Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 Vol. #1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, March 17, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Damn you, Cartoon Network!
I remember last year, I was discussing Gundam with some Gundam fans, and they mentioned that Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory was a fairly crappy OVA series, and not worth much compared to some other Gundams. I decided I wouldn't buy 0083 because of this, and I happily realized I could save some money.
Then, in a moment of boredom, I was channelsurfing latenight on a weekend, and landed on Adult Swim, which was playing Gundam 0083's 3rd episode. I watched, and actually enjoyed the episode.
Darn them!, thought I. Now I feel like going and buying the first DVD, and spending money! Argh!
To my simultaneous disappointment and happiness, when I bought Gundam 0083 Vol. #1 and watched it, I really enjoyed it. I don't know what those Gundamguys were thinking, but the other Gundam series must completely rock if 0083 is one of the worst ones. This first disc being so good is "A Bad Thing" simply because now I need to buy the rest of the series. Sigh.
First off, let's go into the "mundane" stuff: the packaging and menus and junk. The packaging is about the same style as the Gundam MS 08th release, with the somewhat subdued logo on the cover. I kind of like it, actually. It's a nice blue color, and overall I think it's a decent package. Since they didn't do anything over-the-top like chrome covers, or insert collectibles or anything, it's a bit above an average display.
The menus are also about average. I never was one to pay much attention to menus unless they completely blow me away (for example, the Gatekeepers DVD menus are memorable, to me), so the disc gets average grades here too. I think I preferred the MS 08th menus a bit more, but I'll deal. I don't watch the menus for hours at a time, anyways.
The extras included are also your standard givens: textless opening and ending (though they merged them into one option, so they both play in a row. Whatever, nothing earth-shattering, but I hate the ending, so hitting the Menu button to avoid hearing it after listening to the cool early 90s cheesiness that is the opening theme is a bummer), the Gundam Encyclopedia which seems a standard fare on Gundam DVDs now, and even though it's a packaging extra, I prefer to consider reversible covers a bona fide extra, since I tend to like them and they're somewhat rare. All in all, not bad, but again, nothing over-the-top. Gundam gains some extra marks for the textless opening though, only because as I hinted, I like the opening theme's cheesy nature. :)
The audio on 0083 is pretty good overall. There's some weird surround effects here and there, which sometimes make things sound bizarre, but things overall sound great: I really enjoyed the opening few minutes of the first episode, during the training run, once the theme music started playing in the background while Kou is piloting his zaku. Really cool, and a decent job keeping the voices, music, and sound effects roughly the same level so none of them are drowned out. In general, the audio is done rather well, and the use of surround enhances the viewing.
The English voice acting is also pretty good. They seem to swear a lot, which may have been in the original Japanese language as well (I completely forgot anything Japanese-language-related in the past several months, so I have no clue), but works fine here anyways in my mind. Hey, they're soldiers. There's a reason there's a cliche of "swearing like a sailor". ;)
As for the voice actors themselves, ZRO Limit seemed to pick different actors than they used for MS 08th, which they also did the work for. Whether they did this by conscious choice, or because the MS 08th actors were busy with other things, this is pretty nice because of the fact that the characters have unique voices, as opposed to sounding like Shiro, or Kiki, or Eledore, and so forth. As standouts, I like Sean Thornton's job as Anovel Gato, and I also enjoy Dorothy Melendrez as Nina Purpleton, though in general the voice acting for the dub is above average.
It's also amusing hearing the voice actor for Mr. Fujisawa (from El Hazard, of course) voicing the booze-swilling, womanizing, Lt. JG Mansha. Very good job here.
The video quality is what really blew me away about this release. At first I thought, "Eh, okay quality" based on watching the opening animation, but once it got to the episode itself I was actually somewhat amazed. I had to check the keepcase a couple times to make sure that this was indeed from the early 90s, because the video quality is comparable to many series that are only a year or two old! The opening animation for the episodes is really the only part where there's fading, and I'm not sure why that is since the creditless opening is in pristine shape as well (maybe they just copied it directly from a different source? I don't know...), but other than that, the colors are bright, the lines are bold and stand out, and everything about the video looks incredible. I still can't believe this show is from 1990...
Drooling about the video quality aside, as I said before, I was really surprised when I watched Gundam 0083 and completely got into it. When I watched the DVD through, I was really surprised that I was still completely into it. The story isn't really unique or fresh, that being that Some Bad Guy comes and steals Ultra Super Duper Test Prototype Machine A, while Young Brash Good Guy takes Ultra Super Duper Test Prototype Machine B to try to get it back, but somehow, it's really, really fun here.
Maybe it's because Kou Uraki (see: Young Brash Good Guy) isn't really as brash as is stereotypically possible. At least through the first four episodes on this disc, he doesn't see himself as the hands-down pilot of the prototype Gundam, which is a requirement of typical "brashness"; in fact, after the second episode, he returns the "keys" so to speak, and expresses his disappointment at not being able to return the stolen Gundam.
Kou is only one of the characters whom I already like. Anovel Gato, the "Some Bad Guy", is pretty good for your average bad guy. He's still annoyed that his side lost the war, and wants to recreate the glory of Zeon. Sour grapes aside, his manner in battle is arrogant and cocky, exemplary of an ace pilot. I like him as a character. The support characters from the Earth Federation side are also enjoyable, with Nina being my favorite. Man, there's just something about the early 90s anime style with that big poofy hair that's just great.
At any rate, the basic gist of the first four episodes is what I touched on before: the good guys lose a gundam, try to get it back, fail, and then keep trying for the next couple episodes. That's dramatically simplifying it, but that's the idea, and the idea is filled in with enough action and character interaction to make it a fun series. I seriously don't know how this could be considered one of the worse Gundam series, because each of the four episodes has a good fight scene, some decent characterization, and some plot advancement.
Hey, that all works for me! As I said, damn Cartoon Network for making me buy a series I was previously going to skip! Gundam 0083 is now on my "Immediate Buy" listing, which in the current day's horrible economic situation in general makes it pretty impressive. If Bandai keeps the overall quality of their other Gundam releases as high as they set it for Gundam 0083, then I'll have no problem buying those releases either.
Damn them all!
Pioneer Elite 610 HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive DVD Player, Pioneer Elite VSX-35TX Receiver, Pioneer ISO-drive speaker setup, Monster component cables and digital coax cable
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
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 0083