Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Episode 29

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 29 of
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV 2) ?

In the latest episode of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, change is in the air. Tekkadan is finally seeing some real success on a regular basis, but since it's always seized by violent means, this success is becoming increasingly unsustainable. Teiwaz and Gjallarhorn both know a good thing when they see it, and each is moving in its own way to take advantage of Tekkadan's potential. However, it soon becomes clear that it'll be up to Orga and Mikazuki—the organization's two original members—to determine Tekkadan's fate by their own hands. This episode is heavy on talk, internal politics and the subtle nuance that makes the difference between an ally and an enemy, but the consistent tension in the air keeps it entertaining.

“Orga's not good at playing politics,” Naze says after an unsettling Teiwaz meeting. As Tekkadan's glory grows, so does uncertainty and envy in the Teiwaz ranks. “Some things can't be won with brute force,” he adds, though this episode's events show that there are actually a great deal of things that Orga can achieve with violence, and he's excelling in that field. The scene opens on Tekkadan's continuing battle with the Dawn Horizon Corps pirates and Gaelio's interloping Gjallarhorn division for a two-front battle. This is an extremely powerful scene, as the clanging of the mobile suits' steel weaponry echoes in space. With every impact, characters flinch and the screen appears to shake along with the soundtrack's drumroll. Iron-Blooded Orphans has made a great decision by giving the mobile suits bulky, close-combat weaponry—from Mika's weighty bludgeon-like swords to the pirates' tight wire cords that are strong enough to sever mobile suit limbs. Even as the camera shifts to show this two-front battle from all angles, it doesn't take more than one resonating clash of steel on steel to re-center this conflict from an immediate, instinctive angle.

Tekkadan isn't stupid. After capturing the pirate leader Sandoval alive, they go after his boss Allium next, who you might remember as the sneaky, sleazy businessman who tried to pressure Kudelia in her own office. Orga brings Eugene and Merribit with him when he wants to negotiate (the way he did last episode), and when he's ready to kill, he brings Mika. Mikazuki's very presence precedes violence, and when he pulls a raisin out of his sling, the smell of impending blood is so sharp in these negotiations that I at first expected him to pull out a gun. (The gun comes next, cracking off four earsplitting shots—Mika doesn't monologue, he simply shoots until he's sure you're dead.) Sure, Orga's no good at playing politics, but he's become an expert at the Mafia shakedown technique used to obliterate Tekkadan's enemies.

It's not just Naze who knows this is a problem, but Kudelia too. Mikazuki's cold-blooded cruelty is always contrasted with conversations between the two women who love him most. While Mika is out killing, Atra and Kudelia lovingly discuss the way he putters in the garden and neglects his reading and writing studies. “He's so black and white,” Atra says, and it's true. Between love and murder, he has no middle ground, but Kudelia knows that this can't go on. She blames herself, wondering if she could have mitigated the situation with Allium before dismissing him from her office, before Allium felt compelled to use pirates to make an attempt on Kudelia's life. “We fight every time something comes up. I want to stop the chain reaction,” she says. She wants to stop getting blood on Mika's hands.

But will this alliance with McGillis truly be the answer? Orga notes that if they team up, “your enemies will become our enemies,” and Tekkadan already has no shortage of those. Even more damning, neither Naze or Kudelia are consulted about this new partnership (though Merribit's presence as a voice of reason gives it some promise). McGillis has taken off his mask now, while elsewhere, Gaelio has put one on. We're back to one Char per season, but that doesn't make the situation any more comforting. Tekkadan is on the precipice of realizing that they have problems that can't be fixed with killing, marking a new era in this show.

One final note: the half-metal mine that Teiwaz gifted Tekkadan for their latest military victory is clearly going to be valuable for more than its metal ore. In the grand tradition of Turn A Gundam, the miners have already excavated old Gundam frames from the ground, as well as “something bigger.” Could it be a mobile armor? And since Mika has already secured Barbatos, could this new discovery be going to the one who wants it most, Hush Middy? Change is definitely in the air. Between overt violence and internal politics, you could cut the tension in this episode with a knife. Let's just say it's going to be a long time before Atra's dream of farming with Kudelia and Mikazuki comes true.

Rating: A

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is available streaming at Daisuki.net.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist


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