By Andrew Osmond.
This is not the place to start for any newcomers to Gundam Wing. Endless Waltz is the last chapter of the Gundam Wing story, following on directly from the final TV episode (part 49). The TV series is already available from Anime Limited, and we wrote it up here. The TV Gundam Wing doesn’t end on any kind of cliff-hanger – it has a clear resolution, but the show is complex enough, and its conflicts deep enough, to warrant one more adventure. Anyway, fans love giving their favourite characters an encore.
To talk about the film story will involve huge SPOILERS for how the series ended, so be warned.
Endless Waltz was released in two different versions in Japan – a three-part video miniseries which was released first, followed by a movie-length version which added some scenes. They’re both included on Anime Limited’s edition, and they tell the same story, set a year after the end of the war between Earth and the space colonies.
It’s peacetime now, and the mass disarming even extends to giant robots. We see Quatre and Duo solemnly loading their Gundams into a disposal satellite, together with the Gundams provided by Heero and Trowa, and dispatching them all on a one-way course into the sun. The peace seems secure, though the boys don’t know why their Chinese comrade Chang never replied to the request to send his Gundam suit…
Minutes into the film, though, it’s clear that not everyone wants this peace. The show’s heroine Relena, now a diplomat, is visiting a young space colony when she’s kidnapped by two strangers. One is a pre-teen girl who dresses and acts like a literal little Hitler; she claims to be the officially-dead daughter of Treize, Wing’s main villain. The girl’s called Mariemaia, and she’s supported by the grizzled soldier Dekim Barton, who’s another blast from the past. He was involved in the original construction of the Gundams, back in the days when they were intended to destroy Earth. Now, with Earth disarmed, it’s the ideal time for Dekim to strike again.
If you’re wondering about Dekim’s family name, he was the father of the “real” Trowa Barton – who’s glimpsed briefly in flashback in this film – whose identity was assumed by the youth we know as Trowa in Gundam Wing. (The real Trowa was a far nastier piece of work.) Dekim also claims to be Mariemaia’s grandfather, on her mother’s side. Mariemaia herself may remind today’s viewers of the tyrannical little girl in the anime Saga of Tanya the Evil. However, she feels like a callback to an earlier Gundam series, 1985’s Zeta Gundam, which also had a (female) child ruler being used as a quasi-royal figurehead.
And so the conflict is renewed, and we shouldn’t spoil much about it. Of course, it’s a way to bring back a horde of favourite characters one last time. There’s one particular character you’ll all be wondering about; of course he’s back. The story is also a way to address unresolved feelings, to bring separated characters together again, and let troubled warriors work through unfinished issues. There’s a lot of weight on Heero, as you’d expect, including an especially dark flashback to his wartime past, when he learned the meaning of collateral damage. Chang also has a pivotal role, taking him a different way from his former comrades.
The Gundam franchise is known for presenting giant robots believably, redefining mecha anime. But it also has a tradition of reflecting on war, and how conflicts seemingly never end, only reconfigure. Endless Waltz references that in its name, with characters arguing if there can ever truly be lasting “peace” in the world. This theme would carry forward explicitly to 2007’s Gundam 00, which is set in another of Gundam’s multiple realities, and has another team of boy Gundam pilots making war on war itself. The series is also available from Anime Limited.
Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz is released in the UK by Anime Limited.