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:
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:
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.