Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 27 of
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV 2) ?
It's an even-numbered episode of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, so no battling today. We know from last season that this series is a slow burn, opting to devote entire episodes to world building, character development, and plot establishment between battles. This episode is not without its tense moments, but without a culmination to the action, something feels missing. This dense delivery of information will surely pay off later, but it feels incomplete right now.
It's episode two of the new season, and new recruit Hush Middy already has a bone to pick with “the devil of Tekkadan,” Mikazuki Augus. Hush is stubborn, unpredictable, and a little bit violent. To me, this profile is familiar—he's Kamille Bidan (Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam) to Mikazuki's Amuro (Mobile Suit Gundam). Throughout the first season of Iron-Blooded Orphans, it was extremely clear that writer Mari Okada had done her homework on the Gundam canon, referencing the Char/Garma dynamic with McGillis and Gaelio and the young female politicians Relena (Gundam Wing) and Lacus Clyne (Gundam SEED) with Kudelia. So it's perfectly reasonable that this second season echoes what Zeta Gundam did to Gundam, introducing a younger soldier's perspective to the mix. When Kamille stepped into the middle of Amuro and Char's antagonism, it totally transformed the story's dynamic. I wonder if something similar will occur with Hush, now that it's been established that Hush is pissed off at Mika.
Of course, it's easy to remember that this is a modern Gundam series, not an '80s one, when Hush asserts “I read all the manuals” and still isn't permitted to pilot a Gundam. (Famously, that's all the experience either Amuro or Kamille had before they became pilots.) But Hush doesn't have the Alaya-Vijnana system, and he's too old for the extremely dangerous surgery. This is another sliver of irony, another unintended side effect of Tekkadan's success—just like the stomach-sinking revelation last episode that they'd brought child soldiers back into vogue. The Alaya-Vijnana system, a symptom of the orphans' oppression, is now something to be coveted by Tekkadan's new recruits. What's interesting is that Hush knows extremely well what can go wrong with the surgery, having seen his hero Builth paralyzed as a result. His backstory is incredibly sympathetic—unlike his rough handling of Atra. He's too ambitious to be a good guy, and I don't know if that will gel with Tekkadan. I think this story is setting Hush up to defect to McGillis, which would also align with my Kamille theory.
When Hush grabs Atra, Mikazuki gets to play the good guy, which is always an awkward role for him since he's so mercenary and eager to do whatever Orga asks including murder, always with that guileless stare. It amazed me how Mikazuki kept his expression almost the same while he was crushing Middy's wrist as it was when he was walking alone with Kudelia—a quiet and thoughtful look, not passing judgment as he observes the world. Of course, I loved that moment when Atra gave Kudelia a matching bracelet to hers and Mika's, though it made me realize just how loaded down with symbolic jewelry Kudelia has become, adding this bracelet to the twin necklaces that she and Fumitan used to wear. When Atra says the bracelets will ensure they're together “no matter where we are,” it foreshadows separation in the future. Is Atra affirming the harem end she began dreaming up last season? Or is she hoping to set up Kudelia and Mika?
Between Takaki's new friend and Todo's return and the pirates' connection to Kudelia's bully and even Mr. Nobliss, there are a lot of moving parts to this episode that seem insignificant now, and only time will tell which of these details are worth paying attention to, but I do need to touch on one small reveal at the end, where Iok and Julieta turn out to be working for a man in a Daft Punk-style mask. Could it be Gaelio reborn? Almost certainly, but that brings up a new question. If it's Gaelio wearing the mask, is he the new Char? Or is McGillis going to don his golden disguise, and then there will be two Chars? That would be unprecedented. There's a lot of food for thought in this episode, but no satisfying conclusion, and I'm going to go nuts waiting all week for the battle to finally take advantage of all this setup.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is available streaming at Daisuki.net.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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