Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mobile Suite Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

As I said last week, I’ll be reviewing Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket. Some of you Toonami fans might remember this being aired a few years back (2001). From the first time that I saw it on Toonami (midnight run I believe) I was amazed by it. At the time the only other anime that I had seen were things like Dragon Ball Z, Tenchi Muyo, and Gundam Wing. I might have seen some of 08th MS team and some other things that they had started up that year, but I can’t be sure. I can’t remember which of them came first. But the point that I’m getting at is that this was an anime that really shocked me at that time. I had never seen anything quite like it. Now I’m not saying Gundam Wing had a bad story or anything, but the story in 0080 is on a whole other level.
The story is about a young boy named Al Izuruha. Al is, as many Gundam fans are, a war buff. His friends and him obsess over Gundams and other military related things. But they are in a colony with no military action, at least they think. Because of political situations, that are explained later in the story, the Federation forces have set up a base on Al’s colony. In this hidden base they are developing a Gundam called RX-78 (a.k.a Alex). Because of this base Zeon forces have been sent in to destroy it. This failed attack on the Federation base sets into a chain of events that affects Al’s life forever.
As the first seen battle between Zeon and Federation forces is in full action, Al is captivated by the sight of it. When he sees a Zeon fighter crash land into a forest he chases after it to see the Mobile Suit up close. When he arrives he finds him self facing a Zeon soldier pointing a gun at him. He quickly befriends the Zeon soldier who’s name is Bernie Wiseman. After Bernie leaves the colony Al runs into his old neighbor named Christina MacKenzie. She is returning home after being away for a long time. Little does Al know, but Christina is a Federation pilot. As the story progresses we see Al’s life being ripped in two by the war. He begins to learn what the true weight of war is, and the effects that it can have on the people involved.
I’m going to stop myself there so that there is actually something to watch that I haven’t already explained. Anyways, one of the reasons that I love this anime so much is because of how raw and powerful the story it has. The story really shows the affects that war has on everyone, and is very well done. I also enjoy how they show how many of the public are becoming desensitized towards war. One of my favorite sense in the anime is in the first episode. It shows Al running through the city to catch up with the crashing mobile suite. But as he’s running around with wonder in his eyes at the sight of a real mobile suit there is a battle going on around him. As he runs you can see and the death and destruction that this battle is having on these unsuspecting citizens. It was a very serial scene.
The director of 0080 is Fumihiko Takayama. Takayama’s work in this 80’s OVA is brilliant and really captures what the story is trying to portray. He’s a very serial director and it shows in this anime. Everything that happens in it seems very life like. It’s hard to explain with out watching. Nothing in it seems forced or tossed aside. Everything is presented and pulled off in a realistic fashion.
As for the screenplay, it was written by some one very different than you’d expect. A man by the name of Hiroyuki Yamaga. You might recognize him as the producer of FLCL, or as the animation producer for Neon Genesis Evangelion. He’s usually a producer or an episode director so it’s odd to see him take on the task of screenplay writer (aside from The Wings of Honneamise).
I’d like to finally mention Koji Sugiura. He was the art director in 0080, and he did a good job. He is quite a successful artist working on other Gundam series like 08th MS Team and 0083: Star Dust Memory. He has also worked on shows like Full Metal Alchemist, End of Evangelion, Eureka Seven, and more.
The English cast is also something worth mentioning with people like Beau Billingslea (who is best known for his work as Jet from Cowboy Bebop), Wendee Lee (with a list of works as long as the mind can imagine), and Brianne Siddall (who is know as Gimmy from Gurren Lagann, and Tsukasa from .Hack//SIGN). There are more great voice actors in this anime but those are just some people I decided to throw out there.
There has been a recent release of War in the Pocket in an Anime Legends box set. It’s quite cheap at only $18.74 at The set is well put together and I’d suggest picking it up if you like the show.
It’s time for my final focus. I really like this OVA, it’s probably my favorite Gundam. It is a classic and I’d encourage everyone to at least watch it once. It has a really powerful story good directing. There is no reason to not like it. Unless your one of those people who thinks that Grave of the Fireflies sucks because it’s sad. If so, GET OVER IT! IT’S SUPPOSES TO BE SAD! THAT’S AN AMAZING MOVIE! I’m better now. The point that I’m getting at is that this is a very good 6 episode OVA and I think anyone reading this should go out and watch it. It’s a sadly over looked part of Gundam history and I think it needs more praise than it gets.
Next time… I’m actually not sure what I’ll review. But it’ll be good. I might do my first product review. Probably involving the state side releases of 20th Century Boys or Pluto, But no promises.