If you’re a 90’s kid, there’s a good chance that the Gundam anime was a big part of your childhood. The franchise’s cultural and commercial impact was inescapable at the time, and it continues to stretch to this day with new Gundam-related products being released every single year. 2017 is looking particularly exciting for Gundam fans. Not only is there an excellent new game on PS4, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is getting a Blu-ray release for the first time in the US.
Today, we are looking at the quality of both upcoming collections released by Right Stuf, and how well the show holds up after all these years. As with most of our recent anime reviews, we now largely focus on the technical aspects of the release to determine overall quality. Especially when it comes to re-releases of popular franchises, going into narrative specifics is best reserved for independent discussions. Gundam Wing’s plot has been dissected in more detail than I’ll ever be able to summarize, so instead, I want to see how much the move to Blu-ray impacts the experience.
Overview & Highlights:
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Collection 1 and Collection 2 will release on Nov 7, and the pre-orders are now live on the RightStuf site, as well as Amazon. Prices are currently reduced and sit between $42.89 (Amazon) and $48.74 (Right Stuf). Considering that the base price is $74.99 per set outside the sale, this is a superb value! Each collection ships with 4 discs, and both collections equal to a whopping 1225 Minutes (or 20.4 hrs) of viewing time.
Both collections display in 1080p at their native 4:3 ratio. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Collection 1 contains episodes 1-25 and collection 2 has episodes 26-49. Set 1 features clean openings 1 & 2 and a clean ending, while set 2 has clean openings 3 & 4 and a Japanese commercial collection. Both collections have Japanese LPCM Stereo, English LPCM Stereo and English subtitles. The cover flipside has additional art and episode listings for an easier overview.
Image & Audio Quality:
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing originally aired in 1995. Twenty two years is a very long time, but the series’ timeless mecha designs and charismatic artstyle hold up wonderfully, and the Blu-ray version delivers impressive benefits for both longtime fans and anyone who’s been curious about Gundam’s 90’s era. The 4:3 ratio is an undeniable distraction for video purists, but thankfully, the near-flawless transfer quality gives the series new life.
"Noise and artifacts are reduced to a minimum here, and it’s nice to see that none of the clean up work has affected the organic nature of the hand-drawn linework."
Colors are rich and vibrant with inky blacks giving outer space scenes a great sense of depth and visual pop. The animation doesn’t hold up particularly well in 2017, but it’s important to remember how quickly these episodes were animated back in the 90’s. The necessity for shortcuts is particularly evident in action scenes that shift to outer space and are void of much environmental detail, basically the majority of the second half.
Noise and artifacts are reduced to a minimum here, and it’s nice to see that none of the clean up work has affected the organic nature of the hand-drawn linework. The move to HD is an unquestionable improvement in presentation that genuinely improves the experience.
"Twenty two years is a very long time, but the series’ timeless mecha designs and charismatic artstyle hold up wonderfully."
The audio is a little tricky here because US dubbing in the 90’s was pretty disastrous, and while the Blu-ray release of Gundam Wing introduces much cleaner-sounding voices, the poor English dialogue is still difficult to stomach. The Japanese voice acting is on another level, and it completely transforms the show into something much more engaging. The LPCM Stereo is crisp and clear, and watching the show with a modern sound system is a colossal improvement over the crappy CRT TV most of us grew up with over two decades ago.
Both collections are slim on extras. Aside from clean openings and closings, the only other extra feature is a collection of Japanese commercials on the second set. I’m surprised there aren’t any interviews or art galleries as it would have made both collections a more complete package.
Conclusion: The two Mobile Suit Gundam Wing collections on Blu-ray are the most enjoyable way to experience the series, whether you’re a fan or newcomer. The Blu-ray quality is excellent, albeit conservative on extras, and it’s currently being sold at an unbeatable price!
"The two Mobile Suit Gundam Wing collections on Blu-ray are the most enjoyable way to experience the series, whether you’re a fan or newcomer."
I know that everyone has their favorite Gundam series entry, but I think it’s fair to say that Gundam Wing is the perfect blend between the Yoshiyuki Tomino’s original 80’s masterpiece and the newer-generation Gundam 00. The important thing here is to keep your expectations in check. The show’s age is immediately apparent, but its charisma and style remains timeless.
From a purely technical perspective, both collections are a wonderful addition to Right Stuf’s impressive anime lineup. I wish there were more extras for longtime fans like myself, but it’s still nice to have a focused and impressively remastered collection of one of the most influential anime series in the world. Just make sure you stick with the Japanese dialogue because the English voice acting is far worse than I remember it.
Final Score: A-