Gundam Wing (Anime) - RedRyu's Review Corner #7
A blast from the past remembered back on the days it showed up on Toonami. This is an older series in the Gundam series which is also what is the most well known as being for North America the first to be brought over. Re-watching it all from start to finish I noticed some things I didn't when I first watched this when I was younger but also some good things that went over my head.
The question I asked myself when working with this was how did it hold up compared to when I first viewed it. It was a mixed bag but I still remained positive about this series from when I first watched it. I also noticed a lot of animation short cuts this series did despite other points actually having some good animation for the time. The other thing I noticed was the change in voice actors over the series which I didn't notice until I compared it to the beginning of the series and later.
Diving right in, I'd like to see what this series has to offer from when I first viewed it.
Gundam Wing Opening
The series is about the future when mankind goes up into space to create colonies for humanity to live in space. The year is after colony 195 and the earth's sphere alliance has taken control of the colonies with an iron first with it's military utilizing mobile suits, giant robots. The colonies aim to free themselves from the organization within the earth's sphere alliance, OZ. They send five pilots to earth to begin operation meteor to take down OZ and free the colonies.
This premise is fine for a liberation type plot to free the people from the tyranny of OZ. What can make it even more interesting is when OZ seems like it has it's own goods sides and how thew colonies react to the Gundam Pilots. Issues come up when we look at the length of the Story, 52 episodes. For this to work something needs to be fleshed out a bit. In other series like G Gundam it makes sens for the series to be stretched out a bit more to 52 episodes given it's more arc based. The arcs here in Gundam Wing seem to be dragging out at times a bit longer than they need to be because the series has to be 52 episodes.
I think this series could have been trimmed down a bit, it didn't need a 2 episode clip show either to pad things out. This is an example of where the series falters.
Is the plot bad on it's own? No it's fine but the dragged out length is one of the main faults with it.
What makes this series different from other Gundam and even some mecha series it the group of five pilots instead of just one. Each one has a different personality and holds their own stakes and methods within the story. What goes even further with this is a group of supporting cast that helps assist the pilots or be antagonists against them.
Most of them have arcs that help progress through the series, but the issues come from characters not really having any direct arc or change on screen or even end up doing things that are outright stupid. Due to the large focus of multiple characters this can happen a lot.
Why does one of the pilots Wufei charge into a base knowing he will lose and expect things will turn out ok? He has no reason to do or think this. Why is Relina so interested in Heero Yuy despite him trying to kill her multiple times! It makes no sense when characters make largely stupid actions like this.
Taking a step further into off screen development, why does Relina pick up her nation and start helping with it all of the sudden. We don't see her make an effort to go their and reclaim her birthright in order to help being better peace. This is all after she has a long absence off screen when the focus of the series takes place in space with the colonies. We aren't shown or told anything of what occured here. We can assume why she did this, but it's made more strange when she was very blood hungry against OZ previously the last time she saw her and only opened up because she learned her brother was with OZ. Though a lot of this is assumed off screen stuff so I'm kind of just guessing here.
Some characters king of lack arcs all together or rather have them being very unclear. This can work in a story like this when you don't need the character to have a major change in personality or method if they are enjoyable and entertaining. Duo Maxwell, who is also my favorite of the five Gundam pilots, fits this very well. He doesn't have a huge change to his character in the grand picture, but he goes through events that do affect him more subtly.
Trowa Barton sort of fits this as well, not as well but still has his own personality and quiet moments with him being more calm and collected while learning many things about how the people around him feel. This works though may not be as interesting.
Heero Yuy is similar but more so is trying to learn how to care for other people and why killing everyone is not the ideal way to go about things. The problem here with him is execution. He's way too cold and willing to kill innocent people who just happened to see the one thing they shouldn't have all too quickly and is laughing as he killing other soldiers. He's made to be way too much of a "bad boy" from the start and his progression is made all the more slower and not quite as satisfactory. He does have an arc, just how it is implement was not the best in terms of the overall narrative.
Katra comes off as the kind innocent who just happened to jump on in and be in the war but also loses his innocence during the series has loss and betray hit him only to relearn what is important.
Chang Wufei does some learning in how to rely on others rather than being a lone wolf...but honestly he does a ton of stupid things during the series. And I mean a ton of really really really stupid things during his run at OZ and others alone.
The villains have some really cool characters in the form of Treize Khushrenada and Lady Une. Many of which seem to shift in loyalty and goals themselves as they learn many new things about their methods and how they are wrong with what they were trying to do. A lot of other villains...are pretty much stock villains outside of the group at the end which have more of a reason for their own extreme methods outside of, "total control of the earth and colonies."
Some characters work but others kind of fall flat or don't work as much, what works for this series is a larger cast so it is easier to find one or two characters whom you might attach yourself to or like. That alone makes this series work out a bit better in this department. There are plenty of likable characters.
Animation and Sound
The animation in the series is either hit or miss. Sometimes you will get a director who will turn the animation up to 11. Other times it can look kind of mediocre. the animation never hits a point where it is distractedly off but it does have it's moments where it can suddenly be a lot better than what is normally expected.
Inconsistent is the word I would use for a series like this but given the weekly nature and length of the series I'm not as surprised it turned out this way. Does that excuse it? Not really but I understand why it goes up and down like it did. The animation on the mechs is particularly where really get into it. It looks very well done for a mid nineties anime.
The background OSTs and occasional music that plays is actually very fantastic. I could really get into it well and keep myself interested in the series better with a strong soundtrack behind it. Also the soundtrack for this series is actually pretty huge, it's three CDs in total and goes through using all of it very effectively. There are a good number of composers working on this series. Generally if I want to download it and order a background OST for an anime, that tells me it did something right.
The series is very much a mixed bag, but I think it's a bit better than what most would think of it. It's not amazing or perfect but I do think it can be worth your time if you like mecha or the Gundam series. As it is, I couldn't recommend it too much unless you got some curiosity with it. It's hard to say where I would put it between a 3-4 star series. It's in the middle of that, while I think for my personal enjoyment I would give it a 4 I do think for most people it would be a 3 star series.
Give it a try and see for yourself if you are even remotely curious is what I would say.