Mobile Suit Gundam: MS 08th Team Vol. #1 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, July 08, 2001
Release Date: Sunday, July 08, 2001
What They Say
The year is UC 0079, the Federation has begun mass production of the prototype Gundams for use by their ground forces. Shiro Amada, commander of the 08th MS Team must lead his squadron through fierce fighting on the ground.
However, the Zeons are developing a secret project which could tip the balance of power! Can Shiro and his ragtag team of cast-offs, rejects, and bad attitudes save the Federation?
Now this is the good stuff. Back to the basics, back to the Universal Century calendar and back to the year it all began, 0079. Just getting into the good old classic mode has re-energized me and these episodes were no let down at all.
For our primary review, we listened to this in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the show, dialogue was good and solid and the track overall had a slightly above average feel to it. There's a bit of directionality across the front soundstage in a few areas with the mobile suits running around and while inside, but dialogue is mostly through the center channel while everything else plays nicely along the left/right channels. The opening and ending songs sound great.
Overall, this is a solid looking transfer. The series was released back in 1995 as OVA's were winding down in use but the quality was steadily improving. The video here for the majority of the show looks great. Night blue skies show only the faintest hints of artifacting and colors are very solid. There are a few rainbows, more in episode two than the first and third, but it's relatively minor and of little consequence overall. There's a lot of darks and earthy tones as the episodes progress and things just look quite good here.
The cover goes for the older look with the nicely drawn picture of the Zaku over the downed Gundam. The reverse side keeps things simple with drab military colors mixed with a number of animation images, episode titles and numbers as well as the summary and creative staff. Thankfully they even list the actual extras on the back this time around. The insert provides another look at the cover while the inside of it is an in-character letter from one of the characters describing the show. The disc artwork itself is also done in camouflage military style. Very nice looking.
And what makes it even more neat? The cover is reversible! The back of the cover is the same, but the front cover has a different action shot of the characters. Reversible covers are definitely something I know a lot of people are hoping to see more of, myself included.
The menus are a bit of a mixed bag. In terms of design and look, they look great. The main menu is set up as a Earth News Network kind of image, with icons in the lower corner to select what you want (yes kiddies, you need to have half a brain to figure out what the icons mean. And if you complain about it, never ever buy a region 2 disc). What doesn't work so good though is the extras submenus. When you move from selection to selection, especially in the trailers page, it loads a different image in the window. This means it's veeeeeery slow moving from one selection to the other and doesn't encourage repeat visits.
The included extras in this round are pretty good. The best of the two to me is the clean opening sequence though I wish it had selectable subtitles at the least. The other interesting extra is a bonus clip that describes the world of UC 0079.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I have to admit, I was almost giddy upon seeing the classic 0079 outfits again, though with much better animation than the original ever had. The classic Gundams, the old style Zaku's and the general feel of a real war style show.
And no pretty boys in sight. Yay!
The story settles on the 08th Mobile Suite Team stationed on Earth during the war. We get introduced to the show via Shiro, the newest commander of the 08th Team whose coming down from the Side's to lead this team, whose apparently gone through a few commanders.
Shiro's your typical young buck with a good deal of responsibility placed on him. He's not dealt with Earthbound combat, but he's pretty skilled with the space combat. He wants to do good by his team and to have everyone make it back alive, but he lacks the real charisma needed to really mobilize them. He's also pretty cocksure during his first few encounters.
Our initial introduction to him comes as the transport he's on is heading towards Earth and a Federation mobile suit and team of Zaku's are fighting nearby. The mobile suite is hurt pretty bad and takes refuge in the massive amount of space debris while the Zaku hunts him. Shiro decides rather quickly that he can and must help the pilot, so he takes the Ball out into space. The Ball is basically your 2001 model spacecraft with a cannon attached to the top. Shiro heads out and tries to save the pilot and take out the Zaku.
It's stunts like this that earns him some amount of respect when he hits planetside but also gives the impression of recklessness. It also earned him the respect of the wrecked mobile suit pilot who now finds himself transferred to the 08th Team. This only serves to help in his mind his reputation as the unlucky pilot who lives while his teammates die.
Once planetside, Shiro gets a hasty introduction to some of his team and then we get thrown into a combat situations and dealings with the guerilla's who aren't sided with Zeon or the Federation. While things click quickly for longtime Gundam fans, people new to the UC timeline may find themselves a tad lost, but things make enough sense to work through things easily enough.
The secondary characters on the team don't get a real full introduction, but so far they're pretty much stock characters but done well. With future episodes we're likely to learn more about them through Shiro's eyes, since the introductory episodes are to establish the lead characters. These episodes do that well, setting up Shiro and Ainsha, the Zeon pilot he meets early on in some interesting circumstances. The guerilla leader was also pretty well done and I'm not opposed to her introduction being of her swimming in the nude.
The character designs are pretty 90's style while mixing the costume designs of the late 70's. Not too surprisingly, the mix works pretty well. Instead of the more ornate outfits that really make Gundam Wing rise above the norm, the general grunt level uniforms here really push forward the grimy war feeling. The meshing of the two styles works really well and give hope for more classic Gundam stories to be done on into the future.
Gundam MS08th Team really got me hyped and smiling as I watched it. Going back to the classic storylines with a mix of the new has helped rekindle my interest in anime a bit again and makes my mouth water for more Gundam releases.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Bonus Clip
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: C+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam: MS 08th Team