Gundam Week: Endless Waltz

History is much like an endless waltz. The three beats of war, peace, and revolution continue on forever.  

I am going to begin this review by saying that I walked into my rewatch of Endless Waltz with nostalgia in mind. If you want an in-depth review of the Wing series (With some important back story), check out inverseman’s excellent post.  But, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much more than rewatching a movie I enjoyed as a kid, and moving on.  What I wasn’t prepared for, was how surprising Endless Waltz would actually be.

Prior to watching this movie I had some pretty hazy memories about it, the basic idea of movie’s plot, and some basic understanding of the series it was based on. Which is funny, considering that I grew up on Wing thanks to an older brother who loved mecha anime and who was not afraid to build Gundam models with his little sister. I cannot say for sure what drew both of us to the Wing series, but it is a time in my life that I remember fondly, along with a moment when my dad walked in on us watching an episode, taking a step back and asking:

“Wait, do you kids even understand what they’re saying?”

Yes Dad, of course, we do, they’re speaking in English. Now please move out of the way, there’s going to be some explosions in just a sec…

It was not  until I gave Endless Waltz a rewatch that I understood why my father had to pause (Usually he never questioned what was going on in our animu lol).  If there is one thing I will give Endless Waltz major kudos for it is the writing; ignore the pretty boys, the intricately designed (Maybe even impractical mechs), that catchy theme song, and there’s an intricate yet tidy story about the eternal, endless struggle for war and peace  and purpose compacted into an hour or so of that lovely, retro animation.

Basically Waltz picks up where the series leaves off: the war is over and there is peace between Earth and the Colonies now bound together under the Earth Sphere Unified Nation (ESUN).  A new inter-Earth-inter-colony police force, known as the Preventers, is created to maintain order, and the Gundam pilots determine that they are not needed anymore.  They are fighters now trapped in a seemingly peaceful world; with their abilities rendered null, even dangerous, they all decide (Except Wufei, oh plot point) to send their mobile suits into the sun.

Unfortunately not even a year passes before the rebellion of colony X-18999 calls the Preventers and the Gundam pilots back to action in a final battle where mobile suits and ideals clash once more in the “endless waltz” of war, peace, and revolution.

(Okay that was very purple prosey. Like whoah. My English major is showing.)

Okay, I told you guys earlier, I’m not a reviewer. I’m a food blogger. But I digress, Endless Waltz struck me a little more emotionally, with a little more nostalgia than I anticipated.  The inner conflicts of the individual pilots as they battle with their sense of purpose is better than I remembered, a little more mature than I expected.  I’m going to especially nod to Wufei, and his questioning of the “justice” for soldiers; trained to fight, what do they do now with peace?

And then there’s also the main antagonist neatly wrapped up in the cryptic-child-that-knows-more-than-you trope, little Mariemaia Khushrenada, and her monologue when victory for her rebellion is so close (And with that creepy I-know-more-than-you kid smile:

History is much like an endless waltz. The three beats of war, peace, and revolution continue on forever.

Yeah, for all the nostalgic memories I have of watching this movie over and over again, I cannot believe I forgot those lines.  They struck me; along with so many other little gems in this movie that makes me appreciate this film all the more.

There is enough action and intelligent dialogue to tide you over (And to keep the attention of the kiddies who think they understand what is going on), and the fight scenes are superb in their own way. The Gundam pilots are as tactically advanced as always and you’ve got to admit, the stylized mechas are beautiful.  Again, arguably impractical, but when faced with the realities that Endless Waltz tries to argue, well, we’ll let them keep their fantastically designed mobile suits.  And come on, there’s nothing more iconic than Wing Zero’s angel wings (Along with feathers!) or even Deathscythe’s “bat cape”! Even Sandrock is benefitting from the overhaul (And no it wasn’t added in because I love Sandrock, of course not)

AND — Endless Waltz would not be Endless Waltz without its signature ear-worm song: White Reflection by Two-Mix.  Much like Wing’s theme, COMMUNICATION, White Reflection is the kind of song that is unforgettable.  You might not understand the lyrics (Besides the one or two English lines), but the emotions it evokes are enough to make it clear. On top of that, it is pretty darn catchy, with an easy melody to follow…

Pair it up in its “Last Impression” version with the epilogue animation? Yeah, there is no way you can forget it, and the feel-good-slightly-bittersweet pangs it stirs in the heart. WARNING: Some minor spoilers but oh, this song is so pretty, just give it a shot:

Endless Waltz: Last Impression

So… How do I uh, conclude this rambling monster? First, I walked into Endless Waltz expecting one thing, something that my memories shaped for me of sitting on the couch and watching mobile suits destroy things.  What I came out of this rewatch, however, was a whole new experience, a feeling of rediscovery actually.  Nostalgia can help one remember things fondly, but it’s when you give it a second chance that you realize that there’s more depth, something new to see and to understand.  And when you realize that, and realize how true it actually is — how animators and writers and voice actors can create something that can shine in the present rather than in a distant memory?

Well, I give them all kudos and I hope that this dance continues: animation, words, and voice to create new, fantastic worlds that actually say a lot about our own.

Rating Breakdown
In a neat package Endless Waltz deals with the aftershocks of the war presented in Wing, while at the same time dealing with some important inner conflict amongst the Gundam pilots. All in all it presents an interesting discussion on war and peace, and sums it up rather nicely. Whether a fan of the show or not, able to keep up with the politics or not, there's enough action as well as dialogue to keep the scenes going with little extraneous exposition.
I applaud the writers for being able to keep up with a large cast of characters; each of the pilots shine as they, who seemingly only know how to kill, instead turn towards peace. The side-characters also have their own struggles, and while some enjoy very minor cameo roles, everyone is presented in some way or other.
Phenomenal with that retro-anime look and feel. Notably, the unique mobile suit designs are what sets Wing apart from other series and the extremely stylized versions in Endless Waltz only emphasize this fact.
Crisp animation with awesome battles. Nothing to complain about.
With an outstanding song like 'White Reflection', I have to say that Endless Waltz knows how to a sell a theme. Background music can get a little repetitive, but otherwise, I rank it above the series' OST. And, I am also giving props to the voice acting cast for this series; I may be a little more biased towards the English dub, but it's well-deserved. They did an excellent job bringing the characters to life.
I'm giving it nostalgia points, of course. But I'm also giving it credit for being a compelling movie; as I mentioned before I've forgotten most of my Gundam Wing knowledge, but I wasn't thrown to the wolves, so to speak. I was presented with a different conflict, and arguably a different, more mature cast, and it was overall an enjoyable experience -- even humbling in its words and its message. So yeah, I'm going to give it a pretty high rating, but I think it's well deserved. Give Endless Waltz a shot for that anime nostalgia, and for a riveting tale of war and peace.
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A would-be anthropologist, writer, food historian, and professional glutton hoping to combine fandom with her love of food. Ever wondered what a nug tasted like? Is butterbeer alcoholic? If you've asked such questions and are already drooling at the thought of a big old plate of lembas bread, then you're in the right place

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A would-be anthropologist, writer, food historian, and professional glutton hoping to combine fandom with her love of food. Ever wondered what a nug tasted like? Is butterbeer alcoholic? If you've asked such questions and are already drooling at the thought of a big old plate of lembas bread, then you're in the right place