Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory is a 13-episode OVA anime series that was released in Japan between May 23, 1991 and September 24, 1992. The OVAs were produced by Sunrise, and the directors were Mitsuko Kase for Episodes 1-7 and Takashi Imanishi for Episodes 8-13. Imanishi also directed a movie compilation version of the series, which was released on August 29, 1992. This Anime Spotlight is focusing on the OVA release of Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. As of this writing, Right Stuf is releasing the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise in North America through an agreement with Sunrise.

This series is set in Universal Century 0083, and three years have passed after the One Year War ended with the Principality of Zeon being defeated, as was depicted in the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime series. The setting is the Earth Federation’s Torrington Base in Australia, where two prototype Gundams are being tested. The engineers working on the prototypes arrive at the base, and among them is a woman named Nina Purpleton. She’s the head of the project, and she finds herself gaining admirers among the men stationed at the base.

The main protagonist of Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory is a test pilot named Kou Uraki. He seems to have quite an understanding of mobile suits and he wants to be a test pilot for one of the prototypes. Torrington Base is attacked by Anavel Gato, a former member of the Principality of Zeon’s elite palace guard unit. He steals one of the Gundam prototypes (which has a nuclear weapon attached to it), and Kou jumps into the other prototype to try to stop him. Unfortunately, Kou is unable to stop Gato and his men from severely damaging Torrington Base. The test pilots at the base, as well as the engineers for the prototype Gundams, are taken on board a ship called the Albion. They have been given the order to recapture the stolen Gundam prototype.

While Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory is a mecha anime, there is also a strong emphasis on relationships between people. Kou is friends with another test pilot named Chuck Keith, and their friendship is emphasized throughout the series. Kou and Nina end up developing a mutual romantic attraction to each other, and there’s an emphasis on how this changes their characters and their motivations. A group of three veteran test pilots join the crew, and one of them (Bernard Monsha) has feelings for Nina and is also competitive with Kou when it comes to who will become the test pilot for the remaining Gundam prototype.

Of the protagonists, the character who goes through the most development and evolution is Kou. In a lot of respects, he goes through the usual “hero’s journey,” including a time where he suffers from self-doubt and goes through an experience that helps him find his resolve again. It’s through interactions with a former Zeon soldier, who has ties with Gato, that ultimately bring Kou back around to continuing on his “hero’s journey.” It’s after this point where his relationship with Nina truly starts to change. Nina goes through some of her own development and change as well, but it’s nowhere near as major as what Kou goes through over the course of Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.

The antagonists also have interesting connections and interplay as well. Gato is working alongside Aiguille Delaz, the head of the Delaz Fleet. Gato’s theft of the prototype Gundam is part of Delaz’s “Operation Stardust,” which he initiates with the hope of undermining the security of the Earth Federation. Delaz also recruits Cima Garahu, the female commander of a group of former Zeon marines, to help with the execution of “Operation Stardust.” It’s established early on that Cima really isn’t one to be trusted, but what comes as surprise is just how untrustworthy she truly ends up being for Delaz and his fleet.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Mobile Suit Gundam story if it didn’t have some kind of political intrigue going on. And the thing is, the political scheming and backstabbing is happening both with the Earth Federation and the Delaz Fleet. However, I do wish more time was spent developing the political intrigue involving the Earth Federation, because it kind of feels like it comes out of nowhere and wasn’t given the time it truly needed to be developed. But even with the focus on relationships and on the political intrigue, there’s still plenty of mecha action taking place over the course of the 13 episodes of the series to keep fans of mecha battles interested in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.

Overall, I thought that the story and plot of this series flowed rather well. My main issues with the story come with the last couple of episodes, especially when Nina takes a particular action that could be perceived as betraying Kou and the Earth Federation. While she may have had a previous relationship with someone with the Delaz Fleet, I didn’t entirely find her actions believable when she seemed to be siding with that individual over Kou. Even though there were hints put out there that Nina had a connection with this person prior to this point, her sudden about turn still felt like it came out of nowhere. It kind of felt forced to me.

The biggest thing to me, though, is that the final episode shows the audience how the Titans were formed. I had already watched Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam prior to watching Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, so I knew of the Titans’ existence, but had never heard of them prior to watching Zeta Gundam. In that regard, this series works as a great bridge between the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime series and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.

The animation in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory was very high quality, especially for an OVA series that was being released in the early 1990’s. While you can see a lot of design choices that were used for the Mobile Suit Gundam anime in the 1980’s, there was something about the designs of the characters and how they were animated here that made them look a little more three-dimensional compared to the previous entries in the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise up to this point. This was still cel animation, but the animators went to a lot of effort to make the characters in this series look a little more “realistic.”

As I watched Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, I found myself becoming invested in the story and in the characters rather quickly. Being a 13-episode series rather than an anime film, the writers had the time to truly develop the characters and their situations, which helps the audience to become invested in them. The main weakness in the writing takes place within the last couple of episodes, where the story starts feeling a little more rushed, and character motivations aren’t quite as clear as they could have been.

I would recommend the Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory anime to fans of Mobile Suit Gundam who have an interest in the Universal Century timeline of the series, and want to know what happens between the end of the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime series and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. And for readers who want to start watching the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise, I would recommend starting with the original anime series before trying to watch Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.

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