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Episode 1: The Vanishing Serpent of Loum

 

Review by Chris Guanche

July 12, 2005

 

Summary

 

On January 4, UC 0079, Zeon's prototype plasma cannon Jormungand is transferred from a Papua class supply ship to the supply ship Jotunheim. Engineering officer Lt. Oliver May works outside in a normal suit and wonders if space is confining. Captain Martin Prochnow orders a battle alert when two Earth Federation Salamis class ships approach and open fire. The Salamis ships destroy the Papua, and a Musai class ship returns fire and damages one of the Salamis ships. Chief Gunnery Officer Aleksandro Hemme calls Prochnow and wants to know why they aren't joining in the battle, and Prochnow says they're in the process of evacuating. Oliver comes to the bridge and says that the Jormungand can't be abandoned because it can change the course of the war. The Musai trades fire with the Salamis ships and destroys one of them, and it damages the other before it retreats. Prochnow orders the crew to finish loading the Jormungand search for survivors from the Papua. Later, Oliver arrives at the bridge to officially report for duty. Prochnow asks him if the Jormungand is so important that it was worth risking his ship, and he comments that he won't risk the ship for people he doesn't know. Special Operations Captain Monique Cadillac enters the bridge, followed by Lt. Hideto Washiya. She tells Prochnow that it was poor judgment on his part to not fight back and attempt to retreat without retrieving the Jormungand. She says that such risks must be taken for the sake of Zeon's independence. Oliver recalls meeting with Albert Schacht when he was assigned to the 603rd Technical Evaluation Unit. Schacht told Oliver the Jotunheim would have a strange crew compliment, including civilians, engineers and special ops officers. Later, Oliver, Monique and Prochnow watch the construction of the Jormungand in the hangar bay. Oliver shows them the specs and explains that the Jormungand has the power to destroy a Federation Magellan class ship in a single shot. Hemme looks at the specs and sees why the cargo was so important. The Jotunheim receives emergency orders to move out of the area due to special military operations. On the bridge, Oliver, Monique and Prochnow watch as a colony flies by, escorted by a fleet of Musais. Oliver asks what's going on, and Monique says that it's Operation British. She says it will fall on Earth in 72 hours, and he grabs her and asks how they could do that. She back flips him to the floor and says that it's a well-established tactic to start a war with a surprise attack.

 

On January 15, Federation and Zeon fleets gather at the space near Side 5. The Jotunheim ejects the Jormungand pieces into space, and crews begin to assemble the cannon. A Gwazine class flagship sends a message, and first officer Ehrlich Kruger reports to Prochnow that the Jormungand will be the deciding factor in the battle. Prochnow sends a reply that he will wait for the fleet's firing instructions to show the power of the Jormungand. As the Minovsky particle density increases, the Federation fleet makes the first move and opens fire. On the Jormungand's gunnery station, Hemme wants to know why the firing instructions haven't arrived. As the fighting continues, several Musais are destroyed by the Federation. Hemme tells Prochnow that he can't wait for the fleet's data and will fire using long distance measurements. Hemme targets the Federation fleet and fires the Jormungand, barely missing a Salamis. He calls Prochnow again to find out what's happening, and Monique asks him to wait for the fleet's targeting data. Oliver and Washiya launch in an observation boat and head for the front to acquire targeting data for Hemme. The shuttle is overtaken by several squads of Zaku II mobile suits. A red Zaku piloted by Char Aznable stops in front of the shuttle and passes a coded message by flashing its monoeye. Char's message states that the rest of the battle will be handled by the mobile suit forces. The Zakus begin attacking the Federation fleet, and Char destroys several ships on his own. Monique considers the situation and realizes that they were just a decoy and that the plan from the start was to use mobile suits. The Jormungand is damaged by fire from the Federation fleet, and Hemme is critically injured. Prochnow orders all the gunnery officers to evacuate the Jormungand and return to the Jotunheim because a damaged Magellan is heading their way. Hemme says that it's too late for him to leave, and he also says that if the age of gunners is be ended by mobile suits, he wants to be the one to end it. Hemme fires and destroys the incoming Magellan. Two days later, Oliver writes his report about the Jormungand's performance at the Battle of Loum. He notes that the Jormungand destroyed one ship and that Hemme died in battle. He concludes that if the Jormungand had received as much support as the mobile suit forces, it would have had a greater impact on the battle.

 

Commentary

 

This new OVA series provides some new perspectives into the Universal Century's history. Although it is set during the overused One Year War era, it shows early parts of the war from the Zeon view. Breaking away from standard Gundam cliches, there's no angsty teenagers or prototype Gundams. In fact, the only suit you'll see in this whole episode is the Zaku, including a nice cameo by Char's red unit. The protagonist, Oliver May, is just an average soldier trying to do his job. We see the impact the nature of war has on young officers like him and the idealistic Monique. The crew was filled with pride because they believed they were testing an important weapon for Zeon's victory, but in truth they were just a decoy. As a CG-animated series, MS IGLOO features detailed, realistic character designs similar to Square's Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and the "Final Flight of the Osiris" segment of The Animatrix. Mobile suits and vehicles are very nicely detailed, but the spaceships seem to move too quickly. For those tired of whiny kids piloting Gundams, MS IGLOO is a fresh look at an old product.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

4 out of 5 stars
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Gundam MS IGLOO Episode 1 Gundam MS IGLOO Episode 1

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