Summer AC 196, the Earth Sphere Unified Nation begins the long process of disarmament with Relena Darlian leading the preceedings. However, something troubles the Gundam pilots; rumors fly about Vulkanus, an OZ manufacturing plant, full of Mobile Dolls and lost somewhere in space. In the meantime, an organization called the Perfect Peace People is calling for even further measures of disarmament than even Relena herself. The Gundam pilots set out to find and destroy Vulkanus before anyone can get their hands on it and use it for their own purposes.
It's interesting looking back at manga you haven't read in years, particularly when it's several versions of the same filler space.
STORY - Battlefield of Pacifists is another version of the events that take place between Gundam Wing and Endless Waltz. It explores various groups' reactions to the idea of a "total pacifism" facilitated by a "complete disarmament," as well as the reasoning leading up to the Gundam pilots' decisions to send their mobile suits into the sun. The story's logic and philosophy is clear and simple enough to understand, though there's some over-generalization involved, and the ideas aren't really new or particularly interesting. The idealism
can also be a little irritating too, if you're like me and don't really believe in the morals the protagonists align themselves to. The storytelling itself is pretty choppy. It jumps from place to place, staying only long enough for key players to spout key exposition before moving on.
As the writing was done by Katsuhiro Chiba, one of the scriptwriters for the anime, the flow of the story connects well with the series, and it's easy to believe that the events described take place in the canon. The beginning comes off well from the end of the anime and the ending readily connects to the beginning of Endless Waltz. So in that sense, it's a neat, compact little story that does a smooth job in filling in the space between the anime and OAV, but the quality of the material itself is pretty plain.
CHARACTERS - The characters were all more or less spot on with their anime counterparts, with Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre, Wufei, and Relena all acting rather predictably. I did find it nice that a good collection of secondary characters were included though (Howard, Une, Dorothy), and there were even references to a number of key players that were killed in the anime.
ART - For the most part, the art was pretty decent, but I noticed some inconsistent proportions between some of the characters. Though they're all supposed to be the same age, Heero's proportions made him seem much taller and older than his colleagues. Wufei and Trowa in particular had a lot of panels where their heads were larger, making them seem younger than everyone else. Duo's body shape also made him appear much more feminine than he was in the show. The artwork in the battle scenes were also a bit lacking, and the Gundams looked rather awkward more than a few times.
OTHER - Battlefield of Pacifists was picked up, translated, and published by TOKYOPOP in 2002. The book is flipped and reads left-to-right with translated sound effects. Compared to TOKYOPOP's more recent work, this short story is kind of an embarrassment. The typeface for dialogue is terrible, especially for emphasized words that appear in different fonts. The sound effects as passable until you read what they're actually saying... I don't read a lot of American comics, so I'm not sure how this should be handled, but I find it hard to take a war comic seriously when things go "BLAM" when they're hit and "ZOOOOOOOMMM" when they're speeding towards you. The translation itself feels natural enough in that it matches the mood and emotion of the various characters in the anime, but the technical presentation was a little lacking.
OVERALL - As believable filler material between Gundam Wing and Endless Waltz, Battlefield of Pacifists succeeds. As a political and philosophical commentary on human nature, war, and pacifism, it leaves much to be desired, but I don't imagine that that's really what most readers are looking for here.