The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket aka Kidou Senshi Gundam 0080: Pocket no Naka no Senzou
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Bandai Visual/Sunrise
Format: 6 OVA
Dates: 25 Mar 1989 – 25 Aug 1989

Synopsis: Near the end of the One Year War, a group of elite Zeon soldiers invades the “neutral” colony Side Six that is secretly harboring a prototype Gundam. After an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the Gundam, the sole survivor of this group, Bernie Wiseman, hatches a secret plan to refurbish a broken down mobile suit and challenge the prototype once more. As he sets his plan into motion, he befriends a ten year old boy, Izuruha Alfred, who offers to help the soldier in a naïve ideal that ‘war is a game’.

The Highlights
Animation: Aged although still very pleasant to look at.
Music: Horribly obtrusive and often inappropriate.
Characters: Genuinely down to Earth.
Ending: Sobering.

Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is the first Gundam anime that is not a “Gundam” anime. There are no indecisive, angst filled teenagers, invulnerable mechs or insipid sermons about peace. Not penned or directed by Tomino Yoshiyuki, the show takes a newer and darker view of the franchise that will definitely not cater to everyone. While this franchise has always been one massive anti-war statement, Gundam 0080 is the first and so far only Gundam series to truly question war without glorifying it.

Fight scenes are not portrayed as epic clashes of ideals but merely as violence. The show does not euphemize desperation or death. Probably the greatest asset of the OVA is the amount of immediate retrospection. The show looks back and sees all the destroyed homes, destroyed mechs and the bullet torn bodies. The fights scenes may be beautifully animated and intensely choreographed, but be prepared to see the sobering aftermath.

The subtitle “War in the Pocket” can be seen as a misleading piece of irony. By no means is the fate of the One Year War vested in the show’s characters. The OVA takes place in an insignificant colony in the middle of nowhere. Win or lose, the tide of war will not change. Furthermore, the characters cannot claim that they are “saving the world” or doing much of anything aside from destroying one prototype Gundam. There is no greater killjoy than realizing that likeable characters are dying for practically nothing.

Ultimately, this is really a series about two individuals who meet in a chance encounter. One is a child holding a romantic view of war; the other is a young soldier living through its horrors. This unexpected juxtaposition brings up numerous moral and emotional questions that really have no answers. Instead of pondering about these soapbox quandaries, the show simply tells its story lets the viewers draw their own conclusions.

In terms of action and drama, this anime is a cut above most of its time. The OVA even stands up very well with today’s productions. I believe this is something all action junkies and war mongers should see. For those who have not yet grown completely callous, this may be the single most humbling anime you will ever see.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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