Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 05

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There’s a wonderful sense of anticipation and occasion on the eve of Tekkadan’s first space mission, as warm moments like Aina joining Mika on his night watch, or Atra enlisting as Tekkadan’s cook for the journey, are tinged with foreboding when Orga shakes hands with Orcus, a man we know he doesn’t trust as far as he can throw him.

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Traps and betrayals await Tekkadan in low orbit, with Todo cutting a deal with Orcus, who gets betrayed by Orcus, who cut a deal with Coral, who himself made a deal with Fareed in the apprehension of Kudelia. And at the end of the day, youth and smarts beat age and greed.  Todo’s treachery has been so blatantly telegraphed, it was all but inevitable his plan would be foiled by somebody; the fact Orga doesn’t have to lift a finger for it to happen is icing on the cake.

So Todo, and later Coral, aren’t just old villains, they’re bad, dumb villains that the show disposes of as soon as it can. In the villain vaccum comes Fareed, who like Mika on the other side is a different kind of animal. The beautifully-oiled gears are always spinning beneath his golden locks. Fareed doesn’t mug for the camera get bent out of shape; he twirls his hair, playing the long game.

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And as predictable as Todo’s failed betrayal was, the fact the show was very coy indeed about what if any countermeasures Orga had was nicely hidden beneath the more predictable surface. Orga doesn’t even tell most of his comrades what he has in store for Aina’s would-be apprehenders: Mika in the Gundam (wearing a flight suit too), and a game Akihito arriving right on time with Tekkadan’s ship.

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We’ve been waiting five weeks for IBO’s first space battle, and it doesn’t disappoint. Is there rampant, obvious CGI? Nope, just hand-drawn (or at least hand-drawn looking) mechas rockin’-sockin’ it could with maces, axes, swords, and bullets. And just when we thought Mika was good in atmospheric combat, we see he’s even better once he has the omnidirectionality of space in which to work.

The action is beautifully and tautly directed, and it’s easy to know what’s going on where at all times, without dumbing it down. There are also a good number of Gundam cockpit shots, and thankfully the pilots can speak to each other on the radio.

As his Gjallarhorn opponents get more and more pissed off, Mika just maintains his cool—but not cold—demeanor. He’s got a job to do, everyone’s depending on him, and he’s going to do it. His constant calm, and the power of those convictions, carry with them their own brand of ferocity.

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It’s fitting then, that Fareed, who really secured his position as most serious, interesting and complex antagonists in IBO, remains equally calm and collected this week. The lack of bluster or panic or desperation makes him all the more formidable a foe.

One of Fareed’s best lines of dialogue this week is a little cheesy and meta, but I still absolutely loved it: when the ship’s database confirms Tekkadan’s trump is a Gundam from the Calamity War, he points out how appropriate that is, since Gundams always seem to pop up and make significant contributions at key turning points throughout human history, and with a Martian independence movement gaining strength, this Barbatos has risen up once more to defend the underdog, in this case Kudelia.

What’s also so great is that his little speech didn’t just fire me, up, but it fired him up, to the point he heads out in his own upgraded Graze to join the fray. His opponent is a legend, and finally, a legitimate chance to test his mettle and prove his greatness.  Very good stuff.

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As Mika is dancing with the mobile suits, the Orcus and Gjallarhorn capital ships bear down on Tekkadan’s. They need a big maneuver to escape: enter a mining asteroid they tether to using some good old-fashioned, quick-and-dirty, NASA-style improvisation. Someone has to cut the tether loose at the right moment to send the ship flying safely away from the enemy.

It’s a suicidal mission, so Orga prepares to take it on, but in a nice bit of character development Eugene (for all intents and purposes his XO) volunteers in his stead, insiting the captain should just “sit around and look important.”

It’s a reminder that even though he’s pissed Orga kept the ship secret from him, he still has ample faith and respect in Orga’s command. It also reminds us Orga is still getting used to being the top dog; which sometimes requires delegating, or sending people out you know might not come back.

The thrilling tether swing-around works like a charm, even when the initial blast doesn’t cut the cord. On its way out of orbit on onwards to Earth, they don’t forget to pick up Mika, who destroyed Coral and got a good lick in on Gaelio. The whole time, Fareed was carefully analyzing Mika’s movement, and came away impressed.

Orga and Eugene also make peace, lessening considerably my previous worries Eugene would try to make a move against him. We’ve got a lot of Gundam left, so that could still happen down the road, but for now, they’re buds.

Oh, and yes, Mika’s fine. No adverse side-effects from all that space combat, either mental or physcial. Having both Aina and Atra aboard is a good move, not just for the triangle, but because they represent everything Mika has to lose if things go south.

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The final kiss-off from Tekkadan is shipping a beaten and marked Todo to Gjallarhorn in an escape pod. No more Todo blatantly undermining Tekkadan in the shadows. Fareed lost this round, but he didn’t come away empty-handed (and I’m not talking about Todo): he got to observe his enemy closely, and will be more prepared for him the inevitable next time.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

11 thoughts on “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 05”

  1. Solid bit of mech drama there. I still wish Todo and Coral were more dimensional characters but at least they were resolved quickly.

    My only criticisms this ep were that I didn’t actually understand who was piloting Tekkadan’s second mech and I was confused how Eugene actually got back to the ship. Not major gripes, just could’ve used some editing polish to make it clearer (more for Eugene somehow getting back to the ship than the other shot)

    1. The person manning the second Tekkadan’s mech was Akihiro who was one of the “human debris” that Orga convinced to stay. He’s also the one who was doing chin ups with Mika. Also, good pick up on how they picked up Eugene. Technically they ditched him with the enemies still around so they shouldn’t have been able to pick him up.

    2. There seems to be a “blink and you miss” scene where Eugene managed to latch onto the anchor as it was released after the explosion.

  2. Okay, so Atra joins the trip as Tekkadan’s cook. Yep, Okada’s patented romance subplot is about to begin. But this ep definitely is ramping up my engagement.

    I really like how they show how competent a leader Orga is not only through the awesome tactics he devise but also through how effectively he uses his crew. For one, his awesome strategies could not really work without Biscuit’s logistic skills. And both Eugene and Akihiro were given time to shine, fostering more camaraderie among the boys (which will surely make Eugene’s potential betrayal later even harsher).

    Another thing that I really like about this ep (and the series for the most part), is that, while there are obvious exposition on the tactics employed by the characters, they do not come off as if the writer herself is screaming at the audience “hey, look! I’m smart. Yeah, you know I am smart”. That’s honestly one of my biggest issues with Aldnoah Zero (since that show is being compared to this) with Inaho’s kilometric explanation of his strategies obviously directed to the audience.

    And speaking of that, so the moon was damaged during the calamity war, eh. Looks like IBO is taking a little swipe at A/Z.

    1. One thing I did find jarring is the fact they allowed Atra and Aina to just stand at the control room. That’s ultra dangerous especially since they don’t have a seat.

      Atra is waving a billion death flags – I really think she will die either mid series or end of series. It’s a plot device too easily used not just to push Mika but also to push Aina forward (I think they are trying to build a friendship between Aina and Atra). Let’s hope she makes excuses whenever they try to put her on a shuttle away from the main cast – cause the moment she gets on that it will be Kaboom and Mika goes crazy.

      1. Aina they told to go away, she didn’t, and she’s the boss, so only so much they can do. Atra I do find weirder.

        I know that making her the cook was just an excuse to keep her with the main cast, but I hope they do actually use it. She works for these people, she has to follow orders, and she IS just the cook. There’s a good chance though they’ll just ignore it as anything more than what it was; an excuse to keep her around.

      2. I too am worried that, while it makes sense for her to want to stay close to Mika (particularly with Aina hanging around him), the show has brought her along simply to be someone for Mika to lose (see: Flay Allster…and others). Thankfully the triangle subplot is just that so far: a SUBplot.

  3. Oh the first space battle without any beams for a long time – and on top of that we have spaceship to spaceship battle – which totally reminds me of the old school anime like LotGH. I really hope beam technology never get invented in this series – just bigger and better guns.

    Finally, we get to see Fareed in battle. Lovely to see he is so strategic. I like how he stood back and watched for a bit before deciding where to hit. I have great hopes for him yet, kind of wish he won’t be donning a mask, but most likely he will sometime in the future – it’s Gundam, afterall.

    It’s kind of cool that they building relationship between Aina and the crew naturally. An episode or 2 ago Aina was eating at her own table, but now she is sitting next to Mika for lunch. Small things like that make a difference.

    PS. I’ve never mentioned this but I think I like your review for Iron Blooded Orphan the best, braverade

    1. I agree completely on the beams. The fact that we’ve got cannons, rifles, maces, and battle axes gives the battles such a visceral, brutal quality. There’s nothing clean or pretty about these fights. No high speed flybys with parts falling cleanly apart before exploding an instant later. When Barbatos hits an enemy with that mace, they KNOW it.

      And the same with Tekkadan’s rusted, grungy spaceship. It feels much more real. It’s sort of like the difference between the star wars prequels and the original trilogy. Honestly, after seeing this, I’d like the laser wings and lightsabers to mostly stay the province of build fighters. Unless they can find a suitably unique way to bring them back

      This is such a breath of fresh air.

      1. Using the asteroid’s gravity to slingshot them to safety (without killing the suspense through overexplaination) was also a neat piece of “medium” (as opposed to hard) sci-fi tactics.

        If this show follows other Gundams and Gjallarhorn rolls out more and more advanced and powerful suits as the show progresses, we may well see an equivalent evolution in the weaponry, be it beams, bits, or ultrasonic blades.

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