Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The 08th MS Team

A very cool poster of the OVA from The 08th MS Team Informational Archive

The official website for The 08th MS Team is on since yesterday. Seeing some of the images in the website really reminds me moments of watching that OVA series a few years back. Back then, I actually bought a few models, including Gundam Ez8, Gouf Custom, Gouf Flight Type, GM Sniper and Zaku Ground Type (all in HG 1/144 scale) before I actually got the chance to watch the anime series.

Although the whole series is quite short (just 12 episodes), each episode is brilliant. Each character has their own story to tell, and by each episode, you get more insights about their backgrounds, which help to push the flow of the entire story forward at the same time as well. The story revolves around Shiro Armada, an EFSF pilot from space sent to Earth to lead a ground assault team. H meets a female Zeon pilot in the first episode through combat (Shiro's Ball versus Aina's Modified Zaku, pretty cool), and one can say that it's love at first sight. Since then, their love story has been quite a tragic one, as the harsh reality of EFSF fighting Zeon puts their faith in each other to great challenges. Another trivia about Shiro is that the Japanese voice actor is the same person who played Director Azrael in Gundam SEED, a super villain with a really evil voice, which sounded completely different from Shiro in this series.

We also get to see Karen, a tough female member of the team. She's not really a likable character for me at first glance, because she gave me the impression that she's just waiting for Shiro to get killed, since she's not confident that someone from space can adapt to the Earth's combat environment in such a short time, and to lead the team which has more experiences than him. Later we get see that she is quite helpful in assisting Shiro and that she is actually a widow of an EFSF medical officer who died in the war, and her superb piloting skill is commendable as well. Her strong will is quite rare among the female characters featured in all Gundam anime. The voice actor is related to Gundam SEED again, this time SEED Destiny, where she is Captian Talia Glynis in that series!

It would be quite a missive if I try to explain each and everyone involved in the OVA, although it's quite a shame since everyone is noteworthy. I particularly like Norris Packard, whom I'm sure is every fan's favorite as well, since he's the pilot for Gouf Custom. Apart from his piloting skills, he is also a very noble soldier, where he would sacrifice his own life without hesitation to save his own comrades. Aina is quite a sad character, because his brother treats her as a guinea pig for the MA Apsaras's project, and of course the forbidden love between her and Shiro.

That brings us to politics - the ugly thing in most Gundam anime. Aina's brother, Ginias is like a mad scientist, thinking that his plan of the MA Apsaras can be the ultimate trump card to destroy EFSF's headquarter in Jaburo. The cost is extremely high, as all resources are being diverted to the project, the Zeon has basically nothing to stop the advancing Feddie trying to foil the plan. That's when good soldier like Norris, and even his own sister Aina become an expendable asset for Ginias. The Feddie isn't noble in anyway as well, the base commander Ryer orders GM Sniper to destroy a defend-less medical fleet just for the sake of war, and even orders the use of nuclear armament to destroy the enemy base, even though it's a clear violation of the treaty before the war. He even orders GM Sniper for the execution for Shiro when he is the only one close enough to destroy the completed Apsaras. Sad to have these people around, and tragic happening upon people stuck in the middle like the 08th MS Team.

As for the MS design, there're a lot of variations for the usual One Year War MSs, which are quite primitive. The Ground Type Gundam is just OK for me, though the backpack is quite cool. I was wondering what kind of weapons can be fitted inside. My favorite is of course Gouf Custom. The powder-blue paint scheme seems a bit weird at first, but seeing him in action is like watching a magic show. The design of the heat blade and the Gatling Shield are plain awesome, and I never thought that one can maneuver a MS like how Norris Packard did. He managed to destroy all the Guntanks which are potential threat to the retreating injured Zeon troops with the cost of his own life.

Now I'm thinking of doing a series of screen shots from the anime series just on Gouf Custom!

The ending is quite romantic, although it's really really tragic. Shiro is finally reunited with Aina, and they are considered MIA in the final combat versus Apsaras, but Shiro is handicapped. His team mates try to look for him but found a grave instead, even though the setup of him being able to be together with an enemy pilot and away from martial prosecution is quite a nice thing.

Regarding the models released, there are just HG 1-144 kits when the OVA was first aired in 1996. Apart from the few mentioned above, there is one deluxe set featuring Ground Type Gundam and Zaku J. Since I got the Zaku J, I didn't think about getting that when there are abundant of it on sales at that time, now I'm desperately looking for it since it's considered quite an unique product now. The MG version of Ground Type Gundam came four years later in 2000, and then Gundam Ez8, and the must-have Gouf Custom. Apart from those, there are also Ground Type GM, and the latest Ball (as used by Shiro in the opening episode) and GM Sniper. Personally, Gouf Custom is the best~

Not sure when the DVD set is going to be available, but it's a must-watch for all!

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this rumbling, the screen shots will be up around tomorrow ^o^