One of the most popular GundamOAVs, Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team is a Twelve Episode Anime released in 1996 and 1999 and set during the One Year War of Mobile Suit Gundam and Gundam 0080. The story centers on Shiro Amada, an eager young Earth Federation officer, as he takes command of the titular mobile suit team. Notable among Gundam series for abandoning nearly all of the franchise's Super Robot origins, thereby making it the hardest scifi and most solidly Real RobotGundam show to date. Eschewing the One-Man Army ace pilot protagonists in Super Prototype Gundams of the main series, 08th MS Team instead focuses on The Squad doing their part in a much more localized conflict, just a small part of the larger war. With nary a Newtype in sight, and the local Gundams being cobbled together out of spare parts instead of ubermachines, 08th MS Team has a much different flavor than the average Gundam.The series begins with Ensign Newbie Shiro Amada en route to Earth, having just been assigned to command a mobile suit team. Along the way, he becomes involved in a battle and ends up working with an enemy pilot named Aina to survive after they're both stranded in space. Once he makes it to Earth, Shiro soon has his hands full, between having command of the 08th MS Team, dealing with the locals, unearthing his team's emotionalissues, and encountering Aina again. Meanwhile, the war heads towards its conclusion, with Aina's brother Ginias working on a project with the potential to win the war in a single stroke...In 1998, a compilation movie, called Miller's Report, was released, focusing on Shiro's court martial in episode 8 of the series. This movie was never released in North American theaters, but is also available on DVD. Scenes from the movie were spliced in with Episode 8 in the 2001 Toonami broadcast.
A Father to His Men: Shiro, whose priorities for his team are roughly "don't die", "accomplish the mission", and "try not to get anyone else killed" in that order. On the Zeon side, there's Yuri Kellarny, who honestly and earnestly cares for his men despite being loud, obnoxious, and pissing off Ginias because he thinks it's fun.
Alpha Strike: Subverted when Shiro attacks Norris by sliding down the side of a building while firing all of the Ez-8's weapons simultaneously, only to miss entirely. Norris even comments "Well, that looked impressive".
Anime Anatomy: Oddly, Aina's scene with Shiro in their improvised hot spring has this, but Kiki's introduction scene of her skinny dipping doesn't.
Author Existence Failure: Director Takeyuki Kanda died during production, delaying the series by nearly three years, making it the Gundam OVA with the longest release schedule at the time (now second-longest behind Gundam Unicorn).
BFG: Both sides of the conflict occasionally use cannons that are quite large even on the scale of Humongous Mecha.
Bigger Bad: Ginias may be the series' Big Bad, but the presence of the Zabi family (and especially Gihren) can be felt throughout the show. Gihren's speech is broadcast in the first episode, portraits of both he and Degwin adorn the walls of Ginias' headquarters, the "Sieg Zeon" salute is given in front of said portraits, and so on and so forth. The Zabis essentially plays the same role in this show, as Adolf Hitler will in almost any World War II movie.
Bishōnen: Unsurprisingly, Ginias is the biggest embodiment of this trope.
Bittersweet Ending: In three stages, no less! At the end of the penultimate episode, both Shiro and Aina are missing and presumed dead by the rest of the team, but a final shot reveals them both alive, struggling to escape the battlefield, with Shiro missing the lower half of one leg and Aina suffering from some pretty nasty burns sustained earlier in the episode. The last episode is a semi-Distant Finale, taking place somewhere between a few months and a year or two later, and features Michel, now an alcoholic (or at least something of a loser), meeting up with Kiki again to look for Shiro. After a somewhat bizarre series of events, the final scene shows them arriving at a cabin in the woods, the new home of Shiro and Aina, with Aina being visibly pregnant.
Catapult Nightmare: Though we're never told how much of it is Flash Back and how much of it is Nightmare Sequence, Shiro catapults out of sleep and immediately pulls a gun on his Love Interest after dreaming about the One Week Battle, when the Zeon murdered billions of people by flooding the space colonies with nerve gas.
Colonel Badass: Norris Packard, holds the naval rank of captain, equal to an army colonel. He is also a Badass.
Cranial Processing Unit: Averted; Karen's Gundam remains operational even after getting its head punched off, and even manages to destroy its attacker with a bit of help aiming (and the only reason it needed help was that its cockpit displays had been smashed in addition to its head being removed).
Defecting For Love: Aina for Shiro, though she doesn't join the Federation so much as they both give the finger to both sides and go AWOL.
During the War: Another One Year War side-story, and also a thin allegory for Vietnam. Thin to the point that it could easily be taking place in Vietnam.
Energy Weapons: The 08th Team starts out equipped with beam sabers and gets equipped with beam rifles about halfway through the series. They still tend to carry a mix of weapons, though; typically the team has a beam rifle, a machine gun, and a BFG.
The Gloves Come Off: Twice, both near the end of the series. Once by Norris Packard, who abandons any hope of being evacuated while fighting the 08th Team, and once by Shiro, who makes an exception to his Technical Pacifism to kill Ginias. With Aina's permission, no less.
Grey and Gray Morality: Both good and bad people exist at all levels of the military on both sides, the Gray vs. Gray vibe comes across strong in the 08th MS Team.
High Heel Face Turn: Aina, as the only prominent female Zeon character, is also the only one who ends up leaving them.
High Pressure Blood: One of the weirdest examples out there, when Norris Packard stabs a tank. Generally assumed to be hydraulic fluid or oil or somesuch (supported by the fact that it's pitch black when it erupts from the "stab wound"), but it's really obvious what effect they're actually going for.
Kick the Dog / Moral Event Horizon: Ginias has a string of these toward the end to demonstrate just how loony he's gotten. He kills his own allies to prevent them from shutting down the Apsalus project, then kills the Apsalus project team immediately after they finish it, then violates a ceasefire, which gets a ship filled with wounded men and his own evacuating soldiers blown up, thenshoots his sister when she calls him on his bullshit. Then gets punched into goo by a giant robot.
La Résistance: The locals fighting Zeon. They're not especially fond of the Earth Federation either.
Latex Space Suit: All mobile suit pilots in space, as is typical for UC Gundam. Amusingly, Shiro wears his (rather than the much more comfortable fatigues that everyone else uses) during his first mission on Earth, and practically drowns in his own sweat because of it.
Laser Guided Tykebomb: In the last episode, Michel and Kiki encounter a bunch of former Zeon kids who were quite obviously meant to be this. Subverted in that a) they don't know where to start and b) they don't really want to anyway.
Mad Scientist: Ginias begins the series as a relatively sane, if obsessive scientist. He starts going unhinged when rumors float around that Zeon may cut his funding in favor of some other project, and snaps completely when its simultaneously revealed to him that his funding and materials will be cut and seized, and that Aina is in love with a Federation pilot.
Mid-Season Upgrade: Subverted by Shiro's Ez-8 and Karen's "GM Head". Instead of being a new and improved, more effective fighting machines, both examples are repair jobs designed to keep the units functioning and are not obvious improvements (though supplementary materials state that the Ez-8 has slightly better performance characteristics than a standard RX-79[G]). The "GM Head" had its original head (which was punched off) replaced by a head from a GM model, while the Ez-8 is a near-total rebuild of Shiro's machine after it was completely trashed. Both, however, admirably serve their primary purpose — selling more model kits.
Mundane Made Awesome: Norris Packward walking alongside his Gouf Custom as they head out for combat. He's literally doing nothing but walking through the hanger, but they do their damnedest to make it really cool.
Not So Different: On multiple levels. First when Shiro begins to realize that most Zeon soldiers are just regular people trying to survive the war, rather than faceless evil psychopaths. Later, he realizes that some of his ownsuperiors actually are psychopaths, just like the Zeon higher-ups.
Oh Crap: Every time the Apsalus shows up. Notable moment when Michel is about to be blasted away by its cannon. Also, Sanders when he realizes just how skilled Packard is.
Samurai: Norris Packard definitely follows the theme. An honorable warrior, loyal retainer of an aristocratic family, follows orders without question despite his lord being either evil or insane, and ultimately chooses to die honorably in combat rather than retreat, surrender, or be captured? Yep, he's a samurai.
Senseless Sacrifice: Used multiple times to reinforce the fact that War Is Hell. Notable examples include Kiki's village vs. Topp's Zaku team, where neither side wanted any bloodshed but it ends with both sides decimated anyway, and Norris Packard vs the 08th MS Team, which is rendered moot by the actions of both side's superiors a few minutes later.
Shoot the Dog: Shiro, when he's forced to kill enemy soldiers despite his obvious reluctance to do so.
Shout Out: In the final episode, upon seeing a swan flying overhead, Michel claims that he "hates seeing beautiful things". This is a reference to Lalah Sune from Mobile Suit Gundam, who is associated with swan imagery.
Sole Survivor: Sanders, multiple times in the backstory. Every team he's been on has been wiped out, leaving him the sole survivor, on his third mission with that team. It's uncertain how many times this happened, but it was enough to give him a reputation for getting his teams killed. See Shinigami above.
Survivors Guilt: Naturally, Sanders doesn't take the repeated slaughter of his team too well. He has something of a complex about it.
The Squad: What do you think the series is named for?
Try Not to Die: Shiro issues this order to his team, usually in the form of "come back alive!"
Used Future: While not a particularly good example overall, it's one of the few Gundam shows that attempt it at all. Instead of using pristine Super Prototype Gundams, the main mecha are stopgap units built out of parts leftover from the project that developed the original Gundam, and they get rebuilt/repaired in a variety of unique ways thanks to a lack of spare parts. Attention is also paid to maintenance and upkeep, especially on long range missions where they're away from support facilities for extended durations.
War Is Hell: As any Gundam series, though this one is notable for bringing the view to ground-level, showing how destructive it is to both sides, many of whom are decent people ordered around by sociopaths from higher grounds where it's easy to dismiss the human cost of the war.