a.k.a. 08th MS Team
a.k.a. Kidou Senshi Gundam: Dai 08 MS Shotai
At the height of the One Year War, Ensign Amada Shiro is transferred to Southeast Asia to take command of the 08th MS Team, a ragtag group of mobile suit pilots. While in the middle of being transferred from the Space Unit to the Ground Unit, Shiro takes a gamble and rescues a Federation pilot by putting his own life on the line. In the aftermath, he meets a female Zeon pilot named Aina Sahalin. Although both of them are rescued by their own side, Shiro’s experiences with love and war are just about to begin.
summary by Eek
Highs: Intense action; smooth animation; music complements quite well
Lows: Intended focus blurred; jumps around; weak final episode
Although the tragic death of director Kanda Tateyuki caused 08th MS Team to have a weird release schedule, it began towards the end of Gundam Wing‘s run in Japan. Taking another look back on the One Year War, this anime is truly a Gundam series at heart… which is both good and bad.
Action scenes can sometimes become too predictable and mindless in some anime, but 08th MS Team‘s action is anything but. Watching Zakus and Gundams go head-to-head in the jungles of Southeast Asia creates a lot of volatile combat situations and is exciting to watch. Part of what makes the action scenes graceful is the superb animation, sporting some of the smoothest cel movements I have ever seen. Whether it is a simple cloud of dust or the complex movement of a GM, the animation shows time and time again that it is above par. And what would a Gundam series be without great music? With backgrounds by Tanaka Kouhei (Angelic Layer, Gate Keepers) and themes by Yonekura Chihiro, this series proves to be quite a feast for the eyes and ears.
From my understanding, 08th MS Team was supposed to highlight the life of a soldier during the One Year War. This is good approach, but it is only glazed over while the series attempts to cobble together a romance between Shiro and Aina that feels incredibly rushed and awkward. This leaves the soldier aspect hanging because it does not come full circle. Part of what skews the intended focus was the way that it jumps from one episode to the next. You are usually just thrown right into the middle of a situation without information preceding it. Forget character background (even I’m surprised that I wrote that); I am talking about how some characters or circumstances are suddenly lobbed at you from out of the blue without any explanation. The series takes an even longer-than-normal jump from the eleventh to the last episode and felt as if I was watching a completely different series.
If you are a fan of the Universal Century timeline or just an action junkie, 08th MS Team should be on your list of anime to watch. If you don’t fall into either, keep this in mind: do not expect a whole lot out of any Gundam series other than good action and good music.
Highs: Great animation and music; gritty battles; interesting characters
Lows: One episode too many; some skimped character development
For the first time since War In The Pocket was released, the Gundam franchise returns to its roots: the One Year War. As opposed to other incarnations, there are no Newtypes to be found or epic space battles with dozens of mobile suits. Rather, this series gives a glimpse into the life and trials of the war on Earth…a rather refreshing change if you ask me.
Though this series takes place during the One Year War, one does not need to read up on the events that occurred in the original Gundam. Some slight references are made, but a vast knowledge of Amuro and Char’s history is not required to fully enjoy this anime. With that said, the focus is squarely on what is occurring in Southeast Asia, and what a setting it is! Each landscape, from hut villages to the mountains and jungles, is vividly detailed and serve as excellent backdrops to some intense mobile suit battles. The animation during these scenes, and throughout this OVA for that matter, is nothing short of impressive. Smooth frame rates and varying perspective angles really put the viewer in the middle of everything. Let’s not forget the other staple of anything Gundam: the music. Composed by Tanaka Kouhei, who has seen previous action in a Gundam series (G Gundam), the soundtrack is yet another notch in that very long musical belt.
The main cast of pilots in the 08th MS Team is not your typical group of militants. It’s a rag-tag group of soldiers, and they all have their unique quirks and flaws. They also have the same core of humanity through each mission. Unfortunately, outside of Shiro and Aina, that’s just about it. The rest of the team is woefully left on the development sideline. Any attempts to show some depth outside of given information are few, far between, and certainly not enough to make a difference in the long run. Granted, it’s great to be able to see how Shiro and Aina grow and evolve through the war and with their touch-and-go romance. I just wish the rest of the team would get the same treatment.
Recent Gundam incarnations have begun to falter, primarily when things begin to get boring on the battlefield. Overpowered mecha blasting everything away in one shot gets dull in a hurry. Such is certainly not the case here! It’s pretty much an even playing field in Southeast Asia. Battles are not decided by who has the bigger beam cannon. Rather, they come down to who wants to survive more. Tactical strategies and guerilla warfare are the methods of choice, and these battles are nothing short of engrossing. I was on the edge of my seat with each and every clash. After the eleventh OVA, I couldn’t imagine what else could be done. The writers, however, thought otherwise. After the emotional rollercoaster that is the previous two episodes, one more episode remains. This episode flings everything forward a little too far in time and throws out what seems like a stand-alone plot. With Michel and Kiki acting as the only recognizable characters until the final scene, it felt like the twelfth episode was an afterthought rather than a true conclusion to the story.
With plenty of battles to go around, action fans will feel right at home with this OVA. Even if you aren’t, I’d still recommend giving this series a try. If you can look past the sub-par ending, then The 08th MS Team is a fine example of a solid Gundam series and a nice addition to the Universal Century timeline.
Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.