The Golden Age of Anime in the West was a time in the late 90s and early 2000s where Anime was actually on television during good hours of the day. It was a landmark moment in the history of anime fandom in the west. Before Crunchyroll, before Funimation, before Fansubs, there was this time and it was one where many people who are part of the anime community today can point to their origins, and there are several shows that came out of this time period that remains bedrocks in the history of many anime fans.
One such series is one of the few that remains untouched since it’s debut all those years ago. A series that introduced an entire genre and franchise of anime to the West, despite being already well developed back in Japan. After the cut let’s take a shallow dive into New Mobile Report Gundam Wing or simply, Gundam Wing.
Gundam Wing and its place in the history of anime fandom in the west is marrow-deep, but it also a product of its time. One of the first real alternative universe Gundam series, it is strange that we in the West got this series first, and not one of the original ones set in the Universal Century, but considering that even then, Gundam 0079 look ancient, I guess they wanted something more recent.
Gundam Wing’s story was both simple and confusing. Following the standard “Earth vs Colonies” formula that is the Gundam universe, five renegade scientists send five young soldiers down to the Earth in super advanced and powerful mobile suits called Gundams. Their plan is to fight and destroy the mysterious OZ organization which plans to unite the Earth under its rule and exert control over the space colonies. Over the 49 episode run, secrets are revealed, allegiances change, new enemies emerge, and the nature of war, the soldier and the idea of peace are all explored.
Gundam Wing was very much the first “thinking man’s” anime for many of us older fans in the west. Coupled with the “realistic and brutal” violence, actual death, and giant mechs beating the crap out of each other, it was no surprise that Gundam Wing shot to the top of the popularity charts. Looking back at it today though, after the anime fandom has seen so much more, Gundam Wing’s ideas and themes seem rather trite and unexplored. Regardless though, Gundam Wing was to many the first example of how anime and even cartoons, in general, could be used to explore deeper themes and ideas and it should be credited that. Furthermore, while they may not be as explored as something today, the ideas of being a soldier on the battlefield, the honor of war, and trying to balance your beliefs with the realities of the world still remain interesting themes that Gundam Wing tries its best to explore.
In terms of the dub, Gundam Wing’s dub is……. well it’s a product of its time. A time where Funimation wasn’t even on the radar, the Ocean Group was getting their feet on the water, and 4kids dominated the anime market with horrendous edits of shows. Despite this though, the dub isn’t irremediable, and Scott Mcneil’s Duo Maxwell and Kirby Marrow’s Trowa remain great performance from two voice actors who were only then starting to get into the anime scene. Regardless it is still shocking that Gundam Wing has yet to receive a new dub, especially considering that the other famous series of the time, including Vision of Escaflowne and Cardcaptor Sakura, have all received new dub recordings. The idea that we’ve let a series with this much significance for the Western anime fandom still not have a chance to get a proper dub remains almost criminal to me.
New Mobile Report Gundam Wing is not a series that has aged well, and it has long been overshadowed by other better series that tackle its themes in a far better manner. But Gundam Wing’s place in the history of anime fandom is unmovable and marrow-deep, and nothing can take away it’s effect on how Western fans of my generation embraced anime. It is quite simply, a piece of history, and with well-designed mecha, a still legendary opening theme and plenty of action, it was clear that Gundam Wing was going to be series that affected many and to this day, it still does. Regardless of the quality in regards to the present, that is probably the highest praise to any piece of art I can ever give, and Gundam Wing earns it without a doubt.
Just please fucking redub it already.