War in The Pocket Was Not For Kids, But Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 17’s Version of It Is (Except for the BL)

gundam 0080 al boy meets zaku pilot bernie

[Gundam AGE Episode 16]

Ever since I’ve seen Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in The Pocket some three years ago I’ve thought it transcended not merely Gundam shows, but robot anime itself. I thought it was a small, but powerful story well-told. It was the right story to tell at the right time: ten years after the original Gundam TV show aired, it was a dark coming-of-age story not for the pilot the original generation of viewers wished they were, but for the kid that they remained inside.

Alfredo Izuruha was the kid who loved them mobile suits, and now saw himself embroiled in the One Year War, and perhaps ironically, in the first Gundam production creator Tomino Yoshiyuki didn’t direct, it was as clear as it was concise: war was indeed hell. The pilot in the story wasn’t some incredible Newtype, Bernie was the kind of guy most of us would be, at the onset of war: greener than a Zaku.

He was thrown into a crack veteran team assigned to steal or destroy a prototype Gundam in a peaceful/Newtype colony. It is precisely this that Gundam AGE draws from in its second main story. Nice idea, I guess, but the kiddy show dynamics don’t quite work for me here.

image

The Cyclops Team was a veteran unit that was provided poor intelligence, and not enough resources, but they were good soldiers. Bernie Wiseman stood out as that very thing that was wrong about the mission they were given. Zeheart Galette is 17 years old, but is somehow the leader of the Vagan team inserted in the Tordia Colony to steal the Gundam. His members are either already dead, or not very competent. The team just doesn’t strike me as a plausible unit. They very much feel like a cartoon villain team.

And this should be just fine for Gundam AGE, who is now more interested in furthering the romantic dynamics between Zeheart, Asemu, and Romary – the two males just as likely to be a romantic pairing as each would be with Romary. Welcome to AU Gundam, where the BL is very strong. It’s entertaining stuff too, because the romance between Zeheart and Asemu is budding like a flower.

This is also why I feel off about using the War in the Pocket scenario for this story. While every AU Gundam will draw from the template of the original series and its set pieces, some attempts work better than others, and some attempts are just plain terrible. Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is known for drawing from the original series, and its first few episodes are not complete and utter disasters as much as the rest of the franchise is. Mobile Suit Gundam 00’s A-Laws are facsimiles of the Titans of Mobile Suit Z Gundam, and that wasn’t very good at all, and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny  replicated Kamille Bidan and Four Murasame’s doomed romance from Zeta using Shinn Asuka and Stella Louisser and it was indeed complete and utter shit.

My initial impression of Gundam AGE’s take on War in the Pocket lies somewhere between Gundam 00’s take on the Titans and GSD’s version of Kamille x Four. Here’s to being wrong.

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I may be appeased by some hamburger… maybe.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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59 Responses to War in The Pocket Was Not For Kids, But Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 17’s Version of It Is (Except for the BL)

  1. Myssa Rei says:

    The montage (with insert song!) of the MS Club hinted at shounen ai interpretations at Asemu’s and Zehart’s friendship, the “Wait, why am I relieved (that Asemu’s fine)?” line from the latter probably made the hearts of fujoshi’s watching the show skip giddily. As I mentioned in Twitter last night, I’m just waiting for the bishie sparkles to show up, with Asemu and Zehard being googly-eyed at each other… This stuff writes itself!

    And I noticed that Char seems to be absent.

    • The BL stuff is really laid thick here. Now we really know we’re watching AU Gundam.

      Char is somewhere online looking for Yunoa rule 34.

      • kevin says:

        yunoa 34 doesn’t exist (yet!), she doesn’t have a fan base (yet!)

        but Fake char and Fake kamille does! i feel bad for char. i really do.. . .. wait char’s not a shotacon is he? shotacons only applies to female zeons right? i think? oh boy thats an uncharted territory i don’t want to find myself charting…

        age has shown itself to be… rather strange. one second you would have some one rational, then you are shown something completely irrational, then, during that irrationality, you are shown an improbability that shouldn’t have been there.

        and then out of nowhere they kill yurin and lol. although its hard to tell what they were loling @.

        i’m gona let my nerd lose for a moment, don’t fret its on first gear.

        yes, it was very kiddy, but for some reason it wasn’t very brutal to watch like all the other harem series, probably thanks to Ms. Rosmary Simpleton, thank god she doesn’t have pink hair. strangely, during that kiddiness and BL BL BL BL fangirl fanbase building, we get something that really strikes me as totally out of context.

        i speak of the DORADO detaching its arm after its fist assembly was destroyed.
        this is actually very dumb in universe on the part of the engineers who made the machine – but its negligible, not everything has good circuitry and nice fuses laid down.
        what struck me was why this even existed in the first place – they had no reasons to animate that at all other than for the art, and the two DORADO from before didn’t do anything remotely similar.
        the first DORADO pilot was killed by a saber to the face, and the second one was sliced in half by first’s severed arm.
        so what the hell is that for? animating things aren’t cheap the last time i checked.
        and then theres grandpa with his awesome rocketeers. the DORADO pilot’s gota be really carefuly with the shots just not to hit them. it doesn’t take that much of a movement to follow a car that can’t go faster than 60km/h. what kind of absurdity be this? i must be overanalyzing things again, or could the director be showing us how hard the martians are trying not to kill anyone? the official story was that nobody died in the first attack, but what if there wasn’t a coverup this time? but wait! this is a kid’s show! there shouldn’t be this much things for some one to think about! those assholes up in the firms must be trolling me by throwing me all this mixed messages! i knew it. wait, what if i’m wrong! what if there really is something to take from this!

        AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

        *facefirstintowall*

    • Kherubim says:

      Yeah, this stuff writes itself, and I intially thought I placed my yuri goggles on the wrong setting (this stuff overpowered the filters I placed). Almost expected Romary to be scribbling in a sketchbook there and seeing how this takes inspiration from 0080, THERE WILL BE HAMBURGER. Question is, what kind of burger will it be?

  2. How Much Values Dissonance, you’re Filipino, thus you should know thing about the ‘Latin Tradition’. In this side of the Pond, that is perfectly normal friedship… but again we need bait for the Fujoshi to you know… be ‘happy’

    In general was a low Episode…but nothing can urpass the LBGT as a plot derailment(blame Bandai)

    In general we still want to know if we going to have Flit in more zabi esque(like Franklin Bidan but better family relationship) and at least… we have a Lohran & Char clone for the same price.

    • And want to Add something… this is not War in the Pocket, WitP have more melodrama and the most negative feeling, this one is the combination of Z With SATAM Mecha.. Slow but not for kids

      • Obviously it’s Gundam AGE, not War in The Pocket, but the elements drawn are from War in The Pocket.

        Zeheart leads his own version of the Cyclops Team.

        It’s not so much drawing from Z, because while Zeheart is also a Char clone, Asemu is not quite Kamille, and the Gundam is his, not something he jacked and gave to AEUG.

    • What kind of assumptions are you drawing and conclusions are you jumping into?

      • Myssa Rei says:

        Well, we’re pretty much a Patriarchal society, aren’t we? So male bonding in media we watch normally would be interpreted as just that: male bonding, as that’s an expectation we see every day. Nope, no BL here at all.

        Unfortunately, we watch anime, where stuff like close female-female or male-male relations can be interpreted as… something else. Something that makes watchers like me squee in glee when watching the former, and many of my compariots do the same for the latter.

        • This Myssa, for me was that, in a Arab or Latin context, that is natural friendship, but here in the anime world the fujoshis are like Shark for blood, ie in japan, the Smoke and Sub Zero friendship give me some brain blech moment.

        • kevin says:

          that is actually not true.

          it all depends on how the director and the animators decides to portray that relationship.
          for example— wait, stop.

          i concur with what you said earlier, oh dear god what have i done.

        • And we don’t really live in Tordia Colony, AU Gundam Bishonen BL ghetto don’t we?

  3. kevin says:

    the creepy thing is, i hate to admit this. me and my buddies are the literal gender flipped version of K-on cast w/o the musical instruments but instead a shit ton of DND material. the only thing that makes us not fitting to be the cast of k-on is simply one thing: we’re guys, and the shit we do are crazy shit, and not considered cute. frankly i would be quite scared if some one tells me that pretending to shoot my buddy with a hand drill is cute. very scared.

    and yes… we do get quite upset over small shit, and are quite emo, but do we /emo as much as girls? not really, we just turn on the nearest game console/pc/mac(LOL) and do what ever the hell. then if what ever shit that happened doesn’t seem too shitty we end up making up by hanging out in the mall. holy shit what the hell this isn’t any different from what girls do! OH SHIT!

    must build fortress… must build fortress…

  4. Rusty says:

    We all know the read purpose of the infiltration is for Zeheart to seduce Asem to the Vagan’s side.

    As you said, this operation to take the Gundam fails in so many ways. However, I had way too much fun with the bonding montage completed with insert song. They say “three destinies will change the world” in the preview so I’m curious if Romary will be granted something more active than being third wheel the girl Asem and Zeheart fight over on top of fighting for their respective factions.

    Anyway, this episode makes me realize something. The format of Tordian Mobile Suit Contest is combat. Not racing, not football or anything real life robot contest is about. The preview seems to indicate that Asem’s school is a military school of some sort (with peaked cap in full uniform and graduation mock battle!). Asem’s life (and maybe youth life on Tordia colony in general) is more militaristic than I thought, probably it’s because there is a war going on (Asem’s life is likely influenced by Flit but other kids?). Or maybe just because this is Gundam and in Gundam, robots are for fighting.

    • Rusty says:

      Sorry if the statement about Romary is a bit convoluted. I meant to have a strikethrough at “third wheel” but I fail HTML :’)

    • Hahahaha

      Yes, it’s all about the romance right now.

      Robots are for fighting, though mobile suits started as industrial machines even in the Universal Century. Colonies in Gundam are either so peaceful they get assraped by war, or are militarized in some way.

      The only ones that are spared, are all off-camera so to speak.

  5. Had Alfread fallen asleep in the middle of the episode or something? There were kids there, look at the other members of the MS club! Stupid kid …

    The first thing I thought about this episode was that it suffered from the same problem Episode 11 had, that because they are pressed for time, the staff needs to cut corners and show the development between Zeheart and Aseam in clip-show format, much like how the bonding between Flit and Yurin in that episode went on. It’s thus far the biggest weakness in AGE, and a problem that could’ve been solved had they chosen to divided the show equally or at least increasing the episode count.

    It’s also why when compared to it’s inspiration (War in the Pocket) that it ends not looking that good (though I personally wouldn’t put it as low as you did) since WiP had it’s entire time devoted into developing that storyline, while here we need to get this over with in order to set up for the juicer bits later on (Aseam and Zeheart fighting in space yelling about not wanting to kill the other but they muuuuuuuust~ etc.).

    Well, at the very least the anime staff are sticking to their mission objective of adding in all the memorable and recognizable elements from past gundam shows in AGE. It’s a shame that some of these elements had to be so … botched.

    (As a side note, I actually liked the episode, the whole clip show thing notwithstanding. The whole supportive family and friends atmosphere as well as showing Flits room and how it helped characterize him as being a Commander now was all very cool imo)

    • Alfred says you’re the stupid one because those members are Asemu’s age (17). Alfred is no older than 11.

      I don’t mind the montage at all, I think it’s worth a lot of laughs.

      The problem really with drawing from War in The Pocket comes down to the mission and how it’s set up. Zeheart is the leader, and he’s the youngest. He’s already lost 3 mobile suits, and yet the orders are for him to press on. This is nuts.

      • Arabesque says:

        What?! No way, on of these guys is shorter than Asem’s sister!

        ”Zeheart is the leader, and he’s the youngest. He’s already lost 3 mobile suits, and yet the orders are for him to press on. This is nuts.”

        Remember back in Genration 1 how young Desil was? Remember how much suits he wreaked and how much problems he made (destroying even his alias MS)? This is the same thing. The Vegeans don’t really care about how young or inexperienced they are, how much MS’s they destroy or lose. All what matters is that they are X-Rounders and therefore they are special enough to get high positions in such operations, even one as important as getting the Gundam (the one MS that threw their plans in disarray 25 years ago, and now that they have a lead on it, their not going to let go).

        So I don’t think is how it’s been set up is the problem here. It fits with the AGE universe and how it works. The problem is that there wasn’t enough time to flesh it out properly.

  6. Yoh, ghostlightning, you mind putting Lacus and Flay in the selection when the love triangle gets to it’s climax?

  7. FINALLY, got around to watching this episode. I think I see what you mean about it taking a little inspiration from “War in the Pocket”. But it seems the show is far more interested in developing this love triangle. I worry a little that the show may start revolving around it too much. It’s too early for that to be a genuine concern though.

    Finally, a panel without that guy. But damn! Pretty much the whole cast of 0080 sh*ts on your post and the show! Damn! Talk about a bunch of haters. They’re worse than the ’72 Miami Dolphins!

    Also… Lacus? Really?! Tell that reject of a Macross idol to stay the hell in her pink Zaku and shut her hole! The panel needs some Lunamaria on it, or at least that big boobed farce, Meer Campbell.

    • Those guys from War in The Pocket are not pleased, not one bit.

      Lunamaria showed up when Titus started kicking ass. She thought if the Gundam AGE can be controlled by an arcade joystick even she can fight in a Gundam. Dream on, bitch.

      • Ouch! No love for the Hawke. Oh well, you can’t be forgiven for rocking a red Zaku and sucking. Elite my ass…

        • Not just sucking, but the suckiest. She’s like a -999999 on the Fa Yuiry scale of STAY IN THE KITCHEN, WOMAN for MS Pilots. She had a huge gun that shoots a FATASS beam and missed shooting a shuttle right in front of her — about 10 meters away and is not performing evasive maneuvers at all.

          • rollover says:

            Char missed Sirocco’s ship and a shuttle with the High Mega Bazooka Launcher in Zeta…

            Then again, he’s Char.

          • One miss against another ace does not negate all his other acts of piloting badassery. Lunamaria’s piloting is just assery in a pink skirt.

  8. ces06 says:

    It felt like war in the pocket with some Frontier in it. What am I watching? I sure feels like a whole different show from the first age.

    So the guy just casually smuggles a mobile suit in the colony like that and nobody seems to notice? Either the EF guys at Tordia are really stupid, or some of them are working with the Vagan.

    I like the atmosphere and all, but it seems all a bit too slow compared to the first age’s three episode arc. Can’t wait for all the delicious ways they’ll ruin these peaceful days, and of course, the AGE 2 itself.

    • Well, the final 3 episodes of the first AGE feel very different from the middle episodes… Euba vs. Zalam were kinda real slow too.

      I think it’s going to pick up soon, but I don’t really mind the romance aspects, even if Gundam generally fails at this always and for all time.

  9. Andaer says:

    I really liked your write-up for War in the Pocket. I would not, however, compare it to this episode. Yes, there are similarities but while in other parts you can clearly see the influence of UC shows, I think it is a bit far fetched in this case. Or maybe it’s just because I’m greener than a Zaku.

    Second, no BL in here! Just because they play a gay pop song to that clip show, doesn’t mean anything. This episode proofs that this is a kid’s show, no matter who is watching it. Speaking about BL when the love triangle with Romary is further established. Sometimes I think “interpretations” like this can only happen if people solely think in otaku terms. No offense.

    Then again you ignored the most awesome line, which did all to the enjoyment of watching this episode: YOUTH IS ALL ABOUT FRIENDSHIP, LOVE AND MOBILE SUITS!

    • Rusty says:

      My perception is forever changed by my acquaintance with some yaoi fangirls so I can’t deny I “solely think in otaku terms”. On the other hand, slash sells, and Bandai in general and the Gundam franchise in particular is no novice in slash fangirls baiting. It’s nigh impossible to procure a definite statement from the creators that they intend to have homoerotic subtext in that bonding sequence to appeal to the fangirls, but I personally think that they won’t miss the chance to get a bit more cash.

      Also it’s kinda hard to ignore that the friendship sequence is reminiscent of how they portrayed Flit’s date with Yurin…

    • Yes, you’re greener than a Zaku… BL denialist… lolololol

      No offense taken, but you’re quite wrong.

      You mean this:

  10. sadakups says:

    I haven’t seen War in the Pocket so I can’t comment on it much with regards to this episode.

    Yeah, you were right in saying that once again, the show does not forget that it’s a kiddy show. I mean, that attempted Gundamjack could have been successful in a lot of ways. It was hilarious seeing that grunt Vagan MS getting played around with two farm dudes with a bazooka and a jeep, and even with Zeheart around, I couldn’t get over the fact that they failed that mission.

    On the other hand, it was nice setup for the tragic friendship that Asemu and Zeheart will have. The fact that Zeheart already knows that Asemu is the Gundam pilot, and that he was relieved after the mission failed, is a start of the conflict that this “friendship” will have along the way.

    As for the BL undertones that the Asemu X Zeheart dynamic is going to bring to the show, I don’t think it’s going to be as glaring and as bad as Kira X Athrun, but who knows, aside from young boys, young girls might start watching AGE too. 🙂

  11. SignOfZeta says:

    Yep.

  12. Pingback: Gundam AGE ep17: this love triangle is progressing rather quickly, AGE has never been a slow paced show though. « the Check-in Station

  13. Raidenwarrior says:

    *sigh* So… so fuckin’ boring… Don’t even mention Asemu playing Spiderman all over again, and Romary being some sort of… Mary Jane Watson-type damsel-in-distress?? The sexist undertone in this Gundam show is already too evident.
    Sayla Mass – a hell of a feminist character in the Gundam franchise 😄 – will surely disapprove this show big time… and Char disapprove Zeheart…

  14. Pingback: Time Skip to Graduation: Gundam AGE 18 Mercifully Graduates From High School Hell | We Remember Love

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