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Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team – Collector’s Edition Box Set (a J!-ENT anime DVD Review)

June 15, 2008 by  



“MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM – The 08th MS TEAM is a 12-episode OAV series that shows the nature of war between the Federation and the Zeon. More realistic with a Romeo and Juliet storyline that is action-packed, gripping and definitely high on the list of must-see of Gundam titles”

DVD INFORMATION:

DVD TITLE: Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team – Collector’s Edition Box Set (aka Kidou Senshi Gundam: Dai 08 MS Shotai)

DURATION: (a total of 5 discs) Approx. 395 minutes. 12 episodes (22 minutes) each / Miller’s Report Special (55 minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: COLOR/NTSC / Japanese Audio (Dolby Digital 5.1 ch and Dolby Digital Stereo / English subtitles

CATALOG #: BUDH0127

COMPANY: Bandai Entertainment

DIRECTOR: Kanda Takeyuki, Iida Umanosuke

SCREENWRITER: (ep. 1 through 9) Okeya Akira (ep. 10-12) Kitajima Hiroaki

Original Story by Yatate Hajime, Tomino Yosiyuki (from Mobile Suit Gundam)

STUDIO: SUNRISE

The year is Univeral Century 0079 – The Federation has begun mass production of the prototype Gundams for use by their ground forces. Shiro Amada, commander of the 08th MS Team must lead his squadron through fierce fighting on the ground. However, the Zeons are developing a secret project which could tip the balance of power! Can Shiro and his ragtag team of cast-offs, rejects, and bad attitudes save the Federation?

I decided that in 2008, I’m going to watch every Gundam release in the Universal Century timeline on DVD. Not in particular order because a) the DVD’s came out years ago and thus obtaining review copies are nil b) the cost of the DVD box sets are quite expensive. So, with that being said… I’m watching what I can along the way and having only watched the Gundam films back in the early 90’s, my interest is now quite high for anything Gundam as I have been wanting more sci-fi space battle type of series.

So, as I await to watch the original series (I have started to re-watch the original film trilogy) and Zeta Gundam, I started with “Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team”.

I really enjoyed the film trilogy because it’s literally about war and the adventures of the Trojan Horse and its crew, especially the challenges and spotlight ala Amuro Ray

So, with “Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team”, during the first several episodes, I was a bit surprised. Because they were warm hearted, a lot of humor and wasn’t sure if the original OAV series was intended for children or what.

The series takes place during October U.C. 0079 through December U.C. 0079 (during the final months of the one year war) and from reading online reports, 08th MS Team director Kanda Takeyuki wanted to deglamorize Mobile Suits because they were being mass produced and also wanted to focus more on ground-troop level combat.

One thing that I found quite interesting was the main character, 08th MS Team Commander Shiro Amada (note: On J!-ENT we use last name first but for sake of not confusing anyone, I’ll use first name first, family name second for my Gundam DVD reviews) and his style of leadership.

Shiro’s a leader who wants to accomplish a mission without bloodshed. He respects human life no matter if it’s comrade or enemy.

Thus in the first episode, he goes against a Zeon pilot and after the fight ensues, he rescues the pilot Aina Sakhalin.

Aina is shocked that a Federation officer has tried to save her life and both work together to rescue themselves from danger and the two form a respect for each other.

From episode 2-5, these episodes are more or less introductory episodes to the 08th MS Team.

The team consists of:

Terry Sanders: In episode 1, Shiro saves Sanders life. But to many others, he is rumored to be bad luck because each team he has been a part of, everyone has been killed. Shiro doesn’t believe in the nonsense and believes in his pilot.

Karen Joshua: Karen is a muscular woman, a pilot, mechanic and very headstrong member of the team. You learn that her husband has been killed in action and thus she fights for him as a pilot.

Eledore Mathis: Eledor is in charge of driving the tank. He seems to have a fascination towards Karen but his carefree style gets on her nerves. Eledore is also a songwriter and really doesn’t want to be in the military but to create music.

Michel Ninorinch: Michel is the youngest member of the 08th MS Team. He’s not very military savvy but he assists Eledore in the tank. His inexperience on the field tends to get on the nerves of the other team members but they regard him as part of the team nonetheless. Each day he sends a letter to his girlfriend BB every day to let her know that he is alive and well. But always worries of the day he won’t be able to send a letter and worries of being killed during combat.

Kiki Rosita: Kiki is not an official member of the 08th MS Team. She’s part of a guerilla group of villagers who side with the 08th MS Team only to rid of the Zeon in their area. But she grows fond of Shiro and takes part in their missions.

So, as the first five episodes is more or less getting to know the characters and their challenges during the war, you also see a side of the war such as the strategies to combat the enemy and also, unlike Gundams that can withstand hits and attacks, these Gundams can easily be damaged or even destroyed. Also, to show that pilots are not always strong. They have their weaknesses.

Once you get to episode 6, the humorous nature suddenly turns serious as it sets up the battle between the 08th MS Team and the Zeon team headed by Aina.

During their battle, Shiro and Aina are taken far away and must depend on each other for survival and you learn that from the day they first met, the two have wanted to be together and are indeed in love with each other.

This sets up the final half of the OAV series sets up the stage as Shiro is being accused as a spy for Zeon and he has put his 08th MS Team at risk and for possible execution as accomplices. (Note: The case against Shiro is continued in a special episode titled “MILLER’S REPORT” which I have reviewed separately but is included in the Collector’s Edition Boxset).

In order to redeem themselves, the Federation puts them in a mission with a 38% survival rate and that mission is to destroy the Zeon base.

This also a mission that pits Shiro and Aina in opposition. Will they remain true to their side of the military or will they remain true to their relationship?

Having now completed my viewing of the entire series, I can’t help but recommend this OAV series.

At first, I questioned the lightheartedness of the crew, the comedy and humor and their abilities as pilots because the early episodes focused on their personal naivety and to see them bested by villagers and to see Mobile Suits being easily destroyed, I really didn’t know what to expect.

But the build up in storyline and how they prepare you for the final battle is just exciting, action-packed and you can’t help but root for Shiro and Aina in their Romeo and Juliet romance and the final episode “Last Resort” (which takes place months after the final battle and the end of the war).

I’ve read that in the US, the final 12th episode “Last Resort” was not aired on television because children are featured (in MS Gundam, a lot of the adults and men are killed in action on both the Federation and Zeon side. So, women and children are put into the battlefield) as soldiers.

Also, a side not in terms of the final 12th episode. “Last Resort” was released 3 1/2 years after the 11th episode after the death of director Kanda Takeyuki who died in a car accident. The series was completed by GONZO’s Iida Umanosuke.

But for those who have watched the series on television, it’s imperative to watch the final 12th episode only on DVD because you get to learn the fate of the Shiro and Aina.

VIDEO:

The video quality is what I expected from a series that took place back in 1995. So, you really get cool action-packed fight scenes and good lighting that shows daylight and darkness throughout the jungle or desert. Aspect ratio is: 1.33:1

AUDIO:

I watched the complete series in Japanese with English subtitles but I did watch the first episode with English dubbing. The English dubbing was good and for the dub, the use of profanity or more mature language was used to show how soldier’s were during the battlefield. As for special effects, I know the music was very nice and clear but I don’t recall anything special during the battles.

EXTRA FEATURES:

You get the Gundam Encyclopedia and video clips of UC0079 Gundam and the textless opening theme and the addition of MILLER’S REPORT.

“MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: The 08th MS Team” is just a remarkable OAV series in the Universal Century world of Gundam.

You really get a sense of how sick war is and how both sides (Zeon and Federation) and even the non-military villagers have suffered from it.

But also, how MS Gundams were not indestructible. Almost like in real life, even with the most modern of technology, may it be tanks or aircraft, they can be easily destroyed.

This was a very big difference in contrast to the “Mobile Suit Gundam” films (and I’m guessing as shown in the earlier episodes) where the Zeon was just in awe of how Amuro Ray’s Mobile Suit hardly suffered any damage.

Also, you get to see a bit of strategy by the 08th team and of course, where Federation and Zeon are just at each others throats in many Gundam storylines, for this storyline, you have a Federation commander and a major Zeon pilot who have fallen in love with each other.

A Gundam “Romeo and Juliet” storyline with an impressive ending. A great payoff for those who have watched the OAV’s overtime.

All in all, this OAV series is highly recommended. You can purchase all five volumes (inc. Miller’s Report) separately or as a collector’s edition box set.

+ A very interesting and gripping “Romeo and Juliet” Gundam storyline

+ Director Kanda Takeyuki’s deglamorization of Gundam units and showing that the mass produced Gundam’s are not indestructible. Dangerous but depending on the pilot’s experience.

+ Cool voice work both in Japanese and in English

+ An all out impressive storyline filled with action and intrigue throughout.

+ A good number of special features that will make fans happy and the inclusion of Miller’s Report in the box set was cool!

– Because this is an older series, audiophiles or anime videophiles may bypass this series.

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