Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

Can't you see that you are sweet? Oh, let me love you so!

"Don't cry, Al. Soon there'll be an even bigger war with even cooler mobile suits!"
— One of Al's classmates, demonstrating a profound lack of understanding of the reasons for his Heroic BSOD

The first OVA of the Gundam franchise, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is a six-episode series that offers a significant change from the standard Gundam formula. As suggested by its subtitle, War in the Pocket is a small, personal story; a side story focusing on the experiences of a eleven year old boy during the One Year War. Released in 1989, it served to commemorate Gundam's ten-year anniversary. It was also the first time anyone other than creator Yoshiyuki Tomino was given a chance to direct a Gundam story.

The story follows Alfred "Al" Izuruha, an eleven year old resident of a neutral space colony, as his home is drawn into the One Year War. Though supposedly uninvolved in the conflict, Al's colony is in fact home to a secret Earth Federation base, currently hosting the Super Prototype Gundam "Alex", which is undergoing final testing before being sent to White Base's Amuro Ray. A Zeon commando team is dispatched to destroy the Alex, but during the mission Al befriends the team's most junior member, Bernard "Bernie" Wiseman. A precocious kid who idealizes war (he's eleven, and this war happens to involve giant robots), Al is impressed with Bernie's (false) stories of being an Ace Pilot and general Badass, and the two of them investigate the Alex as part of their ultimate plan to destroy it. However, unbeknownst to them, the Gundam's test pilot is none other than Al's attractive neighbor (and Earth Federation officer) Christina "Chris" Mackenzie. Also altering the situation is Bernie's awareness of his superiors' willingness to stop the Alex at all costs. The entire series follows Al's growing awareness of the reality of war as his two friends draw closer to an inevitable confrontation.

This OAV provides examples of:

  • Ace Custom: The Alex is intended to be one for Amuro Ray.
  • Action Girl: Chris is one of the few female Gundam pilots in the entire franchise. Unlike most, she did not inherit her Gundam from a male character.
  • Advertised Extra: Thanks to merchandising, the two best known mecha from this show are the Gundam NT-1 and the Kampfer. Guess how long the Kampfer actually lasts.
  • Aerith and Bob: Averted. With the possible exception of Killing J. Dannigan, most of the cast have ordinary sounding, if sometimes mismatched, names, which makes it fairly unique among the Gundam series. This is also the show that mostly started the trend of giving Zeon military hardware Gratuitous German names...
  • All There in the Manual: Technically, any of the Alex's standard weapons, since we only see its arm Gatlings and beam sabers in the OVA. The beam rifle and shield come standard in model kits, but its hyper bazooka is infinitely rarer, so far only appearing with the Gundam FIX Figuration action figure.
  • Alternate Continuity:
    • The novel version merely has Chris and Bernie argue with one another before both walking away from battle.
    • Zeon Quest has another, happier ending: Bernie successfully steals the Gundam Alex, but is forced to scuttle it. He then decides to go AWOL so that he can be together with Chris.
  • Big Bad: Killing.
  • Bigger Bad: Gihren and Kycilia Zabi, whose presences can be felt throughout the show, but who never actually appear.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The colony is safe, Al survives unharmed and Chris has only relatively minor injuries, but Bernie dies needlessly and Al will never be the same again. Adding insult to injury, in their final farewells to Al (Bernie via recorded video), both Bernie and Chris ask him to say hi to the other for them. Al's the only one that knows the truth of the situation. Appropriately, the final scene of the OVA is Al collapsing into tears when some of his classmates express disappointment over the war's end and suggest that the next one will be even cooler.
    • It's also implied at the end that Bernie knows Chris is in the Alex and deliberately lets her get the killing blow so he wouldn't have to kill her himself. Chris never finds out the truth about Bernie.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Al goes to the police to try and warn everybody that Zeon is going to nuke the colony, they remember that he's the same kid who faked a hit-and-run to get them to track down Bernie and don't believe him.
  • Character Development: It'd be easy to dismiss Al as a fool for not realizing good people die in war but again, the kid is eleven.
  • Cool Big Sis: Chris.
  • Dull Surprise: A couple instances during episode one, when Al reacts to Bernie's Zaku nearly crashing into his school (while he's on the roof) and later having a gun pointed at him with a face that can only be described as slack-jawed boredom.
  • During the War: A sidestory of the One Year War.
  • Energy Weapons
  • Foreshadowing: Bernie's last meal is a particularly gruesome example.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Alex" apparently stands for "Armored Layers EXperiment," for its optional Chobham armor. In Real Life, it's a pun on the phonetic pronunciation of "RX", the model number for Federation prototypes.
  • Gatling Good: Alex Gundam has one small gatling gun built into each arm.
  • Glass Cannon: The Kämpfer was designed as a high-speed assault model, capable of incredible speeds but possessing rather thin armor as a result. Demonstrated rather viscerally when it plows through an entire MS team while staying mobile, but gets shredded like tinfoil when it tries to engage the Alex in melee combat.
  • Global Ignorance: An in-universe example. During the Cyclops Team's covert attempt to steal the Alex, Bernie's cover story gets blown when he mistakenly describes Sydney, Australia being covered in snow at Christmas the middle of the southern hemisphere's summer (at the time of 0080's release, it hadn't snowed in Sydney at all in over 150 years). Not to mention that Sydney was wiped out by a Colony Drop early on into the war.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: Present as ever. The Federation's behavior in Side Six is highly questionable (among other things, they're building and deploying mobile suits in a neutral colony with a large civilian population before the treaty allowing them to do so is signed), and Zeon's response is to try to blow the entire place up, civilians and all. Would qualify as Black and Grey Morality if the Cyclops team (and Bernie in particular) weren't so sympathetic.
  • Heroic BSOD: Al, when he watches Bernie's Zaku get destroyed, and later sees Chris removed from the cockpit of the Alex.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Admit it, for a moment, it actually seemed Bernie could win, didn't it?
    • Or that maybe, just maybe Al would make it in time to stop the fight.
  • Flynning: Subverted: The Kampfer gets out its beam sword but is immediately pulverized by the Gundam's machine gun.
  • Humongous Mecha: Duh.
  • Husky Russkie: Mikhail Kaminsky, pilot of the Cyclops Team's Kampfer mobile suit.
  • Ikea Weaponry: The Kampfer was smuggled into Libot in pieces and assembled on site.
  • Info Drop: Gundam 0080 and Gundam ZZ provide Info Drops for fans trying to figure out when exactly the Universal Century takes place. The former has a newspaper that reads "Monday, 14 January 0080", while the latter has Axis proclaim itself Neo Zeon on February 29th 0088, which means 0080 is a leap year in which January 14th falls on a Monday. The original series and Zeta Gundam both suggested that the calendar changeover happened in 2000, but these pieces of information were quietly retconned out in the Compilation Movie versions.
  • Killed Off for Real: The Cyclops Team, Bernie
  • Latex Space Suit: The pilot suits
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Alex. Designed for Newtype pilots (Amuro, specifically), the Federation lacks remote weapon technology, so instead they make it a high-class high-speed machine capable of keeping up with a Newtype's superior reflexes.
  • Made of Explodium: Averted. Lots of mobile suits are taken out by gunfire, but the only ones that are actually blown up during battle are in a simulator and Bernie's Zaku at the end, when it takes a beam saber through its jetpack.
    • Notably, after the initial attack on the arctic base, we are treated to a view of the aftermath, including one GM who is still holding its arm up to aim its gun. Rarely does any Gundam series have whole mobile suits still intact, especially like this.
  • Megumi Hayashibara: Christina.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Gundam "Alex" has the heavy armored shell that protects the actual mecha even when caught in a chain mine detonation. Even when the armor is ejected, the Alex is still a Lightning Bruiser.
  • Minovsky Physics
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Colonel Killing.
  • Neutral No Longer: Side Six colony Rhea (the one in the show) and its gradual shift towards backing the Federation (and the Federation's willingness to take advantage of that) is what kicks off the whole plot. Subverted in the settings, where different colonies in Side Six support Zeon or the Federation, depending on the economy support from behind.
  • New Meat: Bernie is this to the Cyclops Team, an attitude not at all helped by their still dealing with the death of their buddy Andy Strauss in the first episode.
  • Nuke 'em: Zeon is not going to let the Federation introduce another Gundam into the war, by any means necessary.
  • Retcon: In a meta sense; Mobile Suit Gundam is the only series in the franchise where the protagonist never receives a Mid-Season Upgrade. War in the Pocket retroactively alleviates this exception, providing an explanation why.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Bernie attacks the Alex in order to keep the colony from being nuked, but the ship dispatched with the nuke was captured, and its captain committed suicide. When Al learns this, he rushes to the battle in an attempt to let Bernie know that he doesn't have to fight anymore — arriving just in time to see the explosive end of the fight, nearly dying himself in the process. Played razor straight, and for tragedy. Very effectively.
    • They actually mislead you with another potential STSD story. Killing revealed he was going to nuke the colony regardless of Cyclops' success, just to make sure the Gundam's dead and buried. Regardless of whether or not Bernie would have destroyed the thing, the colony would have been nuked anyways. You'd think that he'd succeed only to realize that they're all doomed anyways, then the series throws you the curve those all above.
  • Shout-Out/Call Back: The Alex loses its head and left arm in the final battle, just like Amuro's Gundam does in its final battle.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Averted. The Kampfer's shotgun blasts are powerful enough to completely pierce through the armor of an MP Guncannon even from a long distance.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The triumphant BGM that plays during the climactic battle between the Alex and Bernie's Zaku almost makes you think the story might have a happy ending after all.
    • That track is the second half of "Bernard Wiseman" on the official OST.
    • The upbeat Next Episode music at the end gets really inappropriate by the second half of the series.
    • Not to mention that the series ends with such a happy, upbeat track when the ending is anything but.
  • Space Is Noisy: Strangely averted in only one scene in episode 3, when Al and Bernie are outside the colony, and the only sound that can be heard are their voices.
  • The Squad: The Cyclops Team
  • Super Prototype: The Alex, a Newtype-use Gundam intended for Amuro Ray. Since the Federation doesn't have remote weapons yet, "Newtype-use" simply means it's fast enough to keep up with his superhuman reflexes.
  • Sword Fight
  • Throw Away Guns: The Kämpfer carries two of each of its main weapons (shotgun, giant bazooka, and sturm fausts) because none of them can be reloaded; its only internal weapons are beam sabers and head vulcans.
  • Tomboyish Name: Christina MacKenzie usually is referred to as Chris.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 4. Most of the Zeon reserves that Al and Bernie cooperated with through the last three episodes die during the attack on RX-78 Alex and Chris gets her first taste of actual combat against a Zaku.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: A good argument could be made for this series being a deconstruction of this trope, as the series focuses on the Mooks of Mobile Suit Gundam. Especially in light of both the Wham Episode and the ending, considering how Chris never finds out the identity of the pilots she's gunning down.
  • You Bastard: This show is a Deconstruction that seems to question why people love Gundam shows in the first place, when they tend to have such a staunch anti-war message. The final scene uses a group of children as Audience Surrogates, and has them talking about how cool all the recent bloodshed was and how they can't wait for the next war to start, so they can look at all the awesome new mobile suits.