Category Archives: anime

Gundam Build Fighters: GM’s Counterattack

Type: OVA
Number of Episodes: 1
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Vintage: 2017
Date of Review: September 18, 2017

Sei Iori and friends are invited to test out the new Gunpla Battle system, but they’ve walked into a trap! The nefarious Gunpla Mafia wants revenge, and they’re pulling out all the stops to humiliate our heroes. With new Gundam models in tow, our battlers will have to take on some seriously over-the-top opponents!

Gundam Build Fighters: GM’s Counterattack bridges the gap between Gundam Build Fighters and Gundam Build Fighters Try, showing what Sei’s been up to following the events of the former series. Sunrise wisely does not try to bring in every single character from GBF, letting us focus on just a few fan favorites.

As you’d expect, plenty of new models are introduced in this special; Bandai’s gotta sell them toys, after all. It’s a good thing they’re pretty damned cool looking, even Sei’s new “test unit” the Star Burning Gundam. Of course, Nils Nielsen’s Ninpulse Gundam is probably the best of the bunch, but wait’ll you see the big boss’ mobile suit.

The animation is on par with the other recent Gundam shows, with amazing battle scenes that really let our star mobile suits shine. On the character side, GM’s Counterattack easily balances tense battle drama with comedy, including a hilarious sequence that references a minor plot point in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam; in fact, my review for that series unknowingly mentioned the very scene that is parodied.

The whole thing wraps up with a nice little final scene that sets up Try. However, that scene does not spoil Try, so it’s nice for those viewers who haven’t seen the sequel series yet. Like Island Wars before it, GM’s Counterattack is a fine treat for GBF fans.

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Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory

Type: OVA
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Vintage: 1991-1992
Date of Review: June 26, 2017

The One Year War has been over for a few years now, but Zeon remnants still present a threat. A powerful Zeon admiral invokes Operation Stardust, a daring plan that involves stealing a new nuclear missile-equipped Gundam. Federation test pilot Kou Uraki will have to risk everything he holds dear in order to stop a legendary enemy ace!

Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory was one of the first Universal Century OVAs that helped fill the gaps between the regular series. Our hero is Kou Uraki, a relatively rare example of a Gundam pilot with a positive attitude. He’s also not someone just thrown into a conflict by chance, as he’s already a military officer and test pilot. This was not a common occurrence back in 1991 when Stardust Memory was released, and it’s no less refreshing now. Kou and his pal Chuck Keith serving at Torrington Base and on the warship Albion really showcases the camaraderie among the Federation soldiers and pilots, even when transfers from other ships and bases amp up the rivalry.

Kou’s love interest Nina Purpleton is a scourge of the fandom, it seems. During my rewatch of Stardust Memory, I didn’t understand the hate for Nina…until the last few episodes. Yeah, she gets pretty annoying there, but look on the bright side: she’s definitely no Quess. Besides, Nina’s friend Mora Boscht easily makes up for it, as she’s one of the best female characters in the Gundam universe. You can’t help but cheer when she belts a lascivious flyboy right in the jaw.

On the other side, within our Zeon remnants, we’ve got Anavel Gato. The infamous “Nightmare of Solomon” is one of the Gundam saga’s greatest villains; he may not be the mastermind of wicked schemes, or a genocidal maniac, or any other kind of evil stereotype, but he’s just an arrogant expert pilot that makes him the perfect foil to Uraki. Naturally, Gato’s not the only bad egg hanging around; you’ve got his commanding officer, the disgraced Admiral Aiguille Delaz, as well as Cima Garahau, the conniving master of her own leftover fleet. Expect plenty of doubledealing and betrayals when all of these folks attempt to work together!

But what about the Federation’s Gundam Development Project? That’s where the wonderful mecha of Stardust Memory come in. Leading the pack are the experimental Gundams designated “Unit One” and “Unit Two;” that second one carries a nuke, and its subsequent theft by Gato sets off the whole story. (The suits’ full names are RX-78GP01 Gundam “Zephyranthes” and RX-78GP02A Gundam “Physalis.” Now you see why people just say “Unit [insert number here].”) The Gundam designs are simple yet striking, and the two primary units couldn’t be more different from one another. The many battles between the two quickly become the stuff on legend; furthermore, Unit One is later upgraded for space combat, and Kou also gets to pilot Unit Three towards the end. (Even more Gundams, the GP00 and GP04G, are mentioned in supplementary materials. The latter showed up in Gundam Evolve, and was later released as a model kit.) There’s plenty of grunt suits to go around, too, like upgraded GMs and such. These new designs fit the aesthetic of Stardust Memory as well as looking like a perfect naturally progression of machines from the One Year War.

As is par for the course for a Gundam OVA, Stardust Memory is a showcase of stellar animation. The mechanical designs look amazing in motion, and neither ground nor space battles are given any slight. Character animation is great, too, accurately portraying the intense emotion that comes part and parcel with a tale of war and betrayal. Finally, the music sounds a bit too synthesized and artificial at times, but it’s not much of a distraction. The compositions fit the show well.

The recent domestic Blu-ray release really makes Stardust Memory pop, plus it includes the compilation film Afterglow of Zeon, plus two Mayfly of Space animation shorts giving more background to Cima. Despite Stardust Memory‘s bittersweet yet ominous ending (as it helps set up the events of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam), this OVA is a fine ddition to the Gundam saga, with thrilling animation and and a great story that’s worth enjoying.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team

Type: OVA
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Vintage: 1996-1999
Date of Review: May 22, 2017

Not all of the battles of the One Year War were waged in space. Deep within the jungles and deserts of Asia, Ensign Shiro Amada and the brave 08th Mobile Suit Team fight to discover the secrets of Zeon’s newest weapon. Will their Gundams be able to hold up against Zakus, Magellas, and the dreaded Apsalus? The team had better learn to get along with one another first!

The 08th MS Team features a much smaller cast than most other Gundam productions, giving us more time to flesh out our characters. Unlike the standard Gundam formula, Shiro is not some random civilian haphazardly thrust into a conflict beyond his understanding; he’s an EFF officer with plenty of mobile suit experience and a deep drive to prove himself on the battlefield. The rest of his team are all varied and likeable characters, from the brooding Terry Sanders, Jr. to hardass Karen Joshua, plus timid Michel Ninorich and seeming slacker Eledore Massis. Everyone gets their chance to shine, and they’re all indispensable to both the story and the conflict.

Amidst the backdrop of gritty warfare is a classic tale of star-crossed love between Shiro and Zeon test pilot Aina Sahalin. The two come into unexpected contact more than once as the series goes on, leading them both to question their motives. In the end, their romance does seem a bit rushed, but that’s what you get when you’ve only got a dozen episodes to work with.

Most importantly, though, is The 08th MS Team‘s focus on ground warfare. Save for the introductory portion of the first episode, there are no space battles (and even that scene does not feature a Gundam). Most of the mobile suit fights are one-one-one, or a few small team battles. Even when facing down the Zeon mobile armor Apsalus, the threat is towards a Federation base, not the entire Earth Sphere. The battles are on a smaller scale, but no less relevant to the war effort.

As one might expect from an OVA series, The 08th MS Team boasts high production values with some fantastic animation and great mechanical and environmental design. Even the seemingly small stuff — like Shiro digging around in a Gundam’s forearm to adjust the beam saber intensity, or working on unclogging dust-caked motors in the legs — is given incredibly close attention to detail. Most of the mobile suits are classic UC models or variants thereof, with the standout newcomers being the Ground Gundams. Rather than a single standout Gundam, they’re bunch of mass-produced models this time, and the entire team is familar with them. Later on, when Shiro’s unit is heavily damaged and rebuilt into the Ez8, it’s not some superweapon that’s miles ahead of the others; it’s still treated as a standard piece of war machinery. The real standout in the mecha department is the Apsalus, especially its initial form. The designers really had fun with that one!

The series finale functions as an epilogue and a sequel, given that it picks up over a year after the events of the penultimate episode. This gives The 08th MS Team even more closure than other series, and you don’t feel like you’ve missed anything. In addition, the OVA later got Miller’s Report, a compilation film that covers the first eight episodes (as well as some additional scenes that help add more weight to episode nine and beyond), plus the anniversary short Battle in Three Dimensions. To be frank, The 08th MS Team is a high point amongst all of the Gundam OVAs, and I think you’ll agree after watching it.