Mobile Suit Gundam: MS 08th Team Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, November 20, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, November 20, 2001



What They Say
As Shiro continues to battle the Apsalus, he recognizes the voice of the pilot -- it's Aina! They crash-land in the snowy mountains and realize that they will have to work together if they are to survive. If they manage to survive, Shiro will have to return to face charges of espionage! And, if that wasn't bad enough, a rogue Zeon unit invades Kiki's village.

Meanwhile, the Zeons have their own problems as the now-obsessed Gineas is determined to finish the Apsalus -- no matter the cost!

The Review!
What a great set of episodes. The first two in particular are strong standouts, while the first one is a prime example of why Gundam is such a solid show. It's not about the mecha, it's about the people!

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This is a pretty slick sounding disc overall, with a lot of action sounds and some background dialogue being thrown to the rear speakers, giving several scenes a much more layered feel. Dialogue was nice and clear and the music sounded great. No troubles here at all, and from what I heard on the English track, that one sounded good as well.

Video:
Chalk up another solid looking transfer. Much like the second volume, things look wonderful here. The first episode has a great deal of high quality OVA animation that takes place in a snowy peak at night, and the way it comes across is just stunning. Colors look spot on and lush when needed as well as flat and murky in later episodes when required. The look of this show is top notch with this transfer.

Packaging:
Bandai does good by Gundam fans with yet another fully reversible cover. The back side to this one has Shiro on foot going up against a Zaku. The back cover is laid out like previous volumes with a fair number of pictures, a good rundown of the episode and episode numbers and titles. All the technical and production info is nicely laid out, though Bandai lists the disc as 80 minutes, when it should be "80 minutes with extras". Running time of the show itself remains 75 minutes. The insert provides another shot of the original front cover while the interior provides another letter from Michel to his girlfriend.

Menus:
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.

Extras:
This volume contains three more bonus clips of the world of Universal Century 0079. Much like the ones on the previous volume, they do an excellent job of fleshing out things for the newer viewer as well as helping those who haven't watched in ages to remember things about this time period. They're short, but they're enlightening and well drawn. Excellent kind of extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The opening episode here is probably my favorite of the series so far, but it's also the most overdone and probably cliche ridden one. After the events of the last disc, we find ourselves with Aina in her Apsalus flying off with Shiro in his mobile suit holding onto the Apsalus. They end up flying wildly off course, and then just settle into a stationary spot above one of the mountains. Shiro, in a move that only the young and the stupid can do, gets out of his suit and makes his way towards the Apsalus' entrance. All this while thousands of feet up in the air with hardly anything to hold onto.

Both ships eventually end up crashing down into the mountain range, just as a storm starts moving in. This bit of convenience keeps either the Federation of Zeon from sending a rescue party for their respective piece of equipment and pilot. Zeon in particular as they don't want to lose their Apsalus technology to the Federation.

Shiro takes things fairly hard, having ejected from his mobile suit during the descent. After a bit of time in the frigid windy cold, he finally comes across his suit, which is still exuding heat from its encounter. Aina also finally makes her way down from the Apsalus and joins him. This is one of those awkward moments on the field, when two opposing enemies face each other (though these two love each other) and aren't sure if the trust can be extended. Yes, it's cliche ridden and overdone, but it works well with the way its executed here and with these characters.

With help from Aina, they turn the mobile suits beam blade to its lowest power setting (which still packs a whallop) and use it to create a small impact crater near them, which results in really creating a small hot spring. It's snowing madly, but the steam rises from the warm water. And we see both of these pilots, now naked, enjoying the new spring. It's pretty surreal, and definitely Japanese-centric, but it really works. The imagery of the two against the stark black sky with the snow whipping by is striking.

Through their talking and trying to understand each other, we also get treated to an "origin" flashback with Shiro and his life aboard one of the colonies. The attack on the colony he was on by the Zeon's is nice and vivid, and the destruction caused certainly gives him the mentality for doing what he's been doing in the MS 08th. But the understanding he comes to with Aina about war, through their time shared, is one of the central themes of Gundam. And it gets nicely explored in the following episodes, when the guerrilla base is attacked and when he's continually accused of being a spy for not killing Aina.

These episodes simply rocked in total, and provided me with a great 75 minutes of good SF war anime done maturely and without any real pretty boys. The cast is great, the animation is excellent and getting more One Year War stories is only a good thing. Great stuff here, highly recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,3 Bonus Clips,MS Encyclopedia

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: C+
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam: MS 08th Team