Posted by psgels on 13 April 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews

I now fully understand why War in the Pocket is held in such a high regard. At only six episodes it’s probably one of the shortest Gundams out there… but it has BY FAR the best characters that I have ever seen from the franchise. The fact that this series is told from the perspective of the Zeons (the bad guys in UC Gundam) makes it even better, turning this into the most morally ambiguous Gundam series as well.

The character who impressed me the most was Bernie, the lead character. He starts out like your average Gundam lead: young, rookie, ambitious, et cetera. However, the creators still made him competent: he’s a guy who doesn’t just ignore orders on a whim. The veterans around him also treat him as a rookie, and instead of standing in the spotlights he really is a guy who is tasked with the safe, dirty and boring work. The veterans around him also feel like they’re veterans, instead of the usual experienced soldier whose only tasks it is to let the youth take over. At no point does the angst or emo take over the storytelling, and neither do characters suddenly degrade into morons just to spice things up. This series averted a ton of Gundam cliches that originally made me so tired of this franchise.

The excellent characterization also really helps. Six episodes was obviously a bit short to develop a huge cast, but the two central characters get all the time they need to shine. The animation makes sure that the two of them are as expressive as possible, where it favours paying attention to these small details, rather than overblown battles. The side-characters aren’t as rounded as these two, and actually pretty static, but they’re nowhere near bad. They do a great job in illustrating the points that this series is trying to make. It very cleverly combines this childish innocence to the harsh realities of war, without ever going overboard with the drama.

So yeah, this pretty much is the most un-typical Gundam I have seen. While every other Gundam is an action-series, this really is a character-study first and foremost, where the action only takes up second place. For once we also have battles that stay down to earth (no pun intended), rather than going over the top near the end. And despite the lack of any epicness whatsoever, I found myself enjoying it more consistently than any other Gundam.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Perfectly makes use of its time. Great twists, yet remains down to earth.
Characters: 9/10 – Excellent characterization; averts a ton of Gundam cliches, no idiots, morons or emos whatsoever.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Perhaps not the best for a Gundam series, but still very good.
Setting: 9/10 – Puts the loop above settings and characters that are normally just glossed over in Gundam series, and it works perfectly.

10 Responses

  1. AuroraFlame says:

    Glad you enjoyed it. Back when I was a kid, this was the only series I saw that wasn’t a dumbed down shounen or other regular action/franchise show. It was my favorite for quite a while, at least until I started watching anime seriously.

  2. signorRossi says:

    Your comments make me want to give this a chance. I started Turn-A-Gundam’ recently and was fond of it at first, but soon it became too childish and unfocused for my taste.

  3. signorRossi, TurnAGundam is certainly quite different than any of the other Gundam series: It’s certainly a love it or hate it title.

    War in the Pocket, on the other hand is, in my opinion, Gundam’s Macross Plus

    They just don’t make them like this anymore.

  4. Perrin4869 says:

    You got a mistake on the title – it’s 0080, not 0800.
    Other than that, I agree with you, I regard this one as the best Gundam series too.

  5. asa says:

    …i still think 0080 is the worst gundam series…seed destiny FTW (no jokes)

  6. signorRossi says:

    @Dane Scaysbrook
    That’s good to hear, I liked Macross Plus (especially the music), and the Mecha aspect was kept to a minimum there, which was a ‘Plus’ for me, ha ha…
    @asa Will see what I think about it after watching it and report back and also check out Seed Destiny.
    I am almost a Gundam virgin BTW… ;-)

  7. AuroraFlame says:

    Macross Plus is actually a pretty good comparison to make. It’s only a bit longer than War in the Pocket and similarly makes no beyond epic attempt to tie the plot to the larger mythology. It’s completely character-based, and it’s the only Macross where the singer doesn’t get annoying.

  8. fool says:

    I’d love to hear what you think about F91 if you watch it.

    *spoliers for 0080*

    War in the Pocket was good…but say it ain’t so Bernie, I still can’t like an ending where the guy dies due to a sudden plot twist which neutralizes the “real” threat.


  9. signorRossi says:

    Finished watching this just now and it was really quite decent, I can agree with psgels on it.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 10:31 PM)
    I’m trying not to get my hopes up however, given that it wouldn’t be surprising if he gave us another filler chapter like he did with that pointless flashback.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 10:26 PM)
    I enjoyed this chapter of berserk and it made me immediately think “Finally now we’re getting somewhere”. I have been flicking through older chapters of the manga and wow, this really has turned into something fairly different. Bam is right about Gut’s reason to go to elfland. I think its impossible now to get a satisfactory ending out of berserk though we’ve been waiting too long.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 10:14 PM)
    The alternative is that Miura wants to bank on this till he dies; can’t blame him cuz you can always bet on black (swordsman).
  • Bam
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 10:13 PM)
    @Aidan: I think the point was originally to heal Caska (hence Farnese showing hesitation in fear of losing Guts when Caska is back) but then so many people tagged along that I don’t think the party knows anymore why they’re going there, just that they were supposed to. I have said before but I’m sure that either Miura doesn’t know what to do or has serious doubts about the ending.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 09:52 PM)
    Fairy dust, stargate, riding dragons, ruby slippers…anything to get Gut’s back on track to taking revenge. Miura needs to end this. He’s sick of making it and we are sick of waiting yet he drags the thing to high heaven.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 09:48 PM)
    It’s been so long I can’t even remember why they were going to elfhelm in the first place. Also was that a one piece joke?
    I like his art but yes, going simpler for moving the story along would be a better idea. Even if he needs to downgrade to the level of one punch man webcomic standards to bring weekly releases.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 09:14 PM)
    I just hope they teleport back to Midland or something, or ride faeries or whatever, I don’t Gove a damn, just anything but the boat. #NoMoreBoat
  • Bam
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 09:13 PM)
    The artistry remains incredible, with every frame filled to the brim with details, almost to the point of tiring the eye. It looks great and all, but I wouldn’t mind some simplicity for the sake of more frequent Berserk. I swear Guts’ entourage has grown so numerous and colorful that they’re almost like a traveling circus. I didn’t even remember that Roderick and a whole bunch of other people are also on the boat.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 09:06 PM)
    I enjoy Rickert but this chapter made me remember how better the story gets when Guts is back in the picture. This was a primer chapter and spent most of its time touching bases and getting the story back on track, and it did that wonderfully and humorously.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 09:01 PM)
    I was tryna stay spoiler free, but you’re goddamn right they got there! Few months back when Miura got it running again I said I believed that if Guts didn’t get to Elfhelm before the next hiatus then the series will probably never end. I really did feel that way and had little hope, but alas, rejoice indeed.

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