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"Gundam 0083" Fantastic Action Surrounded By Torturous Characters

Ah, the Gundam side stories. Because of their short length and cheap price, most people who like Gundam choose these to view the One Year War and the Universal Century. Unfortunately, just because it’s part of the Universal Century doesn’t automatically make it good. While 0080 was decent and 08th MS Team was excellent, 0083 just flounders.

Cover art for Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory Complete Collection.

The year is U.C. 0083 (as if you couldn’t figure that out by the title). A young Ensign named Kou Uraki is training in Australia when a new Pegasus-class ship called the Albion arrives with two new Mobile Suits, both based on the original RX-78 Gundam. Unfortunately, things quickly go awry as Anavel Gato, the Nightmare of Solomon, sneaks onto the base and steals Gundam Unit 02! It gets even worse when it’s revealed the Gundam has a tactical nuclear warhead. The search for Unit 02 will lead the Albion all the way into space, where Kou learns just what being a soldier is all about, thanks to Zeon. While all that’s going on, the Delax Fleet (the remains of Zeon) begin Operation Stardust. But what exactly is this Operation, and what does it hold for the fate of mankind?

The story is mildly interesting, with the Gundamjack (which was done before it became a cliché) and the eventual revelation of Operation Stardust. It isn’t nearly as interesting as the original Gundam or Zeta Gundam, but it works well enough as a bridge between the two series. Unfortunately, the story rests on the shoulders of the show’s biggest negative: the characters. The main characters, to put it bluntly, suck. Gato, though the most interesting of the “big three,” is still nothing more than a pale imitation of Char, though a bit more badass. Nina Purpleton, the main love interest, is really, really annoying. She cries more than Kira did in Gundam SEED. It’s no wonder Kou is often called the worst Gundam pilot ever. He is sensitive, which can be a good thing, but he’s too sensitive (he starts to tear up in practically every battle). Then there’s his cowardice, which is a major plot point in the first half and only serves to make viewers roll their eyes. Of course, all that could be overlooked if Kou actually had skill as a pilot, but Kou ends up destroying literally every Mobile Suit he comes across, even his own! He’s nowhere near the level of Amuro, Camille, Kira, Athrun, Heero, or any of the other Gundam pilots. Throughout the series he gets tossed around, which far overshadows his few moments of glory.

Wow. Kou actually looks like a competant pilot in this picture.

But it’s not all bad. The vast majority of the supporting characters, such as Lt. Burning [Burning finger!!!1oops wrong show. -Ed], Captain Synapse, Admiral Delaz, Colonel Cima and Nina’s Anaheim buddies are much more interesting and fun to watch than the main characters. If you liked Zeta Gundam, there are also cameos by Bask Om and Haman Karn to raise your fanboy blood pressure a bit. But the only reason anyone cares about 0083 can be traced back to one thing: the action scenes rule. The giant robot fights, especially in space, are some of the best in any Gundam series and are easily the highlight of the entire OVA. Heck, it wouldn’t be farfetched to say that people watch 0083 for the battle scenes alone. If only Bandai made a DVD consisting of only said battle scenes, we could skip the junk with Kou and Nina and jump right to the good stuff. Alas, we have to do it manually, which actually takes energy. We’re anime fans, we want to be lazy!

To enhance the awesome battle scenes, Sunrise and Bandai Visual decided to actually give a Gundam series awesome animation for once. Everything is extremely fluid and stylized, but it doesn’t lose that U.C. feel. The Gundams fly in all sorts of directions and use all their available weaponry in each fight. Plus, the rocket trails and beam weapons are given their own stylization, which makes them seem more fluid and much more interesting to look at than other Gundam series. The coloring, typical to the U.C. series, is very dark (sometimes too dark), with a lot of blacks, dark blues, and dark reds.

Exactly how melodramatic can you get before it’s too much?

Though it’s not as good as other Gundam series, the music is actually okay. The first opening and ending are decent, especially “The Winner,” though the second opening and ending really suck in comparison. The background music fits the series just fine, but I don’t like it as much as some of the other U.C. works like Char’s Counterattack or MSG. The dub is done by ZRO Limit, so the work is top notch. All the voices fit (the English voice of Kou is especially whiny), and it’s nice to have Haman and Bask have good voices for once. The Japanese version is pretty good as well, for you purists. And for once, both tracks have 5.1 Surround Sound, which is amazing, especially with the Japanese track. But since this is an older release, it doesn’t have the song-and-sign subtitle track. Damn.

Extras are, like any typical anime DVD box set, weak overall. There’s your usual DVD credits, trailers, textless themes, and Gundam Encyclopedia that every other Gundam DVD in existence has, plus an extremely short piece in which we get a brief look at Cima’s backstory called “The Mayfly of Space.” There’s also a bunch of Japanese commercials, but those are rarely ever interesting. Finally, there’s a “Gundam Karaoke” extra which has karaoke lyrics for all four TV-size themes. I suppose if you enjoy karaoke this will get you excited, but the rest of us sane people will likely not care.

Overall, 0083 is the worst of the three side stories, but the awesome animation, spectacular battle scenes, and the supporting characters save this from being complete crap. Just don’t let Kou near another Gundam, OK?

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