Posted by psgels on 18 March 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews

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.

6 Responses

  1. cx says:

    Its funny how in gundam and mecha in particular it always involves the main character and love interest crashing somewhere and bonding -_-
    Anyway one of my favs. The battle with norris at the end was awesome

  2. Kanao says:

    Recently watched it myself and enjoyed it substantially more than the 0079 Gundam recap movies (couldn’t find the patience to watch the entire series). I personally don’t find realistic battle tactics a necessity for enjoying a show but they really were done very well in this series. It would be nice if some future Gundam releases tried their hand at a similar approach.

    I agree that the ending went downhill with Ginias coming across as a very flat character. To me the Norris Packard battle felt like the true climax. The ‘epilogue’ episode didn’t make much sense as an addition as much of it felt poorly written and pointless. That said, even the disappointing episodes had some good points.

    I watched War in the Pocket straight after and that was also surprisingly good – a rather unique perspective on the UC 0079-80 war.

  3. Watcherzero says:

    If your talking about ep 12, the one after the war then your right it was a OVA DVD set extra.

  4. Camario says:

    And yet I’d still give this OVA series a higher score…perhaps about what you gave Halo Legends, of all things, even with its flaws and all.

    Most of the idealistic speech didn’t really work for me either, but there were still a few powerful moments here and there where the themes of war and how it affects society shined through. I thought those scenes made up for the awkward dialog.

    The final episode…it was a misplaced and misguided attempt at an epilogue, but the series works well enough without it. The villain, on the other hand, was admittedly quite uninteresting and nothing special overall.

  5. Chris says:

    This was my favorite Gundam series, seeing as it had 2 things I like in anime. Great action and great romance

  6. A.r. says:

    Strongly disagree with you on Ghinius (I could write volumes about all the stuff I think is going on with him psychologically, and why I find it absolutely fascinating), but still good to see another review of 08th that doesn’t give it perfect marks across the board. 08th’s fine and worth a watch, but I disagree with a good bit of the hype it gets from the UC fandom.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I must ponder on how Revolutionary Girl Utena’s Professor Nemuro/Souji Mikage is one of the best damn Ghinius parallels ever for the 5th time this week.

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  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 29. 2015 03:25 AM)
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 10:22 PM)
    @Aidan: it does seem like you’ve actually seen Xavier, in which case I’m impressed. Didn’t think you had it in you.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 09:35 PM)
    Speaking of errors, can anybody else open Evil Genius Scanlations page? I keep getting a gateway error. I know there should be a new Berserk on there but some force is keeping it from me. This is messed up.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:38 PM)
    @Bam, Easy. 404 not found
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:45 AM)
    It takes a true magnificence to propose such a grand question as: What dot life?!
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:42 AM)
    @Kaiser: the show does vary in quality, but for the first season they generally crank up the insanity with every episode until a very remarkable season finale where Xavier faces his worst enemy.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Bam: Oh in symphogears case, I certainly laughed but I wasn’t supposed to.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:39 AM)
    @Bam: While it didn’t always work, that first episode of renegade angel was amusing, I particularly liked the part where he went on about Aids being invented.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:22 AM)
    and don’t be fooled by the simple graphics, the crudeness is completely intentional.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:21 AM)
    @Kaiser: as far as Xavier goes I implore you to download and watch the first episode to get the gist of it. That show is the pinnacle of absurdist and meta humor. It’s strangely adored within the animation circles, getting very high praise from the industry, but it’s very dense and bizarre so people either love or hate it. If you’re anything like me it might become one of your most beloved shows.

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