There’re a lot of giant robot manga out there, and even if you decide to go with the most popular franchise, Gundam, there’s a hell of a lot to choose from there too. As far as options go, though, Mobile Suit GUNDAM WING Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers is a solid choice. The series’ last few volumes have impressed me with their polished, thoughtfully composed visuals and well-written political intrigue. The latest installment, Vol. 12, recently came out from Vertical Comics. Is it as good as what came before it?
The strongest aspect of this book is definitely its art. Tomofumi Ogasawara does a great job on the page compositions, giving a nice variety that keeps things moving excitingly and frames the action to look really badass. The attention to detail on the mechs is evident, and motion lines are effectively utilized during quick-moving action scenes. There’s also plentiful use of dynamic sound effects that feel naturally incorporated into the visuals, rather than just slapped on haphazardly. The shading and perspective work throughout both help maintain a good sense of depth as well.
There are also numerous splash pages and large panels that creatively depict several subjects at once. My favorite image in the volume is probably an up-close shot of a character’s eye with the Earth shown in place of his pupil and iris. At that point in the story he’s discussing the future of the planet, and it’s a great mixture of the political with the personal via his very body. It comes at the bottom of a page that features dialogue and a standard close-up prior to the Earth/eye overlay, making it even more affecting as the culmination of all the above elements.
Unfortunately, this volume’s story is less consistently solid. On the plus side, Katsuyuki Sumizawa’s pacing isn’t bad and we get some good depictions of characters struggling with whether to follow their superior officers’ commands or to abide by their own moral compasses. With that said, none of the character drama in this installment is all that exciting. There’s not much sense of meaningful story progression from beginning to finish, and the characters seem fairly interchangeable in terms of motivations and lack of emotional arcs. There are just disappointingly few character beats to hit on the emotional impacts of the war everyone is either fighting or struggling to end.
Overall, MobileSuit GUNDAM WING Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers Vol. 12 is a book held up by the backbone of its art. The action is impressively well-thought-out, from the effective incorporation of dynamic sound effects to the creative page compositions. Unfortunately, the story itself is just kind of boring. The pacing and dialogue are solid enough, but there’s little in the way of actually interesting character drama. If you’re a Gundam fan this book might be worth your time, but I wouldn’t call it a must-read for anyone.