Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 13

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While this is officially the last episode of the Fall 2015 season, Gundam IBO’s second half will continue without a long hiatus. Despite that, this really felt like the turning of a page, full as it was with both endings and beginnings. One first: Shino’s Tekkadan commandos getting attacked by the Brewers’ Human Debris kids when they turn their backs, forcing them to fire back.

It speaks to the fierce reality and lack of shortcuts in this show that the kids aren’t simply happy their saviors have arrived. They know what will happen if they don’t do their jobs as proscribed by their Brewer masters. While that goes on, Akihiro leaves his cockpit to say goodbye to his brother on better terms than I’d expected, with Masahiro “going ahead” of his brother to see if what he heard about souls being reborn is true.

Finally, as Mikazuki methodically takes down Kudal in his Gusion, a strange feeling comes over him as he masters his sword. From the way he’s fighting, Kudal thinks Mika is someone who enjoys taking human life. Mika isn’t sure, but it’s clear he’s comfortable in such a hazardous situation, and Kudal ultimately didn’t even pose much of a challenge to him.

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Speaking of challenges, you can almost see McGillis Fareed gritting his teeth at the umpteenth evening gala full of an equal measure of snobs, gossips, and syncophants who don’t even bother keeping their voice down about either his dubious parentage or the youth of his betrothed Almiria. When Ally comes out, repslendent in her party dress, the first thing her eyes wander to after McGillis are the fully developed bodies of the ladies surrounding him, wanting to dance (and probably more, as Gaelio suspects).

McGillis knows he could take any and all of those women if he wanted, but he doesn’t want to. Instead, he goes to his future bride, still a child but desperately wanting to dance cheek-to-cheek, and takes her into his arms. She’s embarrassed and worried people will laugh if they’re seen, but McGillis doesn’t care, and he doesn’t want her to care either.

She’s the finest lady there, as far as he’s concerned, and her happiness is far more important than the idle chatter of people with nothing better to do. This adorable gesture didn’t feel like another calculated move by McGillis, but a genuine act of kindness and love. He and Alimiria will make this work, together.

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Speaking of kindness, the Brewer kids have never known it, so they’re on edge after being rounded up by Tekkadan, like caged feral animals. However, Orga’s charisma and decency shines through in his informal chat with them about how they’ll be taken care of from now on, and not in a sinister way.

Masahiro may not have survived the battle, but it’s good to see the other kids being integrated into Tekkadan. I’m sure some will integrate better than others, but they’ll also be able to do what they want and realize their own unique potential, with no more beatings.

Shino was much closer to Mika to the comrades that were killed, both physically and emotionally, so it makes sense to see Shino breaking down before Mika and the corpses of those comrades. But when Shino he says he wishes he’d died too, Mika reproaches him. To wish for death disrespects those who died so others could live, even if that’s not the only reason.

Regardless, everybody is down in the aftermath of this battle, moreso than any previous one, so after all the business is complete, Merribit suggests they hold a funeral for the dead. Orga is particularly dubious of the concept, but once the benefits both to the dead and the living who survived are laid out, he agrees.

The subtle dance of Orga and Merribit continues, as she catches him calling her “old lady”, and shoots right back by calling him a “child”; both being more playful than nasty about it.

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Everyone deals with grief in different ways, but even for those who are able to keep it all bunched in are struggling, so the funeral really does the trick in terms of being a release valve for the crews’ collective pain; the space fireworks were a particularly nice touch. And because most of this crew are still children, sometimes simply being held by a mother figure is required, something even the usually-stiff Fumitan (who is hiding things other than pain deep within her) is able to do for one of the younger orphans.

Finally, after the funeral, at the meeting where the plan to continue on to the Colony is agreed upon, Naze and Amida seem to put a punctuation mark on the whole Brewers/Shoals affair by starting to make out, startling and embarrassing the young men present, Orga included. Naze says it’s simple: years with high death rates have high birth rates. After seeing lots of death, men look at the women next to them, who are suddenly “even prettier than normal,” and can’t help but kiss them.

Whether he’s 100% correct on the brain chemistry, it’s true that after battle men tend to reflexively seek out the opposite sex, be it a matronly embrace to feel safe within, or the lips of a woman you want to make babies with. Such a phenomenon is perhaps best immortalized in that famous photo of V-J Day in Times Square, a spontaneous reaction casued by the sudden release of so much tension and despair the war caused, and unreasonably high levels of jubilation over its ending.

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Mika seems to take that to heart when he encounters Kudelia, who, having seen how effective Fumitan managed to calm the younger kid, hugs Mika when she sees his hands shaking. Mika, suddenly seeing the beautiful woman in front of him for the first time, takes some liberties and kisses her. Some bad graphics editing unfortunately obscures this kiss with end credits, but the music editing was perfect, as the soulful refrain “or-or-phans” is belted out in the moment of that kiss.

I must say, I knew Mika withheld multitudes of emotions behind his calm exterior, but I was just as suprised as Kudelia by that kiss. At the same time, the kiss made perfect sense, and I hope it leads to a deepening of their relationship, which has had some nice moments but had remained pretty distant until now.

The show doesn’t forget about Atra, who sneezes alone in the kitchen while this is going on. There’s also an interesting parallel between Mika and McGillis: both didn’t do what was expected, but simply what they wanted and what they felt was the right thing to do.

The show also doesn’t forget about Nobliss, who seems to be planning for Kudelia’s death at the Colony in the show’s second half – and continues to portray Fumitan as someone who has a role those plans, yet looks conflicted as she admires the necklace Kudelia gave her.

Hopefully things won’t Nobliss’ way. But whatever happens, this show is sure to continue to surprise and delight in its second half. It’s already the finest Gundam I’ve laid eyes on. If it were the opposite sex, I might just be inclined kiss it…or at least cut a rug with it.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

11 thoughts on “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 13”

  1. A tragic start to the episode, but it was able to bring closure as the episode went along.

    That scene with the human debris kids in the very beginning really shows the horrifying truth of war and how, there was so much unnecessary death simply because of a few greedy individuals.

    I’m glad that Masahiro and Akihiro had a proper goodbye and it allowed them to really bring closure there and for Akihiro to have be able to heal from this rather than to be shattered by it. However, I did like his promise to go to the afterlife first and check out for things before his brother got there. And that last scene of them grabbing each others hands, was bittersweet, but heartfelt. And Akhihiro is going to take the Gusion now in order to be closer to his brother’s memory.

    I am SO glad that some of the human debris kids survived and Orga gave them a home with Tekkadan. He knows how to talk to them and get to what’s important to them. He tells them that they can have food, safety, and shelter and gives them the first praise they have probably heard in a very long time. It’s a very sweet moment and once again shows how Orga knows what do with each branch of his men. Also, that scene with him and the Orc captain was awesome. He literally had the man squealing like a pig. He took his ship, all the mobile suits, and what was left of the kid slaves. He’d have probably done even more if he hadn’t had the death of all his men on his heart at the moment.

    I’m interested in why funerals seem to have become a thing of the past? I guess with all the poverty and war, it just became too much to have an actual ceremony. I liked Orga and Merribit’s tete-a-tete, though I think she went a little far in suggesting that Orga doesn’t feel the death of his comrades. I do find it interesting that he says the same thing that Mika said back in episode 2, about living in spite of the death. I wonder if that comes from something that happened in their collective pasts. The funeral itself was a short and somber affair, and it’s interesting to see that all of the kids internalize their pain.

    And this is seen nowhere as much as with Mika. Mika seems very cold throughout this episode, especially in that line in the beginning right before killing Kudal. He seems almost psychotic at that point. Kudal’s line about him enjoying killing would have shaken many a Gundam protag, but Mika thinks about it and is basically like, “whatever”.

    It isn’t until later when the energy had worn off that he’s a lot more shaken by the statement, though you’d never know it from looking at his face. This is quite interesting for his character, since he’s never been affected by his decision to kill before. I don’t think he enjoys killing at all, he’s often on automatic when he fights. For him, it seems to be more about survival. But it still shakes him, that as well as his own comrades deaths, he stores that all up inside him and doesn’t let it show much.

    However, Kudelia notices it and tries to give him comfort to which Mika responds with the now infamous kiss. I like how she’s hot and bothered by it, but he’s completely calm right after and continues to eat. I honestly think that he did it simply because of exactly as he said, she was cute at the time and he was thankful for what she was trying to do. Also, considering his reaction and how it came right after Naze’s “advice” I don’t think it’s because Mika’s romantically interested in her, but more so because of the moment itself, but I’m sure there will be plenty of speculation going around.

    On the Gjallerhorn side of things, we see McGillis at his engagement party and we learn a few things about him, such as the fact that he’s the bastard son of his father’s mistress and was adopted into the family, but it looks like he’s mostly being used as a tool to further the family’s strength among the Seven Stars. Almiria is still a kid, and she probably knows she’s just a pawn in her family’s politics. I don’t really approve of the Almiria and McGillis pairing, but you can see that it’s all political and both of them are playing parts to advance their families and neither really has a choice. In fact it seems more big brother/little sister that really remotely romantic. McGillis, like any good Char clone, is a gentleman. Even in a situation that he can’t control, he will make any little girl feel like a respected lady.

  2. Sorry have to type some mumble jumble fan girl thoughts (my brain is mush and can’t handle this new development. ARGU!) first before I make a more meaningful post:

    That came out of no where – holy crap. O_O OMGOMGOMGOMG the kiss!!!! He kissed her. Hen initiated it! He likes her?! I mean I thought maybe he likes her as a friend but there was never indication of something further in my mind. Mika wasn’t entirely clear, per se. I wasn’t even sure he was aware of females charms – they even said in episode 1 that “Mika isn’t like that” when everyone else talked about how awesome it would be to interact with a cute girl. He knows of girls and their existence but he never made any moves or said anything that made me think: hot blooded male wanting to hit on girls!! And now he goes and kiss Kudelia suddenly????!

    Atra was always clear with her intentions but Kudelia had always been more subtle. She worries, she is touched when Mika is being nice, she thinks Mika is cool, she gets a bit flustered but I think she didn’t think of Mika romantically (or at least she wasn’t aware and hasn’t admitted it to herself) – I don’t think she had any intentions of kissing him proactively any time soon.

    I mean I was hoping, maybe, they would become a proper couple eventually – but this propelled thing forward way faster than I thought it would.

    1. That “Mika isn’t like that” remark could be quickly becoming obsolete, as Mika’s growth both in the cockpit of the Gundam and with his emotions continues to progress. That remark was for a Mika who didn’t have the emotional tools to care one way or another about the opposite sex, because aside from Atra, he’s hardly ever had to deal with any.

      But that’s gradually changing, and now there are women all over the place at a very crucial point in his adolescence. One way or another, I think Kudelia will the key to unlocking Mika’s multitudes (if someone’s going to do it, it’s her) even as she herself learns what it means to be, well, Kudelia Aina Bernstein: Martian Resistance Leader and Beautiful Woman.

      1. I’m not so sure that we’re actually going to see as much development with Mika as you think there will be. I was talking about this with others, and we were comparing the main males and females and how it’s Orga and Kudelia who have more dynamic development, while Atra and Mika seem to already be more or less set in who they will be as people. In fact, it’s for those reasons that Atra and Mika sort of guide Kudelia, like how Naze and Merribit guide Orga to developing themselves, but not so much vice-versa.

        So far, despite what we as the audience may think, Mika really knows all he wants to know about himself. He’s really the one that’s pushing forward others to know more about themselves. He’s happy being Orga’s second, his weapon, and being the guardian of Tekkadan. He’s not really going to grow that much, because I’m sorry to say guys, but he really doesn’t need to. While we might project onto him all the characteristics we think he should have. Perhaps it will never be in his character to have those qualities. He’s happy in his co-dependence on Orga, he has dreams of his own that desires. He does make his own choices, and while he can be cold-blooded, that’s needed in this world and in the job he has right now. It’s a part of his character. And honestly, to me, if he were to change into what most of us know as a “normal” Gundam MC, I actually would probably like him less, since he would seem more generic.

        Now, we are seeing some interesting changes in him this episode, but I’m wondering how long it will really last and if it will be glanced over. I’m pretty sure that Mika doesn’t actually enjoy killing others, but that Kudal’s line bothered him. However, I don’t think that it will be Kudelia that will help him see that Kudal was wrong, but rather Orga. It’s he and Orga’s bromance that has been front and center the entire series, and it’s Orga that knows him best and knows how to deal with how he’s feeling. We’re due for another one of their starlight talks, and I think that will help to stabilize Mika again and he’ll be back to his old self.

        As for Mika and Kudelia, considering their very different career goals and desires, and the fact that this was mid-season kiss rather than one at or near the end, I’m pretty sure that it’s more than likely not going to result in a relationship, at least beyond the one they already have. We’ll have to see though, but Mika’s always been more of a guide for Kudelia and not the other way around. She does give comfort, but I can’t see as the one that will help him with his inner thoughts in regards to how he kills others.

      2. You’re getting a LITTLE adamant about something that we have no clue about and the only real evidence we have points the other direction.

        Not that that means you’re wrong, but you should be more open to the possibility/not shutting everyone else’s opinions down given that you’re flat out arguing in favor of a red herring.

        And I would argue that Mika has already developed a fair amount. Again, people really over-sell his stoic nature. He’s not nearly as poorly adjusted as people say. He trains, he learns, he’s friendly, and now he’s kissed a girl of his own volition. He’s not a robot.

        Your Orga points are neither here nor there. Orga is certainly important to the show, and basically the deuteragonist, but that doesn’t actually make other people not important. And I’m not sure anyone is going to teach Mika that he doesn’t actually like killing. For one, I think he might like killing/fighting and for two, he’s shown that he’s capable of self-reflection, so he doesn’t necessarily need a guide.

  3. Good episode.

    -Cool that Tekkadan has two gundams now, and that having two gundams in this show doesn’t mean they look at all similar.

    -The sexual politics of this show continue to be somewhat strange, and if it wasn’t already obvious, this episode made very clear that sexual politics are most definitely one of the themes of the show, intertwined with the larger theme of growing up. Whatever Naze’s thoughts on relationships are, randomly making out in the middle of a meeting is bad form. Also, I continue to think the harem itself is a silly, edgy waste of time, because once again the only interaction/romantic behavior we’ve gotten from Naze is in regards to Amida, so WHY exactly isn’t he just married to her again? What has the harem added to anything?

    -Like IreneSharda, I’m not sure Mika kissed Kudelia because he has romantic feelings, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s because he doesn’t either. I think the key to Mika’s development, especially in this episode, is that he doesn’t know his own feelings about much of anything for whatever reason. So he’s not sure whether he likes battle/killing, and he probably has no clearer emotions regarding romance. He thought she was attractive so he kissed her. That’s romance for most normal people, but for Mika who doesn’t seem to think about anything beyond the moment, it likely won’t go somewhere for a while.

    That said, I do think it will be an ongoing theme (given that it’s been teased throughout the series) and I think Atra is probably friend-zoned unless the show really does decide to become a full-on endorsement of polygamy.

    -I really like that they didn’t go the obvious route with Akihiro and instead of having him broken, had this make him even stronger (he even got a Gundam).

    1. “He thought she was attractive so he kissed her.” Pretty much.

      Because he is still a kid, he’s also a sponge. He’s impressionable. He did it because “it’s what’s done” according to Naze, and because in that moment, he wanted to try it.

      At the same time, the also still-young Kudelia approached him because she witnessed firsthand the power of a simple hug.

      The younger Atra is similarly impressionable in that Naze and Amida’s way of love seems not only feasible but appealing to her, but she’s way more of a proponent of sharing Mika than Kudelia.

      But yeah, as far as Mika/Kudelia, I agree we’ll just have to see if this is more than just that moment, because one thing that’s clear about Mika is that he’s not sure about his emotions.

      “Whatever reason” is likely his need since an early age to repress/deny his emotions in order to do what he needed to do to survive – perhaps more than anyone else in Tekkadan.

      1. I agree with pretty much all of this, but just a comment.

        One of the fascinating things about Mika is that he’s not really a stoic, he’s reactionary. So while I do think his rather strange emotional reactions are a response to his past, it doesn’t seem to have caused him to ‘deny’ his emotions so much as to not really allow his emotions to have any constancy.

        As has been said before, he’s not Inaho (of Aldnoah Zero). He’s been (somewhat) angry, he’s been kind for no reason but to be kind, he’s had friendly rivalries, he’s rebuked people on a purely emotional level (shino), he’s put effort into bettering himself, both in reading and piloting. In function, he’s actually been a really nice guy and you can see why everyone likes him/relies on him. And now he’s even been romantic. He’s not a lump.

        The weird thing is that none of his reactions ever seem to stick or to change his basic behavior. To be dramatic about it, his emotions are like ripples on a pond. They just seem to come and go. Everything is simply a reaction to the current circumstances.

        One plotline I could see coming from this is that what Mika truly fears is the future/lack of a place to belong (Orga’s big goal). Maybe a part of why Orga is so bent on building a home for them is that if they finally have a place, Mika won’t have to fear the future so much and he can actually let some of his feelings sink in more than skin-deep.

    2. I’m really glad that Akihiro wasn’t as shattered as we feared, and I think a lot of that was probably because of his chance to have a real last goodbye with his brother, and the funeral as well.

      Also, I’m hoping that maybe he’ll take the the Brewer kids under his wing as well.

      As for Atra, I wouldn’t count her out just yet. I really don’t see Kudelia and Mika’s future paths continuing to go in the same direction. She has a career in politics that she’s going to have to deal with when this whole escort journey is over. Mika’s place is with Tekkadan and one day to probably have his farm either within the company or near it. I can see Atra traveling that path with him, a lot more than Kudelia.

      1. No offense, but I think you MIGHT have some shipper goggles going on here.

        Anime is not life. Romance is not decided by career goals and logic. It’s decided by plot and drama, and up to now Atra has been exceedingly unimportant. I’m not gonna say he’s going to end with Kudelia, or with anyone for that matter (Gundam doesn’t exactly have a strong track record for romance to begin with), but there has certainly been more plot development between Mika and Kudelia, starting with episode 1, than there has ever been with Atra, something Atra is aware of and has been unsuccessfully fighting the whole show.

        Even if Mika and Kudelia go their separate ways (a la Setsuna and that princess from 00), the heroine is Kudelia and the main male/female story will be about Mika and Kudelia, even if the end result is that they do different things. Again, possibly like Gundam 00.

      2. I don’t think the kiss necessarily mean Mika and Kudelia will be together, but I feel like at least now there’s genuine proof that’s something the writers want to explore. Even if their carriers are different, Mars will always be both of their homes – so it may work out. In any case, who knows what the future will be like, for all we know Tekkadan may dissolve in the future if Marians become free.

        I am not counting Atra out per se, she will have her moments, I am sure. I am just emotionally distancing myself from her since I still think there’s a very high chance Atra will die at some point before the series is over (as in, in the next 13 episodes) for the sake of the story.

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