Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 04

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Tekkadan and their celebrity passenger aren’t off to Earth yet, and that’s a good thing. This is a 26-episode show, no need to rush, and besides, while this episode is less hectic than last week’s coup and duel, laying out the full measure of the stakes and all of the dangers that lie ahead for Mika, Orga, Aina, et al is crucial to our full emotional investment in the events to come.

As we see, getting Aina to Earth is no simple matter to say the least, and can’t be done by Tekkadan alone. It requires getting in bed (oh God hopefully not literally) with outside middlemen, forming dozens of little alliances of temporary trust with outsiders; those with their own motivations. With so much on their backs Orga and Aina have no choice but to gamble, and neither assured a survivable return.

On the contrary, with Todo’s private moments of stewing, it’s clear Orga has made a potentially fatal mistake in thinking the threat of death keeps the old man in line. Todo is planning the demise of Tekkadan in its infancy, not for Gjallarhorn or his old bosses, but because it’s his way to survive. If he gets a little more agency and teaches some punk kids a lesson, so much the better.

“Young vs. Old” is also a theme in Major Coral equivocating before the younger Fareed, subtly offering a bribe that’s shot down with the threat of arrest, then cursing the even older Crank for failing (as Crank and Orlis’ comrade stews).

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The Olds seem to prefer when the Youngs are beholden to them. It gives them power and purpose. Todo’s Orcus contact is of big help (assuming it’s not a trap, which it is). Nobliss, who doesn’t even bother dressing to address Aina, clearly considers Aina to beholden to him for his cash infusion. But Fareed rejects his older comrade’s “intelligence” and goes out with Gaelio to gather his own.

There’s a lot of housekeeping this week, as we learn Orga gained Akihito and his group of “Human Debris” (i.e. former property of Maruba) to his side with the promise to free and protect them, as they wouldn’t be able to secure jobs elsewhere. In a strong symbolic gesture, the big CGS sign is painted over by one of the youngest grunts. Out with the old, and all that.

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Finally, this episode makes a slight detour to the Biscuit’s family farm, run by a stern, no-nonsense Granny Sakura who, like Yukinojo and Crank, are the old people trying to foster amity with the young rather than oppose and oppress them. Mika brings Aina here for the same reason he comes: working the land helps clear the head.

That also means, of course, Aina and Atra cross paths again, and for now, Mika has his cake and eats it too, catching Aina when she tugs too hard at an ear of corn, while also heartening Atra by thanking her for the bracelet. At the same time, Mika uses this to show Aina that even this big biofuel corn farm only nets Biscuit’s family a meager return; not enough to survive. Her saving Tekkadan also saved that farm and family, so she should buck up and stop focusing only on the negative.

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Then, all of a sudden, there’s a clashing of plotlines with Fareed and Gaelio nearly running over Cookie and Cracker in their Humvee. Mika doesn’t hesitate to take throat of Gaelio, the first face he sees emerge, and start squeezing mercilessly. Fareed manages to cool everyone off, but I liked how when Fareed and Gaelio were alone, Gaelio was the easygoing one. Here, Gaelio is hostile where Fareed is amicable. He even retches when he sees Mika’s implants.

At the same time, Fareed is, if anything, more threatening than Gaelio, all courtesy, easy smiles and cordial words. There’s raw tension in him approaching Cookie, Cracker, and Atra…and offering them candy. He knows Mika is far more than a farmboy. And there’s the sense he doesn’t believe Biscuit any more than he believes Coral. Meanwhile, Aina has to hide in the corn with her aide. This won’t be the last they see of the gallant inspectors.

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As it happens, Fareed is already aware that CGS is now Tekkadan; a product of Orga and Biscuit playing everything after the mutiny strictly by-the-book, business-wise. When Mika returns to base, Orga shows him Tekkadan’s new insignia, again designed and painted by their youngest as a symbol of hope and strength. Orga looks on the sign with pride and an even greater desire to protect what they’ve won at all costs.

But the fact of the matter is, Tekkadan and its mission hang on a thread, and any one thing could blow it off into oblivion, be it further interference from the various units of Gjallarhorn (bet on it), making a deal with the devil in Nobliss, or underestimating Todo’s capacity for treachery. As Todo so aptly puts it in the episode’s final line: he’s about to show these young rapscallions “how terrifying adults can be.”

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

8 thoughts on “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 04”

  1. I’m really enjoying this show so far. At first glance, it seems like the best serious gundam show in a long time. My one weak link at this point is Todo. He’s SO obvious. It’s painful. He would have worked better actually being sneaky. At this point the fact that anyone trusts/utilizes him at all seems crazy, and it seems like it will be proven to BE crazy.

    I’m hoping they turn it on its head and Orga is actually prepared for his betrayal ahead of time. That would make more sense to me than just ignoring the very bad man in their midst.

    We also got more pieces to the puzzle that is Mika this episode. He really is very nice, but he’s also murderously crazy when he’s angry. That is weird and potentially explosive.

    1. Yeah Todo and Coral are both pretty dull, genero “freak out laugh so evil” anime tropes. They kinda screw with the emotional pacing too, as the rest of the ‘good’ characters seemed more clunky due to having to fit their scenes around the heavy handed stuff.

      I’m fine with the waiting though. It’s still solid early season set up.

  2. One interestingt thing that I noticed here is that, while Mika is well within the “cold aloof mecha pilot” mold, they actually show early on that he can in fact smile when happy or grateful. And not just the “barely there” smile, but a wide one. This makes his character narrative even more heartbreaking as it drills further that, given an entirely different setting, Mika could have been just an ordinary boy (perhaps a protagonist of Okada’s more down to Earth romances). This also makes his violent reactions (such as towards Gaello) all the more disturbing.

    As for Todo, I guess they are indeed going with weeding out the more obvious villains first and leaving the greyer ones. for the larger plot. Fareed is also shaping to be an interesting character.

    The whole Human Debris thing also feels like a much better take than Reco’s Kuntalas on the whole human as commodity concept.

  3. One thing that stuck to me is how this episode echos the “Mika is full of contradictions” line by Orga last week.

    1. Not only that, but underscored the fact Mika really isn’t a protagonist with “nothing to lose.” He has plenty to lose.

      Even the possibility of losing the twins throws him into a dead-eyed rage.

      If they’d actually been hit and killed (and Fareed wasn’t there to deescalate) there’d have been nothing to hold him back from a potentially self-destructing frenzy.

      If the conditions are just right, Mika can appear to be, or even actually be a normal, well-adjusted kid.

      Unfortunately for Mika, the coming trials carry with them the possibility of striping those conditions away; depriving him of people to protect and love (or be loved by), thus unleashing his dark side.

      We’ll see how dark the show chooses to go.

      1. Yeah, Mika is deeply fascinating because, unlike a lot of the early comparisons, he’s really not Inaho. He’s a deeply polarized individual. As opposed to being emotionless he actually is exceedingly emotional, he just sort of keeps all of his emotions, good and bad, bottled up a bit (not the healthiest response to stress).

        He’s kind to the point of being sympathetic and thoughtful of the people around him, but he carries murderous rage VERY close to the surface. It will be interesting to see how that violent dichotomy in his nature is explored. I hope they continue to focus on it as they have been. It makes him an interesting protagonist.

      2. @kalerylan
        To sum up, unlike Inaho, Mika isn’t simply there to be the cool teenage mecha pilot that does awesome stuff. Rather, he is a complex take on the child soldier character.

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