Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 39 of
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV 2) ?
I had to wait two weeks for new Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, and when I get here, what do I get? Death flag city. Where another viewer might see romantic overtures or affectionate bonding, my years of Gundam-induced PTSD mean that I only see possibilities for characters, now affirmed and happy, to have it all taken away from them. This is an odd, not even, episode, so no Gundam battles, but there's still plenty of tumultuous emotion to go around. The only thing I'll dock points for is that some characters' motivations still don't work for me.
Let's begin with my least favorite part of the episode: Iok's tantrum. Over the course of this season, I simply haven't been able to relate to Iok's motivations. His chivalry feels so surface-level. I would rather know what initially sparked his obsession with preserving his honor. He's extremely one-dimensional, a plot device that Teiwaz's Jasley uses to enact his scheming. Even Julieta is beginning to bug me, thanks to her proximity with Iok—it occurred to me that we don't know anything about her either. What makes her a quirky butterfly-eating free spirit, and what drives her motivation to become strong for Rustal? Now my favorite part of Gjallarhorn scenes is the string-heavy chamber music that plays whenever these characters appear, because it really does set the stage for this overall hollow performance. At least Jasley is easy to understand—his jealousy of Naze and Tekkadan is what makes him transparent as well as deliciously despicable. (Perhaps in contrast, the writers want to keep people like Iok and Julieta more neutral up until a big, suddenly-relatable reveal?)
It's time for the Turbine girls to return to Naze, but it looks like Lafter's heart won't be coming along for the ride. I loved the micro-confession, where Akihiro said that Lafter and Mikazuki were the only people he could count on to have his back in a fight, and Lafter says “that's enough” for her to know that. If only she knew that her husband would be totally cool with it! “They aren't just wives to me,” Naze says to Amida, “They're also daughters.” We love to pick on Naze for how lecherous he is in his bigamy, but this episode ends up making him look like a saint, reminding us that all of the Turbines were once exploited women, and to protect them, Naze took them as nominal wives (and sometimes more). The flashbacks in which Naze and Amida recount their early life together, finishing each other's sentences like the lovey-dovey old pair they are, makes my heart ache for them. This is pretty much guaranteeing that one or both of them will die in Iok's attack. My prediction: they'll both die, Tekkadan will take the Turbines in, and Akihiro and Lafter will get married.
Speaking of marriage, Atra's got babymaking on the brain as a means to an end. She even sees Mikazuki, hooked up to Barbados, as if he were a fetus attached to an umbilical cord. (Side note: that's a great plan until they manage to get a wheelchair for the guy. Just carrying him everywhere isn't going to cut it.) Early in life, she received the questionable advice that you can tie down an unruly man if he gets you pregnant. Enter laughably bad pickup lines like “Babies are, uh, great huh?” Atra wasn't able to confess to Mikazuki, who probably wouldn't have gotten it through his dense skull if she had, but she was extremely affectionate toward Kudelia. She says she shouldn't have Mika's baby because “I'm not good enough for him at all,” implying that she believes Kudelia is more worthy, a heady compliment that gets the reaction Atra is going for. Atra is the glue that holds Kudelia and Mika together, and it makes me want to root for her.
The wheels of the plot are in motion again, but there are several pieces of the puzzle that make me ask "why?" The second cour of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has gone wildly off course from what I originally guessed—that the Mobile Armor would be a way bigger deal than it was, and the show would culminate in a battle of man inside machine versus machine. Instead, Tekkadan's biggest threat is a misguided manbaby having a tantrum. I'm watching for the thoughtful, multidimensional characters that live, work, and love in Tekkadan and Teiwaz, hoping nobody I like dies, and really hoping that the rest of the story starts to fall into place soon.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is available streaming at Daisuki.net.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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