"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 shifts 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.
In the hellfires of the battlefield, people are predestined to die. The tragedy of this reality doesn’t impact the dead, or usually even the survivors, but instead, the families of those who lost their lives. Seeing war firsthand can be as traumatizing as losing someone in it. In fiction, we often take for granted the sheer levels of brutality on display in shows like this, as we relish in the spectacle of the fights and the possible charm of the combatants, at least until one we care about dies. Gundam has nearly always embodied this as a franchise, but nowhere has the franchise been more
poignant in regards to this than in 0080, where the effects are at its most tangible.
Putting this into perspective, there have since been anime that showcase scenes of soldiers scrambling in terror in vain attempts at survival, soul-crushing amputations and deaths, and the most heart-breaking rendition of the infamous colony drop from the One-Year War. For 0080 to be more emotionally resonant than this is a testament to this show’s quality, as two decades later it stands the test of time. There are a myriad of reasons as to why, but the most important is that it feels so real. Its characters are so lifelike that you can’t help but get attached. It makes a far greater case for getting attached to each of the people involved in 6 episodes than most other installments do in 4 or 8 times that amount.
It is very apparent that the those involved -particularly screenplay writer Hiroyuki Yamaga- truly understand people. Only with such understanding can such realistic portrayals be crafted. Most immediately, Alfred Izuruha, the protagonist of this harrowing tale, stands out as a wonderfully real depiction of a child in his elementary school days. Him and the other kids bickering about things only children would constantly tease and fight over, and succumbing to propaganda as they demonize one side and apotheosize the other. Just like a myriad of other children, he gets into trouble about homework and test scores, and he plays video games whenever he sees fit. My, what simpler times, but a child has to grow up someday. An integral part of growth is having to see the world for its darkest aspects. What more horrifying way to do that than to become part of an operation and witness the carnage firsthand? Seeing him change and mature due to interactions with those around him in this war is heart-wrenching, especially towards the end after a painful reminder that even with his growth, he is still a child, and therefore, will react like one in the face of lies and destruction.
The people he interacts with are exactly as stated: people. Bernard -Bernie, if you will- stands out especially as the most complicated person of the lot. A beleaguered Zeon rookie stuck playing the role of a brother to Alfred as they are swept up in an operation of war. Seeing the two bond as brothers -as false as the relationship is- is nothing short of heartwarming. The relationship the two have with nextdoor neighbor, Federation member, and sweetheart Christina is as classically real as it gets, most especially on Bernie’s end. This makes the reality of the situation all the more soul-rending, as the dramatic irony obliterates us as we brace for the impact of whenever these three cross pass...only for it to go in a more more poignant and real way than anticipated. The finale for these three is honestly beautiful, mournful as well, but above all else, it is peaceful.
The other Zeon soldiers the two boys are tied to are entertaining as well. We get to know little about them, but each have a moment in the spotlight, such as Ramirez’s concern for those who he outranks, to Steiner sitting on a bench with a friend, discussing the finality and futility of their situation. We feel more for the deaths of some of these men than we do for several of the caricatures that infest a myriad of lesser installments. The profound effect they have on Alfred is the most beautiful part about these endearing soldiers in this tragedy of war. The brutal manner their operation plays out is bone-chilling, and the aftereffects are soul-crushing in magnificent ways.
There are of course, oversights and conveniences for the sake of creating or escaping drama, as rare as they are. However, they detract little from the beauty and craft at work, both in writing and creating these people, and displaying the carnage in beautifully dreadful detail. The music that plays compliments the situations, and the ending theme deals the final blow to the fragile heart in its final rendition. The devastation feels so real...and yet, it feels so wonderful.
It brings a whole new chapter to the official first series in which we were to believe that side 6 was always officially neutral, but this series says other wise. Though none of the other series characters are present, it is noted, that you have to be a “freak” to truly pilot the Gundam NT-1 Alex. This series does an excellent job portraying the series about how naïve kids can be. Al is aware of how dangerous things can be, but he puts the excitement factor first without thinking of the potential consequences of what may happen. You also really feel the bond Al and
Bernie develop. Bernie has a general understanding of kids, but after awhile, he then sees some use for him in his missions as well and always looks out for him. Bernie has that thing with Al because he is still trying to get accepted by his new teammates because he’s replacing who the team thought was an excellent soldier and is only a rookie.
Chris is an important character to the story, but she really doesn’t have much development. She’s important, but not important in my mind to say that she’s a main character, but a significant supporting character. And she and Bernie are oblivious to the fact that they are of course truly enemy soldiers. But the story is really tragic on the potential realities of war. Even though the Federation was portrayed to have the higher moral ground, the Cyclops team portrayed Zeon in a different light. They were portrayed as being tight, and being very dedicated. They weren’t being overall bad people, but just doing their job. I would further explain more, but this is a series you have to see to know what I’m saying.
The character design is pretty good. Nothing too much to complain about, but really represents the circular style of the 1980s and isn’t drawn as angular as you see in most animes today. The traditional Zeon and Federation uniforms are still portrayed in this series as well and they look more like basic cloth than 1970s spandex, which shows how transcending the clothing style is this timeline in Gundam.
The mech design is pretty cool. It’s more bulky and detailed. There are more traditional artillery features to the Zakus and the Gundam as exhibited and show much more articulation. The battles are only exclusive inside Side 6 so you’re not getting the traditional in space battles technically in this one which was a semi-bummer for me because I would have loved to see how agile the ALEX is in those conditions. But due to the nature of this anime, the battles give a more representation of war realistically because of the collateral damage factor involved in this. Not saying that’s a good thing realistic wise, but a good thing in conveying the intended message in this anime. Plus, the battles rely more on guerilla tactics that you see in 08th MS Team rather than evolved reflexes because you don’t have those kinds of characters in this saga.
Personally, I think the English dub and the original Japanese track are equally good. The voice of Solid Snake, David Hayter who I think is credited as Sean Barker plays the role of Bernie and you wouldn’t really recognize it’s him. But I personally prefer his original Japanese voice actor Tsujitani Kouji, who also played Seabook in F91, Miroku in Inuyasha, Ryu in Street Fighter II V, and Ryuuji in Skullman. Also, I can’t deny the presence of one of my favorites of all time, Hayashibara Megumi as Chris. Hearing her name alone should tell you something. Wendee Lee, she’s ok.
The theme songs Itsuka Sora ni Todoite and Tooi Kioku, both sung by Shiina Megumi are very good songs that suit the atmosphere of the anime that does have a camp feel to it, but the style of music isn’t really my style. Not really saying it’s a bad thing, but it’s just something I’d skip personally. But the background music is also excellent in its own right and knows how to suit the mood.
Sadly, this was the ONLY Gundam series to be in Anime Insider’s Top 50 anime list. 0080 is a great series and a top favorite of mine, but I don’t think this is the best Gundam. But overall, you have to appreciate it for its themes and messages. I say you may need some previous Gundam viewing to understand this 100%, but because it focuses on a different kind of cast and has a different kind of approach, then you can still watch and will probably enjoy it. I felt this series further defines and develops realistic mech anime in relation to that. If you want action, then you got action in this series though that’s not the focus. If you want a series that focuses more on story, character, and character relationship building and development, then you’ve come to the right series.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is the first OVA to enter the vast Gundam franchise. After seeing the three lengthy first Gundam series, I was expecting a short six episode OVA to not quite live up to the standard set by those series. While, yes, it doesn't fully match such titles as Mobile Suit Gundam or Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, it's still a wonderful tale that without a doubt deserves its place in the Gundam metaseries.
The story is definitely the outstanding quality in War in the Pocket. You wouldn't quite expect this, since it's all jammed into just six episodes, but Tomino
Yoshiyuki and his gang, of course, pulled it off. Impressively too. It's a little different than the others because this time we get to watch the war from the viewpoint of a typical 10 year old boy, Alfred. He's fascinated by the war and all things Mobile Suit. He takes a particular liking to the Principality of Zeon though, which again, like in many Gundam installments, more touches upon the idea that neither side in the war is truly wrong. Al befriends a beginner Zaku pilot, Bernie, but also had a relation with Christina, the pilot of one of the Federation's new Gundams. Well obviously I'm not going to spoil anything, but with this setup you can already tell this is going to be a touching story about the devastation and misfortune war inevitably brings about. What really makes the idea hit home is, again, the fact that we're watching it all from such a young, ordinary child's eyes. Reading about it probably doesn't make it sound all that impressive, but it's something you have to witness and experience for yourself to truly get the gist of.
Being from 1989, the art and animation quality might be a little below what your average modern viewing is, but I'll tell you for sure, it's topnotch stuff for its time. It really doesn't get better than this for the time frame we're looking at, as expected of a Gundam series, always a pioneer of quality in animation. The sound isn't such a strong point for the OVA, but it does the job.
War in the Pocket has a rather small cast, which actually worked out perfectly for the character department. Having too many characters and attempting to develop them all, or even worse not developing them at all, in just six episodes would've been a bad idea. Here we've got three central characters: Alfred, our 10 year old war enthusiast, Bernie, the Zeon amateur, and Christina, the Federation's new female pilot of their Gundam Alex. She doesn't receive much development, but she carries out her role just fine. Bernie doesn't receive as much development as Al either, but we witness a little change and growth in him as he becomes a stronger soldier with the help of his new friend. Al is the real masterpiece though. Just a 10 year old child, by the end he gains a whole new understanding and outlook on war and life, and just how fragile it is. He matures a great deal as his character develops, and that's what really assists the story in being so nicely handled.
Enjoyment on this one would depend on the person, depending on what you look for in a series, particular a series such as Gundam. If you're looking for the intensely epic giant robot battles, look elsewhere in the wide Gundam universe. This one's for the appreciation of the magnificently told story. Don't get me wrong, as in every Gundam title, you get some action. But that is far from the strong point, or focus really, in War in the Pocket. The story is vividly detailed with friendship, companionship, and unity, as well as tragedy, misfortune, and destruction, and that's where the enjoyment factor lies.
Watching every other Gundam installment isn't necessary for viewing Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, but I'd suggest having some background in the franchise, and particularly the Universal Century. Overall, War in the Pocket, being a simple six episode OVA, proves that Gundam isn't all about powerhouse, futuristic mechanisms and laser beams, but also that it's about war and the, put in simplest terms, cruelty that comes along with it.
Finally, I conclude my trilogy of great, underrated anime gems. War in the Pocket is a Gundam anime, but you don't actually need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Gundam franchise or the One Year War to enjoy it. It works perfectly well as a stand alone feature, while also being highly enjoyable to longtime Gundam fans. Basically, it's the perfect Gundam series!
Plot and characters:
Hundreds of years in the future, war has broken out between a militaristic space colony called Zeon and the rest of Humanity. This war was depicted in the original 1979 Gundam series and is called the One Year War. Gundam
0080: War in the Pocket, takes place during a minor theater of this war and focuses on everyday soldiers.
The 1979 series was about a guy born with special powers called "New Type", who must pilot a super robot to singlehandedly save Humanity from Space Nazis that killed 1/3 of the entire human population in the opening 1 week of the war. It's one of the most important and influential anime ever made, but it wasn't exactly trying to super realistic or grounded. The anti-war element of the original series of course seems a bit tacked on, because we know it was created to sell model kits to young boys.
War in the Pocket manages to elevate Gundam into a much more mature and thought provoking series, while also still somehow feeling like a Gundam anime. I mentioned in my review of Patlabor 2 that despite being an amazing movie, I didn't feel like it really fit comfortably within its own franchise. I never had that problem with War in the Pocket. It had to walk a very fine line to pull this off, but it actually managed to do it!
The story takes place on a neutral space colony called Side 6. A young boy named Alfred is obsessed with mobile suits, guns, soldiers, and all the stuff most boys love at his age. The horrible reality of war hasn't set in for him yet. He just thinks its really cool and idolizes the ace pilots on both sides. I don't think it's that controversial to state that Pocket likely took some inspiration from Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun", which had come out just 2 years earlier. The story is essentially like Empire of the Sun combined with the classic young adult novel "Summer of my German Soldier". Some Zeon pilots crash land on side 6 and are looking for a top secret prototype suit that the Federation is building there. Side 6 is supposed to be neutral, but the Federation is breaking the rules and thereby putting the people of Side 6 in grave danger. One thing Pocket does really well is create a sense of nuance. There is obviously good and bad on both sides and no side is entirely innocent. Zeon are still in the wrong, as you'll find out later in the film, but it isn't nearly as black and white.
One of the Zeon pilots is a young man named Bernie. He isn't a diehard follower of the Zabi Family that wants to kill Earthlings for being inferior to humans born in space. He's just an ordinary guy caught up in this terrible conflict. Alfred discovers that Bernie is a Zeon soldier, but thinks that's the coolest thing in the world. A lot of time is spent building up the relationship between these two and we really get the feeling that Bernie sees Alfred like a little brother. Bernie also starts to develop romantic feelings for Alfred's neighbor Christina, who unbeknownst to him is a pilot for the Federation. I don't want to spoil what happens, but I will say this is a SAD ending! War is not about main characters and side characters. It's not fair or just or caring. In the 1979 series, we know that Amuro is invincible. He's going to kill all the bad guys and win the war. Pocket tries to show a much more realistic portrayal of war and does an amazing job.
The art by studio Sunrise has aged amazingly well and the mobile suit battles are an absolute joy to behold. This movie has some spectacle and action, but never loses track of its message. I personally love the visual aesthetic of 80s anime and this is one of the better examples I can think of.
I'm an American who was born in 1988. My introduction to Gundam was watching Gundam Wing and G-Gundam on Cartoon Network around the year 2000. I grew up seeing the Gundam franchise as a big, stupid action series about giant robots fighting each other. I still LOVED Gundam. My brother and I went down to the local comic shop and bought all the Gundam models we could get our hands on. Especially anything Wing or G-Gundam. Still, if you were to tell me 2 years ago that one of the best anti-war anime of all time was a fucking Gundam series, I would just laugh in your face. Then last year I saw War in the Pocket and 8th Mobile Suit Team. While 8th is great, the latter half is a little rough. Meanwhile, Pocket has one of the most beautifully tragic and cruelly ironic endings I've seen in anime. War in the Pocket is more than just the best Gundam anime, it's among the best anime I've seen period. If you haven't seen this one yet, please go out and watch it. Even if you hate Gundam as a franchise, you still owe it to yourself to watch this!
Let's get some Christmas themed anime all up in this review place!
First impressions were bad, primarily because it set up exactly the same way every single other friggen Gundam series seems to do. We’re on a space colony and here’s this kid who loves giant robots but ohsnap robots attack! The kid finds a giant robot with no pilot in it. It’s around about there that this show differentiates itself because the kid in question is about 8 years old. Even when the pilot of the downed robot picks himself up and points a gun at him, the kid is still jumping about with unbridled
enthusiasm, wanting to have a look at the Zeon gun and asking to have a go in the cockpit.
The primary theme of War in the Pocket is…well, it’s Gundam so it’s WAR IS BAD. But being a bit more specific, it’s about the childish wonder and dreams of war and the military versus the grim reality of what it actually entails. It’s not just about war being full of death and destruction and all that, but also how the glamour isn’t really there and the frailty of what appears like magnificent war machines being exposed. The story is primarily about Bernie, a rookie pilot from Zeon, and his relationship with Al, the enthusiastic kid I mentioned earlier. It’s a familiar story about the failure of an adult lying to a child to gain his respect and be hero worshipped, but when forced to face by the reality of the situation he draws strength from the belief of the kid who believes in him and becomes the hero he pretended he was.
Calling Bernie a failure isn’t really correct. It’s more that he’s hopelessly out of his depth. He boasts to Alfred that he’s an ace pilot who has shot down loads of Federation mechas, but in reality he’s some nobody whose only battle experience is being instantly shot down. Yet he’s placed on a veteran commando team who give him tasks simply to keep him out of their way. If anything looks like its going wrong in the plan, it’s always his fault. I don’t mean that ironically either, the show is very deliberate about how it will be little things that he says or does that causes their plans to go wrong.
That’s something in general that impressed me about War in the Pocket. It’s very deliberately put together. There’s nothing there that doesn’t need to be there, and all the scriptwriting is incredibly tight. Something I wanted to throw myself down on the floor in praise in was how it allowed character’s personalities to play out without ever having to point them out. The commando crew are all men of habit. Things like how their captain would put cigarettes in his mouth but never light one, or how one of them would make a habit of filling up his hip flask and hanging it up in his robot. It’s a sign at how long they’ve been doing this, while in comparison poor old Bernie has no traditions like that. It’s a small thing, but these traits build up.
Bernie is the king of this, and easily the best character of the show. His growth from bragging but inexperienced rookie to role model for Alfred is fantastic, particularly again in the way the show never feels to point all this out to us. His relationship with the female Federation pilot Chris was pretty great in how it was clear they had feelings, but both seemed to know that they were ultimately on two different sides of this war and would never be together. The hopeless romantic in me clung to the belief that this would be power of love overcoming their opposing sides of this conflict.
Which is what makes that ending the biggest kick in the gut.The BIGGEST kick in the gut, to the point that I was gripping the side of my face going “oh god no don’t do this noo”. Let me make this clear that I mean this in a good way. The painful fragility on this war machine Bernie and Alfred had poured their soul into rebuilding. The way it wraps back into the pointlessness of the conflict, particularly with who was piloting the Gundam, gives the show a much better narrative arc to something like Grave of the Fireflies, where the depression just feels relentless and done deliberately to hit you. In War in the Pocket, it’s ultimately the only direction that would have given the show the proper conclusion to what it was building up.
It’s there that you also realise how deliberately the whole thing is put together. It’s not that it ‘gets better’ or anything. War in the Pocket is always good, but the further you get into it, the more you realise how everything ties together. It’s the mark of fine storytelling. I will say though that I do think it missed a trick by not playing Bernie’s video as the very last thing. I get why they wanted to have the shot of the kids saying “don’t mind, there will be another war soon” as the last thing because of how it ties into Alfred’s loss of innocence. I guess this is a selfish desire, but the doomed relationship between Bernie and Chris felt like the perfect symbol of the pointlessness of the conflict. With Bernie’s final words in that video asking Al to hi to Chris for him, it fucking hit me like a sledgehammer.
War in the Pocket is without doubt the best Gundam I’ve seen by a considerable distance, and with the possible exception of FLCL, the best short OVA series I’ve ever seen.
War in the Pocket is a stellar example of how revolutionizing a time-tested mecha franchise can bring about positive results. Preferring to avoid genre tropes such as angsty teenage pilots and testosterone-fueled robot brawls, this six-episode OVA chronicles a mature tale akin to celebrated war dramas. It’s the first Gundam series not directed by the legendary Yoshiyuki Tomino, but by no means does that make it inferior. In fact, War in the Pocket is easily the best entry in the saga until today.
While most Gundam stories revolve around a brash teenage pilot, War in the Pocket opts for something completely different by having an eleven-year-old—a
civilian—as its lead character. At first, Al hardly seems to be a good choice for a Gundam protagonist. Here we have a schoolboy who loves playing war games with his buddies and nothing else. Lacking the combat prowess and flair of the franchise's previous heroes, Al appears to be a dismissible individual in the beginning. With conflicts between the Federation and the Zeon occurring everywhere and Al not fighting in even a single battle, the story seems to be doomed to an uninteresting direction.
But when Zeon forces raid his homeland on a secret mission, Al’s daring personality begins to shine as he observes the skirmishes unfazed. Instead of highlighting the mecha battles, the story remains focused on Al as he navigates through the wreckages of his city and observes the bloody corpses strewn across the streets. Because Al is still an innocent child, however, he does not realize the severity of the situation, and so proceeds to investigate the aftermath of the invasion while skirting dangerously close to the conflict. Ironically, by having a child like Al as a narrator, we are able to survey the destruction even better than through the perspective of a soldier directly involved in the war.
War in the Pocket dives into its action quickly, but it’s not until Al’s fated meeting with Bernie that the ball starts rolling. After Al encounters the downed Zeon pilot, a fleeting moment of tension occurs before his bravery once again comes into play. Ignoring the gun pointed at him, Al surprises Bernie with a declaration to join his squad. This scene seems comically exaggerated at first, but it makes sense when you realize the lengths Al would go to partake in the war. From Al’s juvenile outlook, Bernie is not an enemy, but an opportunity to lead him to a new path.
Bernie is a likable character and most likely the fan favorite. Although a member of the elite Zeon team that invaded Al’s homeland, his inexperience and tendency to panic clearly identifies him as a rookie. Think of him as a foil to Al. Since everyone else in his squad are gruff, battle-seasoned men, he is merely viewed as a tag-along brat who simply wants recognition. Bernie’s relationship with his comrades only worsens after allowing Al to become an informant for their squad, which is rather humorous considering that Al is the son of a late Federation official.
Not everything is bad for our unlucky Zeon pilot, however, as Bernie finds unforeseen love in the form of Christie, a Federation soldier and Al’s longtime neighbor. Making this situation even more fascinating is that neither are aware of the other’s allegiance, introducing a twist to the usual “star-crossed lovers” scenario. United by love rather than ideology, Bernie and Christie share moments that serve as respites in the middle of all the violence. If not for their military expertise, Bernie and Christie could pass as a regular teenage couple. Despite taking a backseat in the second half for more pressing matters, the romance in War in the Pocket is genuinely heartfelt. The blossoming relationship between the two echoes War in the Pocket’s strongest anti-war message, where politics and beliefs are what mainly separate us as human beings.
Ultimately, War in the Pocket is a story about Al and Bernie as they improve themselves by learning from each other. As the Zeon team's secret mission reaches its climax, Al realizes that war is nothing alike to the games he plays with his friends. His decision to join Bernie and his crew as an informant allows him to comprehend the bloodshed and aftermath of the war. Likewise, Bernie attempts to become more confident and serious in his duties by following the example of the fearless Al. Even Bernie’s squadmates, who initially dismissed him and Al as a couple of nuisances, eventually acknowledge their bravery. In just six episodes, Al and Bernie are meticulously fleshed out and become better individuals.
It should be fairly obvious at this point that War in the Pocket prides in the growth of its cast more than anything else. Therefore, mecha fans might be displeased to learn that the show packs fewer action sequences compared to other entries in the franchise. Although War in the Pocket is not completely devoid of giant robot battles, most of them occur in the final two episodes during the climax of the story. Even so, these battles are beautifully animated and are no less fun to watch than that in other Gundam titles. But since War in the Pocket is narrated from Al’s viewpoint, these battles seem like random acts of violence instead of clashes of ideals. However, this works in the show’s favor since it reinforces the anti-war themes that it tries to convey.
Even War in the Pocket’s dazzling visuals plays into its narrative. The watercolor backgrounds and the bright, somewhat grungy color scheme give the show an innocent feel, almost as if everything we see is based on Al’s perspective. In contrast, the bloody corpses and destruction of the mobile suits are rendered more realistically. Although the show was produced in 1989, it’s hard to disagree that War in the Pocket is one of the best-looking Gundam titles to date.
War is hell, and it’s a message that War in the Pocket repeatedly declares throughout its six-episode run. Marrying mecha elements with a profound humanistic story, this fantastic addition to the Gundam saga is sure to please both fans and newcomers of the genre. More than two decades have passed since its inception, but it remains the strongest title in the franchise.
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.
Hey there everyone. Yes, it's another Gundam review by yours truly. This time I'd like to introduce you to another of my favorite Gundam spin offs, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War In the Pocket. Unlike many of the Gundam seires that you'd usually see that takes place after the Original Gundam or in another Gundam Universe, Gundam 0080 takes place during the end of the Original Mobile Suit Gundam series. This fan fic version of the great One Year War explains the story of the people the live within the colonies. Though the show was only six episodes long, it was worth watching.
The story begins
like this, the War between Zeon and Federation is about to come to an end and things don't look good for Zeon. A team of Zeon pilots, The Cyclops team, was sent out by Solomon force to steal a supposedly new proto-type Gundam model. They were able to find it but lost the Gundam when it escaped to space. They quickly chase after it and discover it's hidden within a civilian space colony of Side 6.
In the story Side 6 wrote a treaty saying that they were not to be involved in the war. The Earth Federation took advantage of that and were able to hide the Gundam NT-1. But that didn't stop the Cyclops team. They attacked the colony and were able to sneak pasted through security without notice. But one thing went wrong.....
A young boy named Alfred meets one of the Cyclops team members, Bernard Wiseman, and became friends with the Zeon team. How can these Zeon soldiers complete their mission with this child following them? Time ticks as Solomon forces say they'll bomb the colony if the Gundam isn't taken care of......
All in all, this is another addition to the Universal Century. If you want to know more of the Gundam world, then this is your anime, just be sure you've seen the Original.
War In The Pocket is a good Gundam for anyone with not a lot of time to get into all the 50 episode shows. I thought I would start with the short side stories to get myself into Gundam, though I did watch 0079 first to make sure I had background knowledge of the franchise. For a 1989 show it holds up very well, I suggest if you're going to watch it get a hold of the 1080p version to get the best experience.
I really like the relationship between Bernie, Chris and Al. This story feels so realistic I would believe it if they said
it was based on a true story. Bernie and Al are like brothers while Chris is like a big sister to Al and could have been a lover for Bernie. I wish Bernie and Chris would have had a romantic relationship I feel like if the show was longer that's what would have happened. I think it would have been more of an emotional ending if there relationships went a little deeper but since it's 6 episode it didn't go very deep. Still a good story.
I've read plenty of the reviews of War in the Pocket that sum up my feelings toward the OVA, lauding its unconventional focus on civilians. I'll get to that aspect of the storyline toward the end--it's this OVA's crown jewel, but I'd like to offer a little background first.
War in the Pocket is one of the handful of OVA supplements to the very first Mobile Suit Gundam of 1979 (among others including 08th MS Team and Stardust Memory). If you're invested in Gundam's UC Timeline, I'd suggest checking out all these OVA's before watching Zeta for some extra insight into the world of Gundam. Created
as a 10th anniversary celebration of the franchise in '89, it's the first Gundam series not directed by the mighty Tomino-san... and boy does director Fumihiko Takayama deliver.
First things first--when I watch Gundam, I come for the robots, I stay for the robots, and then I spend too much money on buying models of the robots. And for a late 80's series the animation is pretty great. Of course the Mobile Suit battle animation isn't on par with today's action stuff but it was pretty ahead of its time.
Anyway though, robots aside, War in the Pocket is nothing short of heart-wrenching. It's obviously a story warning of the terrors of war, and at the risk of sounding crass I'd say it's something akin to **Grave of the Fireflies Except With Robots**. I haven't seen all of Gundam (what do you think I am some kind of lunatic) so I can't say this one is the most focused on civilian and low-level soldiers. It is, however, far more concerned with the issues of collateral damage and the moral gray areas of combat.
Our young protagonist Al in the neutral territory of Side 6, as well as the wannabe-ace pilot Bernie and Federation soldier Christina, all romanticize war in different ways. Al is enamored with the Mobile Suits, Bernie wants to be recognized and respected, and Christina is an obedient soldier. And it becomes a convoluted mess. Treaties are broken, Al and Zeon soldier Bernie are blissfully unaware that the Principality can be summed up as The Zabi Family Newtype Ethnic Cleansing Project, Christina and Bernie fall for one another, Al is a little-brother figure, and.
Let me just tell you it's hard-hitting. In 0079 the closest you get to this kind of intimacy is the lost episode about Zeon Soldier Duan, and otherwise you get to watch Char and Amuro swordfight in zero G which is admittedly pretty awesome. In War in the Pocket you get something that shows you the consequences of this meaningless war.
It's character driven, but it doesn't shy away from action and suspense. Even as a stand-alone, this OVA delivers, and it delivers hard. I'd love to see more One Year War-Era Side 6 material.
Oh! And as a sidenote, if you're a fan of the art style of Gunbuster, check it out for sure. It's the same artist to my knowledge and it's very distinctive, in a GREAT retro way.
Gundam War in the Pocket plot happens during the events of MS Gundam and takes a very different view from the war going on at the time. This is a very different story when compared to the rest of the franchise but it is a hell of a story and you can`t miss. More bellow.
Story: It gets you off guard. I can`t say much without spoiling it for you. So, let me just explain in simple facts. You will get a feeling that the story is something that it is not. It will make you believe that it has nothing to hide, but it does.
I think this is one of the best side-stories of the Gundamverse. You will follow a kid and a Zaku pilot, mainly, and the writers were extremely on-point on their relationship. This is a war story, but not like the others from the classical Gundam series. This is more on the civilian side, especially how it was seen by a little kid with a dream. Truly amazing.
Art & Sound: The art is very good for the time, nothing more to say, classical 80`s hand-drawing. My only complaint about this series is the soundtrack because on multiple occasions it is really out of place. On several occasions, they insert a childish/funny music right after a dark turn, or during a serious subject. I don`t know if the director did it intentionally, trying to make this sound "through the eyes of a child", but a child`s mind is not always fun. Thus, the soundtrack is my only complaint about War in the Pocket.
Character: I think that they have some organic feel about them. Alfred, the main protagonist is the only one that can be out of tune, but he is a kid, let it pass. Unfortunately, anime creators are never good when portraiting a child, except in Iron-Blooded Orphans, where they are perfectly written. I think that Bernie, the main pilot of this series, is great. He has this naive/dreamy/soldier personality that goes well with Alfred. He is also a damn good pilot, you will see. For a 6 episode series, War in the Pocket goes a long way into character development. Hats off.
Mechas: There is little mecha action in this series. You will see Zakus, and some Rick Dias-like MS. The Gundam in this series is named Alex, and that's a turnoff. Alex, the Gundam. Not the best name they ever created. Nevertheless, I think that the mechanics they portrait are extremely well-done, and that's the strong point when we are talking about the mechas in War in the Pocket.
Overall this is a great series. It has a dark tone but also a hopeful air about it. In terms of side-stories, this is a masterpiece of the Gundamverse. If you are a fan of the franchise, don`t miss out on War in the Pocket.
This is a part of the Gundam franchise that stands out as truly something unique. You get to see a war on a neutral colony from the eyes of a civilian named Al. This 11 year old is quite stubborn, yet clever. What he doesn't realize is that he is practically betraying his colony by helping Zeon soldiers to obtain or destroy a new gundam called "Alex". Al doesn't seen to realize or care to think about what he is doing, because he's awarded meaningless badges, vanity items for him to keep assisting the Zeon soldiers. They used and manipulated this child for their
own reasons. Later, Al realizes what he has done. He has helped cause nothing but death and destruction due to helping Zeon. The characters and their development are spot on in terms of development. You get to witness how friendly Bernie (the zeon rookie) truly is. Bernie and Al develop a friendship to the point they seem almost like brothers. You get to care for all the characters, along with Christina, the pilot of the Federation's mobile suit, Alex. The music, art and animation are so good for something that released in 1989. The story is engrossing, hard-hitting and will leave an impact on you. This can go from being an anime with funny, happy moments to being straight up depressing. I wish it was longer but I feel that could of dragged out the plot, that's why I believe that for 6 OVA's, this is excellent. Short and sweet. There are slower moments that may not interest everyone due to the pacing, but for those who couldn't care about that, they will enjoy it.
I find it impressive that Tomino had total control over the Gundam franchise for so long. I mean, 15 years and he was involved in almost all Gundam projects… with a noticeable exception. Throught the late 80’ through the late 90’, three Gundam OVA series were produced and none of them had that notable an input from Tomino. All of them were side stories meant to expand upon the universe of the franchise and seeing events from other points of view. For this first OVA, we’re gonna look at the 10th Anniversary celebration of the franchise: Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War In The Pocket. So,
let’s dig into it:
As the title implies, the story of 0080 isn’t exactly a story with large stakes like with all previous Gundam Material. Instead it’s a smaller story, one that gives us some insight on how the war was going on in different sides of the conflict. This is also the show that began the trend of increasingly more sympathethic Zeon characters. While some later side stories would not use them well, showing most Zeon characters as good and very few decent people in the Federation, most of the official Sunrise content does it fine enough, and this is no exception.
This is one of the more morally gray Gundam stories. There is a Big Bad, but overall, due to the way the story is framed, you often end up wanting some of the Zeon characters to live, as they clearly are good people. At the same time, the same is applied to the Federation. Needless to say, the end is not a happy one, and it is one of the best showings of how awful war can truly be in this franchise. Yet it’s in its simplicity that its brilliance lies.
That said, this OVA isn’t perfect. The middle part feels like a bit of a slump, with stuff happening at somewhat slow speeds. Granted, this is mostly because this story is very character driven, but the point still stands. Also, the comedy is on the hit or miss side of things. Once in a while, I will admit a joke did make me chuckle, but overall not too often. Even so, it’s easy to tell why this OVA is a fan favorite.
It’s with these that the story really shines. At first, I really didn’t like Al. He was a naïve fool who thought war was the greatest thing ever. But once you see what they’re trying to do with his character, I couldn’t help but feel an extreme amount of pity for him. Bernie makes for an effective male lead, and you can easily buy that he and Al are basically brothers by the end of the plot. Also, I know I don’t mention English Dubs too often, but this deserves special mention: Bernie’s English Voice is DAVID FREAKING HAYTER! Hells yeah!
The rest of the cast isn’t as notable, but they do help build up the setting quite well and they’re all likable in their own right. Though the other kids bar Al often got on my nerves. That said, there is one issue with the cast: Since Al mostly interacts with the characters from Zeon’s side of things, the Female Lead, Chris, who is in the Federation’s side of things, ends up woefully underdeveloped. It’s a shame too, as I really liked her and her relationship with Bernie, but sadly the way the OVA is structured doesn’t give her much to do.
Overall the OVA looks pretty decent. It’s no Gunbuster, sure, but it overall gets the job done. The movement is mostly slick, and the fight choreography, while simple, makes up for it for the sheer amount of strategy involved. My only issue is that some moments can look rather cheap at times and there are some notable animation shortcuts. Still though, it’s nothing too major. As a side note, the guy who did the character designs for this OVA also did the ones for the aforementioned Gunbuster and also Macross. How about that?
The only one of note for me is the Alex, which looks like a pretty neat update on the classic RX-78-2. Aside from that, since we’re dealing with OYW stuff, there isn’t much else bar some pretty neat Custom Zakus.
The soundtrack is pretty good. It’s not spectacular, but it all fits the mood of the show, from the more childish themes in the first half to the darker and more foreboding ones from the second half as Al begins to open his eyes to the reality around him. Also, both “Itsuka Sora Ni Todoite” and “Tooi Kioku” are great.
I only recognized a bit of the cast, but overall everyone does a good job. Al is played by an actual kid, specifically one that you might have heard of: Namikawa Daisuke! Yeah, he was 13 at the time and it shows, as I could barely recognize him. And wouldn’t you know, as far as child actors go he’s not half bad. This was also the Great Late Tsujitani Koji’s debut role and he did a pretty good job as Bernie. And of course, there’s the lovely Hayashibara Megumi playing Chris, who did an equally good job. Aside from them, the only ones I recognized were Akimoto Yousuke, Shimiada Bin, Orikasa Ai, Yoshida Konami and the Great Late Totani Koji.
In the end, War In The Pocket sets out to simply tell a simple story, and does so magnificently. While it doesn’t have enough for me to give it a higher score, I can see why it is so universally beloved. If you wanna get into Gundam, this a pretty decent place to start. It’s heartwarming when it wants to, but it is all simply a warm up for all the heartbreak that is to come.
After deciding to wach the entirety of Gundam by emission order I was very disappointed with what i'd seen so far. The OG show has more value as the precursor and the start point of the franchise than by being a good show on its own. Zeta was very, very good. But sadly his sequel ZZ Gundam became one of the most horrendous pieces of media in the history of anime, and the first non-compilation feature film in the saga, "Char's Counterattack" was underwhelming and painfully mediocre at best.
For a moment I considered dropping the franchise as a whole and just enjoy the Gundam Model
Kits without really knowing anything about the show. However, since 0080 War In The Pocket was a very short 6 episode OVA, I decided to give it a try.
Best decision of my life.
0080 War In The Pocket is a touching, sad, and introspective story about childhood, innocence, and our weird enjoyment of war.
There are many complex emotions and themes handled with extreme care and subtlety thru the OVA, something not really common in action anime or even prior Gundam work.
I was very happy with the decision the creative team took about developing the story in such a small scale and realistic scale.
There are no psychopathic children that get to be extremely skilled pilots with no prior experience just because the writer wants them to, and so, they just get slapped with the newtype mark. (I'm talking about you, Quess Papaya, I'll hate you all my life.) Instead, we meet real children, that behave like real children. Being immature but in a relatable and understandable way. They are innocent, and in the end they sometimes do things that they don't really understand. Alfred, our main character is the perfect example of that.
Blown away by our romanticized visions of war, he just desires to be a cool soldier and witness cool battles, completely unaware of the reality that brings.
Ultimately War In the Pocket talks to us about the depressing reality of war without being cheaply cynical. It talks to us about our weird fixation with the glorification of violence without being preachy or pretentious. It talks to us about the nature of human empathy, and how even when there's a very clear good and bad side, good people can be on both sides, unable to do much because of how tiny they are in the grand scheme of things.
War In The Pocket wants us to reflect, about our values, about our ideals.
And I think if a show produced with the sole purpose of selling model kits of giant mechanical weapons of mass destruction manages to be so sincere and profound in his message about the futility of war, it's a very good damn show.
Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is only a six episode ova, and there isn't a lot of content for me to write about, so it will be a rather short review, of what I liked and didn't like.
The story centers around the main character Al who befriends a Zaku special forces pilot and the actions of the group. The story itself is pretty simple and there isn't a lot of twists, but it's well told through the development of characters and events that occur.
This is my favorite animation style. The Zakus, Goggs, GM Mobile Suits, and Alex Gundam all look
fantastic. The action is spot on as well. A few of the characters have bland facial animations and big eyes, but that is only a minor nitpick. Overall the art design is great.
My only major complaint about the show is the music. They chose a happy, care free, 80's style synth pop to go with the main character, seeing as he's an 11 year old boy, and honestly it was terrible. They even used in action scenes! There needed to be some ominous music playing during these scenes, and all we got was this crappy music that dulled out the sounds of rockets, machine guns, explosions, etc. It really ruined part of the experience of watching the show, in my opinion.
I generally liked the majority of the characters. Al, the main protagonist, is an 11 year old kid. There is nothing wrong with his character per say, but I feel like they could have left him out all together, and solely focus on the the other characters. Chris, Al's neighbor works with the Federation, and although we don't see much of her, her character is well rounded and doesn't have any problems. With what we are given in the short amount of time, the Zeon Special Forces Unit seems pretty cool, but I wish they could focus a bit more on them. That being said, it would change the vibe of the whole show, so I understand why they didn't. Bernard, is a likable enough character and has a lot of development. I wouldn't mind him being the main character honestly.
Overall: (7; Good)
Honestly, I would feel more comfortable giving it a 6, but it is a good watch. It's short, it has some cool actions scenes, good character development, and a decent enough story. What really ruined my experience was the soundtrack, it was just borderline awful and didn't fit with half the scenes they used it in. It's worth a watch, and if you like Gundam, you'll most likely enjoy this.
Gundam 0080 War In The Pocket is one of the most powerful anti-war narratives in the Gundam franchise, and became one of my top favorites almost immediately after watching it.
In a way, it's the gundam story I've always wanted. It's short run time cuts away the chaff and filler down to the core elements of concise, powerful set pieces and characterizations. While some viewers may not get behind the slow pace of the first three episodes, every moment is crucial in establishing the tone of the story's primary conflict, a high-tension undercover mission. Aside from one Zeon officer who isn't even directly involved in the
main story, there are no characters who can be considered villains here - both sides are fought by good people who are fighting for what they believe in.
The suspense is further heightened by the dramatic irony of the budding relationship between Bernard Wiseman and Christina MacKenzie, both of whom are undercover pilots on opposing sides of the war. The blissful ignorance afforded by their cover stories provides a false sense of security while setting the stage for one of the most bittersweet finales in anime.
While the dynamic between Wiseman and MacKenzie is the most poignant and exciting relationship in the story, the way 0080 delivers its powerful anti-war message is through the eyes of Alfred, a young elementary schooler who at first romanticizes war and the weapons used to fight in them. This choice of protagonist proves to be devastatingly effective; it drives home the point that war effects everyone, and it especially has the power to leave its worst mark on the children who live through it.
Go watch War In The Pocket. It's only 6 episodes long and it's one of the best stories the Gundam franchise has to offer.