Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Overall Review

Sometimes I think the “Overall Review” isn’t very different from the part reviews, just a convenient place to get, well, an overall opinion. With Gundam Wing it’s odd because when looked at as a whole a few issues really get highlighted, especially an inescapable feeling of it being written on the fly. Does this hurt the series overall, or is it still worth a watch? Let’s take a look…

Synopsis:

In the year After Colony 195, after decades of oppression from the United Earth Sphere Alliance and its secret weapons organization, OZ, a group of rebels in the space colonies send down five mobile suits known as “Gundams” to overthrow the militaristic regime. Four of the Gundams successfully make it to Earth, but the fifth is intercepted during its descent by OZ’s Lieutenant Zechs Merquise and crashes into the Pacific Ocean…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Always liked the variety in the Gundam Wing Gundams.

Given this is a Gundam show, I’ll start by saying how much I love the mech designs for Wing. The five Gundams, plus the “bad guy” suits known as the Tallgeese and the Epyon are all great designs. The characters that pilot these suits are a mixed bag though! Heero is the classic emotionless and cold protagonist that slowly learns to care for someone, in this case Relena, a rather annoying and preachy character I’ll talk about in the next section. Duo is the joker / sarcastic type, at odds with his Gundam called “Deathscythe”, Trowa is a bit emo, not quite emotionless like Heero, but definitely on the nilist side until he finds joy working at a circus, Wufei is an arrogant loner who … well, is a bit of a knob, and Quatre is the overly nice and optimistic type. They all play off each other well, apart from Wufei who spends most of the series by himself, and although they don’t really change from how they’re like in the first few episodes compared to the final few episodes, it is a fun set up, and different from the UC shows that came before it (and G Gundam, which… was something else entirely.)

It’s the antagonists that really shine in Gundam Wing. Zechs Merquise starts off as your classic Char clone, blonde haired and masked with a history tied to a now-dead family, in this case the Peacecrafts, his real name soon revealed to be Milliardo Peacecraft. His character arc is… mixed, he seeks a fair fight against Heero despite the wishes of the organisation he works for, he then officially “dies” as Zechs and becomes Milliardo in an ambassador role for a brief time before reclaiming the Zechs name and attacking his former employers. He then goes a little bit crazy thanks to the Epyon suit’s in-build computer system messing with his mind and he becomes the representative of the Space Colonies and goes full Char in his plans to attack and wipe Earth clean to create peace. It’s pretty erratic, looking back, but he does make for a compelling character, and is well voiced no matter whether you go subbed or dubbed.

When the antagonists are far more interesting than your protagonists you’ve probably made a mistake somewhere…

His superior and long-time friend Treize Khusranada is what can be seen as another antagonist, though much like Zechs/Milliardo, there are more noble sides of his character than most straight forward enemies. He duels Wufei in an early episode and bests him, but lets him leave with his life out of respect, he chastises his fellow high ranking members of the group known as Romefeller when they start using A.I. piloted “Mobile Dolls” instead of people and therefore robbing war of any meaning and cost, and finally in his last appearance he reveals that he personally keeps an account of everyone who died under his command and mourns them regularly. He sees war, particularly the war between Earth and Space, between him and his old friend Milliardo, as a necessity to lead to peace. He’s a good character to follow and much like Zechs/Milliardo, he’s far more interesting than any of the actual protagonists!

Obviously for a more blow-by-blow breakdown of the plot you can look at the four episode chunk reviews I did before this one, but I will say looking back there wasn’t a lot of large scale battles in Wing, a lot of small skirmishes between one or two of our protagonists and normally some Mobile Dolls. The final bunch of episodes really kick into gear though, they undo some of the sillier or flat out stupid plot points and just focus things down to a simple core that really works, mostly thanks to Milliardo and Treize being at the forefront. Quatre going mad in the advanced A.I. suit known as Wing Zero and having to be subdued by Heero and Trowa is prototype suits was a good set of episodes, as was the fall of the Sanc Kingdom, even if it was a bit weird as the Kingdom had only just come back…

Overall though, the series is fun to watch thanks to the four of the five Gundam pilots playing off each other well, the two antagonists being really interesting characters and a few really good multiple-episode arcs. It’s far from perfect though…

The Bad:

One last official Blu-Ray screenshot for the road!

There is something I noticed in this watch through that I evidentially never picked up on way back when I first watched it one episode a weekday, or the DVD rewatch shortly after, and that’s how much of the show feels like it’s being made up on the fly. We start with a simple UC set up of the Space Colonies wanting independence from Earth, at the start of the series being controlled by the Unified Earth Sphere Alliance, but the UESA soon gets overthrown by Treize and his OZ group of military trainees. Then OZ is revealed to actually be under the thumb of a group of noble aristocrats known as the Romefeller Foundation, who soon take over the running of Earth and use Mobile Dolls instead of people, leading to Treize stepping down and splintering Romefeller/OZ into the regular army and the “Treize Faction”. Meanwhile the Sanc Kingdom comes back to life but is recaptured by Romefeller shortly afterwards, leading to the creation of one Earth Nation, meanwhile Romefeller’s presence in space is threatened by a new group of rebels known as White Fang. Right at the end Treize comes back into the picture and takes control of the Earth Nation, and Milliardo takes over White Fang and rids Space of Romefeller, leading to the final battle… *sigh*! At only 49 episodes long, that’s a lot of political shifting and factions to keep up with, and at times you can almost feel the writers just going “Oh wait, hang on, what if we did this instead?”

The previously mentioned Relena Peacecraft suffers the worst from this. She starts off as a stuck up spoiled rich girl unaware of her actual parents, then she falls of Heero and wants to find him even though he threatened to kill her, then she finds out her true Peacecraft heritage and suddenly a few episodes later she’s leading the Sanc Kingdom without any scenes of her even visiting the country, soon preaching “Total Pacifism” by just saying “Let’s all get on and not fight, that would be great!” The Sanc Kingdom falls a few episodes later and she’s installed as Queen of Earth by Romefeller and uses her position to create the Earth Nation in the hopes of creating peace, but is removed from the position just a few episodes later. She then tries to change the mind of her brother, whom up to this point she’s barely even met, before just turning into a love struck girl screaming “Heeeero!!!” over and over… Then she’s a diplomat again. At no point was this character sympathetic or someone you could route for, she was just… either arrogant, bland or frustratingly naïve.

There were some other negatives in the cast. I’ve already mentioned Wufei and his obnoxious arrogance and “bad ass loner” style, but there was also Lady Une, who starts off completely one dimensionally evil (though does develop split personalities and becomes a bit more interesting before being written out of most of the series) and Dorothy, who is also completely one dimensional in her evil “war is great, isn’t it?” ways but never gets interesting, and in fact gets a really unconvincing “crying because my dad was killed in a war, see I’m a really layered character aren’t I?” nonsense ending. Annoying.

That’s it really, well apart from two recap episodes back to back, which is always annoying, but less so when you can just skip them with a couple of presses of a controller…

Overall Thoughts:

The core Gundam pilots looking very …. 90s in their design and artstyle.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (or New Mobile Report Gundam Wing, as it’s known in Japan! Realised I never mentioned that previously…) is a mixed bag. It’s not the most action-packed Gundam show, despite having not one but five Gundams, and the storytelling is muddled and often feels like it was made up on the fly. That being said the lead antagonists are really interesting characters and the show has some really good moments tucked in. I feel more good than bad, though that might also be “first Gundam show I ever saw” bias talking, you may find it a point or so lower…

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