a.k.a. Gundam 0080
a.k.a. Kidou Senshi Gundam 0080: Pocket no Naka no Senzou
Towards the end of the One Year War, the Zeon’s search for the Federation’s experimental NT-4 Gundam leads them to the neutral colony Side Six. While on mission, rookie Zeon soldier Bernie Wiseman is shot down and befriended by a ten-year-old student named Alfred Izuruha. After escaping from the colony, Bernie returns with a special forces unit with one purpose: destroy the Gundam. In the meantime, Christina MacKenzie, Al’s next-door neighbor, returns home as the test pilot for the prototype NT-4 Gundam. These three lives will forever be changed by their actions during the final days of the One Year War.
summary by Eek
Highs: Realistic depiction of war and violence; concise; no good or bad; not your typical Gundam
Lows: Shoddy art and animation; not your typical Gundam
The creation of Gundam 0080 marked two important occasions: the 10th anniversary of the Gundam universe and the first time someone besides Tomino Yoshiyuki directed a Gundam. Takayama Fumihiko (Patlabor III, RahXephon) turned this OVA series back to the One Year War and looked at it through a unique perspective: the eyes of a child.
Right from the start, Gundam 0080 wastes no time in showing its true colors; rather than focusing on fancy explosions and cool mecha designs, the death and destruction brought by war is the main focal point. With the introduction of Al, things are almost reversed. Al sees war as little more than a game full of glory and heroic actions. Even when his colony is attacked, he is excited to see buildings blowing up all around him and ignores the toll that the fighting is taking on the colony and its residents. While giving it a human edge to it all, Bernie and Christina throw a twist on everything; there is no defined good or bad. In the original Gundam, the Zeon was depicted as evil while the Federation was good; with this series, everyone is shown to be human beings that are not inherently good or bad, but rather, they are all just trying to survive. Smashed into only six episodes, there is no time for beating around the bush, but somehow allows enough time to shed light on numerous characters and their motivations.
Time has taken its toll on this series. While not terrible by any standards, the art and animation are definitely not great, more so considering that this is an OVA. Lack of detail and jumpy animation detract from the intended realism. A warning for Gundam fans: this is not your typical Gundam series. If you were expecting massive battles, ridiculously overpowered weapons and explosions by the truckload, you will have to search elsewhere. This series is about how lives are affected by the horrors of war, and this it succeeds at marvelously.
With an ending that is truly heart wrenching but fitting, Gundam 0080 hammers home a clear message: everyone is a casualty in war.
Highs: Gets straight to the point; linear, self-contained story that moves smoothly
Lows: Bad use of poor music; potential romance wasted
I am not a fan of the Gundam franchise. I find most of the mecha designs and powers to be dull and insipid. I also find the overly dramatic approach to preaching peace akin to getting hit over the head repeatedly with a rubber mallet; after a while, my brain grows numb from being browbeaten with soapboxy tirades about how evil war is. Good thing for me that War in the Pocket is not your typical Gundam anime.
Oh, sure, this OVA series makes it very apparent where it stands on the topic of war. What I appreciated was the manner in which the moral of the story unfolded; by focusing on one, insignificant corner of the One Year War and the people who tried desperately to have no part in it, we can see the effects of war without definitive lines drawn between friend and foe. Instead, it’s entirely plausible that everyone in this anime could have been best friends had they not been unwilling pawns controlled by opposing forces.
You will find no flowery depictions of death and suffering here; everyone is fair game when it comes to being a victim, regardless of if they are a main character or not. The part that doesn’t fit in quite as well is the potential romance between Bernie and Christina. It is only briefly touched on, but what makes it even worse is that their faux affections for each other are of no consequence to the plot. Wasted, empty moments in an anime otherwise free of extraneous fluff.
One thing I could not get passed was the incessant presence of horrid, ’80s-style music that would not stop playing during the most inappropriate times; good for us that this was less of a problem in the last three OVAs. If you can get past these problems, then War in the Pocket has a great story to tell… and tells it without shoving its ethics down your throat.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.