Sorry about the delay in posting but life kind of got in the way of writing for a time and everything was pushed back until now. Therefore I decided instead of doing a kind of pointless write up for Episode 17 alone, I’d wait for Episode 18. However other delays then got in the way of that... so here we are Thursday... anyways I hope you enjoy this Two Part Extravaganza. Needless to say there will be a lot to talk about, however I’ll try to be less verbose then normal to make this less an unwieldy beast of a write up (so spoiler I totally failed at that...). Also because its so late we get gifs to illustrate my point this time, which lets be frank its much more enjoyable to see Gundam’s kicking ass and taking names then just reading about it. Gundam after all is a a very visual story and what a treat for the eyes these episodes were.
For Kotaku Readers: Check out this weeks write up now.
Note: I’ve updated the spellings to be in proper alignment for a variety of proper nouns most notably a favorite character of mine...
More Notes: This is a monster of a write up about 2300 words dont feel bad if you just skip to the comments. I understand.
Picking up right in the aftermath of the bloodbath on Dort 2 the Union rebellion is in disarray following its leaders untimely demise and the whole sale slaughter of its main forces. To make matters worse little do they know the entire thing was a set up as pretext for a much larger and more important conflict . Foillowing this the Arianrhod fleet the elite unit of Gjallahorn military tasked with protecting the Earth Sphere moves in to engage, setting up an epic space battle. The likes of which we have never seen previously in the series.
To make matters worse the Mobile Suits the Union forces were provided (by Gjallahorn) are totally worthless and defective as they wont move and shoot. Making them little more then target dummies for the overwhelming force of Gjallahorn baring down on them. Gaeleo continuing to show a sense of honour seems disgusted by the tactics employed by Arianrhod calling it little more then a slaughter. In fact he is so turned off by the entire thing he refused to take part in the battle agreeing this is merely another symptom of the corrupt nature of Gjallahorn at the top. Once again showing a clear divide between those allied with the Seven Stars and those aligned with the military brass of Gjallahorn, at least as of now.
Interestingly the more the series progresses the less I see this in a Universal Century light. What is striking is how similar the Seven Stars is to OZ from New Mobile Report Gundam Wing. For those unfamiliar OZ was an elite unit within the Earth Sphere Military led by its leader Treiz Kushrinada somebody who shares ideological similarities with Gaeleo and McGillis. In that honour on the battlefield is paramount for the only way a soldier can truly live is to fight a worthy battle. This idea blends nicely with the tagline of the series “The sustenance of life, is on the battlefield”. I doubt anything will come of this however the similarities are becoming striking.
As the Government tries to suppress the truth of the conflict by blaming the conflict on “Terrorists” the Tekkadon crew watches and debates what to do next. Kudelia seemingly changed (for the better) by the loss of Fumitan and the horror she witnessed declares she wishes to become “hope” for the people. Inspiring several members of Tekkadan leaving the core the decision up to Orga; asking Mika his advice Mike responds he’ll do what Orga decides BUT he doesn’t like seeing Kudelia and Atra looking so down. Once again showing a sense of self and independence that was missing from Mikazuki not 10 episodes prior, clearly showing the positive growth both our hero and heroine have gone through.
As the crew moves out attempting to return to space the members of the media see them. They explain they wish to report on both sides and as such wish to speak to Kudelia a key member of the standoff and subsequent massacre at the Dort 2 Government building. Setting up one of the most over used tropes in all of Gundam the Space Princess Impassioned Speech! A trope that can either crash and burn (looking at you Kagalli Yula Atha) or actually be pretty good. How this one turns out lets wait and see...
With the battle music picking up those left in space prepare to engage. Lafter and Akihiro especially seem spoiling for a fight with Akihiro finally able to debut as a Gundam pilot himself. An interesting scene happens as well where its shown what happens when a normal grunt tries to sync with the Barbatos via the Alaya-Vijnana system and the result is very similar to a stroke so ya... not pretty. Once again showing how strong Mikazuki actually is.
With the Barbatos successfully reunited with Mikazuki the machine quickly makes its mark on the battlefield easily dispatching its foes. However a surprise happens as Gaeleo piloting another Gundam the Kimaris finally arrives. Another relic of the Calamity War this particular suit had been within Gaeleo’s family for generations only being retrofitted due to the recent conflicts. During the two elites conflict Orga and the rest of Tekkadan return to the Isaribi along with a few guests. The media team they met prior.
Piloting a rebuilt Graze Shino a minor character has renamed it (to much chagrin) the Ryusei-Go(!) and immediately engages the machines former teammate Ein Dalton. Ein is instantly repulsed by the very sight of the machine going so far to comment on its color. He is quick to realize though he may not have such an easy fight due to the quick reaction time granted to the machine by the Alaya-Vijnana system.
Gaeleo proving to be a formidable opponent however continues to assault Mikazuki. Indeed due to his long range speed type he proves to be a dominating foe pushing Mikazuki to his limits. Likely if it wasn’t for the rebuilt Gusion Gaeleo would have taken Mikazuki’s head. However the defensive type Gusion plus offensive type Barbatos proves to be too much for Gaeleo alone forcing a retreat. However an overwhelming fleet is quickly approaching threatening their hard won victory.
As the men prepare for what is likely to be their final battle, Kudelia’s voice begins to transmit through the speakers. Creating a brief pause in the action the Gjallahorn forces are caught by surprise believing they were in total control of the media. It’s quickly revealed the broadcast is being allowed and likely transmitted by the African Union (potentially a sympathetic nation?) one of the multiple economic blocs that comprise the Earth Sphere. However Gjallahorn does not take this lying down and quickly tracks the signal to the Isaribi where they sortie multiple Mobile Suits for attack.
As the attack is about to begin, from on high the order to cease fire is given due to Kudelia’s speech. Which incidentally was one of the better ones in the long running franchise. Watching the speech from on far is McGillis and Hitler-stash who seems to be looking better then when we last saw him. The next scene we see McGillis reveal himself to Tekkadan as a representative of the “Montage Group” likely the reasoning behind the mask to hide his identity from Tekkadan who know him by his true name and face.
Returning to the main Gjallahorn forces Ein and Gaeleo are having a discussion. Ein apologizes for being ineffective, Gaeleo brushes him off saying HE should apologize as Ein was wounded protecting his life due to his carelessness by not expecting multiple Gundams to engage. However the conversation transitions into deeper discussions on race and politics. Revealing what I’ve long suspected those of Martian blood are considered to be sub-human and only pure blooded Earthlings are worth anything within Gjallahorn. Ein being born of a Martian mother is therefore looked down upon within his military, explaining why he’s so attracted to the more egalitarian Gaeleo.
Furthermore during this scene we learn a little bit more of the less and less enigmatic Alaya-Vijnana system. Where its implied that using it is a beastly procedure that makes you less then human. It shows why seemingly only subhuman objects like the former Human Debris members of Tekkadan have them. Giving even deeper meaning to the very title of the show “Iron Blooded” being both literal and figurative at the same time. A narrative trick I myself am a little surprised by how well it worked.
Returning to the Isaribi the Masked Man is trying to negotiate terms for aid with the Tekkadan. Negotiations are rocky at best and seemingly meaningless as we know one side is playing both sides. However as the meeting ends Mika immediately and kind of hilariously asks “Why is the Chocolate Man here?” revealing our Char Clone to be none other than... the Char Clone we always knew he was and who we never pretended was anyone else. Honestly though that was so forced, it was an even worse reveal the Mu being alive in Gundam SEED Destiny. Yes Iron Blooded-Orphans was for a very brief time WORSE then Gundam SEED Destiny.
Following the hilariously anti-climactic “unmasking” (can we lose the glam rock wig now, Bowie could pull it off not you McGillis) the entire plot is “revealed” to the viewer. Considering the fact for the past eight or so episodes basically every speculation of where this was going was already predicted here I wont go into his revelation other then to say it was kind of predictable. Hey what can you do its a Gundam we need some stability here it cant be all ripped bishonens and masked men.
While the next two scenes were short they were certainly sweet. One clearly showed Kudelia understanding how over her head she is in matters of world politics, worlds difference for the naive little girl we met in the first episode. However despite her growth she remains fragile as Atra explained. This however pales in comparison to the next scene where we meet a new member of the Seven Stars a theatrical woman (to say the least) who seems to have little regard for Gaeleo who likely shares the same feeling.
I feel this complicates things as its likely she is allied with Arianrhod’s brass while Gaeleo is clearly aligned with McGillis. Which shows that there is factions within factions within factions in Gjallahorn. While this is all speculation due to limited information at this point I expect McGillis’ solo act is likely to do with a difference of opinion in the Seven Stars alliance, potentially with his own father. A tension point we saw a few episodes prior.
As the episode continues we’re treated to a rotating display of likely important characters. Who are almost certainly the various leaders of the Economic Blocs dominating the Earth Sphere. Each of these characters had well written but I expect meaningless lines of dialogue that serve little purpose beyond flavoring their character. Hell by voice actors alone you can already tell the archetypes they’re supposed to fill...
Following the set up our female fans are treated some serious beef cake. However resident Ms. Fanservice Lafter doesn’t seem to be pleased, if anything she is positively gloomy. By this point it’s becoming pretty clear Lafter and Akihiro could be the series second Ship, which kind of scares me. As Akihiro has always struck me as the most likely “major death” that’s long been expected but never came. By this point with only six episodes remaining in this season (not confirmed) I worry for big guys safety.
In the final scene of the episode Atra steps up and offers her support in Kudelia’s mission. However Kudelia knowing her weakness isn’t an external issue but an internal issue with her very being vows to become stronger so more people can look to her and hope. Mika though sees such immense strength in Kudelia saying even Orga couldn’t stop war with only words vows to help her two. With both Mika’s and Atra’s words finally breaking though Kudelia breaks down into tears and embraces her pain. Finally allowing her to emerge as the revolutionary she was always meant to be.
Normally I recap here but this is long enough as is... really this was just some great story telling, beautiful animation, and only a few hiccups along the way. All around I really enjoyed these episodes as they possessed a bountiful blend of world building, action, and even some surprise emotion at times. While the shows old habit of RAISING DEATH FLAGS came back pretty hard I’m willing to over look it. All around it feels weird to say this but we’re clearly on the way to the final act of this season; which of course is just the beginning.
“The sustenance of life, is on the battlefield”
So ya no Gundam Music of the Week this time instead we’re to be treated to some cool jazz via a promo for Gundam Thunderbolt Episode 2! I’ve been waiting for this one and next week to make up for these late late write ups (again I’m seriously sorry) we’ll have a real double does of Gundam. Watch for it Thunderbolt and Iron Blood next week!