Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team rewatch - Introduction

When I was introduced to manga and anime in my pre-teen years, I quickly latched on to a few favourite series. I’m still a fan of those series to this day but that doesn’t mean I necessarily kept up with them. That’s definitely the case for the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. I’ve only ever seen three series but I feel it’s time to get back into the show and see if there’s anything left in the franchise for me to enjoy. With something old and expansive as Gundam I’m sure there is.

In the next few days I’ll be rewatching one of my favourite series, Mobile Suite Gundam: The 08th MS Team and writing about it here. It’s one of the shorter series (only 12 episodes and a condensed movie) and it seems like a good place to start. It’s also set pretty early on in the in-universe chronology so that’s also a nice fit. Before I start the first episode, I’d like to provide a quick introduction to the series, particularly the era in which The 08th MS Team takes place.

At the end of the 21st Century, overpopulation begins to affect the quality of life on Earth. Natural resources are being overtaxed, a significant percentage of the population is affected by disease, and food and living spaces are becoming increasingly scares. The world is in crisis. The Earth Federation announces their plan to begin colonization space in order to relieve the man-made stress on the planet in the hopes that it will be able to heal. The plan is to build and man-made colonies that will be able to house most of Earth’s existing population (roughly 11 billion). The colonies are located in the five Lagrangian Points around the Earth and Moon. These areas of space provide stable locations for man-made stations because the objects are held in place by opposing gravitational fields. The construction of the space colonies takes place in the first fifty years of the Universal Century era and by UC 0050, approximately 9 billion people live in the colonies.

While most of the construction of space colonies took place during the Universe Century, it began at the end of the 21st Century. Laplace, one of the first colonies, was the home of the first prime minister of the Earth Federation, Ricardo Marcenas. While delivering a speech in which he was to present the new charter of the Universe Century, Laplace was attacked and destroyed by a terrorist group. It was a huge crisis for obvious reasons but most important of all, it is often said that the destruction of Laplace help to solidify the Earth Federation as the primary governing body of Earth and the space colonies for the decades to follow. Despite the problems that the Earth Federation help to resolve, there were still political factions that fought the Federation’s authority, guidance and rule.

That’s the origin of the Gundam series. A lot of the series take place during the Universal Century. The first series, Mobile Suit Gundam took place during the One Year War from January 0079 to January 0080. The war began after an attack on the Federation colonies from the Independent Republic of Zeon (also known as the Principality of Zeon) colonies. These attacks, now known as the One Week War, resulted in incredibly high civilian and military casualties. In just a week’s time, well over 1 billion of the Federation’s population had been killed. 

Soon after the Federation and the Principality of Zeon met in the Antarctic to discuss the possibility of peace. The results of the discussion, which many thought would end with the Federation’s surrender, actually let to agreements that would limit the scope of devastation of the conflict. Weapons of mass destructions, including chemical warfare and nuclear weaponry, became forbidden. They also agreed upon the fair and humane treatment of prisoners of war and the acknowledgement of the neutrality of the Side 6 colonies (a Side is an administrative cluster of several colonies) and the Jupiter Energy Fleet (a fleet of ships that travel to and from Jupiter to collect hydrogen, helium3 and methane to sustain the Earth Sphere’s energy requirements). The result from these negotiations was that military action was mostly limited to the use of Mobile Suits which gave Zeon the advantage since their military strategy was already centered on the use of Mobile Suits. Shorter after the Antarctic Treaty was signed, the Zeon army invaded Earth with the goal of using the Earth’s resources to strengthen their military power and attempt to supplant their authority with force. 

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team takes place roughly one month after the beginning of the One Year War. Come back tomorrow for the rewatch of the first episode.

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