Mukashi, mukashi, long before he voiced Li Kouyu in Saiunkoku Monogatari, Hiyama Nobuyuki-san breathed life into one Shiro Amada and in so doing, gave the slightly more rational fangirl in me (Rational? Fangirl? Aren't those words mutually-exclusive?) a mecha anime hero worth worshipping.
It's a quiet adoration that actually exceeds my besotted-ness for Gundam SEED's Kira Yamato. But since Kira was a thoroughly female sell, don't hold my wub for this controversial chara against me; after all, I do avow a serious fondness, like I sed, for Shiro Amada. (I'm also head over heels over C.E. 73: Stargazer's Sven Cal Bayan but that's beside the point.)
Like Kira, Shiro topbills his own show, Kidou Senshi Gundam Dai-08 MS Shoutai or Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (a Gundam OAV series set in the Universal Century timeline), but that's where any similarity ends.
Given that I've never finished any of the Gundam UC titles—not the original Gundam with Amuro and Char, not Gundam Zeta, not Double Zeta—and received my Gundam indoctrination at the hands of the much-maligned duo of Fukuda Mitsuo and Morosawa Chiaki, I still found much to lock in my investment in the 08th MS Team. This can be seen from the following quick peek into the story and its lead characters and the gushing that succeeds it:
The year is U.C. 0079 and the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation continue to wage war. Skirmishes break out in the jungles of Southeast Asia as the Federation's Kojima Battalion engages the Zeon forces for control of the area.
Fresh from graduation, Shiro Amada is assigned his first command: Kojima Battalion's 08th MS Team. Piloting talent notwithstanding, his inexperience shows and he is saddled with monikers like "Captain Newbie" (for what GundamOfficial terms his
fondness for fuzzy inspirational speeches) and later actually loses to Zeon ace Captain Norris Packard.
But the actual test of Shiro Amada's mettle lies not in the jungle battlefield, but in the near-unnavigable terrain of the heart: he falls—hard—for enemy test pilot Aina Saharin and torn between love and duty, he is accused of treason.
Reviews I've read for this series tend to laud the realism of the story and I'm no exception (in treading this popular path). I adored the down-to-earth-in-spite-of-being-part-of-a-space-war-franchise credibility of this anime: grunts and mass production mech subject to the tropical heat and jungle guerrillas in my part of the world and leads who are actually in their twenties, oh my! But transcending the "reality" of the setting and the affection-inducing chara designs (they're droopy-eyed, awww...) is my infatuation for Shiro and Aina and Shiro and Aina together. They are strong characters who are devoted to duty but can still differentiate morally right from wrong. Further, they possess the courage to stick to their ideals regardless of political and military affiliations.
As I intimated in my intro, Hiyama Nobuyuki-san playing the character created by director Kanda Takeyuki and writer Okeya Akira contributed largely to my investment in Shiro Amada. I'm of the opinion that Hiyama-san did much better here than in his role as the stoic Gowa Yushiro from Gasaraki (the other Sunrise role that made me worship this particular voice actor). He fleshes out Shiro's character with a believability that makes the 08th MS Team hero such a sympathetic character. Hiyama-san is not alone in this regard: the other seiyuus were equally top-notch, giving depth and breadth to the characters, especially Inoue Kikuko-san (Aina), Koyama Mami-san (Karen Joshua), Fujiwara Keiji-san (Eledore Matthis), and Hayami Sho-san (Gineas Saharin).
I do have a number of rants about the acting but they in no way detract from my liking for this series: First, Hiyama-san (in this and in other stories where he's the principal character) doesn't quite manage to pull off the romantic bits. Secondly, he and several other actors don't seem to be disciples of the underacting acting school, and thirdly, Yuuki Hiro-san plays Michel Ninorinch. While he's not terrible as Michel (in fact, he actually fits the role), I just don't like him for some reason. I never did.
My beef with aspects of the acting notwithstanding, I have no complaints at all about the story. The 08th MS Team is a solid tale which remains seamless and unified, a feat when you consider that a second director Iida Umanosuke had to take up the reins after the first director's tragic death before the series finished.
Additionally, in spite of having been produced more than a decade ago, (it started airing in 1996), the 08th MS Team doesn't seem dated. The look remains fresh (if a little flat at some points) even when compared with other mecha anime of more recent vintage.
Finally, should I mention that I'm delighted by the fact that this story didn't start with a Gundamjack?
After all these, I guess it's become clear why I say Bandai owns my anime soul. Despite it costing over two hundred dollars (USD 219.75 to be precise; that's more than two million Indonesian rupiah when converted), I want this—
Simply because it is a
collectible item of strictly limited stock. *drools*
rare item is expected to release today, 23 February 2007.
*whines* I really want this but I can't justify the expense, especially when it's not subbed... So this sublimation by blogging about it would have to suffice. Sigh.
I gave this anime an initial rating of five stars out of five when I first watched it; two years on, it retains this rating.
~nik who would like to thank Yatate Hajime & Tomino Yoshiyuki-sensei for having created Gundam, and Tomino-sensei's confession about the real reason Gundam was launched doesn't take anything away from her heart-deep gratitude
PS Can someone tell me though if I read the Japanese blurb right and this set doesn't contain the twelfth episode Last Resort?
PPS I don't have the creds to talk about the mecha so my apologies if you read this with the expectation that I would delve into it. There were Gundams and Zakus and Goufs and the Apsalus mobile armors in the 08th MS Team and that's where my knowledge ends.
- Anime News Network » Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
- THEM Anime Reviews
- Wikipedia » Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team