Music in the Gundam series has always captivated me. I remember after watching Mobile Suit Gundam Wing as a kid, I downloaded the songs “Just Communication” and “Rhythm Emotion” from the opening themes, and even today, nearly two decades later, I still listen to them. So when I finished watching Mobile Suit Gundam 00 this month, rather than writing a full review on it (which I may or may not get to), I wanted to talk about the opening music videos. Here’s my rating (from 1 to 10) of the four openings alongside links to the videos.
[There will be minor spoilers in this post as I talk about the sequences from the opening and ending themes.]
Season 1 – Opening 1: “Daybreak’s Bell” by L’Arc-en-Ciel
Music: 4/10 – For a general opening theme, “Daybreak’s Bell” is pretty good. However, for the first music I hear when I’m starting a brand new show, it’s pretty subpar. While the chorus is pretty catchy, especially since they use this song throughout the entire show, the verse (the first thing you hear) and the musical introduction is pretty mediocre. Maybe it’s just me, but when I watch a production-grade anime, I expect the opening theme of the first season to hook me into the show. This one did not.
Animation: 9/10 – The animation, however, did hook me into the show. The synching with the various characters during the verse was well done, as well as the first footage of Gundams flying right before the chorus. We also get a solid helping of Kyrios, Dynames, and Virtue’s capabilities, and the video makes it very clear who the Gundam pilots are near the end.
Miscellaneous: 4/10 – The very last scene with the crew of the Ptolemaios was a bit confusing to me until I was a dozen episodes into the show. Normally, a shot like that contains the show’s main characters, so it took me a while to realize that Lasse, Lichty, Feldt, and Christina were supporting characters at best.
“Daybreak’s Bell” by L’Arc-en-Ciel gets a 5.7/10.
Season 1 – Opening 2: “Ash Like Snow” by The Brilliant Green
(I couldn’t find a YouTube link of just the opening for this one, so here’s a link to S1E14 with the starting point of the opening theme at 1:21)
Music: 10/10 – Now this is the catchy anime introduction I was looking for! “Ash Like Snow” is a brilliant (ha) piece of music with a balance of rock and vocal elements. Tomoko Kawase’s vocals are extremely catchy, while the guitar instrumentals are interesting enough that someone’s created a Guitar Hero custom track for it. I highly recommend listening to the full song here; the beatdown section and the hook are not included in the opening theme and are both fantastic. This is one I’ll have on shuffle 10 years from now.
Animation: 9/10 – The camera effects in this opening are actually really impressive for an animation. There are images that go in and out of focus, realistic panning, sunlight effects, and much more just in the verse of “Ash Like Snow”. The battle sequences during the chorus are a little chaotic, but they still fit with heavy rock style of the song. Lastly, seeing the new Gundams near the end got me pretty excited before finding out that they were actually the Gundam Thrones.
Miscellaneous: 6/10 – The part with Saji and Louise during the verse was twice as long as for the actual Gundam meisters. This is odd given that their roles are pretty small in season one. However, one thing that got me every time near the end of the season was how Louise would swing Saji around with both of her arms, and how she would never be able to do that again after episode 18.
“Ash Like Snow” by The Brilliant Green gets a 8.3/10.
Season 2 – Opening 1: “Hakanakumo Towano Kanashi (Fleeting and Eternal Sorrow)” by UVERworld
Music: 3/10 – The music is a little weird. Auto-tuned voices aren’t exactly common in my experience with anime themes, and even with that, Takuya’s voice on the hold notes just seems like it’s trying too hard. The upbeat rhythm is good though, especially to start off a new season of the show.
Animation: 9/10 – Sunrise needed to have compelling footage in this opening, since the story had advanced 5 years since the end of the first season, and they delivered. After the bittersweet ending of season one, showing all of the characters we knew and loved (except grown up a bit) was a nice touch. It was also great to see some of the characters who died in season 1, as if Sunrise wanted to remind us that their deaths were not in vain. The transition from the verse to the chorus was done well through the Gundam battles, which were less haphazard than some of the other themes in the show.
Miscellaneous: 7/10 – The introduction with young Setsuna was excellent. As we moved forward into the second season, it reminds us that Setsuna’s past is ultimately a large part of what drives him.
“Hakanakumo Towano Kanashi (Fleeting and Eternal Sorrow)” by UVERworld gets a 6.3/10.
Season 2 – Opening 2: “Namida no Mukou (Past the Tears)” by Stereopony
Music: 7/10 – The music is fine and the Aimi Haraguni’s vocals are great. It’s not the type of upbeat rock music that makes for great Gundam battles, but the verse is fitting for exposition (and Lockon smoking a cigarette). I wish the verse were longer, since it seems like they rushed through Allelujah and Veda’s scenes because of it.
Animation: 7/10 – I really enjoyed the first half. The music fit well with the traveling theme of the Gundam meisters (except Tieria, who’s in Veda) and felt like a proper opening theme. The second half had most of the battle scenes, and I was a little disappointed. At this point, there are pretty much no concern of spoilers in the opening theme since we’re in the home stretch of the show, so I wish they would have had more epic battle moments showing off the fully upgraded Gundams.
Miscellaneous: 3/10 – Starting out 12 episodes with 10 seconds of “naked” people was off-putting at first, and didn’t really get better. Also, it wasn’t never made clear whose hand Setsuna was holding at the end, although Marina is probably the best guess given the similar scene in the first opening song of season two.
“Namida no Mukou (Past the Tears)” gets a 5.7/10.