Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 38

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This episode teases us a bit by jumping from the beginning of Mika’s battle with Hashmal to “One Month Later”, but thankfully Orga’s talk with McMurdo is a vehicle for rehashing that battle, which is one of the more vicious ones we’ve seen.

For perhaps the first time, an opponent is able to keep up with Mika, push him back, and do a ridiculous amount of damage, such that Mika truly has to pull out all the stops (and borrow Isurugi’s ludicrously huge sword) to get the job done. And he does: it’s immensely satisfying to hear the smash of Hashmal finally hitting the ground, out for the count.

McMurdo, like Naze before, gives Orga a polite — for now — warning not to let his interests clash with Teiwaz’s, because his life won’t be the only one to be forfeit. With each battle, it becomes more and more impossible for Orga to deviate from his forward path to dominion over Mars, as more and more alternate avenues close around him and Tekkadan.

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In another satisfying scene, Master Rustal all but drops his alliance with an increasingly chaotic Iok Kujan, and in doing so, gains a lot more respect from me. Rustal wants to rid himself of McGillis, but he’s not going to operate, or continue to allow someone like Iok, to work outside of the established ideals of Gjallarhorn; i.e. to protect order.

This is why Rustal gives Iok the cold shoulder at the meeting of the Seven Stars, congratulates Fareed for his hard-won victory, and bides his time. Like Iok, Julieta wants to act and act fast, but she’s at least able to take dierection from Rustal better.

What he wants from her isn’t mere brute strength like Mikazuki Augus; he wants something more; perhaps something that will endure longer than a bright-yet-brief flame. Julie is willing to try to find out what that is.

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As for Mika, he continues to sacrifice pieces of himself, almost exclusively for Orga’s sake. One could argue Orga has the power to stop him, but he simply can’t say the words, perhaps for fear it would undermine their relationship and Mika’s faith in him; perhaps simply because he knows Tekkadan would likely have fallen many times by now were it not for Mika’s singular contributions.

But Mika’s whole left side is paralyzed now. He needs (a very willing) Hush to carry him around, and is constantly asking if Barbatos is repaired so he can get back into the cockpit and be able to “move” again. In exchange for its Calamity War-ending power, Barbatos is exacting a heavy cost upon Mika by making it increasingly difficult for him to function without it.

There isn’t even any discussion about whether such effects can be reversed, so it certainly isn’t looking good for Mika long-term. This upsets Kudelia and Atra alike, who are also worried that all the gains Tekkadan has made hasn’t really changed Mika at all; he still sees himself as a blade; Orga’s blade, and only lives to serve him in any way he can, until his body and mind and soul are utterly spent.

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This compels Atra, likely too bashful to consider herself for the job, to beg Kudelia to have a baby with Mika, so that, if the worst happens and Mika doesn’t come back one day, they’ll still have a part of him to love and care for. It’s very in-character for Atra to propose such a thing, but I doubt it will go anywhere, since I don’t see Kudelia ever being able to propose such a thing to Mika, even if Mika could well simply say “ok, sure fine” about it.

But for now, Mika is focused on one thing: continuing to fight, kill, destroy, for Orga. For Tekkadan. For the Kingdom of Mars. He considers his current position “not that bad” as it “simplifies things.” Kudelia wants to create a world where he doesn’t have to fight. Now he can no longer move, let alone fight, without Barbatos, so as far as Mika’s concerned, there is no going back until Kudelia’s dream is attained. The only other outcome is death.

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Again, it makes sense for Mika to be so obsessed with Barbatos’ status; it is literally the machine that keeps him alive and able to be useful. When Orga visits him, thinking he’s asleep, he refuses to apologize for what happened, but Mika isn’t asleep; he hears him.

And he agrees: Mika chose to do what he did, and he can live with the consequences. He is also willing to keep going, and keep giving up pieces of himself for the cause. He won’t let Orga apologize, because there’s nothing to apologize for.

As McGillis considers Gaelio’s apparent return to the field of play, and Julieta aims to emulate Mika in her unswerving devotion as her master’s blade, Mika stays the course. With Orga, he believes he can go anywhere. In the final dozen episodes, we’ll see how far that is and how much more it will cost.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

4 thoughts on “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 38”

  1. Considering how the Barbatos vs. Hashmal battle was hyped, it was surprisingly short. I ain’t complaining, though, because, as always with IBO, what comes after it are a lot more interesting thatn the battle itself (and the battle itself was very engaging).

    This arguably is the most vicious battle we’ve seen in the series, and perhaps the Gundam franchise as of late. For most part of the franchise, the Gundams (and mobile suits for that matter) are nothing more than glorified weapons carriers, which means they are pretty much useless unarmed. Having the Barbatos go into barehanded combat drives home the point that the Gundam frames themselves are weapons.

    And with the whole premise of the Barbatos metaphorically turning into Mika’s own body now that he’s pretty much an invalid outside of it, it weaves horrifyingly into his mindset of being Orga’s weapon that will willingly get wrecked as long as the objective is accomplished. And this is definitely Orga’s biggest conflict.

    Atra asking Kudelia to bear Mika’s child also certainly does make sense. Not only because of her bashfulness, but also because she truly believes that Kudelia will become a better parent for the child in many aspects.

  2. Okay I have to add a comment this time.

    This is the first time we see a main character in Gundam pay such a heavy price so early in the series (we still have 1/4 of the show to go, so this IS early). Mika is already paralyzed on what side, so what’s next? And even if he doesn’t get worse (and we all know with 12 episodes to go, chances are it will), as long as his condition cannot be reversed, what exactly would be left for him even if there’s peace?

    Orga is being a really shitty friend right now. Sacrificing the one who loves and cares for him most for what, exactly? I really hope he stops Mika before Mika loses more, before it’s too late.

    1. The fact that Orga knows that he is being a shitty friend right now makes it even more heartbreaking. But what can he really do? Considering Mika\s mindset, he could potentially misconstrue Orga telling him to stop as the guy telling him that he is now useless. And that is a sad result of the unhealthy co-dependence they have for years.

    2. 1. Orga did tell Mika he shouldn’t go. Mika made it clear that it’s not Orga’s job to stop him, it’s Orga’s job to use him.

      2. This ties into one of the fascinating elements of IBO, which is that few if any of these people are healthy, ‘good’ individuals. They’re co-dependent, violent, mildly sociopathic, ambitious to a fault, and so on and so forth. The whole series hangs under a near-constant sense of dread where things can’t POSSIBLY turn out well for these people. It’s the constant question. Will ANY of these people survive this? Should they?

      I almost want a happy ending just to defy everything. Because the show hammers SO hard on the doom and gloom that a happy ending would be incredibly surprising. But I don’t expect it.

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