Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 07

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Space may be big, but the shipping lanes aren’t, and it was only a matter of time before Tekkadan got some attention. Only the first ship to confront them since their Gjallarhorn skirmish is the Hammerhead, commanded by Naze Turbine, who works for Teiwaz. They’re not stodgy and militaristic, but rather much more of a Bizarro Tekkadan, right down to the two groups’ eccentric young ace mecha pilots. It also reminds us that CGS were no angels back when they were working for Maruba. They did the jobs they were contracted to do.

I couldn’t really ask for a better adversary at this point: a group of people who under different circumstances I wouldn’t mind rooting for. Naze, like Orga, is a fundamentally pragmatic guy. With the info he currently has, Naze has no reason not to help the connected Maruba recoup his CGS losses. And while the Turbines have probably made lots of compromises to get to where they are, the point is they’re surviving and thriving. They’re a glimpse of a successful, stable Tekkadan no one is hunting.

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Except the Turbines have been charged with hunting Tekkadan. Biscuit thinks their wiggle room, but Orga has to consider all the angles, like losing face or breaking their promise to Aina and Nobliss. So negotiations break down, Turbine’s ace paints her nails and then licks her chops (the Tekkadan’s Isaribi looks kinda like a mecha-shrimp), and Atra battens down the curry and rounds up the potatoes in Zero-G.

In this battle, Orga sends Mika and Akihito out in the Barbatos and Graze, gives Eugene the bridge, then sends Shino down to the hangar. Now, I don’t know Shino so well, so I figured his time was going to be up., but the show turned out to be far cleverer than that. There were also no more strange shots of Fumitan; perhaps that’s just her natural expression to glare at people.

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Atra and Aina, who aren’t so great at the combat, make a connection during the chaos of battle, as Atra helps Aina get her spacesuit on properly and keep her company. Out in space, meanwhile, IBO finally introduces us to some female pilots in Amida and Lafter, who aren’t just among the Turbines’ pilots; they’re the best, and don’t let anyone forget it.

After six weeks of Atra and Aina not having that much to do (and filling into “traditional” roles of cook, teacher, and emotional support), I can’t underscore enough how glad I am the show now has women in powerful warrior roles. And Atra and Aina aren’t in their roles because they’re not men, but because they’re not soldiers; an important distinction.

Mika’s ancient Gundam is realistically having software bugs, and is absolutely no match for Lafter’s super-fast customized-to-the-hilt rig, which fits her like a glove. Mika has to give everything he’s got not to be overwhelmed, while not forgetting he has to protect the Isaribi from the Hammerhead. Akihito has similar problems with Amida and her wingman Azee, but holds his own by sheer will, determination, and courage in the fact of unfair odds.

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Throughout the battle, Naze and Amida keep on ongoing narrative of the Turbines being the adults who must do their duty and teach the Tekkadan rapscallions a lesson. To that end, they feign being impressed when Tekkadan executes by-the-book tactics, and dismiss their reckless mecha combat as juvenile and undisciplined. Basically, while they’re not nearly as incompetent as any Gjallarhorn officer not called Fareed, Naze and the Turbines are still underestimating these kids. Obviously, that’s a running theme.

In fact, Orga, Biscuit, and Eugene use those by-the-book tactics in order to lull the Turbines into a false sense of strategic superiority. When the Isaribi fires missiles, the Hammerhead shoots them down, creating a smokescreen. But the Isaribi doesn’t escape; the screen is used to surprise the Hammerhead when Eugene plots a near collision course, stealthily dropping an Orga-led boarding party that cripples the Turbines from the inside.

To his credit, Naze doesn’t fume or pull his hair out when he realizes he’s been outmaneuvered. Instead, like Fareed, he seems glad to have a worthy opponent to face off against. Tekkadan exceeded his expectations, and he can’t help but smile about it.

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Out in the void, things get more and more intense, and if your adrenaline wasn’t pumping for that Isaribi maneuver through the smoke, Mika and Akihito’s increasingly brutal, metal-crunching duels do the trick. Mika manages to cast a line out and tether himself to Lafter’s mecha, and she tries to use the fact his old bucket lacks inertial dampers to let the g’s take care of him for her. But Mika not only endures, and lets her slam him into an asteroid: he uses his spear to anchor himself and pull her back to him.

Similarly, Akihito, who Amida says with semi-sarcastic respect fights like he has “muscle for brains” doesn’t give up, despite his mechanical shortfalls and the fact the enemy has numbers on him. He keeps fighting because he told Mika he’d take care of it, so he will. Even so, while Mika got the upper hand on Lafter and is poised to finish her, Amida seems ready to close her jaws on Akihito…

…Then Orga and Naze suddenly order a cease-fire to their respective fighters. Just like that, the battle is over, and for once, it’s the stopping of a battle I wanted to stop. I didn’t want Lafter or Akihito to buy the farm so soon, and I didn’t want Tekkadan and the Turbines stacking up blood-grudges that would prevent future cooperation.

I look forward to seeing not only how Orga, Biscuit and/or Aina deal with Naze and Amida now that the guns have been lowered and cooler heads have prevailed, but hope Mika gets to interact with his counterpart Lafter, who seems to share his love of the uncomplicated. They already had their first dance, after all.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

15 thoughts on “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 07”

    1. Actually they both did the announcement. Orga called out to Mika (it’s implied Akihiro as well) to cease fighting, and Naze called his own fighters back.

      1. Thanks–My wording in the review has been revised to reflect that. Sorry, it was a little confusing who was speaking to whom over the radio transmission. The point is, the battle was ended by both parties before anyone was killed.

  1. That battle was epic, like this was something they could have easily lose had they not been that determined.

    Naze was always going to be an important character – seeing he appears in the opening. I had been waiting for him to show up for a while and I was not disappointed. His group seems really interesting, and I hope he came become a bit of a mentor for Orga since he seems really business savvy.

    I am still a bit annoyed with Atra and Aina hanging out where they don’t belong – but well at least Aina doesn’t flinch. In another life, maybe she would actual make a good ship captain!

    Maruba is such an annoying character – I hope he gets what he deserves sooner rather than later.

    1. Yeah, that fight was amazing. I can barely remember the last time a mecha fight was so nail-biting. I was honestly curious the whole time if people would die or one of the machines would be crippled or something. Instead we just got an epic bone crunching fight to the finish.

      I like the turbines and do hope they stay around. The ongoing lack of a war in this show continues to open up chances for interesting developments like having supporting characters in different companies (like the turbines).

      The Atra and Aina thing is a bit weird but I’d say a couple of things. Tekkadan is not military, they’re basically a civilian contractor so it makes sense that the rules would be fast and loose, and as for Aina particularly, I think one of the major through lines of the series is going to/already seems to be her development from naive but idealistic heiress into a more aware, wise politician and leader.

      I assume what happens to Maruba is central to the deal. Naze did not seem impressed when he revealed how he used the kids.

      1. It is good to see the space battle stayed low-tech. Its excellence was fueled not by Itano Circuses, but impeccable direction, a terrific score, and our concern for the combatants involved.

        I second (third?) your and flamerounin’s thoughts on Aina/Atra, and welcome Tekkadan’s more laissez-faire attitude toward protocol allowing them to be on the bridge. That and their interaction (which is far more nuanced than a puerile battle for Mika’s affections) is part and parcel of the refreshingly naturalistic, no-nonsense the portrayal of most characters on IBO, including the Turbines.

        We’re drawn into Lafter’s life as she paints her nails in her cockpit during downtime, and an emotional connection is made. Later, when she’s locked in fierce combat with Mika, I was invested in both their fates, dreading the possibility of Mika going into Dead-Eyed Kill Mode. No mean feat consider we just met her!

        IBO has also proven very canny about inviting viewers to envision how events will unfold based on Gundam conventions, then either deferring or outright subverting those expectations. The fact no one was killed or seriously injured in this battle doesn’t at all lessen the punch it packed.

    2. it’s necessary for both Aina and to an extent Atra to be exposed as much as possible to the realities of their situation in order to develop their characters and decision making, it’s not like they’re fighting so observing from the bridge seems the best and most harmless route for them to be involved

    3. Actually Atra belongs there a little more than Kudelia, she’s actually part of the crew, where as Kudelia is the client. If it wasn’t part of her character development and her goals of trying to help the Martian people, she really has no business being on bridge. Atra cares a lot for Mika, so I’m glad that she worries over him. Neither she, nor Kudelia are leadership material (at least captain wise) but they do what they can to support the others. Atra gives them support and food to keep everyone going, and now Kudelia is helping teach them how to read and write.

      1. Umm, Atra is the cook. If this were a military vessel, I’m pretty sure the ship’s cook would have no business being on the bridge during a battle. Kudelia has more right to be there simply by virtue of being outside the chain of command and being the one who is paying them (indirectly).

        It’s similar to being a government official on a military vessel (as opposed to a client on a mercenary vessel). They have a tendency to get in the way but there’s only so much the captain and crew of the ship can do because that person is ‘technically’ above them, or at least outside their authority.

        But really, I think the key is simply that these people aren’t professional military, so the rules don’t always get followed.

  2. Aaaand we finally reached the halfway point of this season. And I got to say, IBO is definitely turning out to be one of the best shows this fall. Hope it continues along this route.

    I really like this bit of brewing tension between Orga and Biscuit. And the later serves as a nice counterpoint for Mika in that he isn’t the all out “Yes sir!”guy to the former. Orga’s decisions here is certainly reckless, but it does makes sense, since they do need to show that their are on equal footing with the Turbines, which Ricardo Fellini, er, Naze seems to be expecting all along.

    Another thing that I like here so far is that. while these are just skirmishes (since you used that word) they are in no way the same as Reco’s skirmishes in that IBO treats as serious battles that have dangers every second. And these skirmishes aren’t random as far as narrative is concerned, as they move the plot quite well.

    Definitely looking forward to the next ep. And those bits of Lafter, Aina, and Atra fanservice are actually quite amusing.

    1. I too liked the dynamic between Orga and Biscuit. Orga has two things that outline his decisions. He is fully invested in Tekkadan a making it a home for his men. His men have been and always will be his first priority. Along with that, he holds Mika’s (his brother is everything but blood) opinion and decisions even higher than his own. Mika doesn’t care to contribute much, but when he does, Orga listens and largely bases his decisions on what Mika has to say. Mika and Orga think on the same wavelength and while Orga is more vocal in his desires for Tekkaden, Mika wants these same things as well. So it works out between the two of them.

      Biscuit is just beginning to realize the relationship between Orga and Mika, and so he works as best he can with that. Biscuit unlike the other orphans, does have a family that he’s trying to support and get home to, so he tends to play it safe and go for the more cautious path. He would rather negotiate than fight. And his plan did make sense to try to get the Turbines to help them out. However, the deal that the Naze was offering would have put the orphans in the same position they were when they started: with nothing and owned by someone else.

      Above all Orga didn’t want that, but he also knew that to cross Teiwez would not be smart AND he wasn’t quite sure if they could take on Turbine considering they just went out into battle and they don’t have that much to defend themselves. However, the moment Mika said something, that decided everything and negotiations were over. Even Biscuit knew it, and he tried to comment right after Mika spoke, but Orga’s mind was made up. If Mika didn’t want them to split up and take the deal, then they wouldn’t, they would fight back. And it ended up being the right choice since, Turbine wasn’t taking them seriously and if they had given up and didn’t stand up for themselves, no one would ever take Tekkadan seriously again. All their sacrifices would be for naught. And after the battle began, Orga and Biscuit settled their differences and were on the same page again. Orga’s team of leaders thankfully aren’t yes men. Mika and Akihiro are men of few words, but they will give their opinion when needed (Akihiro a little less so since he’s still used to being Human Debris and his opinion therefore not counting for much), Shino usually goes along with the crowd, but he generally will say what he thinks is best for everyone. Eugene and Biscuit will make their opinions known, though Eugene’s has to be taken with a grain of salt.

      1. 1. I agree that Orga’s ‘command staff’ is really coming into its own as characters. They’re not yes-men, they have their own opinions, yet they are loyal to each other. I hope this continues. I will be disappoint if any of this boils over into full-on betrayal or mutiny as some have suggested because I think that will severely undercut the good work being done here in showing a complex command staff doing its job by disagreements lead to irreconcilable differences.

        2. Your point about Biscuit is interesting. As far as we’ve been shown, he’s the only member of Tekkadan for whom the company is not everything he has. It’s simply a paycheck to provide for his family. For everyone else, it IS their family. That changes everything. The Turbine’s deal would look good to Biscuit because for him, it’s a safer way to continue getting his paycheck and keep his home safe. For the others, Tekkadan is their home so the deal would mean losing that or at least breaking them up.

        If the writers did intend that to be his logic, I hope they keep it going since it does make him a fascinating dissenting voice with very logical reasons for his dissent. It’s not that he’s a coward or whatever, he simply has different priorities.

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