If there was any uncertainty left in anyone’s hearts that this would be the final season of Iron-Blooded Orphans, then this episode made it so that there would no longer be doubts. The end of everything is upon us, and the ride has been unforgettable.
(UPDATE: In this article, and originally the title of the article, I specified that this was episode 49. That was incorrect. It’s actually episode 48. The reason for this inaccuracy is due to the fact that the website I watch Iron-Blooded Orphans on misprinted the episode number as 24 which threw off my episode count which I normally keep track of on MyAnimeList, but I haven’t been updating it as of late. The official Gundam.Info Youtube channel lists “Promise” as episode 48. As a result, disregard all the speculation towards the bottom of this article relating to whether or not there will be 51 episodes, it will be 50, and it will run into April.)
It’s been a long time since I did one of these, but I figured that if there was ever a time to do so, it was now. The second season of Iron-Blooded Orphans is drawing to a close and the next episode, or maybe even two episodes, will put a cap on the series as a whole. That was made 100% clear when Orga Itsuka, boss of Tekkadan, after finally finding himself again and getting his family a way out of their current mess and a happy future for all, is gunned down in the street, and dies defiantly.
This episode was all about Orga. His past, his present, and the future he left to everyone, the chance he gave them. Rather than stay and fight, he hatches a plan to get everyone in Tekkadan out alive and safe, but to do so he must get through Gjallarhorn’s encirclement. McGillis, who has been hiding at their base, offers himself and Bael up as a decoy so that a small convoy can get through in the commotion. Chad, Ride, Orga, Kudelia, and Atra make their escape from the base and head for Admoss Company in Chryse where they contact Makanai on Earth to arrange a meeting for them to change their identities, discarding the name of Tekkadan. The terms are agreed upon, but Tekkadan must go to Earth to seal the deal. When the plan begins to seem destined to fail, a message comes in from Azee and what remains of the turbines.
Azee, who has taken Naze’s place as the leader of the Turbines, offers Orga and Tekkadan a way out, a way to Earth. They’ll smuggle them all the way there provided they can get to Teiwaz’s Mars office. With that, the plan is complete and Orga shines as bright as he did when Tekkadan was first formed. They make preparations to find the Chryse end of the old tunnel that connects the city to Tekkadan’s base, a tunnel that the remaining members of Tekkadan work tirelessly to dig through. Orga says his goodbyes to Atra and Kudelia, who plan to remain behind on Mars so that Atra’s unborn child will remain safe, and he takes his leave. As he and Ride exit the building, Chad awaiting them next to the car, another car speeds into the intersection, comes to a screeching halt, and three men open fire on them. Chad is nailed in the shoulder, but otherwise is perfectly fine, but Ride is shielded from the hail of bullets by Orga’s body which is penetrated by multiple bullets before Orga pulls out Mikazuki’s pistol and fires back, taking out two of the three gunmen with accuracy that many probably didn’t think he had, something even he comments on as he stands up.
This scene is very impactful. Rather than lay down and wait for help, Orga knows his time is up, so he stands, his body clearly ready to collapse, and a massive pool of blood forming at his feet. He steps forward, again and again as tears form in Ride and Chad’s eyes, flowing down their faces. Orga gives one last speech about their future, collapsing to the ground just as Atra and Kudelia come outside. Where there were two trails of blood, there was now only one, flowing from Orga’s outstretched, defiant pointer finger, showing the way to Tekkadan’s future.
I’ll be honest, if there is one trope that I kind of wish had been invoked for Orga, it would be the “Someone to Remember Him By” trope. It’s a common trope seen in television/film/books where the hero/heroine and their love interest conceive a child on the eve of battle, with the hero/heroine going off to die, but with a child to carry on after they’re gone. While Mikazuki’s death warrant hasn’t exactly been signed just yet, Atra is expecting his child, so if he does die in the final episode, he’ll have a child to carry on his name, even if he’s forgotten by the world. But Orga? He has no one but the family of Tekkadan to carry on after his death. He never even had a love interest. He suffered alone and carried all of Tekkadan’s burdens on his shoulders. I had hoped that Kudelia would break off of Mikazuki and become Orga’s support, or even Azee, but neither of those things ever happened. It’s sad, but I guess there is some good to be found in the future he has left for his family.
Orga’s story is now over, but what of those he has left behind? The next episode should be quite interesting all things considered. McGillis’ has already started the brawl, baiting Rustal in closer. Mikazuki sits patiently in Barbatos’ hanger, waiting for the order to deploy in Barbatos and tear some heads, an order that isn’t likely to come from the person he expects it too. And that’s the real kicker. Orga held Mikazuki’s leash. Mika followed him wherever he went, followed every order, he practically lived to serve Orga. But now Orga is gone and Mikazuki is on his own. Someone, likely Eugene, will take Orga’s place temporarily to make the trip to Earth and carry out Orga’s last wish, but Mikazuki isn’t likely to follow him without question. Instead, the devil of Tekkadan will probably take to the field and unleash all of his fury upon Gjallarhorn. The catch is that it might not have been Gjallarhorn who put out the hit on Orga.
Rustal has been the master chess player for the better part of several episodes now, constantly outplaying both McGillis and Orga at every turn. He outplayed them so much that the ending of IBO originally looked a lot less hopeful and more depressing, like for once in the Gundam series the heroes were going to be wiped out, the end. Yet, this is not likely to be Rustal’s doing. The fact is that Rustal had no idea that Orga had fled the base and made it into Chryse. There was only one person with a loose affiliation to Tekkadan that was privy to that information: McGillis. In this episode, McGillis tries to coax an answer out of Mikazuki regarding what he wants to do, but instead gets the answer that whatever Orga wants to do is what he wants as well. McGillis saw the shackles that bound Mikazuki, caged him, prevented him from becoming the terrifying beast that he was. Even in battle, McGillis reflects on what Barbatos’ current name means: The King of Wolves, and McGillis was reminded that wolves travel in packs. The alpha male of the Tekkadan pack was Orga, and he was holding Mikazuki back. With Orga out of the picture, the pack no longer has a king, which will allow Mikazuki and Barbatos to fill that hole as Barbatos Lupus Rex’s name implies. This next episode will not be pretty, but since it’s titled “McGillis Fareed” I expect that not only will the tables turn in his favor, but also against him as his treachery potentially comes to light. At the same time, this signals that episode 50 is also potentially not the final episode. Originally, I saw IBO Season 2 listed at 51 episodes, this count then dropped sometime between late January and mid-February to 50. Only time will tell if episode 50 is the final episode. It sure seems like it since the spring anime season is due to start soon and if it runs for two more weeks it’ll go into April, and that seems unlikely to happen. But hey, it might.
It’s a common habit of mine to listen to music while I write. I need something that sets the mood for what I’m writing. This was a sad episode, but with hope mixed in. It also signaled the end of a long journey, one filled with dreams, promises, and sacrifice. I originally wanted the song that plays after Naze’s death in episode 15 of season two, but the official soundtrack for season two doesn’t hit shelves until the 29th of this month, and no one has tried to isolate it. So, I needed to seek an alternative to that. The track I came too was “Tending to Others” from the first seasons soundtrack. It’s a tad more upbeat than I would have liked, and there were sadder songs on the second disc, but this one just felt right when reflecting back on the whole show, on Orga’s story, so it is the one I used to write this.