MS igLoo 2 goes back to the first MS igLoo and tells the story of the Federation soldiers side that has to fight against the monstrous Zakus. Each episode tells a story of a different federation soldier that is cursed by a Death God that came down to earth with the Zakus and shows the desperate struggle against mobile suits with only conventional weapons such as tanks and missiles. Each soldier, fueled with revenge, and a Death God looming over their backs, fights against the odds that is the terrible might of a Zaku.
As a fan of MS Igloo I was excited to finally see this in its entirety and was not disappointed.
Story and Characters
The year is Universial Century 0079 at the start of the war when Zeon has just landed on earth. These 3 OVAs are the stories of 3 common soldiers, their weaponary and revenge as their motivation in fighting for the Earth Forces during the period.
OVA1's protagonist is the conflicted Ben Barberry, notorious as a death god for sucking the life out of his unit but somehow surviving. At the start of the war, Zeon's Zaku's held the tactical advantage and Ben's anti tank
unit is hastily renamed the anti Mobile Suit unit with their weapon of choice being a modified bazooka that fires (larger) anti Mobile suit missiles. Ben and his new unit of fresh recruits are sent to hunt Zaku's while providing cover for the Earth Forces Retreat - in other words, a suicide mission.
OVA 1 was reminiscent of world war 2 movies where everything is in black and white - the color, the landscape, good/bad, right/wrong, strong/weak. You felt like you were there with Ben struggling to survive and keep his men alive, and if nothing else it drove home 2 messages for me. First, it SUCKS to be ground troops against Mobile Suits. Second, technological superiority DOES matter.
OVA 2 had the most tactics as it was a cat and mouse game between two old enemies. Earth Forces tank Ace Herman Yardell survived against the Zaku ace Elmer Snell, the "White Ogre" and has sought revenge since. Both men have somewhat of a bushido code, wanting to fight only the best, and go to great lengths to achieve it, including feigning mechanical failure to get out of "Boring" fights.
At this stage in the war, earth forces tank has clearly somewhat bridged the technological gap to the Zakus and it is a pleasure to watch the genius Yardell (who is nuts) fight.
OVA 3 is the story of Arleen Nozen, a technical lieutenant unjustly imprisoned for leaking information to Zeon on the RTX-440 Ground Assault type Guntank. Arleen lives for revenge against the true informant, her ex (lover) because he not only betrayed her but the information leak resulted in her guntank program's development being halted with only 3 being produced. The Evil General offers a chance of amnesty to 3 prisoners in exchange for fighting in the battle of Odessa - Arleen accepts. By Odessa, the earth forces now have their own mobile suits so Odessa is the battle to push Zeon back into space.
Of the 3 OVA, this one had the best weapon. I thought the Guntank was phenomenal in it's flexibility! It had awesome maneuverability, high speed, ability to transform into 3 form factors and a TON of armaments to boot! Oh my god, information on this is truly worth stealing. If development continued this would surely have become a Mobile Armor. This OVA as a standalone would deserve a 9 because of the beautiful plot twist at the end.
All 3 ovas had easily identifiable and likeable characters developed in a short period of time, one could even consider their weapons as characters which grow in importance from OVA 1 to 3. The OVAs succeeded in making me cry. However, I felt like the death god theme was misplaced or could have been left out and the story would have been much better. The death god certinly wasn't "needed" and it seemed like it was put in just to showcase the beautiful animation of this character.
The Animation was incredible from a technical standpoint (10) but weak in characterization (6) for an average score of 8.
One thing that cannot be denied is CGI has made great strides in a short time. I am continually amazed by the level of detail rendered - you can see individual strands of hair, eyelashes/eyebrows, even the pores on the skin of an individual's face! Compared to MS Igloo I they've also made great improvements in movement and explosions, these no longer look chunky/block/fake but are instead smoother, rounder and more realistic.
The problem is with characterization. The shots of a character acting surprised by widening/opening their eyes bigger is overused and looks artificial. Cel drawings don't have the same issue as we are accustomed to exaggerated facial reactions. Igloo 2 suffers from this problem because the art is so good you tend to compare it with what real life people would do and if it isn't a realistic reaction or expression in live action it looks artificial in CGI. Now, the women are rendered very lovingly and their expressions are for the most part realistic, but not so for the men in OVA1 and OVA2.
Igloo 2 has no OP, but 3 different EDs, all of which tie to their stories so I thought this was inventive and clever. The voice acting wasn't as good as I hoped, some of the voices just didn't seem to mesh with the character personalities.
Enjoyment and Overall
I loved how realistic this was. Each OVA was a look through the eyes of a small common soldier, but the overarching theme is Earth eventually caught up with Zeon's technological superiority and the entire course of the war changed. All things being said I really enjoyed this anime and would recommend it to anyone. I hope to see more MS Igloo.
MS Igloo 2 is an improvement on the original, but doesn't manage to live up to the rest of the MSG franchise. The biggest change this time around is a focus on more personal stories, the story happening exclusively on Earth, and the introduction of a spiritual aspect - each main character is haunted by a Shinigami (although this is easily seen as metaphorical).
What I liked:
- Better animation. MS Igloo 2 boasts very nice looking mobile suit animation, and a lot of love went into characters' hair. The shinigami looks great with long flowing locks.
- Cooler Mobile Suits and fights. The original MS
Igloo suffered from a dearth of interesting Mobile Suits and relied on weird new designs like the Oggo to draw Mobile Suit enthusiasts. Fortunately MS Igloo 2 has possibly the coolest Guntank yet, as well as plenty of incredible Zakus, GMs and other assorted weaponry. The battles are dynamic, strategic and fun to watch. Since all the fights are on land it's a lot easier to understand everything's relative location, which was harder in the original when most fights were in space.
- More personal plots. MS Igloo 3 focuses on three individual stories with plots very personal to the main characters. This makes the series more emotional than the original (although that's like saying it's more emotional than a rock).
What I didn't like:
- The facial animations. Little has changed in this department. Facial expressions are distorted and ugly, to the point of ridiculousness. This can ruin suspense and make serious scenes look very silly. The female characters interestingly don't suffer as much, while still displaying strong emotion.
- Extremely unlikable characters. Many of the characters are snide, aggressive and rude to each other. Some of them even seemed verging on insane. I would have preferred a more creative take on the emotional toll of war.
- The contrived shinigami aspect. The shinigami felt very out of place in MS Igloo. The UC timeline, especially events like the one year war, are known for being more realistic and technology driven than later timelines, so throwing a god of death in there felt like an odd choice.
Should you watch MS Igloo 2?: Yes, but only if you're a diehard Gundam fan. My preferred watching order would be:
- episode 1 of MS Igloo: the Hidden one year war for that sweet Char cameo
- then skip the rest and watch MS Igloo 2 in its entirety
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.