What They Say
Three years of peace have followed the Earth Federation’s victory over the Duchy of Zeon. Now, in the year 0083 of the Universal Century, the last remnants of Zeon begin their plan for revenge by stealing a prototype Gundam armed with nuclear weapons. Can rookie Federation pilot Kou Uraki challenge the legendary Zeon ace Anavel Gato and prevent the cataclysmic rebirth of Zeon?
For this view, I primarily watched the English 5.1 dub. The Japanese audio is also offered in 5.1, though both tracks are given in 2.0 as well. The audio was clear, with some nice directionality on the sound effects. The dialogue on all tracks stays centered but remains audible throughout.
Shown with a 4:3 full screen aspect ratio, MS Gundam 0083 has a really nice transfer, especially for a show from 1991. The colors were bright and details were crisp throughout. I noticed a few minor instances of cross-color, but nothing major, and certainly very sporadic. They certainly did nothing to detract from the overall presentation of the show.
The packaging for this release is fairly simplistic, but is mostly well put together. All of the discs are contained in a large amaray case that has a plastic insert to carry the extra discs. The front cover of the case has a picture of Gundam Unit 1 set against a space backdrop, with Kou in his pilot’s gear floating in front with his hand out as if reaching for something. Along the bottom is the show’s logo.
The spine features a thumbnail version of the picture on the front, with the show’s logo prominently displayed underneath.
The back of the box has the show’s logo at the top, with a synopsis underneath. The middle has a list of each episode title and the disc each appears on set to the left, with a series of screen shots to the right. The bottom lists the technical details and the extras.
The discs themselves are rather plain: no pictures, only black text. The top of each disc has the show logo, with the words Complete Collection along the bottom and the volume numbers to the right.
The menus are kept nice and simple. Each has video footage from the show in the middle, overlaid with the show’s logo on the top. The left side of the menu has a list of selections for play, extras, and setup. The right side of the screen has selections for the individual episodes; selecting one of these takes you to a submenu with the chapter breaks for that episode, each with an animated preview of what that chapter covers. The menus are well-constructed, and the short animations are a nice feature, though at times the colors of the screens can hide the menu’s cursor.
Besides the standard trailers and credits, there are a few nice extras on here. For starters, each disc has an MS Encyclopedia: an informative database on a number of the Mobile Suits and other aircraft used in the show. Each disc has information on four or five different vehicles. Disc 1 has the textless opening and ending for the first seven episodes of the series, while disc 2 gives us “The Mayfly of Space,” an animated short about Cima Garahau. The third disc has the textless opening and ending used for episodes 8-13. Disc 4 gives us two other features: first, a collection of commercials and promos for Mobile Suit Gundam 0083, and second, the Gundam 0083 Karaoke, which has both openings and endings with Japanese and English karaoke subtitles.
The year is Universal Century 0083. Three years have passed since the One Year War where the Federation defeated the Zeons and gained control of the universe. In this time, peace has prevailed, and the Federation forces have become lax. Using this to their advantage, the Zeons plan one last strike to break Federation control. Anavel Gato, a Zeon hero and their best pilot, infiltrates a Federation base and manages to steal Gundam Unit 2, one of two new Gundam prototypes that Federation engineers were preparing to test, which also happens to be the one fully-equipped to launch a gigantic nuclear warhead, a move designed to help kick-start Operation Stardust. In response, the Federation turns to Kou Uraki: a rookie pilot who has the talent to pilot Gundam Unit 1.
Uraki does have his struggles, however. His ideals and inexperience in battle cause him to be hesitant at times; he faces competition from Lieutenant Monsha for the right to pilot Unit 1; he even is forced to fight and kill Kelly Layzner, an ex-ace Zeon pilot who lost his arm in the One Year War with whom Kou struck up a friendship.
Through it all, though, he does have one thing going for him: the love of Nina Purpleton, the designer and chief engineer for Gundam Units 1 and 2. Nina works for the Lunarian company Anaheim, an organization that designs and builds Mobile Suits for the Federation military. Despite his youth, Nina admires Kou for his forthrightness and ability to pilot the Gundam Units, and he finds her fascination with all things Mobile Suit captivating. When Kou finally admits his feelings to her, nothing can keep them apart, not even a late revelation of her prior involvement with Kou’s rival, Gato.
In fact, it’s Kou’s rivalry with Gato that drives this series forward. During their first encounter on earth after Gato steals Unit 2, Kou discovers in Gato a pilot with the abilities that Kou himself hopes to one day have. It is only a little luck that enables Kou to survive that first encounter. From then on, Kou’s training has only one purpose: to become good enough to one day be able to beat Gato in a fight. Gato forgets about Kou, until they meet a second time, and Kou fights Gato to a draw, destroying both Gundam Units in the process. At that time, Gato acknowledges their rivalry, and both know it is only a matter of time before one of them kills the other. Even Nina’s affection for both men cannot keep them apart one last time.
Through all of this, Gato is also helping Zeon Admiral Aguille Delaz with his plan to strike back at the Federation, codenamed Operation Stardust. Operation Stardust begins with a strike on the main Federation fleet using the warhead equipped on Unit 2. In the ensuing confusion, the Delaz fleet then hijacks two empty Federation space colonies, sending one of them on an unalterable collision course with Earth in an attempt to destroy the main Federation base. Gato is sent in a new Mobile Suit, the Neue Ziel, to make sure the colony hits its target.
One thing this series does really well is that despite generally sticking with Kou’s, and therefore the Federation’s, point-of-view, the viewer is left with the idea that neither the Federation nor the Zeons are really all that admirable. From the Federation viewpoint, the Zeons are evil, a viewpoint that is justified when the facts surrounding Operation Stardust are all known.
However, as the plans of the Delaz Fleet start moving forward, it becomes readily apparent that some factions within the Federation are more than willing to let the Delaz Fleet have their way if it means advancing their own political maneuverings. This becomes apparent when the Albion, the ship Kou is assigned to, docks with La Vie En Rose, an Anaheim ship under Federation control, to pick up the new Gundam Unit 3 for Kou, but finds stiff resistance when the Federation officer on board refuses to let them take the new model. From here, it is revealed that some people plan to use the Operation Stardust disaster to call for the resignation of top Federation officials and gain control. By the time the show ends, it seems that the only real “good” guys in the whole encounter are the members of the Albion ship under Captain Synapse.
Watching this show, I found that I had a hard time warming up to Kou. Since Kou is supposed to be young, he comes across as immature in many ways, especially in his dealings with relationships. The relationship between him and Nina takes a long time to develop purely because of his inexperience in that area; however because of moments like that, it was hard early on to accept him as a potential hero and leader. While he grows through the show, sometimes it seems that he grows a bit too fast.
This brings me to the main issue that I had with the show: it moves too quickly. This was a show that would have benefited from being 26 episodes instead of just 13. With the many plotlines in the show, at times there is too much going on to try and wrap it all up in time. In fact, some things get left behind. While the Albion is on Lunar to repair damage to Gundam Unit 1, it is revealed that the Anaheim director is also making deals to sell Mobile Suits to the Delaz Fleet. In other words, he’s playing both sides of the coin, despite putting on a public display of support for the Federation. However, this idea is quickly left behind and forgotten. Things like this could have been given more time to play out and make more of an impact on the story.
The speed with which the story plays out really affects Kou’s character. At the start of the show, Kou is a young, headstrong boy, with more dreams than abilities. By the end of the show, he is an ace pilot and a mature hero with a better understanding of how the universe works. It’s easy to say that this is the sort of thing that happens to people in war, but with Kou it seems to happen overnight.
Having said that, being a Gundam series, any extra curricular activity tends to take a back seat to great battle sequences, and this show is no different. Beginning with Gato’s hijacking of Unit 2, it sometimes seems that the series in one long battle until the final outcome of Operation Stardust. The battle at Solomon where Gato unleashes the nuclear attack is suitably epic for the scope of the encounter, and Kou’s encounters with Gato and Layzner are really fun to watch. There are some especially nice effects and visuals on display during these battles, especially out on the Solomon battlefield where there are still wreckages, remnants, and bodies left unclaimed from the One Year War.
The show’s creators even did a good job to take into consideration the surrounding environments and the Mobile Suits’ abilities in those environments. The abilities of Unit 1 are different when fighting Gato on Earth, versus fighting Layzner on the surface of the moon or Gato out in open space. The attacks and strategies that Kou can use change depending on his circumstance. It is a nice attention to detail that gives the battles a little more depth.
It is usually a good sign when the sole complaint about a show is that there is just not enough of it. In the case of Mobile Suit Gundam 0083, this detracts from some of the more interesting plotlines and character arcs; however, the fun battle sequences help pick up the slack. The fast pacing of the show keeps the viewer bouncing from one battle to the next, and it can be easy sometimes to ignore the inadequacies of other aspects of the show. Fans of Gundam and other space/galactic war shows will find this show to their liking. Mildly recommended.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening, Textless Ending, Mobile Suit Gundam Encyclopedia, Animated Short “The Mayfly of Space”, Image Gallery
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: A-
Extras Grade: A-
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Release Date: July 12th, 2005
Running Time: 180 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Phillips Magnavox TP3285 C129 32″ TV, Samsung DVD-V5650 Progressive Scan DVD w/ DD/DTS, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System