In the first installment of this retrospective, I looked at the themes, characters, story, and execution of the Gundam Wing television series. After that was a rundown on the show’s luxuriously gratifying sequel, Endless Waltz. Now it’s time to analyze the franchise’s impact on the world, from Toonami to the US anime landscape to the Gundam metaverse as a whole.
Gundam Wing wrapped up its run on Japanese television in March of 1996, bowing out amid big explosions, memorable quotes, and a whole lot of death. And for a time it seemed like that would be the end of Wing’s alternate universe. The next spinoff series, After War Gundam X, was scheduled to hit airwaves the next month. But reception of the series had been good, model kit sales were strong, and Bandai sensed that the Wing cash cow was still alive and kicking. So less than a year later, in January of 1997, the series got a combination sequel/prequel in the form of Endless Waltz. Originally released as a three-episode miniseries, Endless Waltz provided additional backstory on the five main pilots and also introduced a new conflict in the form of Mariemaia Khushrenada, the illegitimate daughter of the TV series’ main villain.
In 1994, the Gundam metaverse got a new lease on life with Mobile Fighter G Gundam – the first time an installment in the super-robot franchise deviated from the universe established in the 1979 original, Mobile Suit Gundam. The series took the venerable Gundam name and turned it on its head. G Gundam centered on gladitatorial bravado instead of political intrigue, and showcased mechs with names like ‘Tequila Gundam’. The series was a hit in Japan, and sparked a transition from the UC (Universal Century – the timeline for the original Gundam show) to self-contained ‘spinoff’ universes connected by only one thread: big stompy robots. After G Gundam came Gundam Wing, Turn A Gundam, Gundam X, Gundam Seed, and most recently Gundam 00. But only one of those series ever made it big in the United States, and that series is Gundam Wing.
In cased you’ve missed the news, there’s a new Gundam show airing in Japan – Gundam 00. The series is set in yet another alternate universe (Anno Domini), and is currently nineteen episodes into its first season. A second season is already slated for this October, and so far its been met rather favorably overseas. That said, coming off of the disastrously annoying Gundam Seed I was highly skeptical of newer series in the Gundam universe. I was one of the (few) people who found Seed’s endless teenage angst to be infuriating. In addition, Kira was a main character that I simply couldn’t admire or even sympathize with, and I found the story mechanics to be extremely slow and repetitive. That’s just me, but hey. My article.
Advertising is vital to the life of a network, whether we like it or not. And the only reason Toonami was able to deliver the goods every week was because of the ads that ran for eight-to-nine minutes of each thirty-minute programming block. The thing is, if you look at a bunch of anime episodes you’ll see that they typically run just about 24 minutes. So where did those extra three minutes of advertising on Toonami come from? Well, aside from content edits in the actual show itself, that time was created thanks to the modified intros that Toonami used. Instead of the original 1:30 J-Pop extravaganzas, Toonami would fabricate :30 intros with totally different music and footage and use the saved time to hock Capri Suns.
As a kid I never watched much television. Movies, yeah, but I’d never been into cartoons and there weren’t any other shows I really liked. So even as an eleven-year-old there was very little reason for me to turn on the tube; when I did it usually meant I was bored out of my mind. That all changed in a single ten-minute period of time. I can remember that fateful day like it was yesterday. Has it really been eight years now? Eight years?!!