What They Say:
Universal Century 0083. Having triumphed in the One-Year War, the Earth Federation has grown complacent, while the last remnants of Zeon forces have been planning one final stand. It all hinges on ace Zeon pilot Anavel Gato stealing one of the new prototype Gundams out from under the Federation’s nose. With a nuclear-equipped Gundam missing and their pride wounded, the Federation ship Albion and rookie pilot Kou Uraki set out in pursuit of the Zeon thieves and the stolen Gundam GP02A.
The audio presentation for this release uses the remastered audio tracks that were created quite a few years ago and done up in uncompressed PCM, making it a stronger release overall even after enjoying the previous DVD releases. While the original mono or stereo track isn’t included, we have been given a full 5.1 remix of the Japanese track as well as a remix of the English 5.1 track. The Japanese 5.1 track sounds pretty good overall with some better clarity and definition to the voices across the forward soundstage, but some of the music comes across as giving a really hollow feel at times through the rear channels instead of giving it an immersive feel. You mostly here the rhythmic beat of the 80’s drum music in the back, which distracted my wife to no end.
Originally beginning its release in 1990, the transfer for this thirteen part OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio in 1080p. The show is spread across two discs in a seven/six format with the movie on the third disc. Similar to how I felt after watching Gundam 0080 again, I find the quality of the animation and the cel painting to be just stunning. It holds up perfectly against other Gundam OVA releases and looks great by present day OVA’s and TV series. I’m hard pressed to find any flaws with the transfer here as things just look beautiful, with the newly remastered source material from Japan being used. Backgrounds in particular look exceptionally solid and a lot of those blue sky panning scenes are just stunning. I’m all over this. Color definition is fantastic, the natural grain holds up well without becoming distracting, and the detail is just spot on in how it looks.
The packaging for this release is pretty solid as we get a standard sized Blu-ray case with a hinge inside to hold two of the three discs. The front cover works with the familiar key visual piece for the series that we’ve seen over the years with Kou and Nina among others with the mobile suits in the background. The colors are decent and while it’s not the sharpest image out there it is one that captures the tone and look of the show in all the right ways. The back cover gives us a little more mobile suit material along the right but mostly works the white background so that we get a clean look at the premise, the episodes by number and title, and the extras with what’s included. The strip of shots from the show is small but serviceable as well. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
With the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences and the fun of the promos, the really sweet extra here is “The Mayfly of Space”, which is the animated version of a portion selected from the Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 CD Cinema 2 that Victor Entertainment put out. It’s an interesting little piece of animation and anything with this character I want, so I’m a sucker for it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally released in 1991 and through 1992, Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory is a thirteen episode OVA series that advanced some interesting ideas after the success of the various TV series, films, and the 0080 OVA. For a lot of people, 0083 is considered one of the weaker OVA series and that was something that I thought as well upon my first viewing, particularly after watching 0080 years ago before it. But having now seen much more Gundam from different time periods since the shows first started airing, particularly that of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, I’m now finding myself liking it a lot more than I originally did.
The show starts off briefly in UC 0079 showing the last big battle that ended that war. We’re quickly introduced to Anavel Gato, who is heading back off into battle. He’s pulled back by the ship’s commander after being told his ship is gone and that he has to live to fight another day for the glory of Zeon. Things move quickly to 0083 though as we get introduced to a group of test pilots. They’re led by the somewhat grizzly veteran Lieutenant Burning. A somewhat experienced Allen, and the rookies Keith and Kou. Using a variety of mecha, including a captured Zeon mobile suit, we get to see some of the training exercises that the pilots are put through. The rookies make their fair share of mistakes, but they’re not the goofy rookie types you usually find.
After their return to the base, the find that one of the floating bases, the Albion, has arrived there. The ship has been highly anticipated as it contains two of the latest models of Gundam’s. There’s also a crew on board from Anaheim Electronics who are overseeing its testing and maintenance while at the base. Keith and Kou head directly to the bay where the Gundam’s are, with Kou climbing all over one of them. Keith takes them in as well, but finds himself much more interested in the woman whose in charge of overseeing them, Nina Purpleton of Anaheim Electronics.
She’s a bit standoffish and defensive about her Gundam’s, so she’s fairly stereotypical in that respect. But the interplay between the three characters and the addition of one of the engineers brings a nice bit of chemistry to the group as Kou is oblivious to her beauty and focuses on her knowledge and her Gundam’s. It’s later that night that things go to hell though. Through some very low level trickery, based on the lax security of the Federation since the end of the One Year War, Anavel Gato manages to get himself smuggled onto the base.
A new plan has been hatched during the three years, and the first step to launching it is to acquire the Gundam. Wearing a Federation outfit after getting in, he briskly walks right up to the Gundam and gets in before anyone can stop him. To make matters worse, he intentionally took one that had a nuclear shell on it. Kou reacts the quickest and the chase is on as Anavel’s support group moves into place as well as Federation mobile suits moving into the fray.
With the shift of the ship Albion and its crew to space while on route to Anaheim Electronics on the moon, the shows dynamic changes fairly well and in a good way. Uraki is working hard at getting the specs worked out to make the Gundam space-worthy while Nina’s making sure he doesn’t come up with the right answers since the core fighter needs to be replaced anyways for proper space use.
Gato and his group are also making their way back to the Delaz Fleet with his prize only to find themselves nearly rammed by being thought of as “space junk” by Cima and her proud rogue fleet. Gato does his best to report her when he meets up with Delaz, but Cima’s already come on board as a part of the Delaz Fleet and he has to keep himself quiet, though he does at least warn against her black heart that may betray them all at the end.
Watching the dynamics of the Zeon fleet and its officers is pretty interesting as there’s the struggle between being an overwrought military dictatorship and a force for actually freeing the Spacenoids from Earth and Federation rule. Though this struggle isn’t as prominent in this series, it’s something that creeps into most of the series in one form or another.
What is pretty typical though is the young rookie whose only trying to prove himself. Kou Uraki continues to struggle to be accepted by both Nina and the other veteran pilots. When the Zeon discover that the Albion will be crossing their path where their fleet is set up, Cima is sent out to destroy them before they can properly report the real size of the fleet. Cima heads off with only one ship and a few mobile suits which highlights her arrogant style. Thankfully, when those onboard the Albion see this, they don’t think, “oh boy, one ship, piece of cake”. No, they go and think they’ve got someone that’s going to be a real challenge here instead, which is smart.
The addition of Cima to the Zeon side provides some real character and flair to the engagements, both in mobile suits and in person. It’s amusing when Kou goes up against her in his non-spaceworthy Gundam and for the most part manages to hold out against her highly vaunted skills, much like he managed to with Gato in the first arc.
There’s also lots of good stuff going on when we get to the moon and begin to see just how humanity has settled into the lunar world. Amusingly, it seems like everyone on the design and technical side of the Gundam project are gorgeous women in tight short skirts. Nina stands out being one of the few blondes, but I can see passing her over for some of these others. There’s a lot of activity going on in this arc that continues to highlight the differences and similarities between those in the Federation and in the Zeon as well as those people who consider themselves part of neither side.
The opening round deals with the continual training of Uraki and Keith under Lt. Burning’s intense scrutiny. Their abilities are really getting better, Uraki more so than Keith of course. Burning even suffers a defeat at the hands of Uraki during one of their sessions. Part of this is attributed to his vision going red during a burn. He’s starting to feel his age, though he’s not terribly old. He’s definitely seen a lot of action though, and that’s aged him in other ways. After the captain catches him in the medical area, the two sit down to figure out where things are going with their pilots. There’s something really well done during this segment, seeing the two older war horses just having those knowing looks about what they’ve gone through.
Of course, you know this is all set up for Burning’s eventual death. That’s hardly a secret. Burning was slated to die due to stereotyping ages ago. The only fear I had was whether they’d send him off like Fokker in Macross or something different. Thankfully, it was something different, and something that forced Kou to realize just how dangerous space can be. All of this does serve to forward the plot, maturing Kou as well as advancing his rank.
The real meat of these episodes though brings things closer to Earth. The naval review is going on at Konpei island, a huge floating asteroid that’s been converted to a military base. Hundreds if not thousands of ships are flying in review formation close to it as the event gets closer and closer. The Albion, with it’s autonomous mission of search and attack, is kept away from the event, especially since many higher-ups just don’t approve of the vessel or it’s crew. But the main formation of ships is a sight to behold, like many other moments in this series.
In their way to celebrate their superiority, the Federation command is holding their review near the Solomon Sea, which is where the final battle of 0079 was fought, and where we saw the beginning of this series, with Gato being kept back by Delaz, for a future day. In Delaz’s fleet, that day is indeed here, and Gato is back out in space with the entire mobile suit fleet available. Leading them in the Gundam with the nuclear attachment, they launch the flare and head into combat with the unsuspecting Federation forces.
Even having seen these episodes several times over the years, once we moved into the final two here I was right on the edge of my seat. The show continues to push its main characters forward and doesn’t play nice with them. The main rivalry between Kou and Gato is given some really good play here, though it’s not the same level as Amuro and Char. But when the two have their Gundam’s locked in combat, and both get out and push their helmets together and Gato says what he does to Kou, I got a chill. Though Kou’s young, this series doesn’t pull any punches with its characters.
After the devastating results of Gato’s attack on the Naval Review, taking out a substantial chunk of the fleet, it looks like the Federation is in chaos. But as we look closer at those in the higher rank sections, it looks like they almost expected this and have plans to deal with it.
The Delaz Fleet however is still continuing its push forward with the highjacked colony aimed at the moon. This is where bad science in science fiction comes into play. Delaz makes a play with the suppliers to the Zeon there about how they can come out of this right. But in the end, there’s a whole lot of doublecrossing going on, and partnerships within partnerships that don’t get fully explained. With the moon in danger, it’s not surprising that there’d be some crafty defense most people don’t know about. So when some laser units appear from below the surface, fire and reflect off of a satellite and then proceed to wreck carnage on the colony, I wasn’t terribly surprised.
The deal, as it appears, is to simply force the colony to crash on Earth and wipe everything out. With the size of the colony, the damage should be considerate. But the bad science here is that if the moon was taken out, there’d be just as much if not more damage done. So now the story changes route with the familiar crew rushing towards the colony to try and stop it from the point of no return. To pull this off, we get treated to some internal politicking where Kou, and everyone else, gets denied the use of Unit 3. Lucette, the companion to Unit 3 much like Nina to 1 and 2, gets to know Kou a bit and works him into a place where he’s ready to take the hugely powerful craft out to defend the Earth.
But Kou can’t go without having a real foe, and Gato’s not done with Operation Stardust yet, even though he has no Gundam anymore. Delaz gifts him with a mobile armor, something in a sense similar to the odd designs seen coming out of the MS 08th Team series. This massive beast is unlike other mobile suits, but it’s loaded, powerful and under the control of a very cunning man. So these two, who battled so well in mobile suits already, get to go at it one more time while the colony slowly tumbles around them towards the point of no return.
The stakes in these episodes are definitely high, and it looks like a good part of the budget was saved for them. The animation throughout is great with a lot of fluid moments and some sparkling scenes. This show just looks so fantastic here, that I can’t get it out of my head the differences between this and the old copies I’d seen years ago on tape.
Afterglow of Zeon:
Sometimes known as the Last Blitz of Zeon, the film came out a month or so before the final OVA did and provided a shortened and more compact look at the series and its resolution. Taking a roughly five or six hour project down to a two hour film isn’t one of my favorite things but this one handled it well. A lot of that comes from the fact that there’s a lot of character material with interactions that can be excised from this format so that you don’t really lose anything in the grand scheme. It does turn this more into a straightforward action piece with some decent political overtones with the fallout from the One Year War and those that want to carry on the fight and that makes for an engaging experience. It is, however, the kind of film that I don’t recommend watching right after the OVAs themselves but down the line a bit because you’ll spend your time figuring out what was cut and how some things shouldn’t have been. All in all I think it’s a pretty good compilation film and makes the larger story and themes accessible while ensuring that the OVA version digs deeper into everything.
With all the twists and turns of the final episodes, with the military being what it is in addition to the plays made on the Zeon side, I was just on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened next even though I’d seen it several times before and across multiple formats. Going from VHS for this to various DVD incarnations and now Blu-ray is definitely a treat and this is certainly the best the show has looked and sounded since it first came out that you can own. The classic Universal Century Gundam shows continue to be real draw to me, and I can’t wait to see more. I hadn’t seen this particular series since before I finally saw Zeta Gundam and the ending to this has even more meaning now, which is again a reason I like to go back and re-watch shows. Though the series in some ways may not truly stand the test of time, it’s one that fits in wonderfully with the UC Gundam series that are out there. And with it including the compilation film as well at long last makes me extra happy to finally get to see this incarnation of it as well..
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, Japanese PCM 5.1 Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English 5.1 PCM Language, English Subtitles, “The Mayfly of Space 1” and “The Mayfly of Space 2”, Clean Openings, Clean Closings, and Japanese Promos
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Running Time: 444 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.