Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

Japanese Title: Kidou Senshi Gundam 0080 – Pocket no Naka no Sensou
Also Known As: 0080
Genre: Action/Drama
Format: 6 Episodes
Allegiance: Bandai Visual / Sotsu Agency / Sunrise
Director: Fumihiko Takayama
Vintage: 1989
Intelligence Agency Report by: Miki
It is December of the year Universal Century 0079, and 11-year-old Alfred Izuruha is living a normal life on the neutral space colony Side 6. The One Year War has raged on outside the colony walls, but the Zeon forces catch word that the Federation is working on a new Gundam mobile suit for their war effort at a secret base on Side 6. Bernie Wiseman, part of the first Zeon attack on the colony, crash-lands after flying over Al’s school. After classes are cancelled for the day, Al hurries to the crash site where he briefly gets to meet the downed pilot. Bernie is soon reassigned to a Special Forces unit heading back to the colony and upon his return, Al happens to see him again and tracks him down. With his commander’s approval, Bernie befriends Al and brings him along to help with his work. Time is running out, however, as Christmas has been set as the deadline for the Gundam’s destruction, and failure means the obliteration of the entire colony.

Field Agent Report by: Miki
Overall 9.50
(not an average)

Gundam – the word conjures memories of reluctant pacifist pilots and the shallow female leads who love them. It brings to mind subliminal political mechanics that result in pretty boys fighting in giant robots armed to the Gundanium teeth with weapons of all shapes and sizes. Stop thinking about that Gundam immediately.

Gundam 0080 is the first series to go backwards in the Universal Century timeline set up by all the 80s contributions to the Gundam franchise and tells a story concurrent with that of the original series. It breathes new life into an old story by bringing a different perspective to the common Gundam anti-war theme and does so expertly.

The characters in this show are very believeable. Al, like the other boys at his school, thinks war is cool and plays soldiers with his friends. He’s an 11-year-old with a little rebellious streak in him and thinks he knows what’s best for himself. Bernie is a Zeon soldier forced to fill an empty slot in a special forces team that’s been together since long before he got there, and the tension that would exist as a result is very palpable as the series progresses. There’s also a great romantic tension built up between Bernie and Chris, Al’s next door neighbor, and the way their potential relationship develops is another vehicle for the theme as well. Like any good characters, Al and Bernie both undergo a change that is fitting and believable for their personalities and situations.

The action, when it occurs, is very well-animated and makes sense. The violence isn’t over-the-top and is largely used to help convey the theme of the show. It’s brutal. They make sure you’re aware that there’s a human being inside of every mobile suit cockpit, and every time a soldier gets hit with a bullet you’re sure to see it. When battle erupts in the colony, you’re aware of the effects on the civilians that live there. Power goes out, buildings collapse, innocent people actually die.

So what about the plot? It’s simple and ironic with just enough twists to really ramp up the show’s punch. However, Al and Bernie are able to get away with some things when they deal with cops and Federation soldiers that don’t exactly seem realistic, but these are pretty minor and don’t bring about any major plot holes.

The only possible real negatives to this show are the technical aspects. The show is well-acted, but the synth-laden soundtrack and art style betray its age. To me, however, this is no detriment to the show’s quality. It looks good, especially for the late 80s. The soundtrack is by all means good enough for the task. The story and characters hold this show up well enough that these factors don’t really matter.

Like a short story, Gundam 0080 is very focused and accomplishes in 6 episodes what many longer series often don’t. It carries a strong message using fully-developed characters. The plot is clear and well-written. The action is intense, brutal, and purposeful, and all of these elements come together to form one solid cohesive unit. If you’re tired of the same old mech anime or just want to see a good character-driven show and don’t mind the slightly dated style, give Gundam 0080 a try.