Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 37 of
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV 2) ?
I didn't think the battle with the Mobile Armor was going to be resolved in two episodes, but I'm still surprised by how little a dent this week's story made in the fight. Tekkadan faces one setback after another as the Mobile Armor continues to be a literal blast from the past. Action-wise, it was a fairly disappointing episode because it was a history of frustrations, failures that the audience can predict even before they happen. As the main story lagged, writer Mari Okada worked her magic on upping the drama in character relationships, leading to more intense developments between friends, enemies, and lovers. Even so, this was an episode where I could see the strings being pulled for the good of the plot, and it didn't feel natural.
“Your stupidity can't be cured even after death.” In this line to Iok, Julietta speaks for all of us. Combined with her perfectly annoyed and flummoxed face in response to Iok's badly laid plans for revenge, she's the perfect audience reaction avatar. However, I'm still irritated at Iok's new role as a bumbling idiot with delusions of grandeur. Now it's just getting repetitive as he continually screws up Tekkadan's plans to trap the Mobile Armor, and the monster just keeps getting closer to Chryse, where the civilians are.
All is quiet at Chryse, where we temporarily check in on Kudelia and Atra. With shy blushes, both Kudelia and Atra confess their affection for one another as well as Mikazuki. Apparently their contact with the Turbine family has made both women comfortable with the idea of a three-person relationship, because it doesn't get any more explicit than this. The remaining question is how Mikazuki feels. He trusts them and lets them both take care of him in different ways (Atra feeds him, Kudelia manages his money), just as they both rely on him to protect them. But in this episode, Mikazuki's friendship with Orga seems to be weighing more strongly on his mind: “My life was given to me by you, Orga. I have to use my all for you.” That's a pretty powerful declaration as well!
And Mikazuki is truly risking his life this episode. When Mika and Akihiro each come in contact with the Mobile Armor while inside their Gundam Frames, they get nosebleeds and Akihiro even falls unconscious. As the suddenly knowledgeable Zac explains, the suit is trying to fulfill its intended purpose and go full throttle, but that program is colliding with the internal system designed to protect the pilot. While the Mobile Armor is unchanged from 300 years ago, the Gundam Frames have been reworked to be more safe to use. As they are now, they're handicapped, and this compromised status could cause Barbatos to stop responding with Mikazuki inside it. Of course there had to be a reason Barbatos couldn't go all out against the Mobile Armor yet; otherwise we'd have no story. Still, doesn't this feel contrived?
Another thing that feels contrived: Shino going into battle with Yamagi sitting on his lap. This is even more overt romantic fanservice than Atra and Kudelia's confessions to one another. “The boss sure has some crazy ideas,” Yamagi reacts, to unconvincingly explain this absurd situation away. It's just another point in this episode that pulled me out of the story into a more meta state where, instead of wondering about what the characters were going to do next, I was wondering about what Okada was going to do next. It didn't feel like characters were acting the way they usually did, but performing more dramatically than usual for an audience they couldn't see.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is available streaming at Daisuki.net.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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