When Gundam Wing shifts to outer space, there is a scene where Oz fires on its own soldiers in what first appears to be a typical We Have Reserves moment. "But we'd be firing on our own Leos!" "Who cares, do it before the Colonel leaves." But in the next episodes it is revealed they are getting their space Leo pilots from "volunteers" they tricked into fighting. They give their own soldiers the superior Taurus suits, so the characters' attitudes fall into place. Nowhere in the script do the Oz soldiers specifically say they think the colonists are second class, but it is implied twice later in the show. I'm surprised I didn't catch this sooner because I've read about the Japanese conscripting Chinese troops from the populations they took over in WWII. Plus, it isn't an old concept, so well done again Gundam. -lunnarian
It still works, though less well when you realize the OZ's Space Leo Troops are either combat engineers (who use older machines throughout the series) or colonial volunteers, quite literally, since OZ doesn't conscript (unless you're a Gundam pilot in captivity). It's not a "trick", since OZ makes a point of arming the colonies to fight the Alliance in space—all of which is alluded rather than being shown. It's not quite a perfect fit into the idea of Korean conscripts in the IJA or black rifle companies of the U.S. Civil War (Glory style), but it's still relevant. Especially when the next colonial revolution uses OZ's weapons to try and obliterate life on Earth....
As is otherwise noted with respect to Humongous Mecha, mobile suits are not particularly practical in terms of the vulnerability of their limbs. In Gundam Wing, however, their use is entirely thematically justified. Mobile Suits are generally the preserve of the Earth military forces, their initial mass production and deployment being specifically on behalf of the Romefeller Foundation. This is a foundation rooted in Aristocracy, and many of its members stressed the need to retain the human element in battle according to traditional ideals. When you consider that this is an organisation that controls global munitions production, and that can effectively dictate the terms of any and all military force, it makes perfect sense that they would develop weapons to fit romantic ideals of the soldier even in the face of combat suitability; they're Nazi Noblemen.
Also note the shunning of massive space fleets like in previous UC Gundam where you have carriers for Mobile suits. Instead they project their power from military bases just to prevent any notions of mobility based warfare and a focus on "whomever have the biggest fortress wins".
The Dengeki Data Collection (released in the US as the Gundam Wing Technical Manual) says that eventually, two paths of "evolution" were determined for mobile suits: enhancing the pilot (the ZERO System) and removing the pilot from the equation entirely (the Mobile Doll System). I was posting on some other tropes about the ZERO System's finer points: the System forms a Technopathy connection between pilot and machine, while feeding massive amounts of combat data directly into the pilot's brain, which combines with the speed-of-thought reaction times to border on Combat Clairvoyance. And then it hit me: the ZERO System effectively turns its pilot into a combat computer, just one based off of wetware rather than hardware. It also serves to help explain Dorothy's loss to Quatre later in the series: she was feeding orders to White Fang's Virgo IIs, but didn't have the direct mental connection to all of them, meaning that she couldn't react to things like the Gundam Pilots' improvised tactics as quickly as if she had been using the System in, say, Wing Zero or Epyon.
I had a moment of Fridge Brilliance when I was reading the entry for Characterization Marches On. Several times in combat, Heero laughs as he watches enemy mobile suits being destroyed, which doesn't gel at all with Doctor J's description of him as a "kindhearted boy". But then Alternate Character Interpretation hit: Heero is sick of killing, which is one of the reasons he rejects the original Operation Meteor. And yet, the instant he is confronted by OZ mobile suits, he has no choice but to fight back, killing pilots in the process. He realizes that his mission is a paradox; he intends to stop the fighting...with more fighting (which would also be a plot point in a later series). His laughing is when he is on the verge of a full-blown Freak Out from this realization, but he only stops himself going over the edge by going into Heroic Safe Mode, focusing entirely on the mission. A season longHeroic Safe Mode.