Mobile Suit Gundam is one of the most beloved and established franchises in the anime world. The influence that the giant mechs have had is so great, that it established many of the tropes we see in science fiction anime today. Similarly, many of us who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s may have actually been exposed to New Mobile Suit Gundam Wing before any other anime, setting a pretty high bar for what we expect in our entertainment (it did for me). The intrigue, the stylized violence, and the alternative timeline from the rest of the franchise just added to the cool factor of the show. The heroes and villains were almost entirely multi-dimensional and we found ourselves loving them every bit.
Gundam Wing is one of the most thoroughly fleshed out series to ever be released under the franchise. It took the world’s established order and turned it on its head, making something cool and unique. It is easily among the most political of the Gundam animes. If you haven’t seen an episode of it, you should because it is mind blowing. Here are 15 facts about Gundam Wing you might have missed.
15 The Rebellion Is Built On A Lie
First things first, Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz was a fantastic movie and was a good send off to the series, but it left a few questions which needed to be answered. Among those questions is just who the child-leader of the Rebellion really was. Mariemaia Khushrenada, a seven year old who was raised as the granddaughter to the Barton family patriarch, led the whole thing in name only. What's more is the blatant fact that she was built up to be the illegitimate daughter of Treize, something many fans still believe to this day. If you pay attention to dialogue and the timing of events, it is plain to see that she cannot be the Duke of Oz’s daughter simply because he died well before she could have been conceived, unless humans in space have drastic reproduction changes (unlikely). She was a random orphan child fashioned into a puppet.
14 Numbers Play An Important Role
For the linguistically inclined of Gundam fans, you may have noticed the vast array of names derived from numbers across the language spectrum. What is sort of odd about this is that there doesn’t seem to be much consistency in terms of why all the main characters have them, Lady Une, Heero Yuy, Treize Khusrenada, and Chang Wufei seem to be the most clearly defined. After doing some research, as I only know the Japanese I learned in Kendo, the importance of Heero was completely given away by his name which roughly translates to “Superior One.” Knowing this, it seems a bit trivial to have the main interest of Treize be Lady Une (Lady One); it now feels like they were trying to force some sort of greater comparison between Heero and Treize, which falls flat but who cares? Gundam Wing is Awesome.
13 Duality Is A Central Theme
The plot device of dualism is generally a no-go zone, but in the case of Gundam, they made it completely fresh again. The two central-most characters, Heero and Treize, feature this trope to the greatest extent; Treize more so than Heero. Treize is a man who is deeply hurt by those deaths he is responsible for, but he justifies it by thinking that he is working towards a better future. That sets him apart from the vast majority of villains who try to make a future that they’d consider better because Treize shows that he is human and not some easily replaceable monster. The sadness really sets in when you realize that ultimately, Treize wins in the end because the world becomes a much better place, just not totally how he saw it.
12 A Sequel To Endless Waltz Which May Have Ruined The Franchise
Whenever a sequel comes out, it rarely is as good as the previous addition; Endless Waltz (thankfully) was a primary example of how a sequel should be. Where fans are divided is the sequel to the sequel, namely New Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Frozen Teardrop; it’s a real mouthful to say. This novel takes place between two and three decades after the end of Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz with a more straight forward plot than the original series.
[BEWARE OF SPOILERS]
Heero awakens on Mars Colony and has to save his love interest, ultimately saving her, and secretly marrying her. Fans generally agree on this being the weakest entry to the series, but its impact is hotly debated. Most think it was so bad that it nearly destroyed the creditability of the series, personally, I think it was a nice wrap up to everything.
11 Treize Was Bested, He Did Not Surrender
The death of Treize at the hands of Chang Wufei is one of the most hotly contested questions by fans, and so I’m here to set the record straight: Treize was beaten fairly by the better combatant. The skill and finesse that Treize demonstrated throughout the series can only have been matched by Chang, the best of the Gundam pilots. If you watch the battle, you’ll note that the Duke of Oz was unable to adequately guard against a number of Wufei’s’s attacks and was unable to truly gain the upper hand. This frustrated Treize who saw that it was necessary to do a Hail Mary last ditch attack, which blew up in his face. He wasn’t angry or upset that he was bested by the greatest Mobile Suit pilot in the world; it actually relieved him and allowed him to die with clear conscience.
10 The Timeline Is Not As Alternate As You Think
Most of us know that each series in Mobile Suit Gundam takes place within the same continuity, for the most part, however, Gundam Wing is one of those which isn’t in the main timeline. What is most odd about this is that there are blatant allusions to the main timeline throughout the series, particularly relating to particles, fuel, and some specific events which are vaguely alluded to. This gives credence to a fan theory that the alternate timeline diverge from a common point found in all Gundam series. It would be pretty cool if this is the case, only the creators actually know this for sure. If those references are just “Easter Eggs” or serious plot considerations, it’s pretty cool that they included them in the show.
9 Dark Parody Of The Wizard Of Oz
Allusions to literature are nothing new for television shows, and Gundam Wing is no different. The central story to this timeless series is firmly rooted in Lyman Frank Baum’s books the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the Marvelous Land of Oz. It may be difficult to discern for a number of people, especially without the naming conventions in the show, but thankfully they had those. If you pay close attention to the characters and names of political entities, you’ll notice that there are a number of references to those two books. Although it is a highly darkened version of what the wizard wants in the first book, Treize Khusrenada serves the role quite faithfully. You want to hate him, but you can’t, you accept that his vision is wrong but you are sympathetic to his motives.
8 Production Was So Rough, It Nearly Burnt Out Two Directors
This is one of the more known “secrets” of the Gundam franchise, but it is still completely and utterly shocking. During production there was a huge burn out on the part of the original director, Ikeda Masashi. This burn out seemed spontaneous and forced the company to call in a hasty replacement, Takamatsu Shinji. That was not the only part of the troubles caused by the sudden departure of Ikeda. One of the most infuriating aspects of this is that Takamatsu Shinji was never found in the credits after he took over the role of director, instead the credit still went to Ikeda. Thankfully for us, the show turned out to be absolutely killer in just about every way. Shinji would go on to direct the next entry in the series, After War Gundam X.
7 Only One Gundam Remains
Okay, so this more of a neat little factoid than anything else, but Trowa Barton is the only pilot whose mobile suit remained almost intact throughout the series. Seriously, go back and watch the show and the movie and you’ll see that Heavyarms never gets totaled; it only receives minor scrapes, burns, puncture holes, and the like. This one Gundam is one tough metal encrusted cookie. Heavyarms is a prime example of grade A science fiction engineering. You might now be asking, “Why didn’t we see it get completely and utterly destroyed at any point outside of the end of Endless Waltz?” Good question, faithful reader! Trowa’s role in the Gundam outfit seems to be more akin to a support role, providing heavy fire when necessary to ensure that the others can charge in without too great a risk.
6 Tough Moral Questions
A highlight of Gundam Wing which few seem to realize, is that it deals very much with the difficult moral questions of what exactly is right and wrong and how to challenge the status quo. With the Gundam pilots being sent to Earth to cause destruction to bring the Earth government to its knees, we can see that there are deep seeded animosities between each faction. If you pay attention to a lot of the dialogue, you’ll find that each character questions something about what they are doing, even the villains. Treize feels remorse for all the death he’s caused, the Gundam pilots want to defeat Earth without resorting to massacring civilians, etc. The only problem is they don’t really see how to accomplish their goals without causing massive suffering.
5 Wordplay That Goes Overhead
Are you ready for the most normal thing on this list? You bet! Like a number of anime series, Gundam Wing and its sequels are victim to having a lot of wordplay, too much of it actually. This is really apparent when you look at the more pretentious characters (who we still love to death) and in the attacks that the Gundam pilots use. I understand that there is a cultural expectation in what’s happening, likely derived from certain sports and martial arts, but it gets tiresome to see and hear the names of attacks. For those of us most familiar with the excellent English dub, you will be happy to know that they cut a lot of that stuff out. I know I’m happy because it made room for more plot pushing dialogue.
4 Everyone Is A Villain At The Start
One of the absolute coolest things about Gundam Wing is the fact that almost every single character aside from Relena Peacecraft starts out as a villain. The more you learn about who the Gundam Pilots are and what their missions are (and were in some cases) you’ll learn that they cannot be the heroes you thought they were. In fact, you could make the argument that Oz starts off on a more moral footing than the Gundam boys. Since things quickly change in the series in regard to the “second” Operation Meteor is carried out, we are able to easily discern who the ultimate heroes are. It would not have made us sympathetic to the Colonies or to the Gundam pilots if they carried out either the real Operation Meteor, or the completely unaltered second version of Operation Meteor which they were instructed to do.
3 Alliance In The Shadows
Gundam Wing is no stranger to secret alliances and pacts between characters, quite honestly, it is one of the most political entries in the long running anime franchise; you might as well call it Gundam’s Deep Space 9 for the levels of political intrigue that takes place. The face that none of the characters are truly one dimensional allows for all of this to feel natural. The biggest example of this would be between Zechs and Treize Khusrenada who were working closely together since the absolute beginning of the show. This complex relationship has allowed for even the Gundam boys to adapt. My absolute favorite example of this is in Endless Waltz when Trowa Barton enlists in the army of Mariemaia in order to spy on her forces, without anyone else really knowing, save maybe Heero.
2 Trauma & Illness Are Central To Development
Often times traumatic events are used in quite cheesy ways to try and force viewers to sympathize with specific characters, thankfully the Gundam series is not one of those. Each character has some sort of Trauma in their past, Heero is the son of an executed assassin, and Relena is an orphan, etc. It really served the character development in the show. People generally appreciate the traumatic events on a micro-level, but the greatest one is the tragedy that affected the lives of the entirety of the cast; the assassination of Heero Yuy and the colonial rights movements. The whole of the known inhabited world was affected by just two events, the whole of human history altered by two events. Society had to find ways to deal with the wounds they left and not everyone was able to reach equilibrium. This was the show’s greatest strength.
1 Everything Starts With A Lie
It all started with a lie, a single lie which would have ramifications for decades, if not centuries. That lie is Operation Meteor. The death of the politician Heero Yuy on the orders of OZ did happen and his ideas were used to justify Operation Meteor. This terrorist attack was originally planned to make Earth completely uninhabitable as selected colonies would crash into the Earth’s surface and the Gundams would massacre civilians until nothing but death remained with Earth Sphere in the hands of the would-be dictator, Dekim Barton. Thankfully, this never happened thanks to a scientist who instructed the Gundam pilots to not follow through with the original order, saying that the directive had changed. This saved the lives of billions of people and allowed us to see the Gundam boys as heroes.