So, 2017 has come to a merciful close, at least to some. But for me, it has been quite nice. I finally got back into full time work which may be on night shift but hey it’s better than where I was at. I am looking forward to 2018; being cautious in hope is better than delighting in cynicism I say. Anyway, I close out this year with a look at a science fiction piece, part of a rather large and important anime franchise.
Gundam 0080 War in the Pocket (1989 OVA Series)
Director: Fumihiko Takayama
Script: Kyosuke Yuki and Hiroyuki Yamaga
Now, let me start off by saying this: I am not exactly a fan of Gundam, though not for the reasons one might figure. It just that it was never something that figured greatly into my viewing experience as an anime fan. Of course, that is not to say I didn’t watch some Gundam back in my youth, but that was just G Gundam (a shonen action show with Gundam in it) and SD Gundam which honestly I’m surprise anyone remembers. So it wasn’t until a few year back with Juude did a video about a particular OVA from that series that got me curious about this franchise. But since it was such a large franchise with lots of entries it proved to be a bit daunting. But then I found out Right Stuf was releasing back on DVD, I snatched up in their Holiday sale last year. Needless to say, I was quite impressed.
Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket takes place in the Universal Century 0079. It concerns events in a neutral civilian colony of Libot where the Zeon forces (the bad guys) learn that a new Gundam is being built by the Federation (the good guys). As such, a veteran spec-ops squad, the Cyclops Team, get sent in to investigate this development. Rookie member of the team, Berne Wiseman, ends up getting roping in Al, a young boy who lives in the colony. He’s an innocent youth, unaware of the dangers and perils that war brings with it. Over the course of the six episode saga, their lives are intertwined with this whole new Gundam along with Christina ‘Chris’ Mackenzie, Al’s next door neighbor, who might be involved in some way, yeah not spoiling it any further or much as I can.
Gundam 0080 is a classic, not in Gundam but also for science fiction anime (at least the ones that I have seen). It has several aspects going for it. For one thing, despite being a Gundam title, its one that still functions as an independent story in its own right. Hell, the word Gundam isn’t used or mentioned until about halfway through the series. Instead, the focus is on the story and characters, which I can best describe as efficient and economical. What I mean by that is that Gundam 0080 has fleshed out characters that go immense change throughout the course of the story. Take Al as an example, he starts off as a young kid who admires war and violence (hinting at possible obsession in one early scene) only to have the world view completely shattered by the end, in surprising ways. The other characters, like Bernie and Chris, are excellent as well, providing a human side to both ends of the Zeon-Federation conflict. Both sides have their reasons to fight, each completely valid and worth the incredible risk involved.
This sedge-ways nicely into the big idea of Gundam 0080, that war is a human affair with massive costs incurred and done for often petty reasoning. The long journey road of human history has been paved mostly by war and violence, but at a great tremendous human cost. The big WHAM moments of the series from Al’s perspective illustrates this greatly (note: wouldn’t say what those moments entail, watch it for yourself). But that helped by the story not holding back the true tragedy of war. The ending is a real gut punch, a natural culmination point for everything that has come before. It has certainly one of my favorite ending to an anime I have ever seen, sending a bleak but hopeful message that the future can only be better. I am talking in vague terms but that’s only because I want people to check this out. Side-note: Gundam 0080 celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Gundam franchise (the first series airing back in 1979) and the first entry done with any direct involvement by series creator Yoshiyuki Tomino.
Anyway, on with more praising. The animation done by Sunrise is excellent, given this is nearly 30 years old. It holds up well, with some excellent fight animation when the robots get involved and some very nice, expressive character animation. I love the opening song “Reach Out to the Sky Someday” by Megumi Shiina which became an instant favorite of OP songs for me when I first watched Gundam 0080. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the English dub, which is a vintage early millennial dubs from the folks at Animaze, featuring some great performances by Wendee Lee, Brianne Siddall and David Hayter among others.
So, in conclusion, Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is an excellent science fiction anime piece and worth well taking a look at and cherishing. Good thing companies like Right Stuf and Discotek are releasing titles long thought forgotten or had gone down the obscure path. We need to protect the heritage of the classics for anime, and getting these releases is a step in the right direction. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get Gundam as it doesn’t require much in the background information needed to understand what is going on, although that certainly helps.
Let me with some words regarding the new year: Yeah, 2017 was quite bad, but I mean there have been worse. Best to put everything in stride, take on every new day to the best of your ability. In the words of medieval female theologian Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”, as everything will work out in the end. What’s to come with the new year on this little dinghy boat of a blog I run? Eh, not sure but look forward to it, I got some amazing work planned out.
Til next time, dear readers.