By Joseph Walter
Once the Gundam Wing movie, "Endless Waltz," premiered (something I also liked, despite never really getting into the show) I was going through the special features and watched a trailer for the illusive "Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory." In the opening seconds, I saw my beloved GP01-Fb in the midst of space combat, and was sold. That, and the trailer featured an awesome tune, stellar animation, and a story that seemed more than a little cool.
The results were… a bit mixed.
Acting as a sequel to the original Mobile Suit Gundam, the plot, as the trailer summarizes, is about the remnants of the Space-Nazis (known as "Zeon") emerging from the shadows of their defeat to take revenge. A young Gundam pilot, Kou Uraki, ends up going up against a seasoned Zeonic ace, Anavel Gato, who then steals a prototype, nuclear-equipped Gundam in an attempt to make the defeated Zeon rise from the ashes. Nothing revolutionary, but that's a-ok in my book.
Aesthetically, the character, set and mecha designs are very pleasing to look at, along with the slightly-subdued colors. There's nothing flamboyantly and stereotypically "anime"-esque about any of these aspects, yet it's all still there in a subtle fashion, which makes for a very unique look.
The animation itself starts out above-average, and more-than-occasionally stumbles into the stellar, especially during the absolutely outstanding space battles in the mid-to-final episodes. In fact, some of the animation is so good, I legitimately believe "Endless Waltz" recycled it. Another great element were all the details on the computer displays (something I'm a sucker for.)
And then, there's their actions. There are times when characters behave so erratically, and with so little explanation given, you're just left scratching your head. This contrasts severely with the few fully-realized characters and arcs, such as Kelly and his sub-plot on Luna, to the point that it drags down the entire experience.
As for the finale of "0083," you're treated to a conclusion that feels incredibly empty, and merely leads into another series, rather than offering a truly satisfying concluding chapter to the events at hand.
Something that makes these problems worse than they should be is the length of the OVA, which is 13 TV-length episodes. Unfortunately, it feels like there is a lot of padding and stretching out, as the material isn't paced well enough to justify the length. It often feels aimless or pointlessly slow.
In the end, "Stardust Memory" has a lot of good ideas, but also a lot of confusion from within, never quite sure what it's supposed to be. It's not awful by any means, and I actually enjoyed it much more than I let on, but it could have been so much better with a more even direction, and deeper characterization.
All in all, if you're in the mood for a sci-fi anime spectacle that you don't need to think (or care) too much about, you can't go wrong with "Stardust Memory."
*Note: The Japanese dub is the preferential choice for viewing. The English dub's actors are great, but they're saddled with an awful script (you can only say "Chrissakes!" so many times) The Japanese script is much tighter and, therefore, the best way to experience 0083.
- Fantastic opening themes
- Captivating and fluid animation during the thrilling space battle scenes and Gundam dogfights.
- An outstanding sub-plot that has more heart than the entire series.
- Weak and erratic characterizations.
- Poor pacing.
- Too long for the amount of meaningful content.