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 8 – “The Treize Assassination” – Defining the Factions

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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.

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 6 – “Party Night” – Heero’s Heart

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“Party Night” really shows how much the show is now taking off. Hope the show can sustain this. This episode shows that Relina is finally becoming a character in her own life (due to the events of last episode that makes sense) and we get to see the lives of some of the other pilots and get a glimpse into Heero’s soul. I really liked this episode, especially the reveal at the end.

The episode was directed by Nana Harada, Yoshihito Hishinuma and Masatsu Shino and written by Akemi Omode.

The episode begins with Relena confronting Heero about his past that she learned from Dr. J after she hears Heero is leaving the school. This leads to the first confrontation between them in the episode. Wufei attacks, we see Trowa’s life at the circus and Duo’s love of life as well as Lady Une’s attack to try and end Relena. These are the stories that unfold.

The Pros: Trowa – The pilots want to die, most of them do anyway. Trowa stays still when daggers are thrown at him for his job and Catherine sees that he desires death. This show is dark in so many great ways. Can’t wait to learn Trowa’s story.

Duo – Duo expresses his sympathy for how broken Heero is and his love of life and the world. He describes how beautiful the moon is from Earth and how desolate it is from the Colonies. It’s a powerful scene as we see that Duo has a reason to live beyond the war.

Lady Une – Is pretty driven and is probably going to be the main minor antagonist to the pilots as she’s willing to go to any lengths to succeed, regardless of if civilians are part of the cost. I’m curious what her relationship is like to Zechs given it was a favor Zechs asked for that lead to Treize calling off the hit.

Treize and Zechs – Zechs asks for Relena to be protected and Treize honors it because Zechs is a friend and a good soldier. The reasons  for this have yet to be fully discovered but given how Zechs is similar to Char they are probably related. The Princess Undercover (which both Sayla and to some degree Relena are, not surprised). Curious to see how it unfolds nonetheless.

Relena and Heero – Relena reveals what she learned from Dr. J and faces death without fear (like Heero) Heero can’t kill her and protects her from Lady Une. He doesn’t know why yet but it’s obvious that he isn’t completely broken and there is still good in him that Relena brings out. So glad to see Relena standing strong and Heero being more than sociopath. This is what makes this show good.

This episode hit all the right notes and I loved it. I can’t find any issues with it as the characters get exploration and we see how they relate to one another and how they reveal different parts of themselves in what they ask. This is drama.

Final Score: 10 / 10. No issues.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 5 – “Relena’s Secret” – The Rebel’s Story

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       “Relena’s Secret” is a great episode! It is the episode where we get to finally see where the Rebels are coming from and see just how unjust OZ and the UESA truly are. The motivation of what drives Heero and the pilots is also explored in how we see the perspective of the rebellion.

       The episode was directed by Yasunao Aoki, Shinichi Sakuma and Hitoshi Waraya and written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa.

       The episode begins with Dorian visiting the Colonial leaders at the same time Lady Une attacks with a bomb that kills them and nearly kills Dorian. This leads to the UESA blaming the attack on the rebels and using it as an excuse to further subjegate the colonies. It is then Relena learns of her true origin and what drives Heero when she meets the scientist who chose him…Dr. J. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Lady Une – As Treize’s agent she is pretty awesome as she manages to kill the Colonial leaders and make certain that OZ tech will be used in the future as the UESA ups the conflict in order to further subjugate the colonies. It’s sad that she kills Dorian, but it at least advances the story and establishes her as a good antagonist.

Dorian – Dorian is one of the characters who already sees the bigger picture and that peace is needed between the Colonies and UESA and that the UESA should respect the independence of the Colonies. For this he dies but not before we learn that he took in Relena who is in fact a Peacecraft and the last of her house as far as Dorian knows. RIP…continuing the tradition of killing off interesting characters in any Gundamverse.

Heero and Duo – The two attack the same place and there is a standoff until Heero saves Duo’s life and says they are even. They have an interesting relationship and it does a good job of establishing Heero as not a completely bad guy.

Dr. J. – Is a scientist with an artificial hand who chose Heero to be their champion, naming him after the leader of the Colonies who fought for peace and was killed for it. He wants peace but sees war as the only way and believes Heero is the only way to go about that. He explains that the Colonies have lost hope and have been so oppressed the child soldiers have become the only ways to fight back and that Relena reminds him of Heero as both are genuine but now both are broken. He warns here to stay away from Heero for that reason.

OZ’s Gambit and the Military Industrial Complex – OZ making the conflict worse between the UESA and Colonies is sad and brilliant. Sad because innocents are only tools to advance their agenda and brilliant in that OZ tech. will be needed even more so now.

Okay: The Rebels – We meet a few of the rebels but the only one who feels fully fleshed out is Dr. J, the others don’t get any development, which is a shame. They are only in survival mode and function more an idea than characters. They aren’t bad at least.

   This was a great episode, it critiqued the Military Industrial Complex and had cost, as well as exploring some of the characters and showing more dimension to them and their drives. Heero needed this episode, but now I can better understand what drives the characters and rebels, thanks to Dr. J. Now we may see Relena finally grow as a character too.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10. Definitely a favorite episode.

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

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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.