Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 36

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If anyone wanted confirmation Iok is a moron, this episode put all remaining doubts to rest. First, he wakes up the Mobile Armor. Second, he gets his butt kicked, his men killed, and barely escapes with his life. Third, he ruins everyone else’s plans with an ill-conceived counterattack motivated only by vengeance for his lost comrades.

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That last blunder proves most costly, as the Mobile Armor heads not into McGillis and Orga’s a carefully-planned ambush in a gorge, but towards the nearest agricultural complex. There simply isn’t enough time to evacuate the facility, and when Ride tries to protect it, the Armor’s beam bounces off his armor and hits the facility anyway, killing an untold number of innocent people. Things are officially out of control.

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Ride is saved by Mika, who manages to take out the swarming “Plumas” around him. Mika also stubbornly refers to the armor as a “bird”, not “angel”, as McGillis corrected him. To him, this is just another target to be eliminated, but as we don’t see him in a direct confrontation with it, and saw what happened to Iok’s elite suit, there’s a festering doubt that Mika can a.) defeat the armor and b.) do so without more collateral damage.

Chryse is the armor’s next target, and with McGillis and Isurugi are confronted by an opportunistic Mask-Gaelio, it will be mostly up to Tekkadan to stop their would-be throne from being torched by a relic from a bloody past. There’s no going back.

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Flip Flappers – 09

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The Gist: Yayaka’s fall has been building but, until now, we never had a clear sense of her relationship hooks to Cocona. This week paints them as having met long before school, in the hospital full of faceless men in lab coats. Yayaka is waiting for some painful tests, while Cocona is waiting for her own grandmother. The girls’ temporary escape is warm and their connection understandable amidst the subtly creepy setting.

Meanwhile, our 5 adventurers dive into a gigantic empty space. Cocona and the Twins spend a portion of it trapped in a room, while Yayaka tries to beat Papika to death. The twins treat Cocona almost like a big sister and since we know they are partially connected to Pure Illustion themselves, and that Cocona carries a fragment in her thigh, this does not at all bode well.

In the end, Cocona escapes of course. No matter what she says, she does care about Papika and wants to protect her. Likewise, Yayaka can not turn her back on Cocona and is brutally put down by the twins for stopping them from cutting open Cocona’s leg…

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The Verdict: This show is a master of the daylight and flowers vibe still oozing nervous dread. Dread in bright empty spaces too, where no immediate threat is obvious beyond the characters that know each other.

This week was not especially deep, nor were the various betrayals and reveals of backstory surprising. They were tender all the same and, yadda yadda extremely well animated, framed, and paced. Since the characters are enjoyable to watch, and the mystery remains… mysterious… I remain hooked!

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Flip Flappers – 08

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The Gist: this week, we dive the mad scientist of Team Salt. Unlike previous experiences, his mind world is very straight forward — he’s a tiny man who thinks he’s the king of his TRON’esq world. But something has invaded, and all the girls have to team up and use his combining mechs to take it down.

The style is wonderfully retro, wonderfully fluid in animation, and continues to creep Yayaka closer to being a part of Team Cocona. She even has to shout Flip Flap to help transform the mech!

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There’s always a bigger mech

The Verdict: If not for the top shelf visuals, you could be forgiven if you considered this a step below previous Flip Flappings. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but the story was rather straight forward and we didn’t learn much about the world. On the contrary, it raised more questions.

Why is Pure Illusion attacking one of its own entities? What impact did defeating the invaders have, if any, on the mad scientist? If nothing changed in him, and I’m hard pressed to identify a change, what was the point of showing us this set piece in the first place?

If the only point was to push Yayaka farther away from the Cult/Twins, so be it. Simple or not, there are few visual experiences worth this much to otherwise fill your time!

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Flip Flappers – 07

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The Gist: Cocona and Papika’s relationship hits another down note and they enter Pure Illusion semi-separately. Rather, Papika is there, but more of an aesthetic overlay for many different friend archetypes for Cocona to interact with.

All of them love her, in a way, from the had hitting tom boy, to the delinquent that convinces her to wear a classic sailor, to the cute boy, to the horned seductress that Cocona may very well have had sex with. However, at the end, these Papika figments leave as Yayaka and the Twins collect this particular illustion’s fragment and Cocona is plunged into darkness.

…Only to be saved by the real Papika and Bu-chan riding the concrete pipe like a submarine. Their friendship is saved, at least for the moment.

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The Verdict: While I am starting to find Cocona’s personality a little annoying — she’s a bit whiney and indecisive — it’s still easy to understand her perspective. It’s not like she has any idea what is going on and pretty much everything in her life is efing with her perception.

I absolutely loved the weirdness of all the Papika projections. That they say ‘no matter how much you change, I’ll still love you’ is extra special creepy, especially as they/it probably ‘died’ in the background when Yayaka showed up.

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I have to revise my previous review in that I am not sure each episode — each dive into illusion — relates to a specific character’s mind scape. This episode doesn’t fit that model because it would have to be Cocona diving her own mindscape or some distortion of Papika’s, and even then, none of the experiences lead either character to a different place by the end (unlike the senpai in the art room)

Figured it out or not, this was another lovely visual feast.

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