Posted by: Leek | December 18, 2013

7 Anime related features to get you ready for Christmas Eve: Number 7

I’m not really the type to write holiday posts but I’ve had little mindset to work on other things right now. So just for the sake of doing something seasonal and so I don’t sit on my hands all vacation, I prepared a little countdown to Christmas Eve treat.

I decided to divide each of these posts into two segments for the well being of people. For those that any of these things are new for, I will happily give you some background and reasoning as to why I chose said movie/episode/whatever. It won’t be long but just give you some reasons to check it out. Below that I’ll place another small section where I want to iron out more details (complete with spoilers) that you can choose to unwrap and look at after watching said thing. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

What’s Christmas without guns?

Background and Reasoning
I know what you’re thinking. Leek, it’s almost Christmas Eve and you’re telling me to watch an entire Gundam series. Are you crazy? No, lucky you! I recommend you watch all of Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket because it’s a memorable Gundam series packed into a tidy 6 episode OVA.

War in the Pocket is a small story told during the most well known timeline (aka Universal Century) of the Gundam franchise. It was also one of the earliest works where Tomino himself wasn’t truly at the reigns. So in general it was a fairly milestone series that took on a different tone. War in the Pocket follows the story of a young boy (Alfred) who lives on one of the outer colonies during the war. And just like any young kid, he finds this incredibly boring and generally fantasizes with his friends that the battle would be taken to their colony. And by a complete twist of fate and his own curiosity, Alfred soon gets himself involved in an entire operation planned by enemy forces. Still naive and unaware of the full situation, Alfred proceeds with furthering the operation all while making friends with one of the soldiers (Bernard). Generally, if you’re a fan of war stories “War in the Pocket” will no doubt be right up your alley. And if you’ve been a Gundam fan for awhile and somehow overlooked it, War in the Pocket is a must watch.

But why watch War in the Pocket during this season? The main operation that takes places and much of the events following are based around the Christmas season. War stories are already emotional landslides to begin with and there’s nothing like the potential of a Christmas Miracle to make it a complete package. So I’ll be honest, War in the Pocket is really about as Christmas inspired as Lethal Weapon or Rambo. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out. In fact, what’s wrong with using Christmas as extra leverage sometimes? Nothing like the holiday season to bring out the best (and worse) in people.

So go ahead and check it out if you haven’t. If you’ve been one of the great people who’s seen War in the Pocket already or just got through watching it, then feel free to read more about my thoughts on it below.

Always bank on that Christmas Miracle

All the Rest (aka spoilers)
So let’s be honest, why did I really choose War in the Pocket?

It’s the Christmas miracle that DOESN’T happen. Despite Al praying to God that everything be alright, things couldn’t have gone worse (well except maybe Chris dying as well). And to be honest, it’s one of the great things that keeps it from being a made for TV Christmas special. The entire idea of War in the Pocket was to enforce that wartime benefits no one and that even the nicest guys aren’t any luckier than the scum.

And a story told from “enemy” perspective is always a great way to push that sort of motif. You can say outright that Bernie isn’t a bad guy and, if anything, he was most likely a spitting image of Al when he was a kid. The rest of the Cyclops team was never shown to be truly terrible guys and they just do what they have to as soldiers. The only exception I’ll make is Mikhail. Mikhail didn’t really show any signs of being a good guy. He just sort of drank a lot and got a perfectly beautiful Kampfer turned into Swiss cheese. But Hardy literally opens up the series mourning the loss of their deceased fourth man and Garcia shows that he’s had a heart all along by looking out for both Hardy and Bernie during their final operation.

Say it ain’t so, Bernie.

Al, as the last surviving “member” of the Cyclops Team, in the end is left by himself to realize what war is really about. The series doesn’t just close with him traumatized and in a hospital bed. In fact, everybody remains completely unaware of the entire fiasco he had went through. After all is said and done, Al becomes the obedient kid he never was before the war. He doesn’t disobey his parents and continues to follow the orders that Bernie had issued to him in his final video.

Then, of course, we have the closing scene. As the Principal makes a speech towards all the kids (who are unaware of what really went on), Al has gone from the most naive to the most matured. He breaks down knowing hard and well what the Principal is trying to tell them. There’s nothing good about war and the “bad side” isn’t filled with a ton of criminals. All the members of the Cyclops Team had become comrades to Al and he had truly learned to treat Bernie like the brother he was pretending to be. The Christmas miracle (of Al’s parents getting back together) is ultimately trumped by the fact he’s lost all his innocence to the war.

And last, let’s never forget Bernie as the one soldier who was willing to take on a Gundam with nothing but a Heat Axe equipped Zaku and some inflatable Christmas balloons.


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