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 This series averted a ton of Gundam cliches that originally made me so tired of this franchise.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.

    *spoliers*

  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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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Mar 28. 2015 11:21 PM)
    Waiting between releases for this will be a good thing, its the sort of manga you pick up and put down, then go back to with breaks in between.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Mar 28. 2015 11:13 PM)
    13 volumes into dorohedero, I’ve found it good enough to buy now that I’ve caught up with the official English releases. While the plot meaders and is kind of messy, isn’t up to much, I love how crazy the gory action is, the gritty artstyle/world and the black comedy more than well make up for it. It works best when focused on those masked gangster magician guys and also the main character, the others are only alright.
  • Raggers
    (Saturday, Mar 28. 2015 02:19 AM)
    @Aidan: true, but I don’t think the level is anywhere close to a true shounen. And once the basic rules are established it’s strategising and straight out fighting.
    I’d be more inclined to call it seinen with shounen elements than actually shounen.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 09:59 PM)
    Good all action finale to cap off Garo there, went out with a bang, though thing is I have no idea where their going to go with this when the movie, second season comes along, this seems like a pretty good point to finish.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:35 PM)
    I think that just about all the manga serialized in ultra jump feel less seinen than those serialized in other seinen magazines.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:19 PM)
    There’s plenty of in battle explaining. I don’t think there’s been a battle without in battle explaining. You got the first time villain that ends up a good guy. You got powerups and levels of quinques. There’s a ton of shounen elements.
    Just because something has gore does not make it seinien. Deadman wonderland is Shounen and it has just as much gore and torture.
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 02:52 PM)
    @Emma: ah, yes.
    @Aidan: How so? A variety of weapons and abilities does not turn something into a shounen battle manga.
    I’d need a lot more random in-battle explaining secret powers to your opponent, and a lot more mercy to not consider it seinen.
    Also, torture, balls and limbs being chopped off as a sick joke, slicing people in half without warning, breaking half their bones…
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 12:44 PM)
    I felt that the story became too shounen battle manga When at first it was portrayed as seinien. Especially with the quineqes and such.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 12:06 PM)
    @Raggers: His past with the old lady ghoul where he was castrated =<
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:48 AM)
    @Emma: which moment is that?

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