The year is Universal Century 0079. Oliver May is a technical officer in the Zeon 603rd Technical Evaluation Unit , in charge of testing new military technology. Stationed in the Jotunheim, a civilian transport ship that was converted into military use, Oliver must head into battle and experience the One Year War, only this time from the perspective of a weapon tester who struggles to make an impact on an evolving war during changing times.
What an unexpected gem this was! A true find among Gundam series. I started this with no expectations and was amazed that this OVA was so good in almost every respect.
Story and Characters
The year is Universial Century 0079. The series is mostly seen through the eyes of Oliver May, a technical officer in the Zeon 603rd Technical Evaluation Unit , in charge of testing new military technology. Stationed in the Jotunheim, a civilian transport ship that was converted into military use, Oliver must head into battle and experience the One Year War, only this time from the perspective of a weapon tester who struggles to
make an impact on an evolving war during changing times.
The 3 OVAs tell stories of 3 different weapons and their technical champions. The first is about a mass cannon who quickly finds a champion in the Jotunheim's gunnery master. The second is a tank which showcases its best power in the hands of an experienced artillery instructor who has a little bit of a drug problem. Finally there is the Zudah mobile suit piloted by a handsome war hero, but all is not what it seems to be.
If I had to rate the OVAs separately, I would have to say the second episode as a standalone would deserve a 10, with the other two being between 8.5 and 9.
The way the plot played through was very good. Each character had their point of view and was fully fleshed out in a very short period of time. I got to like them all very quickly and before I knew it I was emotionally involved. It's the characters more than the weaponary that makes this series great, even though the protagonist(s) all have an affinity and passion for their favorite weapon. Let's just say shedding tears is possible during Gundam.
CGI type similar to Final Fantasy Spirits Within/Advent Children. Some details are unbelievable (can see individual eyelashes and strands of hair) while others look very obviously CGI'd (repetitive explosions) which seem chunky and blocky. Overall, this was well done compared to most of the older gundam series which has dated animation. The animation is more of a personal preference as to whether you like the CGI or cell drawings.
Sound was the weakest part of this anime. Voice acting was good but music was so so. Except every time they play that sad violin music the viewer gets so well trained that they inevitably expect someone else to die ...
I was very surprised by how good this OVA was and thoroughly enjoyed it. It packed more emotional punch in 3 episodes than the entire of Gundam Seed Destiny. Just goes to show that length does not necessarily make a good or bad anime.
Taking place before the original Mobile Suit Gundam, MS IGLOO: The Hidden One Year War, is told from the prospective of Zeon, more specifically Oliver May. He is a member of the 603rd Technical Evaluation Unit and stationed on the Jotunheim. Over the course of the three part OVA, Oliver and the rest of the main crew of the Jotunheim are joined by one new character each episode and a new weapon to accompany them. Each weapon is tested and evaluated by the crew of the Jotunheim with often tragic endings.
The CG animation is fairly good, but when compared to recent animated features it doesn't
shine as much as it could have. It was released as a part of the Gundam 25th anniversary. The characters look fairly realistic, but this certainly isn't the cream of the crop in regards to CG animation. Overall it is fairly well done.
The Opening song is decent, nothing spectacular, but you can hardly judge a show on it's opening song. The rest of the music is produced by an orchestra, and does a decent job of heightening the mood or tension of the moment. Some of the music is repeated over the course of the OVA, but as it is short there is no cause for concern. The voice acting is generally well done with the exception of one character. The only Asian character on the show, his crying scene is painful and he fails to show any emotion realistically.
The characters of the show are very nicely fleshed out over the course of the show. Although short, this OVA does a very nice job of developing the characters and nobody comes off as particularly flat. The character models are fairly realistic and their motions are very realistic. No complaints about the characters.
I enjoyed this OVA and as the first Gundam that I have completed I was pleasantly surprised by the direction the story took. It was nice to see the story told from Zeon's side and I look forward to the sequel: Apocalypse 0079. As a prequel to the original Gundam it does a nice job of introducing the development of the Mobile Suits, as well as the propaganda, and conflicts that will be featured in the Universal Century storyline.
"What's that? You can't catch up to the worlds largest fool?"
There was so much that could have gone right with this series.
If I was to sum up MS IGLOO, the words that would be best used to describe it are "It was a complete disaster".
The concept sounded promising, a re-telling of the One Year War from the Zeon's perspective. Sounds great, I mean, finally we get to hear what the One Year War was like from the Zeon's point of view. Already you have me hooked, I mean we've seen what it was like from Amuro's point of view in the original Mobile Suit Gundam,
8th MS Team showed us how the One Year War was for a group of conventional Mobile Suit pilots and 0080 effectively shows us how the war is for a little child. So when I found out about this series, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to hear what the Zeon's thought of it.
Oh what a bad move that was.
If there is one positive from this OVA's story, it's that we at least get some backstory on Operation British and the Battle of Loum (aka Char's big moment when he destroyed 5 Magellan Class battleships, and when Mobile Suits where first used in actual combat) but aside from that? Nothing. The story is a complete and total shambles, in fact I'd be hard pressed to call weapons testing a story when placed in a meta-series that is thick with mythology.
Its not that MS IGLOO's story is bad; it's terrible. An episodic series about weapons testing does not work in a series that has become well known for its large scale mech battles; and to be honest its not like the story would be able to stand on its own two feet as a completely stand-alone series either, the reason? It doesn't have its own two feet to stand on, it constantly tries to place itself in the Gundam continuity and fails. Another problem that the series has is its evident lack of character development, even if it is an episodic series, a lack of character development is inexcusable. If I wanted a show where the characters are worse than wafer-thin cardboard cut outs I'd just go off and re-watch the entirety of the crap half of Tsubasa Chronicle. But I'll get onto the characters later.
Now the interesting thing about MS IGLOO, is its decision to put the entire series in CG, if done right, this could have worked so well for Sunrise and Gundam in general. I mean, can you imagine? CG Gundam eh? Now THAT sounds like something special, definitely would have put an interesting spin on things. But no, Sunrise managed to completely squander that opportunity as well. The character models in CG look awkward and flat, here's an example, they look like a bunch of rejects from Final Fantasy The Spirits Within and even that film had the decency to opt for photo-realism. As for the Mobile Suits? Hah, don't make me laugh. Try imagining a bad looking game from the PS2, imagining it? Now think about how bland and flat the textures in that game looked and then compare that to the Mobile Suits in MS IGLOO, done that? That bad looking game from the PS2 era doesn't look so bad now does it?
I suppose that when they're actually in motion they at least look the part, the one benefit about those bland Mobile Suit models is that they at least animate smoothly, the same can't be said for the characters though, I mean we have a salute here and there and odd bit of walking now and then, but most of the time they stay in one place at one time, Sunrise can't even create the illusion that these CG models look even remotely good. Talk about a wasted opportunity.
The voice acting in MS IGLOO is appalling. There is no other word that I can use for it without going into obscenities and its never a good idea to use too many of them in one place. Hideo Ishikawa may have managed to impress people as Itachi Uchiha and Juushirou Ukitake, but in MS IGLOO, he sucks. Voice acting tends to make a character more convincing, of all the characters, Oliver May manages to at least make some sort of impact but that doesn't mean he's good. However the real cretin of the voice cast is Miki Nagasawa, I've heard bad voices and I've heard annoying voices, very rarely though do I ever see a cross between the two. Nagasawa is unforgivably bad, her Monique being one of the most annoying female characters I've ever had the displeasure of viewing on my computer monitor, I actually felt bad for the poor thing; no not Nagasawa's character, the computer monitor, there were a few occasions that I swear it was going to start breaking down on me because of how bad she is.
If I was able to say anything about the characters, it would be...they certainly know how to leave an impression, and no that isn't a good thing. They are hard to watch, a lot of the time I felt like giving up on MS IGLOO because of how bad it was, and the characters are the main cause for it - at no point do you ever feel a connection with them, they're just there, on your screen, wasting your valuable time, I could have accomplished so much in the time it took me to watch an episode of MS IGLOO, something that would have actually been productive rather than wasting goodness knows how many minutes/hours on this travesty that I know I will never get back.
At the end of the day, it's easy to say that MS IGLOO is one of the worst Gundam side stories available, it fails at being a re-telling from Zeon's perspective, it fails at being a stand-alone series, it fails at making you connect with the characters and it fails at showing weapon testing, its original aim.
If this was the first Gundam series you watched, I feel sorry for you. You wasted time, and probably got a sour taste in your mouth of what is usually an excellent mecha show, you're better off forgetting this disaster and going off watching something that's actually good in the Universal Century like 8th MS Team or indeed the original Mobile Suit Gundam. I'm pretty sure most long time Gundam fans will agree that this is definitely ranking up there as one of the worst Gundam series out there.
And to those who have actually watched and enjoyed this series, I have to ask: Are you mental?
Gundam is one of the largest anime franchises today, made up of more than a dozen TV shows, as well as movies, OVAs, and more. With so many stories split up into multiple timelines, it can be tough to know where to start. But don't worry. This comprehensive Gundam guide will help light your way.