Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 26 of
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV 2) ?
And we're back! After a long summer, it's time for the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, and with a time jump to “years later,” it feels like it's been even longer than that. This extended episode, forgoing any opening or ending sequences, reminded us that there's a LOT to catch up on before we can get to that sweet mecha battling action. It's a slower episode than usual, but a powerhouse soundtrack kept things exciting and tense.
Time jump! From new outfits to new companies to new characters to new tasks, I wouldn't blame you for needing to watch a few times to catch all of the changes. We seem to have a new character with an appropriately Gundam nonsense name: Hush Middy. Biscuit sent his sisters to school after all! Shino and Akihiro are training the newbies! Makanai did become Prime Minister, and Gjallarhorn's corruption has been exposed. And in a grand and ironic unintended consequence, Tekkadan's victory encouraged new groups to send child soldiers to war. The world is better now in some ways, but still pretty bad in others, and if all the new mobile suits are any indication, it's about to get a lot worse.
This episode's exposition is divided into thirds, following each of three characters who have traded life-threatening action on the front lines for bureaucracy behind a desk. Orga's wearing a suit now, which is actually not a bad look for him. He's still the boss, but instead of having to make life-or-death decisions, he's doing boring accounting. Though so much has changed around him, we get glimpses that he's still the same person, jumping at the opportunity to talk to his brother in business, Naze Turbine. We discover that his other brotherly relationship—with Mikazuki—is similarly unchanged when Orga asks for a favor and Mikazuki agrees without even asking what it's for. That trust is still there.
Next, we visit Kudelia behind her equally stately desk. The president of Admoss Company (RIP Fumitan) has taken a break from global politics to seemingly deal with office politics now. However, this rude potential business partner might be more dangerous than meets the eye. Finally, we check in with Fareed McGillis, who has been promoted to commander following the deaths of his only two friends. This ambitious anti-hero now sits behind the desk he once had to kneel in front of, back when his adopted father held the position McGillis now enjoys. Like Kudelia, he's fighting a more subtle battle than the ones he used to confront in his mobile suit, and there's almost an element of humor in seeing such a tough soldier adjust to this kind of work.
The exposition gets a little into the weeds, but all the while there's an undertone of danger. You can see it in Cookie and Cracker's pleas to Mikazuki—now that they've experienced loss, they're more nervous than ever about losing members of their Tekkadan family. You can hear it in the ever-heightening soundtrack, which uses jazzy woodwind freestyle, and eventually a battle theme with a Latin flavor, to keep your heart racing. I've never heard of composer Masaru Yokoyama (who previously composed the music for Nobunaga The Fool and Freezing), but I hope this puts him on the map. The ending theme song (likely the opening theme starting next episode) is already catchy on a “Raise your Flag” level.
Since it's written by Mari Okada, an author known for melodramatic themes, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans relies on character drama and complex political themes more than your average Gundam show, which is more likely to feature a full battle every single episode at the expense of the plot. Twenty-five episodes of this have already made me really excited to get back to these characters, made familiar through so much time and attention. The second season is off to a slower start than the first, and watching characters adjust to boring office jobs during peacetime isn't exactly exciting. Still, by the time this episode was finished laying all the groundwork, it ensured a high-stakes battle to emphasize exactly what these characters are fighting for.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is available streaming at Daisuki.net.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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