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Anime / Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

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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.
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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. 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.

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This OVA provides examples of:

  • Ace Custom: The Alex a fine-tuned version of the RX-78 upgraded and intended to be used by 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 - in fact, a male character was meant to inherit it from her.
  • Advertised Extra: Thanks to merchandising, the three best known mecha from this show are the Gundam NT-1 Alex, the Kämpfer, and the GM Sniper II. The Kämpfer doesn't last long, and the GM got about 30 seconds of screen time.
  • Aerith and Bob: Averted. With the exception of Killing, 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.
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  • The Alcoholic: Mikhail Kaminsky's own Kämpfer even has a flask filled with liquor attached to the cockpit by an elastic string.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: "War in the Pocket" has much more gore, blood and other graphic violence than any previous installment of the Gundam franchise.
  • Broken Record: In the first episode, Al is being chastised by his mother and responds with an (admittedly appropriate for an eleven year old) "Yes Mom... yes Mom... yes Mom..." Al's mother is clearly aware that he's not listening, but disregards it. Al's "Yes Mom" quips continue to repeat for the better part of 30 seconds after she leaves until the scene fades to black.
  • Call-Forward: The Alex and several other late-OYW MS featured here feature experimental design elements that would later become standardized in the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam era. The Alex itself is the first mobile suit to use a panoramic cockpit and also features prominent leg thrusters and concealed forearm weapons not unlike the Zeta itself. The GM Sniper II's legs are almost identical to the Nemo's and the Hygog is very obviously meant to be a forerunner of the Kapool.
  • 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 earlier 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.
  • Char Clone: One of the few Gundam series to not feature one, though it does reference Zeta Gundam's Quattro by having the blonde-haired Bernie disguise himself with nothing more than a pair of sunglasses for the better part of the last two episodes.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In preperation for the assault Mikhail parks three trucks around the Colony that are loaded with Mobile Suit weaponry. The Kämpfer utilizes Throw-Away Guns so in the chance he runs out of weaponry he can just grab from one of the vehicles. During the fight with the Alex he grabs a chain-mine from one. After the mission goes south, Bernie and Al try to re-arm the Zaku by tracking the parked trucks down but at that point the Federation had caught on to the ruse and was trying to confiscate them.
  • Cool Big Sis: Chris is Al's neighbor, but she fulfills this role, being a cool older friend who treats Al nicely and maturely.
  • Dull Surprise: A couple instances during episode one, when Al reacts to Bernie's Zaku coming within a few feet of crashing into his face and minutes later having a gun pointed at him by Bernie with a face that can only be described as slack-jawed boredom.
    • Al's best friends casually asking if Al is cutting class mere moments after above said Zaku nearly crashes into them in a battle which has wrecked large portions of their hometown with no hint of any emotion about what has just transpired also counts as this.
  • During the War: A sidestory of the One Year War.
  • Energy Weapons: Few and far between; after the attack on the Federation base in the first episode, the only ones seen outside of a simulator are beam sabers. Justified in that beam weapons, and the massive explosions that typically result from kills with them, would easily puncture the hull of the space colony the majority of the series takes place in, and nobody's here to destroy the colony itself or its people except Killing, and even then his attempt to do so is thwarted.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The introduction of Cyclops Team all give brief bits of their personalities and their vices.
    • Hardy is the leader of the group, keeping them on track and telling them to stick to the mission. He still has time to light up a cigarette in his cockpit, however.
    • Mikhail has a bottle of alcohol he keeps in his mech hanging from an elastic string. He takes a swig and Hardy tells him not to have too much because they're on the clock.
    • Garcia is taking the time to put on his Bandana right before they engage in combat and his cockpit is decorated with nude women and pin-ups.
    • Andy has a mirror in his cockpit and he's meticulously styling his hair.
  • 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.
  • Flynning: Subverted: The Kämpfer gets out its beam sword but is immediately pulverized by the Gundam's arm-mounted machine gun.
  • 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.
    • The Hygoggs most of the Cyclops team use in the first episode also demonstrate this, with Garcia in particular managing to quickly slide in close to two enemy mobile suits, grab one as a shield and shoot through it to hit the other, but then Andy stands out of cover trying to launch a missile at the shuttle they came after and takes a bullet through the cockpit for his trouble.
  • 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 time...in 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.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: It's best left to imagine what happened to Mikhail (a bloodied and bullet-pocked chair) and Benard (a "pile of hamburger") after getting at the end of machine gun and beam sabre respectively.
  • Gratuitous German: In the English dub, we are subjected to von Helsing's badly imitated German accent. As above, 0080 is also the show that helped start the trend of Zeon mobile suit designs having German names.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Gihren and Kycilia Zabi, whose presences can be felt throughout the show, but who never actually appear or are specifically named.
  • 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, after a covert operation fails, 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. He also gets a more minor one earlier when he comes across rescue workers at a destroyed building and sees them pull the corpse of a child around his age out of the rubble.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: There's a couple of sacrifices that invoke the spirit of the trope even when its about a group of Villain Protagonists:
    • Garcia grabs a bomb and fights his way through Federation soldiers in an attempt to destroy the Alex in a suicide run and to give his comrades a chance to escape.
    • Bernie's final fight was at meant to be this if it failed. If it succeeded they'd avert the nuclear bombing but if they didn't (a possibility he knew was likely) Bernie left enough evidence behind to better convince the authorities of the threat.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the final battle, Bernie sets up a number of grenades on the field he lures the Alex to. In the end the only thing they do is blow off his own Zaku's arm when he grapples with the Gundam.
  • 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.
  • Humongous Mecha: Duh.
  • Husky Russkie: Mikhail Kaminsky, pilot of the Cyclops Team's Kämpfer mobile suit.
  • Ikea Weaponry: The Kämpfer 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 Mobile Suit 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, as always.
  • 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, taken out by explosives, 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 at least 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 economic 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.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: The Zeon MS featured in this OAV all have a much more detailed, "realistic" look than the lumpy, spiny, almost medieval fantasy armor-like designs from the original series (courtesy of Patlabor's Yutaka Izubuchi). Sourcebooks explain this disparity as a result of the operation to capture the Alex being used as a field test of the "United Maintenance Plan", a planned overhaul of several major Zeon mobile suit designs to used standardized, interchangeable parts (so that, say, a Zaku and Dom could use the same joints or thrusters despite originally being made by competing defense contractors) in order to simplify logistics. Like all of Zeon's genuinely good ideas, it was yet another case of too little, too late.
  • No-Sell: To show off just how powerful the Alex is, it takes a full shotgun blast from the Kämpfer and only receives a few dings to its armor. In contrast, that same blast completely scrapped a Guncannon. When the Alex is hit with the chain mine the armor is damaged but the Alex itself is in tip top shape with only some scratches and a cracked V-fin.
  • Nuke 'em: Zeon is not going to let the Federation introduce another Gundam into the war, by any means necessary.
  • Police are Useless: Narrowly averted early on. In Episode 3, Alfred is nearly run over by Garcia (who is driving a trailer rig). When Al goes to the police, they initially fail to believe him until he shows them a bruise on his lower back. From here, the cops are surprisingly competent, which nearly leads to their deaths until Al figures this out and pulls a quick save and claims he made the whole thing up to keep the cops from investigating further (which would get them killed by Mikhail). This later comes back to bite Al when he's trying to alert the police to the Zeon scheme to blow up the colony, causing this trope to be played bitterly straight in the end.
  • Red Shirt Army: The GM's get it especially bad here and recieve a sound thrashing throughout the series. The Watsonian vs. Doylist reasons are obvious. In-Universe it's to show just how necessary the Gundam(s) are by highlighting the sheer power difference between them and the grunt suits. Out of Universe it's because the Zeon's side are packed with much more named characters allowing a meaning to be attatched to their kills while the Feddies are largely Faceless Goons.
  • 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 ball above.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Averted for both human-sized and MS-sized shotguns. The Kämpfer's shotgun blasts are powerful enough to completely pierce through the armor of an MP Guncannon even from a long distance. Bernie also manages to shred two Federation soldiers with one shot from a short-barreled shotgun from a surprising 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 over radio.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Bernie usually lives/can be saved in the Super Robot Wars installments that use 0080.
  • 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: Subverted in episode 4, where the Kämpfer closes in to have one with the Alex, only for the Alex to shred it with one of its gatling guns.
  • 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 mobile suit combat.
  • 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.


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