I have to admit: I really enjoy most Gundam series. Many people dismiss Gundam as “just another giant robot anime”, but they miss out on all the political intrigue, interesting characters, and great music that are presented in each of the releases. Oh, and the awesome giant robots, of course. The original video animation (OVA) series Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 – Stardust Memory is a great example of this. If you aren’t familiar with the series, Wikipedia has a good overview article.
Due to lapses in security at a Federation base in Australia, a new Gundam equipped with a tactical nuclear weapon is stolen by Anavel Gato. He is the Zeon pilot who dropped an empty colony ship (a giant space station capable of housing tens of thousands of colonists) onto Sydney, Australia, completely destroying the city and all the people living in and around it four years before the events in this series. Needless to say, the Federation would love to get their hands on him. Leading the charge are Federation pilot Kou Uraki and the engineer who developed both new Gundam units, Nina Purpleton.
I loved how Nina was shown to be very competent and a brilliant engineer, but still having a vulnerable side. Kou has a rash streak and rushes into situations without always thinking them through, but he is a natural pilot and able to perform moves others find impossible or at least very difficult. Together, they temper each other and also provide a little romance to Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 – Stardust Memory.
The plot is generally very clear and paced well. Things went a little weird in the last four or five episodes (there are 13 total episodes), and it seemed like some shortcuts were being taken to get the series to end right on time. Especially with Kou, several of the characters were doing things that seemed to go against their established characterization. I think Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 – Stardust Memory would have worked better with another three or four episodes, allowing time for these actions to be better explained.
The animation was excellent. OVA series tend to have movie-quality (or at least nearly so) animation, and this series is no different. I am firmly in the camp that many Japanese animators are among the best in the world, and this series shows off the talents of the animators at Sunrise. The scenes are dynamic and keep the viewer involved and invested in the action. The animation quality remained consistent throughout the entire series.
One of the main things that drew me to Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 – Stardust Memory was the first ending theme song. It is rare for a non-Japanese song to be used as a theme song in anime (it happens, bot not too often), and “Magic” was a perfect fit for this series. Composed, written, and performed by Jacob Wheeler, it caught my attention the first time I heard it. Bobby Watson picked the song from a number of demos submitted by Wheeler, who had been living and performing in Japan at the time.
If you have never tried Japanese animation, but you like military science fiction with political intrigue and a little romance, I recommend you try out this series. Pay attention to the story, and you may be surprised at how much you enjoy Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 – Stardust Memory. You don’t have to have watched anything else in the series to enjoy it, so this is a good introduction to get you interested in Gundam overall.
Original Release Dates: May 23, 1991 – September 24, 1992 (Japan)
Suggested Age Rating: 13+
Distributor: Sunrise, Bandai Visual
Language: Japanese, English
Original Title: 機動戦士ガンダム0083 Stardust Memory (Kidō Senshi Gandamu Daburuōeitīsrī Sutādasuto Memorī)
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (social drinking, some smoking)
Language: 1 (infrequent, mostly mild)
Nudity: 1 (brief, posters in the background)
Sexuality: 1 (some innuendo, infrequent)
Violence: 3 (space battles, gunfights, some blood, fisticuffs, death)