Sometime in the future, mankind has expanded its habitation to Mars; however, the planet seems to have been drained of its resources by the time the series starts. Life doesn’t appear to be particularly luxurious on the planet, and even less so for an organization of young militants who appear to be put through rigorous training day in and day out. Moreso, the members of the Third Army Division—whom the story centers around—have received man-to-machine implants in their spines, which allow them to better interface with the mecha units that their army uses. Surprisingly, this particular division finds itself selected to play bodyguard to Kudelia, the daughter of a particularly powerful family. Kudelia is vying for independence from Earth, and needs an escort to Earth. Meanwhile, her own father sells her out, and as a result Earth forces attack Mars, placing the Third Division right in the middle of the action. Just as all things appear to be lost and the Mars forces are about to be overwhelmed, one of Third Division’s number launches in a brand new mobile suit.
Iron Blooded Orphans presents yet another take at the tried-and-true Gundam formula. Off-Earth colony of some sort? Check. Political conflict? Check. Teenage protagonist(s)? Check. Mecha? Check. Considerably more powerful Earth force…. you get the picture. Granted, Gundam has branched out to different formulas in the past (G Gundam comes to mind), but the typical Gundam formula contains some combination of the previously mentioned elements, and Iron Blooded Orphans is no exception. Despite this, the series does not feel stale or rehashed, which is a testament to Gundam’s ability to work within its own formula without becoming redundant.
This introductory episode does a good job of introducing us to these new characters and the new timeline without overloading our senses with too much information. We know who our main characters are and that they are part of some teenage militia that treats its members as something less than human, but we don’t know the origins of any of this as of yet. We know the basic gist of the political conflict without knowing the history. We figure out who the Gundam ace is going to be, but we know little about him… you get the picture. Basically, the episode manages to not bore its viewers with an information dump, yet it doesn’t leave us scratching our heads, either. We know enough to hook us into the episode, but we are left with enough holes to want to come back to find out more.
Based on the merits of the first episode, Iron Blooded Orphans has everything it takes to make a successful Gundam series, but of course that could change over the course of the story. One interesting aspect of the show is that it is only slated for 25 episodes, as opposed to the more typical 50 episode series. Whether this will play in the show’s favor (more action and a faster-paced plot) or to its detriment (rushed story elements) will only be seen over time. So far, the amount of story available is intriguing enough, and the show is aesthetically pleasing, with the main characters looking as though they could have each come from different eras of the Gundam franchise without feeling out of place. If you are a fan of Gundam or mecha anime in general then Iron Blooded Orphans is a must-add to your watch list for the Fall 2015 season.
A Christian Perspective:
Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.
A parallel that stuck out to me in this episode was how Kurdelia mentions wanting to get to know the boys in the Third Division so that she can better understand them, and how Christ lived among us and experienced life from the perspective of a mortal. I mention Hebrews as a review for this because the book mentions how we do not have a high priest who cannot identify with our sufferings, but one who was tempted and tried in every way and yet was without sin. I don’t know if it is correct to say that Christ came so that He could experience life through our perspective (for we know He came to save and redeem us), but that was still a part of what He did—and willingly, at that. Of course, Kurdelia is only a human herself, and we know very little about her motives, so we could find out that she has some shady reasoning behind her stated motives, but from the narrow perspective that I currently possess on her character there appears to be a parallel between a pampered rich girl coming down into the ranks of no-name militia members for the sake of bringing independence and Jesus Christ leaving His position in heaven to come down and live among sinful human beings so that we could be cleansed of our sins and brought into eternal life. One of those is clearly a bigger purpose than the other, and in the end what Kurdelia is doing doesn’t even begin to measure up with what Jesus did, but that typically tends to be the case with these types of comparisons.
Language: 4 “d*rn”, 1 “j**z”
Alcohol/Drug Use: A man smokes a cigar
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Three men are shown piloting mehca while shirtless; a man is shown doing pull-ups shirtless; a young boy is shown shirtless on an operating table; several women are shown in bikinis at a protest; shirtless men are shown throughout the episode in general
Violence: Mecha shoot each other with paint in a mock battle; a boy is hit in the face; a man his hit in the back of the head with a gun; two men are shot in the head; plenty of mecha combat and explosions
Blood/Gore: A boy is shown with blood on his face and with blood dripping from his hand; a boy has blood on the corner of his mouth; blood is shown both times that men are shot in the head; Mika is shown with blood dripping from his chin