Gundam Wing is to the great peace-and-war debate what Neon Genesis Evangelion is to psychological analysis. That is to say, shockingly and stupefyingly under-researched garbage. It's all spark and no substance; paper-thin proclamations of bringing peace through specious means and feeble attempts at explaining how ginormous mechs represent the future of humanity.
Now, Gundam politics or "Sunrise politics" have never been known for classy, though-provoking intrigue. But Gundam Wing seems to go out of its way to make that point painfully apparent by queuing up one political/philosophical pratfall after another on a conveyor belt feeding into the forge of frustration. When I say the politics are painful, they are painful as in irrelevant, sophomoric slush on a stick. Most of the time, it has to do with the fact that everyone preaching peace right out their highminded bumflaps while simultaneously ordering the deaths of thousands. Seriously, watch closely, and you'll hear characters contradict their own ideals in the same bloody episode. It's dogmatic drivel at its absolute worst: immature and horribly inconsistent.
No one, and I mean no one (including the leaders of antagonistic factions), has any motivation that couldn't be described as laughable for any of their actions. It's just kind of hard to get behind the characters when their trains of thought are about as anchored as the Flying Pussyfoot.
That being said, if you just shut out all the shrill political and philosophical bleating, there's one hell of a fine action show to be had here. The characters are relatively stock, but are lively, expressive, and well-rounded.
Heero is proto-Sousuke Sagara with his all-business hypercompetence making him grade-A spotlight-material. Duo is delightfully brash with only the merest hint of arrogance. Trowa says one line per episode, thus playing the silent-badass-with-a-heart-of-gold card perfectly straight. And Quatre is the requisite angst vector, but luckily his fount of whine isn't exaggerated to the point of irritation like we see all too often. Pretty decent crop for a bunch of bishounen ace pilots.
Except for Wu Fei. Yeah, he's basically a contemptible, misogynistic prick who seems unable to form a sentence that doesn’t consist of the words "strong" or "weak." I don't give a toss about you, Wu Fei. Please go die.
How I feel about Wu Fei
Okay, so admittedly, these pilots are emotionally frail and underdeveloped, but that's par for the course for anything out of the Gundam franchise because, as always, the cool-factor swoops in to save the day. And speaking of the cool-factor, yes, the action scenes are sharp, clean, and intense, especially when backed by a satisfyingly operatic, rousing, epic score.
But what's tragic is that the series doesn't play to its strengths of dynamic action and instead stubbornly shoves politics to the forefront; presumably to artificially lengthen a ramshackle-plot that only the overcredulous would buy. I, for one, was definitely more interested in the little day-in-the-limelight stories that crop up whenever our heroes get separated from one another than the dippy political struggle literally hemorrhaging hot-air and fluff out of its bloated frame. The human element is there, but it's unfortunate that it doesn't receive the attention it so richly deserves.
Gundam Wing is a show where the limit as brain approaches off equals two thumbs up. While minds may find themselves unwelcome at this party, eyes, ears, and heck, maybe even hearts will be gorging themselves silly on what is viewed as the matriarch of mecha, State-side in the 1990s.
So yes, I thought it was good. Happy?