Since we have a Q&A scheduled for this Saturday, I started perusing past questions to answer and found this little gem from one of our Cool Capers:
And honestly? I’d love to answer this question in depth, but it seemed a little overly involved to answer verbally in a Q&A session. So I thought, how about a blog?
To answer the question directly: no, I don’t, but that’s not because of the Gundam Wing OST by itself.
The Standard Wing OST
Gundam Wing’s original soundtrack, composed in large part by Kow Otani of Shadow of the Colossus fame, is fantastic. It’s one of my favorite mecha soundtracks. However, it has one particular flaw for both casual listening and for a comedy show like ours: it’s basically all action and drama. There are very few “slice of life” songs to use in the background of scenes where the robots aren’t fighting and no one is having an angsty inner monologue.
This gives me a plethora of options for key emotional moments in our show– such as Duo watching Deathscythe explode, Zechs coming to terms with his involvement with Oz, Quatre saying goodbye to Sandrock, etc.– but gives very little to just… fill space. It leaves calmer moments silent, which is usually fine as you don’t need emotional tunes for witty banter.
One of the strengths of this OST, however, is the short and punching riffs that I can cut out to emphasize punchlines. It gives the viewer a mental misdirection, hearing a song that indicates “action is happening now,” only to undercut it with a sudden stop.
Most “action” songs are really extended 20-40sec pieces with sharp, easy-to-cut gaps in the rhythm. “Mission Accomplished” is my favorite one to jump to because it’s the best example of this. I actually used it twice for the same effect in Episode 13: once when Heero tried to kill the Doctors, and once when Tuberov’s pilot exclaimed, “IT’S GUNDAM ZERO-ONE!” In both cases, abruptly cutting off the song right as it was building up was a joke in itself, and this song makes it feel like a natural cut.
The Rest of the Wing OST
When preparing to make Mobile Suit Abridged, I actually found the original 5-disc OST for Wing and ripped them all to my computer. This was when I learned that there are, like… 15ish songs recorded separately from the show, sung by the characters’ voice actors. (I never knew this was a common practice in this era of anime until I found these!)
There are a surprising number of bangers in here, and as they were all performed by the same philharmonic orchestra as the rest of the OST, it doesn’t feel particularly out of place within the show. This is where we got our Tallgeese theme, “Wild Wing,” as well as Une’s breakout single, “Brightness & Darkness”. There are other hidden OST songs we plan on using for future moments in the show, but I’m keeping those choices close to the chest for now.
There’s also the entirety of the Endless Waltz OST we can pull from, but so far, we’ve kept that on the no-touch list. I’m not sure if it’ll stay that way or not, but for now, I’d like to keep EW songs in EW.
While I haven’t taken advantage of this much (yet), it’s important to note that Two-Mix doesn’t just make Gundam Wing OP songs. I legitimately listen to them just because I like them. And they have such a very distinct 90s-as-hell style that the rest of their catalogue wouldn’t feel out of place if suddenly plugged into our show.
I have multiple songs of theirs in the back of my mind for use later, including “Gravity Zero,” “Dokuhaku,” “At the End of Journey,” and “Burning.” If you haven’t heard any of these, I recommend giving them a try. You don’t need to understand the words to enjoy the music. (I sure don’t.)
But music cameos aside, there’s another really cool thing about Two-Mix that I take advantage of for this show…
Covers. So Many Covers.
Gundam Wing has enough nostalgia surrounding it that it’s surprisingly easy to find covers all over the internet of various Wing songs. (Usually “Just Communication” and “Rhythm Emotion,” but also others!) This is what ultimately led to the idea of making a new OP for every episode with a new style and new song, because there are like… fifty shades of “Just Communication” sitting out there, and I wanted to use them all.
(I want to note here too that when a cover is made by a small-enough artist that I can just reach out in a DM without going through an agent, I always ask permission before using their work. It’s the right thing to do.)
But OPs aside, we use covers and remixes within the show itself to keep the sound new and fresh, but still feel like it fits within Wing’s established aesthetic. You may remember Heero’s “Wings of a Boy Who Killed Adolescence” EDM remix in Ep.1, or the piano cover of the Italian Gundam Wing theme in Ep.13. Some of those are by artists who were just Wing fans, but others are commissioned by us. Like…
The Endless Duel OST
For those who don’t know: Gundam Wing had its very own fighting game during the post-Street-Fighter-II boom on the SNES called Gundam Wing: Endless Duel. It was only released in Japan, so you have to emulate it to play it in English, but…
Holy crap it has a killer soundtrack.
In Ep.10, many of you noticed the videogame playing in the background during the Antarctica fight. That’s Endless Duel. The cover used for that fight was from the Antarctica stage in Endless Duel, which fit too perfectly not to use it. We’ve also used covers of Noin’s stage in Ep.2, Quatre’s stage in Ep.11, and have three commissioned projects that haven’t made their way into the show yet.
You’ll hear them in due time. Promise.
And Finally… The Copyright Stuff
This is where we get greedy, because Blue and I both love musical reference humor. We have more ideas than we use, because we can’t just use licensed music everywhere or we’d be a bad DC movie.
Music is relatable because no one doesn’t listen to music. And when you use a song most of the audience already knows without any other knowledge of Wing, it can make the joke it’s trying to tell relatable as well. Heero saving the day to “Holding Out for a Hero,” Relena dancing with him to “Died in Your Arms,” or Sally kicking ass to Supergirl’s theme are all comedic moments that hit even if you aren’t a previous fan of Wing. And we like having that as an option.
In a way, the move to Vimeo has ironically allowed us more freedom to do this, by the way. They don’t have copyright bots scouring through videos and flagging things. So, silver linings!
Fun fact: I was actually going to use this song in a now deleted scene for Trowa in Ep.9:
I may still use that sometime. I think it’s funny.
This month’s blog was a little ramble-y without a specific point to build to, but I hope you learned something about our varying music choices and why we make them. And listen to Two-Mix! It’s good stuff.
If you guys have any other burning questions about the show’s process, let me know in the comments and I might just answer yours in a future blog post.
See you next Wing Wednesday, on September 6th!