The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team aka Kidou Senshi Gundam: Dai 08 MS Shotai
Genre: Action/Romance
Companies: Sunrise/Sotsu Agency
Format: 12 OVA
Dates: 25 Jan 1996 – 25 Jul 1999

Synopsis: September 0079 of the universal century signaled the turning point of the cataclysmic One Year War between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. The war has been relatively one-sided because of Zeon’s superior Mobile Suits, but now, the Federation is preparing to take the offensive with their own MS, the RX-79 Ground Gundam. Among the pilots of these new units is Ensign Shiro Amada who must lead his team through the jungles of South East Asia in order to put down a Zeon weapons project. However, as he gets closer to the enemy, Shiro must face the cold truth that he is not fighting Mobile Suits, but rather, human beings.

The Highlights
Aesthetics: Gritty.
Grunt mentality: Starts off strong but wanes dramatically at times.
Combat sequences: Memorable.
Romance: Forced; detracts from original focus.

It was obvious from the beginning that this series was going to be special. With mass produced Gundams fighting desperately against Zakus in a Vietnam-esque environment, the series breaks out of the super robot binds that it had since the beginning. The series showed signs of maintaining this down to earth, grunt mentality to the end, but it throws this away in favor of yet another “Gundam saves the world” story.

08th MS Team goes where no RX 78 has gone before. The movement of the mobile suits are bound by physics, and everything down to the gears and the joints are portrayed in a believable manner to the point that they even clog up with sand in the desert. Though this prevents fight scenes from reaching epic stature, they become far less predictable, far more tense, and far more exciting. Some of the battles in the show, such as Shiro versus the Gouf Custom, are among the most memorable the Gundam universe has to offer.

The purpose of this OVA is to portray the One Year War from the point of view of the frontline. Occasionally, there are moments resembling something between M*A*S*H and VOTOMS that makes you feel right in the middle of the action, but the key word here is “occasionally.” Somewhere along the line, the gritty story of a normal soldier is replaced by a romance story between Shiro and Aina, and this shift in focus is so unnatural that it just kills everything that the series had. Of course, this changed is accompanied by a massive mobile armor that is powerful enough to turn the tides of war. While an overpowered robot is not intrinsically bad, like the romantic subplot, it has no place in this kind of anime.

With so much going for it, it’s a real shame that The 08th MS Team is ultimately a disappointment. Regardless of whether the finale was planned at the beginning of the project or was a result of the tragic death of the OVA’s director Kanda Takeyuki, this anime could have been a whole lot more. If viewers want to see a Gundam series that truly captures the reality of war, they will be better off with Gundam 0080 or the CGI production MS IGloo. I just hope that Kanda Takeyuki would have been satisfied with the end result of his final work.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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