There are two basic opinions shared amongst mecha fans about the
Gundam Wing series thus far. One side enjoys all of the political and philosophical themes present in the series while the other is tired of all the talk and yearns for more battles and gundams beating the crap out of each other. Though I do agree that Gundam Wing should contain just a little more action, with volume 5 hitting the halfway point, things do seem to be getting quite more interesting in terms of both action and story development.
Trowa Barton finally makes his first appearance on the cover after Heero's odd return last volume. The cover looks nice, featuring his old Gundam and the woman he worked with at the circus on Earth. The picture is a little brighter than usual which does seem a little odd considering the tone and setting of the show, especially with this volume. This isn't necessarily bad, just odd.
The menu style is the same as the last four volumes. Where it feels as if you're in a mobile suit yourself and are looking at various computer screens. Despite the menu's flashy looks, they all, thankfully, move fast and are a pleasure to browse. Extras contained within the menus are several character bios and a few trailers for upcoming Bandai shows. Nothing special.
English dubbing is handled by the Ocean Group, which has become quite popular lately due to all the shows they've done that have ended up on TV. Gundam Wing features one of the better dubs I've heard in a while; the voice acting is proficient and the actual voices for the characters fit just fine.
With Trowa now working for the supposed enemy, Oz, things are finally starting to become more interesting again. Gundam pilot Heero has been captured by Oz and is used to fight in a new Gundam type against several enemy attacks. The leaders of these enemy attacks may come as a surprise to you and, depending on whether or not you've allowed yourself to become absorbed by Gundam Wing, these battles can be quite entertaining as well. I was enthralled, especially with the one on one fight during the last episode of this disc.
The non-action scenes are quite entertaining as well; as opposed to all being long and boring philosophical dribble. Secondary characters, such as Lady Une and Quatre, have episodes dedicated to them and are fleshed out a bit more. Quatre finally reunites with his family their reaction to his role with the Gundams is very interesting. Also, as mentioned above, since Trowa is now working for Oz, suspicion has aroused, questioning whether or not he really did betray the rest of his gundam pilot allies.
Animation quality is high as usual. The highly detailed and gargantuan mechanized suits maneuver around and fight with style. Also, all battles during this volume are fought in space, as opposed to the ground battles featured up until now. The presence of this new atmosphere (or lack thereof) brings a refreshing, new feel to the series. With 20 episodes already in the bag, it was a good move to stir things up a bit and keep viewers from getting into the "been there, done that" mind set.
If you've been collecting all of the Gundam Wing volumes so far, there's no reason to stop now. While volume five probably isn't going to win anyone new over, if you're already a fan, it gets nothing but better. Secondary characters are finally becoming more developed and the story is progressing quite well. For the Gundam Wing fans, this is a good buy.