Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Episode 2: Barbatos

Review:

Mikazuki explodes onto the battlefield in Gundam Barbatos, quickly turning the tide of battle to the Mars forces’ favor. His destruction of an enemy mobile suit does not deter his foes, though, but instead sends them into a rage, with the other two mobile suit pilots engaging him in battle. Barbatos quickly proves to be more than the two foes can handle, but Mikazuki quickly finds that he is short on fuel. Thankfully his enemies withdraw before delivering any killing blows. In the aftermath, the Mars forces recover their dead, Kudelia reflects on the events that have transpired (and her perceived role in causing them) as well as the situation on Mars, and Gjallarhorn licks their wounds and prepares for another attack while Crank agonizes over the fact that he is being commanded to fight children. On Mars, Orga takes some abuse from a member of the First Corps, but soon after reveals his plan to not only get even, but to also take over….

Though Barbatos starts out with an exciting action sequence featuring the Gundam that is its namesake, the majority of the episode focuses on a few individual characters as well as a bit of world building. Even in the opening battle, we see Crank—a member of Gjallarhorn—begin to have his own internal struggles over the fact that he is fighting and killing children. This theme continues throughout various points of the episode, with Crank even raising an objection to his commanding officer upon being ordered to prepare for another attack. It’s nice to see an antagonist with some sense of morality so early in the series, although the end of the episode would suggest that he is still going to follow orders and go through with the attack. Whether or not this will be the case won’t be seen until the third episode, so at least it is a plot point to look forward to. Regardless, Crank does serve as a nice contrast to Ein, a young Gjallarhorn pilot who seems to have no qualms over the killing of children.

Back on Mars, we see a variety of characters react to the aftermath of the battle. A friend of one of the boys killed in battle mourns over his friend’s death. Meanwhile, Kudelia reflects on the Mars situation in a (presumably past) speech. In the present, she reflects on the current situation and blames herself for it. It’s nice to have a character who wants to make a change and yet isn’t full of herself. Kudelia genuinely wants to make a difference, but she doesn’t approach the situation in a cocky manner. On the other hand, you have Mikazuki who seems to be genuinely apathetic in the sense that he does what he needs to do to achieve a goal. While Kudelia is beating herself up, Mika is simply moving forward. He, too, is a departure from the typical Gundam protagonists who are either cocky or (seemingly more often than not) dark and brooding. It’s not that he doesn’t care, it’s more like he goes with the flow.

How the story of Iron-Blooded Orphans will unfold is still very much a mystery, and is made even more so by this episode’s reveal of Orga’s intended coup. While the fight between Mars and the Earth forces seems to certainly be the larger conflict of the series, one can only imagine that Orga trying to take control of the Mars forces will create more enemies. Time can only tell, but so far the episodes have left this viewer feeling satisfied while simultaneously wanting more.

A Christian Perspective:

John 12:18 – You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

The above is a true statement that we witness every day in our society, and it’s a truth that we can’t escape, even in fiction. This is seen in this episode of Iron-Blooded Orphans as we watch the scenes of children literally starving and dying in the streets during Kudelia’s speech. It’s a stark contrast to the generally positive ideas humanity seems to have about expansion, as this presents a situation where humanity has expanded, and yet the problems that we face on Earth are just as present (if not moreso) on this new world. Whether this means the Gundam writers realize that there are problems inherent to humanity no matter where we are or whether this was just written for dramatic effect no one can definitively say, but they have made a profound statement either way. It also says something that there are so many dystopian stories out there—stories of seemingly utopian worlds that turn out to be far from perfect when put under scrutiny. I think this speaks to the fact that we instinctively know that there is something deeply wrong with our society and with ourselves, something that can’t be easily fixed by moving humanity to a new location or by stripping certain freedoms from people.

As Christians we, of course, know that the problem is sin, and the answer is Jesus. Had sin never entered the world, then it stands to reason that there would be no poverty or homelessness. Whether because there would be provision enough for all or because everybody would truly care for his neighbor as he does for himself (thus making sure his neighbor is well cared for) I cannot say, but we live in a society where we look out for number one first and foremost, especially here in “good old America”. I don’t say this as someone who has the concept of generosity down pat—I could certainly stand to be much, MUCH more generous with my time and my money. As is the case with many things, it is easier to recognize the problem then to enact the solution. The point is that even our fiction reflects the fact that our world is broken, and that we do not possess the means of fixing that brokenness.

In the end, the true fix won’t come until Jesus comes and establishes His kingdom here on Earth. On the individual level we, of course, have our reprieve once we shuffle off of this mortal coil, but that doesn’t change the fact that the problems that plague so many people continue on past our deaths. While we’re here, we can do our best to walk as Jesus walked and ease the burdens of those around us, but the only real “perfect, utopian” society will not come until Jesus does.

Content Guide:

Language: 4 “d*rn”, 1 “g*sh”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Shirtless Mikazuki; lots of shirtless men

Violence: Mobile Suit Combat is shown in the intro; Mikazuki engages two enemy mobile suits in combat; Orga is punched in the face

Blood/Gore: Mikazuki’s nose bleeds; Mikazuki stands in a trail of blood in the intro; Mikazuki has blood on his face and chest; Ein has blood on the corner of his mouth; Orga has blood under his nose and near his mouth; blood is shown on the floor

Other: A character mentions that his deceased friend wanted to die smothered in large breasts

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