Oh man, it’s been far to long since I’ve seen that monoeye flash and heard that sound. Getting goosebumps already
It’s been a long time getting from their to here. It’s been a long road, but my time is finally here. Yep, MS Igloo 2 Episode 2 came out last week and I got my hands on a really fuzzy and medicore RAW with which to do a picture summary. This episode takes us to July UC 0079 and right into the thick of Zeon’s push towards total domination of the Earth’s surface. The Federation is finally making some headway in putting up a resistance, but they are still on the losing end of the war against Zeon thanks to the seemingly unstoppable Zaku II Mobile Suit. The Federation has pressed the Type-61 tank into full use as it’s mainstay counter to the Zaku II nonetheless and it’s a huge step up from those anti mobile suit teams of the kind that Barberry lead agains the Zaku’s last episode. Will it get any better for the Federation? Let’s have a look.
Our story this episode begins on July 21st UC 0079 in the aftermath of a battle between the EFGF’s Type-61 assault tanks and the White Ogre Elmer Snell’s Zaku invasion forces.
As you can see it didn’t go very well for the Federation and there’s only one confirmed survivor as the episode begins
Wow buddy looks a lot like Ben Barberry in this shot doesn’t he?
Oh well, he’s toast anyway whoever he is. Allow me to introduce this episode’s antagonist, the afformentioned White Ogre (as you can see it’s custom colour is white) piloted by Zeon’s ground ace Elmer Snell. He has this thing for stepping on Federation armour as you’ll see throughout this summary
You would think that this is our main character being introduced now, but it’s not, consider him a supporting cast member. We’ll meet him properly in just a moment
First allow me to introduce the Federation’s Type-61 crew proving ground, where men are made and broken, all on the same day
Can I get a HOORAH?!
Nope, not the main character, just our support cast friend meant to play witness to his exploits in this episode. Meet new Type-61 driver Rayban Surat here to prove his mettle. He’s also voiced by Katsuyuki Konishi if anyone is curious
Tubby here points Rayban to his teammate, a real Shinigami and the ace of the Type-61 corps
What a beast eh? That’s the rumoured Type-61 tank up close and in your face. I’ve always liked it for it’s guns 4000 damage modifier in SD Gundam Generation F which is the equivalent of the Zaku II’s bazooka. Not too shabby eh?
Gundam history being made here as this is our first ever glimpse inside the cockpit of a Type-61. It’s a humble machine compared to the 00 Gundam’s and Strike Freedom’s of today isn’t it? Anyway Rayban is the drive, yet we still haven’t met our main character yet who is the one manning the guns.
The Type-61 handles like a beast and Rayban at first finds himself having trouble without, but soon finds he has a knack for handling the so called “King of The Land”.
Others are not so lucky and soon enough with Rayban’s fancy handling and our mysterious gunner’s pinpoint accuracy they are lighting up the other Type-61′s like a pinball machine and come out the victors in the drill.
A job well done
However now is the time to meet our hero Hermann Yandel, 44 years old and a survivor of several encounters with the Shinigami known as the Zaku II. He’s also probably the manliest lead character since G Gundam’s Domon Kashuu and it’s a shame we’ll only get one episode to spend with him
Rayban salutes Yandel. I like Rayban, he’s young but there’s little doubt that he’s got what it takes to be an enlisted man and lacks that tendency of youthful characters in Gundam series to flout authority at every turn. I know somebody who would probably appreciate this OVA a lot if he were actually watching it.
Pretty scarred up there Yandel, what’s the deal?
Well it seems that Yandel had his own encounter with the White Ogre a while back and barely made it out alive. The experience seems to have left him bitter and a little crazy as a result of his inability to put up much of a fight against Snell and the fact that he panicked and fled back into the machine like a coward rather than face his doom. Perhaps there’s another destiny that the goddess of fate has in mind for him.
However there’s little time between making the cut and going into combat in this war and it’s time to mount a resistance against the Zeon encroachment
Hermann Yandel read to rock. See told you he was manly
Rayban is no slouch either. In a bizzare twist of fate their Type-61 breaks down just before the big charge on Zeon’s position and I believe Rayban overhears the repair crew mocking Yandel as a coward who is faking the breakdown so that he doesn’t have to face the White Ogre. Long story short though he defends his captains honour by proceeding to pummel one of the offending greasemonkeys. He earns a few lumps in the process and due to what can only be an animation flub somehow grows a beard after fallin to the ground. Somehow this almost works regardless if it was actually intended since a beard is a sign of manhood and he earned that distinction by doing what he did, but it’s still a bit weird.
And so the battle contiues without Yandel and Rayban….how did it go?
Zeon Propaganda Time! I loved these little bits in the first MS Igloo and am glad to see them return here. Yandel gets to see the transmission from ZWPA and hears that the White Ogre’s team completely dominated the Type-61′s and Yandel is furious that he couldn’t have been there to get his vengeance.
Later that night Rayban meets up with our old friend Corematta who is not only still alive but has a new mission for him to ambush the White Ogre’s team as they are certain to return to scavenge for scrap in the wreckage of the battlefield from earlier to today. You see during the One Year War Zeon ground teams were pretty much left to fend for themselves in a lot of cases since getting help from all the way back at Side 3 was a rarity. This meant among other things searching for scrap metal to repair damage to Mobile Suits.
I like the use of the blood red moon here. Snell appears makes comment here about how it seems to be a celebration of the blood he spilled earlier that day in his glorious victory, but perhaps it’s actually an omen of a battle yet to come.
This scene kind of creeped me out a bit. As Yandel and Rayban approach the wreckage of the Type-61 team there’s a noted aura of death over the battlefield and we heard the ghosts of those that died crying out to their mothers and loved ones. It’s just another example of how MS Igloo takes those moments to really drive home the tragedy of war between all of the high end CG action sequences.
As they stop to survey the aftermath of the battle Rayban seems to think about how they survived certain death only for Yandel to get permission to go charging into a potential battle with the odds stacked so impossibly against them. Does Yandel have a death wish or what? Well Yandel confronts Rayban and asks if he hasn’t figured it out yet….he’s already dead.
Rayban now realizes that the spectre of death in the form of our old friend the Shinigami has been hanging over Yandel ever since they first met face to face. This scene really sent shivers down my spine as it’s the same scene as when they first met only with the Shinigami now hiding and blending in but just barely visible in the background of the scene. You don’t even see her at first, but suddenly you see it and realize she’s been there throughout this whole scene. Whatever technique they used it really helps to illustrate that Rayban has just realized that his captain is a goner and there’s nothing he can do about it but try to help him get his vengeance before the Shinigami finally comes to claim him
And so as Snell surveys the wreckage for potential scrap metal the remainder of the Type-61 team makes it’s play, emerging from out of the wreckage to attack the White Ogre and his team
The White Ogre’s counterattack is fierce though and before they know it the Type-61 one team is put on the defensive
And what’s worse is that the White Ogre is every bit as good as they say he is, pressing his attack and even managing to deflect a 150mm shell with his shield. Now the Type-61′s have been put from being on the defensive to being in a panic, so disorganized that they are now even running into one another in a bid to get some distance from the infamous Ogre’s finishing move. Maybe this attack was a bad idea….they Feds are going to need a miracle to pull this one off
No flying for mobile suits yet, only jumping, but it still allows the Zaku II’s to close even more distance and eliminate another target. And that wasn’t even Snell either, this was just a subordinate. With the Zaku II’s now this close it looks like it’s all over….
But Yandel isn’t giving up and has the team fire incendiary shells in the Zaku II’s path. Without the ability to see the ground clearly (thermal vision) the Zaku II slips on a broken down jeep and goes crashing to the ground. That thing isn’t going to last long with it’s whole body in the flames.
Satisfied Yandel moves on to the next one and has his men switch to flash bang shells in order to blind the camera so the Zaku II’s pilot can’t see
Probably the coolest sequence in the episode is when Yandel gives the order to smoke the blinded Zaku II and a shell hits it square in the head (others hit all over the machine) causing it to explod into thousands of little pieces. This guys out now too
Wait don’t celebrate yet….
HOOOOOOOOO! Personal foul man! That’s only a pass to Snell though
And there you have it, that’s probably why they call him the White Ogre
And just like that’s it’s two on two again, but Yandel still has one more trick up his sleeve
Things appear to backfire though as in fast paced sequence Yandel fires smoke grenades and has the rest of the team charge into the smoke cover. However, one of his men bumps into a wreck Type-61 and Snell hears it, makes the guys position and picks him off. Then Rayban charges the Type-61 out and Yandel picks off the last of Snell’s wingmen. Snell makes his position too and appears to take out Yandel and Rayban and then turns his bazooka on the last of the Type-61′s and blows it sky high. Looks like it was all in vain
The next day the White Ogre moves to collect the scrap he feels he’s owed and makes a show a show of dominance by driving his bazooka into the remains of a Type-61
And then it happens. Yandel had laid a second trap for the White Ogre by pretending to play dead so that he could catch him off guard
And now he sees the Shingami coming to claim him overlayed on the vision of the Type-61′s last fury. White Ogre….your time is almost up
The coolest shot in the episode, the slow motion release of the Type-61′s missile shell as it makes it’s way towards the White Ogre
And at last the White Ogre Elmer Snell is felled
But it’s Rayban who is out first to survey the damage they have caused and not Yandel who can only laugh like a madman at finally getting his vengeance
And as Rayban turns to see what’s going on with his captain suddenly a look of horror breaks out on his face as he sees it, the Shinigami looming behind Yandel. It turns out that there was a Zeon patrol team approaching that they didn’t see and all Rayban Surat can do is watch helplessly as they fire and RPG and put an and to Hermann Yandel.
Hermann Yandel, Died U.C 0079. 07.25. Total Mobile Suit kill count….7.
And so another chapter of the Gravity Battlefront comes to a close with our second portrait of a dead man walking. The spectre of death hangs over this episode just as much as the first one and I have to say that MS Igloo 2 is probably the most depressing Gundam series since 1993′s Victory Gundam. Even if it’s only a 3 episode OVA this is not the type of series you want to watch and become attached the characters in as anyone can go at any moment. At least in this episode though it felt like something was accomplished whereas Ben Barberry completely failed in his quest to stop the approaching Zaku II’s last time by failing to account for the possibility of a hidden 3rd Zaku II.
Truth be told as I was watching for the first time I wasn’t feeling this episode as much during the first 10 or so minutes because I had to get know who all of the new characters were and what the situation was and that doesn’t actually start to happen until the 8 minute mark or so where we finally come face to face with our main character at last after being lead to believe that Rayban Surat was our guy. Then the next two minutes were spent establishing the goal of the episode in Hermann Yandel trying to take out the White Ogre Elmer Snell in a quest for vengeance. It was kind of awkward at first and in some ways I don’t really see how it helped the storytelling narrative all that much. Plus the CG was kind of awkward during the first ten minutes or so where as I mentioned Rayban alternatively lacked and then had a beard and then it was gone for the rest of the episode. Also I swear that one soldier at the beginning was actually just a shot of Barberry reused since it looks exactly like him in almost every detail at one point. Just in general though there wasn’t too much going on in the beginning other then Rayban doing his training and then meeting with Yandel.
After that though things start to get golden. I’ve really come to appreciate the metaphoric imagery in this series that serves to illustrate both the nature of the conflict and the death surrounding it. I wasn’t too surprised to see our old friend the Shinigami again and it seems like she’s hear to stay at least until the end of the next episode, but I also liked the blood red moon and the use of Snell’s stomping maneuever to show not only the nature of his character as a blood thirsty character who believes the Zaku II and his status as an ace gives him total dominance over the Earth Federation Ground Forces, but the status of the conflict in general. Zeon is winning going into this episode and Zeon is still winning going out of the episode and Project V is still a couple of months away from being fully realized in the form of the Gundam, Guncannon and Guntank to help turn the tide of the war against the Zeon.
As far as the battle goes I thought it was well choreagraphed and I’ve gotta give props to the writing staff as well as the battle choreagraphers for showing Yandel’s determination and skill in taking down his mark. Perhaps a little fate was involved in the breakdown of his Type-61 and his survival of his first encounter with the White Ogre to even be able to seek vengeance, but Yandel really gave it his all when the time. With nothing to lose Yandel used every tactic in the book from hiding in wreckage to confuse the enemy not once but twice and making use of all of the Type 61 teams available weaponary to take down a squad of much superior skill and technological advantage. If there was one thing I would have liked to see him do at the end when he finally took down Snell though it would have been for him to drive his Type-61 over the wreckage of the white Zaku II and then do his mad man laugh. It would have served to not only be an act of exacting justice since Snell did his stomping thing on him back then, but it would have also given him better reason to laugh like maniac before getting killed. Kind of like a, “You did this to me, now let’s see how you like it” sort of thing.
Anyway that’s the end of another character, but it seems like Rayban might have made it out alive as well as Corematta so we might be seeing them in the next episode along with our friend the Shinigami, which is supposed to take place at Odessa, the last battle of the ground campaign during the One Year War and where the Federation finally turned the tide against Zeon for good. We got to see what may be the only case of tank action in a Gundam series and next episode it looks like we’ll be getting….
MP Guntank action. Project V is finally about to enter the Gravity Battlefront. I won’t be surprised if we never once see a Gundam in this Gundam series though as it didn’t happen in the original Igloo either. Perhaps we might get to see a cameo of a famous mobile suit from the original TV series though. The next episode is in April so it’s going to be a long wait though.
Rating: Eight And A Half Out Of Ten
By the way this episode featured a new ending and while was okay it was no Mr. Lonely Heart. I was kind of disappointed actually. Once I can find a clip of it I will upload it here.