Mobile Suit Gundam: MS IGLOO OVA 1 – The Hidden One Year War Review

MS IGLOO OVA1

This is a rare treat, a Universal Century Gundam review where I’m seeing it for the first time! Wow! … oh, wait, there was a reason I never bothered to import it. It’s IGLOO, the CGI OVAs that became terribly dated just a few years after they released in 2004, let alone now! Seriously, my review of the first Resident Evil CGI film was harsh on the then-infant technology, but this takes the biscuit, which is a shame because the actual plot is quite enjoyable! Oh well, let’s get the first of these THREE OVAs out of the way…

Synopsis:

Principality of Zeon’s 603rd Technical Evaluation Unit is a special crew of weapons development researchers. Stationed aboard the former civilian cargo ship Jotunheim, the unit field-tests various prototype weapons for combat use under the supervision of Engineer Lieutenant Oliver May, all in hopes of positively effecting the war effort…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

MS IGLOO OVA1 4

Which one is on the ceiling, and which is on the floor? … and in zero gravity, does it matter?

Lt. Oliver May (Hideo Ishikawa) – Lieutenant Oliver May is an enthusiastic soldier of Zeon who wishes to help build and maintain weapons that can deliver a swift victory against the Earth Federation… if they can actually work on the field…

Captain Monique Cadillac (Mike Nagasawa) – Captain Cadillac also has invested her time in the development of the new Zeon weapons, and is a harsh Captain to serve under.

Captain Martin Prochnow (Shozo Iizuka) – Martin Prochnow is the Captain of the Jotunheim, and at first welcomed the idea of the old cargo ship being commissioned, especially as, due to its lack of maneuverability, it would be unlikely to be called into the front lines…

Aleksandro Hemme (Katsuhisa Hoki) – Aleksandro is the gunner on board the Jotunheim and is very, very enthusiastic about his job.

Demeziere Sonnen (Masuo Amada) – Sonnen is a tank commander who didn’t pass the Mobile Suit pilot test, leaving him and his tanks as the old, lesser level of combat options. There is nothing he’d like to do more than prove tanks can still stand out on the battlefield…

Jean-Luc Duvall (Takaya Hashi) – Duvall is the happy and willing pilot of the new Zudah mobile suit, after having been a test pilot for the Zimmad company for many years before the war. He knows they can be a success, so long as the pilot is aware of the limits…

Plus more!

The Good:

MS IGLOO OVA1 2

The Battle of Loum, finally on-screen! …. Thank goodness for The Origin covering the battle, at least this isn’t the only way to watch it any more…

The actual storyline of  the first IGLOO series (and possibly the second, by the sounds of it…) is actually good. It’s all from the viewpoint of a lesser unit in the war, trying out new experimental weapons and basically just being bit-players in the larger Zeon war effort. In Episode 1 we see Oliver May question his loyalty to Zeon when he sees the colony drop plan, Operation British, go into action. We then see the battle of Loum, including a full-scale battleship-on-battleship space battle, before the first real Mobile Suits arrive, including Char’s red Zaku. In Episode 3 we see the Jotunheim arrive to try to pick up soldiers who have evacuated the Odessa base in terror. All of these key moments were either mentioned or fully featured in the original Gundam series, here we see them through the eyes of a casual group of soldiers, all from afar.

There are also some fun Zeon propaganda videos that play as certain points, and some Earth Federation ones as well. The lead cast are pretty dull, and this really stands out as each Episode shows us a person with extreme personality testing out new equipment. The over enthusiastic (and badly animated!) Aleksandro Hemme tests out the new Jormungand cannon but dies in action after using it to destroy a whole Capital ship, with no one at Zeon HQ interested once Mobile Suits come along. Episode 2 sees the “cool and laidback” archetype Demeziere Sonnen testing out the new Hidolfr Tank and trying to prove Tanks still have a place on the modern battlefield… and dying in the process. He has some good backstory though, as he failed the Mobile Suit pilot test and was searching for a place in the new Mobile Suit age of warfare.

Then in Episode 3 we get Jean-Luc Duvall, a test pilot from Zaku-producing Zeonic’s rival company Zimmad, who holds a grudge against the Zakus and their makers as he believed the Zimmad’s Zudah was superior but they lost out due to dirty tactics (rather than a fatal defect…) The Zeon use footage of the Zudah as propaganda to calm fears of the Earth Federation’s first mobile suits purportedly being better than Zakus, but in reality they had no intention of mas-producing Zudahs as they were still defective. When the Jodunheim arrives to try to pick up those fleeing from the Odessa battlefront, they encounter a group of Federation GMs, and Duvall, in his Zudah, manages to defeat them… moments before he explodes due to the known defect.

All of these characters were far more interesting than the main crew, and together with the plots and settings, this could have been a great mini-series… if it weren’t for the whole actually watching it thing…

The Bad:

MS IGLOO OVA1 1

I’m pretty sure this wasn’t even that impressive when it first released…

Yikes, this is not pretty to look at any more… distractingly so. It looks like a series of PS2 cutscenes, and that’s not an exaggeration, except a lot of PS2 games had better animation and actual textures to the skin… It didn’t matter how much I enjoyed the plots, the actual visuals were so off-putting, the animations so stiff, I couldn’t actually get invested. Just like how old 2D games can still look great, where as early 3D games can look terrible, this is also true here. Some CGI animation I don’t mind watching, but this? Nope. Awful…

As also mentioned previously, the lead characters are dull. Oliver is just a standard “doing his best” soldier who never shows any real sign of developing a personality, Monique is just a strict leader with very brief flashes of being a bit higher up the chain than she seems, and the ship’s Captain Prochnow is just you father-figure type, who has really weird moments of looking to the side at the camera that’s really freaky. None of them do anything, they’re just there to watch the actually interesting test pilots die… (or so-badly-animated-they’re-funny Test Pilots in the case of Aleksandro Hemme!)

Overall Thoughts:

MS IGLOO OVA1 3

Well at least the Zudah looked better than the Zaku I, I’ll give it that…

There was a reason I never watched IGLOO until now, and that reason has become affirmed as legitimate. If it weren’t for this blog and me wanting to cover as much UC Gundam as I can, I would have continued to just assume they weren’t my cup of tea rather than seeing it with my own eyes. This is best left avoided… *sigh*, now to watch two more lots of three episodes…

2 Star Watch

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