Gundam Wing

March 26, 2009

Since it’s happened to come up several times lately in conversation in my life, I decided to rewatch Gundam Wing again. I haven’t watched it through in years. Probably not since I started heavily getting into the other Gundams. It’s in vogue now to bag on Wing, but how does it really hold up once you’ve seen the Gundam saga in its entirety?

Short answer: Not great, but it’s not the worst

Let’s start with what I do like about the show. First is the animation. It was very high quality for 1995. Lots of detail, very smooth. They made heavy use of the backlit effect, even when it was a trivial thing. Like, a small corner of a display screen in a cockpit would by in a shot, and they would go through the trouble of backlighting it. That is some dedication. The opening sequences are also really slick. What’s up with the “Rhythm Emotion” OP though? It was only in the last 10 episodes, and it was like… not quite finished until the last few. At first several of the gorgeous shots of the Gundams were replaced with lower quality or stock animation.

The music is also pretty good. Two Mix, of course is awesome. “Just Communication”, “Rhythm Emotion”, “White Reflection”, all good stuff. The BGM is also very memorable. I like “The Wings of a Boy Who Killed Adolescence”, “When the Dragon Swims, Everything Ends” and “The Curtain of the Next Chapter Rises Now”. Emo names not withstanding. I never really got into the character songs for this show though. They kinda… suck.

Now, onto what’s not so good. Characters. The G-Boys are about as deep as puddles. The only ones with personalities are Duo, Quatre and Zechs. Quatre’s personality is simply “annoying” (though he was kinda fun when he was batshit crazy), and Zechs’ was ripped off of Char. So, that leaves Duo who, while likable, still has nearly zero actual development. Then there’s… ugh… Relena Plotdevice… er… Darlian… er… Peacecraft… Obnoxiousbitch… whatever. I can’t say much that hasn’t already been said. I’ll just put it this way: I spent 49 episodes hoping the rhino would just sit on her. It never delivered. Fuck you, rhino. Fuck you.

It was only the secondary characters who were really interesting and/or likable. Lady Une, Noin, Dorothy (who would be hot if not for those two badgers on her face). Howard is awesome. We should all be that cool when we’re old to rock shades and a Hawaiian shirt. Even some of the secondary cast falls flat, though. Like, what were they trying to do with Treize? Are we supposed to love him? Hate him? I have no fucking idea. Neither do the other characters. Wu Fei kills him, then cries about it, then in EW he’s like “Treize is still alive, I need to rekill him or something”. I’m with you, Wu Fei. I don’t know what’s going on either.

Speaking of confused, how about the plot. Man, stuff just makes no sense. Even the very premise of the show has issues. If OZ a) Has been sitting on the Tallgeese all this time and b) knows what Gundanium is, then why can’t they make Gundams? What is so different about them? Then there’s the nonsensical decisions the characters make. Here’s a brilliant tactical maneuver. You need to get your asses into space to fight OZ. The only guy whose Gundam can actually operate in space dumps it in the goddamn ocean instead of taking it along. Why? Because if the G-Boys posed a threat in space, the whole next story arc can’t happen. Bullshit. That also brings me to my number one annoyance with Wing: not enough Gundams. The entire middle third of the show has almost no Gundams. Wing and Heavyarms are ditched on Earth, Sandrock is blown up, and Deathscythe and Shenlong are being rebuilt. So, we get little bits of Mercurius and Vayeate, Zechs doing a bit with the Tallgeese… it’s all just frustrating. I’m not tuning in for the deep, intricate character development obviously. I want to see some goddamn Gundams!

Speaking of forcing the plot, that’s Relena’s entire job. Every time the writers didn’t know how to move forward, they just pull out Relena to create the proper motivation. Relena Plotdevice. And as a coup de gras, what the holy hell happens to Zechs at the end? From like nowhere, he decides Earth = evil, peace = for sissies, let’s blow shit up. This was obviously a take on Char becoming the antagonist in CCA, but with Char it made sense. Char was moving forward the agenda of everyone moving to space that he was always a follower of. Zechs just randomly decides to kill everyone on Earth. Then goes back on it because… Heero cut Epyon’s arm off? Huh? I have no clue.

Endless Waltz has most of the same issues as the TV series. Makes no sense. Plot is forced. Not enough Gundams. The Gundams don’t even show up until the third episode. It’s not called “Mobile Suit Leo”, it’s “Gundam”. Where are the god damn Gundams?!. And here again, a character does something completely nonsensical just to make the plot work. What was Wu Fei’s problem? If he hadn’t been acting like a d-bag, they could have stopped the whole thing before it started. Argh.

EW doesn’t even do much to explain anything. Yeah, we know a little bit more of the background, but still not enough. Who trained Trowa? For that matter, how did Duo learn to pilot a Gundam? Was he the original pilot, or did he just steal it like Trowa did? Doesn’t Wu Fei’s fiance bear more than a passing mention? What’s the deal with the Gundam engineers? I know there’s a lot of extra material like manga that explains this stuff, but that’s bullshit. I shouldn’t need to read extra manga just to understand the backstory of the main characters. The main characters. It’s not like this stuff is getting into Noin’s past or something. The original Gundam has a lot of supplemental material that expands on its setting, but you don’t need it just to understand the show.

So, in the end, do I hate it? Well, it is entertaining, I can give it that much. In the overall spectrum of Gundam shows, I’d say ZZ is worst, followed by Seed Destiny, then maybe Wing. 0083 and V are down there around Wing too, but Wing is definitely better than ZZ and Seed Destiny. I guess I have it to thank for getting me into Gundam in the first place, but now I have much better ways to get my Gundam fix.

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