Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 40 of
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV 2) ?
It's upsetting to realize that the tragic episodes of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans are also the ones that shine brightest. “Lit By A Blazing Sun,” didn't have a happy ending, to put it lightly. On the other hand, the writing was poetic, even translated through Daisuki's clunky subtitles, and the mobile suit battle choreography was like a suspenseful, gripping dance. I'm still in denial about a world so unjust that Iok hasn't been murdered yet, but even if I don't want to accept the circumstances leading up to this episode, I still couldn't take my eyes off it.
It's not that the scenario leading to the Turbines' classification as an illegal company was badly written, it's that I'm unprepared to accept it. Gjallarhorn still has the power to govern the galaxy as they see fit, and even as they fight amongst themselves, everyone accepts that if one leader decides to frame an organization, that's now the law of the land. “There's nothing we can do about it,” McGillis proclaims authoritatively. When Gjallarhorn is this fractured, somebody who refuses to play along is more likely to lose his own standing than bring about justice. McGillis and McMurdo and even Naze accept this as the way it is, but it's especially painful for Orga to experience being this powerless for the first time since he founded Tekkadan—an entire army at his disposal, and he can't use it to save his bro.
Meanwhile, Naze gazes into the barrel of impending doom like a man receiving his last rites. He's fully accepted what's happening and isn't wracking his brain for loopholes like Orga. It's noble but also deeply tragic to watch his last moves, all for the sake of making sure his family is taken care of. My prediction that Amida would follow him came true, because how could she not? “Why is it that women can see through men's lies?” she muses lovingly, knowing that Naze only hid the obvious truth to protect her. Their brave faces and poetic lines to one another make their impending loss all the more difficult. Don't get me wrong: this episode goes almost exactly like I predicted last week. Naze and Amida died bravely in battle, with a potential relationship between Lafter & Akihiro and appointments at Tekkadan for all the other wives as the only silver linings. When Naze dies, the wreckage of Gjallarhorn's brutal attack is shown through the annihilation of familiar spaces, like the nursery and Naze's study. It's a fitting metaphor that with Naze's death, so follows the destruction of their home.
That's not to say that Amida went out any less heroically. Other than last week's flashback, it's been a while since we've seen Amida's fighting style. She knows exactly what she's fighting for—the way Naze urges Orga to discover—and it makes her unbelievably strong, even against a worthy opponent like Julieta. To be honest, I've never wanted Julieta to lose more than I did today. A few weeks ago, Julieta's horrified expression when confronted with Iok's incompetence led me to proclaim “Julieta is all of us.” However, the longer she ties herself to somebody as awful as Iok, the less I can respect her. She doesn't even respect herself, viewing her body only as a weapon at Rustal's command. There's no doubt that Iok is going to go down as one of the least likable Gundam villains ever (right up there with Glemy Toto from Gundam ZZ and Ribbons Almark from Gundam 00 if you ask me), but I didn't expect to dislike Julieta so much simply by association.
This episode ends in flux, but it didn't have the ending I wanted. It was a tragic but poetic ending for Naze and Amida, showing them in their best light right until the very end. Their one fault was that they didn't manage to kill Iok, who is almost certainly still alive, or else his death would have been made crystal clear. It's an engaging, emotional episode that made me feel everything from sorrow to tension to rage. It feels childish to give an episode this good a less than ideal rating just because I hate Iok so much, but oops, my hand slipped.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is available streaming at Daisuki.net.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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