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Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team Logo.jpg

"Dig in!"
Peter Cullen, Toonami promo

One of the most popular Gundam OAVs, 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 Robot Gundam 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 emotional issues, 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.

This series contains examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Norris Packard. [1]
  • 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".
  • Author Existence Failure: Director Takeyuki Kanda died during production, delaying the series by nearly three years.
  • Badass: Norris Packard. See below CMoA
  • 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.
  • Bishonen: Unsurprisingly, Ginias is the biggest embodiment of this trope, though Shiro, Eledore, and Michel are arguable as well.
  • 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.
    • The game Gihren's Greed puts a new twist on this: an ending involving the Supreme Victory of Zeon had some good consequences, one of them being Aina and Shiro living together, considering that the events of the show did not happen as mentioned above and that both pilots now live happily ever after.
  • Blood From the Mouth: Ginias exhibits this in the first scene of episode 11, presumably a symptom of his Soap Opera Disease.
  • Capulet Counterpart: Aina, for Shiro, though she doesn't end up joining Shiro's side so much as both of them giving both sides the finger and going AWOL.
  • 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).
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: Karen Joshua.
  • 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.
  • Ensign Newbie: Shiro is the Trope Namer; Eledore (at least in the dub) refers to him as this.
  • Expy: Cool older pilot who took care of a young Zeon noblewoman when she was a kid, acts as a Worthy Opponent toward the hero, and pilots a Gouf... Are we sure Norris Packard isn't Ramba Ral's lost brother? His English VA, Michael McConnohie, even voiced Ramba Ral in the dub of the Mobile Suit Gudnam Compilation Movies.
  • Fan Service: Kiki's introduction in the second episode features her swimming naked in a pool below a waterfall. The viewer gets a good few shots of Kiki's anatomically-correct breasts. Although, depending on the person, these scenes are done more as a form of artistic expression than as a means of simplistic fanservice. Shiro didn't even get aroused when looking at Kiki naked, simply stating "she's pretty."
  • Fanfic Fuel: Ginias's lightly-touched Freudian Excuse and what little backstory was given for him and his sister are just enough to get fans' word processors put to use on occasion. The fact that some fans think Ginias might've been an abused child (extrapolated from the implications of their family being dysfunctional and the belief that his breakdown was fueled by deep-rooted trauma instead of purely biological factors) doesn't help. Needless to say, Ginias probably has the greatest risk of becoming a Draco in Leather Pants out of the cast.
  • Five-Man Band:
    • The Hero: Shiro, the commanding officer.
    • The Lancer: Karen, the most experienced pilot, and much more pragmatic than Shiro.
    • The Big Guy: Sanders, the second most experienced pilot, physically largest member of the team, and usually carries The Squad's BFG.
    • The Smart Guy: Eleodore, who doesn't get to pilot a mobile suit but acts as a sort of on-scene Mission Control.
    • The Chick: Michel, the most emotional (and least useful) member of the team.
    • Sixth Ranger / The Heart: Kiki, who starts out primarily as a representative of the local guerrillas, but eventually ends up tagging along for missions that take them far from inhabited areas.
  • Gatling Good: Norris' Gouf Custom.
  • General Ripper: Captain Ethan Ryer
  • Giant Robot Hands Save Lives
  • 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.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Shiro, with the arm of his own mobile suit.
  • 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.
  • Humongous Mecha
    • Real Robot: probably the most so of any Gundam series to date.
  • Husky Russkie: Played mostly straight with Yuri Kellarny (though he's quite competent and caring when it comes to his men), and inverted completely with Bishonen Mad Scientist Ginias Sahalin.
  • Ill Boy: Ginias, who suffers from Incurable Cough of Death. Whether the Sanity Slippage is a side effect of this or due to his briefly-mentioned Freudian Excuse is a subject of much Fan Wank.
  • 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, then shoots 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...
  • 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 yes his funding and materials will be cut and seized, and that Aina is in love with a Federation pilot.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Little Sister: Aina
  • 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 nearly complete rebuild of Shiro's machine after it was completely trashed. Both, however, admirably serve their primary purpose — selling more model kits.
  • 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 own superiors 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.

 "He's an ace!"

  • The Ojou: Aina
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Ginias
  • 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..
  • Shinigami: Sanders's nickname, translated as "Grim Reaper" in the dub. See Sole Survivor, below.
  • 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.
  • Sissy Villain: Ginias.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Aina, crossed with The Ojou.
  • 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.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Ginias, whose status as a villain in the beginning is debatable at best, but ends up completely Ax Crazy in the end thanks to an arguable Trauma Conga Line. Some fans see him as a Complete Monster for his actions during it, though others think he deserves some sympathy and see him as more psychologically damaged than evil.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Apsalus's mega beam cannon, designed to destroy an Elaborate Underground Base from high altitude.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not 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.
  • Worthy Opponent: Norris Packard
  • Yandere: Ginias, and how. Some actually consider him one of the first male yanderes ever in anime.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Norris does this for his last fight against the 08th Team, to prevent them from destroying a ship filled with evacuating wounded.