At the climax of the Eve Wars, on December 24 of the year AC 195, the armies of the World Nation and White Fang met in a ferocious battle. World Nation leader Treize Khushrenada was slain, White Fang leader Zechs Merquise disappeared, and Earth was saved from destruction by the intervention of the five Gundam pilots. Having witnessed the consequences of war and hatred, the people of Earth and the space colonies put aside their differences and together founded a new world government. Under this newly-formed Earth Sphere Unified Nation, a year has passed in peace. The government and the populace have disarmed themselves, and almost every remaining mobile suit has been destroyed. Deciding to follow suit, Gundam pilots Heero Yuy, Duo Maxwell, Trowa Barton, and Quatre Raberba Winner place their mighty mobile suits inside an asteroid and send them on a one-way voyage into the sun. But even as they bid their Gundams farewell, a new conflict is drawing near.
Now, Gundam Wing was a series I thoroughly enjoyed. Great characters who fit their roles perfectly, bang-on chemistry, and a brilliantly paced and thought-out story. However, I did take a bit of an issue with its art and animation, since the battle scenes lacked the fluidity and choreography I was used to. Reused frames and cheap explosions also dulled the experience. The foreground art was rather well done, but the lackluster backgrounds often left much to be desired. Ditto with the matte, blandish colors. I didn’t hang on this too much, because GW is rather old, and went with
the “it was good for its time” conclusion, and I often got the feeling that the excellent storyline mostly made up for the art and animation.
Thankfully, Endless Waltz addressed my issue with the art and animation. Much more precise actions, more fluid movements in the Mobile Suits, and much more time was spent on creating battles that looked and felt grittier and more realistic. The explosions didn't feel as cheap, the choreography was improved, and the beam blasts gave scenes a much better sense of dimension. The suits themselves benefit from flashier designs and with the slightly glossier color palate compared with Wing, they seem to pop out and become more vibrant. Ditto goes with the characters and backgrounds. Wing’s backgrounds to me felt a bit like a faded museum piece of art, but Endless Waltz’s art and animation feels much more contemporary.
A year has passed since the end of Wing, and while you can feel the characters have matured a bit in this timeframe, they’re still their old selves, keeping their old philosophies, battle techniques, strengths, weaknesses, skills, and personalities. This I see most apparent in Heero, Duo, and Relena. Keeping the characters relatively similar is perfect, since characterization was a huge strength of the original series. I’m glad that some time was spent on explaining the pasts of some of the pilots, but the movie only goes back a little while into the more recent events, and it feels like they only scratched the surface into the characters’ pasts. They also went into the true purpose and intent of Operation Meteor, but again, they only scratched the surface. Problem is that after they scratch the surface, the questions start flooding in and you’re left wanting more explanations. The new characters they introduce, Mariemaia and Dekim, are well developed for the time they are in the movie and despite minimal explanation, their intent is clearly shown and radiated towards the viewer very well.
The plot starts out in a rather hopeful note, with the results of Wing’s ending ushering in a new era of peace. But things get going rather quickly, and like Wing, each group of characters has their own agenda as to build up to the climax. Thankfully, unlike Wing, there isn’t a big dead spot in the middle of the movie where some characters get shoved aside and the viewer is left wondering what happened to them. The plot doesn’t slow down in the middle of the movie and the viewers are left wanting everything to come together. Even though each group of characters has an agenda, Endless Waltz doesn’t try to fragment and separate these groups as much as possible, and instead keeps their actions closely tied to the main plotline so there's a constant feeling of progression.
The shifts amongst these character groups apparent in Wing are also apparent in Endless Waltz, necessary and well done, but since the buildup to Endless Waltz’s climax is neverending, no shift in focus feels clunky and forced, which sometimes occurred in Wing. I would have liked a bit more focus on Wu Fei’s agenda and a little more on what happened to him and Trowa during the 2nd quarter of the movie, however. A slightly grittier battle between Heero and Wu Fei and more focus on Wing Zero would have also been welcome since Heero is the most central of the 5 pilots to the plot, but what Endless Waltz did deliver was still pretty close compared to Wing.
If you liked Gundam Wing, do not skip Endless Waltz. A good, though rather sad, end to the After Colony timeline, Endless Waltz concludes the Wing series very well. It’s like having an excellent dessert after your meal.
I already have a review for the Gundam Wing series, and I'd suggest reading that first as my feelings towards it also reflect that of this movie for the most part. Endless Waltz is the sequel to the Gundam Wing TV series, and the greatest thing about it is that it could've easily felt forced as the original series ended on its own but instead it feels like a natural continuation and extended conclusion of the series.
This is surely for the better as it allows Gundam Wing to go out with a much greater bang. The initial scenario is nearly identical to that of the
final episodes of Wing, but the progression is much different. After peace is obtained a new force shows up to take advantage of the Earth's powerless state with a big plan that puts the entire planet at risk.
We aren't here for the plot though (because it's Gundam Wing), but rather the thrills, and Endless Waltz delivers more of those than ever before through some incredible animation quality that blows the original series animation to smithereens, showcasing both much crisper art and fluid animation. To give an example of just how good the art is, there were many times before where I had seen still pictures of Endless Waltz and thought I was looking at high quality promotional art. It's really something.
To further justify this sequel's existence, it gives us some short backstories on all the Gundam pilots that the original series was sorely lacking. It isn't much, but Heero, Trowa, and Wufei all needed it most. We actually barely get anything about Duo unfortunately, but he was cool enough already, and Quatre's backstory was actually in the series.
Speaking of Gundams, the most controversial aspect of Endless Waltz has always been Hajime Katoki's Mobile Suit redesigns. These redesigns clash greatly with Kunio Okawara's popular originals and have met with much scorn from many Gundam Wing fans due to a perceived lack of respect for Okawara's designs by Katoki. These new designs are not upgrades, but rather complete retcons that don't acknowledge the originals other than the base concept. Deathscythe Hell no longer has any weapons besides the Beam Scythe, Sandrock loses its claw and instead fights only with its shotels making it redundant in the face of the fellow melee Gundam Deathscythe, Heavyarms is the same but now blue for some reason, Altron is... pretty much the same, but who cares about Altron? And of course, Wing Zero gets its now legendary angel wings, which you either think are cool as hell or incredibly stupid. Since Deathscythe was hit pretty hard here, you can definitely put me down as someone who dislikes the Endless Waltz redesigns, though I like Heavyarms's new color scheme more, and Tallgeese III is my second favorite Mobile Suit in the series. While I hated Wing Zero's angel wings before seeing this, when in motion they have a more mechanical look to them so I'm giving it a pass even though it doesn't beat the original (it even loses its Mobile Armor bird mode, please help me). These changes were all so, so unnecessary and minimize the original designs. I don't get it. Worse still, these are almost always the final versions used in the Super Robot Wars games.
Venting over. Endless Waltz contains the best qualities of Gundam Wing's fast-paced action and these positive qualities overshadow much of the usual lame melodrama. The movie's biggest misstep is having a set-up and ending that ignores its conflict with the series's central themes and resets things back to the status quo which Endless Waltz showed didn't work. Just Gundam Wing being stupid again. If you liked the series, you will like Endless Waltz. If you didn't like the series, you will at least like Endless Waltz more. It's that simple.
I must admit, I am undeniably biased toward this OVA because it was my very first introduction to anime. Before I even first saw Dragon Ball, Pokemon, or the other baseline Toonami-type shows everyone knows, Endless Waltz was melting my little 8 year old mind.
That being said, I still love watching GWEW to this day, the animation is frankly awesome, the story, while not the most intricate or devastating in the timeless juggernaut that is the Gundam franchise, is still suitable for the message its trying to tell. The voice acting is on-point for the bulk of the run-time and though its not
really meant to be the most mind-blowing or in-depth drama, the emotional beats are still quite effective in my eyes. It's by no means a masterpiece, but it hasn't gotten old for me yet, it's an 8 out of 10 overall from me.
Gundam Wing the TV series was full of confusion for me, and this compilation movie of 3 OVA episodes are a nice touch finish the series. It felt like it tried to fix the mess that the TV show made. Unfortunately the mess was too big sometimes since it lost way too much focus sometimes and the characters weren't utilized effectively for best storytelling.
This movie, however, revisited why the 5 Gundam pilots came to Earth in the first place, and explained some background of the characters and their settings. As a Trowa fan, I also loved the fanservice of his new circus costume (shirtless
with suspenders) and WuFei got more important roles in this sequel and I was very glad he wasn't completely isolated like he was sometimes in the show. I feel sorry for Duo since he's always treated horribly (this movie not exception) and him not getting much background info is just fitting for the character and I'm fine with that. He's almost a comic relief it's sad but reassuring.
They were kinda obsessed with the idea of self-destruction switch and it made me laugh since it reminded me too much of that time when Heero did so in the show. The guys are seriously crazy like in the show, but more believable and well, a bit understandable. I think the whole Gundam series is filled with crazy, border line insane, characters, but this movie was a bit mild compared to the show. The show didn't explain the characters' psych. In this sequel, they're really talking and telling you all they can after they developed more emotionally throughout the show.
The female characters really shined in this movie. And although I cherished all the fanservice or basically getting more background info on the pilots, I enjoyed the toughness of the heroines. Well, except Catherine, she didn't get much since she's not soldier/politician, but Relena was more active, Sally and especially Lady Une were inspiring. But Noin takes the cake for me. She turned out much more manly than well, you know, that guy. The new antagonist is a little girl, and that reminded me so much of another little girl in Gundam Z or ZZ and she felt boring. The enemy side couldn't get more screen time to be compelling since there were so many protagonists, mainly gundam pilots, that took the much needed time for background stuff.
In the end, I'm so glad they made this sequel to the show. I know there are some novels or manga for the Wing series, as for any popular Gundam series, but with this movie I felt more complete and satisfied after the under-explained TV show.