Those who know this blog probably know that I’m not the biggest fan of Gundam, neither UC or the New Generation. However, there are exceptions. This one included.
It’s far from perfect, but the solid execution, characters and avoidance of a number of annoying Gundam tropes made me enjoy this series a lot more than most of the other ones of this franchise. The 08th MS Team tells about a small squadron of five people, stationed somewhere in a jungle, near the frontlines. It shines in how it portrays these characters, and the tension that erupts from having to work so closely together so often. I personally really enjoyed the chemistry between these five, and it also helps that the lead character himself belongs in my top three of Gundam Leads: while bratty at first sight, this guy is mature, intelligent and has a sense of leadership that’s very rare amongst main characters of his kind. Sure, he does have some of the flaws that’s become a bit too typical of Gundam (ignoring orders, anyone?), but he had this refreshing sense of charisma that felt like a breath of fresh air amonst all teenaged mecha pilots.
More Gundam Tropes were avoided this way. I was pleasantly surprised at how the creators didn’t go through ridiculous lengths to give the lead character the strongest mecha possible: the lead character trashes quite a few of his mechas along the way, and as a consequence he ends up piloting less impressive-looking ones. Battles are also much more a matter of tactics, rather than random shouting and endless battles in which everyone ends up retreating. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this series, especially the middle part.
There also was a lot for me to dislike, though. Most notably, the bad guy. This guy was pretty pathethic throughout the series as he tried to carry out his plans, and the creators tried to explain some utterly non-sensical things just on his insanity like it was some sort of magic plot device. I guess that the intention of the creators was to show some sort of moral, in the way of “even though no side wishes for war, it’s always ruined by some moron who doesn’t think straight”, but for that to work I would have really liked some more depth on these morons.
Speaking of ‘war is bad’, it’s prevalent in this series too, but I feel like these themes are a bit too underdeveloped as well. It doesn’t really mesh well with this series’s other themes, resulting in how battle-hardened soldiers suddenly start rambling on cheesy ideals that feel more like the writers’ opinions than that of the characters themselves. I’m overall a bit iffy on the character-development: it’s very prevalent, but in a few cases (for me the most notable were the main villain, Eledore and Michel) it felt like the characters just changed character, rather than evolved.
It’s also got a really weird final episode, especially for its time. You can pretty much see it as the prelude to those exclusive DVD-only episodes, that tackle a topic that hardly has anything to do with the main storyline. Overall, the idea was very nice, and was definitely an interesting way to close off such a series, hampered only by one particular very obnoxious and stupid character.
Yes Michel, that means you.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Great atmosphere and the look at war through the eyes of a common soldier. Only becomes too epic for its own good in its final quarter, rather than its final half.|
|Characters:||8/10 – Excellent chemistry, character-development all over the place. Emo villain.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – For Gundam’s standards not the best, but well detailed animation and decent enough music.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Showed a different side to the UC universe than most other Gundams.|