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.
Notice: This review covers both the series and Endless Waltz, the movie finale. I won’t bother making two different ones for the same story.
Wing is basically the most angry-filled Gundam ever made. Watching it is making you feel like you want to beat someone up for wearing a blouse you don’t like. There is so much hate and insanity in this series, you are even wondering where the hell pacifism fits in all this mess. At the same time, this is what makes Wing to be so memorable. The gap between battle-frenzy bishonens and calm pacifistic bishoujos is so big, you don’t even hear your echo in there. Which is somewhat cool.
First of all, like all Gundam shows, this is basically an alteration of the original. Director Tomino is pretty much messing around with the details every five years and makes these variations, just so he can sell the exact same plastic toys, colored differently. In this particular case he said “I will take out the noble Newtypes theme which could hear the dead and thus feel the tragedy of war and I will replace it with HATREEEED! LOTS OF IT! HATE-HATE-HATE! He was probably still pissed off with the way Gundam Victory turned out to be and the country was going through an economic crisis and everybody was emo. He most likely listened to a song like this one in endless repeat in order to get in the proper mood …
… and the result was Wing.
So the story is as usual a war between the space colonies and the Earth Federation. The twist is that the entire colony army is nothing more than five super-ultra-God level Gundams, driven by five totally crazy-angsty-hatred filled teenagers. So we pretty much have five kids wasting billions of elite soldiers, robots, bases, etc. Why? Because they HATE THEEEEM! They hurt their homes and killed their families THEY MUST ALL DIEEEE! No wonder they have a few screws loose up there. Like, laughing while killing people and claiming they are the gods of death, being amnesiac circus performers, going crazy after having flashbacks of fire and explosions, and many more not so family oriented situations. I must say, they did a great job portraying all that and even excuse the apathy they show towards human life.
At the same time, there are other things going on to further point out this madness by creating a bold antithesis. For example, the Earth forces are also divided into their own respected parties, and while the youths go Freddy Kruger on their allies, they sit in some table and discuss politics and treaties, and comities, and degrees and LOTS OF BORING STUFF; GET OVER WITH IT AND GO BACK TO THE SENSELESS KILLING! Seriously, the scriptwriter made the politicians to feel like something you watch to fall asleep, whenever they are talking, your eyelids just start to get heavier. These completely boring parts are what in fact work as a trick to make you prefer the violence over a peaceful and civilized meeting with the warring factions. Who would want to listen to all those idiots? Just keep blowing stuff up until none of them disagrees with you. HATE-HATE-HATE-ANGST-ANGST-ANGST!!!
The trick does not stop there; no sir, they went further on to even more sinister antithesis. The main girl in the series is dead-set-on-peace-and-love-for-all, to the point she is as crazy as the Gundam pilots. I mean, seriously, she finds one of them injured, he gets up, kills the paramedics who came to help him, steals their ambulance, storms her birthday party, threatens to kill her, blows up her homeland, kills her relatives… and she falls in love with him and wants to smooth his cold heart. As well as to NOT fight for world peace. Does that make the slightest sense? Nope, but she too exists as an excuse to further prove how everybody in this show is an asylum escapee.
… Plus there is HATE!
In case you didn’t figure it out yet, the storyline is pretty weak in this variation. Mostly slow and predictable since the five youths are the crazy off-springs of Chuck Norris and always win or survive no matter how dangerous a fall or an explosion is. Plus their robots don’t even fight. They are playing with the enemy! They are so damn overpowered, they are simply unbeatable, or repairable in case their left shoulder gets a dent after a nuclear bomb explodes in their face. There are a few cases where they try to throw in a few plot twists, such as some military assholes scheming to kill all their rivals by letting them be ambushed by the Gundams and then blaming the evil colonies and bringing about a dictatorship in the name of peace and liberty. Makes no sense but then again neither did Adolf Hitler when he pulled the same trick. Whatever, it worked and offered a small twist for a few episodes before the plot switches to the Gundams now senselessly killing the dictatorship armies. HATE-HATE-HATE!
There is also the trademark masked man of the series. This Char-wannabe is also plotting his own massacre from the sidelines and even gets to pilot his own super ultra robot later on, effectively becoming the sixth Power Ranger. Just like everybody else in the show he is insane and bent on revenge for some massacre. HATE-HATE-HATE! So as you can see there are lots of parties in the story, plotting to gauge each other’s eyes out. The way it plays out is simplistic but at least they don’t leave it linear all the way.
Speaking about the duration, as usual the show didn’t deserve 50 episodes (no Gundam ever did) just to tell a simplistic tale of HATREEED and TEEN AAAANGST!!! At the same time it tries to fill in all the boring parts with character coloring. There are segments where the pilots are separated and are given their own spotlight just to get to know them better. There is very little going on in these parts but at least it helps to understand a bit better their motives. How crazy they are, that is.
The animation is as always amongst the best its era had to offer and outside of some blobby faces and motions here and there, it is very consistent and detailed. The action scenes are cool in overall, although they are one-sided most of the time and tend to become boring for being so damn predictable. YEAH AS IF THE GOD OF DEATH CAN LOSE BY ANTS! Other than that, it is standard cool mecha action. The weaponry they use is damn crazy and the variety the secondary mecha have is huge to keep you wondering how the next robotic Pokemon looks like.
Furthermore the animators tried to attract even some female audience in this show by making the main pilots being bishonens. You wouldn’t believe the naughty things I was hearing from fujoshis and their ridiculous yaoi fanfics while the series was still in its prime. I mean these youths were clearly not attracted to chicks, even when most girls in the series love their bad boy personality. Plus they kept most of the time bonding as buddies only with each other. How hard would it be to assume they were… well…
I really liked the main opening theme; I still listen to it today. The rest of the songs are ok too, nothing bad; the combo of pop and electronic works within the context of the show. The dialogues may be hard to tolerate half the time, as they are angst-filled dribble, shallow pacifism, or boring politics. Nothing terrible here either.
In all, it isn’t a bad Gundam variant but it definitely lacks the maturity and the context of the original universe. Its value is also very low as the story is too linear and simple to deserve a second watch. Furthermore, all its good parts were recycled later on into the Gundam 00 variation with better animation (you know, angel-themed overpowered mechas, psychotic bishonens, pacifist women, scheming military, and so on). At the same time it may have lots of nostalgia value for those who were in their teens during the 90’s, as Wing is the first Gundam to be broadcasted to most western countries in primetime. It basically told the world that the franchise exists and made a lot of fans to further look for the rest of the alternative universes, and specials, and movies, and summaries, and parodies. All five hundred of them…
It is a half-enjoyable universe and mostly remembered for its oozing HAAATE! But nowhere near as well directed or that artistic as some other Gundam series, such as Turn-A or 08th MS.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (good looking)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 7/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 0/2 (it tries a bit in social and personal drama but the superpower battles are killing it)
Conclusion 2/2 (solid)
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 2/2 (macho)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 2/2 (everybody has some)
Development 0/2 (poor and messy)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 7/10
Historical Value 2/3 (very famous)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little actual plot)
Memorability 4/4 (well, it has a bit of everything so it’s easy to forever remembering it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 1/1 (looks great)
Sound 1/2 (good songs but the dialogues are usually meh)
Story 1/3 (great concepts but shallow presentation)
Characters 0/4 (they are shallow)
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.
Literally forced myself to finish this... I will start by saying that this is an older show so obviously i don't expect amazing animation or anything, but for the most part fights are pretty much the same thing. They recycle a lot of battle animation and its kind of just the gundams taking on waves of other generic mobile suits. I think that the part that annoyed me the most was that they were coming out with a new model literally every three episodes. I mean it just got ridiculous that they could build such vastly superior gundams to what they had been doing in what seems like no time. The plot got very draggy for me by episode like 27 ish and i really have forced myself through the rest. It picked up again by the late 30's and to the end but following the motivation for the gundam piolets and trying to figure out who they were actually fighting for was a challenge for me at times.
I've definitely seen better gundam series and significantly better mecha animes so i mean check it out because its somewhat of a classic but not really, and 49 episodes can start to feel like a lot if you are looking for a more intelectual storyline.