Before we get into my review of the movie finale of the series Gundam Wing, I will say that I do love Gundam Wing the anime. Being one of the first animes I ever watched (the first being Escaflowne, followed by Gundam Wing along with Tenchi Muyo, Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star and others on Toonami, ahh those were the days), it was a superb introduction to the art. While the deeper pro-war, anti-war, total pacifism philisophical arguments and the more complicated political intrigue might have been lost on me at the time, the art was amazing, the action was spectacular, and the overall story was unforgettable. I say all this as I will try to review this production as not just a movie in its own right, but also as the ending to an outstanding series.
While their is certainly a VERY good story to be watched here, it is unfortunate that time constraints limited what could be done. Everything was done VERY well, the pacing was great, it completely fit with the rest of the series, you could even say it nicely leaves you with an idea of whats in store for the future of humanity. Again, its simply too bad that there couldnt have been MORE. Setting that aside, the part I most enjoyed about the story is how they tried (and succeded) in reconciling the pro-war, anti-war and total pacifism factions, positions and arguments. A highlight of this movie was watching the local citizens taking up arms and pronouncing that sometimes you have to fight for peace, that sometimes it has to be earned, and that they were going to prove that they were worthy of the peace that they had fought and worked so hard for. This was done far better than the main series' stubborn iron grip which many characters had on the idea that total pacifism was the only way to achieve peace, all while others fought and died to protect them. One of my biggest peeves with the main series was that the pacifists were totally committed to their ideals but that they, by necessity, were under the constant care of the very warriors and weapons that they denounced.
As with the main series, the animation was absolutely gorgeous. Endless Waltz not only had a larger budget (comparitively speaking) and was made later, so obviously the animation quality was better than the series, but just as the series, it raised the bar for its time. Everything looks fantastic, and the Gundams are ESPECIALLY awesome looking. All the various Gundams got a facelift and redesign and they are positively badass. The best part is the Wing Zero, whose wings have taken to an almost angelic look to them while still keeping their cold mechanical and deadly visage. I can absolutely guarantee that this movie will be a feast for your eyes. From beginning to end its a non stop action packed ground and pound and you get to see every piece of exploding mecha in all its glory.
Along with the animation, the audio experience is another superbly done masterpiece. Every explosion, every round from Heavy Arms' gatling cannon, evey shell casing hitting the ground sounds fantastic. Thats far from everything though. Along with the main series, the English voice acting is well done (I think even more so than the main series) which is a pleasant relief from most attempts. The musical score as well is also top notch, with special consideration to the ending theme song, which was masterfully composed and chosen, and perfectly fits both the movie, and the ending of the series as a whole.
Unfortunately, aside from Mariemaia (who is a new character), and Rellena (who actually does come to some resolutions), no one really changes or grows in any way. Everyone is still the same old same old from the original series. Now not that I really expected anyone to change much (especially coming from a series the length of Gundam Wing), but SOME kind of character development would have been nice.
As I started this off, I love the main series. And while Endless Waltz may not itself be perfect, I think its a perfect ending to a fantastic story. Even forgetting that, aside from a few minor shortcomings, Endless Waltz is an epic production in its own rights. Theres something about giant robots facing off in a deathmatch, and Endless Waltz provides it in spades and masterfully polished, with a great story to boot. Whether or not you watched or liked the original Gundam Wing, I would recommend watching Endless Waltz, as this is simply Gundam Wing but refined, condensed, polished and presented like no other.