Back home to Tuesday’s guys, I hope I’ll be able to keep this up for the last few weeks of the show especially as I’m betting things will be picking up. Actually I’m hoping things will be picking up as really I’m worried we’ll see another episode such as this one before the end. I’m not saying this was bad or anything it was just slow and at times even felt pointless in the grand scheme of things, little more then pointless set up. It’s a strange feeling as the show has deftly avoided this feeling like the plague in most cases. Anyways lets move to Episode 20 “Brother”.
Following the amazing battle from last week with the Barbatos literally surfing on a Mobile Suit during its reentry to the Earth the crew of the Isaribi have finally completed the first leg of their journey. Looking up at the night sky for the first time they take a break after the long journey. However an old man (who we assume to be a world leader) appears before them showing clearly they’re not done being used by older powers.
Following the credits its revealed that Ein did indeed survive the battle with the Barbatos. Considering how quickly it happened I suppose this isn’t a huge shock, hell I watched the fight a few times and it was never very clear if he was alive or not. That being said this does feel like a cop out as Ein’s “Death” was up until that point the biggest death in the series even if it lacked any emotional depth.
Really for a show that began with such a distinct flavor of mortality hanging over the whole proceedings with death flags seemingly be dropped left and right; one can feel almost cheated with how almost sanitized the entire production has felt in recent weeks. As if the deaths of Mashihiro and the Union leader were supposed to be enough to sustain the drama. Although I doubt every main character will survive the season (I remain convinced Akihiro or Biscuit will bite the bullet) the fact so many seem to wear plot armor is disconcerting.
Moving on, we return to Tekkadan and Teiwaz who seem to be hard at work retrofitting their Mobile Suits to likely take on land based threats. From here it also seems likely the Barbatos will be getting thrusters previously used on the Gussion Rebake, not a huge surprise considering Sunrise has been teasing many new Barbatos versions recently.
As the scene progresses a short yet entertaining escapade occurs where our heroes are introduced to a fish for the first time. The poor Martians show how despite being human they’re also quite alien by not knowing what a fish is and acts surprised by how something so ugly is supposedly edible. However its now all light hearted as one of the native Earthlings looks with disgust at Mika’s Alaya-Vijnana. After which the Full Metal Mechanic (his new nickname) explains cybernetic enhancements are looked down up on Earth as they’re relics of the Calamity War.
This builds into another exposition scene this time between Gjallahorn, as Gaeleo debates and an unmasked McGillis regarding the idea of implanting an Alaya-Vijnana system into Ein as it would make his a space rat monster. McGillis’ explains the stigma of cybernetic implants was all a plot by Gjallahorn to reduce the adaptation of the technology or else one day it could be used against them, following their subjugation of the Earth. This explains the Earthlings reactions to the cybernetic enhancements of the Tekkadan and why such a powerful tool isn’t used for war. Finally at the end its implied there is another secret regarding the system. Call me crazy but who wants to bet Mikazuki will unleash this power sometime soon...
Moving on we come to an important meeting between what has become the main negotiators of Tekkadan: Orga, Merribet, Biscuit, and Kudelia who are dealing with what appears to be the Chief Representative of the Oceanic Federation. He claims because the island they currently sit upon is Federation territory; which even Gjallahorn would need permission to enter. He quickly implies the he can protect Tekkadan, which really means he intends to use their situation as leverage for a yet unknown scheme.
After a brief run down of the sociopolitical aftermath of the Dort Rebellion in which the Unionists apparently “won”. However their is a cost, as the economic output of the Dort colonies will be lower granting other economic blocs and chance to step into the void. Something the leader of the Oceanic Federation would welcome. However the old man drops a bombshell by revealing he really has no power as he is merely the exiled leader looking for his chance to reclaim his lost power.
This causes Orga to explode in anger once again realizing they were merely being used by older more experienced people in a grand scheme. He believes this has made the entire voyage meaningless and therefore all their losses meaningless as well. The exiled leader says no, instead he will use Tekkadan to overthrow his political rival who just so happens to be allied with Gjallahorn. Orga decides to take the proposition back to the crew, however the former Federation leader Makanai drops the implied act and actively threatens the crew. By revoking Federation protection Gjallahorn will have their heads.
Once again playing the martyr Kudelia offers to go at it alone. Saying Tekkadan should “Choose their own path”. However before the main crew can decide they receive word for Eugine in orbit, revealing the entire crew survived the battle raising the spirits of the crew and Orga in particular. However it is not all good news as Eugine (as it will later be revealed) explains that Biscuit’s good for nothing brother committed suicide following the Dort Rebellion.
This once again gives me the feeling like we the audience should care but really due to limited screen time, we have no reason too. This comes back to my earlier point about deaths that should matter but don’t. Almost as if the writers feel we should feel something just because a character had a random relationship. That’s not though how this works, for us to feel anything we need to have the relationship and as long as Iron-Blooded Orphans is scared of killing off people we have a relationship with through screen time it’ll come close but fail at meeting its potential.
Following this Orga and Naze have another one of their heart to hearts, which is quickly becoming one of the key relationships in the series at least for Orga. However during the conversation Naze effectively releases Orga from his obligation to the Teiwaz leader. While doing it though I got a strange feeling (especially when he mentioned Lafter) that Naze may also have ulterior motives, something I have not felt since his first appearance.
Continuing on from an earlier episode Orga and Biscuit have another argument about Orga being too reckless. Biscuit wishes just to find a safe way home, while Orga seems caught on the idea of revolution. Although this divide has been pointed out before the two characters conflict I expect will be short lived mostly just due to time constraints and the fact they both seem kind of sorry about the whole thing already, even if Biscuit is apparently thinking of quitting.
As Orga unloads on Merribet she explains the situation around Savarin and Biscuit. However their discussion is interrupted as it’s revealed that Carta has overruled the Oceanic Federation and is preparing an assault to avenge her previous loss. Setting up what looks like a major conflict next week with what looks like Biscuit piloting... raise your death flag (finally)?o
Okay ending up here I think this was honestly one of the weakest (if not the worst) of the series so far. It’s not that it was bad it was just dull and at times it felt like a lot of retold lore. I get that Iron-Blooded Orphans is more deep then most mecha shows but at times it feels as though it doesn’t trust its audience. What I mean by that is at times it seems to feel the need to bash concepts into one head, such as the multiple references this episode to technological implants being looked down upon, or the idea of space dwellers being lesser humans (human debris ect...) previously. It’s interesting but sometimes the viewer wants to move on.
Another issue was for a show that tends to be high quality at times there was noticeable animation lapses. The most notable example would be lesser characters facial models which at times just look off... this led me to think they’re saving the budget for next week. Which is good for then just not great when you’re watching blocky facial animations.
Fundamentally I’m a little annoyed by this episode as every little issue I have with the show was on display today. However the worst and it deserves repeating is the idea random characters we dont know die and we’re supposed to feel bad despite the dead guy being a little bit of a dick. If Iron-Blooded Orphans wants to keep people invested they need to give a reason to worry, what I’m saying is we need a death and it needs to stick harder then Ein’s. That being said the preview for next week looks AMAZING and I can’t wait for that. What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Let me know.
“The sustenance of life, is on the battlefield”
Gundam Music of the Week:
That’s right a song from one of the worst series in the franchise Gundam SEED Destiny. I’ll however say that this was a very good song and one of Lacus’ better solos, I can also say from personal experience its a decent lullaby. Next week I kind of want something more rocking though after two weeks of more subdued songs and I don’t want to pick it myself so let me know what you think?