Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Episodes 41 – 49 Review

While the road has been bumpy, full of radical direction changes and reorganisations galore, Gundam Wing reaches its finale and somehow we’ve ended up with a very familiar Earth vs. The Colonies set up, though one where the leaders of both sides aren’t your typical villain, and our “heroes” aren’t on either side. Does the finale pay off? Let’s find out!

Synopsis:

Milliardo Peacecraft has declared himself the leader of the Colonies after his White Fang force took power, and now he has set his army’s sights on Earth. With the biggest war in human history about to go down, which side, if any, will the Gundam pilots choose?

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Wing Zero cuts its way through a bunch of Dolls… Something you’ll have to get used to seeing!

Episode 41 rather hilariously hand-waves a lot of the bollocks from the previous set of stories by having Treize Khushrenada remove Relena as Queen of the Earth Nation and take control of the planet’s resources, deciding to rise to his old friend Milliardo’s challenge to a war to end all wars (that old chestnut!). What I really like is that both Milliardo and Treize aren’t evil moustache twirling villains, they both truly believe that through their actions they’ll bring about peace, their reputation in history be damned. Treize keeps a record of every soldier who ever died under his command so he can never forget their sacrifices and constantly praises his enemies for making correct choices. Milliardo may have been twisted by the Epyon’s future predicting software a tad, but even his plan to cause a catastrophe on Earth leaving them too weak to try and fight back and leave the Colonies united would also result in peace… not to say the massive loss of life would be worth it or anything, he is definitely insane, but the way his mind has twisted means he still thinks he’s doing his job as a member of the Peacecraft family.

So what are the Gundam pilots doing during this time? Well, meeting up! Quatre, Duo and a still amnesiac Trowa are already together, but they soon meet up with Heero and Wufei, the latter of which was given control of Zero by the former and the future prediction system showed him that working with the other pilots would lead to his goal of a rematch with Treize… so in other words he’s still a loner knob, but hey-ho. Trowa similarly takes Zero for a spin and regains his memories, so throw in the fact that Trowa’s Heavyarms Gundam was taken into space by Heero and we have all five Gundam pilots with all five Gundams working together on the Peacemillion, the large spaceship Milliardo used to call home.

Before we get to the final battle I want to mention a side-battle that happens at the start of it, with Milliardo facing off with the four non-Heero Gundam pilots and holding his own (and attacking Quatre most of all because he wants to “take out the brain”) only for him to hesitate to strike down his old friend / love interest Noin, cursing is own weakness as he flees. Right before Milliardo’s duel with Heero, Noin arrives and quietly states she’s just there to watch, and to be with “Zechs” one last time, no matter what happens. Their relationship is odd, but I like it, it’s different and complex, unlike Relena’s “I love Heero because…. HEEEEEEROOO!”

Milliardo moments before his “cowardly” hesitation.

This sets the stage for the big finale as Earth goes to war with Space while the Gundam team try to stop the war from going too far. Wufei has his long since teased rematch with Treize, one he wins but feels bad about it after Treize’s revelation of being a good man, and Wufei’s sort of death wish to be killed by someone he respected, “Damn it, I wasn’t supposed to win!” being his victory cry. Heero, Trowa, Duo and Quatre meanwhile arrive on the massive Space Station known as Libra, one originally constructed by Romefella but completed by White Fang, in order to stop it from firing its canon on Earth (something it already did once, the effects of which are oddly never shown…) Well, Heero went ahead of the rest of the team to find and rescue Relena, who had boarded to try and bring her brother around, unsuccessfully. The low-tier Gundam allies ram the Peacemillion into Libra’s main canon (and survive, which is odd… I thought the writers were going for the whole noble sacrifice thing…) but Milliardo still plans to crash the now wedged Libra/Peacemillion onto Earth for the same effect as the canon.

As Duo, Trowa, Quatre and the five scientists from the first half of the show (I’ll get to that in a bit…) try to stop the ship’s fall, Heero and Milliardo begin their duel. Eventually their fight is broadcast to both the Earth and the Colonies, and with Treize dead the Earth surrenders to Space, and they respond by denouncing the ways of White Fang and agree to complete peace between all of humanity. I loved the duel between Milliardo and Heero, the former preaching about his path to total pacifism while Heero just calmly states that Milliardo’s way will only lead to resentment from those left on Earth and therefore will just cause more war down the line (which, let’s face it, is absolutely correct…) When Milliardo’s Epyon has one of its arms chopped off he wonders why Heero doesn’t finish the job, Earth and Space having agreed to peace and his plans foiled. Heero simply says it would make Relena sad and heads off. The Libra/Peacemillion is sent away from Earth barring one piece that breaks off, but thanks to the apparent sacrifice of a defeated and humbled Milliardo and a blast from Heero’s Zero Cannon and the Earth is saved.

We get a very quick look at Relena as a high-ranking diplomat about to attend more peace talks with Earth and receiving a birthday gift from a still-hard-to-express-his-emotions Heero to give us our end… well, until the “Endless Waltz” OVA, anyway…

The Bad:

Dorothy’s back, but with a new hat!

There has been a theme across the whole series of things feeling like they’re being written on the fly, and these last nine episodes are full of this issue. So I mentioned the whole “Queen Relena” plot thread being dropped with zero consequences or rippling effects, but there are scenes like the five Gundam scientists being in a cell Duo randomly opens and saying they’d been working on the Libra station this whole time. This leads to the five sacrificing themselves to stop Libra’s descent, but just before that the former leader of White Fang chastises them for altering their original Operation Meteor plan from the start of the series, as well as mentioning the original Heero Yuy, but then they all blow up so it’s not revealed just what that was all about, but at least they didn’t forget it, or something!

Lady Une wakes up from her coma and flies to space in Heero’s original Wing Gundam, then gets it destroyed before swanning off to the generic commander role, answering two “whatever happened to?” questions in a few minutes, but of course instantly dropping them as well. Then there was a scene of Duo’s old friend whose name I can’t remember returning to steal plans for the Libra (which Heero later says “helped tremendously”, but never says why…) only to get hurt and written out, and during the course of this Duo fights Mobile Doll versions of the Mercurius and Vayeate, just for the hell of it as the two suits are promptly dispatched by Duo’s Deathscythe.

Then my favourite: Heero installs the Zero System in Quatre’s cockpit, saying he’s the best of them and can lead them using it, and despite his reservations after what happened last time, Quatre uses it and manages to direct his Gundam Team buddies in the right formation to defeat an overwhelming force. Great moment, ruined by Quatre removing the Zero System from his Gundam at the start of the very next episodes, pretty much saying “I know it helped a lot, but I still don’t like it”. Great? Thanks for exploring that old plot point from earlier, and then dropping it again instantly…

Relena isn’t TOO annoying this time round, just more extreme naivety as she constantly insists she can get through to Milliardo, despite it being made clear by EVERYONE that this clearly isn’t the case. Dorothy on the other hand IS annoying. She is still one-dimensional evil, then she tries to stop Milliardo from killing Treize (causing the White Fang leader to class her as a traitor, then the next episode she’s standing next to him as if nothing ever happened) and then has a duel with Quatre (as in an actual sword duel) where she wins, but Quatre claims she’s the nicest of them all and just hiding it, which makes her cry and talk about how war took her father away, and THAT was how she ended. She’s next scene laying flowers on a grave and talking to Noin about moving on… what on Earth? Talk about not earned! You can’t have such a war obsessed straight up evil character and then have her cry randomly and call it character development, it made zero sense. An annoying end to an annoying character…

Overall Thoughts:

I love how even in the Tallgeese II Treize still looks like a nobleman ready to duel.

The final nine episodes of Gundam Wing have some great pay-offs to some interesting and complex characters, but it also has a lot of quickly brought back and then thrown away plotlines and one or two really badly developed characters having an equally confusing end. Still, I can’t say I wasn’t gripped for the final three or four episodes, so it goes out on a high, just not the “knock it out of the park” big finale I remembered…

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