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Gundam Wing – Revisiting Old Favourites and the Nostalgia Filter

March 15, 2014

Minitokyo.Mobile.Suit.Gundam.Wing.410108So recently I, following the lead of a number of others on Twitter, decided to rewatch Gundam Wing yet again.  Yes, I’ve just completed my seventh rewatch of my favourite and gateway Gundam show, although this is my first in the last 5 years or so – it’s been an interesting experience to see it again in a new light.  Gundam Wing gets a lot of flack, but it’s actually a pretty solid show, albeit with stupid elements….lots of stupid elements, but it is a Gundam show.

I usually watch Gundam Wing dubbed because that’s how I first experienced the show and the pull of nostalgia is strong, but I have watched it subbed before and this time elected to switch between the two tracks depending on my mood.  I ended up watching most of it subbed, the acting is just much better and the some of the main characters aren’t as annoying in Japanese……mostly the women.  I’m actually shocked by how much switching audio tracks improved some characters to be honest.  I remember hating Relena with a passion back when I was a teenager, because she came across as whiney and irritating thanks to her grating dub voice.  In Japanese Relena is composed, intense and a damn good character – amazing the difference a different actress can make.

In general the Japanese voice acting is better, but lacks that nostalgic cheesiness that I loved about the English dub track.  So I switched tracks depending on my mood – if I wanted a giggle I’d listen to the English track, if I wanted to get a better grasp on the character nuances, I’d switch to Japanese.  Worked pretty well for me!

The thing that struck me most with this rewatch though is that the women in Gundam Wing are probably among the strongest of any Gundam series.  They are power players who aren’t content to sit back and let the male characters do all the work.  Certainly they play more of a support role for the most part, but they are key players in the politics and events of the series.  This is seen most clearly with Relena, Lady Une, Sally Po and Noin.  These four ladies are fantastically strong characters who deserve attention, and yet I know the girls in Gundam Wing are often ignored by the fandom or painted as weak and overshadowed by the male characters.  It is such a terrible shame, because we don’t really get very many admirable women in mecha series and these women certainly aren’t in the show purely for fanservice.

I quite literally couldn't find any other picture with all the girls together.  Gundam Wing official art is fecking hilarious!

So I said, but I quite literally couldn’t find any other picture with all the girls together. Gundam Wing official art is fecking hilarious!

Wing often has the reputation of being a bit of a sausage fest, mainly because the rather massive fujoshi following the series has tend to completely ignore the girls in the show.  However Wing gives nearly all its male characters a female counterpart – it is surprisingly balanced!

  • Heero – Relena
  • Duo – Hilde
  • Trowa – Catherine
  • Quatre – Dorothy
  • Wufei – Sally Po
  • Zechs – Noin
  • Treize – Lady Une

Relena is a central figure in the show’s politics providing a strong figurehead and clear-cut ideas of pacifism for the other characters to fight and aim for.  She has some naïve ideas and is often sheltered from the realities of war, but she is just 15!  Not many people can shoulder the burden of being the leader of the entire world the way Relena did.

Lady Une is an excellent military leader who makes very decisive decisions (even if some of them are a touch extreme or misguided) and follows them through to the end.  Her split personality born of Treize’s confusing orders to her strangely didn’t make her seem like a complete basket-case, but rather a woman who tried extremely hard to follow through on conflicting instructions.  Separating her personality into two facets may have been extreme but it helped Une cope.  And then there is the fact she is just pure badass – this is a woman who can wake up from a coma, hijack a Gundam and fly it into space to save the man she loves.

Minitokyo.Mobile.Suit.Gundam.Wing.411189

Sally Po is a military doctor by training, but she isn’t content to sit back and play a supporting role.  Instead Sally gets right into the action, leading a rebel force, piloting mecha, shooting rocket launchers, reuniting captured Gundams with their pilots and basically just being fecking awesome.

Noin has more moments of doubt than the other three, being caught between the two Peacecraft siblings most of the time.  Noin loves Zechs, but can’t bring herself to agree with his extreme actions as leader of the White Fang.  She instead gravitates more to Relena’s ideals as a pacifist leader and she is more than willing to fight on the front lines for those ideals, even if her Taurus mobile suit can’t keep up with the Gundams.  I admire how Noin stays true to her feelings right to the end.

I don’t feel as strongly about the other three women.  Dorothy, Catherine and Hilde all have their moments, but they pale in comparison to the other four women.  All have pretty strong wills and are certainly no wilting damsels, but they don’t make as much of an impression me.  But yes – the strong women in Gundam Wing sort of surprised me on this rewatch, I never really took note of them before being much more caught up in all the angsty bishies!

Mobile.Suit.Gundam.Wing.full.50439

Okay so let’s be honest here, the main reason I love Gundam Wing so much is because of all the fantastically angsty bishies the series provides us with – in a whole variety of different flavours!  That is certainly something that hasn’t changed since the first time I saw this series way back when I was 16.  There is also a wealth of shipping opportunities in the series – slash and het….although obviously this being me; I enjoy the slash shipping more.  But going into that is going to push this post into a ridiculous length, so I’ll cover that separately another time.  I’ll just say that my favourite ships among the Gundam pilots are 1×2, 3×1, 2×5, 3×4 and 1×5.  And yeah, I do like Wufei – he’s an absolute prick, but of the five pilots he’s the one who wavers least when it comes to knowing who his enemy is.  I kind of admire how driven he is…….even if he is a complete dick most of the time.

Better wrap things up for this post – basically, yes, for me Gundam Wing has withstood the test of time and multiple rewatches, it is still a solid favourite and I don’t expect that to change.  I think that is mainly due to the fact that Gundam Wing actually is a very entertaining, well put together series.  I’m pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to whack the nostalgia filter up to 11 to enjoy the show, I was definitely very invested in the characters and plot by the end – I actually put off watching the final few episodes because I didn’t want this rewatch to end, despite knowing by heart how things play out!

Of course Wing has a special place in my heart, it was one of the very first anime I ever watched and was responsible for kindling my passion for these strange foreign cartoons in the first instance.  However it is a pretty good show even without all the trappings of nostalgia.  Riddled with flaws and laced with ridiculous politics and mecha designs, it is hardly high art, but Wing is very honest about what it is as a piece of entertainment and doesn’t fail to deliver a fun ride on that level.  I was somewhat worried that now that I am much older and have thousands of shows under my belt, Gundam Wing wouldn’t appeal to me as much, so I cannot tell you how happy I am that I found new things to love about this gateway drug.  Sometimes it is really worth taking time out to revisit old favourites.

As I said, official art = fecking hilarious.

As I said, official art = fecking hilarious.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. A Day Without Me permalink
    March 15, 2014 7:36 pm

    What the fuck is up with Quatre’s pose?!

    • A Day Without Me permalink
      March 15, 2014 7:47 pm

      In the first pic, obviously.

      Relena looks ok as a fairy and Catherine is believable as one due to the whole circus thing, but the rest of them are so many flavor of WTF. I love how Lady Une is just randomly hauling a basket full of fruit and wine.

      I have to say that in the end I think Catherine impresses me the most out of the women; she isn’t my favorite (she’s up there), but she ‘s the most impressive. As I’ve said elsewhere, she has the least power of any of the other women and she’s got the lowest social standing, but that doesn’t stop her from slugging a Gundam pilot in the face while he’s in the cockpit nor does she stand by passively when the Alliance starts rounding people up to use as human shields. The other women all have positions such that they have money or military power or both; Relena is committed to pacificism, but she’s also got Gundam pilots, Noin, and Zechs all fairly interested in keeping her safe regardless of whether she likes their methods or not, and her social standing ensures that people are willing to listen to her. Catherine honestly runs the biggest risk by standing steady to her own convictions since she really has no recourse at hand if things do go sour.

      But, wow, really, dat Quatre pose. He may as well be on the cover of Playboy or something! Poor thing, too, since Trowa isn’t even looking his way!

      • March 15, 2014 10:11 pm

        I had to pick the most random looking pictures – they made me giggle…a lot. Have no clue what is going on with Quatre in pic1, think they have to have him doing something a bit different in most pictures – he’s the only one with a weapon in pic4! Actually Duo has struck the same pose as pic 1 Quatre in pic 4……..lulz

        Catherine is definitely an admirable woman – completely agree with you on all accounts. However her limited screentime means she doesn’t really leave as much of an impression as the other ladies.

        • A Day Without Me permalink
          March 15, 2014 10:31 pm

          I think Trowa stole his pose from Sailor Moon in pic4. As for Duo, somehow how he’s doing it isn’t quite as cheesecake as how Quatre does it.

        • March 15, 2014 10:42 pm

          Hahaha~! Oh god Trowa is doing Sailor Mars’ pose! Duo needs more smouldering glare.

        • A Day Without Me permalink
          March 15, 2014 10:44 pm

          He definitely needs to take some tips from Ikuhara.

  2. March 16, 2014 11:24 pm

    The official pictures for this show never fail to crack me up. Welcome to the 90s, I guess.

    I wish I had as much nostalgia for this series as other fans do, but I never discovered Wing for myself until the mid-2000s, when I had already been watching anime for long enough to feel somewhat jaded. That said, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. The angsty bishounen, the over-the-top drama, the sometimes completely ridiculous poses… recipe for awesome.

    • March 17, 2014 4:26 pm

      There is barely a need for fanart when your official art is this hilarious.

      I imagine I’d still like Wing even if I watched it well into my fandom rather than it being my gateway in, however don’t think I’d have quite the same level of love or it. Nostalgia really is a powerful thing.

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