So here we are the end of the line for Season One of Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans and while I am totally hyped for Season Two which we will get to in a moment I’m a little underwhelmed by the finale. Honestly half the episode was really well done and the other half was kind of meh. After the incredible Episode 24 this episode just seemed like a bit of a let down at times as the episode walked away from the previous episodes more daring choices. However enough teasing lets move onto “Tekkadan”.
Picking up right as Mikazuki barges in to save Kudelia, Atra, and Orga the episode continues with the high level of excitement that the previous episode ended on. Ein instantly recognizes the Barbatos as the suit that killed his precious Lt. Crank, however Mikazuki doesn’t really care as he doesn’t even remember who Crank is. Just another person Mikazuki killed because the person had to die.
After rescuing Makanai from the overturned vehicle Orga abandoned the warzone to take him to Parliament, leaving the rest up to Mikazuki. In a nice touch instead of going straight to the opening instead Mikazuki continues his battle with the Graze Ein as the Opening plays in the background. With the visuals and music mixing quite well, especially as the fight is one of the highest quality in terms of animation I can remember seeing in a mecha anime period. As this is happening Orga is riding to Parliament where he intends to end it all.
Following a abridged opening we start with the bad stuff in the episode it’s revealed that Shino has survived. While it was expected by many that a few would survive very few bets were on Shino that he would be the one to make it out. This for me instantly raised the possibility that perhaps everyone could yet live... something I would have thought impossible in the previous episode. In fact I said it pretty point blank it would be impossible for EVERYONE to survive.
Outside Shino spies McGillis revealing himself to Gaeleo as they prepare for their duel. During this time McGillis reveals the entirety of his plan and why he’s been playing both sides of the conflict. To McGillis as we knew Gjallahorn is a rotten entity, hypocritical to the extreme and the current rules are not fit to lead.
McGillis argues an organization that preaches the sanctity of the body from robotics and then creates an abomination like Ein the very embodiment of the peoples fear as proof of their rottenness. Therefore as Tekkadan using the heroic suits of the past war the Gundams to fight Gjallahorn’s monster and aid “the Maiden of Revolution” Tekkadan will become the heroes of the people. It will show once and for all to the people of the Earth the rotten nature of Gjallahorn.
Of course McGillis conveniently leaves out he’s one of the masterminds of the abominations creation, however this doesn’t slip pass Gaeleo. Who is outraged that McGillis would use Ein so callously in his plan. Finally seeing McGillis for the Machiavellian schemer we always knew him to be.
McGillis continues that once Makanai is elected Prime Minister his fathers involvement in the attempted rigging of the election will also be revealed. Therefore becoming a one two punch against Gjallahorn. That the organizations two key principals of non-interference in the affairs of the Economic Blocks and the sanctity of the body from Machines are lies.
Furthermore with the death of Carta and soon to be death of Gaeleo there will be instability at the highest levels of the Seven Stars. McGillis as heir through his marriage to Almiria and his rightful place as Head of the Farheed family will unify two of the Seven Stars families. Furthermore with the most powerful Issue family without an heir and powerless McGillis will ride in as a white night and unify Gjallahorn under him finally achieving his ultimate goal. All with the unsuspecting help of his pawns in Tekkadan.
Gaeleo is shocked and saddened by his friends betrayal. Screaming Carta loved him and he led her to his death, how they were friends and he did nothing but use him. How he even allowed him to marry his sister, to which McGillis promises to keep her happy forever. Almost as if a final promise to his friend.
The two engage in a climactic duel with the Grimgarde easily overwhelming the damaged Kimaris still weakened from its fight with the Barbatos. As McGillis lands the final blow seemingly killing Gaeleo as we never do see the body, he says how Gaeleo had forever been his only true friend. As the battle field calms down McGillis looks towards Edmonton as everything is now in Tekkadan’s hands.
As I was watching this while there was so implausible parts it did make total sense and actually was pretty well predicted in these pages and the comments. McGillis is effectively an agent of chaos, somebody who aims to destabilize the world he dislikes and gather power to rebuild it in his image. In a sense McGillis could almost be argued is doing wrong to do right, of course his cold almost sociopathic nature and his complete disregard for life makes him clearly a villain. However at the same time you have to respect him and even like his as he’s killing one of the actual good people in this series in Gaeleo.
Returning to Mikazuki vs. Ein Lafter pronouncement from the previous episode that Ein was stronger then Mikazuki is coming true. As the Graze Ein in terms of raw power and skill is overwhelming Mikazuki. Ein explains this is because he is the perfect bond of Mobile Suit and Man something an incomplete without a true Alaya-Vijnana could never stand against.
As the battle goes on and Ein continues to rave about Crank and how Mikazuki is incomplete and a monster (he’s not wrong) to which Mikazuki responds “look who’s talking”. Mikazuki is being pushed up against a wall as he runs low on fuel with Ein continuously bashing him and accusing him of various sins such as Cranks murder as he never wished to fight, however Mikazuki pays him no mind. Eventually he comes to the realization Ein is right and that the Alaya-Vijnana system is the difference in their power.
Pushing himself to link with Barbatos even further he asks his suit for more power. In a scene akin to Heero asking the Wing Zero to show him the way. However Barbatos responds to Mikazuki’s request and the two fuse even stronger to very bad results. As we saw previously the Alaya-Vijnana system within the Barbatos puts an immense strain of the body and here Mikazuki is no exception.
However the boost of speed is enough to allow Mikazuki to fight evenhandedly with Ein. After a back and forth Mikazuki seems to be on the ropes again, however with a little encouragement from Orga Mikazuki ends it with a sword stab to the cockpit. Ein is killed and Mikazuki manages out his most bloody win of the series.
During all this action Kudelia and Makanai manage to make it just in time to Parliament for the elections. However Makanai seems to be a few votes shy. Kudelia decides to take the stage after Makanai encourages her too and tells the story of Tekkadan and Gjallahorn fulfilling one phase of McGillis’ plan.
Outside Orga finally becomes a leader one can actually look up to and inspires the troops. Instead of inspiring children to die he inspires them to live, how they were successful in their mission and there need be no more need for them to shed their blood. In Edmonton Nadi and Merribet hear his voice and Nadi says this is the order he’s always wanted to give but couldn’t.
This strikes me as a kind of white washing as Orga’s orders last week were beyond the pale. However at the same time everything about this episode seems to be trying to paint over the darkness of the previous episode as we’ll see. However in the end Makanai is elected Prime Minister and orders an ceasfire in the end Tekkadan has prevailed.
In the aftermath we finally see the butchers bill for Tekkadan and it’s... nothing. Absolutely nothing. That is right every named character survived the battle; Ride alive, Lafter Alive and hilariously has no injuries, Shino alive as we saw, even Azee who’s cockpit was crushed is somehow alive and walking. At the end of the day its a little sad the writers didn’t have the guts to continue on with the bad ending in terms of life. The whole thing with these reveals almost feels like a cop out that at the end of the day only no named characters actual died. Hell they even killed LafterHero pretty spectacularly.
However despite the cheap butchers bill this is not a happy ending. No Gjallahorn is now led by a much more formidable opponent in McGillis and his right hand man is Hitler Stash a man with an enduring hatred for Tekkadan. With Gjallahorn no longer trusted to provide security the other economic blocks are building military might potentially setting up an arms race in space and the Earth Sphere and Kudelia’s and Tekkadan’s shadow backers are no poised to reap the economic rewards of increased tension.
After all this it’s basically come down to the world is in a worse place then it was previously and you can lay a lot of the blame on Tekkadan. Again nobody died but this isn’t a good ending a bigger war is brewing and Tekkadan will need to fight again.
However closer to home at the very least Tekkadan has a happy ending. The children as Merribet points out are acting like children again, Kudelia is back to being their Sensei and even Mika is being comforted by Atra and Kudelia over the bodily injuries he suffered, although his bond with the Barbatos is so strong he’s basically one with the machine like something out of The Vision of Escaflowne. Superficially all is well at least for now.
It the superficiality of the happiness as the major events are so bad why there is so much to suspect for season two. However one has to be angry that despite coming so close to an actual bad ending right at the last minute they pulled away. It’s clear now the writers and directors never meant for Iron-Blooded Orphans to really be as dark as it got as in key moments throughout the series they pulled away.
Tekkadan’s and Orga’s actions in particular were not right in many ways but the final episode basically waves them away. For the viewer we’re supposed to feel good about this “Happy Ending” for our heroes even as they leave behind a world hinted at being far worse in the begging. Even Makanai and Kudelia’s negotiations on behalf of Mars are inconclusive. It’s frustrating that so much was left on the table for this ending.
Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is an easy recommendation for any fan of anime and Gundam. Furthermore with the series completed the pacing issues of some of the slower episodes can now be alleviated making it a likely even more enjoyable experience. However it is flawed it had the promise of becoming a masterpiece like War in the Pocket, The 8th MS Team, or Zeta Gundam instead it’s just really really good.
That being said it’s only half over as it’s been confirmed a second season to be coming sometime in 2016, although I still cant believe I did this for 25 weeks... Anyways considering the fact Sunrise series tend to be split by two cours I think I’ll be seeing you again in six months in time for fall. Isn’t it convenient Gundam Unicorn is keeping our time slot warm? Until next time. Cheers!
“The sustenance of life, is on the battlefield”
Gundam Music of the Week:
Last Impression - Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz
If you’re wondering why I picked this song just read the title of it. Seriously how could I not? It’s literally the Last Impression its too perfect not too. Also its just a beautiful song and one that really needs to be heard more.
So I’m not done with Gundam Content either. In the next few weeks I’ll be putting out my Best Mobile Suit List, remember when I took every ones recommendations. Furthermore I’ll be catching up on Gundam: Thunderbolt so look out for that. However no I won’t be covering the TV Version of Gundam: Unicorn as their is no suspense to it.