The Events Of Gundam 00 Second Season Are All Said And Done, And It Is Now The Time For Making Speeches And Reflecting
So let me start by saying this…..”what a ride this one was”. I doubt anybody who really followed the show (I mean REALLY followed it), the forum and blog discussions (with fights that got almost as intense as the ones in show itself) on it, and the spoiler crunch from sites such as 19.04 seconds can really say otherwise. Gundam 00 Second Season is what I have come to expect from second halves of Sunrise shows where the world has been established, the characters introduced and developed (though many would debate this I am sure), the line between factions and idealogies drawn, the goals set (mostly), and now all that’s left to do is finish the job and show how things play out, with all of the mecha skirmishes, character deaths, betrayals, changes of heart, plot twists and big battles that we have come to expect from the Gundam franchise.
How did it go about doing all of that and how well did it succeed? That’s what I am here to look at, and I plan to do it in four sections that will deal with Character, Story, Music And Animation, and finally Mecha. This is going to be a long read (even split into seperate parts) since I am going to try and go in depth on each topic and subtopic as much as possible. For this reason people may want to read this one in sub-installments.
Probably the most maligned aspect of Gundam 00 Second Season has been it’s characters who have been described as either lacking in development, as insignificant or as both. I think that is a bit of an oversimplification though and that is why I want to look at each prominent character individually. This is because I feel that while some characters certainly leave more then a little to be desired in terms of substance and could have just as easily had their part played by a scarecrow, that there is more to derive from a lot of the characters then some might think. Let’s get cracking:
Ol’ Stone Face
Setsuna F. Seiei:
Our famous blunt and monotone hero returned from the grave (metaphorically of course) this season with quite possibly an even more stoic personality then when we lost saw him getting double Ko’ed by Graham Acre. However this was tempered by the fact that his world view has clearly changed and now his is focused on what matters in righting the wrong that he helped to create in the Innovator controlled Earth Federation.
If the first season could be described as sort of coming of age story for the brash, emotional, impulsive and unfocused youngest meister who would by the end of the season show signs of the focused leader he would become in his second go at armed intervention with Celestial Being then this season could be described as him realizing his full potential and ushering in a coming of age for humanity as a harbinger of understanding.
This first becomes apparent in his interactions with the wayward Saji who he rescues from the A-LAWS in episode one and whom he promptly allows to see the truth of what happened to Louise and that they were not responsible for the death of his sister. He also listens to Saji where it seems nobody else would and takes a beating once too and this is integral in helping Saji not only overcome his preconceived notions about Celestial Being and the world, but to build his own character as well.
The second time it becomes apparent is when he takes Neil Dylandy’s brother under his wing as he is recruited into Celestial Being in much the same way that Neil did for him. Here he allows Lyle to see the truth of who killed his family and thus who his real enemy is.
And as the series progresses Setsuna endeavours in his goal to find a way to reveal the truth of the Earth Federations corruption and hidden shadow government to the world until eventually we hit one of the most controversial parts of the show in the Trans-Am Burst, but it is also the moment where he finally realizes his full potential and becomes the one true Innovator and harbinger of understanding for those that wish to have the chance to understand one another better and the vanguard that will guide humanity into it’s adulthood as the series ending tag puts it.
Setsuna has been much maligned for his lack of personality, but I sort of think this is deliberate. Setsuna is much like an oracle, a truthsayer who only says what needs to be said and what is the fact of the matter. He’s frighteningly honest, sometimes too much so like when he took Sumeragi back to Celestial Being and blurted out in front of Billy that she was a member of the group that he thinks killed his mentor, but I still see this mostly as a virtue and a strong counter to Ribbons role in the story that I will get to later. He’s not the best Gundam lead ever (to me that would be either Loran Cehack or Kamille Bidan) and for those who prefer their character to be oozing personality he’s not going to be scoring any points, but in every ways he’s the right character for the Gundam 00 Second Season story and I will be giving him points for that.
Back from the dead…..or not. The Lockon Stratos for this season is in fact the deceased Neil Dylandy’s twin brother Lyle Dylandy. I can remember going into this season hearing about how the death of Neil had been a cop out because they were “bringing him back to life”, but as we get to know Lyle it soon becomes evident that he is not the same character as Neil at all, even though he looks the same. Also I would say it would be too shallow to identify a character that looks similar to another one as the same character without first examining their personality and character traits.
Lyle’s character is a mixed bag. Perhaps the most interesting part about him is that he is clearly so different in how he is portrayed then his brother. When Lyle first comes on board the Ptolemaios he soon learns that he has big shoes to fill. Whereas Neil was the calm, cool and collected big brother to the other meisters and the one that got Tieria to mellow out, Lyle is clearly the newbie in the group and is perhaps the least mellow character of all now. In fact he combines Tieria’s judgemental sense of others with Setsuna’s rash impulsive in his interactions with others, such as can be seen in his interactions with Feldt and his holding loyalty to Katharon before Celestial Being who he felt were more tools to be used for Katharon’s purposes than people he could actually call comrades. He also finds himself quickly on the bad side of Tieria and Allelujah is entirely indifferent to him as well. There were actually multiple times when I thought he was going to try and betray the Ptolemy crew and take the Cherudim back to Katharon, but luckily he never did that and in fact through a reversal of Neil’s mentoring to Setsuna, Setsuna would help Lyle to realize the value of teamwork and to patch things up with Tieria so that they could make their attack on the Memento Mori. Of course this does feel a bit forced as a deliberate “working as a team dynamic/character building” dynamic when you consider that the 0-Raiser could just as easily have taken down a Memento Mori on it’s own.
The main problem that Lyle’s character runs into though is in his romance with Anew Returner. Simply put it is as hollow as any I have ever seen and doesn’t even really make sense. This is partially do to the fact that a time skip was used in order for them to get to know each other and develop a sexual relationship of camera and we are not privvy to the reasons for which they fall in love in the first place. It doesn’t mean they can’t be in love, it’s just that to the viewer it holds no meaning and this becomes a bigger problem when he snaps on Setsuna for offing Anew when up to that point the viewer sees his “Padawan” like relationship with Setsuna much more clearly than that of the one he has with Anew.
Despite this steep shortcoming in a key point of Lyle’s character, he still manages to reach a satisfying climax in his final battle with Ali, the murder of his family and in the end he does what his brother couldn’t, tries to let Ali off so that he doesn’t become like him by shooting an unarmed person in the back. Of course this doesn’t work and Ali reaching for his gun manages to give him the right of self-defence and honour in now being able to put down the man that would destroy what remains of the Dylandy family and to achieve his revenge in a more fitting manner. This was the peak of his character and even though he would go on to finally kill off Revive Revival once and for all, it was here I think that he had made his decision to throw in with Celestial Being’s philsophy of armed intervention only against aggressing parties instead of just seeking violent revenge for revenge’s sake.
In the end though it is unfortunate that Lyle doesn’t get as much focus as he probably could have and that his relationship with Anew wasn’t able to be defined like that of Saji x Louise and Allelujah/Marie and he wasn’t as satisfying a character as his brother was in the first season…..though perhaps more complex.
Picking up from the end of last season, Allelujah’s role in this season was limited primarily to his quest to find and bring Marie back to her former self. Being the last person to rejoin the Celestial Being crew it’s surprising to see how quickly his character arc is resolved, though it was a fairly interesting one. We finally get to learn a little bit about what was causing the two to freak out a bit when they first came into contact with each other during the first season and it was because Marie who had formed a bond with Allelujah and even helped him get through the tortures of the super soldier program by among other things giving him an identity had had her personality almost completely transplanted with that of Soma Peries, causing either of the two to feel overwhelmed when it contact with the other because of the repressed memories trying to resurface but being held back by their mental conditioning.
After escaping from prison both Soma and Allelujah end up crash landing on an island in what is reminiscent of an arc from Gundam Seed and just as Soma is about to kill Allelujah the bit of Marie that is still in her finally recognizes him and is able to stop herself. After this Allelujah and Soma hook back up and that’s pretty much it for his part in the grand scheme of things until the last battle, where his Hallelujah personality resurfaces and he is able to deal the killing blow on Hilling Care. There are a few bits leading up to this where he is seen talking to Marie and trying to keep her out of battle, which at first seems to be a bit chauvinistic, but later becomes apparent that he wants to keep his promise to Sergei and to keep her from harm, which is pretty virtuous when you think about it. Eventually though he is able to accept that she wants to help him in combat and to do her part and they end up fighting off the Gaga squad and probably getting the most kills of anybody, but that is about the climax of their relationship and Allelujah’s character. Not nearly as satisfying as Setsuna, Lockon’s or Tieria’s and it’s pretty clear that he was not favoured by the shows staff.
Overall Allelujah was definitely the weakest of the four Meister’s other then his part in the beginning which was actually pretty interesting. If anything what Allelujah suffers most from is having his primary character arc resolved to early, while others had either multiple goals or had to struggle to the end to achieve what they wanted. At least he has arguably the happiest ending of any of the meisters though in actually having a person to stand by his side at the end who both supports and understands him. Not so for Setsuna and Marina, the latter of whom still doesn’t understand Setsuna’s way of life, Lockon who has a dead girlfriend, and Tieria who well……
Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged
Even moreso than Setsuna, Tieria was changed by his experiences with Celestial Being last season and probably has the most complicated storyline of any of the meisters. Tieria was the only active Gundam Meister at the beginning of second season and was pretty much leading what was left of the group after it’s destruction at the hands of Corner’s strike force. We don’t see him until the end of the first episode when he rescues Setsuna from the Ginin team in the nick of time and brings him, but almost immediately we can tell he’s not the same person he was four years ago. Whereas previously Tieria was arrogant, abrasive and extremely judgemental of the rest of the meisters (especially Setsuna) now he seems to think of the group as being like his family and puts a lot of faith in Setsuna as well, almost seeming happy to find out that he’s alive and okay.
This impression of seeing Celestial Being as a family becomes more apparent as Tieria’s primary character arc kicks off upon meeting up with Regene Regetta and the realization that he was never human at all, but an Innovado who was chosen to live among humans and to become a meister for reasons that neither Regene nor Ribbons are fully aware. This also serves to explain Tieria’s personality marred by a superiority complex at the beginning of the first season as well as how he could interface with Veda. Regene gives Tieria the option of coming back with him to the rest of the innovators, but it is here that Tieria realizes himself just how much he has changed and how he would probably have taken Regene up on the offer 4 years ago, but now he identifies more with Celestial Being and it’s human members as opposed to his own race and not only does he refuse to go with Regene, but upon meeting Ribbons face to face and finding out the truth of what is going on with the Federation and Veda he swears to put a stop to Ribbons ambitions.
This motivates Tieria through much of the series until the climax where he is at last able to confront Ribbons, but in a somewhat confusing scene that slightly mars his exit from the story ends up getting killed and integrated into Veda’s circuitry, cutting of Ribbons from ressurecting, cutting off the Gaga squad from functioning, and returning control of it to Celestial Being and effectively humanities fate to itself. Tieria comes full circle in more ways than one as a character here, because while he finally reunites with the entity he has always felt most comfortable with, he does so for the purposes of furthering the evolution of humanity, but as something of a true innovator (much like Setsuna). This for a character who had previously felt your average human was “unworthy” in his own words. He came a long way, longer than any other character in the story besides perhaps Louise to ultimately find himself and his place in the new world and in the end is probably the most likeable and compassionate of the 4 Gundam Meisters, a person who finally understands what it means to be human, but as an innovator.
Saji Crossroad was possibly the most unlikely character in Gundam 00 to really make an impact, but by the end of this season it’s hard to deny that he has done his part just like any other major character. During the first season the viewer was left to wonder what this wishy washy engineering student had to do with anything, chilling and living out his University life in the company of the bossy, but noticeably interested in him Louise Halevey. And then it hit. First there was the tragedy that would befall his beloved Louise in Nena Trinity’s chance attack on her family’s wedding ceremony in Spain which was the perfect example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but nothing would be so cruel as the death of his sister at the hands of Ali Al-Saachez, which like what happened with Louise Saji would blame on Celestial Being. Flash forward to the second season, Louise has left him to pursue her vengeance with the A-LAWS and Saji without any family has decided to move to space and work on colony construction to at least try and take his mind off of things. It’s hard to deny that by the end of the first season Saji’s innocence has been lost and he has become the focal point of the displaced civilian who as distant as he was from war at the beginning of the series has had to face the harsh reality’s of a distorted world faster and quicker then he could possibly handle. Saji is going to need a friend.
Enter Setsuna F. Seiei to his rescue as Saji is accused of collaborating with terrorists but subsequently freed and taken into the Celestial Being fold. Initially Saji seems ungrateful and horrified to find that his former roomate is a member of the group that he felt ruined his and Louise’s life, but soon he will learn his lesson after some early stumbles such as running away and unintentionally getting some Katharon workers killed and trying to steal the 0-Raiser but realizing that that would solve nothing. The experiences he has with Celestial Being eventually built him perhaps not into a battle hardened soldier so much as a person no longer oblivious to the complexity of the world and the many issues plaguing it’s people, and the realization that Louise is with A-LAWS and that she is on a bad path will make him realize that he has a stake in this conflict and that to do nothing and lose Louise would mean he would lose the one thing he had left in this world that is close to family. As such he must take up some form of arms if he is going to get her back, and if that means working with Setsuna and an organization that he has a hard time trusting, but is all he has to work with in attaining his goal then so be it.
Saji’s character’s climax without a doubt comes in episode 24 when he is finally able to fire the 0-Raiser’s weapon, which strikes a Gaga unit causing a chain reaction that destroys Louise’s Regnant and allows Setsuna to spirit her to safety so that Saji and Louise can have their talk. With Saji’s words and a little help from the Trans-Am burst to help sever Louise’s brainwashing connection to Ribbons, Saji is finally able to get through to Louise and convince her to come back with him. Without a doubt the most memorable moment in all of Gundam 00 Second Season.
In the end Saji and Louise are able to return to earth to start a new life together, but in a moment that almost seems like it’s 4th wall breaking Saji warns that they can’t just be complacent in their new life together and acknowledges that this experience has taught him something about being aware of the greater world around him and that he and everyone must remain vigilant if the human race and the greater happiness thereof is to survive into the next age. By the end of Gundam 00 Second Season Saji’s Childhood….the Childhood of Humanity has end….and it’s time for Saji x Louise to face the future along with the rest of humanity.
The undisputed main antagonist of the season, whereas previously it appeared he was playing second fiddle to Alejandro Corner until the very end of last season when he took the reigns of controlling the new world order while saying he wasn’t fit for such a role. This would spark of Ribbons primary character trait for this season, sheer arrogance and the belief that as something surpassing an Innovado only he is fit to lead everyone else in the Earth Sphere. The thing with Ribbons though is that he is very much able to put his resources where his mouth is. Actually other people’s resources.
Ribbons is simply put a manipulator and has his hands in just about everything. From the hijacking of Aeolia Schenberg’s plans for the purposes of furthering his own god complex, to extorting the heads of the Earth Federation in return for protection both of their position and of their person, to making sure that he stays on top of the innovator game however necessary. Ribbons like many tyrants is not afraid of killing his own people if he feels they are about to betray him and in many cases he is right about those he disposes of such as Wang Liu Min and Regene Regetta the full information control over just about everything in the Earth Sphere. He also has his hands in other characters backstories, from Setsuna who he saved as the pilot of the 0 Gundam, to Louise and Saji who’s relatives were not only killed by some of the very same people he is harboring and supplying, but were split apart by his actions so that Ribbons could take Louise in and twist her desire for answers and justice into a quest for revenge against all Gundams. To top all of this off, Ribbons uses Louise’s fortune to fund the creation of the A-LAWS and the Innovators own personal line of mobile suits and then takes credit for it as Homer and the presidents benefactor. In all of this scheming and desire to stay in power, what Ribbons fails to realize is that in the end he has no real power. Everything he has belongs to something else. A-LAWS to Louise, Veda and the plans it contains to Aeolia Schenberg, The Earth Federation to the people of Earth, and the ship Celestial Being to the organization Celestial Being. Ribbons is simply a steward who was supposed to moderate and lead humanity into space only run mad with the power that was given him to wield as an Innovator thanks to events that tooks place when he saw Setsuna in Krugis. However like all stewards, when the time comes he will be forced to hand over power to the rightful leaders and that of course comes in his climatic scene in battle with Setsuna, where Setsuna tells him how it really is and is able to prove to Ribbons that he really isn’t a true Innovator after all and that humanity IS capable of and must be allowed to lead itself into space and the future and that despite Ribbons belief that it will need to further arm itself for contact with other species, that it cannot be allowed to bring it’s own personal wars into space.
Ribbons as a villain is the whole package. A conniving, arrogant tyrant whose philosophy of superiority, willfull disregard for the lives of others, semi-immortality and belief that he alone is fit to lead humanity despite being a failure as an Innovator makes his apparent defeat at the hands of the one who he arguably manipulated most of all in Setsuna incredibly as Setsuna takes control of his life and humanity future from Ribbons and strikes down the false god as represented by the 0 Gundam in one of the more symbolic scenes in Gundam 00 Second Season. He isn’t entirely wrong, and is correct that humanity may need to defend itself against hostile wills once it makes the journey to outer space, but he forcibly accelerated Schenberg’s plan and distorted it such that the price for his version of the plan become to high. As John Locke says, once a government stops serving the people and starts to primarily serve it’s own interests the right to revolution can and in fact must come into play, which is basically what Gundam 00 Second Season’s plot is about at it’s core. That will come later though.
Marina is infamous for being one of the characters in the second season to not really do much of anything nor to change at all, and that is kind of the point of her role. Marina is outside of the loop, a definite non-combatant who only ever wanted to be a singer, but was forced into the role of a political leader because of her heritage. After her kidnapping and the destruction of Azadistan that lands her in the care of Katharon and child refugees from Azadistan and surrounding kingdoms in her care she is at a loss as to what to do. She knows she can’t do much, she has no country, she’s not a fighter, she’s no strategist like Shirin either, but she does know a thing or two about singing and has the compassion and caring of a mother, so she decides to put that to use in taking care of the children. It’s not a big role, this is evident, and she could easily be criticized for being too weak willed to save her country or to be a proper leader, but the question needs to be asked, could she have done anything and even if she could was she in a position to do anything to stop Ali’s rampage in Azadistan or A-LAWS destruction of the Seele and Richeria kingdoms? Debatable.
Marina actually does have a climatic scene, and it comes when Shirin tries to hand her a gun to defend herself should the terrorists come after her, but Marina refuses, saying she will not compromise her pacifistic values and hold a gun in malice to take a life, even though she knows there is a war going on, because she would not be able to face the children after that and could not live with herself. There are different kinds of strengths, and Marina in her actions here contrasts heavily with the likes of Saji who eventually decided to take up arms to protect what was important to him in a manner that can be constituted as showing bravery. Marina wouldn’t do that though and chose to stay her course. In her case this really wasn’t a bad thing, because change for her wasn’t entirely necessary and in fact wouldn’t have benefited her at all in the aftermath of the conflict. Marina’s values already coincided with those that Aeolia hoped to bring about in the new world, namely peace and understanding between mankind, so in a way she made the right decision for herself, which is a common theme when it comes to the minor characters of Gundam 00 Second Season. There are those that are born fighters like Setsuna, but there are those who won’t be forced to fight against their will like Marina, and despite all the pressures in the world that threatened to destroy her way of life and her values, she hung on and perservered through the worst of it. There is a certain kind of strength there that while it differs from that the Meisters or Ribbons is not exactly lesser.
The Bionic Woman
4 years after losing her family during Nena Trinity’s wanton attack on a Halevy wedding ceremony, Louise has seperated gone here own way from Saji and ended up in the manipulative hands of Ribbons Almark, the person who by very few degrees of seperation is the one really responsible for the death of her family and Saji’s sister and who is harboring those directly responsible. Somewhere during the four year time skip Ribbons appears to have told Louise that he can help her with her with the effects of the Tau particles that are slowing killing her and give her a new hand, but it also appears that along the way he has manipulated her desire for answers as to what happened to her family into a desire for revenge against Celestial Being, and convinced her to help fund the A-LAWS organization with her inherited fortune. Essentially the basis behind Louise’s character arc this season deals with whether her actions are what she truly wants or whether the conditioning and pills that she is taking that are turning her into an Innovado are responsible for the decisions she is making with regard to her desire to destroy the Gundams.
Through her engagements with Celestial Being it slowly becomes clear during her talks with Saji that Louise is developing schizophrenic tendencies due to the pills Ribbons has given her and that the real Louise who shows up during Saji’s talks want to believe him, but is being blocked from doing so by Ribbons mind control. This is complicated further in Louise’s talks with fellow A-LAWS members such as Barack Zinnin, who’s quest for revenge against Celestial Being for the death of his family during the Trinity attacks is similar to Louise’s own circumstances. His mentorship of Louise and subsequent death at the hands of Celestial Being in combat along with her own conditioning seems to be what finally pushes her over the edge and legitimizes the idea of revenge to her. The problem here is that while the very militaristic Zinnin believed that all was lost as far as his life went and that revenge or death was the only course of action for him, revenge wasn’t necessarily the right choice for Louise as Saji argued, and she still had something to live for.
Louise actually has two climatic scenes, the first of which would be when she finally does get her revenge in the scene where her Regnant was able to overpower and destroy the Throne Drei and it’s pilot who killed her family, but in doing so we ultimately see the proof of Saji’s theory that revenge and the destruction of Gundams isn’t what Louise really wanted as she breaks down and realizes that nothing has changed, her family is still dead and that there is now no turning back as the Innovado Louise slowly takes full control of her personality in a manner which is similar to the super soldier conditioning that tranplanted Soma for Marie. Of course there actually is turning back for Louise as long as there are people like Saji who care about her, and this becomes the new idea behind her character arc as Saji and Setsuna move to rescue her and ultimately do during the final battle. As part of the series understanding theme though, Innovado Louise makes one final resurgence only to be cut off by the Trans-Am Burst so that she can finally talk with Saji and learn a bit of the truth about what has really been going on. It isn’t completely obvious, but it is implied that Louise has taken note of the fact that Setsuna rescued her, that Saji’s presence in Celestial Being and his sincerity has convinced her that they aren’t all bad, and that eventually she will learn the whole truth and see the mistakes she’s made and that there is a chance for her to turn back and start a new life with Saji.
Overall Louise has been a really surprising character, and not in a bad way. During the first season she could be grating with her selfish spoiled girl personality, but after the death of her family and seeing her suffer through Ribbons manipulations and having her psyche ripped apart by overlapping desires to return to Saji and the conditioned desire for revenge and the destruction of Celestial Being. There is an aura of hopelessness that surrounds her prospects for survival during the second season conflict, but it’s hard to deny the satisfaction in seeing her achieve not only some justice for her family, but in seeing her reunited with Saji by the end of the series after four long years. If there’s one issue to be found in the way her character unfolded it’s that it seemed almost deliberately delayed in the time in took for it to reach it’s conclusion so that it would coincide with the season finale. Not so much the case for….
Pilot What’s Her Name
Soma’s character arc being as tied in with Allelujah as it is (much like Saji and Louise is season 1) essentially gets resolved around the same time, but not so for her real personality in Marie. For their relationship see the above Allelujah section. As for Marie, her character arc is all about the conflict she has in deciding where she truly belongs, with Sergei or with Allelujah. While Marie may have lost the lust for battle and victory that Soma had implanted in her personality and is practically the opposite of Soma in her calm and caring attitude, she still hasn’t lost her attachement to Sergei as a father figure after joining up with Celestial Being. This isn’t a problem for her at first as she feels that with Sergei’s blessings she can try to fit in and rekindle her relationship with Allelujah, but it almost seems like she takes her promise to Sergei to stay out of combat less seriously than Allelujah, who on top of being overprotective of her, wants to keep that promise to Sergei. This cause problems when Andrei eventually ends up killing Sergei in combat while thinking he is a rebel. Feeling that she was weak in allowing herself to be sidelined in combat and like she should have been their to do something, the Soma personality is able to somewhat reassert itself and she has a brief falling out with Allelujah who she at first blames for refusing to accept her for who she wants to be. Does Soma/Marie really know who she wants to be though, and does she really want revenge against Anderi and is it really her fault that Sergei was killed?
Before looking at that question, let’s briefly look at one of Soma’s other relationships, the one she had with Saji. During Saji’s initial tough time fitting into Celestial Being and his inability to overcome his unwillingness to fight in order to get Louise back, it is Marie in a series of talks with him that is primarily responsible for giving him the courage to do so. As one of the only characters on the Celestial Being side who could really understand and relate to what Saji is going through in her own experience in being seperated from Allelujah and her experience as Soma, it is she that is able to give him the kind and understanding, but necessarily straight forward words that he needs as motivation, so that he can become a little more like Allelujah, who chose to do whatever it took to bring Marie back to the Ptolemaios. In the end one of the most intriguing aspects of Marie’s character arc is that Saji comes back to return the favour in another dialogue where he shares with her some of his values and beliefs that revenge won’t solve her bad blood with Andrei, nor do anything to honour Sergei’s memory. In other words the last thing Sergei would want to see done in his name is for his two children to destroy each other. Instead like with most characters before her, she comes to realize that the Innovators are the true enemy she should be trying to destroy, and not Andrei.
Following this Maria/Soma seem to undergo a merging of personalities similar to that of Allelujah and Hallelujah at the end of season 1, giving her the will of a warrior, but the compassion of Marie, and this is key in her final scene with Andrei where she is able to explain to him what Sergei was really about and how it was Andrei’s fault for never trying to understand the type of man his father was or to take the intiative to get to know him better instead of expecting Sergei to always be the one too talk about his career and the death of his wife, which Sergei almost certainly had no interest in discussing. One aspect of this that is kind of telling, is that in how briefly Soma/Marie got to know Sergei and as an adoptive daughter no less, she understood him better than his own son in Andrei. It just goes to show you that the saying “blood is thicker than water” isn’t always true.
Overall as a character it wasn’t Soma’s relationship with any specific character that made her the most intriguing female character in Gundam 00 (in this analyzer’s book at least), but all of them together, which created that crisis of identity that she had to try and reconcile, both as Soma and Marie. All her life she had been used as a tool and her true nature was made an uncertainty by brainwashing and experiments to make her a killing machine, thus robbing her of the natural psychological and temporal process of growing up and finding her own way in life. Thus her character arc is really about her trying to make up for lost time and to take control and find her true self.
Sumeragi Lee Noriega
Sumeragi was never one of the major characters in the first season so it’s no surprise that her first character arc of the second season is resolved fairly quickly. That is basically her gaining the confidence to get back into the action after the disastrous battle that she thought had resulted in the death of all of her teamates. This as we know was not the case, and it doesn’t take long for Setsuna to track her down at Billy Katagiri’s place where she has been staying and to show her that she is needed as the Ptolemy’s tactical forecaster again. That of course will have the repurcussion of starting off her second character arc regarding Billy’s outrage at her having deceived him as to her true affiliation for so long, but that comes a bit later. No sooner however does Sumeragi return to the Ptolemy does she also have trouble reintegrating with the Celestial Being crew, and we soon learn why it is that she drinks so heavily and is worried about returning. She fears that her own abilities are inadequate and that the wrong forecast will doom her crew again, much like it did her former soldier boyfriend Emilio when she gave his team the wrong information in a campaign that resulted in her death. After thinking she had made the same mistake again last season, she fears it all happening again….only this time for real.
An understandable character flaw given that her worst nightmare has essentially occured twice already, but soon she comes to realize that if she doesn’t act and do what she can in helping the Meisters track down and overcome the distortion that Setsuna is searching for, that even more people will die at the hands of the A-LAWS and their benefactors….including Celestial Being. Essentially the idea here is that while giving her tactical forecasts could result in a losing scenario for Celestial Being in combat for which she would be responsible, doing nothing at all and wallowing in her own perceived inadequacy would almost surely doom them and a whole bunch of other people. A nice little morality tale in her overcoming her weakness, which while kind of basic, is always welcome and thanks to how her backstory and personality were handled, rings as authentic nonethless.
Not quite so for her second character arc involving Billy unfortunately, though that’s more the fault of his development then her’s. This occurs near the end of the series when Billy finally catches up with Sumeragi and holds her at gun point for being a terrorist and rebel against the Innovators who he claims are the proper ones to lead humanity into the next era. Sumeragi argues that he’s on the wrong side, and it all seems to be building up to an interesting little debate of philosophies between the two as per usual Gundam fare….until the Trans-Am Burst allows Sumeragi to see that Billy is just working with Ribbons and gave him the Tau Trans-Am technology because he was trying to get even with Sumeragi for deceiving him. This really only comes across as selling Billy’s character short though and renders his actions as simply petty when there could have been room to do something with him that perhaps involved Homer’s philosophy rubbing off on him in some conversation. Unfortunately what ends up happening instead is that Billy’s weakness rubs off on Sumeragi’s character climax because Billy’s is inseperably tied to her’s, and counteracts a bit of the strength of character she had built earlier on, because unlike Soma who still let Andrei have it during their understanding dialogue moment for him being such a tool, Sumeragi just accepts it all and appears to instantly forgive him. Very disappointing, but not a total loss of a character when one also considers her relationship with Katie…….
Katie first comes across as simply a tough as nail, no nonsense by the book type character much like the original Bright Noa. One who will follow all military orders and lives and operates between those constraints, but soon enough and possibly thanks to Patrick’s presence around her and his earnest and honest determination, she seems to lighten up near the end of the first series, and very quickly starts to believe that something is amiss by the start of the first one. As a member of the A-LAWS she no longer buys in wholeheartedly to the idea of perfect military rigidity and structure, probably because she believes of her ever increasingly apparent strong sense of justice and belief in finding undisputable fact on a belief before making a decision. In a way she is the embodiment of Gundam 00 Second Season’s very strong message toward questioning what we think is the reality of our existence when it comes to politics and the power and control a government can wield. It could perhaps be said that she fills in Kinue Crossroad’s fact finding role in some regards, but that she has enough influence to make a difference.
This becomes apparent after she finds out about her former classmate Sumeragi’s presence within Celestial Being and decides to give them some leeway in an attempt to gauge the true intent of their latest armed intervention against the Earth Federation. It doesn’t take long for Katie to make up her mind though on who to support, and in her character climax during the Break Pillar incident, possibly inspired by Celestial Beings effort to save the civilian cities on the ground and disgusted by A-LAWS indiscriminant use of the Memento Mori laser, she makes the decision to assist Celestial Being. Not only that, but she decides to support it’s ally in Kataron following the resolution of the incident. At no point does her sense of justice ever ring stronger in the series. She is still beyond a doubt 100% military through and through, but with the conscience to realize that the A-LAWS interests and by extension the Federation’s run contrary to those of the people in such acts as Arthur Goodman’s wanton disregard for the safety of those around the break pillar. It is clear that as long as the A-LAWS are in full control of the EF military that she will not only no longer be a part of it, but will fight against such a corrupt force that would dishonor what the military is supposed to stand for. As such it is only fitting that she be the one to denounce Goodman in her final contribution towards the rebel effort and that she play the biggest role in his undoing.
One of her later actions that could be criticized character-wise is that while she initially mentioned to Sumeragi upon her formal alliance with Celestial Being against the A-LAWS and Innovators is that she would be bringing them to justice for their actions 4 years ago at the end of the conflict. However she doesn’t do this and instead ends up marrying Patrick and commenting that should Celestial Being being another armed intervention, she will rise to oppose them for the sake of the people. Here’s the thing though, I believe that by the end of this all, deep down she knows that Celestial Being’s cause is for the sake of the people as well, and that in their final act of putting their own lives at risk (and in Tieria’s case sacrificing it as he knew it) to right the wrongs and fix the mess they helped create 4 years ago, that they did a good enough job of bringing themselves to justice and doing what was right for the people. However in her mind this does not excuse any future interventions on their part, hence the quote to Patrick. Thus all in all Katie Mannequin in her adherence towards justice is essentially the full package as a character, and one of the more easy to relate to and support in the series without having to wade through to much confusing philosophy.
I asked ghostlightning to guest write with his impressions for the next two characters because he and I seem to be on the same wavelength regarding them. Here’s what ghosty had to say regarding…..
Ali Al Saachez And Mr. Bushido