Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team

This 13-part story, originally released in 1996, tells the tale of war in the trenches between the Earth's Federation and the Zeon forces in the year UC 0079, towards the end of the One Year War. Unlike Gundam Wing, this series focuses on normal soldiers in normal mobile suits, trying to fight and survive in combat. The series stars Lieutenant Shiro Amada, a good-hearted leader who commands an odd crew of troops, including Karen, Eledore, Terry and Michel. The characters are well-developed and show true heart and depth, even for such a short series. While some of their reactions and motivations can be a little cliché, on the whole, they provide a great basis for a good story.

The ultimate goal of the story is a confrontation between Shiro and the war-carzed engineer Ginias Sakalin, who's flying creation, the Apsaras, proves to be a danger. Also involved is Ginias' sister, Aina, a strong woman who grows emotionally attached to Shiro. Her emotional conflict between her emotions for Shiro and her loyalty to her brother set her up as a strong, intriguing character.

There are a number of things that just seem to click with this series. First of all, the action is solid. While there aren't any overly dynamic "show-boating" like in Gundam Wing, the battles feel terse and intense. There's more of a feel like the events are actual skirmishes in a war. Also, the characters, including Shiro, work to provide a less serious tone to break up the flow of the story. Characters aren't quite as intense all of the time and there are even a few down-right hilarious moments.

One of the stellar parts to this series is the quality of animation and backgrounds. Locales are well illustrated, detailed and have a wonderful color palette. The action moves firmly and the characters, while not overly detailed, still convey emotions with their actions and postures.

08th MS Team is a great series. While not as overly deep and political as Gundam Wing, the characters definently feel like people you can sympathize with. Even with a few traditionally hokey events, the series packs a solid punch of quality visuals and story. Catch this one either on DVD or on Cartoon Network while it's still available.

- - Vane

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