Mobile Suit Gundam-W: Endless Waltz (Anime Movie Classics)
Aaron H. Bynum · February 2, 2007 | The story of five young men and their journey to Earth as soldiers from neighbouring space colonies, the anime television series Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is an interesting tale of wartime struggle. The anime itself utilizes a deep cast of characters and multiple Gundam mecha (known as mobile suits) as the stage for a war between politically active military organizations and independent space colonies. The series, spanning nearly 50 episodes, is a whirlwind of overconfident adversaries and conditioned soldiers who all possess a great deal of charisma in some form or another.

Mobile Suit Gundam-W: Endless Waltz is a three-episode OVA released two years after the conclusion of the television series. The five teenaged Gundam pilots—Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre and Wu Fei—return in similar or emphasized temperament in reaction to the newly disturbed peace that has arisen one calendar year following the conclusion of the television series' timeline. After the events of the series, wherein the pilots both escalated and quelled mobile suit conflicts on Earth and in space, these five young men, as well as other key characters, scattered. Peace was achieved, weapons of war were discarded and soldiers of all kinds found themselves of no practical use.

But as one antagonist of Gundam-W: Endless Waltz, Miss Mariemaia, states, peace is simply the dormant seed of war: "History is much like an endless waltz. The three beats of war, peace and revolution continue on forever."

Gundam-W: Endless Waltz (Anime Movie Classics)
Directed by Yasunao Aoki
Animation production by Sunrise
Distributed by Bandai Entertainment, 2007
Originally released in Japan in 1997
180 minutes

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In this OVA, a previously unknown source of wickedness rears his ugly head in the name of political puppetry; while at the same time, our pilots are forced to debate once more what the purpose of a soldier of war is. A man named Dekim, claiming to be the creator of the original Project Meteor, has amassed an array of mobile suits (a new design called the Serpent). He has additionally acquired the support of mobile suit pilots whom over the past year have found themselves alienated from cultures devoid of a military conflict. And so begins the Christmas Day AC 196 invasion of Earth from the space colonies, as another dangerous military leader feels the need to give the Earth Sphere Unified Nations a reason to rethink their ideal peace.

The best and worst of Gundam-W: Endless Waltz lies in its goal of simultaneously presenting a complex moral argument on war, and a layered conflict of character. The good? All of the charisma, curiosity and dangerous sense of commitment to war that this large cast exhibited throughout the animated television series is funnelled into this OVA. The source of character dynamism within the series was that of inner conflict, some conflicts of which the characters have not yet overcome. "I need to determine for myself as to whether peace at the expense of lives can really be defined as peace," Wu Fei Chang proclaims, "and I will become evil itself to find out."

The bad? If there was anything that broke Gundam Wing's back as a television series, it was the plot contrivances. Characters would show up at the same location with no predisposition and similarly, their motives would be vaguely and conveniently aligned with that of another with little context. Simply put, it is remarkably hard to suspend one's disbelief over a wartime struggle where many of the events that occur have little causality.

This three-episode OVA is nevertheless a great watch for a Gundam fan, because it provides viewers with the one thing that is irresistible to any good-natured otaku: backstory. There are many things to like about Gundam-W: Endless Waltz—new villains, new mecha, old rivalries—but the opportunity to learn of the backstory of the five lead Gundam pilots is probably the sweetest of them all. After all, how did Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre and Wu Fei learn of the original Project Meteor, and come into possession of their Gundams? Learning the backstory is a fun yet dangerous journey into the subconscious of the characters, for it is often the only time we may ever see them exhibit any sort of raw emotion, or any stronger sense of duty and purpose.

With exquisitely detailed animation, Gundam-W: Endless Waltz performs quite well the function of the direct-to-video release: to offer eager enthusiasts a visually unique sequence of animation, that is condensed yet incisive. Gundam Wing always engaged the debate of the purpose of war, and the purpose of a soldier in war. Gundam-W: Endless Waltz takes the notion a little bit further and inquires as to the role of the individual citizen, in every war.

DVD Features: 4:3 aspect ratio; English and Japanese audio tracks; English subtitles; Region 1.

DVD Extras: Theatrical trailers; textless openings and endings; Mobile Suit Encyclopedia.
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