Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 43 of
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV 2) ?
Today's episode of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans left me regretting all the other times I have given an episode of this show an A rating. Now how am I supposed to express just how amazing today's story was by comparison?
Vidar took off his mask and finally revealed himself as Gaelio, but that was the least surprising thing about the whole episode. McGillis's origin story shed light not only on his own actions and ambitions, but the message of Iron-Blooded Orphans as a whole. This episode grips you from the first moment and doesn't let go until its shocking conclusion.
More than any other scene in McGillis Fareed's backstory, the one that stuck with me was McGillis as a blonde waif, eating an apple in the background while a body with a knife stuck in it lies in front of him. Does seeing a hungry street urchin made emotionless by means of survival remind you of anyone else? From his short stature to his solitary nature, young McGillis is not unlike a young Mikazuki. The biggest discovery of the episode is how similar McGillis is to the orphans he's allied himself with. Any of the Tekkadan members may have ended up like McGillis in a slightly different twist of fate—could the Iron-Blooded Orphans title be referring to McGillis all along as well? For McGillis, the deciding factor was his blonde hair. There is a reason this benefactor only took in blonde boys—they're his type. The fact that McGillis was a child sex slave explains his obsessive motivation to gain power even if it means risking everything and betraying his friends. He never wants to be taken advantage of ever again.
Even more surprising is that McGillis has had the Alaya-Vijnana surgery. Now that we know he wasn't born a coddled aristocrat, it all makes a lot more sense. This also sheds light on why McGillis thought he would be a match for the mobile suit that holds the founder of Gjallarhorn's memories, Gundam Bael, as we've previously been told that only those who've had the surgery can pilot Gundams. Previously, no matter how politically powerful McGillis became, he was never a match for Tekkadan's battle prowess. Now, things will get interesting.
Gaelio's reveal paled in comparison. People have been calling Vidar's true identity since the first episode of season two, when we heard his voice—it's identical to Gaelio's. More interestingly, Gaelio has harnessed Ein's brain in order to fight equally with Alaya-Vijnana fighters. I don't entirely understand the magical reasoning behind this. If Gundam Bael contains the founder of Gjallarhorn and Gundam Vidar contains Ein, does Gundam Barbatos contain someone as well? Is it the brain of a fighter from the Calamity War who helps Mikazuki get even stronger? It's clear that there's a lot more to know about Alaya-Vijnana than we've been told. Either way, Gaelio and McGillis's sudden power-ups make Mikazuki's Lupus Rex, the strongest Gundam we've seen until now, sort of a third wheel in this upcoming battle.
This story now echoes that of Char and Garma in Mobile Suit Gundam. Char, the blonde orphan who's been forced to live by his wits since childhood, and Garma, his spoiled, purple-haired patrician friend, are reflected perfectly in McGillis and Gaelio. However, Garma died weak and naive, only coming to terms with his friend's betrayal minutes before his death. This feels like an alternate universe epilogue to that story, what might have happened if Garma had survived and trained until he was on equal footing in combat with Char. It's one of the oldest stories in the Gundam canon made new again, and the resulting battle promises to be epic.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is available streaming at Daisuki.net.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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