Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Great Character Moments, Good Intent…Not Enough Loss or Focus

msgwE6    I’ve been reviewing “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing” for a few months now, and overall I was impressed it. I get why one of my closest friends recommended the series to me and there is a lot to like about this series and a lot I did like about this series. In this I’m going to go into what worked and didn’t work about “Gundam Wing.”

The things that were strongest about this series were the animation, music, characters and theme.

The animation is absolutely beautiful in “Gundam Wing.” Character and Gundam designs are detailed and solid and the fight scenes flow as well as presenting a lot going on with very little on the screen. This gave a lot to the action scenes and the character moments as it was really good at making a single character the point of focus in a scene and giving us that perspective. “Mobile Suit Gundam” had a better story, but “Gundam Wing” had much more beautiful animation. The Gundams all have beautiful designs. From Shenlong Gundam’s dragon hands, to the black Gundam Deathscythe, to Sandrock’s simple design or Epyon and Gundam Wing’s deadlyness. So much work was put into making the Gundams look unique and amazing.

The soundtrack was also beautiful as well. It had a sci. fi. 80’s feel at times, but other times got instrumental…in all cases the music beautifully complimented what was going on in the scenes.

The characters were the strongest part of this series, without a doubt. Whether it was the Gundam Pilots who each had very distinct personalities: Trowa – disconnected and trouble feeling, Heero as the empathetic leader, Quatre as the glue of the group who had the most compassion or Duo as the jokester who was always ready be courageous…each had depth beyond their base character traits. This also applied to the antagonists as well. Treize remembered every person who had died in the wars he started, Lady Une had a bipolar personality, Noin cared deeply for her soldiers and the Pilots and Zechs cared but was afraid of his own feelings and vulnerability. All these characters, including the main character Relena were what drove this series and made it interesting.

The theme of the series is that there would always be reasons to fight and that factions and hatred brought about more factions. We saw this with the United Earth Alliance losing to OZ as the Colonies fought for independence and how within OZ arose the Romafeller Foundation who was controlling it, the Treize Faction loyal to Treize who had resigned and that their actions brought about the White Fang in space, a faction of Colonials with an OZ mentality reacting to OZ, Romafeller and Alliance oppression. Throughout the series factions were always changing and characters joined different factions as their own left them. At one point the Colonies abandon the Gundams and join OZ who is ruling through soft power and later on they are working with Treize against White Fang and the Colonies. This theme is fantastic and shows that even within history, even if a faction is destroyed the philosophy behind it will still live on.

The theme of the broken soldier was also prevalent too. For many of the Pilots (who were just children) the conflict breaks them and they have to find themselves again and heal. They start out alone and eventually come together as victims of the war just trying ot make their own path and stop the fighting. It is a beautiful arc in how they realize this theme and come together at the end. They are the child soldiers of the Colonies, forsaken when it was convenient and used by those around them until they were able to make their own path.

The greatest problems with the series were lack of focus, especially at the end…and lack of loss, which was surprising given the sheer amount of war that goes on in this series.

“Gundam Wing’s” biggest problem is lack of focus. We see it early on in how the Alliance is forgotten about, even though an Alliance colony in space is rescued at one point…we don’t see what the world thinks of Treize being under house arrest or how he started building Epyon or the reasons why. The ending just kind ties everything together nicely without showing us how the Colonial and Earth leaders were able to reach a peace accord, or their reasons for doing so. It completely ignores all reasons for hatred that have been building up this entire team, leading to the Great War in space. This lack of focus is also shown in how we don’t see the Gundam Pilots at the end, except Heero…how the Gundam Scientists ended up on Libra and how they knew Quinze or why Zechs was so insecure. His reasons for not admitting his weakness made no sense, but were just a bigger problem of the lack of focus that there was throughout. “Gundam Wing” didn’t have this problem. Zeon was the threat, Zeon put White Base 7 through huge losses and the victory at the end, as well as Char’s change meant something. Not so for “Gundam Wing” in many cases.

The final problem was lack of loss. Relena’s father dies and the Gundam Scientists and the Romafeller leaders do…but the only loss that is really felt is Treize’s death and we kind of saw that coming when Wufei remembered his rematch. This could have been changed by Trowa dying and that death changing Quatre, as it looked like it had, Zechs actually dying at the end or resolving his weakness issues and Lady Une dying to establish the Romafeller’s as a threat. “Mobile Suit Gundam” was not afraid to kill off named characters who we were given the chance to grow attached to, not so for “Gundam Wing.” Most characters who look as if they die, actually don’t…and it just cheapens their sacrifice or the threat of whomever did the act.

For all the problems with the series I have though, it does hold up. I want to see “Endless Waltz” to see what it adds and if it answers any more questions and in regards to the theme, the message was good…it just made peace to simple. The people of Earth and the Colonies were given no reason to care about their fight…Hell Earth probably would have wanted Heero to win since Zechs was trying to commit genocide upon the Earth until he changes his mind and the Gundam Pilots prevent him from succeeding in his plan. This is ignored to bring about an easy solution to peace between Earth and Space and the narrator says it is successful too, unlike “Mobile Suit Gundam” where there is peace but also a question of how long it will last.

Would I recommend this series? Without a doubt. It is a favorite anime and will remain so, even if “Endless Waltz” ends up being terrible. “Endless Waltz” is the film that is a sequel to the series that I plan on checking out later. Good character arcs and the theme of change in politics were both really well executed overall. If you are looking for a good anime that is a classic in it’s own right, check out “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.” It may not have dealt with the consequences of war as well as “Mobile Suit Gundam” but the political intrigue at times make it feel like an anime “Game of Thrones,” and the character relationships and arcs are reason enough to judge this anime as great.

Final Score: 9 / 10.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 45 – “Signs of the Final Battle” – Heroism

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This was a great episode for the minor characters. We get to see Hilde in action and see just how strong she’s always been as well as getting more development for Dorothy and Quinze, and a return of some of the old Gundams we’d seen before when the shape of the World and factions was different.

“Signs of the Final Battle” was directed by Shinichi Sakuma, Hitoshi Waraya and Yasunao Aoki and written by Akemi Omode.

The story involves a rest at first with Zechs ignoring the Gundams knowing that the battle with Treize is what’s most important. Quinze though is scared of the Gundams and takes charge of the Dolls to take them on, Dorothy warns him but he ignores it wanting White Fang to only own the symbol of the Gundam. Around this time, Hilde sneaks on board and steals the plans for Libra in order to help Team Gundam defeat it.

The Pros: Zechs – Zechs can see the big picture and knows the Gundams are a factor he can’t predict so will put off facing for the time being.

Quinze – The guy is smart in that he realizes the Gundams will be a threat later, but he’s right in that the Dolls haven’t worked before, so why would they work now? He doesn’t realize this till the end and is scared even more of the Gundams.

Dorothy – Dorothy respects the Gundams and knows the only way to defeat them is with people not programming. She’s learned from losing to Quatre and what she has in plan to do against or for the Gundams remains to be seen.

Team Gundam – Duo rescues Hilde from the Dolls and defeats the Doll versions of Mercrius and Vayeate. It was great seeing them again. They also finally rest too which makes them ready for the fight in this episode.

Relena – Relena meets Hilde but says she is staying. Is she holding out on convincing Zechs and finding a third solution or is she plotting to kill him? Not sure yet.

Hilde – This is Hilde’s episode as she infiltrates the Libra and steals the plans for it and nearly dies in the process. She’s strong and Relena points out how courageous she is and like the Gundam Pilots she is.

Treize has sent all his forces into space, but what his plan is still remains to be seen. Libra has a powerful weapon, what is Treize’s counter? Overwhelming force or something else? Does he expect to use the Gundam Pilots? Per usual, Treize is the mystery this episode.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10. The Pilots are the same and Hilde could have got more development. Still great and a favorite though.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 43 – “Target: Earth” – Zechs’s Challenge

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    It’s getting real as we arrive closer to the final battle. In this we see that Treize is still noble and good at his core (at least now anyways) and that Zechs is still aware of the Colonies and doesn’t see them as  means to an end (unlike Dorothy who just wants war). It’s a great episode that has some powerful character moments as well as Quatre showing how much of a rock he is for the rest of the team.

    “Target: Earth” was directed by Shinichi Sakuma, Hitoshi Waraya and Takeshi Yoshimoto and written by Akemi Omode.

     The story involves OZ forces taking over a Colony (the one where Katherine and the Circus are) and holding them hostage to get back Battleship Libra. Treize lets them go as he believes they don’t represent OZ as the Gundams, lead by Trowa rescue the Colony from OZ Forces. Around this time Zechs is heading towards the Colony and Earth and a decision is at stake as Relena advocates for him to live by the Peacecraft name.

The Pros: Relena – Advocates for peace even at the expense of her life and is nearly killed in the process. Turns out her willingness to put herself out there to change Heero isn’t just Heero, it’s everyone. A bit of a martyr complex, but she’s interesting.

Trowa and Quatre – Trowa manages to control Wing Zero after Quatre reminds him he is more powerful and that fighting should not consume him. It’s a great scene. Also, I can’t be the only one who is slash fictioning these two. They have more chemistry than Trowa has with Katherine who he is going on the rescue mission for in this episode.

Team Gundam – Noin feels powerless over how Zechs has changed, Sally is the Guardian over the Pilots, Heero is the leader. Duo holds OZ forces hostage when Trowa takes on the forces outside and Quatre saves Trowa from himself. Team Gundam is awesome.

Zechs – Zechs acts like he is going to sacrifice the Colony to destroy the OZ forces in space, but it turns out he knew the Gundams would save the Colony and instead attacks the Earth to challenge Treize and see what he does next. He knows that the OZ attack will rally the people of the Colonies behind him too. He also nearly kills Relena and is a complete devotee to his cause at this point.

Treize – Treize abandons the OZ forces because he sees they are unethical, showing he is a good guy on some level. I’m curious if he is going to try and use the Gundams against Zechs, Libra and Epyon.

  This was a great episode, and I like that the White Fang fought Zechs when they thought was going to sacrifice the Colony to defeat OZ. it showed that the White Fang hasn’t forgot the people and even though it uses OZ methods is still coming from a good place in it’s ideals of Colonial Independence. Once more, looking forward to see where things go from here. My one issue is that no one has really died. Even Lady Une isn’t dead, there hasn’t been sacrifice really at all, just statistics. No one cared about Tsuberov or Dermail.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 40 – “A New Leader” – The Fall of Dermail

Gw-ep40-a-new-leader       This episode is things coming full circle. What once began with the Earth wanting to conquer space and conquer or destroy the Colonies,  now has the militarized Colonies doing the same thing under the leadership of the White Fang. It’s a powerful message showing how militarization and conquest lead to the oppressed doing the same. This is ironic too since Romafeller is becoming like the Colonies used to be making the Colonies the new future oppressor.

“A New Leader” was directed by Nobuyoshi Nishimura and Yasunao Aoki and written by Katsuhiko Chiba.

The story begins with Dermail doing a power play after Dorothy says he should consolidate his power in space and prepare for war as war is coming and that is how he could lead. Relena also calls for a disarming of Romafeller forces which leads to Heero not assassinating her. This leads to him heading to Fortress Barge. Around the same time the new Cruiser that the White Fang is constructing is attacked by Wufei, after he is fought back they believe the Gundams are fighting for Earth and think destroying Earth is the only way to safeguard the Colonies.

The Pros: Zechs – Zechs is the new leader of the White Fang under the guise of Miliardo Peacecraft. The irony is powerful but I get why he is driven this way. He lost his home and now all he can see is that the Colonies must be protected at all costs since he could not protect the Sanc Kingdom.

Wufei – Wufei realizes he can’t do it alone but he’s right in his fight in space as White Fang has become OZ and just as bad and brutal with just as much disregard for life. He’s in the place now where he can join up with Noin, Quatre, Trowa and Duo.

Team Relena – Team Relena is coming together, as in those fighting to protect the innocents and promote a peace where there is freedom in identity. Those people who support Relena’s cause are Noin, Trowa, Quatre, Duo and the scientist Howard. Heero also is as well after Zechs declares war on the Earth.

Heero – Heero does have a good heart in the end and is ready to risk his life now that he knows Relena does support peace and isn’t a hypocrite or tool of the Romafeller Foundation. He lets her live and chooses to end Zechs since Zechs is living how Romafeller once was.

Dermail’s Fall – Dermail goes to space to consilidate power after Dorothy advises him (she’s a great X Factor as what she wants is unknown beyond love of battle). He make it space but doesn’t bring enough forces as Zechs and a militarized White Fang are now the most powerful force besides the Gundams.

This was a perfect Gundam Wing episode that really illustrated everything I like about this series. Characters and organizations grow and change, loss actually happens and we see the sign of the battle to come now that things have come full circle with the Colonies as the new enemy, when before the enemy was Earth under the Alliance, OZ and the Romafeller Foundation.

Final Score: 10 / 10

 

 

 

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 28 – “Passing Destinies” – Treize’s Motivation

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This episode is also a clip show but the focus is Treize and we get a lot more information and an important reveal at the end. Treize is a fascinating character, he glorifies battle the way Klingon does and isn’t concerned about outcomes. To him it is all about belief in a cause and how fighting for a just cause can shape you to grow. This makes him fascinating, if not all that bright since he seems to have no conception of peace.

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

The episode picks up where we last saw Treize with him being removed to the Romafeller Foundation headquaters to be under house arrest. It is here we learn their original ideals were the protection of nature, which is why Treize joined them and started the Special Soldiers units within OZ. We see that his focus was protection and the love of battle which is where everything unfolds from.

The Pros: Treize – Treize changed because of pilots and because of Zechs. Zechs found truth beyond battle and found himself as Miliardo again, Une found balance between fighting and peace and stood against the automated soldiers of the Romafeller foundation and the Gundam Pilots’ pure hearts inspired Treize to leave the Romafeller Foundation and begin to help them too. It turns out this is all part of his plan with the Gundam Epyon being a major part. What his endgame is (giving his love for battle) still remains to be seen.

The Cons: Lady Une Alive? – She is mourned in one scene as having been shot but after we see her at the end with the reveal of the new Gundam Epyon. I hope this doesn’t become a plot hole. Also, does any of the main cast die? I’m expecting Trowa back now.

This was another clip show that you don’t need to see. You just see Epyon  and Une and learn some more of Treize’s motivations. I liked it and thought it was better than the last one but that is largely because Treize is so much more interesting than Heero and Relena as are those in his faction like Zechs and Une.

Final Score: 8.3 / 10.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 27 – “The Locus of Victory and Defeat” – Relena and Heero’s Clip Show

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This episode was a clip show, and there is only so much you can do with a clip show, but we at least get what is going on in Heero’s mind and we get an update on how Relena has changed and grown and how the events have changed them all. That I did appreciate.

The directors were Kunihiro Mori, Shinichi Sakuma and Hitoshi Waraya and written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa.

As stated above, this episode is recounting the last 26 episodes from the point of view of Relena and Heero and their views of those around them and the events that unfolded.

The Pros: Relena – I finally liked her character after this episode. We see that she was once selfish and now she is selfless as she is fighting for the greater good. She has compassion that Heero finally values.

Heero – For Heero it is learning that he has allies and that the mission is not everything. We see this when he first protects Relena and when he is able to get beyond the programming of Wing and surrenders himself to Quatre as they escape to Earth.

Okay: The Clips – They did a good job of summing everything up but we didn’t get much new information so that is my biggest issue.

This is an unnessasry episode, but I appreciated it since the show is good quality and we get to see some of the great events that have unfolded and made this show unforgettable. Check it out if you like the show.

Final Score: 7 / 10.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 26 – “The Eternal Flame of the Shooting Stars” – Romafeller’s Revealed

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This is the episode that shows that OZ is truly one of the better factions and that the true villains are the Romafeller Foundation and their plan for domination of the Colonies and Earth via the Mobile Dolls. We also see how broken the pilots are and are given questions in regards to the deaths of some characters (Trowa and Une maybe alive?) We shall see though as we finish up the last half of the series.

The episode was directed by Yasunao Aoki and Nobuyoshi Nishimura and written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa.

The episode begins with Heero and Quatre ordered to be killed by Tsuberov. The troops disagree and we are introduced to the Treize faction who are also fighting the Romafeller Foundation and their invasion of Earth, though the Romafeller Foundation is winning the war by sheer numbers. From here the episode unfolds with Quatre and Heero in roles traded as Heero becomes the new insane soldier.

The Pros: The Treize Faction – The Treize faction is fantastic and the only ones fighting the Romafeller Foundation besides the Gundam Pilots. These guys are great and their gundams have shields too. They also rescue Quatre and Heero for the Colony Scientists who are working with them against the Romafeller Foundation.

Heero – Heero loses it this episode when he is hooked up to Gundam Wing and targets those who he sees as his enemies (mirroring what happened to Quatre when he was in Wing). From here it unfolds with him planning to kill the scientists until he has a vision of Quatre and one of Relena before he leaves the Gundams behind and escapes with Quatre to get to Earth.

Quatre – Heero brought Quatre back and this episode Quatre brings Heero back. He has finally learned from his father and found himself again. He only fights to defend and realizes the Gundams are a major problem as they are the greatest weapon of war and keep the cycle of violence going. He is a wise character in this episode and feels what he did to the Colony he destroyed.

The Message – The Message is that the cycle of war will always continue as long people build weapons and become weapons. It’s a great message and it shows how the use of weapons and war can break people as it broke the Gundam Pilots.

Okay: The Scientists – These guys are neutral again. They discover that the Pilots are faster than the Mobile Dolls and the computer system in the Gundams. They are special and that when the system makes their abilities sharpened. They make a great comment too on how they will not let Gundam Wing defeat them…as it survived the explosion and may serve a purpose later.

This was a great episode and a must see! We get to see Heero and Quatre grow as characters, see how Gundam Wing is out of everyone’s control…and the Romafeller Foundation’s conquest. This is the episode that establishes the factions for later and shows that some of our heroes may still be alive. It is a lot of fun and full of shades of grey.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10.