rivals to stay together in a permanent arrangement. The idea of A-Laws makes more sense as a spinoff of a security alliance that works together, but not under one unified, catch-all Federation umbrella.
As for the Meisters...they all required more one-on-one time during this first act when there was the initial framework of Celestial Being and the tri-powers. Each Meister has a background from a given area influenced or controlled by the tri-ploar arrangement, but that sort of thing was glanced over as quickly as possible. Now in Season 2, they have tasted defeat, so the way they looked at Celestial Being and the tri-polar powers and their agents before the Federation can never be explored in real-time depth. In a nutshell, they went from hunters to hunted too fast.
The Meisters had just enough development so you'd care for them, but not enough that you felt each of their stories could stand 100% genuinely on their own. IE: Now when Setsuna starts thinking about Marina, it sounds more profound than it actually was when the two of them were interacting. They had cursory meetings, not ones that would have the effect suddenly added in the latter half of Season 1.
Now, if Season 1 was going to be about the interventions in the tri-polar world and not about individual character development, then the interventions should have been more exciting so Season 2 could slow it down to bring in more development. As it was, Season 1 felt too rushed and underdeveloped in both the action/political sense and the character sense. In other words, it tried to do too much in 25 episodes, and as a result, very little felt solidly explored. The setup of episode 1 deserved a whole series when you come right down to it. The clearest example of this rushing is revealed in the last episode, where we're supposed to take Alejandro seriously and expected to believe there is a firmly established rivalry between Graham and Setsuna.
Another, less nagging, but noteworthy point: I'm sure Season 2 will pick up on Saji and Louise as a big part of its plot, but the origins of their characters were kind of sloppily thrown into episodes more often than not, rather than blending them in to create a bond with the plot. For instance, we had Setsuna living next door to Saji, but there was hardly any back and forth or suspicions/tension. Louise was presented so over the top that it made it hard for her to be a sympathetic character. Nena's eventual random killing of Louise's family was very forced. Louise's loss was real and felt, but the road to it didn't make me feel like these characters were connected directly to the plot; they were accessories in the right place at the right time. Like the random bus bombing scene of that La Edenra group that gets taken out in like one episode. It just feels like more could have been done with these characters to make them 3D before the tragedies that make them who they are in Season 2. Perhaps "less" (less pillow fights and whining) would have been "more" in this case...
All and all, I think the story needed more development and pacing on the front end. Even if it does more on the back end, you have an unbalanced narrative with a lot of missed opportunities set forth in the very origin of the plot. So, yes, Season 1 and 2 can be looked at as one series...but because certain opportunities for development can only take place before the time skip, it's hard to claim Season 2 will solve all potential shortcomings of Season 1. I'm sure Season 2 will be enjoyable, as it has a number of threads to pick up on; but I don't like the idea that Season 1 is an expendable red-herring to Season 2.