Welcome back to Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Impressions if you want to check out some of my earlier write ups you can find EpisodeFive, Four, and Three linked here. Following on the heels of the action packed fifth episode (that as I wrote probably blew a good chunk in the animation budget) Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans shifts gears yet with a slow and subdued episode entitled “As for Them” that was none the less very important to the overall structure of the show. Much like the fourth episode focusing on world building episode six did the exact same thing again, this time focusing on the structure of the galaxy and the history of it. Furthermore after a few episodes where Mika and Orga’s relationship took a backseat to other developments our two protagonists relationship returned front and center.
The year Post Disaster 323, Tekkadon has once against escaped the grasp of their enemy Gjallahorn. However their way forward is cut, gambling with the future Orga makes a risky move.
Taking place right after the battle with Gjallahorn Tekkadon is speeding away. Despite protests from his crew the Chocolate Man Major McGillis decides to let the Orphans espcape. He quickly and calmly deduces due to the “package” they sent (Hitler-stash) that Kudelia is with them and eventually they will make their way to Earth. Therefore rather then chase them in a weakened state it would be more prudent to merely wait for them to return to them. Once again showing McGillis to be the most formidable enemy so far encountered in the series; making him in my opinion the closest to the “Char Clone” character we have in the series as his skills seem to be the best of both Orga and Mikazuki.
Furthermore it’s during this time that McGillis revels more information regarding the Gundams of this time line. As we already knew the Barbatos is an old machine, furthermore although it was already revealed through outside information we learn that there were 73 “Gundam” type Mobile Suits in the past as it stands how many remain operational is a mystery (three have been confirmed to appear however). These suits during the Calamity War were the main agents of destruction and following the war it appears the suits were re-purposed such as Barbatos being used as a power plant.
During this discussion McGillis continues on about the more technical aspects of Gundams and I can’t help but think this is a clue to one of the bigger mysteries of the series. As McGillis is explaining the power behind the Barbatos he makes reference to the twin “Ahab Reactors” powering the Barbatos. This is of course interesting as it does make one thing of the OO Gundam. Thinking back to the first episode the Inspectors the sub-organization of Gjallahorn which McGillis is a member has the stated goal to stop further disasters. The exact meaning of that is unclear; however now with the knowledge that only Gjallahorn possesses modern Mobile Suit technology (that we know of) a theory is taking shape.
My thought is Gjallahorn in general and the Inspectors in particular is tasked with stopping Ahab Reactors from returning to the world due to their extreme power output which is most likely dangerous in some way. This theory I feel fills certain gaps such as why McGillis is so knowledgeable regarding Gundams and Ahab Reactors as well as why Mobile Suit technology development seemed to be pushed to Mobile Workers. In the end this is all very ill informed speculation but that’s the fun part early going isn’t it.
Returning to the Isaribi character development and understanding is the name of the game today. After a cute little scene between Atra and Mika which shows how dense and comforting Mika can be simultaneously the two move out to distribute the Bento’s to the rest of the crew. However before they can make it to the hanger the two friends run into Kudelia who requests once again to help out. Before moving on though Mika and Kudelia have another one of their conversations on the state of the world.
Returning to one of the major themes of the series Kudelia explains her reasoning of going to Earth, where she can negotiate for Martian independence. Mika much like previously in episodes one and two is less impressed then Atra. Saying simpley “Oh you’re the one who’ll make us happy”. Showing how little faith he has in flowery words as we know Mika values action and results. While during these I do make slight light of Mika and Kudelia’s episodic little chats they do add much needed dimension to characters and from where they approach problems.
Indeed if the difference in the two isn’t clear yet it becomes almost painfully obvious when it is shown Mika is illiterate and Kudelia offers to teach him as she is shocked by the lack of education the Orphans have received; unable to comprehend a situation where survival trumps education. The characterization between the two is stark at this point Kudelia is an educated, refined, but woefully naive while Mikazuki is illiterate (possibly dyslexic), blunt, and world worn. I don’t think there has been a scene in the entire series so far that shows how big a gulf in experience and outlook exists between the two characters. Which to be honest is probably why their conversations is so captivating.
Following this scene on the bridge Orga is explaining his plans to turn around. Rather then move on towards Earth which their enemies would expect (he is right) they’d continue on to the second “Outter Sphere” Jupiter to meet the Organization “Teiwaz”. While not much is known it seems Teiwaz is an organziation beyond the control of the economic powers of the Earth Sphere or Gjallahorn themselves. However described as the Mafia most likely they’re not trustworthy.
Moving on we’re treated to a rare scene where we get to understand Orga a lot more as a person. Indeed since the beginning the Orga Mikazuki relationship had always seemed one sided with Orga’s will dominating Mikazuki’s. However this episode reveals this toxic relationship is a two way street, while Mikazuki has granted his autonomy to Orga Orga feels to be worthy of this boon he must be great himself. This causes Orga to make reckless decisions that could imperil everyone. This for myself was a welcome revelation as a fan of Orga I’m glad to know he’s very much aware of the power he has over Mika, however at the same time its disconcerting our two main characters are is such a unhealthy relationship with each other and neither wants to get out.
Really all around this was a quiet episode and that was fine. The world building was done with aplomb despite the fact such an info dump could turn off some viewers showing the show has a self confidence that many anime fails to achieve. While the character interactions are so vital to understanding them going forward and shedding new light on past actions. All around following on the masterwork that was episode five almost any episode could feel boring but “As for Them” provided another solid entry into Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans and ending on a cliff hanger with the Orphans running into their old boss on the way to Jupiter.
“The sustenance of life, is on the battlefield”