Number of Episodes: 9
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Date of Review: February 12, 2018
The One Year War rages on, and Lieutentant Oliver May of the 603rd Technical Evaluation Unit is charged with testing various new Zeon weapons on the battlefields of air, land, and space. Meanwhile, down on the surface of Earth, three Federation officers with checkered pasts return to the fight once more…to face the angel of death!
The Gundam saga’s first fully computer-generated production, this tale is made up of three parts: MS IGLOO; The Hidden One Year War, MS IGLOO: Apocalypse 0079, and MS IGLOO 2: The Gravity Front. The first two are from the Zeon point of view, and the third is from that of the Federation. Rather than the hotshot mobile suit pilots to which we’re accustomed, these stories look at other soldiers fighting the One Year War, and do a fine job developing characters on both sides. Focusing on small groups like this within the larger context of the war immediately brings to mind the similar story of Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team. (This does not reach the insane heights of quality of the latter series, but then again, almost nothing does.)
We get to know Lt. May and his fellow shipmates aboard the Jotunheim fairly well, and while their story is solid, I do wish we could’ve gotten some more adventures with them. Things get weird during The Gravity Front, as the apparent angel of death plaguing our Federation protagonists is just plain creepy. It’s also a notable departure for Gundam, as the saga usually doesn’t focus so clearly on metaphysical or spiritual matters. Still, it makes sense given what each of the three Federation soldiers we meet have had to go through. These aren’t your usual aces, that’s for sure.
So how do the visuals stack up? As you might guess by its vintage, MS IGLOO looks very much like a PlayStation 3 cutscene. The CG characters haven’t aged all that well, but they still work fine within the confines of these stories, and the mobile suit battles look great. The character renderings are notably improved in the final three episodes, though their mouth movements look rather odd. More jarring is the overuse of bloom lighting and enough lens flares to make J. J. Abrams wet himself.
Moving on to our beloved mecha, the original RX-78-2 Gundam is only seen very briefly in the first installment. MS IGLOO instead focuses on great new machines like the mighty Hildolfr tank and the Mobile Diver Ze’Gok, just to name a few. You’ll also see a ton of the classic Zaku II, and they look really great here. MS IGLOO solidifies its position as the go-to grunt suit.
MS IGLOO definitely stands out as something different within the Gundam universe, and it’s almost worth watching for that reason alone. The real reason you should watch it, however, is the interesting characters. Lt. May and the 603rd alone could carry an entire series, and more stories about the grunts bearing the weight of the war are always welcome.