Thanks for waiting an extra day and here we are for episode 3, if you want to check it out here are my recaps for Episode 2 and Episode 1. Anyways moving on this was another crazy episode of Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans which now seems to be settling into a simple pastern of slow but deliberate movements to an as of yet unknown goal, however it is clear from this early going that the show knows exactly what it want’s to do. With episode one being little more then setting up the pieces and episode two moving them into place we finally have an episode where a story line pays off and wow is it bloody! Now lets end the build up and move into Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans!
The year Post Disaster 323, in the aftermath of the surprise attack on the Chryse Guard Security Outpost - the Orphans have been left in charge of their fate. However forces quickly move against them in their time of weakness.
I’m going to start this off here this episode is called “Glorious Demise” and if you are wondering yes it lives up to this particularly ostentatious title, if you were hoping for a darker Gundam you are getting your wish we’re moving to abyss here. However before we get to the meat of the title there are still some lingering issues from last episode that has to be cleared out of the way. Orga is now firmly in command of Chryse Guard Security and the time of the coup is finally at hand.
Orga has rounded up the former members of the First Squad (who hasn’t been killed yet) and the Officer Corps and offers a rather simple choice. You can continue to work under me or leave, a surprisingly generous option. However for some of the more brutal members of the First Squad their options are less then enviable they are given no choice but to die for their sins. This final act of vengeance is performed by Mikazuki who once again as I wrote last week showed no remorse as one by one he gunned down in cold blood his former comrades. Again carrying over from last week Mikazuki’s actions were the result of Orga’s orders a person who is shown each episode to be clearly the one in command at times to a troubling degree.
From a fans perspective this is absolutely revolutionary. Never before have we seen a protagonist quite like Mikazuki and the relationship he shares with Orga. Indeed Mikazuki is so far removed from other “Cold” Gundam heroes such as Heero and Setsuna as to not really be comparable. You see both had a sort of battle honour that drove their actions and held them back in the face of true evil, this is not the case with Mikazuki. As you see we have yet to see his own personal morality, indeed I’ll go as far as to say we have yet to see his conscience. In the place of these fundamental parts of a human being lies his relationship with Orga a man that dominates his actions so fully and completely he will kill for him without a second thought. This is such an alien concept in Gundam I don’t really know how to process it yet, as Gundam has had amoral monsters before but they’ve never been our protagonists.
Moving on from this disturbing yet powerful scene we return to who is quickly become the heart and soul of the series. Kudelia who is slowly starting to fit in with the Orphans after deciding to remain with them due to the threat her father represents. In a light hearted scene Kudelia attempts to cook with Biscuits two adorable sisters and fails miserably. Although one can obviously look at this as a one off scene of cuteness in an otherwise dark and bleak show, I looked at it a different way.
Not only does it show Kudelia in warmer light it also shows her clear wish to help, knowing she can’t aid them on the battlefield she tries her best to help in other ways. Despite the fact her prim and proper upbringing has not prepared her for this situation; it’s merely the fact she tries that is important and shows much about her. Its really scenes like this that shows how rather unique an entity in the Gundam franchise Kudelia has been, as she shows far more potential (and actual) growth in three episodes then many of the “Princess” type characters before her.
Carrying on from the kitchen subplot, Mika and Kudelia then have what I almost feel is their requisite interaction of the episode. As Mika is fed Kudelia’s home cooking which really scares the poor girl. However Mika shows appreciation for her food really calming her and causing her to blush rather uncontrollably. Again although not as poignant as their first few interactions one cannot really help but feel its an important one all the same. Especially following Mikazuki’s acts of remorseless murder. You see so far the only time we’ve ever really seen Mika resembling a human has been with Kudelia; in short she seems to represent (or perhaps will come to aid him a reaching) his humanity. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this and really they’re just one off scenes of adorable behavior to lift spirits, but in such an otherwise well paced and planed story that seems unlikely.
In the lead up to the final act of the episode we’re again treated to a nice quite moment mostly designed to build up Orga as a leader. You see following the slaughter of the majority of Squad One and the Officer Corps Orga has spared the accountant. It appears Orga intends to continue running CGS as a business and being an intelligent leader he knows his limitations and clearly that is money (and most likely academics in general). Its an interesting choice on behalf of the show runners to give us these scenes but again its very instructive. With the exceptions of his tormentors from Squad One Orga showed mercy to the innocent in his eyes - remember he and Mikazuki are Judge, Jury and Executioner so innocent is subjective here, even going so far as to provide severance pay for the people who took him up on his offer to leave.
Finally we get to the climax of the episode with our honourable enemy in Crank returning from the previous battle. Brandishing a red cloth the universal symbol of a duel he challenges Mikazuki to a battle to settle things between the Orphans and Gjallahorn. He offers in the event of his victory to take Kudelia and leave them alone, he leaves out the conditions of his loss... Regardless Kudelia showing more of her martyr complex decides to go without a duel to save Mika’s life. Orga blows her off saying Mikazuki is the ultimate fighter one who has survived three incredibly dangerous Ālaya-Vijñāna surgeries already making him the ultimate blend of man and machine.
Regardless of the talk back at home Mikazuki engages with Crank, who after a no-holds barred fight takes the win. Once again Crank shows his sense of honour by declaring “No child should be victim to adults strife!” to which Mikazuki angrily responds “I’ve never been victimized by anything” getting back to the theme set up in Mika and Kudelia’s first interaction; where the good feelings about the Orphans by their supposed betters doesn’t really resonate with them and their situation.
In the end Mika is the clear victor completely demolishing Cranks mobile suit despite the fact the Gundam Barbatos does not yet seem to be the powerhouse of previous Gundams. Following his victory Mikazuki sees Crank mortally wounded in the cockpit of his demolished suit and exits the cockpit. There Mikazuki asked Crank what is his reward for winning, Crank then says none as for him his only option was success and therefore he must die. Mikazuki showing how little he thinks of his actions calmly states Crank will die only because Orga willed it. In the end Crank begins to asks Mikazuki to help end his life as this old warrior is ashamed he can’t do it himself, however before he can finish asking and retain his last bit of honour Mikazuki coldly shoots him dead and returns to the base, never once looking back.
Back at the base as well Orga looks upon the scene proudly and boldly decides upon a total break from the past. He has decided to abandon the CGS moniker and take up the name “Tekkadon” or Iron Flower as a sign of rebirth. Furthermore Kudelia decides to formally hire Tekkadon as allies and escorts to take her to Earth where a rich benefactor will pay the mercenary group. Presumably setting up the next arc of the series now that Crank the main antagonist of these initial episodes has been felled by Mikazuki.
If it wasn’t clear before, it has to be now this is a dark Gundam, exactly what fans have been asking for. Mikazuki is not your standard Gundam protagonist or even an anime protagonist; he is cold, oddly proud, and unashamed by his actions he does without thought for Orga. As more of the two protagonists relationship is revealed, I expect to see the deep trauma in Mikazuki’s past that has so bound him to his friend and benefactor Orga (the flashbacks to Mika as a child in pool of blood certainly points to this inevitability). Really however something has to break I cannot see Mikazuki remaining as he is for too long he is too dangerous and I would go as far as to say monstrous. Can we blame Orga for this? Perhaps, but one thing is clear Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is going to bring this to a head.
My personal prediction is Mikazuki loses control and goes on some sort of blood rage frenzy following the death of somebody who I still predict to be Biscuit. This forces him to come to grips with the lives he has taken for no clear reason beyond “Orga said so”. Furthermore the more I see the more I feel Orga will end up as some sort of antagonist or at least more divided from Mikazuki (who I predict will go off on his own as Gundam protagonists often do) at some point and in this moment of weakness we’ll see more of his true self, not the confident commander and master of men we see right now.
As always thanks for reading and I hope you had as good time with this recap as I had with writing it. Again sorry for the delay three weeks in a row is inexcusable and I will do my best to be more prompt in the future. So what do you guys like? Think Mikazuki is as monstrous as I do, do you blame Orga for making him that way? Sound off in the comments and come back next week.
“The sustenance of life, is on the battlefield”