Since 0080 was a massive success, it would be a no brainer to make another Gundam OVA. Of course, the question becomes… what should it be about? We already had a smaller scale story, and you can only do so much by changing the setting. Thus, Sunrise took a gamble and decided to give a far larger scale to their next Gundam OVA: Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. How did it turn out? Well, let’s find out.
As said before, 0083’s story has far higher stakes than the last Gundam OVA, which makes sense once you realize this is meant to be the prologue of Zeta Gundam, what with it dealing with the creation of the Titans. Yet ironically, you don’t realize this at first, with it all seeming like a side story, which it technically is, but the point still stands. This OVA also has similarly gray morality to its predecessor, but in different ways. Instead of both sides being portrayed sympathetically, Gato and the rest of the Zeon remnants don’t present themselves to be that bad people, even if they are fighting for a cause that definitely is evil. In turn, while the crew of the Albion is full of great people, most of their bosses… aren’t.
In turn there are also many twist and turns. Even though it’s clear that Zeon Remnants want to use the GP-02 for something, you don’t know what that is until way past the halfway point. It all makes for a decicively tragic and downer climax that fits the rest of the narrative, yet like any tragic ending, it’s the struggle of our heroes trying to avoid it that makes it so interesting to watch.
Now, are there any issues? Why, yes, quite a lot in fact. The second half is where most of them lie. A few things are pulled out of nowhere, the main love triangle comes right the hell out of nowhere and has a decidedly unsatisfying resolution, and overall, the storytelling becomes far sloppier, namely due to the aforementioned love triangle dominating a bunch of the plot from then on. Apparently there was a change in directors and it shows; as overall the general way scenes play out is often nowhere near as effective (Bar the action scenes, which arguably got a bit better).
The cast is okay. Normally for a story like this I wouldn’t like it that very few old characters appear, but here, I don’t mind it, mostly because this story is clearly about new characters and their conflict, whereas CCA wanted to be the grand finale to the story of two pre-established characters with a lot of history behind them.
As for the characters themselves, I like Kou. Yeah, he’s brash and immature early on, but not only do they call him out on that many times, but he more or less drops it by the fifth episode or so. His rival Gato is a nice change of pace from the usual Gundam Rivals, not only for not being an expy of Char, but also being a noble man who just so happens to fight for a cause he very much believes in.
Also, I quite liked the other Zeon characters. Cima in particular gets a lot of points for me by being rather sympathethic. Even more minor characters like Kelly Layzner (Awesome shout out with that name, by the way) left some kind of impact on me. Everyone else I feel more ambibalent towards. Not bad or anything, but they just didn’t have enough to stand out in my eyes. Even so, they’re all fitting for the story they’re trying to tell.
There is, however, an exception to this: Nina! She wasn’t too bad at first, but then the director change happened and she suddenly becomes a massive, MASSIVE dumbass whom I just wanna slap in the face. I STILL haven’t quite forgiven her for what she did to Kou in the last episode, in an act that makes her partly responsible for the events of the rest of the UC. Needless to say, I didn’t like her.
Good lord this OVA is gorgeous. Everything looks on-model, the character designs are all distinct, and those fights, man! This show, to me, still has some of the best fight scenes not just in this franchise, but in any Mecha Anime. The fight between the GP-01Fb and the GP-02 is a particular highlight. Speaking of which…
Macross designer Kawamori Souji was brought in to do the designs for the Mobile Suits and it shows, as everything has a bit of a Macross vibe in it. The GP-01 and its Fb upgrade are my favorite take on the whole “RX-78-2 update”, being similar to the original while still having its own identity. The GP-02 is the opposite, being bulky and imposing, as it deserves to be. And of course, the GP-03 and the Neue Ziel are ridiculous and I love them.
The soundtrack is mostly just okay. All of it fits the mood, but it doesn’t really do much for me. The exception to that are the two openings, “The Winner” and “Men Of Destiny”, the latter of which might be my all-time favorite Gundam opening. I love it that much.
Overall, the cast is pretty good. Horikawa Ryo uses his softer voice for Kou and it fits him quite well, making the trancision from overconfident rookie to fully fledged badass all the easier to digest. While Otsuka Akio may have first gained prominence as Captain Nemo from Nadia, it was this show that fully cemented him as one of the industry’s best, and I am happy his father’s legacy lives on in him (Also, since I’ll likely never get to mention this again, yes, the fact that Kojima went to such lengths to fix the relationship between him and his father while making MGS 4 is rather heartwarming). Aside from those two, there’s also Sakuma Rei, Genda Tessho, Ikura Kazue, Chafurin, Katsuki Masako and the Late Great Otsuka Chikao (Yes, both of the Otsukas are in this show. No, they don’t share a single scene together).
0083 is as equal parts equal as it is dumb. That said, even at its worst I still found it to be overall enjoyable, and overall I did like it. That said, I can see why other people may not like it, as the OVA clearly isn’t for everyone. But overall, I dig it, and I do recommend watching it.
Final Score: 7/10