Mobile Suit Gundam 0080, Vol. 2: War in the Pocket (1989)
Review by Doc Ezra

Original Story by Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino
Directed by Fumihiko Takayama
Character Design by Haruhiko Mikimoto
Written by Hiroyuki Yamaga


Rating: 13+

Anamorphic: N/A

My advice: Gundam fans should own it, others should rent.

The War in the Pocket series picks up at the tail end of the One Year War, and focuses in this volume around Al, a child living in Side 6, one of the colonies that has remained neutral throughout the bloody war between Zeon and the Earth Federation. His two favorite people are Bernie and Chris, who are unfortunately (and unbeknownst to either of them) working for different sides in the dwindling conflict. Bernie is a young soldier in the forces of Zeon, undercover on Side 6 and investigating possible Earth weapons programs. Chris is a young pilot for Earth, and sheís on Side 6 covertly developing more Gundam mobile suits.

Things are further complicated by the fact that Side 6 is being kept in the dark about the true nature of the Earth Federationís presence on their colony. Theyíve been told that all the research being conducted is peaceful in nature, but in reality, mobile suits are being developed and improved under the cover of medical prosthetics research. Chris, despite being in on the deception, is obviously uncomfortable with it. Bernie and his Zeon superiors are aware of the true nature of the research, and have taken matters into their own hands. Zeon dispatched Bernie and several other operatives to destroy the Gundam at all costs. The price of failure is even more dire, as the forces of Zeon will employ nuclear weapons to destroy the entire colony should the insurgent team fail in this mission.

After the sabotage teamís first attempt meets with disaster, leaving Bernie alone on Side 6, he enlists the help of Al in order to destroy the Federation mobile suit and thereby save the colony from total destruction by Zeon nukes. Alís eager participation endears him to Bernie, who suspects that his plan will quite likely lead to his certain death. Making matters worse is Bernieís growing interest in and affection for Chris, whom he doesnít know is the pilot of his target Gundam suit. All this drama sets up a conflict that can only end in tears, as Bernie and Chris battle it out unaware of each other, as Al watches on in horror.

Let it never be said that mecha anime canít have some serious emotional storytelling. In a mere three episodes, this disc sets up a tragic tale of star-crossed friends, a lonely little boy, and the personal sacrifices made in times of war. Gundam typically ratchets up the drama level a bit over most anime, and this disc ratchets it up a notch higher than is the baseline for this series. As a nicely self-contained storyline, the disc stands up without much prior knowledge of Tominoís war-torn universe.

The transfer is excellent, both audio and video clean and clear. The extras are decent, though not overwhelming in quantity. Iíve never been a big proponent of the music video as extra, and am slightly bewildered by the inclusion of anime songs as such. The Mobile Suit Encyclopedia is kind of neat, particularly if youíre into Tominoís Gundam universe as a whole. It provides technical specifications for the various mobile suits employed in the series, and some serious in-depth information about their development and deployment--itís obvious all these details were worked out carefully in planning the series, even if the episodes themselves never discuss the suits in such analytical and quantitative terms. Itís that attention to detail that has made Gundam one of the most successful anime franchises in the history of the medium.

This disc makes a great place to sample the 0080 series, if youíre not familiar with this particular installment in the franchise. It also makes a good sampler for the series as a whole. It gives you a little action, a lot of drama, and some excellent character development.

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