Imagine, if you will, sitting in the park for luncheon with two best friends. Wistfully, you think aloud, ‘What would be the best way to eradicate war?' Friend One, a keen dabbler in philosophy, offers her expert opinion, ‘Total pacifism,’ at which Friend Two, who has just returned from a six-month tour of Afghanistan, scoffs, ‘Impossible!’ Thus begins a long theoretical battle for THE TRUTH by way of fuzzy terminology and inconsistent definitions – in fact, their argument is so fraught with pompous bullshit that you wish you’d just kept your mouth shut. The beer is getting warm, the flies have claimed your beef sandwich, and your afternoon is unmistakably ruined.
This, in a nutshell, is what it’s like to watch Gundam Wing.
The series begins with the nervous simmering excitement expected of a grand political mecha show. In fact, the military-political intrigue within the first few episodes is inspired, as a harrowing twist kick-starts the story. Startlingly, everything that follows turns out to be utter garbage. Bad guys will sermonise about creating a new world order and grabbing the future of humanity without ever explaining why. The good guys then add their chant of ‘We don’t wanna fight!’ whilst doing their best Rambo-in-space impression. In between, there will be entire conversations consisting of nothing but impenetrable philosophies, such as the following exchange:
Treize: My ideal is nothing more than the fantasy of a single individual. History is an accumulation of daily events. I have no interest in an individual’s future.
Lady Une: Your future’s already been determined. Your future is destined to be right here in outer space.
Treize: Lady Une, I’m not as strong as you think I am. Zechs and the Gundam pilots are making an effort to construct a new future as we speak. There’s no need to hurry. History will repeat itself.
Underscoring all this stupidity in bold red lines is the inherent contradiction of Wing’s pacifist theme. Relena Peacecraft, a paragon of passivity, is glorified as a righteous young woman with messianic ideas about international relations; at the same time, the people of the world are all simple folk with a wholehearted desire for peace; and everyone’s constantly blathering on about how great life would be without conflict. Fair enough. But how curious that the pacifists always turn out to be the victims who are foiled at every turn by cunning warmongers and – here comes the ironic part – need to be saved by trigger-happy boy soldiers.
The bitterest blow, however, is the lack of engaging action to compensate for the abysmal narrative. Most of the fights lack tension for the simple fact that the Gundams are totally invincible. For instance, as expected, minions often explode at the merest touch of a laser beam; but when the Deathscythe suffers roughly twenty direct hits in space, the force of said lasers only serves to PROPEL IT out of harm’s way. Besides this, the Gundams can also survive marching through a hail of missiles and, my all-time favourite, having bombs, which are attached to their bodies, detonated.
As a whole, Wing is about as stimulating an experience as being the designated driver at a drunken debate.
For those who like their explosions hard, fast, and gratuitous, Wing will prove a reliable supplier. Alas, with explosions being the only thing on offer, anyone requiring a certain level of realism and smooth, believable motion will need to look elsewhere. Even for an anime of the mid-nineties, Wing looks completely average, with disproportionate limbs, still shots, and repeated frames being a staple during action sequences. Some of the juiciest farce, however, includes Heero Yui bending metal bars with his bare hands like noodles and one mobile suit shoulder-ramming another to make it explode without exploding itself.
Only one aspect of the entire viewing experience is worth staying for, and that would be the soundtrack. Granted, many of the sound effects seem lifted straight from the old Battlestar Galactica, but the musical score is incredibly fun and emotive. There’s an engaging mix of rocky riffs, majestic orchestral pieces, and catchy pop theme tunes to tickle the cheese lovers.
As for the voice acting, I stress opting for the Japanese over the American dub. Not because the Japanese dub is in any way remarkable (which it isn’t), but because the American version will positively grate after the first ten minutes. If there is an ounce of emotional subtlety or even appropriate pacing in the American acting, then it must have occurred whilst I was blanking out the dialogue to enjoy the music.
I have never heard the words ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ so overused in an anime before, nor do I think I will ever again. The characters define themselves and each other entirely in these terms. Unfortunately, the definition of strong and weak is vague and changes depending on who is speaking. Seemingly, Heero is strong for fighting and Relena is strong for not fighting. Conversely, Zechs Marquis is weak for defeating every enemy he comes across and Wu Fei is weak even when he’s smashing up enemy mecha. Needless to say, taking any of them seriously after forty-nine episodes of this becomes impossible.
Another major problem, aside from their incomprehensibility, is that a lot of them feel superfluous. Heero has a real personal story integral to the theme (it’s poorly developed but it’s certainly there), but the other Gundam pilots seem tacked on just to fill archetypal gaps in the cast. In particular, I fail to see the relevance of Trowa Barton’s circus background, which appears more like a bizarre metaphorical afterthought than a meaningful part of the moral.
The only pleasant surprise is that Wing has not one, not two, but three gung-ho female characters, Lady Une, Sally Po, and Noin. Unfortunately, despite being interesting in their own right, their roles are mostly incidental; rather than having a valuable stake in the conflict, they merely exist to adore and support their higher-ranked, higher-profile male officers.
Elsewhere, I compare Gundam SEED to cheap but tasty fast food. That being the case, Wing must be the ruined onion soufflé – some excellent basic ingredients went in, and a deflated scrap of irrelevance came out. I get the feeling I would really like these characters and care for their struggles if only they made sense. As it turns out, for all the philosophical hot air pumped into Wing, it still fails to rise to the occasion.
Gundam Wing belongs to what I classify as the 2nd Age Of Gundam, i.e it came out after 1993. I classify Gundam Ages like so because the first Gundam show that wasn't set in the Universal Century timeline came out in 1994 and it was G Gundam. Gundam Wing was the first Gundam show I had seen and only when I started watching it again years after it was no longer shown on TV did I remember that it wasn't the original Gundam show and from then on I became a Gundam otaku. Watching Wing as a 7 year old autistic kid from what was rural Ireland I couldn't help but be impressed by this action packed anime set in the future. Although the first 17 episodes and the last episodes of the show are excellent the ones in the middle are sub par with the recap episodes being the worst and by far the most pointless. The political changes are confusing and demand close attention but make more sense if you write them down.
Yaoi Ja Nai
As much as the yaoi fangirls who seem to form the majority of the fanbase of this ACTION show would like there to be homosexual romances in the show there aren't even any straight ones; not even Heero/Relena and Zechs/Noin. Director Masashi Ikeda himself said that there aren't any romances in the show because he isn't any good at making them.
Heero, Duo and Trowa I like because they're cut out for the huge task that they're assigned; the defeat of the forces oppressing the Earth Sphere. Quatre I don't like because he's too cowardly for the job (it was a shock to me that Brad Swaile was chosen to play Light Yagami in the English dub of Death Note but he pulled it off very well) and I hate Wufei because he's a chauvinist and sided with the Mariemaia Army in Endless Waltz. Zechs Merquise is a likable character for most of the show; he's only in OZ to further his ambition of liberating his country the Sanc Kingdom from OZ's rule. He is of course the Char clone (Char was in the Zeon forces not only to defeat the Federation but also to kill the Zabi family who ran Zeon), he has blonde hair, wears a mask and at the end has a plan for mass death to acheive his aim; a war so bloody that people would get tired of warfare (a bad idea; not only is it contradictory but it didn't work; both sides surrendered only after losing their superweapons and a lot of mobile suits to the Gundam pilots.) Treize I also hate; he's a humanist but is in an elitist, authoritarian organisation and in one episode gives a speech attributing God's help to OZ's successes then says to himself that God is an image created by humans and then kills himself in the last episode for no apparent reason. Noin is cute but also a good fighter; an excellent combination to watch. With a split personality there's nothing else to tell about Une. All other characters are likable/hateable based only on their side apart from Relena. Relena is safely the most hated character in Gundam Wing if not the entirety of Gundam unless Quess Paraya holds that infamy. There's Relena's constant going on about how she loves Heero (it takes only a few episodes for us to get the picture) and the naive ideology that she follows; total pacifism. While killing civilians is wrong and just hands the enemy propaganda coups if an armed enemy tries to screw you over you either fight back or leave yourself at their mercy; which would probably be near non existent considering they would be armed. In both Wing and Endless Waltz the bad guys only surrender after the Gundams do a job on them.
Dispelling Another Myth
There's a myth among the Universal Century Gundam fans that the Gundams in Wing are overpowered (even though a Universal Century Gundam was rarely destroyed or beaten either.) The Gundams were built by the rebels who are from space which is where gundanium is found; this stuff allows mobile suits built from it to be more powerful than mobile suits which aren't so of course the rebels would use it but given the logistics involved in getting it wouldn't use very much of it so that would limit the number of suits the rebels would make out of it and since the number of suits they could make without being dsicovered would be limited too it makes sense that if their objective was to kill then they would make a few high quality suits. The Alliance had many low quality suits because you would need a lot of suits to control the Earth Sphere and the sheer cost would mean you'd have no hope of making all of them from gundanium, and you wouldn't need to because as the opening scene tells us mobile suits are the key to military dominance.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing soars into space with greatness. The depths of this iconic anime makes only the depths of the Gundam shine brighter than the reflection off of a katana. Pilots are samurai as Gundam are just there sword extension.
With samurai feel intact, the plot is well written and carries interesting jet propulsion twists and turns in all 49 episodes. Soundtrack blends in background unnoticed, while opening and closing theme burst with energy, giving it a feel of the 1980's when the anime itself premiered in 95'.
No matter what the year. Past, present, or future war is never the answer. The realism of inevitability will always exist just like Gundam will exist. We should watch and listen a bit closer.
This is one of the first anime I ever watched and probably the first long series I finished.
It is the first anime series I purchased in its entirety (together with “Record of Lodoss War”) and probably the first anime I watched that had political overtones.
It also has a special place, because it was one of the very few anime that my older sister enjoyed with me.
It just felt way different than anything else I was watching at the time (“Dragonball Z” and such) and it opened my eyes to anime that could have giant robots and not be silly like “Mazinger” or “Voltes V”.
The only problem recommending “Gundam Wing” now is that it is outdated. I mean, we’re talking about an anime from the ‘90s. It doesn’t matter how good it was considered to be back then, it cannot compete in animation quality with the current ones.
So, I can only recommend it to Gundam fans or mecha fans who do not mind watching an older anime for another epic Gundam series that deals as much with politics and ideologies as it does with mechas fighting mechas.
Otherwise, you can get a similar feel by watching “Code Geass”, “Gundam Seed” or “Gundam 00”.
This is the show that started me watching anime, and I have a fondness for it, despite it's flaws. I also have a strong dislike for reviews of this series that are overly superficial (or based on the english dub).
Spoiler free review
First of all, knock off 3-5 points if you're watching it dubbed in english, as the translation is... different, and a notable amount of meaning is changed or outright lost. In english it's a decent mech anime, that's ruined by rants about pacivism.
At first glance, it's a used storyline. Lotta reviews focus on that, and completely miss the fact that it's supposed to be a used storyline. The emphasis is the pointlessness of war, and how it's always the same, with the good guys becoming bad guys, becoming good guys, becoming bad guys, becoming good guys (or of course becoming dead). The point is it's all about perspective, and while I'd say they do it well, the number of reviews out there that completely ignore that bring that into question. Either that or people are stupid. Personally I suspect the latter. It's also possible they only watched it with the awful english dub, but most anime viewers are smart enough to check how bad the dub it first... right? Right?
Not the series strong point. The artwork isn't bad for the 90's, but it isnt amazing either. Combine that with plenty of recycled footage in battles, and you've got some issues. Fairly standard complaint for the gundam series though.
Eh, it works. I'm not much of a sound reviewer, but I cant say it doesn't work anywhere. Intro theme isn't bad either, to the point that I don't always feel the need to skip over it (high praise from me for an intro). Voices work with the characters in the original japaneese, and since it should only be watched subbed...
The characters are... intersting, and i can see why some reviews give them 2's or 3's for characters. Unfortunately, it's because the reviewers kinda missed the point (or watched the dub). Every main or strong supporting character is the extreme of a viewpoint related to warfare. In most cases it's fairly well done, but unfortunately in a few cases (notably Relena, Dorthey, and possibly Wufei) they overdid it to the point it hurts the series.
My biggest complaint about this series is the recap at the beginning of each episode. While it was possibly helpful while the series was being aired, it's painful to tolerate if you're watching episodes back to back. Combine that with several recap episodes, and you've got yourself something annoying that really detracts. Also a few of the characters tend to be a bit preachy about thier viewpoints, but they were mentioned earlier. Overall, while it does have flaws, it's not a bad series (unless you watch it in english).