Though Gundam Wing made its debut in Japan in 1995, the series would make its long-term international impact when it helped kick off Cartoon Network’s Toonami block in March 2000. When it premiered in the U.S., it brought the Gundam franchise into the spotlight and helped pave way for other installments such as the critically acclaimed Gundam 08th MS Team, and even the original 1979 series in creating new overseas audiences!
As for Wing, it was one of those series that took a distinct approach by using a guerrilla force of five teenagers each assigned with their own Gundam to take on the forces of OZ, a military branch of the Earth Sphere Alliance to win the freedom of the space colonies. So for today’s countdown, we will cover the top 10 characters from the groundbreaking series that further solidified Gundam.
10. Sally Po
Blasting this list into space at number 10, we have a female commander of the Earth Sphere Alliance, Sally Po. She was one of the first characters to realize she was on the wrong side of the war and did her best with her position to stop all the conflicts and the devastating decisions of her peers.
After OZ’s coup d’etat against the Alliance, Sally starts her own resistance with former Alliance soldiers who would offer the occasional support to the five young Gundam pilots. Though not as tactical as Lady Une, Sally is dedicated and is driven to end the conflict with force as a last resort.
9. Lucrezia Noin
Appropriately at number 9 we have one of the series’ top female characters, Lucrezia Noin (with Noin meaning 9 in German). Due to being a woman, she is strongly driven to prove her worth as a soldier to her fellow crewmembers, and ultimately to Zechs, who she is deeply in love with. In addition to Treize, Noin is one of the very few people Zechs to come close to him and even knows his true identity, Milliardo Peacecraft.
Despite being on the opposite side of the war for a good portion of the series, Noin is a very relatable character and the audience always sees the realistic obstacles she has to overcome as a woman in the military. In her conflicts with Wufei, you can feel her frustrations when he puts her down for simply being a woman. She also cares deeply for soldiers her command and hates to make sacrifices.
Whenever she loses someone, she takes it with a very heavy heart and whenever she puts herself in the front lines, she gives it everything she’s got despite not being up to the skills of Zechs or the Gundam pilots. Her drive and determination to prove herself as an equal are what makes her a great addition to this list.
8. Lady Une
The right-hand woman to Treize, Lady Une (a play on the feminine French word for one) is one of his top military tacticians and assassins. Despite these qualities, she is capable of being diplomatic and loving due to Treize’s influence who told her to embrace and use more of her feminine qualities due to some blunders she caused (such as threatening to blast the colonies). Due to her desperation for Treize’s affection and approval, she has developed multiple personalities.
Though she openly loves Treize, her extreme personality does not show demonstrate chivalry and/or honor and is willing to sacrifice her own soldiers and play dirty tricks to win. After she awoke from her coma as a result of getting shot, the positives of her two personalities converge with her peaceful side more dominant but also shows the same decisiveness and efficiency as the militant personality.
Eventually, she comes to terms with the burdens she must carry as a result of her sins. She even goes as far as letting Relena shoot her in revenge for killing her father, but Relena knows that they must work to stop all conflict and that change starts with them.
7. Quatre Raberba Winner
Though Quatre means 4 in French, this character ranks in at number 7. Quatre pilots the Sandrock Gundam, which uses two tusk shaped swords, and Uzis. In addition, Quatre was the first pilot of the Wing Zero but was temporarily driven insane by its OS, the Zero System. Unlike most of the pilots who are orphans, Quatre comes from a rather well to do background and his motivations are distinct.
Quatre is the only son of a colony industrial leader and originally thought of himself as a test tube baby that could be replaced. Feeling he needed to make a life for himself, he participates in Operation Meteor. In addition to his Gundam, he leads his own army called the Magnac Corps, also connected to Quatre’s branch of the operation.
Due to his background where he had a regular life prior to being a soldier, he tends to show the most emotion and tries to best the voice of reason within the group when things go south.
6. Trowa Barton
At number 6, we have Trowa Barton (with Trowa a play on trois, French for 3), the pilot of the Gundam Heavyarms (and he briefly piloted the offense based Vayeate while he was a temporary pilot for OZ). As the moniker of his Gundam suggests, it carries heavy-duty firepower (with two gatling guns, rockets in its shoulder pads, vulcan cannons in its head, and a switchblade hidden in its arm).
Even though the nature of his Gundam is rather over-the-top and is never hesitant to go out guns blazing, Trowa is a rather quiet individual but deeply cares about the people around him and will do anything possible to protect them. Along with his piloting skills, Trowa is also an amazing acrobat (which he has incorporated to his piloting skills) and is also a top-notch scout. Along with his complicated and mysterious background, he also sees himself as expandable and is ready to make any necessary sacrifices for not just his mission, but for those he loves.
5. Treize Khushrenada
Ranking in at number 5 is OZ’s top man himself, Treize (a play on the French word for 13), a man who is driven by war thinking of it as a game. Despite his outward twisted thinking, he is very disciplined and fancies himself as an old-style aristocratic commander. He demonstrates chivalry when he humiliated Wufei in a true man-to-man sword fight as his way of respect to Wufei, who accepted Treize’s challenge (who could have just easily killed him with a mobile suit) and feels he is one of the very few people that can relate to him.
He is also very loyal to those close to him such as Lady Une and Zechs Merquise. He goes as far to help Zechs escape OZ after he disobeyed orders in order fight honorably against Heero, and helped clean up Lady Une’s image. After the Romefeller Foundation stripped him of his power, he sees the error of his ways and wishes to redeem himself and fight Wufei one last time on equal terms.
4. Chang Wufei
Coming in at number 4 is Chang Wufei (with the Wu meaning 5 in Chinese), the pilot of the Shenlong and Altron Gundams. In compliments to his Chinese origins, his weapons are energized halberds, an extending whip with a dragon head that also shoots fire perfect between short and mid-range combat.
Like Heero, he tends to prefer working alone, but also learns to work in a team. Due to his outdated upbringings, he tends to look down on women serving in combat and is driven by honor and chivalry. Despite his skills in his mobile suit, even his regular hand-to-hand combat training was no match against Treize in a true duel losing rather easily. Due to Treize’s chivalry and wanting to battle Wufei in mobile suits (and wanting to return the favor to Wufei for taking his challenge honorably as stated earlier), he spares Wufei.
Even though Treize sees the gesture as a sign of respect, Wufei sees it as a sign of dishonor. Thankfully he gets his rematch in a mobile suit duel and avenges his humiliating loss.
3. Duo Maxwell
Although his name is a play on the number 2, Duo ranks in at number 3. He refers to himself as Shinigami, or the God of Death (or the Great Destroyer in the daytime broadcast of the English dub), and pilots a Gundam called the Deathscythe, which compliments his monicker.
To further extend his gimmick, the weapon is also appropriately an energized scythe used in close quarters combat. Despite his wicked nickname, Duo is a very relaxing individual and if he could live like a regular teenager, he probably would go to every party. Though his skills as a pilot are top notch and strike fear to his foes, his regular fighting skills outside of his Gundam are non-existent.
When he struck Heero with everything he got to the face (well Heero told Duo to hit him), it was about as effective as Krillin trying to punch Cell after he absorbed Android 18. Heero returned the punch by knocking him out with a body blow. With Quatre as the brains of the group, Duo has to be the soul.
2. Zechs Merquise
At number two is the main rival to our heroes, OZ’s ace pilot, Zechs Merquise, the first ever Char clone. Like the character he is inspired by, Zechs (whose name is a play on the word six in German) is the son of a fallen pacifist but contradicts his heritage by becoming a soldier. Due to the man that he becomes in contrast to his personal upbringing, Zechs abandons his real name, Milliardo Peacecraft, and wears a mask to hide his shame. Although Zechs has a highly commanding presence, he allows very few people to get close to him.
One such man who has earned his companionship is his academy classmate and his superior officer, Treize. Treize is also one of the few people that know his true identity. Despite being the main antagonist, Zechs goes through a number of personal trials and develops throughout the series. At first, he is just a typical soldier just fighting to avenge his fallen family, he then fights for what he believes to be a just cause for the colonies, and then his motivations come down to wanting to be the better fighter between him and Heero.
Some of the changes he demonstrates to fans are when he duels with Heero the first time with the Tallgeese, he condemned Lady Une’s dirty tactics to stop the battle but eventually, Zechs would go as far as trying to destroy the earth with the Peace Million warship in contradiction to previously condemning such methods. Thankfully his final defeat would humble him to fight for justice upon his return in Endless Waltz.
1. Heero Yuy
The main lead and “the one and only” (his name in Japanese is a wordplay on this phrase) himself, Heero appropriately makes the number one spot on this list. With Quatre as the brains, Duo as the soul, Wufei as the brawn, and Trowa as the heart, you can say Heero is the one that brings it all together. The unique thing about Heero is when his character debuted, he was something along the lines of an anti-archetype to other teenage mech pilots who circumstantially found their Gundams.
For Heero, he is just the opposite who was trained to be a pilot prior to the series and didn’t end up having to learn as he went along. In addition to being raised by mercenaries, he really has no concept of what it's like to be a regular teenager. Due to the initial circumstances on how he meets Relena, upon being invited to her birthday party, he rips up his invitation in front of the entire class and whispers that he's going to kill her.
Moving past this unfortunate incident, Heero’s time with Relena and the rest of the Gundam Wing crew allows him the development he needs to open up his heart and show more care to the people around him rather than just being a mission-driven soldier.
So here are Honey’s Top 10 characters from the critically acclaimed Gundam Wing. Even with its huge cast of characters throughout its run, this list was relatively easy to come up who should be on it, but making the order was a bit of a struggle.
So who are your top 10 characters from this hit show from the 1990s (despite gaining its mainstream popularity from 2000)? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.