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MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM MS IGLOO vol. 1 – Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO – The Hidden One-Year War (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

May 5, 2008 by  



“It was a blast to watch Mobile Suit Gundam receive the 3D treatment. Also, for Gundam fans, to watch the visualization of the Hidden One-Year War (the Battle of Loum) in 3D and the early use of Mobile Suits by the Earth Federation was great to see. But what is most interesting is to watch a Gundam story entirely from a Zeon perspective and their war against the Earth Federation Government. Fascinating!”

DVD TITLE: MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM MS IGLOO – Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO – The Hidden One-Year War

DURATION: Approx. 83 minutes + 7 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: COLOR/NTSC / Japanese Audio (Dolby Digital 5.1 ch and Dolby Digital Stereo / English subtitles

CATALOG #: BUDH0126

COMPANY: Bandai Visual/Honneamise

DIRECTOR: Imanishi Takashi

SCREENWRITER: (ep. 1 and 3) Ohkuma Tomohide, (ep. 2) Ohnogi Hiroshi

Original Story by Yatate Hajime, Tomino Yosiyuki (from Mobile Suit Gundam)

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Universal Century 0079-The Prototype Weapons Men Dream of Consume their Blood and Tears…

It has been some half a century since human beings migrated to space due to the overpopulation of Earth. In Universal Century 0079, Side 3, the farthest cluster of colonies from Earth, began as a war of Independence against the Earth Federation Government.

This was the beginning of a massive and tragic war that is later to be called the One-Year War…

I’ve always been a big fan of Mobile Suit Gundam and for Gundam fans, “The Battle of Loum” is known as the most bloodiest battle between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon.

The main storyline takes place during Universal Century 0079 and Side 3, the farthest cluster of the colonies from Earth began their war of Independence against the Earth Federation.

With “MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM MS IGLOO”, this OAV series can be seen as a first. Directed by Imanishi Takashi (who directed Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory), unlike previous animated storylines, the team decided to go all 3D.

With “Final Fantasy” having two big-budget 3D films, this time the storyline of “The One Year Battle” would be visualized in 3D but also via the Zion perspective

The main character is Oliver May, an engineering officer assigned to the 603 Technical Evaluation Unit. He is sensitive towards machines but most of all, more of a humanitarian. Although loyal to Zeon, you see May questioning a lot of the tactics by the Principality.

The other characters are Special Operations Lt. Commander Monique Cadillac. Belongs to headquarters and receives orders directly from Commander-in-Chief Gihren Zabi (you can think of him as the Adolf Hitler of the Principality). She is not well-liked by the crew of the Jotunheim.

And Martin Prochnow, Captain of the Jotunheim. He is a commensurate captain and not military personnel and captain of the Jotunheim when it was a passenger transport.

The first episode “The Vanishing Serpent of Loum” takes place before the Principality of Zeon gathered an armada of ships to Side 5 (Loum Province). The episode revolves around the crew of the Jotunheim, an evaluation support ship for the evaluation of prototype weapons.

The episode was about the crew of the Jotunheim preparing the super large fusion plasma gun known as the Jormungand to take on the Earth Federation’s battleships. Unbeknownst to the crew of the Jotunheim, this was just a ruse as the true intention of the Principality of Zeon was realized by the appearance of red Zaku Lieutenant Char Aznable.

The second episode titled “Howls Stained in Dusk” is a very action-packed episode that features Commander Demezier Sonnen, one of the most talented tank operators and seen as a “mongrel” by Cadillac because he failed to pass the test of becoming a mobile suit pilot.

The main storyline takes place in Arizona and May and Cadillac need to prepare testing for a prototype tank known as the Hildolfr. What they don’t know is that currently in Earth, Captain Federico Czariano of the Earth Federation Forces have captured several Zaku mobile suits and have been attacking supply points of Zeon occupation. This sets up a battle between the Zaku and the prototype tank Hildolfr commanded by Commander Sonnen.

For the third episode, “Dance of the Orbital Ghosts”, the storyline takes place eight months later and revolves around the mobile suit Zudah. Oliver May and the 603 Technical Evaluation Unit are conducting data on this new mobile suit which was to play a big role in the war. But it appears that the Zudah has a big secret and that the Zudah was not exactly what it seems to be.

Of course, for Gundam fans not familiar with the universe, similar to most Bandai Visual DVD releases, you get a very well-informative 24-page booklet that enhances your enjoyment of the series. The booklet goes into detail and also answers questions on the 3D production-side to the freedoms and challenges that the team had to face when creating this OAV series.

All three episodes feature a storyline that Mobile Suit Gundam fans will definitely be interested in. Unlike previous Gundam animated series which work simultaneously with a toy line, you learn through the booklet that the team had more freedom to do what they set out to do when creating “MS IGLOO” but also learning that they had to utilize the budget they had in creating this 3D series, so there were major challenges as well.

The series is presented in 16:9LB and I know the first question to come up is since the series is an OAV, how are the 3D graphics. I felt that the 3D graphics were definitely on par with what 3D animation was at that time when it was created. Now, this should not be compared to a “Final Fantasy: Advent Children” which had an extremely larger budget than the budget the team had to create “MS IGLOO”.

Director Imanishi explains in the interview included in the booklet about the obstacles encountered and why a lot of the characters and scenes take place on the bridge but also having limitations due to budget.

But for me, the series does have very cool 3D animation, I like how the characters have emotion and are not just standing still. There is always motion and the battles between Zeon and the Earth Federation is done quite well, may it be in space or on ground. Imanishi and team did very well in portraying that.

The sound is very well done in both Digital 5.1ch and Dolby Digital Stereo and similar to other Bandai Visual releases and that they give people a higher encoding bit rate for audio and the series sounds incredibly well. And similar to other Bandai Visual DVD releases, this DVD does not include an English dub. Only Japanese (which is well-acted) and English subtitles.

Special features include the trailers for the next episodes, textless opening and endings and MS IGLOO gallery.

So, far I have found the first volume of “MS IGLOO” to really pull me in with the Universal Century 0079 storyline and to watch things on the Zeon perspective.

In other Gundam anime, you watch the Zeon and think of them along the terms of like a Nazi Germany. But in this series, especially through this crew and it’s main character, Oliver May, you see a crew that comments on the war, having to fight the war and at times, questioning things in regards to the war. I just found it all fascinating.

As for Gundam going 3D animation, well this is where it becomes a stickler for people. Especially during the time of high budget 3D animation, if one is expecting a series in the caliber of “Final Fantasy: Advent Children” or even other big budget 3D films, then you might be disappointed because again, Imanishi and team had to work with a strict budget. By saying that, I felt that what he was able to accomplish was well done. Although a lot of scenes do take place on the bridge, there are some really cool action scenes during the battles and I actually like to see how emotion was utilized with the character and the texturing of the skin and I guess, I tend to look at it more of a technical sense and what was achieved.

But by no means is this amateur 3D work, the 3D work is done very well, it’s just not in the same class as a 3D animated film with millions of dollars backing it. But what was still accomplished, I was quite satisfied.

Its somewhat how I feel about video games especially now with next gen consoles. You can have the best graphically looking game but without a good storyline and gameplay, it’s nothing. For an OAV series, “MS IGLOO” features cool 3D animation but also a very intriguing storyline that I found gripping, action-packed and just the emotions of war (anger, sadness, deception, determination, persistence and even happiness even if brief) and the team captured those emotions well.

All in all, I was very much captivated with the storyline of the first three episodes and I very much look forward to volume 2.

Definitely a series that Gundam fans would not want to miss.

+ A storyline taking place during the One-Year war and a Zeon perspective

+ Intriguing storyline and pretty cool 3D animation

+ Very informative booklet

+ Well-acted and very good sound

– Some fans may not be open to 3D animation

– Fans who hope for an English dub will not find it on this DVD

OVERALL RATING: A

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