Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: A-
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 29.95
- Running time: 180
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Special Edition
By Chris Beveridge
February 26, 2001
Release Date: February 26, 2001
What They Say
AC 196. One year after the end of the Gundam Wing television series. Now, peace has spread through the Earth Sphere and the colonies are at peace. The Gundam pilots now find themselves attempting to rebuild their lives in this new era. And no longer having need of their weapons of war, they have sent their Gundams into the sun to be destroyed. But suddenly, Relena Darlian, who has become a high-ranking government official, is kidnapped by a colony with aspirations of total dominance. The Gundam pilots and their allies find themselves called into action once again. The Endless Waltz has resumed?The Review!
Now this is an anime disc that truly deserves to be called a special edition if only for the extra effort went into providing fans of Gundam Wing with the best of both worlds. Endless Waltz was originally released as a 3 part OVA series and then had itself spliced into a movie format (1.33:1) with some new footage. Instead of choosing one over the other and thereby alienating somebody, they've put both on here, bringing the running time to just under a cool three hours.
For our primary review, we watched the movie version in Japanese 2.0.Audio:
The audio here isn't necessarily tricky, but there's a few limitations. The movie version can be listened to in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 while the OVA's get both English and Japanese 2.0. If you've got a 5.1 setup, you'll enjoy a lot of the action sequences in the movie version but won't miss anything if you don't have 5.1 as it'll downmix to a 2.0 track. Listening to the Japanese track we were pretty happy with how it sounded. Directionality across the front soundstage had some great moments with all the mobile suit action while dialogue came across loud and clear. This is a great sounding disc in any of the languages you choose (and yes, we do happen to like the dub). Video:
To some extent, I don't think the video here is quite up to the standards of the TV series, which features one of the better looking transfers out there and is progressive to boot. That doesn't mean that this is bad by any stretch, as the only problems I really had with it was the rainbows that flitted about the characters. But rainbows are always variable and depends upon the viewer who may not see any while others see nothing but the rainbows. Popping the disc into my Apex player, the rainbows are hardly noticeable but still there around the edges. Colors are very solid and vibrant throughout and the OVA quality animation really shines through here. There's no visible nicks or scratches in the program (though you will see the black dot that indicates a reel change in the movie version). A very shiny disc indeed.Packaging:
Speaking of shiny... the cover used for the SE has a really nice rainbow reflected surface (so you too can see rainbows!) that will really stand out on a shelf and catch the eye. Wing Zero takes the center stage with the feathers falling around it. The back also follows this style with the reflection and has a really nice shot of all the boys together posing in their Preventers outfits. The summary is short and to the point while the credits read in traditional Hollywood style. The insert has a great foldout from what is probably one of the LD covers, and is also featured in the image gallery on the disc.Menus:
With this release I think Bandai's really started mastering their access times and menu transitions to have a really slick looking menu that works great. The main menu has Wing Zero in the center with small snowflakes falling around it, while all the selections are below it. Submenus are laid out nicely and when you select the audio, it tells you which versions are available for play with it. Very nice done and almost elegant looking in style.Extras:
There's a fair amount of extras here, depending on how deep you dig. The nice ones, especially for those who only watch the movies, is the OVA's textless endings. The image gallery has some great looking shots, but where the really sweet pictures are is in the MS Encyclopedia. Picking the suit of your choice, you get all the data on it as well as various pieces of artwork focusing on that particular suit. Some really great looking pictures in there.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
If you haven't seen the full TV series, don't read the content review. Seriously. It picks up a year after the end of the TV series and builds upon the climactic events of it.
For those who have seen the series in its entire run, the OVA series feels something of a mixed bag. In one sense I was really glad to see more new stuff with the boys and their Gundams, but in another sense it all felt rather rushed compared to the sprawling feel of the TV series itself.
The show starts in AC196, a year after the end of the war that brought everyone together in peace and harmony. The new government is celebrating with their new President, and just about everyone seems to be really upbeat about things. Quatre and Duo are prepping a storage ship to enter the sun that contains their Gundams as well as Trowa's and Heero's. They've all realized their place in the new world, as well as the lack of need for the Gundams, and have decided to part ways with them. Wu Fei, being who he is, has been unseen for a long time now and has kept his Gundam.
Things are all going hunky dory at this point. Noin and Lady Une now head up a group called the Preventers which works for the new united government to try and prevent wars and other flare ups. Relena has moved up to a Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. Most of the Gundam boys have gone into various jobs, with Trowa being the most obvious being back in his circus act.
During the celebration however, things go quite awry. Relena is kidnapped while at one of the colonies. The Barton Corporation proves to be entangled deep with someone who is intent on seeking independence from this new government and uses the companies money to build tons of mobile suits and mobile dolls. The celebration proves to be the perfect time to do it as well. With swift moves, the colony is taken under control and the Preventers begin their job of heading to the colony to save it. The boys go into overdrive in trying to retrieve their Gundams and dealing with the new enemy suits.
But not all is as it seems, as the upstart ruler is not what was expected. The seven year old girl named Mariemaia introduces herself and her plans; to follow in the footsteps of her father and complete his dreams. Who is he? None other than Treize himself. Mariemaia definitely has the look and the coldness about her while still having some hint of the charm, even at such a young age.
The show then progresses to run through the cycle of why wars happen and whose real responsibility it is to prevent them and to hold the peace, soldiers or citizens. Wu Fei throws in his lot with the Mariemaia forces as this question is the most pressing to him, which brings him into direct conflict with his old comrades.
In terms of the story, I've got mixed feelings about it. It feels sort of tacked onto the end of the TV series as an excuse to get some more cool toys made and make some great looking animation. The plot at times really does feel secondary to the animation and depending on how you view the ending of the TV series, something that doesn't really feel in the same theme of it.
There's also a fair amount of backhistory provided for the series in the revelation of what Operation Meteor was really supposed to be all about. This comes when you meet the original Trowa Barton and learn about his desires to avenge Heero Yuy. It's all rather interesting, but I'll have to give the full TV series another viewing to see if it really fits in all that concisely with it or whether it's a revisionist thing.
This show really does shine in the absolutely stunning fight sequences, especially in the space ones with the Tallgeese and the Wing Zero. The animation is gorgeous and amazingly fluid and vibrant. If the show really is nothing more than just an excuse for more Gundam fights, I'm not about to complain when they're executed this beautifully.
The only downside to this release is the fact that a good many people aren't going to be able to watch it for many months until the TV series finishes its release on DVD. But when it does and they're left hungry for more, Endless Waltz will definitely fill that void.
Good show, great disc, excellent stuff.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language (OVA only),English 5.1 Language (Movie only),English Subtitles
MS Encyclopedia,Textless Endings,Gallery
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.