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Still flush with the success of Char's Counterattack, Bandai embarked on a new project to make an OVA (Original Video Animation) series for the Gundam universe in 1989. However, Tomino declined to have anything to do with the new series, preferring instead to let it end with Char's Counterattack. So instead Bandai contacted Hiroyouki Yamaga to write the screenplay, and Haruhiko Mikimoto (of Gunbuster and Macross fame) to do the character designs. Mecha designs were done by Yutaka Izubuchi, who worked on Char's Counterattack and the Patlabor movie, and the entire series was directed by Fumihiko Takayama. Gundam 0080 was a large success and led the way for future projects by Bandai.
Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket takes place, as the name implies, in U.C. 0080, specifically in the closing weeks of the One Year War. The story begins with an attack by the Cyclops team, a special Jion commando force, on a secret EMF base located somewhere in Antarctica. Despite the Cyclops team's attack, the EMF defenders manage to load a new prototype mobile suit, the NT-1 Gundam "Alex", into a shuttle and launches it into space.
The story shifts to the neutral colony of Side 6, and focuses on a young boy named Alfred Izuruha who lives there. Al and his friends, like many kids their age, are fascinated with the war and the military, especially the Jion mobile suits. While sneaking around the colony in search of mobile suits, Al accidentally photographs the arrival of the NT-1 "Alex" to the colony. Then on his way to school the next day he witnesses a battle between several Jion Zakus and EMF mobile suits. He pursues one of the Jion Zakus as it is shot down with his camera, and follows it to the crash site. At the site of the wreck Al meets Bernard "Bernie" Weisman, the pilot of the fallen Zaku. Bernie trades Al his rank insignia in exchange for Al's camera. Al eagerly agrees. Bernie then escapes the colony with another Zaku.
The Jion high command analyzes Al's film and learns that the NT-1 "Alex" is on Side 6. The remaining members of the Cyclops team, along with Bernie, are ordered back to Side 6 to capture or destroy the prototype Gundam. Upon arriving at Side 6, Al runs into Bernie again, and convinces the Cyclops leader to let him join their team. (In reality, the Cyclops leader just wants to keep an eye on Al and make sure he doesn't tell the authorities about them.) Al and Bernie search the colony for the current location of the NT-1. During the search Bernie meets Christina McKenzie, Al's next-door neighbor and old baby-sitter. Bernie immediately falls in love with Christina, but he and Al are unaware that Christina is secretly a test pilot for the EMF.
Bernie and Al eventually locate the "Alex," and the Cyclops team launches an attack. However, Christina and the "Alex" easily repel the team's mobile suit. All the Cyclops team members except Bernie are killed in the attack. Bernie contacts the Jion informant on Side 6 and discovers that the Jion command plans to destroy Side 6 with a nuclear missile if the "Alex" isn't destroyed by Christmas. Bernie initially decides to run away, but Al convinces him to stay and protect the colony. Al and Bernie repair Bernie's old Zaku, and Bernie prepares to destroy the NT-1, still unaware that Christina is the pilot. Bernie gives Al a tape to play in case he is killed. As Bernie launches the attack, Al learns that the Jion fleet carrying the nuclear missile was destroyed in route to Side 6, therefore Bernie no longer needs to face the NT-1. Al runs to the battle site and tries to stop the fight, but his pleas fall on deaf ears. Before Al can stop them, the Gundam and the Zaku destroy each other. Christina is wounded and Bernie is killed.
The next day the One Year War ends. Al plays the tape Bernie left him before going to school. In the tape Bernie gives Al info about the planned Jion nuclear attack, and tells him to take it to the authorities. He also tells Al to say good bye to Christina for him. As Al goes to school, he meets Christina. She tells Al that she has been transferred back to Earth and will be leaving very soon. She says good bye to Al and asks him to say good bye to Bernie for her. When Al arrives at the now-destroyed school he listens to the principal talk about friends and family lost during the war. The previous events finally become too much for Al, who breaks down crying. His friends try to comfort him by saying "Don't worry Al! Another war will come around soon!"