Reviewby Lauren Orsini,
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz Glory of the Losers
In the year After Colony 195, humanity lives not only on Earth, but in a series of space colonies. But after all the world's nations combine to create the United Earth Sphere Alliance, they use their comparative military might to oppress the space colonists under the guise of peacekeeping. The colonies have had their autonomy and their voice in current events revoked—but not all is lost. The seeds of revolution are about to be planted as five young mobile suit pilots get ready to implement a daring plan known only as “Operation Meteor.”
Earlier this year, Vertical, Inc. announced that it had acquired the license to Gundam Wing: The Glory of Losers to much fanfare. Following its previous, highly successful release of the 12-part Gundam: The Origin manga, it'd be no wonder if fans expected more of the same. However, Gundam Wing: The Origin, this ain't.
Instead, this is an abrupt journey through a hodgepodge of scenes taken from the OVA Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, the manga Gundam Wing: Episode Zero and the novel series Gundam Wing: Frozen Teardrop. And rather than an especially deep dive into the material, it's more like the Cliff Notes version. All but the most dedicated Gundam Wing fans will have difficulty parsing this story's out-of-order scenes. Beautiful art and dynamic action scenes hardly make up for a piecemeal storyline that offers barely anything new about the After Colony universe.
The story begins with a focus on my favorite character, Duo Maxwell. One tantalizing illustration hints at Duo's past, but we apparently don't have time for that. Instead, we follow Duo as he retraces his steps through his most familiar storylines, portrayed here in rapidfire succession and little detail. His first meeting with Heero—which he attempts to save Relena from Heero's gunshot, only for Relena to comfort Heero and make Duo feel like the bad guy—is like a microcosm for this story's alternative logic. Just like Duo reading the mood incorrectly, the reader may feel like they're missed out on something important.
And if the reader hasn't already familiarized themselves with the Gundam Wing canon, they'll definitely be lost. This is a story that expects total recognition on the reader's part. Duo Maxwell's name is not even introduced for 15 pages. If you do not already know that Gundam Wing is about five boys piloting five Gundams, this manga isn't going to bother explaining that to you. Instead, it's a highlight reel that will refresh hardcore fans on the stuff they should already know.
The only thing I found brand new in this manga was a scene between Doctor J and a young Treize that I won't spoil here. Everything else was familiar, if out of order. The patchwork finally culminates in an abrupt, mid-fight ending. In Japan, Gundam Wing: The Glory of Losers was released in 13 volumes, and I have an inkling that when one is able to process the work as a whole, it probably makes a lot more sense. This sudden non-conclusion made me wish I had waited until all of the volumes were out in English.
At least the art is impeccable. I was surprised to realize that this artist is Tomofumi Ogasawara and not Shuko Murase, who did the original Gundam Wing character designs, because these visuals are comfortingly familiar. I will never get sick of the Gundam Wing universe's shtick of youthful, wide-eyed pilots contrasted with hyperrealistic weapons of war. Also gorgeously featured are Hajime Katoki's redesigns of the original Gundam Wing mobile suits. Katoki's stylized, fantasy mecha builds certainly struck a chord during Endless Waltz and you may recognize the first syllable of his name from the “Version Ka” line of Gunpla model kits, which feature creatively redesigned versions of more serious-looking suits. This bit is echoed in some of the manga's backdrops of glowing, sometimes blood-stained feathers that I'd normally associate with '90s shojo manga, and admittedly look a bit dated here. Unfortunately, the art is not well showcased by the book's paperback format, which includes just four slim, matte color pages.
Gundam Wing: The Glory of Losers is drawn beautifully, but the content will leave you with a feeling of “What the heck did I just read?” Unlike the Gundam Wing anime, which gently introduces viewers to the story, or even the Endless Waltz OVA, which provides a quickly paced story that is sensical and chronological, I'm not sure what's happening here and there are no deep-dive reveals to make it worth my time. It's a must-buy for all of the Gundam completionist collectors, but I'm not quite sure who else.
Overall : C-
Story : D
Art : B+
+ Beautiful art that fits the familiar Gundam Wing design style, enhanced by dramatic “Version Ka” illustrations of the five key mecha
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