Alfred Izuruha is a 10-year-old who lives in the neutral colony cluster of Side 6 and, like most boys his age, is obsessed with the war between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. Unbeknownst to him, Al's next-door neighbor, Christina, is the test pilot of a prototype Gundam being developed in secret by the Earth Federation in the colony. A Zeon Special Forces team is assembled and tasked with infiltrating the colony in order to either steal or destroy it.
When a skirmish breaks out between the Federation and infiltrating Zeon forces, the fascinated Alfred stumbles upon a Zaku mobile suit that has been shot down, piloted by Zeon rookie Bernard "Bernie" Wiseman. After this encounter, the two start a mutual friendship, so Alfred can learn more about the war that interests him so much, and Bernie can acquire inside information about the colony to aid his team's mission.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket was a project made to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the franchise. It marked the first time someone other than Yoshiyuki Tomino had directed a Gundam project, with Fumihiko Takayama acting as lead director.
War in the Pocket is ok. I'll try not to spoil anything beyond the first episode, but I will say that the first half is somewhat boring. The second half is really where this series takes off, so if you're unsure halfway, push past it.
I decided to write this review because most of them are glowing and rate this short series highly, and I don't feel like there was an outsider's view (by outsider, I mean that I have never seen anything Gundam related before; I've seen various other mecha shows, but Gundam isn't one I'm familiar with). That being said, I don't believe I needed to know the background, but I do feel that knowing the background beforehand might have improved my opinion of the show.
The story of War in the Pocket is one we see from time to time, but it's more rare than not: The child's perspective. Children in war are typically nothing more than observers, as they are too small or weak to fight and too inexperienced to help in most other ways, so stories such as these are usually stories of innocence lost, and this is no exception. The protagonist is 10 year old Al, child of a separated family on a neutral colony ship who enjoys the concept of war (as many kids do), the big army machines, badges, guns, explosions, and everything "fun" that comes with an idealized, remote view of war. Some small bit of combat is brought to his colony, and Al happens to meet and befriend an enemy pilot. The premise is promising and the characters are somewhat well written - which makes it so much more disappointing when the backdrop of realism this show pretends to have falls short.
Unfortunately, something just didn't quite click for me with War in the Pocket. In the first episode, there's a small battle, and Al happily chases after an injured mech, which lands in a park. The disconnect between what should happen and what does happen in this early episode is never resolved, and for me it cheapened the story: No one ever comes to collect the enemy mech. No recovery teams haul it away, no engineering team clears it from the city, no search teams are sent after the pilot, the area is not cordoned off - the people in charge of the colony and the military just leave a semi-damaged mech where the public can get to it. This problem extends to characters as well. Military machinery is fun to look at from afar, but when you get close (even if it's just idling) reality sets in very quickly, as military hardware is large, loud, tough, and intimidating if you aren't accustomed to being around it on a regular basis...but Al seems to be completely immune to it. If you take a child to the gun range it won't take long for things to set in: shockwaves of air from every round fired hit your body, the noises from each shot pierce your eardrums, and it goes from being a game to being very real very quickly. These are things that most other stories about children in war seem to get right, but for War in the Pocket, it's a big whiff. Al doesn't get the dose of shock and reality that should change things for him, so the story - now toothless - falls flat.
The art is dated, but not painfully so. The sound is poor to average at best, good ol 80s. The characters are fairly well written, but don't react to situations realistically when it matters (specifically Al). The story was ok, but wasn't thought out quite enough. I enjoyed it for what it was, but I was never drawn in and ended up kinda forcing myself to watch the rest with the excuse "it's pretty short, so I can knock it out."
If you're a fan of Gundam I'd recommend you watch this as it should provide a different view than what you're used to, but if you aren't involved in the Gundam franchise at all, skip it. This is nothing special.read more
As a small member of the huge gundam metaseries, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is often overlooked. This is a real shame, as 0080 is one of the most touching war stories to be found in the anime medium.
The story of 0080 is distinct from other gundam series in that it features a civilian child's point of view on war. It is the story of Alfred Izuruha's journey of disillusionment as he grows out of his starry-eyed romance for war and the military, ultimately realizing the devastation and meaninglessness of it all. Though the risk of spoilers prevent me from elaborating further, it must be noted that the story goes beyond merely reminding the viewer of the obvious, such as "lives are lost during times of war". Al's personal growth is a heart-wrenching and emotional ride as he learns firsthand about the true faces of war from Bernie and the few days the two share together within the time frame of the series. Though virtually every gundam series share the anti-war theme, 0080 is the most effective amongst all of them in relaying the simple message: war is bad. As unimpressive as that sounds, 0080's achieves this without being preachy or cheesy (two very common pitfalls in war anime), while evoking strong emotions from the viewer.
The limited cast of 0080 is fairly ordinary, but very befitting of the story's needs. As hinted above, Al is a great character simply because of his unique and integral role in the story, though he may come off as too bratty and annoying for his own good in the beginning. Like most other gundam series, the two sides of the conflict are not portrayed as black and white. Zeeks such and Bernie and Feddies such as Christina are just ordinary people following orders from the institution of war -- the only true "bad guy". This allows the moral and lessons of the story to bear more weight than a typical "good guys vs. bad guys" scenario.
Since 0080 aired in 1989, the aesthetics of the OVA does seem aged. However, the animation, especially during the action scenes, are still sights to behold to this very day. Though 0080 is skimpy on mecha action, the few scenes that does appear throughout the series are very well done, some of which even rank among the most memorable mobile suit battles to be animated.
All in all, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is recommended to anyone interested in a great story about the tragedy of war, especially fans of the gundam franchise. With a moving story, excellent hand-drawn art, and great characters, it is hard to go wrong with this small but radiant gem in the prolific gundam universe.read more
Many months ago I decided I was gonna make it my goal to watch through every single universal century gundam and many of it's spin offs. Out of all the grand scale battles and magical newtype powers spread across the many entries of the universal franchise, I found a little ova by the name of war in the pocket. This short 6 episode ova stood out from the fellow gundam installments as well as many of its contemporaries in the genre even to this day. Set within the one year war from the original gundam series war in the pocket focused heavily on telling the war from the eyes of a civilian child as well as a rookie grunt on the antagonist army of the zeon from the original series. The series favors a slow build to focus on characters rather than action. Even in the rare moments of action the show is able to convey the combat as more weighted and bulky which ultimate results in a more realistic feeling combat than how most mecha feel. The action scenes are few and far between but are accurately placed where they would impact the most. The result is a polarizing experience with some of the most emotional punches not in just the gundam franchise but the entirety of anime. And its able to pull all this off in what is barely a run a time over a movie.
To get one thing out of the way, war in the pocket is entirely stand alone and requires no knowledge of the original series it takes place in. If you know a gundam is a mech and that there is a war then you know all you need to know to get into this ova. The immediate thing one is going to notice when going into war in the pocket is that its pacing is on the slow side. It take the slow build with a pay off formula and masterfully pulls it off. Everything that happens in the ova's first half leads to a impacting pay off for its faster and hard hitting 2nd half. The way it handles its transition from the slow and light hearted first half to the impending tragedy looming over head is nothing short of masterfully executed as it will truly make you grow attached to these characters and the world around them so that you will actually feel something in the coming events as the characters do. The use of its scarce action scenes is also nothing short of perfectly executed as they are few and far between but all of them contain impact when they finally happen in addition to be wonderfully choreographed and animated feeling as brutal as the story is trying show war is. When a action scene shows up you dont think "Oh man a cool action scene" but rather you experience some really tragic events shown through harsh and heavy imagery that are anything but glorified.
War in the pocket is almost entirely character driven, it focuses on a single event and the characters reacting to it rather than trying to expand on the conflict of the original series. The main focus is on our elementary school child protagonist Alfred and his relationship with a zeon grunt named Bernie. The relationship feels real as do the characters themselves. They are not only relateable but also dynamic as they go through more believable character development over the course of these 6 episodes than entire series are capable of providing. Alfred our main protagonist delivers a different viewing experience than any story i can think of as it focusing on showing how a child his age views something like war, we see this in many stories but usually with side characters but never have I seen it done through the eyes of the central protagonist. At the start of the series he idolizes war and conflict as do kids in real life sadly do, and as the series goes on he begins to learn more and more about just what harsh consequences war pertains not only to those fighting in it but also the civilians caught in the cross fire. Its got a very harsh but sadly true message about how people see this awful event of war in real life and is able to convey just how harsh it truly is. Its able to do this while still making the characters not just likable but lovable. you will care about these 2 as the series goes on and you actually feel something when they do.
Though the series being heavily character driven can also be a turn off for some, if you longing for a more plot driven story-line then war in the pocket will be a disappointment. There is a bigger picture going on but rather than exploring that larger event it instead to shows just how people out of the loop of this larger conflict react to it. It shouldn't be a problem to most but it is understandable why some may walk out wishing the story may had focused on a larger scale rather than the smaller singular event they do focus on. People may also be turned off by the main character alfred since he is a kid, and as a results hes very naive and gullible, hes a realistic portrayal of how a kid acts but its also understandable that hes not the ideal character entertainment wise to be following for a story to some even if i personally could not imagine a protagonist any other way for a story such as this. The undeniably biggest flaw with war in the pocket comes in the way of its just straight up bad ost. Its not just that the songs are really bland but they kill a ton of the atmosphere and tone by being way too happy sounding. It works for the first half but during the latter events of the story it simply is out of place and even at a few moments can detract from some powerful scenes. Most notable is the very last scene of the ova which is nothing short of powerful....buuuut I cant help but feel it could had been more powerful if a song that sounds straight out of a cheery slice of life wasn't playing very loudly throughout its final moments and the ensuing credits. its not enough to ruin such a powerful story in my opinion but iIlong for something more fitting especially when the audio of the sound effects is top notch.
War in the pocket is one of the most polarizing and impacting stories I have had the privileged of sitting through, it doesn't revolutionize a genre but what it instead does is tell a powerful story that had more impact on me both while watching and well after its had finished playing than entire 50 episode series were capable of providing. The conflicts, character, and relationships all feel real, the slow build to a pay off is perfectly done, and the entire series just continues to stay lingering in my mind many months after I have finished it. Its depressing that a story this stand out and impacting has been lost to obscurity despite how well it has aged and impacting it may be. If you ever have the time i urge you to check out war in the pocket, while i doubt its for everyone, this isn't a story that should be lost in obscurity like it has and is more than worth your time.read more
This series was only 6 episodes long but packed more character development in it than most 50+ episode Mobile Suit Gundam series. The protagonist, Al, is likeable, and is a kid that most people can quickly and easily identify with. He finds school boring, is good at some subjects, is failing at others and is afraid of his mother "grounding" him for his bad grades. His father is never around and he hungers for male companionship, which he gets from a new friend, Bernard Wiseman.
The friendship between Bernard, a rookie pilot, and Al, the school kid, grows despite the difficulties of the political situation in their supposedly "neutral" colony. The usual misunderstandings arise, and one can't help but be amazed and amused at Al's ingenious methods of problem solving. It is a relationship where both parties learn from each other. Al's courage leads to Bernie having an ephiphany, and the closing sequence is one of the best I've seen in all MSG series.
If you like a good story which will make you root for certain characters, and will make you reflect at the end, then please watch Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 War in the Pocket. read more
Gundam is one of the largest anime franchises today, made up of more than a dozen TV shows, as well as movies, OVAs, and more. With so many stories split up into multiple timelines, it can be tough to know where to start. But don't worry. This comprehensive Gundam guide will help light your way.