The Great Gundam Wing Rewatch – Episodes 1 & 2
So on Dreamwidth someone with the username of nanslice decided to host a Gundam Wing rewatch. I’m not entirely sure if it was for nostalgia purposes, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Wing, or just to revive the Wing fandom (which is mostly on tumblr now), but whatever the case, I and a couple of my friends decided to embark on this great rewatch, which includes meta, and y’all know I can’t resist an excuse to meta about my favourite series ever.
This will probably be on the longer side, so click on the cut if you want to read the whole thing 😀
EDIT: I put an actual in-depth episode write up in this post if anyone is curious to see actual episode meta!
Nanslice posed some questions in the discussion post, which I will answer here, make comments in response to others, and add a bit of my own stuff.
We were introduced to a lot of characters in these two episodes, some more briefly than others. I know that most of us are watching this for the second or third time, but what were your first opinions on these characters?
I first watched Gundam Wing in 2003, so I probably don’t have a very clear picture on what my initial response was except that I really liked Heero–he was and still is my favourite of the pilots (with Duo in second). I didn’t like Wufei (this opinion was shared by many) and Relena I didn’t care for much either. I didn’t hate her but I wasn’t in love with her…for a long time I was struck with ambivalence for her. But even though it’s just a glimpse that we get of the characters, we can see a general look at their personalities, such as Trowa’s seriousness when it comes to battle, Quatre’s kindness in the fact that he offered the enemy a chance to surrender (and even apologised for killing them), and Wufei’s confidence in himself.
There’s also Zechs, who has a flair for the dramatic, both in his mannerisms and his speech (especially his speech–seriously, “battle seeds sprouting into new battles”?), and though Treize is supposed to be somewhat of an antagonist (there isn’t a clear line between good guy and villain in Gundam Wing, like real life, there’s just shades of grey), he is very poignant when he asks the men he meets with, “Are you concerned about the soldiers’ lives that were wasted, or the mobile suits that were destroyed?”
The focus, of course, is on Heero, who is our main protagonist. Zechs describes him as “intense”, he comes off like a scared animal when Relena stumbles upon him on the shoreline, hiding his face so she can’t identify him later and running off in the first vehicle he can (an ambulance, which isn’t very subtle at all). On his journey to Earth, he comes off as almost cocky–“I’ll escape, no problem,” he says, when confronted with an OZ carrier tailing him–and kind of crazy since he laughs after killing two soldiers (there are different theories as to why he laughs, which will be discussed later). Once we meet him in Saint Gabriel’s and he’s introduced to the class, he gives off the aura that he doesn’t want to be bothered with anyone, for everyone to leave him alone. Stand-offish. Cocky. “Don’t talk to me” is the message he gives off when he sits next to Relena.
Heero rips up the invitation in a now famous scene, the scene that everyone remembers, especially the exchange between Relena and Heero that leads to his infamous, “Omae wo korosu/I’ll kill you,” line. Relena’s already seen him on the beach–she knows too much. The last thing Heero wants is for her to end up digging herself into a deeper, bigger grave by getting to know him, getting too close to him, so he pushes her away (or tries to anyway), hoping that ripping the invitation up will be enough. But it’s not.
Why does Relena pursue someone who’s been so mean to her? Because she can tell one thing about Heero: he’s lonely. So is Relena. Yes, Relena is surrounded by all sorts of admirers, but that’s all they are–admirers. They don’t know the real Relena Darlian. Her father is always away for business. She is “alone in a crowded room”, so to speak. So here comes this boy who is so unlike everyone else at her school, who doesn’t care about who she is, who her father is, or anything about her. All her admirers call her “Miss Relena/Relena-sama”, flit around her, but not Heero–Heero calls her Relena (in episode two) without the honourific, and he’s not groveling at her feet for an invitation to her birthday party.
This also calls reference to Relena’s chapter in Episode Zero, where there was a boy (that boy is actually Heero) who enrolled at her school and her classmates treated him poorly because he “looked poor” and thus didn’t belong at such a prestigious school. They shunned him, and Relena never approached him, though she had wanted to. By the time she gathered the gumption to do so, he was gone, and she regretted not getting to know him and not saying something sooner to her classmates about their treatment of him. So when the opportunity comes for Relena to treat a new student who obviously doesn’t fit in right, she does it. This chapter is also where Relena’s “My name is Relena Darlian, what’s yours?” line comes from.
She wants to know exactly what Heero is involved with that forces him to come off as this cold, uncaring person when she can tell that this isn’t how he really is. The audience even gets a glimpse of how Heero really is:
Heero right before he draws his gun on Relena in episode 2.
Heero’s been alone for a good portion of his life and everyone who’s gotten too close has had something terrible happen to him. If Relena gets too close, he’s going to have to kill her–no one can learn his secrets, although the secret is a worst kept one anyway since the Alliance found out about it without much difficulty. He doesn’t want to have to kill her, but in the next shot Heero’s pulled his gun out on her after reining in his emotions.
As for the standoff between Heero, Duo, and Relena in episode two… Relena is aware of what Heero is doing for the most part–she knows he has something to hide, she knows that he’s not necessarily a threat to her just yet–but you have an outsider to the situation come in at probably not such a great time (pointing a gun at someone makes you look like the bad guy). Duo doesn’t have any context when he comes across Heero and Relena. He has no idea why they’re there or what they’re even doing there, just that Heero has a gun pointed at Relena and the trigger is about to be pulled. So Duo does what he thinks is right based on what he sees and shoots Heero in the arm in an attempt to disarm him. You can’t blame Duo for being confused when Relena wonders why the hell he just shot at Heero, but it wouldn’t make any more sense even if Relena had explained things to him.
*deep breath* Okay. That hits up the discussion questions… Let’s see what else there is to say. 😀
I am not a huge fan of Zechs’ mask-helmet thing. The reason given (in Episode Zero) is that Zechs has some kind of facial deformity, hence the mask. Which would be all fine and dandy except for the fact that it’s a mask and helmet in one. What’s the point of the helmet? (Safety first?) What happens if he has to wear a space suit visor? Does he find one that fits over his mask-helmet? Or does he take that off? Naturally we don’t get to see him wear a visor until after the helmet breaks and shows his face, but that’s something I’ve always wondered. In the audio commentary for the blurays, the seiyuu for Heero and Treize (Midorikawa Hikaru and Okiayu Ryoutarou) spend a good portion of the time making fun of it and explaining how stupid it looks, so I’m not the only one who questions what were they thinking?
Another thing I’ve always wondered: how the hell does Heero know how to ride a horse? In the discussion thread, different reasons are offered, mostly that Heero applies what he knows about piloting a Gundam and modifies it to fit different situations, such as driving a vehicle or riding a horse apparently. It’s either that or Heero is just some horse whisperer, and since horses can smell fear (and also evil) and Heero is riding that horse like he grew up on a ranch, so he must be okay. I can’t see Dr J going, “By the way, you need to know how to ride a horse, it’s part of your soldier training.” Fencing I can kind of see because if you replace a fencing foil with, say, a pipe, you can murder someone. But that could also be a case of Heero applying what he knows of something else to a different but similar situation.
Episode one makes me wish that Episode Zero was animated or that it was at least easier to get a hold of nowadays. Between the “Star Prince” title (which is what Zechs introduced himself to Relena as being called in her Episode Zero chapter), to her introduction after Heero drives off in an ambulance…
“Star Prince” is also a literary reference to The Little Prince. There are a ton of literary and historical references and allusions in Gundam Wing, the biggest one being The Wizard of Oz.
Heero’s cackling omfg. Okay. I always went by him being high on adrenalin from, you know, killing two soldiers (so then they can’t report to base that they saw what may or may not be a Gundam, despite that being a futile effort anyway since the Alliance already knows), but outside of a few incidents, Heero hasn’t really been involved in a full out war. He’s never intentionally killed anyone. Having said that, he kills two people, and he laughs at it like a thirteen year old playing Call of Duty for the first time. This is the first of three times where Heero laughs maniacally, but if I remember correctly, this is the only time Heero laughs directly after killing someone.
There is also the fact that some people, when confronted with distressing situations, laugh instead of act appropriately (e.g. laughing at a funeral instead of crying). Stress can make you laugh, too many feel good chemicals in your brain can make you a little manic. But after the first few kills, you get used to it, so you don’t get those endorphins anymore and maybe that’s when you realise, “Gee, I’m killing people and that’s not really enjoyable.” Food for thought.
I may add more thoughts at some other point, but I think I’ve covered what I want to (for now).