A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sci-fi animated series from Japan is perfect for preteens and teens, who will thrill to the elaborate "mecha" (mechanical fighting machines), the melodrama, and the attractive characters. Gundam Wing offers adolescent and teen sci-fi fans a beautifully animated and imaginative array of technological warfare, covert operations, and teen melodrama in a story that's compelling, if occasionally confusing. Children younger than that (6-8) will be enthralled with the series as well for its constant action, but parents may balk at exposing their children to the series' nonstop military combat. For American audiences, the biggest problem may be the excessive militarism and the stubborn prevalence of the Japanese notion that the highest military ideal is to die in the service of one's cause.
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What's the story?
GUNDAM WING is the first series in Japan's 21-year-old Mobile Suit Gundam animated franchise to be shown on American TV. In this series, explosive futuristic battles take place as teen pilots and their opponents clash. Shooting Stars, Vol. 1 contains the first four (uncut) episodes, and provides background for the young people involved in a civil war between space colonies and a one-world earth government. Dark Shadows, Vol. 2 introduces new characters and new intrigue in this hard-hitting animated science fiction series. Explosive military battles mix with political assassination, stalled peace talks, acts of lethal sabotage, and a brutal deception, which leads the hero to commit a horrendous murder. The Cold Battlefield, Vol. 3 has the villains getting more interesting and relationships deepening, all in the midst of spectacular high-tech battles, strategic maneuvers, and high school antics.
Is it any good?
Gundam Wing sets itself apart from American cartoons. The futuristic "mecha," or mechanical fighting machines, and expressive character design are quite sophisticated and outclass any similar animated efforts on American television. The frequent and explosive battle action is also on a scale unseen in any American cartoon, although it's a common feature of the long-running Gundam franchise. For American audiences, the biggest problem may be the excessive militarism and the stubborn prevalence of the Japanese notion that the highest military ideal is to die in the service of one's cause.
The story takes sharp turns, and the animation and design maintain high levels of imagination and spectacle. Fans will welcome the exciting mix of action, melodrama, and political intrigue of Shooting Stars, Vol. 1, while preteen and teens will probably be fascinated by the civil war subject matter in Dark Shadows, Vol. 2, and the character development adds even more drama to the third installment.
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