26 June 2003 | stp43
Gundam Wing Meets Team Yankee Meets Hamburger Hill
Anime has a large variety of characteristics, and among the more under-appreciated qualities are that stories tend to emphasize character interplay with an often striking level of sophistication.
Such is the case with this 1996 anime series focusing on war between Earth's Federation and a rebel empire known as the Zeon. The focus is on two characters, Shiro Amada, a lieutenant of the Federation who, after an attack on a Federation troop ship in space, winds up flying a mobile armor suit into battle against his attacker; the battle somehow goes wrong and both Amada and his enemy are floating in the remains of a destroyed battlestar; Amada's enemy is a Zeon officer, named Aina, and when the two cross swords in the weightlessness of the abandoned warship they get to know each other, and begin to form a friendship.
Both must go their separate ways and are eventually rescued. Later, as the Earth Federation - called Feddies by the Zeon - and Zeon struggle on the planet itself, Amada and Aina meet again in battle, and again fate forces both to cooperate, this time in the deadly frost of a mountaintop. Once again their friendship begins to blossom, and once again fate takes them their separate ways and to eventual rescue.
Both young officers face grave controversies as a result of their encounters. For Shiro Amada, Feddie honchos suspect him of being a Zeon spy, while Aina finds herself clashing more and more with her brother, Zeon commander Gineus, who is obsessed with completing a super-weapon called the Apsalus - even to the point of double-crossing his own officers to get it finished, with his favorite method of doublecross being high explosives.
There is plenty of action involved, and amid the combat, there is a striking moral dilemma involved. Though the Earth Federation are notionally the good guys and the Zeon betray a sinister hue that makes them the notional bad guys, ambiguity pervades the entire conflict - just who IS in the right here?
It is a question that plagues both Amada and Aina to the point they both turn against their nations, leading to a final confrontation on a vast mountaintop when the Apsalus appears and opens fire on Feddie forces.
It all leads to the very best scene of the entire series, a scene played out against an oppressive glow of white light.