I’ve decided to catch up on my Gundam lore (back stories rather) in my free time these days and I’ve just finished watching the 8th MS team. So far, most of the Gundam series that I’ve watched (which includes the on-going Gundam Unicorn, Gundam 00, Gundam Seed and Seed Destiny, and currently still watching Turn A Gundam and Gundam Wing) are like a regular Hollywood / Bollywood action movie where 1 (or a handful) of protagonist(s) beat the stuffing out of the grunt mobile suits and then hit a minor obstacle called the boss (or ace pilot as they are called in the Gundam universe). So when I heard that the 8th MS team offered a different perspective, I was tempted.
For those not familiar with the series, the 8th MS team is more like a multi-character war movie. The setting looks like the US – Vietnam war (complete with jungles and rice paddy fields) for most of the series, though it does shift to a desert in the middle for an episode, and finally a mountain / cityscape combination for the finale. In many ways, the characters seem similar to war movie based characters you’ve probably seen in other war movies.
There’s the protagonist, Shiro Amada, who is called newbie even towards the end of the series by his team (or at least one of the characters). He starts off as the … well, newbie who always wears his ‘flight suit’ in his mobile suit, only to realise that its impractical when he gets lost on his first mission. He’s then seen wearing ‘casuals’ for most of the series as is case with the rest of the team (there’s a hint of uniform here and there so you can tell they are ‘feddies’) oh yeah, and the Zeon are called ‘zekes’. If you are a fan of war movies or the like, you’ll probably like this series more than the regular Gundam series.
Here are some of the characters you can enjoy in the series:
Michel Ninorich – the young guy who writes to his girl friend from the battlefield everyday. In any Hollywood flick, he’s just asking to get killed in action.
Eledore Massis – The musician stuck in the battlefield. He’s just written a chart-topping song about love and is waiting to cash in all the royalties.
Terry Sanders Jr. – aka The reaper aka the jinx… apparently the only survivor of multiple teams he’s been with. All his teammates die on the 3rd sortie together. All cracks by fellow MS team pilots are at his expense (coupled with the newbie as team leader, the other teams rate the 08th MS’s chaces of survival extremely low)
Karen Joshua – at first I thought she was the mechanic, but turns out she’s an MS pilot. She’s the battle-hardened veteran (for this location) of the team and can’t stand all the new entrants (Eledore and she are the ‘survivors’ of the last replacements and the previous replacements that were sent over)
There’s little to no political intrigue (unlike other series) and somewhere towards the end, you get a dose of military policy. There’s also the plea for peace, thus wrapping up the Gundam angle.
There are a couple of other frequent characters, like the annoying Kiki Rosita or the strange ‘engineer / mechanic’ of the feddie base who has access to everything from alcohol to signed command papers (if indeed there is such a term)! The female lead is, not surprisingly, Aina Sahalin who is pilot from Zeon. The guy I thought who would be the final bad guy ended up not being the bad guy, so that was a little of a twist for the stereotype -_-
The series is a crisp 11 episodes + 1 OVA (about 25 mins in duration. Actually, from what I’ve seen online, they are all OVAs released over a period of 3 1/2 years (Source: Wikipedia), unlike the other 50 episode series, but that’s because this is a ‘side story’ to the main series and occurs during the ‘One year war’. While the 11 episodes are all about the war and soldiers from both sides, the OVA is an epilogue to the series, which I felt was a bit unnecessary, but I guess its for the closure. All in all, a great series. Also, if you are into gunpla and are looking to weather/ battle damage your kits, this could be a good source for inspiration, considering that Gundams rarely appear ‘battle-damaged’ or even weathered for that matter in other series (unless its the final fight for the series or for that mobile suit 😉 )
So… no toy angle?
Along with its ‘companion’ Zaku kit, the Ground war set is something I’ve been eying for some time now, but I haven’t sealed the deal for 2 reasons… These two just beg for a diorama and I don’t have the skills nor the space, and I don’t like keeping kits lying around. Thanks to this series, i figured a couple of things from this kit (though I’m not sure if this kit is from that series…)
First is this…
If you compare the above 2 pictures and then compare them to the Zaku one, I was a bit mixed as to what role these little tank like hover vehicles played (HLJ has them as “two hover trucks”), and what was that arm with the spike extending out the side? I first thought it was to help the hovertank / truck make fast turns by pinning one side in the ground, like the Scope Dog from Votoms. In the 08th MS, you’ll find out that these (at least the one with the arm) is in fact a type of ‘Audio Surveillance Hover Truck’ which has a Gatling gun for defense purpose. The arm with the spike is meant to go into the ground and is a sensor to pick up sound made by other mobile suits, etc (Kind of a ground sonar to compensate for the radar jamming ability of Minvosky Particles (called the Minovsky Effect). In the 08th MS, they definitely do not charge out front of the Gundam!
Somewhere towards the end, one of the Karen’s Gundam loses its head (literally, not figuratively) in battle and the head is replace with a GM head. That probably explains why the Gundam body has the GM head here (Though, HLJ lists it as ‘two interchangeable GM heads’ so maybe those heads are just for the diorama?)
Anyways, both the Zaku and the Gundam ground war kits come with a LOT of accessories… Sample this…
And the Zaku…
Those funny star shaped pieces are mean to replicate the tanks blowing up…
Btw, if the finished Gundam can actually pull of this type of a post, its probably the best kneeling pose I’ve seen on a Gundam. The shield actually says 08, so maybe this is the 08th MS suit… ok, this small shield, besides being used as a tripod for the gun (In the anime, its just rammed into the ground), its actually meant as a small shield to help protect the pilot rather than the whole mobile suit (Karen shows how quite nicely in one of the episodes)
Ok, this was a lot longer than expected… Until next time!