It is the year After Colony 195, and war between the Space Colonies and Earth has begun. To give the colonies an edge, they send 5 young soldiers, trained to perfection, to earth in the most powerful of Mobile Suits-Gundams. With their arrival, the tide of the war changes as they battle against the Earth forces and the Colonies of their origin.
Gundam Wing can be credited with garnering new fans to anime during the 90s boom, where a great deal of titles were imported to the west. It was also responsible for popularizing the Gundam franchise to western audiences as well. With that being said a great deal of nostalgic value can be associated with the title which can often lead to many praising it without proper pretext. While Gundam Wing's production values have certainly stand the test of time the script on the other hand was not so fortunate. Overwrought with needless plot manipulation, contrived idealistic monologues and 1 dimensional archetypes, the way everything is played out feels like a teen trying their hardest to angst and writers trying desperately to grasp depth. While it was certainly entertaining to watch that doesn't excuse the numerous hiccups it made for the sake of capturing the attentiveness of the viewers.
The story starts out like any other Gundam title with a conflict brewing between two separate factions, ones found on earth and the other in the colonies in space. This is how we're introduced to our core cast and their position in the conflict. While the setup alluded to a grandiose battle to determine supremacy, and we do certainly get that, the plot points used to get to that end goal was laughable for the lack of a better word. While coup d'etats are certainly common placed in war and politics, the amount of times it happened it GW was unrealistic. Alliances among factions were so flimsily handled that the idea of such groups existing in the 1st place became implausible. While some may argue it was trying to paint the conflict as a grey one it just ended up back firing. The constant betrayals meant that there were no real solutions and it also made our Gundam pilots to be seen like God sent messiahs. This forcefully marginalizes the human race as a bunch of incompetent people that depend on the actions of a handful of prepubescent teens. The Gundam franchise have always had youths be the poster child for justice but they never made them the sole proprietor to end the human race's problems. They were always accompanied by many that helped play an integral role in ending the war but GW took that element away and made it seem juvenile in presentation. But the constant betrayals also led to an even bigger problem. Because of it there was no solid conviction for the numerous groups that sprung up and as a result no conviction in the characters involved a well. It just became a muddled mess of Heel-Face Turn organizations and characters than can easily switch sides at the whim of the script writers.
The characters also suffered the same issue found in the storytelling. Because they were all 1 note for the most part, they were easily re-written to serve whatever role the plot demanded at the time. This turned megalomaniacs into spokespeople of peace and vice versa. This was made even worse with constant bombardment of contrived idealistic monologues delivered by the characters. A notable example being Zechs Marquise, the show's watered down version of Char Aznable, where he makes a 180 in character portrayal while still delivering his idealistic speeches that conflicted with his actions. But it wasn't limited to him alone as most of the characters delivered these long winded ass backwards speeches that were negated by their actions. This failed attempt at adding depth to the cast did nothing but further expose their lack of dimension and characterization.
While the show fell short in the story and character department where it did excel was with it's production values. The attention to detail and shading found in the art department held up nicely even after 20 years. This title was a return to Gundam's high production values that wasn't seen since Zeta Gundam in 85. While there were noticeable jump cuts and extended screen shots it was never anything significant enough to discredit the title. Especially when considering the quality of shows made around the same time period. The animation fluidity was also notable as it helped with the engagement of the viewers. If there was ever anything praise worthy about the title it would be that it was certainly entertaining when the time called for it. The soundtrack also helped heightened the mood and added alot to the overall impression the title gave off. The J-pop opening was catchy and one I rarely skipped and the blazing trumpets and other instrumentals played throughout scenes helped give everything a larger than life feel. The dub was also solid given the time period. It could of easily taken the schmaltzy overacting route of Fighter G Gundam but it managed to stay restraint enough to correlate with the proper mood a war drama is meant to display.
As far as enjoyment is concerned I did have fun watching Wing. Of course it got a little tedious at times with needless monologues and aimless conflicts but it still held my engagement despite that, which I think is noteworthy given the title's length.
Although Gundam Wing didn't quite live up to the ambitious heights it was aiming for it's still something I suggest giving a try. The story may not be as potent as Zeta or the characters as endearing as the 1st Mobile Suit, but it still was a title that was easily watched. Where it lapsed in it's writing it made up for with it's presentation. Although it's not something that I feel demands your attention it's alteast one you should keep on your radar whenever you have the time to invest.
Gundam Wing enjoys a hefty helping of popularity in the eyes of western otaku alongside with its brother, Gundam SEED (whether this is a pro or not, is up to the viewer). Wing can owe its success to one of many things. It began its American broadcast just as anime was starting to peak to the next generation, a large and somewhat epic plot contrasting many simple episodic American cartoons or, Wing could simply owe its success to the bad assery of Wing Zero (say what you will - those wings trounce 90% of the Gundams made).
The story, like all Gundam plots revolve around war, two opposing factions of space and the earth, a boy and his chance encounter with a Gundam. At first, GW bombards you with the names of many factions and organizations that play a key role in making the world of GW what it is. When you truly begin to grasp what a certain organization is and what it stands for, it has just been defeated and wiped from the show. Although, quite annoying, GW exemplifies the concept that, those who don\'t evolve, won\'t survive. Throughout the first half of the series (before the emergence of Mobile Dolls), GW centralizes around world events caused in response to the happenings of the main characters and their actions. As the plot moves along, we take a more personal look at the main (~8) characters - why they fight, what their objectives are and who their allies/enemies are. In the final curtain, both these plots come together for the inevitable \"Gundam Final Showdown.\" Action is spread out enough to keep the viewer entertained but remember; GW is not a shounen anime. The plot encompasses the soldiers of war and their actions for their respective sides.
Animation and Sound
This is no KyoAni work, but it\'s also nothing close to the bottom of the barrel. GW\'s animation is mid to high quality (even for 2007) thanks to Sunrise. Most scenes take place in the dark of a room or space so remember to turn up the brightness. Animation quality drops at points (a given) but even then, it\'s appealing enough to keep the screen on. GW isn\'t as clean as SEED nor do the mobile suits have the same shiny effect as G.U.N.D.A.M\'s but given the time difference, it\'s understandable. Most of the OST in GW consists of great battle music to fit the occasion. Battle armament sounds are top notch, especially Heavyarm\'s guns and Wing Zero\'s shoulder vulcans. The largest ball drop is the lack of music during most anti-climactic scenes - making them quite dull. As well as random sound effects when character comes to realization about something.
Ah, therein lies the success to any Gundam. As said before, those that don\'t evolve, won\'t survive. As such, each and every main character (8 by my count) goes through a change or situation where they must make a choice. This pseudo character development grants us a clearer view on each character\'s motives and reasoning behind their actions. GW sports a large cast where each main character is paired with another of the opposite sex for contrast/similarities. Not including the immense support cast, GW already has lots of names to remember. But don\'t be intimidated! Most non-essential characters die within a few episodes anyways. Jokes aside, it\'s very easy to remember all the important characters and the support character or the day.
Although I wasn\'t pumped for this review, GW is still a great watch. It\'s one of those anime\'s that suffers a lot of disdain for the popularity it gets. It\'s in the eye of the beholder whether you\'ll like it or not. The first 20 or so episodes is great - political manipulation and backstabbing at its finniest. Then the centrality shifts and once more towards the end - essentially, you may not like what you see at first but remember, there\'s about 3 \"arcs\" in which the genre wavers to appeal to more audiences. read more
Even though the characters tend to have more one-dimensional personalities, it’s used effectively in a way where they can be distinctive and stand out, and serves as a motivation to develop the characters in their own way. All sides of the conflict have characters that have beliefs in why they do what they do, and you can sympathize with them. Certain characters will consistently change because a new revelation or turn of events will unveil that will impact them, and you can say it’s a reality of politics and war which I think is presented in a less complex manner in comparison to Tomino’s Gundams.
With the previous Gundam series, G Gundam being more hand to hand oriented, this series goes back to the traditional space battlefield with guns, lasers, and missiles, and are taken to a whole new extreme. The fights are fast paced and diverse with the many mobile suits that are present ,and the environments they all take place in such as land, sea, air, and space, are always exciting and you’re getting something different. With the use of coloring and resolution, it is easy to follow the fast paced action this series has to offer.
Like the characters, the mobile suits themselves that contain singular but yet distinguishing traits all have their uses and are given equal time to stand out. Like the Wing Gundam is the all rounder, the deathsytche being close range, and Heavyarms being long range, etc. And also, the skills of the pilot will also effect the outcome of how the mobile suit can be used. Such as when Heero had to pilot Heavyarms for example. And you also have the Mercurus and the Vayeate which represented offense and defense and I feel that the staff read the art of war first to apply some of the principles you see in this series.
The character design also brought in a traditional “bishounen” design to the franchise. Nothing wrong with that. They are also very diverse and distinctive in which once again their features are distinguished. I love how the expressions come across and the use of costumes. I also found it unique that this series plays homage to Char Aznable through Zechs Merquise with his get up so you’re basically getting Gundam, Zeta Gundam, and Char’s Counterattack all rolled into one with this series.
I’ll have to say that both the English and Japanese voice cast is probably the best I’ve heard in any anime in both name recognition and performance. On the Japanese side, you have big names like the multi-talented Midorikawa Hikaru playing Heero Yuy, and there’s also Mark Hildreth, the voice of Terry from Fatal Fury playing him in English. They both do a convincing job of making Heero coming across as something of an emotionless being who exclusively cares about what he’s doing. And the charismatic Koyasu Takehito is very menacing as Zechs, but I really like how Brian Drummond, the English actor does a much better job of bringing out his compassionate side. I also really enjoyed Brad Swale’s portrayal of Quatre, I thought it was far superior to Orikasa Ai’s performance. Granted Quatre is the most human, I just thought that even though he is played by a woman in the Japanese version, he sounded too feminine, but the English version was just perfect.
The music itself is classic and one of the most addicting soundtracks you’ll ever hear that also defines Jpop in the mid 90s. When it was on Toonami, I thought it was cool that whenever they played the opening themes, Just Communication and Rhythm Emotion as a background song, I thought it was awesome they retained it in American TV. If it were 4Kids, they change it to some lame rap. But I thought the music also defined the intense and adrenaline rush nature of the show.
Granted I do believe this series is a great gateway to the Gundam universe, I personally don’t believe it should be used as a barometer to what defines a great Gundam series. Each Gundam is different. You can’t compare this series to 08th MS Team, or Zeta Gundam. But this series does have its significant flaws like all other series have, and which is why I have never given any anime so far an overall perfect 10/10. But if anything annoyed me about this series, it is most certainly Relena. I remember after Gundam Wing aired, there were websites in dedication to her death. I’ll admit I was and still am one of those fan boys who wish Relena died. She’s like the Hillary Clinton of the anime universe. And I don’t mean that as a compliment. I find her to be annoying, and a hypocrite. If you have seen the series, you know what I’m talking about, and if you want to know, check this series out. read more
Overall this is a pretty good series. Granted it's not exactly the best Gundam series, it still holds its own ground. The action is solid with lots of explosions and mobile suits pummeling each other. Also Wing Zero and Epyon have some of the best Non-UC designs I've seen. Also the voice acting and animation are passible for what's provided. That said, the characters and story is better than I expected to be honest.
The overall story stands out from previous entries in the UC by portraying our main heroes as insurgents and emphasizing that people matter more than organization. Sure the earth government has some evil rulers, many of the ordinary soldier and several commanders are good people. Subsequently, this creates an interesting moral situation that asks who are the real heroes? Afterall, the Gundam pilots are well-intentioned individuals who commit morally ambiguous actions that would make them seem like terrorists. If anything this setting differs from the traditional clash of two factions.
Also while the characters have some decent amount of depth, they also have to deal with their own moral dilemmas. I really like Duo Maxwell because of how he has a dark tragic past yet still maintains an upbeat attitude to pull through whatever challenges he faces. Plus he has a cool Gundam with the Shinigami title. Likewise Treize works as a villain because of his charisma, sense of honor, and complex personality of a soldier who is secretly tormented by how his ideal views of warfare seem out of place. I even found Relena to be tolerable, at least compared to Lacus and Marina. The only character that doesn't work is Wufei because he's a condescending jerkass who hardly interacts with others.
Yet most importantly, Wing discusses ethical implications of modern warfare that still resonate in the post-9/11 setting. At one point, Treize Khushrenada opposed the usage of unmanned mobile suits, finding them to be dehumanizing and warns about the moral implications of warfare waged without human soldiers. This theme of unmanned warfare still resonates given the current human rights implication of using military attack drones in civilian populaces. If it weren't for the cheesy production values and timing, I would've mistaken this series for commentary piece on the War on Terror.
Also, this show has one of best soundtracks thanks to Kow Otani and Two-Mix.
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Gundam is one of the largest anime franchises today, made up of more than a dozen TV shows, as well as movies, OVAs, and more. With so many stories split up into multiple timelines, it can be tough to know where to start. But don't worry. This comprehensive Gundam guide will help light your way.