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

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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 48 – “Takeoff Into Confusion” – Empty Revenge

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This was the episode where many characters realize what they are doing is so empty…with a special emphasis on Wufei and Dorothy as they realize their enemies or ideology aren’t as simple or are hurting themselves and those around them. I really liked this episode as it was bittersweet, and maybe someone actually died? This episode is the penultimate episode for a reason and has some really great action scenes and character moments to show for it.

The episode was directed by Nobuyoshi Nishimura and Takeshi Yoshimoto and written by Katsuyuki Sumizawa.

The story continues on from where we were before and has the Peacemillion crew off the ship as Zechs begins moving Libra with a rammed Peacemillion it to crash into the Earth. Treize and Wufei fight out their final duel, Duo gets the scientists to Peacemillion so they can stop it from crashing into the Earth and Quatre duels with Dorothy.

The Pros: Dorothy vs. Quatre – Dorothy and Quatre duel, with Dorothy ending up victorious but feeling empty as Libra heads down to crash into the Earth and she realizes that she does want peace as much as Quatre does but is afraid of being wrong. Trowa calls her out on her fear at the episode’s end and she is left with a choice as an injured Quatre bleeds out on the ground.

Wufei vs. Treize – Wufei and Treize duel and Treize shows Wufei that he remembers all who have fallen in battle. He names names and we see him almost break from sadness…it is their deaths that motivate his struggle. This is too much for Wufei to take who defeats him but feels empty after as his view of Treize as an ideological villain crumbles.

Lady Une – Lady Une surrenders and has lost Treize. Sadly her surrendering doesn’t stop the White Fang attack on Earth.

Final Scene – Zechs in Epyon standing on Libra faces off against Heero, who is now the only one besides the other Pilots and the scientists who can stop his genocidal attack on the Earth.

The Message – Revenge is empty as is war for the sake of war. The emptyness of Zechs is witnessed in Dorothy’s loss and in Wufei’s sad anger at being cheated at killing someone who was only a villain to him until the end when he saw Treize’s humanity. It’s a beautiful scene that shows one of the major themes of this show really well.

Another perfect episode that makes me excited for the final and after a I do write up on the series “Endless Waltz” as a follow-up. I’m curious what the writers took from the message and how the characters will change from here. They have to after experiencing how empty revenge is, if not what was the point of the scenes in this episode? Next episode, the finale of “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing!”

Final Score: 10 / 10.

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

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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 44 – “Go Forth, Gundam Team” – Dorothy’s Insanity and Quatre Rises

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This was an episode with a lot of great character moments (largely for Zechs, Quatre and Relena) but was a really solid episode too with so much great action. We see what happens when characters are pushed to their limits and that the coming war is still in flux. The Gundams stand strong as their own faction and we haven’t seen what Treize has in plan yet or what Relena will do.

“Go Forth, Gundam Team” was directed by Nobuyoshi Nishimura and Kunihiro Mori and written by Katsuhiko Chiba.

The premise of the episode is that Zechs is trying to wear out the Gundam Pilots in order to destroy them by using the Epyon system on the Mobile Dolls. Heero counters by installing the Zero system onto Quatre’s Gundam Sandrock as he knows that he’ll be facing Epyon while the rest of the team faces the Dolls. Relena is taken on board (she was purposely missed by the cannon) and she once more confronts Zechs as Dorothy is put in charge of the Dolls to take on the Pilots in the battle.

The Pros: Heero – Heero is the one behind the scenes aware of everyone’s abilities, he even cares about Zechs as when Zechs retreats from the battle after Dorothy fails in the fight and hurts the Libra he asks Zechs if he sees a future, as Heero has seen no future for him. They are connected and have a great respect for each other at this point.

Dorothy – She’s insane and it is awesome. After Quatre defeats her using the Zero system to guide the Gundams in battle she fires the cannon to try and destroy them and it fries Libra’s systems making her feel broken…this is of course after she gives Relena a gun to kill Zechs and puts the suggestion in her head of doing just that and after locking her in her room.

Quatre and Team Gundam – Quatre is afraid when he is given Zero system in Sandrock until Heero convinces him it is his way to atone for destroying a Colony…after watching the other Gundams failing in the battle against the Dolls he takes control and manages to beat Dorothy in strategy, proving that he is not just the glue emotionally, he is also the leader as he is the least bound by emotion and fighting unlike the other three pilots. They do a great job in the battle too and manage to escape in time.

Zechs – Zechs protects Relena and Quinze mentions that he wouldn’t have been chosen to lead White Fang if he hadn’t had someone he protected and cared about. It’s a good moment that humanizes both Zechs and Quinze. Relena rejects Zechs though as she doesn’t know if the man holding her is the blood stained Zechs or Miliardo her compassionate brother. This hurts him a lot and we see how powerless he feels when Dorothy fails him showing that he is in over his head.

Relena – Dorothy offers Relena a choice, end the war and kill your brother…or let your brother make peace through this war. She rejects the offers and is locked in her room…this is after she calls out Zechs on his hypocrisy in a Shakespearian ways of mentioning that she does not know which person is holding her…Zechs or Miliardo and at the end it looks like she might be decidiing to kill Zechs.

This was a perfect episode, great action, character development and answering the “So what?” of “Gundam Wing.” We get to see the characters rise to challenges and make tough choices. This episode also makes Quatre one of my favorite characters, he is shown to have the clearest head and to have grown a lot since Wing Zero was controlling him. Proud of him in this episode.

Final Score: 10 / 10. Perfect “Gundam Wing.”

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 42 – “Battleship Libra” – Know Your Enemy

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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 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