Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 46

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Once Shino’s suit blows up, there’s not enough time for Mika to take over the task of destroying Rustal’s bridge (nor is he assured to succeed). Besides, Mika is still busy with a very pesky Julieta. When Shino dies, we see a switch go off in Mika’s head: no more messing around with this relative amateur: Get out of my way.

After that, Julieta is lucky to escape with her life and limbs. But even when her suit is impaled, she still grabs on to Mika. Every moment he must fight her is a victory for her, especially considering she’s merely a human pilot, albeit a talented one; she hasn’t sold her soul to any technological devils. Julieta may be on the wrong side, but I still admire the hell out of her.

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Gaelio, who is tired to no end of McGillis’ bullshit, is determined to kill his former friend and commmander, a man who once inspired him. And to his credit, he seems to be doing quite well in his duel, even mocking McGillis for being so arrogant about piloting a suit with the soul of G-horn’s founder. And to the duel’s credit, it’s another brutal, beam-weapon-less smash-fest.

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In a crucial moment, the hand Almiria stabbed fails Macky, and Gaelio almost gets him, if it weren’t for somebody Gaelio sees his past self in: Isurugi. Someone hypnotised by the BS and whose head is filled with dreams that will never coalesce, but which will end only in his ruin.

Gaelio isn’t wrong about what happens: Isurugi’s last-ditch defense of his commander claims his life. But Isurugi wasn’t from a great family; he was colonist and a commoner, and being with McGillis allowed him to dream big, so big that he didn’t even need to be around to see those dreams fulfilled, as long as he was useful to McGillis.

It’s not a one-sided thing to him, in which Macky takes and the world makes. McGillis gave hope to the hopeless, and they gave him their lives.

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IBO has always had exciting battles, but it’s often the aftermaths of those battles that I’m more invested in, and that’s the case here. The “final battle” wasn’t final and wasn’t a battle so much as a rout, in which McGillis’ shorthanded fleet poked the bear and got mauled.

But Tekkadan isn’t just a military organization like G-horn, they’re a family, and to see Shino and others buy it not for final victory, but just so the rest of the family can live to fight another day (which they were hoping not to do) is particularly despairing.

There’s a great moment when Derma is wishing he had died alongside his friend, rather than losing an arm and becoming less useful as a weapon. Akihiro puts his hand on his head and simply thanks him for surviving. Aki doesn’t care about his adoptive brother’s future effectiveness as a weapon. He cares about being able to talk to him.

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Shaking off the loss of his most loyal lieutenant, it’s full-speed ahead to Mars for McGillis, who has the awkward task of having to call Orga and Eugene to his ship to talk about what happens next, even though the battle they just fought was supposed to be the final one.

At this particular juncture, McGillis believes, or at least gives the impression that he believes, Tekkadan will weather these setbacks and terrible odds as they always have, better than the group’s actual leaders. Orga likely never considered that whatever loses they sustained in the battle with Rustal would only be the beginning; that all those losses gave them was time.

The significance McGillis places on “flying over Mars” and fighting on “home ground” in the next leg of the battle couldn’t feel more hollow, because there wasn’t supposed to be a next leg.

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I loved the scene where Akihiro comforted Derma, but I loved the scene with a recovering Julieta and Gaelio even more. The second he appears, the playful adversity picks right back up, with her wondering what took him so long to visit her after she woke up.

In some Gundams, no doubt this would be a scene in which the injured pilot double down and decides that, like Gaelio, there’s no price she won’t pay, nothing she wouldn’t give up, to become stronger; strong enough to beat Mika. Julieta doesn’t go there.

Having faced off against the terrifying, inhuman might of Mikazuki, she’s decided that’s not her path. Even if she didn’t see the malice in Mika’s real face, his Barbatos’ “expression” mirrored his own. Julieta will become stronger as a human, as herself. No shortcuts.

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Having come back from that deeply unpleasant meeting with McGillis, Orga inspects a room full of body bags filled with comrades for whom he promised a warm place to live and make money without bloodshed. Yamagi, still reeling from the loss of Shino, expresses his resentment for what he sees as cowardly whining by Orga.

When Eugene tracks Yamagi down, he thanks him for tellking Orga what he couldn’t say. Then he tells Yamagi about a time Shino pondered whether Yamagi liked him, and expressed his gratitude that their family is full of so many different types of guys, including a guy who’d love someone like him.

Yamagi knows Shino wouldn’t want him to worry about having not died with him, but to live on, fight on, and make him proud. Just as Isurugi gave his life for a dream he’ll never see, so did Shino, and both went out perfectly fine with that arrangement. No one cursed their lot in life, because they were the lives they chose.

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We end with another excellent Orga-and-Mika scene, in which Orga admits all the lies and big talk he told everyone about money and status and one last battle. Mika, true to his Mika-ness, tells him if there’s someone to blame, it’s him. Orga only “lied” because Mika couldn’t wipe everyone out. His failure to do so only steels him to want to correct that failure in the battles to come.

Orga seems to get it, finally: he’s never had to bear the entire weight of the decisions that have led to their current situation, because they were never his and his alone. They were also Mika’s, and Eugene’s, and Akihiro’s, and everyone else’s, because Orga isn’t a dictator. The things they’ve done are things everyone more or less agreed to or went along with.

On the one hand, most of Tekkadan can’t easily walk away, like Zack could (but likely won’t). But the responsibility lies with everyone. Orga’s most important job is to not have doubts, and as Macky sends Tekkadan and what’s left of his fleet into a Martian trap, a absolute lack of doubt is vital to just keep going.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

4 thoughts on “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 46”

  1. IBO has always had exciting battles, but it’s often the aftermaths of those battles that I’m more invested in, and that’s the case here.

    This nicely sums up my thoughts on the series.

    As much as the fans obsessively wants her dead, I actually like the fact that Julieta survived. She is also pretty much a victim of the current world system that Gjallarhorn perpetuated, in the same way that Tekkadan, McGillis, Ein, and Isurugi are. With her alive, there might still be hope of reforming the world without having to figuratively sell one’s sould to the devil.

    I also like how Eugene defied Orga’s orders and called for a more sensible move. It’s a small scene but really speaks big of how much he has matured from the whiny guy back in season 1. He is definitely the one that Orga needs right now, a support that can tell him when it is time to sop.

    And that ending scene between Orga and Mika is excellent. This really shows that Mika isn’t as sociopathic as people think. He is aware of his hand in all of these and is willing to take responsibility.

    Oh, and I am quite curious as to what Hush’s line of Atra having somehow changed means. If it’s what the audience is guessing in the last few episodes, then there might still be hope for a happy ending.

  2. What makes the battle worth the fighting? What makes the mountain worth the climb?
    If it was going to be easy, this would be a very boring story. The higher the stakes, the more interested we will be in seeing how our heroes will be able to make it out. And boy are the writers making these stakes higher and higher.

    I think we will lose some people and it will be a hard battle, but I don’t think it will end in tragedy. This isn’t that kind of series.

    The thing is McGillis’ ideals are real, and they are bigger than he is. It’s that idea, that spark of an inkling of an idea that changing things IS possible, that’s what bring people like Isurugi on board and why they are so loyal. It has nothing to do with McGillis as a person, but the fact that he’s willing to try and change things when very few other people have. And the fact that he straddles the line, having power and position and yet being from the very gutter, that makes him this strange perfect storm for this time. Even if he dies here, the fact that someone was this close to changing things for the better strikes a chord all its own. Ideas are much harder to kill than men.

    As for Isurugi, I was glad he got a chance to talk to Gaelio and I really hope that his words planted a seed as well. In a way, Gali is smarter now, but he’s also just as naive as he was before. He can see the truth is some places, but is still far too trusting in others.
    Poor Gaelio can’t see the forest for the trees. He’s so jaded by his own experience that he thinks McGillis lies to everyone and his ideals are “a thing of the past”. But if everyone thought like that, then nothing would change. Gaelio is so busy thinking of how to stop McGillis, that he has not thought about or offered an alternative other than that he sympathizes. And being the vanguard of a man who just wants to keep the status quo at all costs is completely counter-intuitive.

    As for McGillis’ demeanor, I think his reaction to Isurugi sacrificing himself, is the most emotion we’ve ever seen him show over someone’s death, even as little as it was. However, McGillis has perfected what Orga hasn’t quite yet, and that is to continue to hold a mask of confidence even if things go south. He continues to be confident because he has to be. If he falls apart, then what? Everyone will fall apart with him. He has made some mistakes, but he’s not willing to give up either. There is no going back. Once he gives up, he’s dead and at that point, he will lose everything that he’s worked for and everything that has been placed on him by others. So with giving up not being an option, what else is there left but to continue to be confident in yourself until the end despite the odds?

    I’m happy though Eugene is growing into himself as a leader. Orga has had to stand on his own for too long. I’m happy that Orga and Mika have at least discussed their codependence, even though it’s so ingrained in them now, that there’s really nothing they can do about it. But at least they are on the same page. Orga has finally put away all that self doubt and realized that it’s not all about him, but about everyone, and he is ready to fully commit. They aren’t fighting for McGillis. They are fighting for themselves. This was THEIR lives they wanted to improve through this venture, McGillis is just a tool to get them there. To many have died and sacrificed for them to have this opportunity. If they don’t keep going forward, they indeed will fail everyone who died to get them here.

  3. When Shino died it hit me pretty hard. I wanted him and Yamagi to be together. I shipped them since season one.

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