Discs Are Rated
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: DVD Operation 1
review by Wayne A.
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Starring Hikaru Midorikawa, Toshihiko Seki, Shigeru
Nakahara, Ai Orikasa,
Ryuzo Ishino, Akiko Ajima, Takehito Koyasu (Japanese),
Lisa Ann Beley, Ted Cole, Michael Dobson, Paul Dobson, Brian
Drummond, Saffron Henderson, Mark Hildreth (English)
Studio: Sunrise (released through Bandai
Written by Katsuyuki Sumizawa
Directed by Masashi Ikeda
Retail Price: $24.98
Features: Scene access, character/mecha information,
Specs: Standard 1.33:1, 2.0 Dolby Digital English, 2.0
Dolby DigitalJapanese, English subtitles
The Gundams are coming to Earth!
Well, to the US DVD market, anyway. Gundam is one of the
most well known of Japanese anime; it's also one of the
longest running animation franchises in Japan, and is the
granddaddy of the mecha-genre of Japanese animation. It
would be safe to say that if there were an anime pantheon,
Gundam would be in it. However, despite its popularity,
American anime fans' contact with the series has been
through copies with homemade subtitles (fansubs). It's only
recently that gundam has been released in the US on VHS
(Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory) and now on DVD with Gundam
Wing. (As an aside, bear in mind that Gundam Wing takes
place in an alternate timeline than original Gundam series,
Stardust Memory, Char's Counterattack and so on. For
newbies, I suggest they checkout
http://www.gundamproject.com to get an explanation on how
the timelines differ -- beware, though, because the Gundam
Wing timeline contains spoilers.)
Also of note is the fact that this is the uncut version
of Gundam Wing, but there isn't much different between this,
and the explicit version shown late night on Cartoon
The first DVD of the set includes the first five episodes
("The Shooting Star She Saw," "The Gundam Deathsycthe,"
"Five Gundams Confirmed," "The Victoria Nightmare," and
"Relena's Secret.") of 49. The inclusion of five episodes
per disc is probably not a coincidence; the overall story
includes mini-arcs that conclude, more or less, in five
The story in the five episodes contained on the first
disc deal with the arrival of five gundams, or mobile suits,
sent to the earth by the colonies orbiting the earth. The
giant robots were sent, originally, as agents of revenge
against the United Earth Sphere Military Alliance, a junta
that seized power on earth and in space, and now imposes its
will on the colonies. The five gundams are each piloted by a
teen-aged boy, none of whom initially knows there are other
gundams operating on the earth, with similar missions.
When the suits were sent to Earth, Relena Darlian, the
daughter of a foreign minister assigned to the colonies,
sees one of them entering the atmosphere. The gundam is shot
down by an Alliance mobile suit pilot, Zechs Marquis, and
the pilot, Heero Yuy, is forced to ditch his gundam and hide
as a student in a school Relena attends. The other gundam
pilots begin their missions against the Alliance, and Heero
plots to destroy his gundam before the Alliance can capture
Relena's father is sent to the colonies, and she follows.
On the colony, Relena learns the Alliance may not be the
only political power on earth, and learns about her past.
Sound complicated? At times it is; Gundam Wing is more
like a political soap opera. This is not to say your kid
brother won't enjoy it, or that you need a doctorate in
political science to understand it. It's not as mature as
Cowboy Bebop, but it's an interesting tale wrapped in
political intrigue and giant robots. Who wouldn't like that?
As most readers are probably aware, Gundam Wing has been
showing on the Cartoon Network. The video transfer, however,
is much better than the quality shown on TV -- we're talking
night-and-day different. The video is clean and crisp. In a
lot of occasions, it's almost amazing how much the transfer
on the DVD differs from the Cartoon Network's broadcasts. If
you're a fan of the show, buy the DVD, and you'll never want
to watch Gundam Wing on Cartoon Network again.
The audio is just as clear. The English sound is a tad
bit clearer, but the difference is so slight that it may
just be due to equipment.
Traditionally, anime fans have been forced to decide if
they want a dubbed or subtitled version of their shows. DVDs
have allowed them to have both. Personally, I'm not a purist
on either format -- I've seen shows with horrible subtitles
and shows with horrible dubbing.
For the record, I'm not that impressed with the dubbed
version of the show. The subtitles also sometimes sound
stilted and awkward in their translation as well. This is
the major bone I have to pick about Gundam Wing -- if the
script for the dubbed and subbed versions had been worked
out and polished, this could have been a very, very good
show. I know this is possible -- the dub and sub of Trigun
and Cowboy Bebop are excellent (in fact, I prefer the dub to
the sub on those titles).
The extras are lacking and thin as well. The information
about Heero, Relena and the Wing Gundam aren't anything you
couldn't learn from watching the DVDs. Information from the
Endless Waltz novelization and Episode Zero would have
filled in interesting gaps in their past the series does not
Also of note, though it's not really a feature, is the
inclusion of the original opening and closing credits for
Gundam Wing, which you don't see on the Cartoon Network. The
opening is the Japanese pop group Two-Mix's very danceable
"Just Communication" and the end credits feature the sappy,
though in a cute and cuddle sort of way (though isn't all
J-pop cute an cuddly?), "Just Love."
Gundam Wing has a strong story, with a complicated
storyline that would keep any intelligent person
preoccupied. Like other examples of fine anime, the series
deals with honor, personal sacrifice, and poses poignant
questions in this case, the nature of war and peace, the
price of peace, and means of peace. The stumbling block for
this series from being excellent is the dub and he sub
script. As I've said before, if the script had more polish
to it, it would be excellent.
This is still, however, a very entertaining series.
Pokeman it ain't, but I'd rather watch giant robots kick
each other's butts then Pikachu any day.
(4/5, NOT included in
(3.5/5, NOT an average)