Reviewby Christopher Macdonald
Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz
DVD Special Edition
After Colony 196. A year has passed since the events that took place in the original Gundam Wing television series. Tranquility has spread throughout the Earth and the colonies are at peace. The Gundam pilots now find themselves attempting to rebuild their lives in this new era. No longer having any need for their weapons of war, they have sent their Gundams into the sun to be destroyed. But suddenly Relena Darlian, a high-ranking government official, is kidnapped by a colony with aspirations of total domination. The Gundam pilots and their allies find themselves called into action once again. The Endless Waltz continues...
Endless Waltz picks up where the Gundam Wing TV series left off (actually, the 4 part Ground Zero comic series from Viz fits in between the TV series and the movie) and as such it is recommended that the entire TV series be watched before Endless Waltz. Watching Endless Waltz before finishing the TV series will spoil some elements of the conclusion, while those who have not watched any of the TV series will have problems understanding the whole story. This is not to say that it is totally incomprehensible without first watching the TV series, just that it is somewhat easier to understand the characters motivations and such.
Being a part of the Gundam Wing series, stellar writing is not one of this movie's attributes, in fact the TV series benefits from a more developed plot. Little effort was made to solidify the story, resulting in plot holes that you could fly a Gundam through. Essentially, while the basic premise of Endless Waltz is very interesting there is very little development, Endless Waltz is just a big excuse to role out the Gundams one more time and have a few more fights.
Nonetheless, there are some interesting points in the film where a bit of back history into the Gundam Wing universe is given. Particularly into the original Project Meteor and the motivation of the Gundam pilots. Now if only I could suspend my disbelief regarding the ridiculously stupid decisions some of these supposedly intelligent characters make.
Bandai pretty much went all out when they were planning this DVD; typically when a title exists in OVA and movie form the distributors chose between releasing either the OVA or the movie, or commonly release them both separately. Bandai on the other hand decided to package and release the Endless Waltz OVA and movie on one DVD; a great value.
Ocean Studios is an excellent dubbing studio, and they are responsible for all the Gundam Wing dubs, including the movie. It is very nice to hear the exact same voices on the movie as on the series. Unfortunately Endless Waltz isn't one of Ocean's best performances; while all the actors do a decent job, some key lines come across flat and uninspired, this seems to be more the fault of the dubbing director rather than the actors themselves. All in all, the dub is fairly good, but it could have been better.
The remixed 5.1 sound track for the English dub of the movie is very nice, and the sound effects come off great, particularly during battle scenes. The Japanese track and the English track for the OVAs unfortunately are not mastered in 5.1, but they still sound very good.
The music for Endless Waltz is absolutely great, from the background music during the movie and the ending music during the conclusion and the credits, very good.
The entire Gundam Wing series has been recognized as having very good animation and Endless Waltz is no exception. The animation is very fluid and detailed with almost no noticeable instances of "lazy animation". The animation is at its best during the fight scenes where it outshines even the Gundam Wing TV series.
One major issue with this DVD is that 2 of the 3 discs I tested had serious image and sound problems towards the end of the movie. On the first disc I tested the last half hour of the movie was unwatchable. The problems on the second disc were not as bad, and only kicked in during the movies ending credits. The third disc played flawlessly from beginning to end. It would seem that there are some good and some bad copies of this disc out there, but the good news is that the defective discs work on some players. Both of the defective discs I received, while exhibiting problems on a Panasonic A-320 and a Toshiba 2108 they exhibited no problems on my Toshiba DVD-Rom and Pioneer 414 DVD player. Bandai has stated that they will replace any defective discs
As if having the OVA series and the movie on one disc wasn't enough, this DVD has a couple more nice extras. The best would have to be the "Mobile Suit Encyclopedia" which gives a short history and armament details for all the Gundams and mobile suits that appear in Endless Waltz. Next up is the picture gallery that contains five very nice images, these aren't just screen caps from the movie either, these are original pictures, very nice. If only there were more than 5. The last extra is of course the textless endings, what DVD would be complete without these? Unfortunately a lot of DVDs are coming out without the textless openings and ending these days, but Bandai has been nice enough to include the textless endings from the OVA series, there are no textless openings because there are no openings so to speak, each episode starts with the narrator providing some back history. There are only two of these as the first two episodes have the same ending, the third OVA episode has the same music as teh first two but the animation is taken from the movie's added footage.
Menus on this DVD are easy to navigate and load fast, but it can be a little difficult at times to see where the cursor is (There is no cursor, menu items become highlighted when selected). All in all, with the addition of the very nice animation and good background music, these are probably Bandai's best DVD menus to date.
Endless Waltz ships in a standard Amaray DVD case with a beautiful foil cover of Wing Zero. The DVD itself unfortunately is not as nice to look at, featuring a portrait of the five Gundam pilots which was printed at a way too low resolution and is much too grainy. Included inside the case is a folded mini poster witha nice picture of teh five pilots and Wing Zero, this is one of the pictures in the art gallery, there is a list of all the episodes and chapters on the side of the poster.
Although Endless Waltz can be viewed without first viewing teh Gundam Wing series, I don't recommend it. If you are curious about Gundam Wing, start with the series, it includes proper introductions to the whole scenario and the characters which teh movie does not. If you are already a fan of Gundam Wing, wait until you have seen the enitre series before picking up a copy of Endless Waltz, otherwise you'll spoil the ending of the series.
Overall : B
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : A
+ Cool Action scenes, great Mecha combat, nice animation and art.
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