The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993): Great World But Story Doesn’t Quite Deliver

The Nightmare Before Christmas

    Before I get into my thoughts, this is going to be one of a few Holiday themed film reviews leading up to Christmas. This review is probably going to be one of my more controversial ones as I know I am most likely in the minority here, but I don’t think “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is great. I think it’s alright but when it came to characters and story it didn’t quite deliver, even though the world it takes place in is fascinating and I see why “Kingdom Hearts” keeps returning to it. Tim Burton is a director and artist who creates wonderful worlds, sadly what I’ve noticed is he doesn’t always fully flesh out the events or characters of said world and this movie truly is a good example of that.

       The film was directed by Henry Selick, written by Caroline Thompson with story by Michael McDowell and produced by Tim Burton and Denise De Novi.

     The story involves Jack Skellington the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town having a crisis of want and identity that changes him when falls into Christmas Town. From here he brings Christmas back to Halloween Town and takes up the identity of Santa Claus which causes dire consequences around the world.

The Pros: The World – Tim Burton created an amazing world. The basic theory is each holiday has a town where the denzines of the holiday live…whether it Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc. They can crossover to one another as well, as seen by Jack’s discovery of the place.

The Animation – The stop motion animation is really beautiful. Each place whether it is Halloween Town, Christmas Town or our world has a distinct flavor and tone to it, which lend strength to the events that go down.

Halloween Town – Halloween Town is the best town and is based all around scaring people. The monsters in this town have great designs and everyone in the town is either mad or demented. Sally and Jack are the most normal members of the population.

The Mayor of Halloween Town – The Mayor is literally two faced and has a happy and unhappy face that turns on his head. He can’t do anything himself and is all about Jack the celebrity. He’s a funny character and has some great lines.

Oogie Boogie – Oogie Boogie is a fun villain as he loves to gamble with lives and is a sentient living mass of bugs. He is threatening and is very much the bully of the town who lives to stick to himself unless his boys bring him lives to play with. Ken Page was great.

Okay: The Soundtrack – This isn’t Elfman’s best work, mostly because the songs aren’t all that good. They are okay but “Darkman” had a much stronger soundtrack, as did “Batman.” This one is a very weak Disney soundtrack and I can’t think of any song that really stood out beyond the main theme.

Jack Skellington – Jack is okay, if he wasn’t a major celebrity he would have been more sympathetic but from the beginning he is the man who has everything. All the people of Halloween Town love him, he always wins the Halloween events and the only thing not going for him is he’s bored and feels lonely. I didn’t get the loneliness given everyone wanted to be with him and he just had to open up. He was okay, Chris Sarandon was a good voice acting choice though.

Sally – Sally is the woman trapped in the castle by her evil creator Dr. Finklestein. She keeps poisoning him and escaping, so she is an active character…but I didn’t know why she liked Jack beyond the fact that everyone liked Jack because he was popular. She could have done a lot more and I wish she’d gone from quiet to active. She tries to stop the Nightmare Before Christmas with Fog with Jack’s ghost dog Zero had a glowing nose. I really liked the idea of her character, but like Jack she didn’t feel fully formed.

Message – The message is largely to be comfortable in yourself and don’t try to be other people. This is good but I felt the execution would have been better if Santa had been more explicit to Jack or if Sally had.

The Cons: Santa Claus – The character is pretty useless. All he does is fix the Nightmare Christmas Jack causes on the populace, but for a Magic guy he was useless against Oogie Boogie.

    This is a film that even given my criticisms of it, and the fact that it is a bit overrated is still worth seeing at least once. Tim Burton’s creativity is on full display and Halloween Town is a lot of fun. This is a also chance to see some beautiful Stop Motion animation and even though this world isn’t fully formed on screen, it is still a lot of fun to visit.

Final Score: 7.3 / 10

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz (1997): Freedom Isn’t Free

Gundam Wing Endless Waltz poster

    “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz” solved some of the issues I had with the series. That is awesome considering they could have just repeated the same story again and not had any of our characters grow, in the beginning of the film it looks like they might be going that way, but they soon change things and tie the past to the present and most of the characters transform in some way. Suffice to say, it became a favorite anime film after watching.

     The film was directed by Yasunao Aoki and written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa.

      The story begins where we left off, with victory declared and all weapons being destroyed. Things soon change though as the narrator brings up that true peace hasn’t come yet and that people are needed to stop incidents before they arise. From here we see flashbacks of what Project Meteor was first about (dropping a Colony of the Earth and bringing the Gundams to occupy the Earth) and how each Pilot stood up to it in different ways, showing their nobility from the beginning. In modern time a new colony founded by the original founder of Project Meteor named Dekim Barton declares war on Earth via Treize’s daughter Mariemaia who is supporting their cause and wishes to rule by any means necessary. From here it is up to the Gundam Pilots and their allies to stop them.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation is really beautiful. The Gundams are upgraded in how they look and look both beautiful and more threatening than before. It is part of what makes this work, especially since Wufei as an antagonist to the Gundam Pilots feels like a threat, partially due to how they designed Shenlong Gundam.

Dorothy – Dorothy has a small role and is there to remind the people that if they want to be free that they should fight for it, she has grown where she is no longer someone who lives for battle, but now believes there is a time and place for it…especially when it involves facing tyranny like Mariemaia’s government.

Relena – Relena grows in this and is the one who changes things again. In this she helps Mariemaia see that tyranny is empty and that only when one experiences fear can one truly learn to appreciate life. After Heeros cares Mariemaia with Gundam Wing it is Relena who brings her out of it towards the light of peace and stopping the war and occupation of Earth. She still remains one of the leaders of the world after which is great, we also see that she doesn’t take the Peacecraft name anymore but the name of her adopted father who she realizes saw the bigger picture and path to peace.

The Preventors – They are run by Sally and I’m glad they exist as we see them being the equivalent of World Police. It is their goal to stop war and terrorism before it happens. They are almost in the OZ role but have awareness towards others too and seem to only be for extreme situations.

Sally – Sally is the leader who is the one every character goes to when changed…Zechs does when he becomes a Preventor and takes one the name Wind in order to stop Mariemaia. Wufei also finally joins and treats her with respect. She is one of the most badass minor characters in this series.

Noin – She is mostly their to remind Zechs she is there and loves him and has his back but we also see her fighting with the Gundam Pilots against Mariemaia’s forces and is one of them in all but name and lack of major Gundam.

Lady Une – Une is another leader of the Preventors and is the one primarily located on Earth versus Sally who is space. She is the one who helps Mariemaia come around too as she told her that Treize cared about those who fought and why they fought, it’s why he always fought losing battles because he saw a bigger point than dominance. This wins Mariemaia over to the Father she hated, never knew and never recognized her.

Mariemaia – She is the evil child at first but we really get her motivation at the end. She never knew her Father and has been brainwashed by the Bartons to be a tyrant. It takes all our heroes but she does eventually come around and realize she isn’t invulnerable and that was she was doing was wrong. She loses the ability to walk in the process to when a standoff at the end, ends up with her shot.

The Gundam Pilots – This is the good-bye to the Gundam Pilots and we see how they’ve grown as people since the war as well as what they are fighting for in peacetime and who they are when they no longer have to fight.

Quatre – Quatre is the one who frees the Gundams for the final fight against Mariemaia’s forces and is the unspoken leader of them when they are all together. He is confident in his abilities too and we see him stepping into the thick of every fray with joy and awareness. The sadness has gone away as he fights to prevent his mistakes.

Duo – Duo is once again the jokester and a bit of the glue but we see that he’s learned not to do overkill or kill. He fights as the God of Death but not to kill men but to kill war. It’s a great evolution of his character. He is the social one and we see that he was fighting to be with Hilde again and to have a life.

Trowa – Trowa is the taken name of the real Trowa who was Dekim Barton’s son who wanted to drop the Colony on Earth and occupy with the Gundams. He was the was no-name soldier and takes the name because he realizes he can make a difference in it as he understands why soldiers fight and wants to fight to end that endless slog of suffering. We also see how much his life at the Carnival means when he helps rescue them by infiltrating Mariemaia’s faction as a loyalist.

Wufei – Wufei’s Colony supported Operation Meteor which leads to Wufei going Paladin and stealing it so that only the guilty will be killed by him. In this one he is still fighting Treize as he sees Earth as passive and stops fighting the moment they fight for their freedom. He realizes that this is what he wants after he fights Heero who is peace and Wufei realizes he is becoming like Treize.

Heero – Heero is the wise nomad in this and we see him help Wufei grow as a character as well as Mariemaia as he attacks the facility with all his energy in Gundam Wing which destroys Gundam Wing in the process. It is that destruction that wakes up Mariemaia to her mortality and actually makes her care about herself and others beyond domination. He is the nameless soldier still too as at the end we see him as a face in the crowd.

Zechs – Zechs like to take different names, though in the end he’s always Zechs. In this he becomes a Preventor and defeats Dekim’s ship. He also fights with the Pilots against Dekim’s forces and we see how he has changed. His past as Miliardo the tyrant willing to kill for peace is dead and he is the man dead to himself. He is the zen soldier in a way and it is great to see how he’s grown. In the end he leaves with Noin to work on terraforming projects for Relena.

The People of Earth – The people of Earth rebel after Dorothy talks to one group where the Presidential headquarters are and after Relena’s call to action. It is great as it is gradual and we see how the symbol of the Gundams became more.

The Cameos – We see Hilde, Quatre’s men and visual callbacks to characters (the scientists also appear in the flashback). It’s a nice way to connect to the past and show this is a direct sequel to the tv series.

The Message – Pure pacifism doesn’t work and sometimes you have to fight to stop tyrants from taking away freedom. Freedom is something that can’t be given by a ruler but has to be recognized and lived by the people.

Okay: Mariemaia’s Colony X-18999 – We never get the motivation of why they are following Mariemaia fully. I get there are soldiers still holding onto battle (which was Zechs’s problem in the series) but there doesn’t seem to be an identity to them beyond Wufei…so maybe they’re Colonists and not Treize faction members from Earth? They were confusing.

The Cons: Dekim Barton – The guy was a meglomaniac and I didn’t understand why anyone would follow him. He was too crazy all the time, even in flashbacks when he fights with the scientists.

This was a great anime film! If you like Gundam and have watched “Gundam Wing,” you should see it. It was originally an OVA in 1997 and film in 1998, so I chose the 1997 for the original time it was made. It is a powerful film that really shows the writers knew what they were doing in the shows. Fighting doesn’t end when wars end and you can’t give people peace…peace is something realized within and is something that you fight for, it is in that fight for anything that something is truly valued through one’s action. This was the action lived by the characters in this film and one reason why it is now a favorite film.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10. Better than the finale of the show.

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 Finale – Season 1, Episode 49 – “The Final Victor” – Weak Humanity

Gw-ep49-the-final-victor

I thought I’d like this finale more than I did but it had a few things going against it that are largely issues with the series as a whole, which I’ll go into when I do my review of “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing” as a whole. Taking the episode on it’s own though, it does do a lot of things right, even if it messes up in some big ways too.

“The Final Victor” was directed by Shinichi Sakuma, Hitoshi Waraya and Yasunao Aoki and written by Katsuyuki Sumizawa.

This is the Finale and what is at stake is stopping the Libra from crashing into the Earth (which the Gundam Scientists do by turning on Peacemilllion’s engine to push it out of Earth’s orbit) and Heero facing Zechs. There is also Lady Une who is working with Sally, Relena and Noin on the political side of things to try and find a peaceful resolution between the factions. These are the main areas of action unfolding at the finale.

The Pros: The animation  – I’m going to mention this again, since I haven’t for a long time…but “Gundam Wing” has beautiful animation that is really highlighted in the finale. You can see the details on the Gundams and characters’ facial expressions and hair and feel the emotion.

The Soundtrack – The music is beautiful too and creates tension when it needs to as well as adding to every scene it is in.

The Battle – Epyon vs. Wing Zero, Zechs vs. Heero…it is a great fight and they are evenly matched throughout it until Heero admits he is weak, which Zechs is unable to admit. This leads to Heero defeating him and Zechs choosing to blow up the engine in the Libra to help stop part of the ship from falling and hitting the Earth before he disappears claiming that he and Heero will face each other again.

Gundam Team – I really liked seeing all the Gundams and the scientists working together. In the case of the scientists we see them defeat Quinze who was always more extreme in his approach than they were, and they die in the process and take him down with them. It is there atonement…while all the Gundams working together manage to stop the falling section of Libra.

Okay: The Ending – I have mixed feelings about the ending. There is peace but we don’t see what happens to the Gundam Pilots beyond Heero surprising Relena on her birthday by leaving a gift on her plane that is returning to Earth. There is complete peace because people didn’t like seeing the empty fight between Heero and Zechs…I’m sorry but I don’t buy it. Peace is never that simple and it doesn’t take into account how hurt each side still is, as well as all the political factions that still exist. I liked the moment with Dorothy at Treize’s and Zechs’s grave talking Noin who believed Zechs is still alive and I liked Zechs choosing to help Heero in the end before disappearing but beyond that it felt way too easy. No real loss in the end beyond those like Treize who wanted to die.

In the first “Mobile Suit Gundam” there was so much loss…it was a tragedy and you felt for the people fighting in a war that they had no idea if it would end. In the end there is peace but an entire family is killed in the process and the Alliance corruption is never fully faced, but our character arcs are complete, which is more believable. The narrator just declares victory in this when, “Endless Waltz” is still to come out. Narrator, you were way to premature calling peace. But I’ll get into more of my issues here in the actual analysis of the series as a whole.

I do like that Relena is the go between for the Colonies and Earth and that Treize is in fact dead, but that just isn’t enough for everything that was happening. Peace is never as easy as a phone call when there is this much history of conflict involved.

The Cons: A Call for Peace – I don’t buy it. There are too many factions and why would anyone listen to Lady Une. She doesn’t demand the respect someone like Relena or Treize would do doing the exact same thing. Also, the White Fang is still out there, the Earth saw that the Colonies tried to destroy them. The Gundams are their own faction so them stopping it shouldn’t bring about peace. It isn’t enemies putting down their swords, it’s a third faction forcing the issue. So, major con in regards to the ending.

I liked the Finale, but it was not a favorite. It showed a lot of what I liked about the series but also really highlighted the problems with it too, which I will go into in the assessment of the series whole. I look forward to seeing “Endless Waltz” though. Does it add more depth and show that things aren’t as simple for peace to exist? I like the intent behind the idea of the Finale, it was just very poorly executed and needed much more time and communication between the different factions, as well as revealing that Quinze and Zechs were not as noble as they pretended to be and were just cowards before their own faction.

Final Score: 8 / 10. I can say after this though, “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing” is now one of my favorite animes.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 47 – “Collision in Space” – Challenging Libra

Ep47-collision-in-space

The Gundams are on no one’s side, but for the moment at least they are fighting the White Fang, since Libra is a direct threat to Earth, while Treize has not attacked any of the Colonies. This brings an interesting dynamic too as Zechs would prefer not to fight the Gundams but goes out to face them when he sees them charging Libra as he is dealing with Treize and knows what must be done if the White Fang is to be successful. This was an episode with a lot of great character moments and action.

The episode was directed by Shinichi Sakuma, Hitoshi Waraya and Tetsuya Watanabe and written by Katsuhiko Chiba.

The episode begins with the battle going on between Treize’s forces and Zechs’s forces as the Gundams plan to take on Libra, while Heero is still on Libra with Relena as the battle unfolds. Sally makes a hard choice and decides that it will take a lot to stop Libra and turns Peacemillion into a weapon by choosing to ram Libra and prevent the cannon from being used on the Earth.

The Pros: Zechs vs. Duo, Wufei, Quatre, Trowa and Noin – This fight is a lot of fun and it reveals that Miliardo is still there. Using the Dolls and targeting Quatre Zechs has the advantage for most of the fight until he decides to attack Peacemillion, but stop when Noin jumps in front of him. It is here he realizes that he still feels.

Peacemillion vs. Libra – Sally has Peacemillion ram Libra, it is awesome! Quinze is scared the entire time it happens with only Dorothy keeping her cool. Zechs isn’t stopped by this though, I think he plans to ram Libra into the Earth since it still has it’s engines.

Duo, Quatre and Trowa Infiltration – Duo meets the scientists who are still planning revenge, but helped with Libra because they think Earth did need to learn from war’s horrors. Trowa gets bogged down from troops and escapes and Quatre is shot by Dorothy.

Upcoming Fights – Wufei joins Treize in fighting the Dolls and claims him for after the battle is done to finish the duel in Gundams. Heero is back in Wing Zero too, which means he’ll be facing Epyon as we see Zechs with Noin knowing of the fight that is to come and mourning the lost.

I really enjoyed this episode. It was much better than the last episode since it had consequences, tied to past episodes and set up things to come later. I’m excited for the coming fights and am curious how Libra is going to be defeated.

Final Score: 10 / 10.

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

Gw-ep43-target-earth

    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 42 – “Battleship Libra” – Know Your Enemy

msgw42

This is the episode that Wufei finally finds purpose and gets outside of himself, as well as us also learning what finally happened to Lady Une and what Treize’s motivation is, to a degree. I’m curious how things are going to unfold from here as Zechs is an enemy, an interesting enemy, but an enemy nonetheless, and this is something that all the Gundam Pilots learn.

“Battleship Libra” was directed by Nobuyoshi Nishimura and Nana Harada and written by Katsuyuki Sumizawa.

The story begins with Wufei being picked up by Noin, Quatre and Heero and when a White Fang force arrives Heero lets him use Wing Zero so he can learn who his enemy is. Lady Une arrives on Earth as well, having been saved from the destruction of Barge and Dorothy arrives at Battleship Libra as Relena makes her way there too.

The Pros: Wufei – Wufei is finally likable! The guy realizes that the Gundams are his allies and that all of them are needed to defeat Treize and Zechs who are his true enemies. It’s a powerful scene as he realizes that he’ll die fighting alone (having lost the last two battles he fought alone). He’s likable when he actually works with people.

Heero – Heero shows why he’s the leader when he gives Wufei Wing Zero to use for the battle and it then we see that Heero cares about the other pilots and has the moment he got to know them and realized they weren’t enemies. He’s growing and Relena is rubbing off on him.

Team Gundam – Sally, Wufei and Heero are on their way to the Peacemillion to finish upgrading Heavyarms and Shenlong Gundam. Their faction is getting ready for the final fight.

Dorothy – Dorothy grew up with Treize and Zechs and convinces him to let her on the Battleship Libra as she wants to be a part of the battle to come. It’s a good conversation as she is able to reach Zechs who has become lost in his role as leader of the White Fang.

Relena – Is wondering why Zechs has become so lost and thinks about her Father who reminded her of the importance of pacifism. She still holds onto it, even as the world crumbles around her.

Treize – Is motivated to bring about Peace in the same way Zechs is, by ending it in the final war now that the Earth is united (as are the Colonies). Both see things as a means to an end and in their own ways are trying to look after Relena, though completely missing the point in their means to an end approach.

Nichol – Takes Lady Une to Earth, finally stops fighting like an OZ soldier and sacrifices himself in the fight to help Wufei. Good moment of awesome for a minor character.

Zechs – Is a villain now, but an interesting one.  I get why he believes what he does, though it has consumed him to the point where he nearly destroys Dorothy until she sells him on the fact that she wants to be a part of the Great War and be by his side when it ends.

Battleship Libra – Has an awesome design, and is super deadly. Can’t wait to see it in action. Libra and Epyon are going to be the main threat since I don’t know what Treize has to fight with at this point.

This was another perfect episode. I didn’t mind Zechs being the villain again even, it was so wonderful. I am looking forward to the final fight and how it will play out among all the factions. It has been great so far as usually character development is part of the action, it isn’t simply action for action’s sake, which I appreciate.

Final Score: 10 / 10.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 29 – “The Heroine of the Battlefield” – Relena’s Mission

Gw-ep29-heroine-of-the-battlefield

 

Relena’s passiveness is finally at an end, and we also get to see a return from some of the other characters that I really like on this show. This episode shows how different nations are dealing with the threat from the Romafeller Foundation, as well as how the Gundam Pilots are dealing with the loss of their mission. Right now, the one with the mission is Relena who is now leader of the Sanc Kingdom.

The episode was directed by Takeshi Yoshimoto, Shinichi Sakuma and Hitoshi Waraya and written by Masashi Akeda.

The episode begins with soldiers from one nation looking for Quatre and Heero under orders from the Romafeller Foundation that they are to be killed if found. Relena is holding a peace conference and forming a beadrock of passive resistance to Romafeller Power as Sally and Noin seek Gundam Zero. The character of Dorothy also arrives in the Sanc Kingdom and wants war to arrive behind her.

The Pros: Sally – Sally is watching over Gundam Zero and trying to find a pilot to deliver too but ends up changing her mind after Noin saves her life and says her nation needs it for protection against the Romafeller Foundation. By the end she respects and trusts Noin and gives her the Gundam as they fight off Romafeller from taking it.

Noin – Noin is wonderful in this! She is driven in her guidance and safeguarding of Relena and the Sanc Kingdom and truly gets Zechs’s point of view on why he was doing what she was doing. She’s tough as usual and does the most damage to the Romafellers before Sally gives her Gundam Zero.

Quatre and Heero – Quatre and Heero are grateful that they aren’t killed but realize they are putting the nation that has found them under risk by being there so they attack the Romafellers, take one of their ships and make their escape, believing that the most they can do is wander as they will put any nation at risk.

Relena – Relena is super active and the leader of the peace movement that is also against Romafeller power. She organizes the peace conference, gets the nations on board and all the while seeking the Gundam Pilots as a bulwark against the Romafellers. She sees the bigger picture and knows that some conflict is inevitable but that people should still come from a place of respect and find other ways to resolve differences besides war. I have a lot of respect for her character now.

Okay: Dorothy – Dorthy isn’t bad but I don’t know why she is so obsessed with war beyond being related to one of the leaders of the Romafeller Foundation. She is a good manipulator though, but given she was manipulating Relena, maybe I’m overstating that ability.

The Soldiers Who Find the Gundam Pilots – The folks who find Quatre and Heero are respectful and don’t kill them even though they know that doesn’t make them look good to the Romafellers. They even mourn the pilots after they recieve a letter on why the Pilots left to protect them.

This episode is a favorite, largely because Noin and Sally are always awesome and due to Relena’s actions of resistance against the Romafellers. This would have been a perfect episode if we just had that. The pilots were also great too, it was just a few of the minor characters who are pretty flat at this point who brought it down in quality.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10. A favorite.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 12 – “Bewildered Warriors” – Wufei’s Purpose

Bewildered Warriors

        “Bewildered Warriors” is a good world building episode and a great chance for us to glimpse into the mind of Wufei, as well as getting some time with Sally too! It’s a fun episode and good as a stand alone. I’ll go into more of the details of this in the assessment.

      The episode was directed by Tetsuya Watanabe,  Kunihiro Abe and Tsukasa Dokite and written by Katsuhiko Chiba.

       The episode begins with Heero hanging with Trowa at the traveling circus healing from his wounds. It is here he learns that they haven’t received any missions and OZ has been quiet…We then pick up in a country in Asia that had a peaceful leader ruling until the Alliance replaced them with Colonel Bunte who is dealing with guerrillas being lead by Sally. Wufei is pulled into one of their fights to defend them and begins facing the shame and healing he feels from losing to Treize. From here the stories unfold.

The Pros: Sally – Sally leads the guerrillas and reminds Wufei that you don’t have to be strong to be just and to fight. I really like her character as she doesn’t even let death stand in her way of doing the right thing. It is this nobility that inspired Wufei to fight again and reminds him of who he is…even if he doesn’t feel worthy to fly the Gundam.

Trowa and Heero – These two are very similar as Heero’s near suicide has Trowa considering if that is what he should do as well…which we see him follow through on doing when he hears they are going to a military base of OZ’s and we learn that his Colony voted against sending the Gundams so he can’t attack as it would put his home at risk. It makes me curious how Heero’s self destruction will inspire his next move against OZ. These two are similar in that they seem to seek death.

Wufei – Wufei sees those who are weak as unworthy and sees himself as unworthy because he lost to Treize, thankfully Sally turns this around and he helps liberate the country they are fighting in against OZ and Bunte when they are nearly wiped out and he decides standing is the only thing he can do, even if he feels unworthy. It’s a good moment and shows that his character is beginning to heal and to grow.

Okay: The Guerrillas – They are led by Sally but don’t have any motivation beyond overthrowing the corrupt ruler Colonel Bunte. This isn’t bad but we don’t know anything about them really. What is their name? What country are they in? All these details are lost.

The Cons: Colonel Bunte – He’s a baddie who has no dimension at all. He’s hated for the sake of being hated and is nothing but cruel to the people with his soldiers and to his own men when he betrays them. Makes me wish the baddies of “Mobile Suit Gundam” who usually had a lot of complexity.

    This is a solid episode, even though Colonel Bunte is a pretty one dimensional baddie, and we don’t even know the name of the country he rules. It still doe a good job of establishing OZ’s control and how they aren’t to be trusted by anyone given how quickly they turn on Bunte’s troops after he betrays them for OZ’s help against Wufei’s Gundam. It also is a great Wufei episode and gives him complexity that he badly needed, and anytime Sally pops up is usually a good sign.

Final Score: 9 / 10. Solidly great.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 8 – “The Treize Assassination” – Defining the Factions

GundamWep08g

The UESA is still around and Colonel Sally now leads the faction! This was a great episode for showing that things are not as they appear to be and that factions we thought were gone are still around, as well as getting more motivation behind characters like Une, Treize, Wufei, Sally and Heero. I would have made the episode longer though.

“The Treize Assasination” was directed by Takeshi Yoshimoto, Shinichi Sakuma and Hitoshi Waraya and written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa.

The episode picks up where we left off with the Pilots learning from Wufei that they were used by Treize and OZ. This leads to Wufei and Trowa leave to get revenge, while Sally takes over the base and asks Heero’s help to disarm the missles that Lady Une set to blow to destroy the Gundams. Around this time Quatre and Duo are making their escape. We also see how the war against the UESA is going on the Noin and Zechs front as well.

The Pros: Heero – Heero’s mission from Sally to stop the missiles is one of the earliest things in the episode, and he succeeds even though he only had a ten percent chance of doing so. We see what motivates him as he realizes how he was used and failed in his mission of ending the war. It’s sad because you see how broken he’s become and how it takes Sally giving him a mission for him to act and even defend himself. This is no doubt going to play a part later.

Sally – Sally is one of the leaders of UESA forces and takes care of the OZ forces at Edward’s base. She convinces Heero to save them all and shows that the UESA and Colonies can work together. I’m rooting for her to lead the UESA as she sees the bigger picture and is an effective leader.

Lady Une – Decides to destroy the base by detonating the missiles, which fails after Heero succeeds in turning them off. She learns that Treize didn’t want her to do that and that he feared what the destruction would do to the Earth…forcing her to rethink her philosophy of destruction of enemies being the first and foremost agenda for OZ after Treize asks her to learn about OZ. She also defends Treize from Wufei in his Shenlong Gundam and does a really good job of it before Treize challenges Wufei to a duel.

Noin – Noin is worried about the cost of OZ’s revolution, though she believes in Zechs so is willing to take the risks that come.

Zechs – Zechs destroys the UESA General Daigo at UESA headquarters who ordered the invasion of Zechs home of the Sanc Kingdom because they chose to speak against the UESA agression. This lead to his family of the Peacecrafts being killed. Zechs fulfills his revenge in this scene and we learn his backstory.

Wufei – Wufei fights with honor and when Treize challenges him to a duel he leaves his Gundam to fight. He later loses the duel though and is broken in the process, as he sees Treize and OZ as being responsible for the loss he faced.

Treize – Treize is a curious figure. He wanted the Gundams destroyed, but not by any means…and he respected Wufei for fighting him in a duel outside his Gundam (reason he didn’t kill him). I get why he did the revolution to some degree, the UESA was corrupt, but he killed the leaders who had the best chance of reforming it. What his end game is still remains a mystery.

Okay: The Other Three Gundam Pilots – Trowa, Duo and Quatre talk about the ones who take the risk. Trowa sees how broken Wufei is and leaves him alone and Quatre believes in Heero while Duo is ambivalent but celebrates Heero when the missiles don’t go off. Comradery is slowly building between them all.

This was a great episode that gave us some really good glimpses into a lot of the characters. What we see is that there are heroes on all sides and that even our antagonists (Zechs and Treize) have motivations behind what they do, even if the motivations are unknown at this point. Every character living currently has some form of code of honor that they strive to uphold, which makes the story compelling as we now know the UESA is around making this a 3 faction war.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10.