I find myself liking the sidestory series of Mobile Suit Gundam for the same reasons people hate the Star Wars prequels in that they take away from what made the series special to begin with. Mobile Suit Gundam's primary series, Zeta and Char's Counterattack and the Original Star Wars movies both put weight in the importance on a new kind of person or people with seemingly magical abilities and the the sidestories of Gundam and the Prequel Trilogy focus more on action and not as much on characterization. The Gundam sidestories aren't exposed as badly since the creators didn't insist on making an action figure out of every character or spend a bulk of their time telling us about characters but not showing them or why we should care. Characters in the Gundam shows even if they only have a little bit of screen time we can get a better grasp on their attitude and personality, at least most of the shows and I'm sure I'll get to Stardust Memory another Gundam show that REALLY plays into Prequel Territory at another time.
The rundown on Mobile Suit Gundam is more or less World War 2 IN SPACE with large robotic suits that pilots can get into and steer around the battlefield. Zeon is a space fearing organization that wants independance from the Federation and they go to war. Thats the focus of the franchise in a nutshell, but today I'll stick with this one series.
The series in all of 6 episodes tells a wonderful little story about a school boy named Al who wants to go to war. His friends like hearing of the Mobile Suit weapons that are winning campaigns on the battlefield. They don't get to see any action though since they're little corner of space is a lot like WWII Sweeden in that they're neutral and do not participate in action and keep a watch on they're own border. That doesn't stop the Principality of Zeon (Axis) from trying to set up shop there and learn if the Federation (Allies) are up to. The Federation is secretly testing a new Mobile Suit that the Zeon are not about to let enter the War. Al runs into the Zeon Special Forces team led by Steiner Hardy and his seasoned pros who have the misfortune of having a greenhorn pilot named Bernie tag along with them. Bernie meets Al and Bernie exploits Al to try and learn more about what is going on the space colony, escpecially when Bernie learns that Al's cute neighbor is a Federation pilot.
There is one action scene in each episode (except episode 5 but episode 1 has 2 so it balances out) and even with the little bit we are shown each one is good. Nothing too bombastic and silly and each action scene serves it's purpose and changes the way the story goes or is relevant to whats going on. The series isn't overly gratuitous and leaves some things to the imagination like when the Gundam uses a wrist mounted machine gun to destroy an enemy mech, we see several rounds shooting the command cabin and killing the pilot but not much else. However when Al is going through town the next day, we see emergency crews taking the cabin chair out and it's riddled with blood and bullet holes. We, along with Al are horrified. Al realizes that War is not a game and the same day when his friends want to play war games, he runs away.
Bernie and Al do develop a friendship and Bernie even starts a small romantic one with Al's neighbor Chris. Sadly, we see destiny get in the way and between the three, things don't go well.
I think one of the reasons that I like War in the Pocket as much as I do over all the Gundam series (with the exception of 08th MS Team) is that it's simple, has a story to tell and tells it very well. There are no annoying characters or brat teens crying about how life isn't fair and how stupid adults are that can sometimes RUIN the main Gundam series shows. All of it's action scenes are good and the show doesn't overstay it's welcome.
It is a little silly that what is reffered to as the "Star Trek of Japan" Mobile Suit Gundam would have a series, albeit a small one espousing the evils of war but still glamorizing it with model kits and toys from the show like all the other series for fans to buy. Al may be clearly shaken up at the end and the ending is powerful but knowing where this is coming from, it reminds me of The Sopranos where Tony and Paulie make Godfather jokes and references but never mind the drama that Godfather carries with it.
I've come to the Gundam party rather late in the grand scheme of things. After years of loving mecha-based shows like Robotech and Voltron, I finally decided to attempt to devote to the ever-expanding Gundam universe. Beginning with the original Mobile Suit series, I then ventured into the Zeta saga. From there it was on to Wing, Seed and Seed Destiny. Throughout this tour, I picked away at some of the smaller self-contained stories like the enjoyable 0083 Stardust Memory and this, the War in the … more
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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