Back in 2015, I wrote about how Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team has aged well and still holds up today. With the recent release of a new Bluray of the series, there isn’t really much to discuss regarding the series again, but rather another piece that is included in that package, the compilation film, Miller’s Report. The movie, which was released on August 1, 1998 as a double feature that included a Christmas favorite, Gundam Wing Endless Waltz, serves as a way to bridge missing story elements from the end of episode 6 to the beginning of episode 9. It is also worth noting that the film was released in between when episodes 10 and 11 would have been released of the OVA.
While never technically being shown in full during The 08th MS Team’s Toonami runs, it was allegedly sliced up and placed around certain episodes. The film is perhaps the better way to watch episodes 7 and 8 since for the most part, both of those episodes are pretty much included in the film itself and with how they are framed, it gives far more backstory for what is happening with Shiro then the OVA itself does. Especially going into episode 9 as it is slightly confusing seeing how they end up going to the front line. Miller’s Report introduces the character of Alice Miller who is a special investigator sent to find out whether or not Shiro is in fact a Zeon spy. Her methods are not exactly ethical as she drugs him in their initial conversation which allows her to find out what exactly had happened between Shiro and Aina when the two were stranded together. Adding fuel to the fire is Shiro’s inability to come to terms with whether or not he can still be a soldier for the Earth Federation.
It took me awhile to piece it together, but like 0080, The 08th MS Team as a whole has a fairly strong anti-war message. Given the pedigree of the Gundam franchise, it is hard to imagine shows being like that given how often they revel in having huge sprawling battles. Miller’s Report really dives into the notion that just because one side is presented as the heroes of a story, it does not mean that everyone is a good person. With the aforementioned drugging of Shiro, there is also something Alice says in the English dub near the end of the film that is quite striking. “And, if we were to kill every last one of them [Zeon], it would serve to put us one step closer to purifying the human race once and for all.” Usually, that’s not something the “good guys” would say as that falls more into the realm of Nazi ideology. Considering later on in the OVA that highly ranked Earth Federation officers are okay with breaking a ceasefire immediately upon accepting it, the series does its job showing there are bad people on both sides. Even though Shiro does eventually fight again, he does so with apprehension as he still believes that the One Year War is meaningless. Of course, that could just be seen as him trying to justify his love of Aina, a Zeon pilot, but is a similar theme to how 0080 presents pilots from both sides. It can also be seen as how in America, children are taught growing up that America is always in the right no matter what war is fought, but that is not at all the case with every single conflict and is disingenuous to essentially teach propaganda. With the strange way that the OVA was made and how the original director died and they continued on, it is of course something to question if these ideas would have stayed the same if original director Takeyuki Kanda had not tragically passed away midway through production. Either way, it is a stark departure from the 1979 original series where it was very white and black that the Earth Federation was the heroes and the Zeon would be the villains.
Miller’s Report is not something that should be watched on its own, since it would not be a good way to get a grasp on the series as a whole, and is also not an improvement visually on the OVA, as they are pretty similar, but is still definitely worth checking out. In fact, try and watch it in place of episodes 7 and 8 and see if your enjoyment of the series increases or decreases. Don’t worry; you won’t really miss anything by not watching the episodes by themselves. There is very little out there in English about the history of the film or why they decided to make a compilation movie of an OVA that was not yet finished. Perhaps they wanted something to go with Endless Waltz since the advertisement for it refers to the entire event as Gundam The Movie under the “GUNDAM BIGBANG PROJECT”. It certainly wasn’t to give the team more time as they stayed to two episodes a year to finish out the series from 1997 to 1999. The film is short at around 50 minutes, so it could quite possibly have just been an advertising tool for The 08th MS Team and just put in front of Endless Waltz. That would probably make the most sense, but that information is not readily available at this time, in English at least.