MS IGLOO (0079)

MS IGLOO is probably one of the best One Year War Side Stories that I have seen so far. Some people are hesitant to like stories that paint the bad guys in a softer light, but we all know those people are shallow. Not to mention this show is more of an anthology with stories from both sides of the One Year War. These are scrappy stories about adversity, failure, and small moments of triumph for those rank & file soldiers. Since this is a 3 part series in installments of 3 Episodes each I will have to break this up into sections.

The Hidden One Year War

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The officers of the Jotunheim

This first installation follows the actions of the repurposed civilian freighter Jotunheim and its crew, the members of the Zeon 603rd Technical Evaluation Unit. A mix of soldiers and engineers, they are tasked with testing Zeon’s Experimental Weapons. They are first tasked with testing the long range Particle Cannon Jormungand which is immediately rendered obsolete by the Zaku Mobile suits at the Battle of Loum, however, it still proves useful in the end. Then as the Earth Drop Operations begin the 603rd is tasked with testing the YMT-05 Hildolfr transformable Mobile Tank, however when their team drops into their testing point in Arizona things do not go as planned. Finally, after Zeon hears word of the Federation’s powerful new Mobile Suit, The 603rd is tasked with testing the EMS-10 Zudah, an ill-fated Mobile Suit that can never live up to the propaganda promoting it.

The Gravity Front

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The soul of Lt. Arleen Nazon staring in disbelief at the wreckage of a Zeon Dabude Landship

Gravity front follows the tragic stories of Earth Federation Soldiers during the Zeon Drop Operation and leading up to the pivotal Battle of Odessa. A Goddess of death descends to the Earth and stalks these hero’s whose souls are trapped in the well of Gravity. In a ruined mining town, Lt. Ben Barberry and the Anti-Mobile Suit Tactical Squad fight against the onslaught of the incoming Zaku suits as Lt. Barberry becomes aware that death follows him everywhere. Sgt. Rayban Surat is transferred into the 301st tank regiment and meets Lt. Harmon Yandell, a man who is obsessively seeking revenge against a Zeon Mobile Mobile Suit Pilot known as “White Ogre”. Finally, in the background of the crucial Operation Odessa Lt. Arleen Nazon leads 2 other convicts in their RTX-440 Guntanks on a tragically misguided mission of revenge

Apocalypse 0079

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The experimental Big Rang Mobile Armor

Apocolypse 0079 returns us to the crew of the Jotunheim in the final days of the One Year War. Zeon is now losing the fight after their massive defeat on the Earth, and the job of the 603rd has become more crucial. A drop mission over Jaburo using the experimental Ze’Gok is not achieving desired results, until one fateful final mission. After the Zeon’s crushing defeat at Space Fortress Solomon, the 603rd is ordered to test the new Oggo Mobile Pods in lunar airspace, unaware that one of the officers will lose a dear family member. Finally, at the fateful battle of A Baoa Qu, the 603rd is given the experimental Mobile Armor Big Rang and ordered into the fray of the final climactic battle.

 

As you can see by the screenshots, this is the only Gundam Series ever done fully in 3D CG Rendering. That is not what makes it remarkable though, it is the tragic and humanizing stories which show the grit, brutality, and nobility of war that make this installation into the Universal Century shine so bright. Never have I felt such deep emotional connections to the plight of characters good or bad. You can get a copy of this tour de force here on Amazon, and I highly suggest you do because it is something remarkable. Now I better stop writing before I start to cry and shout “Seig Zeon!!”

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Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky (0079)

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In Fleming (bottom) and Daryl Lorenz (top) become determined to take one another’s lives.

In December of the year 0079, the one-year war has entered its final stages as the Federation wins key victories in North America, Africa, and Tibet. With the Federation planning a massive offensive on Space Fortress Solomon and A Baoa Qu, the war seems to be all but over. In a Shoal Zone that was formerly the Side 4 Colony Moore, the sky is alight not only with bolts of lightning from the electrically charged wreckage of the colonies but with weapons fire. A heated battle rages between the Zeon’s Experimental “Living Dead” Unit, and a Federation Unit composed of former citizens of the Side 4 Colony known as the Moore Brotherhood. In the midst of this conflict, a bitter rivalry forms between the Zeon Pilot Daryl Lorenz and the Moore Brotherhood’s Io Fleming.

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FA-78 Full Armor Gundam

Fueled by his hatred of the Zeon who destroyed the Side 4 Colony, Io Fleming is assigned to pilot the prototype Full Armor Gundam. Armed with this new Unit, he begins to eliminate the Dead Fish Units mobile suits which have been customized for use by the amputee pilots. Little does he know the Zeon have their own secret weapon, the experimental High Mobility Zaku Type II outfitted with a Psycommu Unit. To Pilot this suit and avenge his friends, Daryl Lorenz must sacrifice his very humanity along with the last of his healthy limbs. Who will win, the man fueled by pure anger or the man who sacrificed everything?

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A Dead Fish Unit Sniper

So right off the bat, I have to warn you this is literally the darkest and most depraved entry into the UC timeline but it is so worth it. First off, the Dead Fish Unit of the Zeon is an experimental unit tasked with testing new mobile suits built specifically for amputees so they could still fight. That’s pretty dark but it gets darker when Daryl Lorenz decides to sacrifice his last hand and become a paraplegic in order to use the experimental Mobile Suit. The Federation side gets just as dark, like how the Female Captain of the “Beehive” is a drug addicted mess who is fucking with Io. And later on, when the Federation finally sends them reinforcements to wipe up the Dead Fish Unit, they are all teenagers who are barely trained to pilot and get picked off pretty quick. So yeah, Drug Addiction, Amputees, Child Soldiers, and Sexual Depravity make it all seem like a stomach-churning mess. That is why it is so good though, it is the most realistic depiction of war in any Gundam Series.

This is apparently a compilation of the first season of the OVA it is named after, Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt. The Second Season is already airing so hopefully they will make a movie compilation of that too since it is the closest thing they have done to adding a totally original entry into the UC timeline. But in the meanwhile, you can buy Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky here on Amazon. If you have a weak stomach though, don’t forget to keep a bucket nearby when you watch it.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (0079)

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Battle in the Jungles of Southeast Asia is brutal and unforgiving

October of UC0079, the tide of The One Year War between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon had heated up to a fever point after the defeat of Colonel M’Quve’s forces during the Battle of Odessa. The Federation has been making massive gains in reclaimed territory using their mass-produced Mobile Suit Models, and are pushing back the Zeon invasion forces. But now that the two forces are on even footing, the war has become more intense and more lives are lost and homes destroyed as Mobile Suits tear up the landscape. The battlefields of Southeast Asia are no exception as Federation Forces press forward, unaware of the Zeon’s secret machinations. Clashes between the Zeon and the Federation Forces, now armed with the RX-79 [G], have only increased the urgency of Ginias Sahalin’s secret project code-named “Apsalus”.

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Shiro Amada with his repaired RX-79 [G] EZ-8

Ensign Shiro Amada, the new commander of the 08th MS Team deployed to Southeast Asia, does not know much about any of these things. For this enthusiastic young soldier, his only goal is to defeat the Principality of Zeon after the horrifying event of the Colony Drop. Things seem black and white to this young recruit till he gets stranded with a Female Soldier during a rescue operation en route to his assignment. Now in charge of the 08th MS Team, Shiro has to battle the Zeon in the humid jungles while also battling the ambiguity of the war and his feelings for the female Zeon Pilot, Aina Sahalin. With the help of his partners in the 08th MS Team, as well as Local Gurellia fighters who fight both Zeon and the Federation, will Shiro and Aina be able to stop Aina’s brother from unleashing the devastation of Apsalus? Or will the Federation suffer a massive defeat in Asia at the hands of this madman? Watch Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team to find out.

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Unlike other Gundam Series, 08th MS focuses more on the battle happening on the ground than on space battles.

This is one of the best 0079 Side stories, in my opinion, the narrative is more relatable as it almost entirely takes place on the earth. It reminds you more of actual warfare with tanks and foot soldiers, albeit bi-pedal tanks that are like foot soldiers with lasers. Aside from that, the actual soldiers involved, rather than being cooped up inside a sealed vessel walk around breathing fresh air and interacting with locals. There is grit and grime and the characters have to struggle in a volatile environment, as opposed to the characters being in a clean sterile environment. Of course, the stakes aren’t as high since these soldiers in the jungle don’t have to worry about the vacuum of space.

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Shiro being held hostage by Guerrillas.

That being said, the stakes are still high in the jungle as in space. You can still die in the Jungle if a Mobile Suit blows up, and in Episode 2 Shiro makes it quite clear that the cockpit of a Mobile Suit in a humid jungle is an intolerable sauna. Not to mention capture by an enemy is more likely as well, in episode 3 Shiro is captured by Guerrillas. Now, in the end, these Guerrillas become allies, but capture by Zeon is also an imminent danger as they do not treat their prisoners very well despite the Antartic Treaty. The point I am making, however, is that there is just a different all around dynamic to The 08th MS Team.

This anime is one that really shows the style of the 90’s too. From the themes and the theme songs, it painted war in a realistic light but it also injected subtle elements of hope for the future of the characters. The ending was a bit disappointing to me, but I do not regret seeing it. You can buy your own copy here on Amazon, they have it in both Blue Ray and DVD. Buy it, enjoy it, share it with your friends. 🙂

Mobile Suit Gundam (0079)

Words are hard to come by when you are trying to introduce this show. The original Mobile Suit Gundam released in 1979 not only revolutionized the anime industry but set forth a franchise that has endured nearly 40 years. It started the Giant Robot Genre of the 80’s and has spawned 36 anime, 6 movies, along with numerous Manga, Video Games, and Models. It is truly legendary. So here we go, the first step of a journey 40 years in the making that started in the seemingly quiet Side 7 Colony.

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Amuro Ray, Pilot of the G.U.N.D.A.M.

The year is UC 0079. The Earth Federation and The Principality of Zeon are engaged in open conflict, a conflict which Zeon is winning using the new technology of Mobile Suits which the Federation has not yet developed. Young Amuro Ray leads a peaceful life in the seemingly quiet Neutral Colony at Side 7, living with his father who researches robotics. He spends his days lazily tinkering away with robotics, the horrendous conflict of the One Year War is literally worlds away from him. But that all changes abruptly when Zeon attacks the Side 7 Colony in order to destroy his father’s secret project, the Federations first Mobile Suit which is codenamed Gundam.

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Despite his young age, Amuro has to endure the tragedies and atrocities of war -image from blogspot.com

Forced to defend fleeing colonists as they flee to the experimental Federation Ship White Base, Amuro pilots his fathers new mobile suit to stop the Zeon. This catches the eye of Char Aznabel, an Ace Zeon Pilot known as The Red Comet. Being subjected to attack after attack as they flee to the earth, Amuro is forced to be enlisted as a Federation Pilot for Gundam in order to stop the enemy with his emerging abilities as a Newtype. He is joined by his friends as well as other colonists forced to flee to the white base as they form a ragtag civilian crew. Will they merely survive the attacks of Ace Zeon Pilots, or will they be the key to ending the One Year War? Will Gundam be able to stop the Zabi Family? All is revealed in Mobile Suit Gundam.

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The Crew of White Base -image from farm8.staticflickr.com

So as I said earlier, this is the original Gundam that started the franchise and revolutionized the industry. It was largely unpopular when it first aired though, an underdog story like most industry-changing legends. Apparently, things turned around for the series which almost saw itself canceled, when Bandai bought the rights to the show and began producing plastic models. The show’s popularity skyrocketed after this as hobbyists developed an enthusiasm for the mechs and the story behind them. It was a well-deserved turnaround for the series which only needed to be nudged towards a suitable target audience.

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Gundam engaged in Battle with Zeon Zaku Mobile Suits.

One thing that I have always liked about the Gundam Series was its realistic feel. The writers approached war in a very real sense, and instead of depicting the pilots as heroes or villains they chose to instead depict them as soldiers. They blurred the line between who was good or evil by having moments where the supposedly good Federation made some ethically questionable choices or with moments where some of the Zeon soldiers showed their true colors as relatively decent human beings. Their approach to science was pretty real too, by choosing the O’Neill Cylinders as the format for the Colony Side’s they established the series as something that is a possible future. These themes were a fresh and new break for the anime industry which had until this point not dealt with mature themes of war or solid themes of the future.

Even though it has been out so long, I am having a hard time finding a place to purchase this at as I did last week as well. I would suggest a streaming service or something else. Honestly, this show can be hard to get through since the animation is old and the show is 43 episodes long. But I find it to be worthwhile as there are some memorable moments. I hope if you decide to watch that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origins (0068 – 0079)

Well as promised, you guys will now be treated to 15 weeks of posts about Mobile Suit Gundam!! Now, of course, it will not be 15 weeks straight, there is the December 18th Final Fantasy Anniversary post, and if there is breaking political news then I plan to cover that which means I will have to jumble the schedule a bit. But anyway, let’s get down to business. We start this 15-week journey that covers 150 years of UC History with Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. Are you excited yet?

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Char’s Signature Red Zaku at the Battle of Loum. -from http://www.gunjap.net

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origins is a prequel to the 1979 classic Mobile Suit Gundam which follows the origin story of the most well known Gundam antagonist, Char Aznabel. Before he was known as “The Red Comet”, he was just an innocent child. His name was Casval Deikun, son of the prominent philosopher and politician Zeon Zum Deikun. He leads a peaceful life in the Side 3 Colony Cluster (Autonomous Republic of Munzo) with his sister Artesia and their mother. But soon that all changes when their father is assassinated and the devious Zabi Family rises to power and declares Munzo “The Principality of Zeon”.

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Casval posing as Char at the Zeon Military Academy. -from http://www.daisuki.net

After escaping house arrest with the help of men loyal to Zeon Deikun, the siblings soon find themselves on the run from Zeon Assasins. Being forced to move again and again throughout the Earth Sphere, Young Casval’s anger and resentment towards the Zabi’s begin to fester. Upon hearing the news of the death of his mother, Casval’s resentment then turns into rage, and he begins to plot his revenge. After swapping places with a boy from Texas Colony (Side 5: Loum), he assumes the name Char Aznabel and joins the Zeon Armed forces, where he sets his plans for revenge in motion. Learn the story of the origins of a man who is destined to bring the world to its knees in Mobile Suit Gundam: Origins.

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“Operation British” as shown in Mobile Suit Gundam Origins -from blogs-images.forbes.com

As prequels go, this one isn’t all that bad. Actually, it really lives up to the Gundam Franchise and fills in a lot of unanswered questions about what led up to the events of pretty much all of the Gundam Series. It also depicts a lot of crucial events that set the stage for the One-Year-War and the development of Mobile Suits themselves. My favorite scene is the depiction of the Colony Drop Operation, Operation British. This is something they had never really depicted in detail in the original Mobile Suit Gundam or any of the other 0079 Side Stories.

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Young Casval and Artesia shown next to Char. -from i.ytimg.com

The character development was also really satisfying. Aside from seeing Casval and Artesia mature into Char and Sayala, there was a lot more fleshing out for characters that were barely expanded upon in the anime. I really came to identify a bit with Ramba Ral, so when I saw him die later on when I got around to watching Mobile Suit Gundam it was a bit emotional for me. They also expand on the Zabi Family, showing the cruelty of Kycilia, the scheming of Gihren, the oafishness of Dozle, the arrogance of Degwin, and the airheadedness of Garma. Again, watching this before Mobile Suit Gundam can really make that a more tolerable/fulfilling experience.

Usually, this is where I would tell you where to buy it, but sadly it is still an ongoing series. Some of it is available on Blue-Ray in the US, but your best bet to get it sooner is to watch it on a streaming service. But again, it is well worth the effort to watch it. It really makes a lot of sense out of the Universal Century and set the stage better, so when you finally see the original you will be able to see Zeon as more than just random aggressors. So hopefully you will get to watch and enjoy, and please come back next week as I review the original Mobile Suit Gundam.