Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 22 – “The Fight for Independence” – Ideals Over Faction

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I really liked this episode and got to say it was a favorite. “The Fight for Independence” was a fascinating deconstruction of Treize, Zechs/Miliardo, Lady Une, Trowa, OZ, The Alliance as well as the Colonies. Things were shown to have grown more complicated and no one liking where things are headed except for the people obsessed with war.

The episode was directed by Yasunao Aoki and Nobuyoshi Nishimura and written by Katsuhiko Chiba.

The story kicks off with Zechs, now calling himself Miliardo’s arrival in space and him going to the Alliance Colony under General Septum’s son Gwinter to seek a peaceful solution between the Colonies and Earth. The Romafeller Foundation puts Nichol in command and orders Lady Une to serve as a soldier, all this is from orders from Dermail who wants Zechs destroyed. As Nichol fulfills his orders Treize reaches out to Zechs during the battle and asks a request and Trowa faces off against Nichol on the barge.

The Pros: Politics – The Alliance is seeking to learn and grow and not repeat the past, but fears being destroyed because the Colonies are becoming them so they feel they have to fight. The Romafeller Foundation is using OZ men until they don’t need them anymore and can replace them with Mobile Dolls, subordinates like Nichol are rebelling and Zechs is a free anger and trying to create a future. It’s fascinating and wonderful stuff.

Gwinter – Gwinter and his Grandfather listen to Zechs and in the end are prepared to die so people will see the evil of war for themselves as there has never been a colony destroyed. They aren’t destroyed which is good, as Gwinter is a very solid character and better understands the situation going on in their relationship to OZ thanks to Zechs.

Trowa – Trowa has a small but important part. He saves the Alliance Colony because he believes Lady Une would not do the order, which is true. She has a split personality but even her ruthless side knows that if you destroy an entire colony you show the others that you aren’t diplomatic. He’s really perceptive and has a good heart.

Nichol – Hates Trowa for being of the Colonies and joining OZ and is willing to sacrifice Lady Une to destroy the Alliance because he values orders from those above him so much. He is the zealot soldier who can’t see beyond the means to an end of duty. I was pretty happy when Une pulled the gun on him at the end.

Lady Une – We see her lost in the battle going between personalities but becoming the har Lady Une once she is rescued by Zechs. She thinks it was a smart move but not the right move and is pretty much in rebellion against the Romafeller Foundation now since Nichol was just following them.

Zechs/Miliardo – I’m going to keep calling him Zechs as that was how I first met him, but he’s clearly grown beyond what Zechs represented. He has a touching conversation with Treize who feels powerless against the Romafeller Foundation and shows that they are still friends when he rescues Lady Une. We also see his diplomatic side as he seeks to break the cycle of violence by convincing the Alliance to be peaceful. He also admits that he left OZ because it was no longer about choice and helping soldiers and people become stronger and have purpose and to live with honor.

Treize – Treize gives us the theme of the episode when he admits he can’t go into space even though Une is there and he clearly cares about her. He feels guilt over contributing to her split personality and also feels powerless in the face of the Romafeller Foundation which has grown in power. For this reason he seeks to find his power again to fight them and knows the only ones who can relate to him are Zechs and Une.

The Message – The automation is war is bad…we see this in how the Romafeller Foundation plans to use the Mobile Dolls to take out all the factions they deem unworthy in the conflicts on Earth and their constant targeting of the last of the Peacecrafts is part of that. We also see that when difficult decisions exist people can make sacrifices for the right thing, like Zechs saving Une and Trowa stopping the Lazer in destroying the Alliance. This is why I like this show.

This is a great deconstruction of what it means to be a soldier and shows that for a soldier to be just they have to do more than simply follow orders, since some orders like the use of the Lazer should not be followed. Trowa represents the ideal soldier here, as does Zechs who is following ideals now and acting as a diplomat and a soldier. He has found the Peacecraft ideals again and is living them through. This is one reason why Zechs is the best character in the show.

Final Score: 10 / 10. This episode is why I enjoy reviewing this show.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 20 – “The Lunar Base Infiltration” – What is Done for the Mission

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This was a great episode at showing just how costly sticking to a mission can be and not allowing oneself to change. We see this in the actions of Lady Une, in Trowa and in Heero as they are the main characters who we really get glimpses into this episode. I’ll get into more of what I mean later in the review.

The episode was directed by Kunihiro Mori and Nobuyoshi Nishimura and written by Katsuhiko Chiba.

“The Lunar Base Infiltration,” begins with Trowa as one of Lady Une’s test pilots who is chosen to be the pilot for the Gundams the captured Colony Scientists are building. Lady Une speaks to him privately which gives him the chance to critique OZ which begins to break the illusion she’s been embracing as the diplomat and around the time Heero does his attack attempting to destroy the nearly finished Gundam.

The Pros: OZ’s Gundams – OZ has two new Gundams and they are awesome! There is the red Mercurius with an unstoppable shield and Vayaete a blue gundam with the largest beam cannon. Can’t wait to see these two in action against the 6 pilots.

Sally Po and the Magunacs – Both of them are trying to get to the Gundams, Sally to destroy it because she knows it is what Wufei would want and the Magunacs to repair since it is what Quatre would want. After a heated battle they reach an understanding and go their separate ways with respect for each other and the pilot’s whose ideologies they follow.

Trowa – Trowa is a great character in this as we see him subverting Lady Une by revealing OZ for what it is…an organization that values craftyness and guile over morality and because of this he would make a good pilot. He also does what he needs to do to remain undercover, from capturing Heero to destroying Deathscythe.

Deathscythe’s Destruction – Poor Duo screams when he sees it live. He just lost a huge part of his identity this episode.

Lady Une – Lady Une is torn with OZ’s military holding her to that role where she has no empathy, and the role Treize has put her in as the diplomat. She is torn because of this and it nearly breaks her when Trowa speaks truth about OZ.

Okay: The scientists – Again, they don’t have distinct identities, and it’s unknown how they are going to use the new Gundams against OZ.

Heero – He only appears at the end and attempts to destroy Mercurius and fails before Trowa captures him.

This was a good character episode and is beginning to show the tole of the war on a lot of the characters…from Trowa joining OZ, Heero willing to go to any lengths to succeed in the mission and Lady Une’s split personality…and we’re only 20 episodes in. Things are just going to keep unfolding.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10.

 

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 16 – “The Sorrowful Battle” – A Reason to Live

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“The Sorrowful Battle” is a tale of broken soldiers. It is here we learn more of Zechs’s motivation and what drives him and that he is just as invested in any cause he takes up as the Gundam pilots. It is for this reason his fight with Heero is so illuminating for him. For many facing Heero is how they discover their own reasons for living or fighting.

The episode was directed by Kunihiro Mori and Nobuyoshi Nishimura and written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa.

The episode begins with Zechs meeting Noin, Trowa and Heero and treating them kindly before it all agreed upon that they need to fight. They can only see that they are on opposing sides and the fight is all they have to live for. What changes things though is the arrival of Relena who is connected to them both and when Noin reveals the truth of Zechs’s relationship to her the story unfolds.

The Pros: Relena – She takes action and prevents Zechs and Heero from destroying each other. Relena sees the big picture and that OZ and the Romafeller Organization are the true enemies of peace and that the pilots are just tools but moral tools. It is the willingness to end Zechs to do so that leads to Noin confessing her love for Zechs to Relena and to Zechs switching sides and fighting OZ for all the colonies. Relena points out to Noin that she is on the wrong side too and makes Noin realize that she is following Zechs truly, not OZ. Best Relena episode so far.

Noin – Respects Zechs’s choice to fight and defend them all and helps him find his reason to fight again. She is great too and helps make peace between Relena and Zechs as well as giving the information of them being siblings and the pain behind Zechs’s backstory and why he felt lost after the horrors that OZ began committing that were counter to his Sanc ideals.

Trowa and Heero – Trowa upgrades Heavyarms for Heero and helps him fight against Zechs making them evenly matched. You can tell how much their friendship has grown at this point and there are a lot of subtle moments of affection between them. They also make the escape with Noin when Zechs promises to fight Heero later and goes to face the army of OZ for the colonies.

Zechs and Heero – Zechs and Heero are two soldiers so filled with guilt from the blood on their hands they just want to die. It takes Relena’s arrival and the letter for Heero to change his mind and to gives Zechs reason to fight for Relena as she fights for the colonies and peace. It’s a powerful scene as he leaves in Tallgeese to take on the OZ invasion force.

To Defend Another – Zechs’s character arc in this episode is his becoming a knight. Before he was nothing more than an OZ mercenary he realizes, especially as the Romafeller ideals run counter to Sanc ideals. This leads to his changing sides at the end and defending the Gundam Pilots, his lover Noin and his sister Relena. Zechs becomes the Knight and finds his purpose again.

This was a great action episode and had some of the best Gundam action in the series. It also had a great character arc for Zechs and Heero and gave them a chance to grow beyond their brokenness as others had forgiven them and wanted to give them a reason to fight for peace. In that way the episode is akin to a beautiful and sad waltz between Zechs and Heero as they learn the greater purpose of the dance they have all been apart of.

Final Score: 10 / 10. The Perfect Gundam Wing episode.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 11 – “The Whereabouts of Happiness” – The Face of Resistance

GundamWep11d       “The Whereabouts of Happiness” is a good episode. It shows the different faces of resistance and the shape of things to come as we get to know our heroes better and who they have as allies.

        The episode was directed by Kunihiro Mori and Nobuyoshi Nishimura and written by Akemi Omode.

        The episode begins with Relena on the colonies finding that they care for her and her legacy as a Peacecraft as Treize sends Lady Une to represent him to the colonies. This leads to Relena trying to kill Lady Une and the story unfolding from there. On the Earth side of things the Pilots go there separate ways with Duo joining Quatre and learning about his family, people and legacy.

The Pros: Quatre and the Maganacs – Quatre is Middle Eastern royalty and his people live underneath the ground and great companionship. It’s very similar to the Fremen from “Dune,” from having hidden traps to fight Alliance and OZ forces, to the underground living and loyalty to nobility and Quatre. I like them and am curious to see how they continue to fight. We also learn he grew up on the Colonies, is from a noble family from the Middle Eastern nation and his family was a family of pacifists, making his role as a pilot all the more interesting.

Duo – Duo is supportive of Quatre and likes the community that exists among the Maganacs. His being an isolated colonist being sent for revenge against OZ gets discussed with Quatre and they both realize how important the mission is before the fight against OZ and going their separate ways.

Rashid – Rashid is Quatre’s mentor and a really good guy. He is calm and professional and reminds Quatre of the Maganacs and that they choose to fight for him. He doesn’t pull any punches either and expresses his anger at Quatre for not letting them fight.

Weridge – Is one of the colony leaders we meet who is supportive of Relena and the Peacecrafts and when she attempts to kill Lady Une stops Une and OZ troops from following her, even saying he wishes he had the courage to do the same thing. He really shows just how much the Colonies hate OZ and what it has done under the Alliance and on it’s own.

Relena – Tries to kill Lady Une and we learn that she does have the strength to stand for something. It’s a small scene but speaks volumes in regards to her character, as well as showing how similar she is to Zechs and Heero. The episode ends with Noin joining her to support her as that is what Zechs wants so that the Peacecraft family can be restored.

 The Cons: Lady Une – So far no reason to like her, she is still cold and cruel and has no regard for the colonies and life that doesn’t suit her purposes. I really hope she changes.

     This was a great episode that I would highly recommend. Getting to see the life of hte Maganacs and get Quatre’s backstory of him being a child of the noble from their nation, but only seeing them from the outside, since he grew up on the Colonies is powerful and shows why he is so naive and idealistic. Seeing Relena take action and be supported by the Colonists was powerful, and having Noin join her too.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10. Really great and a favorite.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 9 – “Portrait of a Ruined Country” – The Liberation of Sanc and the Cost of a Gundam

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     Zechs like Char is one of my favorite characters. There is something to be said for the Undercover Exiled Prince trope, especially when they end up abandoning their ideals for the sake of the country and become fallen in the process. Zechs represents this in so many ways and this episodes truly realizes what is at stake for him and the cost it will take.

     “Portrait of a Ruined Country” was directed by Tetsuya Watanabe and Nobuyoshi Nishimura and written by Akemi Omode.

      The main plot of the episode is OZ’s liberation of the Sanc Kingdom. When OZ arrives they find Alliance forces entrenched, forcing Zechs to use Tallgeese, over the course of the battle he soon realizes that the Gundam is destroying him and he’s holding himself back. He retreats and the story unfolds from there. Elsewhere the Colony Pilots recover from how they were used.

The Pros: The Pilots Healing – Trowa and Wufei talk and Trowa helps Wufei realize he isn’t a failure. Duo and Heero slowly build the friendship and Relena finds Heero again…and Quatre apologizes to the soldiers who came with him and promises not to leave them behind again. All of them are given the chance to grow in different ways.

Noin – Noin is almost more Alliance than OZ still at times as she questions Zechs’s liberation of the Sanc Kingdom, even though she cares about him and knows it is his home. She is one person I could see changing sides later in the conflict.

Auto – Auto liberates Sanc as he realizes the Gundams exist to kill the pilots and were made for suicide missions. This leads to him risking his life to liberate the country and to honor Zechs, his mentor and friend. It’s a great minor scene and that really defines the character.

Zechs – Zechs is full of regret for abandoning the Peacecraft ideals and knows he is unfit to rule the Kingdom, so his plan is to find Relena and make the world a safe enough place for her to rule. He also is living with the regret that Auto died for him and that his body can’t take the Tallgeese. He takes off his mask when he is looking at pictures of family, but puts the mask back on when he knows he cannot rule.

The Cons: The Alliance Commander of Sanc – The leader of Sanc is just a loud military guy. There isn’t any character, which makes him a bit of a waste. He is there to be beaten and that’s it.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10. Really great and a favorite.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 7 – “Scenario for Bloodshed” – Treize’s Gambit

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      This is the episode that shows just how powerful OZ is, and how complicated things were within the Alliance. I’ll get into more of what I mean later but for now, this is an episode of consequences that pulls a lot of unexpected turns that show just how brutal war is.

     “Scenario for Bloodshed” was directed by Kunihiro Mori and Nobuyoshi Nishimura and written by Katsuhiko Chiba.

      The story begins with some Alliance generals holding a meeting to talk peace with the colonies. Leading this is endeavor is Noventa, the Chief Commander of Alliance Forces who holds the meeting at New Edwards. The Gundam Pilots recieve word of the meeting and begin attacking around the same time that Treize reveals his hand and begins the revolution against the Alliance. From here the story unfolds as characters realize how they were played.

The Pros: Treize – This guy is the glorious bastard…he takes advantage of the Colonies in rebellion and the fact that they are using child soldiers to lure them into a trap where they take out their best bet for peace leaving him and OZ in charge and further militarization of Earth. I’m curious what his reasons are for doing this but he has people who are good (Noin and Zechs) who believe in him so at least some of it is not all it appears to be.

The Alliance – The Alliance leaders are finally complicated, and now they are dead. Noventa is an interesting guy as he knows that the Gundams on Earth are only going to reek more havoc unless peace can be found with the colonies. Septum is the annoying military man who wants war and declares war on the Colonies before Lady Une disposes of him now that he has served his purpose.

The Gundam Pilots – Wufei makes has them stop fighting each other as he points out how OZ used them all to get rid of the best chance for peace. This breaks them all in different ways but especially Heero who was beginning to make peace with the good in himself again. What this entails later remains to be seen with all the pilots, they are scarred even more now though.

Noin – Follows orders but questions if it is worth it with all the blood being shed. She shows just how deadly she is this time though as she kills multiple Alliance Gundams in the rebellion.

The Cons: Too Much Too Fast – So much happens that it is hard to gather what is going on fully a lot of the time. We still don’t know why Treize took over and the reasons the leader of the Alliance wanted peace wasn’t fully explored either. This episode really could have been a two parter.

     This was a really good episode. Not my favorite as it should have been two episodes, a lot happens here and the revolution almost happens too quickly. If they slowed it down we could have got more glimpses into the Pilots, the leadership of the Alliance, Noin and Treize. It still is a good episode, but doing so much hurt the story a little.

Final Score: 9.3 / 10.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 3 – “Five Gundams Confirmed” – The Pilots Make Contact

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“Five Gundams Confirmed” is the episode where the pilots outside of Duo and Heero begin meeting each other and we see what this means in relation to their relationships and the UESA and OZ react to these new threats. It’s a good character episode that does a great job showing rather than telling.

The episode was directed by Yumekichi Minatoya and Nobuyoshi Nishimura and written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa.

The episode picks up with the pilots continuing their missions and Heero in an Alliance hospital. Relena goes to try and help break him out, but Duo is already on it. From here the story unfolds as Trowa attacks the base with Heavyarms where Zechs discovers Tallgeese and Quatre makes contact with Trowa in Sandrock and his forces. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Major Sally – Major Sally shows us that not all members of the Alliance are incompetent or manipulators as we see her resist using truth serum on Heero since he’s a kid. She’s ethical and driven to find the truth. I’m hoping she survives as she made a good first impression as a character.

The Specials – We learn in this episode the Specials are an elite military force that doesn’t need military oversight to act. Zechs is a member of the specials and Treize is their leader as he is nobility and is a the leader also of the mysterious Romafeller Foundation as well as the organization of OZ.

Zechs and Treize – Treize is good at using Zechs’s curiosity and passion to his advantage as they change tactics to see what the Gundams can do and to account for all of them. It’s a great scene and you can tell that Treize is almost like an older brother to Zechs in how he acts around him.

Zechs – Zechs is a special and always looking towards the future. This is what motivates the soldiers he talks to in their battle against Trowa and Heavyarms as they know that what is discovered during the battle will create better soldiers to defeat the Gundams later.

Heero and Duo – Duo is a cool guy who is really laid back compared to Heero’s seriousness. Duo also loves living and is having fun in the mission. He is undercover as a farmer too and clearly enjoys his undercover job. Heero is miserable and at one point almost kills himself and doesn’t pull his parachute. Whatever happened to him in the past mus have been pretty horrific.

Trowa and Quatre – Trowa is the overly serious guy who doesn’t want help, even though if Quatre hadn’t arrived with Sandrock he would have been killed by Alliance and OZ forces. He respects Quatre’s strength though and recognizes they are on the same side in the final scene between them.

Okay: Relena – Her dialogue is still stilted and it doesn’t feel like her character is fully formed. Her drive is entirely Heero at this point which is messed up given how he threatened and tried to kill her.

This is a great episode and shows that it really is the character dynamics that drive this show, since at this point there isn’t the political depth of “Mobile Suit Gundam,” that has yet to come. Still does a great job at letting us know all of the Pilots in different ways and seeing Zechs and Treize interact.

Final Score: 9 / 10. It was a solidly great episode.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Pilot – Season 1, Episode 1 – “The Shooting Star She Saw” – Setting the Stage

The Shooting Star She Saw

We kick off our reviews of “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing” with “The Shooting Star She Saw.” The script was written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa and directed by Yasunao Aoki and Nobuyoshi Nishimura. It is this episode that introduces the first major players and sets up this universe.

“The Shooting Star She Saw” is the pilot to “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.” It introduces the world where the United Earth Sphere Alliance has taken control of the space colonies surrounding. The colonies rebel and are put down but plot a way to get freedom which leads to Operation Meteor, where Five Gundam Pilots and their Gundams are sent down to different areas of the world to take out strategic facilities of the UESA and begin the revolution while being able to claim deniability. From here the story unfolds as we are introduced to the factions in play and the Gundam pilots who drive the story.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Animation – The animation is a vast improvement over “Mobile Suit Gundam.” The characters aren’t blocky, the colors are clear and not faded and the fight scenes flow together and are able to incorporate a lot of action into scenes without cluttering them.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack during the episodes has an intense tech. feel to it which does a good job of adding tension to the scenes and reflecting the minds of the characters. Ko Otani did a great job.

The World – It’s great seeing Earth as the clear villain who has grown complacent allowing for other factions to rise and for the Gundams to reek havoc. This is different and allows for more focus on characters rather than having a single character like Amuro dominate the narrative.

The Gundam Pilots and their Gundams – We are introduced to the Gundam Pilots and their awesome. They are pros even though some have only very small introductory scenes. I’ll explain why soon.

Duo Maxwell – Duo Maxwell is the cocky American Gundam pilot who pilots Deathscythe one of the coolest designed Gundams as it fights with a giant scythe and is quick and sneaky making it a deadly foe. He has battle lust and we see him reveling in the conflict showing just how broken most of our pilots are.

Trowa Barton – Owns the ranged gundam Heavyarms and destroys the space port. His has the highest body count and his character is very calm and deadly and repressed. In this way he is the biggest mystery.

Quatre – Quatre is the most peaceful of the pilots and only kills those who don’t surrender. He doesn’t love fighting and is the most apparent commander as he is with a troop of Gundams when he attacks. His gundam is Sandrock, a close range Gundam.

Wufei Chang – Wufei is the calm soldier who is doing what needs to be done to win the war. He doesn’t revel in it as some of the other pilots do and is all about the job. His Gundam has flamethrowers and is known as the Shenlong Gundam.

Heero – Heero is the character we follow as we are introduced to the man who will be his rival Zechs who is tracking his descent. He manages to kill two of the Gundams that are set him before Zechs’s Gundam overpowers him and forces him to fall into the ocean. It is here he is washed up on shore and meets Relana, the Vice Foreign Minister’s daughter of the UESA. He runs from her and later threatens her at school. He is the hardest and most broken of the pilots and there is no reason to like this guy currently. He does make an intriguing protagonist though as he is coming from a place of desperate survival. His Gundam he loses is the most powerful and is Gundam Wing, it’s design is similar to Amuro’s Gundam.

Lt. Zechs Marquise – Zechs works for OZ and is friends with OZ’s leader Treize. Through OZ he works for the UESA but plans to overthrow them. He wears a mask and is definitely a Char analogue but he is colder than Char and crueler as well as smarter as he only acts when he knows he has the upper hand. Can’t wait to see this guy in action.

Treize – Treize is the leader of OZ and is planning to overthrow the UESA as he sees how complacent they have become and ignorant of their vulnerability (given how successful Operation Meteor is just in the first episode). He is calm and collected and you get why he leads OZ.

Okay – Relena – Is the person who isn’t broken or plotting but is connected to power via her dad being the Vice Foriegn Minister’s daughter. She’s kind as she gets help for Heero which she exploits but she holds her own too and doesn’t flinch when Heero threatens her. She’s a bit bland at this point though but I’m curious what role she’ll play in all of this.

The Cons: The UESA Leaders – These guys are boring and refuse to listen to Zechs or his boss Treize who heads OZ which shows them to be falling. This was a shame as they were the original threat of the colonies. I hope we meet some good or smart UESA characters. Loud abrasive generals are boring.

This episode is a good introduction to everyone and the world, while still giving us enough of a mystery for the next 48 episodes to explore the characters, build relationships and resolve the conflict…if it’s done right. I’m excited to see how they handle this as it does a very good job setting up the stage and giving us the players.

Final Score: 8.7 / 10. Really good and nearly great.