Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Episode 38

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 38 of
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV 2) ?

This week on Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, protagonist Mikazuki Augus lost the ability to walk. Merry Christmas everybody!

Overall, “Hunter of Angels” gave us some pretty heavy stuff to deal with. While the three-episode battle with the Mobile Armor has now been handily concluded, not every loose end has been tied up so neatly. Both Gjallarhorn and Teiwaz are coming apart at the seams, and while Mikazuki is still his usual self, everyone around him has drastically changed. This episode was deeply symbolic, laying it on thick just how dark a path everyone is walking now, but it was also full of the characterization and battle choreography that make it a Sunday highlight.

Most of this episode takes place after the battle is already over, with Orga reflecting on the aftermath to the Teiwaz head and his “bro” Naze. It's a fitting choice given just how confident we are in Mikazuki's victory. After all, the only reasons Mikazuki didn't crush that thing right away last episode were circumstantial and not under his own control. The glimpses we get of Barbatos' face-off with the Mobile Armor are legendary. The Armor's avian mannerisms, Barbatos' lightning-quick reflexes, and Mikazuki's on-his-feet changeups were all fantastic to watch. It was great to see Mikazuki fighting an opponent that truly challenged him too—it's one of the only times I've seen Mika show some real anger, even in the midst of battle.

But afterward, it wasn't only Mika's right eye and arm that refused to work, but his entire right side. This is the most physically down-and-out we've ever seen a Gundam protagonist, and what's incredible is that Mika fully intends to keep fighting. It feels like the promise of an upcoming fight is the only thing keeping him going. Mikazuki can't walk, or help Sakura on the farm, or give his harem members a hug, but he keeps asking Orga when Barbatos will be ready again, and his personality hasn't changed in the slightest. Mikazuki's temperament somehow paves the way for this episode to have a lot of unexpectedly funny moments. From Atra's tearful request to Kudelia to have Mikazuki's baby to Hush's dutiful transport of Mikazuki like he's a Gundam part, there's an odd bittersweet silliness to Mikazuki's new predicament. Perhaps it's a little “laugh so you don't cry,” because Orga sure can't laugh. After Mikazuki said that Orga gave him his life, and he intended to use it to protect him, Orga becomes wracked with guilt.

“It's like you don't care where you're headed,” Naze says to Orga. “You just want to arrive at your goal sooner and then take it easy after that.” Compare this statement with McGillis's later one about watching Mikazuki fight with Barbatos: “It simply charges toward destruction without reason, as if to even destroy itself.” These parallel remarks show how Orga and Mikazuki are barreling down similar paths of carnage, and they may be their own next casualties. This isn't the first time I've discussed Mika and Orga's unhealthily codependent relationship with one another. Mikazuki uses Orga in place of his own conscience, having simply asked him, “What should I destroy next?” ever since childhood. Orga wants to protect Mikazuki and the rest of his family in the most expedient way possible, but it's starting to hit him that this means that protecting the Tekkadan family may result in the destruction of its first member, Mika. Of course Mika doesn't blame Orga, who in his mind can do no wrong, but Orga, the older and wiser of the two, knows better. We're going to look back on this episode either as a death flag for one of this pair or as the moment Tekkadan's entire strategy shifted.

Tekkadan's success has placated the Teiwaz boss, but Jasley is still a threat. The other parallel of this episode is Tekkadan's alliance with McGillis, while Iok works with Jasley to destroy them both. Rustal claims that “we, Gjallarhorn, are the protectors of order,” but it's their own fragmentation that causes chaos to ripple out to Teiwaz and beyond. Now McGillis has his sights set on revolution using the worst possible example for his next actions—Mikazuki's reckless, self-destructive charge toward the Mobile Armor. And is the threat of the Mobile Armor truly over? This episode has established a veritable Jenga tower, and it's wobbling hard. It's fun to watch the set-up, but we're all going to be sorry when it comes tumbling down. In the meanwhile, it's a severe, sorrowful, and surprisingly sincere disaster in the making.

Rating: B+

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

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist


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