Mobile Suit Gundam: MS IGLOO 2 – The Gravity Front Review

Gundam MS IGLOO 2

Here we go then, let’s get this out of the w- … hang on, this is really good?! The first of the three episodes was actually great?! Well blow me down, this MS IGLOO OVA series is actually worth watching. I don’t know if it was worth sitting through the other two OVAs to get to it, but at least I feel I got something good out of the whole thing. Want to know more? Read on!

Synopsis:

Universal Century 0079: The Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation are fighting each other during the infancy of the One Year War. Now this time Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO will focus on the Earth Federation’s point of view. The Earth Federation forces battle Zeon’s soldiers and Zakus to regain back their territory.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Gundam MS IGLOO 2 3

Barberry’s Last Stand.

Lt. Ben Barberry (Masaki Terasoma) – Lt. Ben Barberry was the only survivor of his last unit, the specter of death seemingly literally hanging around him. Now he has to push forward with a new unit of tanks against the Zeon mobile suits, and maybe this time he’ll meet his Grim Reaper personally…

Col. Michael Colmatta (Hiroki Tochi) – Col. Colmatta is an arrogant higher up who very rarely has to take to the battlefields himself. This means he lives through a good chunk of the war at least, seeing plenty of people come and go…

Sgt. Rayban Surat (Katsuyuki Konishi) – Sgt. Surat has been assigned to drive Lt. Yandell’s legendary tank around, something he thinks is a positive for his career, at least until he sees the angel of death hanging around his new superior…

Lt. Harmon Yandell (Tsutomu Isobe) – Lt. Yandell is obsessed with a white whale… I mean, a while mobile suit that had previously caused him harm, both physically and mentally. So much so that he doesn’t leave towards a battlefield unless there is a chance he’ll encounter it…

Engineering 1st Lieutenant Arleen Nazon (Kikuko Inoue) – Arleen Nazon was in love with fellow soldier Clyde Bettany, so when he betrayed them for the Zeon, she was devastated… and imprisoned! Now she has been let out, and she wants nothing but revenge.

Clyde Bettany (Koji Yusa) – The man who betrayed the Earth Federation for the Zeon… or did he?!

Plus more!

The Good:

Gundam MS IGLOO 2 4

The Angel of Death herself, the most important “character” in the OVA…

Episode 1, “Shoot at that Death!”, was great. The central character, Ben Barberry, was a classic square-jawed US soldier type, but he was struggling with being the sole survivor of his group and having visions of a female Angel of Death (or Grim Reaper, or Shinigami, whatever you want to go with…) taunting him and teasing him. This is pre-GM era of the One Year War, meaning the Earth Federation have to tackle the Zeon army with tanks and rocket launchers instead of MS to MS, which makes for a good and unique feel. Barberry and his group of men have to take out three Zakus and manage to destroy two, with the third not showing up and Barberry losing all of his men once again. Then the third Zaku appears from out of the ground, causing the Earth Federation soldier to smile, pull out his handgun and fire hopelessly towards the giant Mobile Suit while screaming. We’re then informed, unsurprisingly, that he didn’t make it. The credits feature this Angel of Death floating around and being rather happy with itself. It was properly dramatic, and the actual graphics and animation were top notch, thank god. Barberry had real personality in his facials and voice work.

The female Grim Reaper actually appears in all three stories, and is the linking narrative here. She’s nicely realised and it’s a fun concept to go with, you’re never 100% sure if she’s a belief among frightened soldiers appearing before them due to their psyches, or where it’s actually some sort of supernatural thing.

Episode 3, “Odessa, Iron Storm!”, sees a female Guntank pilot being brought out of jail to fight against the Zeon once again. She was imprisoned because her lover turned out to be a spy, taking everything away from her and leaving her with nothing but revenge (something the female Angel of Death finds particularly exciting!) As her and her men battle large artillery positions where the enemy is, she finds her ex-lover is on a nearby moving gun placement and goes after him, despite orders from on-high to not engage it. She ends up committing suicide to kill the traitor, happy in the knowledge she’d got her revenge… until a scene set just before her soul departs this world, the Angel of Death informs her that her love had faked his betrayal to get into the Zeon hierarchy and was actually still working with the Earth Federation, hence why she was told not to engage with that specific piece of mobile tank. She cries out in anger and grief, much to the wicked Angel’s delight. Once again it was a bittersweet ending, and really well done.

The Bad:

Gundam MS IGLOO 2 2

Rayban Surat, the only protagonist not to die!

Episode 2, “King of the Land, Forward!”, was fine, it had a crazy old tank gunner with a grudge against a white mobile suit, in other words it was just Moby Dick, except the moral of that story is you can’t hate something that can’t hate back, where as the white MS was piloted by someone who enjoyed battle and loved a challenge, so… not really Moby Dick at all. It was shown through the eyes of the poor soldier who was given the task of driving him around, all the time he saw a vision of the Angel of Death constantly floating above the mad gunner’s head, waiting for the sweet moment of chaos. The White Zaku is taken down, but Yandell the gunner dies shortly afterwards. As I said, it was fine, just nowhere near the quality of the first and last episodes…

Col. Colmatta annoyed me, as he was actually a really interesting character in the first two episodes, being a higher up who almost enjoyed giving hopeless souls a chance to die in battle. Then in the third one we see him directly taking part in the action, makes sense, the war is stretching them thin, but he’d turned into a complete comedy character, bumbling around and over-reacting to things. Seemed like a waste, really…

Overall Thoughts:

Gundam MS IGLOO 2 1

Arleen Nazon, seconds before finding out that her suicide was a bit of a cock-up, really…

MS Gundam Igloo 2 was actually a really good anthology of mini-stories revolving around the concept of a sneering Angel of Death watching the poor Earth soldiers die one by one. The animation was smooth, and the graphics and voice work were good too. A weaker story and a missed opportunity knock it down from a 5, but it’s a very strong collection, with Episode 1 being one of my favourite things I’ve watched in a good while. Oddly highly recommended, just see if you can find just Igloo 2 and forget about the first two linked series…

4 Star Watch

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