Hey everyone and welcome back thanks for waiting, Canadian Thanksgiving kinda ate into my writing time but I’m back with with this weeks Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orhpans recap and man what an episode this was. However before we get into the episode itself we’ll do a little house cleaning as always if you missed last weeks write up you can find Episode 1 right here. Also this will be the last week the recap is coming up on a Tuesday for the rest of the series (barring Holidays and events) I’ll be aiming for a Monday time frame. So anyways hope everyone is doing well and lets dive into Episode 2 of Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orhpans!
Well before we get into the episode itself we have a little treat the first Opening. I find these important as an Opening can often give away a lot of the thoughts behind the series and I think that is the case here (sorry for the Quality - full versions are also available on line). One interesting thing is the title card which unlike other Gundams that relies on more stylized effects the Iron-Blooded Orhpans is quite reminiscent of classic Japanese military insignia. This may be nothing but a visual que such as that is hard to miss and quite interesting, I bring it up as it really builds into the entire theme of the series that life is experienced through battle; a classical Japanese theme found throughout all of its history.
Now with the exception of the title card there is very little unique about the Opening invoking all the classic Gundam opening shots. Panning shots of the heroes, people looking into the distance, the Princess type being troubled by events. Really if you’ve seen a Gundam opening you know what to expect. The song itself I find quite good and the longer I listen to it (I have it on loop right now) the more I like it, being very high energy it gets you in the mood for the series. All around I would say its a solid if unoriginal opening to the series.
The year Post Disaster 323, following the surprise attack on the the Chryse Guard Security the secret weapon of the Third Squad is unleashed upon the battlefield. The Gundam Barbatos charges into action! However there is an issue...
In a little surprising move rather then moving right back into the action the show instead treats us to a flashback. Orga holding the line above calls Mika to finally put his plan into action, Mika rushes down to the power room ready to pilot the secret weapon of the CGS a remnant of the Calamity War the Gundam Barbatos. During this time we learn a lot about the Gundam and the various systems that will most certainly come into play later in the series. One such system is the now named Ālaya-Vijñāna implant designed to effectively merge pilot with machine.
This is significant as its clearly the inspiration for the name “Iron-Blooded” as the Gundam Barbatos floods the bloodstream of the user with nano-machines effectively creating a new lobe of the mind allowing for greater spacial awareness. This is very reminiscent of the explanation regarding the enhanced abilities of Newtypes in the original Gundam timeline of the Universal Century. However the alteration to the mind seems to be amazingly painful and dangerous; so much so that only a child who has a more maliable mind can even undergo it. This is partially why Mika a very young man is chosen as the pilot as not only is he an ace he’s also shown a strong resistance to the effects. However as we can see above the effect on Mika is still severe and quite potentially life threatening.
This is interesting as the concept of a Mobile Suit being a physical burden on the pilot has been explored before but never by a “Gundam”. Instead it was by another “relic” weapon the Mobile Suit Tallgeese from New Mobile Report Gundam Wing. Perhaps this is just my Wing fanboy impulses but the Barbatos seems to share much more in common with the Tallgeese then any previous Gundam from a series next to perhaps the Turn A. Regardless this is a tangent and is only my personal thoughts.
Returning to the battle the series picks up where Episode 1 left off. Following the Barbatos’ crushing enterance into the battle the Barbatos and Mika is quickly surrounded. However unlike other Gundams where the main suit quickly overpowers all comers the Barbatos is surprisingly... ordinary. Once again we see this to be a Gundam more steeped in the classic traditions of the series as while the Barbatos is undeniably strong it is now the godly weapons we’ve seen in series such as SEED and OO. Instead Mika quickly decides rather then engaging the main threat of the Gjallahorn Mobile Suits he attacks the Mobile Workers that were bombarding the base earlier.
This is interesting as its another showcase that this is not a sanitized Gundam where the good guys are pure and nobile, no Mika does the EXACT SAME THING is Ghallahorn just did and literally stomps his opponents into dust. Using their lives as a taunt Mike forces the Gjallahorn Mobile Suit Officer to engage him - on his terms and after a show of strength comes out on top. However the victory is not overwhelming, having lost many Mobile Workers and a Mobile Suit the opposing forces retreat to regroup. This is lucky for Mika as both pilot and machine run out fight and become inactive; once again showing that the relationship between Mobile Suit and pilot is a far more intimate relationship then anything we have seen before. Iron-Blooded indeed.
One interesting dynamic that was present in the short battle scene was Mika’s voice invoked surprise. Indeed the fact Mika was just a child was a revelation for the Gjallahorn Officers. It appears that the opposing forces did not realize they were actually fighting children. Its unknown if this will be a major point however the Gjallahorn commanding officer did order a retreat following this (despite his Jr. Officers protests) and in other scenes showed a sort of warrior honour that is present in many classic Gundam series.
The fight concluded we the viewer are treated to more world building and character development. It’s again confirmed the death toll of the battle was immense well over 100 CGS members (although a good portion of that was the cowards in the 1st Squad). Included in that death is the named CGS child solider who’s death was such a key moment in the previous series, furthermore in a more lighthearted moment its revealed his one wish was to die in “Soft Oppai” rather then the cold coffin of a Mobile Worker once again shining a bright light on the ages of these “Soldiers”...
Moving on we are also introduced to three new(ish) characters one is the young Altra Mixta a young girl with a clear crush on Mika being very worried about his safety. The other two are the twin younger sisters of Orga’s sorta Staff Officer Biscuit Griffon. For me this is an unfortunate development as in Gundam series such as this there is almost always a death in the main group and right now for me Biscuit is showing a whole lot of death flags. Two cute imouto’s mourning a characters death is one surefire way to tug on the heartstrings of anyone, I hope I’m wrong.
Following this we move to what I would consider the most important scene of the entire series so far. The origins of the “Orphans”. Despite my earlier assumptions of being war oprhans the children of CGS seem much more likely to be economic orphans. Due to the strict financial controls as imposed by the economic powers of the Earth Sphere the people of Mars are quite nearly destitute. There is so few jobs around most children are abandoned as presumably with no way to care for themselves their parents have no way to care for a child. This leaves little options for the orhpans who enlist in the one job that will have them security. These “Human Debris” are then put to work. Last write up I compared their situation to that of indentured servitude the economic chains that followed slavery following abolition - this is not actually that far off as the orphans have no economic independence and are effectively property of the CGS due to their situation.
Kudelia quickly realizes she is one of the main reasons the children are in this issue. As she in the past championed economic assistance for the youth of Mars which if one puts two and two together most likely involved sending the orphans of Mars to the security industry where they either live in squalor or they die. Troubled by this she also realizes it’s highly likely the attack on the base was for her head and that also her father played some role in this. This entire scene perfectly encapsulates another emerging theme I wrote about last week that of ideals vs reality. Kudeala had a noble ideal; the wish of economic autonomy for the children of Mars instead she merely helped bind them to a worse fate. Coming to realize how far detached she is from the people she professes to help she resolves to learn more about the real world while thinking of Mika and his steely eyes.
After a kinda quick scene of Kudelia having some lighthearted fun (moment #1 of that in this series) with Biscuits two sisters and Altra who recognizes her causing the sisters to think she is a celebrity we move to Orga and what seems to account for the Orphans officer corp. The remaining First Battalion Officers (rightly) blame Orga for their huge casualties (he did basically sell them out after all) and proceed to beat him for insubordination (read: Fun). After threatening to beat the rest of the Third Squad Orga once again showing the overwhelming leadership qualities we saw last episode demands he take all the beating as the responsibility is his.
While not subtle in any way the show I think has done a really good job in setting up Orga in a way that we don’t see in other Gundams. As in many other series the non-MS pilots often get short changes with the Captains and higher Officers generally being good people but never really showing why everyone looks up to them. This is not the case here; in just two episodes Orga has shown impressive tactical prowess as well as a dedication to his men than any commander would envy. Orga is the real deal and I can understand why he is the undisputed leader of the Orphans.
Using his defacto command of the young Orphans Orga quickly starts fermenting unrest and plans to overthrough their senior Officers. This isn’t a huge surprise as the children are quite literally treated like trash (“Human Debris” anyone...) and for the first time they actually hold all the power by most likely outnumbering the First Squad Officers due to the First Squads larger fatality rate (caused by Orga lets be clear here) and the fact that Orga through Mika controls the Gundam Barbatos.
Now while by most standards the First Squad certainly has what is coming to them shortly I’d like to point something out here. This is a very grey course of action as mutiny and revolt is a very big step, Orga although shown as caring for his friends is also clearly ruthless as he has no problems sacrificing human lives to further his goals. This shows that to him their is no intrinsic value in human life only friends, allies, and obstacles. I would argue this makes him an ideal commander but a flawed human. Why do I love this? Because its been YEARS since a Gundam made me think this way and although I may not agree with every action Orga for me has become the standout character of these early episodes. Its also a point in the screen writers favor that despite having so little screen time the character has such a strong presence already.
In the end we’re treated to a scene with Mika and Orga who discuss their past, future, and goals. Nothing much of note really happens other then further confirmation of the characters that are already displayed and I’ve talk at length before. Orga is determined to forge their own future - a better one fate be damn. Mika is determined to stand by him and make it happen using his strength. In many ways its an interesting dynamic not often found in Gundam as very rarely does the main pilot ever stand on equal footing with anyone let alone an almost subservient role. Really in an amazing way we may finally be seeing a Gundam bromance. Now that thought gets me excited.
Finally we move to outer space where the mysterious Gjallahorn Inspectors finally arrive at the base of the forces that attacked the CGS Base. Showing a confidence that was apparent by both dress and demeanor the inspectors quickly exert their dominance. This leads me to believe that as elites they will be an early test for our heroes on the ground. Furthermore call me crazy but as we know Barbatos isn’t the only Gundam to survive the Calamity War I think its highly likely one of the Inspectors is or will be a Gundam pilot in the near future. Just a hunch.
Wow they got a Bond Song in my Gundam! I’m joking but not by much. I really digged this ending song its a good bookend for a series that will certainly be action packed. By being slower and lower energy then the Opening it helps relax you. Beyond that the key art is just gorgeous if a little spoilery as its now clear that the Gundam Barbatos is a variable type mobile suit that will most likely change and be upgraded as the series goes on judging by the Beam Canon its sporting and of course Space Flight something our ground based melee type right now isn’t capable of. In many ways the ending reminds me a little of I Wanna Go to a Place from Gundam SEED Destiny. Which is actually a compliment as unlike the series itself the music was quite good.
Anyways thank you so much for reading again. This episode was less full then the previous one but still important. The themes of ideal vs reality once again has shown itself through Kudelia’s naïvety. As the idea of the living weapon and “Iron-Blood” is becoming more and more clear by the episode. To be honest I am very much anticipating a good series right now just by how deep this episodes have been without being an info dump. Its a hard balance to pull off but personally I think Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is walking the line fine. Anyways as always tell me what you think in the comments this is always more fun with feedback. Hope to see you next week!
“The sustenance of life, is on the battlefield”
PS: Please tell me how you think these can be improved upon. Less recap, more analysis ect, I want these to grow over the next 23 weeks.