Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory is based around a question which does not need answered. When the answer arrives, it proves neither interesting nor plausible. It meanders for the majority of its 13 episode run, never finding an engaging idea that can support the series. Its main character never stops being a miserable, talentless whiner and its villain is a poor imitation of the franchise’s best. If it’s not the most pointless Gundam series of all time, I fear the day I watch the one that’s worse than this.
The question 0083 poses is this: What led to the formation of the Titans, the elite and fanatical military force that served as Zeta Gundam‘s primary antagonists? At first, this sounds like a neat idea, until you realize that you don’t need to know why the Titans were formed. The One Year War against Zeon was so destructive, so terrible, that it’s believable that fear of Zeon’s reformation would enable the rise of a unit dedicated to their annihilation. And really, why do we care how the Titans came to be? It’s not like they were a complex and multifaceted bunch, anyway. I’ve seen Nazis with more nuanced motivations.
I’d like to describe the plot for you, but I’m a little cloudy on what it was. Yet another remnant of the Principality of Zeon enters stage left and steals one of two experimental Gundams the Federation is testing. Why one and not both? Well, besides the fact that stealing Unit 1 would leave the hero would nothing to pilot against Unit 2, it’s not really the Gundam they’re after. They want the nuclear weapon system it carries. Why the Federation is building a nuclear weapons system in violation of treaties when there is no enemy to fight is perhaps a question for another OAV.
This kicks off a convoluted series of events known as Operation Stardust. It involves a series of unconnected military actions designed to, I guess, spontaneously reconstitute the Principality of Zeon by use of a nuclear weapon attack followed by a colony drop. Maybe picking apart the plot isn’t fair. The Gundam universe portrayed in 0083 is one in which a single nuclear warhead can take out 2/3 of the entire Federation fleet. If the sky was also purple in this world, it wouldn’t surprise me.
It might have all been worth it if they could have either given us some interesting characters, or ended it with an insane mobile suit battle. They do neither. In fact, this might be the only entry in the Gundam franchise not to end with a mobile suit battle at all. This is not a distinction to praise. After what felt like fifty hours of pointless skirmishes and indecisive character whining, to end without a couple of characters tearing each other up in big robots was downright heartless.
Kou, the “hero” of 0083 takes the worst parts of every Gundam hero ever but never delivers on the change into someone you can cheer for. His nemesis, Gato, meanwhile, dances around in Char’s shoes for a bit (he is quite literally portrayed as the other best Zeon pilot from the One Year War) before finally getting so bored with the series that he goes on a kamikaze run. Since actual mobile suit combat has little to do with Operation Stardust, the presence of an ace pilot seems like a waste of resources. He gets to pilot the beefiest Gundam this side of SEED‘s Providence Gundam, though, so maybe that was worth the trip for him.
There’s also some romance that you’ll want to ignore. Even with the revelation that the main character and the villain are actually engaged in a love triangle with the same girl, you still won’t care. That the girl in question’s name is Nina Purpleton does not help. Purpleton. Seriously. It makes you yearn for the days of Seabook Arno, doesn’t it?
By the time you get to the postscript telling you that all record of the events of this series were deleted you’ll be wondering why they couldn’t have told you that the series literally had no point back in the first episode when it would have made a difference.
On the bright side, the mecha designs were done by Shoji Kowamori, he of Macross Plus fame, so there’s a lot of pretty to look at. And the one decent mecha battle that takes place about 4 episodes from the end is actually worth the time you spend watching it; it’s just not worth the time you spent watching the rest of the OAV.
I hate to be so glib about this, but watching 0083 was a chore and I want to take out my frustration on it somehow. It tested my patience in a way only one other Gundam series ever has, and at least that one had its bright spots. This was, frankly, a total waste of time on every level. The time you spend watching this could be better spent doing almost anything else. Even if you’re a Gundam completist, I suggest lying about having actually watched this and responding with a few generalities like, “Kou sucked” and “Why the hell wasn’t there a mecha battle at the end?”
I am not joking when I tell you that one of the space ships in this OAV has a wooden steering wheel like the ones on boats in pirate movies. That’s the kind of series this is.
I didn’t even put a video at the top of this review like I do for the rest of my Gundam reviews. If nothing else has made my spite for this clear, I hope that does the trick.