. . . if you think you’re in London?’ (It was almost certainly unintentional, but I’ll take what I can get – and besides, any comedy which has a credit for ‘the Yokel’ deserves some recognition.)
MS IGLOO or, as I like to refer to it, Mobile Suit Gundam: Peenemünde, is a real oddity. Its purpose, as far as I can make out, is to show off the animators’ skill in the production of fully computer-generated mechanical design porn. This makes for storylines which are, judged by normal criteria, probably rather dissatisfying: each episode introduces a weapon, together with a character who operates it, but the weapon is always destroyed and the new character is always killed. However, since the main reason to watch this is the mechanical design porn, the pre-arranged outcomes aren’t really an issue. Indeed, once you know how it’s going to go, you can take a kind of detached interest in the execution.
The first MS IGLOO tied its six stories together by featuring the same group of Zeon military scientists testing a selection of prototype weapons. Family history (a grandfather – from the richer and better-educated side of the family – worked in scientific intelligence during the war), as well as a taste for books like like Most Secret War and Eric Brown‘s Wings of the Weird and Wonderful, left me predisposed to enjoy this sort of thing.
IGLOO II switches sides to follow the Earth Federation. The original Mobile Suit Gundam covered the Feddies’ own prototype weapons program quite well, which may explain why IGLOO II has, so far, focused on ordinary Federation soldiers using rather inadequate equipment. This does not, however, mean that it’s necessarily more realistic.
Actually, I don’t like to assess any kind of story on its realism – I think you can always pick holes in fiction – and I prefer to check if a story sets out to be convincing and, if so, whether or not it succeeds. If it gets to the point where we start wondering about realism in the first place, there’s probably something wrong.
One term I am happy to apply to certain types of mecha action is ‘gritty’, but IGLOO II isn’t that either, because it uses visions of the same god of death (or reaper, or whatever translation of ‘shinigami‘ you want) to connect its episodes, instead of repeated appearances by the same team of weapons testers.
Commenting on Ghostlightning’s first post about the show, I suggested that her supernatural presence conveniently lowers our expectations of the CGI: CG mecha frequently look ethereal, but the sight of a genuinely ethereal character makes the show’s tanks and Mobile Suits seem more solid by contrast.
After watching the second episode, and musing for a little while on mortality (always a healthy activity) because Ghostlightning took it as one of his themes, I thought of another use for the death god. I’ve already said that IGLOO‘s episodic stories have an established pattern which (with one exception) always ends in a character’s death. It’s not much of a stretch, then, to see IGLOO II‘s Death God as, among other things, a reminder that death is the inevitable result of each episode’s pattern – which then makes the characters’ struggle against her a struggle against IGLOO‘s format itself. This isn’t a word I normally deploy, so I could be misusing it like a general forced to pit Type 61s against Zakus, but – is she entirely diegetic?
I find this idea at the same time amusing, and boring. It’s always amusing when you can draw a connection between the plot, and the characters who don’t know that they’re part of that plot. But this also seems a bit too easy, a bit glib. I’m not sure where to go with ideas like this one . . .