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 does not determine who is right - only who is left" -Bertrand Russell
Sometimes, the best war stories are not told from the perspective of the people who fight, but from those who don't. Without offering any sort of resistance in most cases, civilians are defenseless against the cruelties which are present at these times. This way, some horrific stories remain hidden without record and linger profusely in the wounded hearts of many. Gundam is a series that usually relies heavily on action to show off the designs of the mechs, which are the main selling point of the franchise. By this method, a
lesser emphasis is placed on what is happening in the background of the stories, separate from the pilots who control them. War in the pocket diverts from the norm and instead focuses on Side 6, a neutral colony in space consisting of peaceful civilians. One of these people is Alfred, a 10 year old boy who is still full of dreams and hasn't yet understood the gruesome reality around him. What follows is a coming of age story about overcoming loss and the pointlessness of warfare.
Right from the get-go, we can see that schoolchildren are highly uneducated about the war surrounding them; most of which are not even aware that two opposing sides exist. The demeanor of the children is reminiscent of those isolated in an authoritarian state, where people are blind to what is happening across the borders. Mirroring this, the children are in awe of the battles, eagerly waiting for the next one to occur within their site. While this may seem unrealistic- and it is- we have got to remember that these kids have not yet understood death nor destruction. Likewise, a greater importance is placed on arbitrary ordeals, such as ignoring that one irritating girl in class or proving whether a military badge that they found was real. It all agglutinates into mass irrationality.
The show likes to play with contrasts. There is a reoccurring scene in the beginning of each odd episode, showing the daily routine of citizens in the morning. If you play close enough attention, there are small changes which show the progression of disaster, foreshadowing the climax of the story. These include different items placed in shopping windows, detailed alterations in nuances proving discomfort and abrupt happenings at the end of the entire sequence. Similarly, irony is used to an almost sarcastic degree. When Alfred returns home at the start of the series, he encounters his mother, who provides him with demands such as to complete his homework. After agreeing with every word of hers, she tells him that "You're just full of the right answers today". He then proceeds to repeat "Yes, mom" to every little action in his room, such as while playing a video game. However, while playing, he goes against what the game tells him to do, still repeating the words. He ends up shooting down his own school, home and town. This is sign of boisterous nature and one that characterises his innocence, unaware that this is exactly what could occur at any time in reality.
The train of mendacity is finally altered with the fated encounter of Bernand, a Zeon (enemy) soldier who has crashed into a forest after a battle within the colony. Alfred ran towards the falling Zaku (enemy mech) without being fazed, as he is still unaware that there are two sides in a war. This confrontation is highly symbolic, portrayed by the falling light from Bernand onto Alfred, hinting on potential salvation in the future. It is by this concurrence that a mutual understanding is shared between these people, where a gap in age and social standing allows for a contrast in power to be present. Bernand takes advantage of his situation and thereby uses cunning techniques to obtain intel from Alfred, in any way that he can. Given by Alfred's clueless nature, he agrees to help Bernand collect information almost as a game. Here on, a friendship is built upon misunderstandings and lies. The way the story is structured is genius, where a realistic situation allows for the maturity of an unassuming child.
The title alone is enough to induce brainstorming. A picture is shown at the midsection of each episode, where the title-drop is present. Here, Alfred's pocket is exposed, stuffed with several toys. The thing is, these toys mimic weapons of war. Hinting on the reoccurring themes of contrast and irony, a missile, gun and knife are all miraculously fit into a tight pocket, reflecting on the tight budget of nations during times of war. All these items are essentials for fighting in modern times and are drawn in a pastel-like style, once again illustrating immaturity. Alfred is drawn with a wide smile indicating youthfulness. I don't think that they could have used more suitable imagery that the ones presented here.
Yet another example of excellent planning, is the pacing. This is carefully adjusted to display an adolescent view of the world. What is shown on the screen is always extreme: whether that is tragedy or staleness, the feelings are always palpable. There are clear cuts in the show, which are never jarring and serve to depict the ambiguous state of the setting. Moreover, the setting of the colony itself is allegorical. A capsule surrounded by nothingness: space. The warfare which develops directly outside of the colony produce flashes of light, imitating those emitted by stars, a symbol of false hope. Politics are mostly set aside, which simulate the thinking of children.
People do not fall into hysteria after being shot, but instead silently subdue into a state of panic and fall unconscious rather quickly. This is what would happen in a real world scenario, one that is often overlooked from fiction. However, there are a few times where realism is lessened to make way for bombastic moments. An example of this is when Alfred sees the damages of a battle in his home town. He quickly ignores these (which are of immense scale) and moves on. A child should be more affected by this, which is hardly a complaint judging by the irrationality of the story itself.
Be that as it may, but War in the Pocket is an almost purely character driven tale. Thankfully, all of the primary characters are suitably complex and intricate. The chemistry between Alfred and Bernand is organic, multi-layered and intriguing. Almost like a father-and-son, their conversations are backed by their divergence in age, coupled with simple language and natural gestures. Both characters are pragmatic and mordant especially when exchanging words alone.
Alfred is an astute and well-mannered boy, who uses his intelligence to persuade people with ease. His disposition is matched by his age and so are his actions. He regrets nothing and always moves forward. Unlike a lot of characters his age, he is not unnecessarily immature and he can think for himself. I found myself in awe of how well written his characterisation actually is. His development as a person is key to the kind of tale this is (coming of age). He doesn't become a man after a single tragedy nor does he have a sudden revelation; but the amount of progress and evolution that his character undergoes is akin to that of a series tenfold its length. I can say with safety that he is my favourite youngster in anime. Once the series is over, his past self is but a shadow of his present.
Bernand is a character ridden with many compound emotions. He holds few grudges and shows little animosity, which is a rare trait, especially for a soldier in enemy grounds. Always trying to be the voice of reason, he acts as a source of admiration for Alfred. We know little about him or his past, but what is apparent is his lack of confidence. Never standing out among his peers, he tends to exaggerate or distort his achievements; one such being the number of kills that he has committed. Stating to Alfred that he is one kill away from being awarded an 'ace' title (five kills), he later reveals that he has not yet committed a single execution. This proves that Bernand is not infallible and more - so portends an event which will later test this virtue.
The two improve themselves by learning from each other, while working towards a single goal, each for their own reasons. These reasons later intersect and demonstrate that their initial objectives were shallow and selfish. From this, their growth as characters and (more importantly) as people flourish.
Finally, Chris (shortened from Christina) serves as a distinction in position and as an agreement in charisma. She is like an intermediate between Alfred and Bernand, yet is the catalyst for their problems. She shows sides of vulnerability as well as courage, while being especially honest. She never makes assumptions of people, nor questions their actions and so she tries to focus on facts to provide advice. War in the pocket makes excellent use of her character, where her wisdom is given an almost satirical filter as she is oblivious of her own actions.
Unfortunately, a lot of the side characters are ignored or put aside which is quite apparent. I would have liked to have seen more of the family and schoolchildren, as well as other Zeon soldiers which are mentioned throughout the run-time. Once again, this is a relatively minor distaste, as the focus of the main characters is apparent and is given priority. Besides - they do more of a good enough job to carry the show by themselves.
Art and Animation: 7.5
War in the Pocket is aesthetically pleasing. While a lot of shows airing at the time had numerous animation errors or inconsistencies, these are far and few between here. There are only a few moments of repeated animation and even these are not noticeable. When a battle does occur, it always looks above par. Even the shot of the colony from space featuring CGI is not jarring in any way (and this is from 1989!). Scenes flow nicely due partly from correct framework as well as sufficient number of frames.
All of the characters' designs look great, thanks to the efforts of Haruhiko Mikimoto who famously undertook the designs of Macross. The facial expressions are articulate and vivid, while they never look off-model. What is particularly characteristic of their designs are their eyebrows, which become absent soon after moving up their faces. This gives greater emphasis to the key features of the face which exemplify emotions better.
There are few times however where any cinematography is used. This leaves for a slightly bland experience in terms of artistic abruptness and the show looks slightly uninspired. I also can't help but compare it to other OVA's of its time and being that this was to commemorate Gundam's tenth anniversary, I expected something more exceptional.
Listening to the numerous soundtracks that War in the Pocket offers, I couldn't help but think of marching children. Very few OSTs have ever made me visualise and personify music into something so fitting. Never feeling repetitive nor outstaying its welcome, the composition and its placement always feels just right. The instruments used are not repeated; instead a significant array of organs are used for many different purposes. The songs also never overpower the scenes which they are used in. Rather, they empower them.
I admired the opening and ending songs. I don't usually pay much attention to these as they are mostly used for advertising a certain company or group, but War in the Pocket is not your average show. The opening features a panning shot of a wall and the graffiti covering it. At first, there are detailed drawings showing obscure imagery of war, displaying many colours. In an instant, this changes to monochrome illustrations from who presumably is a child. Chalk is used to hint at this and what would normally be a harmless act is juxtaposed by what it means. The music used is nostalgic while ironic, stating things like "I want to slip away from this artificial world and make myself free" and "I can keep on running until I finally reach the sky". Being that the sky is artificial and that it houses numerous deadly battles, this shows the hopeless wishes of the young artists themselves.
The ending song is very similar in lyrical and artistic composition. If close enough attention is payed, an abundant of different outcomes can be made from its meanings. However, the beat shfts from every sentence spoken, in perfect harmony. From this, a different image is shown, which relates perfectly to what is spoken. The colour layout is fascinating for very specific reasons, but one must watch the entire show to find out what that means.
My only gripe is with the voice-acting quality. While there is plenty emotion here, it is outdated to a degree. That means a dip in quality from what we would get from modern shows. Even with this, the actors did a fantastic job in displaying all the right nuances at the right times and this includes Alfred. Voice-acting for children were notorious in these times but it does not show here.
War in the Pocket is an experience like no other. It never forces emotions out of the viewer, but instead embellishes them. I cried multiple times throughout the story, but not from melodrama. The show produces catharsis without unnecessary tension, which is a very difficult thing to achieve. From start to finish, from comedy to tragedy I was never left behind. War in the Pocket makes use of your most simple, primordial feelings - and like this - nurtures you with care. I will never forget what I witnessed from this.
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.
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.
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.
We’re closing in on the 40th anniversary of the Gundam franchise from when it debuted back in 1979 and fans around the world are going through a renaissance of material as Sunrise is collaborating with distributors to bring their crown jewels out for release.
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.