Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 02

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Gundam IBO backtracks a bit with the first of what seemed like a redundant scenes whose heavy lifting had already been more efficiently handled last week: Orga sends Mika to fire up the Gundam. This week we see Mika’s side of it, and I can’t say we didn’t learn a lot: why Mika was bleeding last week (Gundam’s visceral neural interface is a lot tougher on the body than the mobile workers), Aina’s condemnation of using such barbaric interfaces (no surprise there; but Mika doesn’t care if it will help them survive), and the fact Mika can’t read. That’s right, Mika is the Charlie Kelly of GIBO.

That’s all well and good, but it was an awful lot of infodumping so early in the episode, and I enjoyed the alacrity with which Mika simply showed up in the Gundam that had been teased early last week, without excessive explanation.

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But once we’re back in the present with Mika battling and bleeding in Barbatos, we learn that he and his Gundam are only the savior’s by a very shallow margin. Because a lot of quick jerry-rigging had to take place to even get it going, the mechanic forgot to fill it up with gas. Also, Mika himself soon runs out of juice and passes out, mere moments after Lt. Crank, his arrogant young CO killed and his subordinate injured, orders a retreat. The Third Group lives another day thanks to Mika and Orga, but only barely.

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As Mika’s adorable love interest Atri heads to CGS for a supply run while giving Biscuit’s twin sisters Cookie and Cracker a lift, Coral lays into Crank for not getting the job (getting Aina killed in “glorious battle”) done. This was the other scene that I felt went too far out of its way to explain the Aina assassination plot, which was more elegantly implied last week. Still, Coral’s men’s failure harms his reputation and threatens his unit’s funding, so he orders Crank to take care of Aina before the blue-coated Gjallarhorn inspectors show up, which is soon.

Crank, an old space salt, has no desire to do further battle with child soldiers like the pilot of the Gundam, as he fears they’re fighting against their will. His empathy falls on deaf ears, as Coral will certainly find someone else to do his dirty work if Crank doesn’t. But this is the first case of someone in Gjallarhorn having an ounce of empathy for the childrens’ plight, and depending on how things go, it could be paving the way Crank defecting.

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Atra’s encounter with Mika—which she was clearly very much looking forward to any may well have been the primary reason for her coming at all—lasts all of ten seconds. Atra doesn’t challenge the still-bloodstained Mika’s assurance that he’s all right, and he shuffles off, saying he has things to attend to. Mika may regret taking Atra’s love for granted down the road.

As Mika attends to things, he crosses paths with Aina. During the battle, she felt useless. After the battle, she’s still there, and feels she can’t leave, out of guilt for everyone who died for her sake, feelings she relays to Mika as an act of contrition. But Mika doesn’t want her sorrow or her pity, and coldly requests she not look down on his fallen comrades and think they only died for her. They also died for him, for their other comrades, and for themselves.

That brings us to what is perhaps the Third Group’s breaking point: the First Corps is back, but rather than have their tails between their legs, they’re eager to punish the Third for their insubordinate actions. Orga, respectful of his superior on the surface but clearly restraining his contempt, works out a lovely explanation for what happened, but is met by his superior’s fist.

Orga takes this beating for his men, but it looks like he’s not any more willing to take any more than his men are willing to watch. Orga knows how things will go with the First Corps dopes in charge. Declining business, higher-risk ops, and more Third Group death and suffering as they’re used as bait. He’s through with that life, and starts preparing for a mutiny.

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In another instance of their strong fraternal, symbiotic bond, Orga says he’ll call the whole thing off if Mika isn’t on board, while assuring the men that Mika will definitely say yes. When he meets up with Mika, who is fueling the Gundam that is stuck where he left it, he says he’s on board with whatever Orga thinks is best. He’s also working rather than paying respect for the dead because of something Orga said to him when they were young: “You can see the dead when you’re dead, so to keep the living alive, do everything you can.”

“Everything you can” means rising up against their First Corps oppressors before they’re sent on a mission they can’t come back from. But with Aina still at the base, Coral nervously receiving the two elite young Gjallarhorn inspector-majors he has no intention of revealing his failures to, and the decent veteran Crank deploying alone to complete the mission Orlis could not, possible alliances abound. Yet at the end of the day the Third Group will probably have to take care of themselves, as they always have.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

10 thoughts on “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 02”

  1. Well it seems, basing on the end credits, the Mika doesn’t get to pilot the Gundam half-naked in the long run. Yay! While the concept of piloting a mecha with one less clothing isn’t really new it can be awkward to the uninitiated.

    As for Crank’s character. it is always in Gundam tradition that they go and face the young hero and die in battle but not before audibly lamenting the tragedies of war on the young, on why children must fight in such a terrible conflict. Well I could be wrong and we would see Crank survive long enough to shift to the protagonists’ side. Only time will tell.

  2. Yeah, the infodump was quite awkward, but better them doing it this early than later when the story has already gained momentum.

    But this early, IBO is definitely doing one thing that both Reco and Aldnoah Zero (inevitable comparison since they have the same setting) failed to do in their respective stories: giving that much needed human weight to its conflicts. Mika isn’t cold and distant just because the writer think it’s cool (cough “Orange-kun” cough), but because he has the reason to be so. And we actually see the people that Kudelia is agonizing about.

    1. Yeah, I feel like the first episode actually covered the standard Gundam 3 episode opening arc (character intro, enemy attack, destruction, Gundam counterattack) that they didn’t know what to do so they felt like it needed to be ‘explained.’ Unfortunate impulse.

      And I agree on the human weight thing. I think the idea here though is that a lot of the human weight will come from Aina and Orga and the philosophies they impart upon Mika. They both have clearly already identified Mika as the one who moves them, now they’re just both trying to use him, move him, etc.

      And I’m okay with that. It’s interesting.

  3. Ups and downs. The pure evil over the top villains are dull, eye rolling, slogs. The heroes are reasonably nuanced and weight. The twin girls and love interest… unnecessary?

    1. Twins are kinda like mascots who also add stakes to the husky retro-designed Biscuit character (he’s got something to lose), while the down-to-earth (unrequited) love interest Atra is the counterpoint to the more glamorous princess Aina; a common triangle in both Gundam and Macross.

      I’m hopeful the bluecloaks will be a little more reasonable/interesting check on the redcoated villains. Then again, there are plenty of warlords in the real world who don’t give a damn whether they’re fighting indentured child soldiers… :P

      1. it’s really just the mustached twirling level evil villain that bugs me. its too simple, even if it is believable. The show is already miles better after killing the most over the top henchman in the first episode

    2. I do hope they slowly weed out the over the top villains in favor of more interesting ones (they seem to already start with Orlis). Also hoping they ditch the masked Char clone villain for this one. While it is a staple of the franchise, the character archetype is starting to feel really irrelevant (Luin/Mask is probably the most pointless Char clone).

      I’m still fine with Cookie and Cracker at this point. As for Atra, well let’s see. Romance isn’t exactly one of Gundam’s stronger aspects, but who knows? Okada’s magic might work. On the other hand, considering how prominently she is shown in the OP (She is the only female to have a solo shot aside from Kudelia, with her kissing that bracelet on her wrist), hopefully she isn’t just here to fill in Okada’s obligatory melodramatic love triangle and becomes a more engaging character.

    1. Atra looks younger but I think it’s just because she’s cute and petite. For comparison, Biscuit’s even smaller little sisters are actual pre-teen kids.

      Since Atra has a job and drives I imagine she’s 14-16, around the same age as Mika; a couple years younger than him, tops.

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