Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 36 of
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV 2) ?
We were only a few minutes into this week of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans before I realized I was wrong about a few things. So the Pluma is the name of the subunit, not the giant mystery laser-beam dispenser. But you don't need to recognize the names of the new mecha to realize that we're on the precipice of something huge. It's only the tenth episode of the second season, but we're probably at the final battle already, or at least the start of it. Okada may have injected a lot of character drama and world-building into Iron-Blooded Orphans, which means a lot of battle-free episodes, but the show's eventual action does have serious payoffs. That said, this episode left me with a lot of questions, few answers, and flubbed some character development in a rare misstep, making it less majestic than your average Orphans episode.
This mobile armor is giving me serious flashbacks to Evangelion. It turns out that the angels are the bad guys. We've known for a long time that the 72 Gundam frames were named after devils. Does that mean there are 72 angelic Mobile Armor? McGillis tells us that Gjallarhorn was founded when it won the Calamity War and defeated the angels, but who did they win against? Who thought it was a good idea to create massive, self-replicating, self-fixing and fueling mobile armor whose only motive is to go to places as densely populated as possible and massacre every human there? It's an extremely terrifying discovery, but every revelation brings with it more questions. Not that anybody has any time to ponder those questions, thanks to Iok.
What the heck happened to Iok? Previously, he was a fairly underdeveloped character, a gregarious yes-man to Rustal and a somewhat-foil to the mercurial Julietta. Now he's a man with a death wish apparently, ready to charge headfirst into an awakened ancient power without any idea how badly he screwed things up for everyone—TWICE. After the monster massacred his men, you'd think he'd have learned something. Then after witnessing the sheer power of its beam weapon, the likes of which we haven't seen anywhere else in Orphans, you'd think he'd wise up the second time around. Julietta arrives just in time to mock him, but perhaps not soon enough to clean up his mess. It'll most likely be up to Mikazuki, who came out of this episode looking almost mythically heroic. When he saves Ride just in the nick of time, his entrance feels legendary. The Barbados Lupus's design is really growing on me.
Fortunately, Mikazuki and company are as level-head about this as anything. Rather than call it an angel or anything so extraordinary, Mika calls their enemy “that bird” and is quick to observe that even if it's strong, it's still just a machine. Meanwhile, Atra and Kudelia have so much faith in their boyfriend that they're not even going to evacuate Chryse—which is going to ensure that Mikazuki has a lot more on the line than just his comrades' lives when battling. This scene shows so much character growth for all three of them—in Kudelia's maturity and acknowledgement of her privileged status, in Atra's ever-increasing bravery, and in Mikazuki's ability to trust the two of them to do what they think is best.
Tekkadan has a plan to beat the angel, but it's already backfired once thanks to Iok, and now it's in trouble again thanks to Vidar's dramatic appearance in front of McGillis. I get where you're coming from, Gaelio, but now is a terrible time to exact your revenge. The next episode is primed to be action-packed, and hopefully it'll make a little more sense than this week.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is available streaming at Daisuki.net.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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