Time Enforcer Anubis here with a fresh review!
People who grew up like I did will remember how, as a kid, war was cool, especially so when it involved giant robots. We dreamed of growing up and becoming the most badass ace mech pilots. The anime I have today focuses on a kid just like many of us were, which makes it all the more gripping.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is a six-episode OVA that takes place during the tail end of the Universal Century’s One Year War, and focuses on Alfred Izuhara, an 11-year-old child who resides in the neutral colony Side 6. The Principality of Zeon discovers a secret Earth Federation project being developed in the cover of the colony, and sends the Cyclops Team, a covert MS team, to investigate and, if needed, destroy the Federation research.
The choice to focus on not a pilot, but a civilian child is unusual, but ends up working in the OVA’s favor. It gives the series a real down-to-earth and realistic perspective. The shift in focus also brings the ramifications of mobile suit combat in a populated area.
Character-wise, the series does well at characterizing the characters it wants to. Al is a very relatable character, and his interactions with the Cyclops Team, especially rookie pilot Bernard Wiseman, whom the Cyclops Team charges with making sure Al doesn’t get too deeply involved, are realistic. Other characters, however, such as Federation Pilot Christina MacKenzie, don’t get as much characterization as I would have liked.
The mecha designs in 0080 are quite well-done, which is a big plus considering the way the series is set-up. There are a lot of close-up shots of the mobile suits, and no detail is spared. At the same time, the combat is a visceral and brutal depiction of mobile suit battles in the absolute worst place to have mobile suit battles: A populated colony. Mobile suits and buildings alike get visibly damaged with every round bullet. Innocents die, property is damaged, and many lives are changed by the battle inside the colony.
All-in-all, Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is one of the most realistic and un-idealized depictions of war I’ve seen in the Gundam franchise, and that’s due in part to the shift in perspective from soldiers to a civilian child. As the mecha stand on high, Gundam 0080 drops down to human level and focuses on how the war affects the people. If you enjoy Gundam, real-robot mecha anime, or war anime, you need to see Gundam 0080. Bottom line.
‘Till next time!