Honestly, why are we not talking about 08th MS Team?
When people talk about Mobile Suit Gundam, they usually think about the big shows, the original Mobile Suit Gundam series from 1979 plus the other main stories from the Universal Century. Spin-offs and original stories are also thrown into the conversation with hits like Gundam 00, Wing, Iron Blooded Orphans, and for the true connoisseurs, G Reco.
Other Universal Century stories, or the ones that follow the original timeline of the 1979 anime, are also main topics of conversation (and even memes) by the UC enthusiasts with shows like War in the Pocket, Stardust Memory and just recently, Thunderbolt. Now don’t get me wrong, these stories are legitimately good but if there’s anything that people talk less about it’s Mobile Suit Gundam 08th MS Team.
Going Ground and Pound
In contrast to its predecessors, 08th MS Team brings the battle down on the ground and less on outer space. It’s gritty, it’s dirty, it’s grounded, and by all means it shows what the Gundam were really meant to be, massive weapons of war that can be described as “tanks with legs”. Set in the Jungles of Southeast Asia, the massive space battles are replaced with guerilla warfare, with less focus on flight and mobility but rather on who can wield and fire the biggest gun in the battlefield.
Story wise, 08th MS Team isn’t just about a gifted kids trying to maneuver themselves in the midst of a big conflict but rather more about redemption. The plot follows Shiro Amada, a die-hard Federation Loyalist who came to saw the views of the other side of the conflict. How the devastation affects both sides, and how ideals are clouded by personal convictions, biases, and propaganda. While of course, this plotpoint is nothing entirely new in Gundam, 08th MS Team presents in a way that shows that both sides are at fault in contrast to the generic “Feddy good, Zeon bad” thematic that almost all UC stories boil down to. Of course the show isn’t all action as there is a romantic sub plot interweaved into the grounded mecha battles, a subplot that supports the change of heart for our protagonist Shiro, leading into an sacrifice that may not have resulted in the end of the war but at the very least saved themselves from all the unnecessary trouble. it’s ultimately a selfish act but setup properly that you can’t help but just resonate with their new sentiments. Most of it anyway.
The EZ 8
Just like every Gundam show 08th MS Team also has its titular Mobile Suit model and that is the RX-79 Gundam Ez8. It’s big, it’s bulky, it looks heavy and hits heavy. Armed with the usual arsenal of beam sabers, vulcan guns and beam rifles, the Ez8 also comes with its titular 108mm cannon and a weapon container which kinda acts like a backpack for its armaments. The suit itself is not so invincible, suffering damage of various levels throughout each battle, and even losing one of its limbs. The unit was built for ground combat, being a variation of the Gundam Ground type prototype and it’s capabilities were shown beautifully throughout the series.
Going back to its pilots, the Ez8 was not given to some gifted new type who can turn any mobile suit into an ultimate weapon of war but rather it was handed to a bunch of misfits who are most likely turn it into their own walking coffin. And such as that shows the gritty reality of the conflict that the Ez8 is in, in a way that’s similar to real life soldiers, their vehicles aren’t just weapons used to crush the enemy it can also be a tool of their demise if something goes awry. Still the Ez8 does come with a bit of plot armor as it can a direct hit from a Zaku’s rifle and still get nothing but a scratch, far more durable than the standard GMs that seem to be made of porcelain.
A banger soundtrack
YES, the opening of 08th MS Team is one hell of a banger track and there are no arguments that would make me say otherwise. Titled Shining in the Storm or Arashi no Naka de Kagayaite for my fellow weeabs, the opening track propelled Chihiro Yonekura into stardom leading her to do opening and theme songs for other classic shows such as Fairy Tail, Kelido Star and Groove Adventure Rave. It’s a banger and that’s that, nothin to talk much about here.
For god’s sake just watch it!
Mobile Suit Gundam 08th MS Team is available online through various streaming services like Hulu. The series has a total of 12 episodes with an accompanying Compilation Movie titled Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team Miller’s Report available on DVD