Let the inspection begin.
At this point, it’s fair to say that if nothing else, the second season of Gundam 00 doesn't surpass the first. It is a mangled piece of machinery from beginning to end. The only salvageable aspect would be the fairly decent audiovisuals that got carried over from the first season. The animation is fairly nice, particularly with the flashy fight scenes. The new designs aren't quite as good as in season one, but are still serviceable as well. There's little to no noticeable CGI, and there is a notable improvement in the mecha designs. Additionally, the few new tracks they added in for the OST are pretty decent, notably, the episode preview theme, though it isn’t up to Kenji Kawai’s standard when compared to say, Ghost in The Shell or Musekinin Kanchou Tylor.
Unfortunately, this is where the positive reports end.
This virus-infected scrap heap wages a war against nearly every surviving character from season 1. Thankfully, there are a few that come out relatively unscathed. We have Col. Smirnov, who managed to stay likable across both seasons. There's Ribbons Almark, who remains static and boring despite his role as the main antagonist. Wait, shit, we're running out of positive examples. Lastly, there's Setsuna, the main protagonist who is as static as ever. That is quite literally it. 3 characters...out of around 20. Christ. Everyone else gets their personalities and/or relevance hampered with to varying degrees. Let's take it from the top.
Now that he's relevant, Saji becomes an intolerable Kira Yamato knockoff for half the season ( as if that invincible beam spam machine wasn't dreadful enough). Thankfully we only have to put up with this for half the show, as he's later reduced to a standard Gundam protagonist when he and his arc take a backseat. His girlfriend, Louise, undergoes a drastic personality change from what was once a sulking mess to now a person that borders on complete lunacy. While there's a plausible connection between "I lost my family to a Gundam" and "I'm insane and I want revenge", neither of the two seasons tried to connect these two states of mind. I get that people change over time, but this season doesn't show us any of that change when even a small flashback montage could have sufficed. On top of that, the personality change is so extreme it's impossible to take seriously. As it stands, Louise is an annoying lunatic that doesn't even suffer any repercussions for her actions. Somehow, she isn't even the worst case of personality switching, as Soma Pierez, goes all over the place at the drop of a hat.
As mentioned earlier, important characters often saw their relevance dwindle. No character represents this more than Allelujah, one of the main protagonists of both seasons. He gets sidelined so hard he barely even exists after his arc ends in the 6th episode out of the 25 that exist. Keep in mind, he and the characters mentioned previously were some of the most notable characters across both seasons. Even Gundam SEED Destiny, the same show that downright ruined one of the best characters in SEED, solidified Kira Yamato’s Gary Stu status, and made his friend and rival Athrun repeat his arc from season 1, didn't go this far. This speaks volumes, especially when I still haven't discussed everyone this season fucked up. Would anyone actually refer to this as a good sequel?
The new cast is catastrophic as well. The only remotely decent new character was a disposable snake name Regene, who accomplishes absolutely nothing and means little outside of a small alliance arc that goes nowhere. Given that this is one of the best characters in the show, it really speaks volumes of how awful and often disposable these characters are. On the subject of more relevant characters, we have Andrei Smirnov, who is probably the worst new character introduced in the show. He is insufferable from beginning to end, and he gets no real punishment for his actions. His quest for revenge against his father is as ill-conceived as his character afterwards is irrelevant, as it's only there for a cheap backstory and another character having her personality arbitrarily shift once again. Yes, one of the more noteworthy characters exists for one idiotic arc before being reduced to yet another nobody halfway into the season. The only important character left is the new Lockon Stratos, who comes with his own host of issues. For example, despite him wanting to be as far removed from his brother as possible (not even touching on how much of an asspull this character is), he pilots a borderline identical mech, and assumes the exact same role as him! It is almost laughable how stupid he is! If only this was an intentional showcase of how war can bring about the worst in people. Instead, it's a preachy, empty spectacle of intolerable husks in human shells, obliterating each other while shouting cheesy platitudes. The worst part is that I'm not even covering everyone here, not by a long shot.
The Gundam franchise has generally been about using epic war machines piloted by unstable people to illustrate the terrors of war on a physical, societal, and psychological level. 00 goes about this as bluntly and pathetically as possible. Everyone constantly shouts about how “violence is bad”, “killing is wrong”, and that “people just need to understand each other better”. Somehow the worst way the series integrates this is by ripping off Zeta Gundam, one of the most irconic entries in the franchise, twice. The most mind-numbing instance is towards the end when the show takes from Zeta Gundam's final episodes, which show newtype abilities become as absurd as being able to interact with the dead for the sake of "understanding people better". At least SEED Destiny has the courtesy of only ripping off an iconic storyline of Zeta Gundam with the Four Murasame plot. This series apes from that particular set of blueprints with Anew --the lifeless Four clone of this series-- on top of the aforementioned "understanding dead people" voodoo. This is unforgivable!
What a scrap pile this heap of a season turned out to be. Even with the major errors present within the first season, there was room for this second season to a newer model that worked off of what came before for a well-built conclusion. It may look clean and shiny, but this pile of junk was plagued with critical malfunctions throughout. To think they kept this line of defective machinery going with a sequel. It isn’t the worst product the Studio Sunrise factory assembly line cobbled together, not with defective equipment such as Gundam ZZ having being broadcast years prior. Regardless, a product that short-circuits out of the box is of no use here.