Gundam MS Igloo 2: A cure for all that Saji that you cannot unsee

I found out about Gundam MS Igloo 2 from Kaioshin’s review of episode 1(where I raped all those wonderful caption-free screencaps from). I saw the first MS Igloo OVA a few years back and finished it sometime this year. I liked the first and last episodes but I was bored with the rest. However, those episodes that I did like made me want to see MS Igloo 2 as soon as the fansubs came out. Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t be happier.

As Animanachronism said, Gundam has the power to be transcendent, and in this case it is. At the most superficial level, this episode has cured me of Saji. After enduring the Saji screamofest for most of Gundam 00 episode 6, and the subsequent whining by myself and others on /m/ and blogposts, it’s as if the fandom is in a loop of infinite recursion of reminding ourselves of only the worst of Gundam. It’s a veritable circle of anime hell: where all the emo pilots scream. You won’t find it in the abridged versions of Inferno on the bookstore shelves I’m sure.

But I’m better now. Why? Ben Barberry. Here is a man.

Barberry reminds me of what I like most about Camus (no, not the awesomely perverse drummer of Detroit Metal City). Albert Camus is a literary hero of mine, who in my fanboying idolatry I believe to have been taken from the world too soon: the man who expired from life from sheer awesomeness (not really, he died in a car accident).

Here’s a dangerous way to stuff him in a nutshell c/o Wikipedia:

In his essays Albert Camus presented the reader with dualisms: happiness and sadness, dark and light, life and death, etc. His aim was to emphasize the fact that happiness is fleeting and that the human condition is one of mortality. He did this not to be morbid, but to reflect a greater appreciation for life and happiness. In Le Mythe, this dualism becomes a paradox: We value our lives and existence so greatly, but at the same time we know we will eventually die, and ultimately our endeavours are meaningless. While we can live with a dualism (I can accept periods of unhappiness, because I know I will also experience happiness to come), we cannot live with the paradox (I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless). In Le Mythe, Camus was interested in how we experience the Absurd and how we live with it. Our life must have meaning for us to value it. If we accept that life has no meaning and therefore no value, should we kill ourselves?

In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus outlines the legend of Sisyphus who defied the gods and put Death in chains so that no human needed to die. When Death was eventually liberated and it came time for Sisyphus himself to die, he concocted a deceit which let him escape from the underworld. Finally captured, the gods decided on his punishment: for all eternity, he would have to push a rock up a mountain; on the top, the rock rolls down again and Sisyphus has to start over. Camus sees Sisyphus as the absurd hero who lives life to the fullest, hates death and is condemned to a meaningless task.

…much of our life is built on the hope for tomorrow yet tomorrow brings us closer to death and is the ultimate enemy; people live as if they didn’t know about the certainty of death; once stripped of its common romanticisms, the world is a foreign, strange and inhuman place; true knowledge is impossible and rationality and science cannot explain the world: their stories ultimately end in meaningless abstractions, in metaphors. “From the moment absurdity is recognized, it becomes a passion, the most harrowing of all.”

Camus leads us to the moment when Sisyphus is on his way down, headed for the rock he will have to push up anew. It’s at this moment when Sisyphus in Camus’ mind comes to a full appreciation of the futility and pointlessness of his existence. And the thing is, it sets him free! One must imagine Sisyphus as a happy man. To him, finally, all is well.

It’s not as serene as it looks – as another important idea in Camus’ thinking is that of revolt. And this also finds expression in Barberry, our Sisyphus at the onset of the One Year War. He gets his moment of clarity, as I imagine sisyphus had on his way down. He was given orders that for all intents and purposes asking him to put his men to the sword and for him to fall on his own. He questions them as far as a subordinate officer can, but he did what he did not because he didn’t have a choice. He made his choice as soon as he entered the service, and lived his choice to the very end.

Now on the way to the battle of Mariage, he was troubled and was visited by the Death God in his dreams. It is important to say here that part of his acceptance of the pointlessness of his fight is also his acceptance of the role he will play. He will be afraid, he will question everything over and over again. His heart will be shredded to pieces as the men under his command are shredded by the Zakus falling upon them. And he will, as Capt. Miller who saved Pvt. Ryan before him, empty his pistol clip at the metal incarnation of death. But his gesture saves no one, there was no one left to save.

His legacy is not that of Amuro and Bright. But he did take down 13 Zakus, before the Gundam was even invented.

Haven’t seen any Gundam at all? Don’t know where to start? Find your Gateway Gundam!

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in analysis, comparative, fanboy, first impressions, Gundam and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Gundam MS Igloo 2: A cure for all that Saji that you cannot unsee

  1. I read ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ once, but I wouldn’t say I understood it.

    On a practical level, I suspect the reason there’s a Death God and the reason that Barberry winds up firing his pistol at a Zaku might be a cannier approach to CG than in the Zeon-focused Igloos. Maybe there’s some kind of uncanny valley, but CG characters always wind up looking very odd in the first place – so this time around they’ve taken a more fantastical spin. Perhaps.

  2. ghostlightning says:

    I read it quite a few times, as I made it my project for my translation course in lit grad school (I didn’t know French so I had to translate it from an English translation into Filipino). It wasn’t fun.

    I’m afraid I’m not familiar with some of the idioms you used in your comment. Is ‘cannier’ the same as ‘canny’ as in the opposite of uncanny? Also I don’t know what uncanny valley means, as embarrassing it is for me to admit… wait, I’m on the internet…

    Okay gotcha. It’s interesting to note how unreal/inhuman everything looks at the same time how obvious the effort to produce realistic effects. So you mean that in this unreal (read: fantastic) environment, the presence of the Death God makes sense perhaps. I got it, right?

    I’m quite taken by manly displays like that, facing death defiantly – which actually shows a graceful acceptance of it.

  3. Oh, sorry about ‘cannier’. I suppose it’s the comparative of the form of ‘canny’ that means ‘cunning’ or ‘clever’. I guess I used it because I had the uncanny valley – which uses, as you point out, another meaning of the word – in my head.

    But yeah, that’s what I meant. The inherently uncomfortable, slightly unconvincing nature of the CGI makes the Death God seem more at home, and conversely seeing something fantastical like a Death God makes the CGI and the mecha look realistic in comparison.

    I think something similar is happening in the opening sequnce of the Pailsen Files, which repeatedly reveals that its mecha are basically cardboard cut-outs. After that, the CG mecha in the actual body of the episode look realistic.

  4. Pingback: ‘Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Zabi . . . « The Animanachronism

  5. Pingback: THAT Animeblog - MS IGLOO 2 - The Type 61: This Tank is FIGHT!

  6. Pingback: Fans of Gundam Love their Franchise Like Saji Loves Louise « We Remember Love

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