Category Archives: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Episode 8: The Form of Closeness

Review:

With Tekkadan achieving a decisive victory over the Hammerhead, Naze agrees to hear them out, ultimately siding with the young soldiers and consigning Arkay to work on a Teiwaz installation to pay off the debts he incurred. Afterwards, Orga holds several meetings with Naze, securing a transport route while also requesting that Tekkadan be made a subsidiary of Teiwaz. Orga’s second request requires approval that Naze can’t give, leading them to head to a larger Teiwaz ship. Meanwhile, both Akihiro and Mikazuki devote themselves to improving their combat skills while Atra and Kudelia play with Naze’s children. We are also given a deeper look into the bond that exists amongst the members of Tekkadan, as Naze confronts Orga about it and demands an answer. By the end of the episode, the Teiwaz ship that they are headed for is in sight, meaning that Tekkadan’s next ordeal is about to begin.

The previous episode wrapped up rather swiftly, with Tekkadan shown boarding the Hammerhead and Naze conceding defeat. This episode starts with an extended look at Tekkadan’s infiltration tactics and the methods by which they actually achieved victory. While not a crucial bit of information, the writers certainly deserve credit for fleshing out the details, especially because it helps to make the victory feel more believable. Beyond these opening scenes the episode is pretty much devoid of action, but it still carries itself well and remains interesting despite that, which is something that has sort of become a trademark for this show.

We get to see some subtle growth in our main characters this time around, with both Akihiro and Mikazuki seeming to be a bit humbled by their recent battles. At least, that is the conclusion that one could come to given the fact that they both realize their need for training, and by Mikazuki’s melancholic attitude during his post-battle meal. As the Gundam pilot for this series, Mikazuki is interesting in his own right, as he does not fall into either extreme that seems to be popular in the Gundam franchise—he is neither proud and cocky nor depressive and fatalistic. In fact, Mikazuki’s personality still feels a bit mysterious, though we at least see that he does regret causing problems for others to some extent.

Elsewhere, the dealings between Naze and Orga (and later Orga’s explanation of Tekkadan’s bond) serve as a great way to introduce Naze’s character without it feeling forced while also expanding upon Orga’s character. Although we had some sense of this beforehand, we can definitely say now that Orga was not simply some power-hungry youngster seeking his own fame and glory. His devotion to and care for his fellow members of Tekkadan prove that, although by his own admission he is still a bit childish in his approach, or at least that’s how he ends up presenting himself to Naze. Still, these little character flaws are what make for interesting characters, as we will hopefully get to see Orga, Mikazuki, and the others grow as the series progresses. Whether they grow past these flaws or learn to navigate around them will remain to be seen.

A Christian Perspective:

Matthew 19:5 – And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ (NLT)

I wanted to do something a bit different with this Christian Perspective and talk about marriage. As we find out in this episode, Naze has A LOT of wives. We’re not told how many, but we know that it’s enough to staff his entire ship, so he seems to have sown his oats quite a bit. Certainly we’ve all heard people make comments throughout our lives to suggest the “benefits” of multiple partners, such as the idea that having one woman for the rest of our lives is like having one flavor of ice cream forever while having multiple partners provides a “variety”. As we can see from Jesus’ description of marriage above, though, the God-ordained marriage is one man and one woman, period. It is easy to fall victim to the worldly mentality, especially when you don’t know the truth of God’s Word; I should know, as I speak from experience. Most of my life was spent in sexual immorality, and though I never had multiple sexual partners (thank God for that now), the thought was certainly appealing. It’s not until you see things from God’s perspective (read: the only correct perspective) that you begin to realize the beauty of marriage and having one man and one woman together forever. Without being too graphic or inappropriate, lets just say that when you have one person who knows you better than anyone else, the experience is simply amazing. It’s true that I can’t speak for the idea of having multiple partners, but as a married man I can speak for the idea of having one partner who knows me on an incredibly intimate level, and it is truly an amazing experience.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: Characters drink alcohol in the episode preview

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Women wear cleavage revealing tops

Violence: Ships fire at each other; Orga’s forces fire gas; Naze flicks Orga in the face

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Episode 7: Whaling

Review:

Tekkadan learns that their new nemesis is Maruba Arkay, the president of the now defunct CGS, who is demanding the return of his ship. To make matters worse, he has hired Teiwaz—the very organization with whom Tekkadan desires to do business—to work on his behalf. While Naze Turbine, a member of Teiwaz and captain of the ship Hammerhead, desires to assimilate Tekkadan rather than fighting them, Orga flat-out refuses and pitches his own need for Teiwaz’s assistance with the current mission. This request is, of course, declined, which leads to the two sides going hostile, with Mikazuki and Akihiro launching for Tekkadan while the Hammerhead launches its own crew of initially two—but eventually three—female pilots while the two battleships also engage in combat. The battle proves to be more challenging than either side had wagered, but Tekkadan’s strategy ultimately prevails, seemingly earning them the respect of Turbine while simultaneously sparing the lives of Akihiro and one of the Hammerhead pilots.

This episode continues to follow what appears to be an established pattern of alternating between calm episodes and action-oriented ones. While the previous episode was built around exploring some of the main (and side) characters, this one leaves little room for character development (other than the fact that Kudelia can’t put on a space suit by herself) in favor of brutal mobile suit combat. It is, of course, convenient story-telling that Tekkadan’s new opponent should be the very organization with whom they wish to do business (meaning that they don’t have to sniff out Teiwaz anymore, just convince them to actually provide assistance), but at the same time the writers do manage to bring this turn of events back around to previous actions, so at least the appearance of Teiwaz doesn’t come from out of the blue. It should have been expected that taking over CGS would have left at least some hostility, and that comes to fruition this time around.

Story aspects aside, the combat in this episode is truly intense and satisfying, although the way Mikazuki gets fairly well beaten down in the Barbatos does cause one to question what is supposed to be so special about the Gundam unit in this series. While a previous review has praised the fact that the Gundam doesn’t seem to be over-powered this time around—and while that point still stands—it also seems like there isn’t a whole lot to set it apart, when traditionally the Gundam unit(s) is/are specialized suit(s) that outshine all of the others. Granted, the Barbatos does survive a hit that was thought to be deadly this time around, so therein may lie the answer, but the struggle does leave one scratching his head as to why the Gundam should be feared this time around. On the other hand, there is a nod of respect to the realism shown—for all intents and purposes, Tekkadan is still new to this whole world, especially in regards to mobile suit piloting, while their adversaries thus far have been much more experienced. While it seems the Alaya-Vijnana system does give them an edge over foes without that equipment, it is possible that the inexperience of the Tekkadan soldiers means that the system just gives them a fighting chance instead of them simply being slaughtered by more seasoned enemies.

In any event, if you enjoy mobile suits beating the living tar out of each other and holding your breath to see how the protagonists will get themselves out of their current situation, then you will undoubtedly enjoy this episode. There is no easy victory to this battle, and the method by which the battle is decided is not easily predictable. Yet again the series also does a good job of raising as many questions as it answers (at least if you take some time to think), because it certainly isn’t clear where Tekkadan will get all of the resources it will need to repair the damage done in this battle. All-in-all, the series continues to progress nicely without feeling rushed, and it leaves enough to bring viewers back next time.

A Christian Perspective:

Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Pretty much every combatant in this episode embodies this proverb. Mikazuki and Akihiro seemed to be overly confident in their own abilities while the Hammerhead pilots appeared to believe that they would have no problem wiping the floor with the young Tekkadan pilots. This shared cockiness turns disastrous for both sides, as the Hammerhead forces appear to have the upperhand at first, with Akihiro being pinned by the two initial pilots while Mikazuki ulatimely underestimates the third pilot that joins the fray. It doesn’t take long for Akihiro to show his true strength, though, which puts both of his opponents in danger (though Akihiro appears to come close to losing his life), and while Mikazuki initially underestimates his opponent, she seems to do the same to him, assuming that he must have been defeated, which allows Mikazuki to put her into a position that would have resulted in her death had the battle not been called off in the nick of time. The point is that both sides showed an unhealthy amount of pride in this battle, and as a result they both faced death during their skirmish.

The application to real life seems pretty simple here: many times we approach situations with too much pride or confidence in our own abilities, assuming that success or victory will come easy because we are “just that good”, only to find ourselves defeated or, possibly, in sin, because we didn’t rely on God or we took for granted the gifts He gave us and took credit for them ourselves. It is an easy trap to fall into, and we’ve probably all been there several times in our lives. Learning to rely on God can be a difficult thing, and learning to approach situations with humility can be even harder, especially when we are faced with something that we are quick to classify as “easy”, “simple”, or “a decisive victory”. Instead, we should approach situations with humility, acknowledging our own limits and the fact that we don’t know everything that we are getting into.

Content Guide:

Language: 4 “d*rn”, 1 “g*sh”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Two men are shown sitting in a bar with what are likely alcoholic drinks in front of him; Turbine smokes

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A woman is shown polishing her nails in the episode’s beginning—her top shows a little cleavage, and there are some risque camera angles; a woman in a skimpy outfit is shown next to Turbine—the top of her buttcrack sticks out from her jeans, and her top exposes much of her belly and cleavage; two other women on Turbine’s ship are shown in cleavage-revealing bikini tops; Kudelia is shown in her bra and underwear as she tries to get a space suit on—her top shows cleavage; Atra’s bra is also briefly seen as she zips up her suit; Akihiro is shirtless inside his mobile suit

Violence: Turbine’s ship engages in combat with Tekkadan’s ship; typical Gundam violence—ships are hit with missles and gunfire, mobile suits fire at each other and engage in melee combat, etc.

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Episode 6: As For Them

Review:

In the aftermath of their first encounter in space, Tekkadan plans their next move to acquire a new guide to Earth. They ultimately decide to approach a mafia-esque group based out of Jupiter, and alter their course accordingly. In the meantime, they discover that Fumitan has some experience and skill with communications when she manages to patch the ship through to the base on Mars, and Kudelia begins teaching Mikazuki and some of the other boys how to read and write (with Atra’s help). Orga also reflects on why he continues to work as hard as he does. Elsewhere, on a Gjallarhorn ship, Ein asks one of the inspectors to allow him to continue in their service to redeem himself for his previous failures.

As usual, an action-oriented episode is followed up by a more mellow, relaxing episode where the tension is more focused on the establishment of new plans for the organization. Even there, we have little idea of what the characters are getting themselves into, because not much seems to be known about the new organization that they are seeking to work with. It leaves an air of mystery which we get to sail into with the characters. Perhaps the more interesting aspect of the episode is the journey into why most of the characters are illiterate, and their ultimate interest in overcoming that shortcoming. Kudelia’s care for their development is also touching, and helps to further establish her character.

For the most part, this is simply a relaxing episode that provides a little more character background and development for some of the main cast while also establishing a direction for the next arc of the series. Where the story will go and how it will unfold should prove to be entertaining, and where the end of the episode will ultimately lead (and who the man claiming to own Tekkadan’s ship is) will have to wait to be seen.

A Christian Perspective:

1 John 3:18 – Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Kudelia emulates this idea very well in this episode. While we can certainly make a good case that she was already loving with actions by putting her life on the line to go to Earth and fight for the freedom of Mars, she shows an even deeper love in this episode when she takes a deeper interest in the individual lives of the young boys who are fighting to protect her. Her original goal could be argued to have political purposes, but her willingness to teach Mikazuki and the other boys how to read and write takes her care to a personal level as she seeks to enrich and improve the lives of individuals. In the same way we, as Christians, shouldn’t just say that we love God or others, but should rather show it by our actions and our lives.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “g**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: A man is shown smoking a cigar

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: The intro features a woman in a cleavage-revealing top; a man is shown with his jacket unbuttoned; Akihiro is shown exercising shirtless

Violence: Eugene destroys an anchor; a ship collides with another

Blood/Gore: A still frame shows men being executed, with some blood on the ground

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Episode 5: Beyond the Red Sky

Review:

Tekkadan is finally ready to set sail into space as part of its mission to deliver Kudelia to Earth. Unbeknownst to them is the plot that Todo has hatched. Even worse is the fact that Todo’s contact then gets in touch with Gjallarhorn, bringing even more trouble down on the fledgling company’s head. With a new team member, Tekkadan launches into space, only to be attacked by Gjallarhorn forces shortly after; of course, Orga didn’t come unprepared, and Mikazuki launches from their ship to defend his friends while the small space ship docks with the larger space cruiser purchased by Tekkadan in the previous episode. Meanwhile, the company that Todo was working with enters the fray, attempting to stop Tekkadan’s escape. While one member of Tekkadan launches in Crank’s stolen mobile suit to help Mikazuki, another launches in a mobile worker to help them turn the tables on their betrayers. Tekkadan makes its escape and retrieves its sortied members, but not before Mikazuki manages to make a few more enemies for himself.

If action is your thing, then this episode is sure to deliver. While the previous episode was a much more mellow world and plot building piece, this one focuses a lot more on the adrenaline of combat. Granted, the first portion is definitely more devoted to the plot and the overall setup of the betrayal of Tekkadan, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In general, the whole episode carries with it the concern of how Tekkadan is going to overcome is foes and the new threats facing it, which makes for a pretty tense episode overall. The fate of a certain character near the end is the topping to all of this, as the writers literally leave his fate unconfirmed until the final moments, and even though he isn’t necessarily a primary character his actions still make the viewer want him to be okay.

The episode also advances the potential of the Mikazuki love triangle by having Atra decide that she is going to join Tekkadan as a cook. Of course, her feelings for Mikazuki have been pretty obvious early on, and the assumption is that something will likely develop between Mika and Kudelia, but whether this will become a primary focus of the story or not is up for grabs right now. Mikazuki certainly doesn’t present himself as the romantic type, but those of us who like a little romance in our mecha dramas at least have some type of subplot to focus on.

It was also nice to see Mikazuki struggle a bit during the battle in this episode. While he seemed to have a power advantage, the Gjallarhorn pilots gave him a run for his money in terms of skill, with very few—if any—actually dying at his hand. While the standard rule of thumb in Gundam series is that the Gundams are more powerful than any other mobile suits, it would be boring to see the protagonist simply wipe the floor with all of his foes. Of course, it’s not like every other Gundam series does this, either (with the exception of the throwaway scrub suits), and the setting of Iron Blooded Orpahns would appear to have mobile suits to be a more valuable commodity rather than the mass-produced status they seem to have in previous entries. In any event, we still don’t know too much about Iron Blooded Orphans’ world, but we do know that Mikazuki will have his work cut out for him, even in his Gundam.

At the end of the day, there is little (if anything) negative that could be said about this episode. It continues everything that we’ve come to enjoy so far while providing a satisfying dose of action. Where the character rivalries started in this episode will go is unknown, and whether or not launching Todo to Gjallarhorn will have any significance on the plot is a personal question that this writer hopes will be answered in subsequent episodes. Hopefully the quality of the series will continue through its whole run.

A Christian Perspective:

So I honestly drew a blank with this episode. Maybe it’s because I got to caught up in it, or maybe nothing simply stuck out to me, but there wasn’t really any kind of “lesson” that jumped out to me; however, I did eventually think of a comparison between this episode and 2 Chronicles 13-16:

Now Jeroboam had sent troops around to the rear, so that while he was in front of Judah the ambush was behind them. Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both front and rear. Then they cried out to the LORD. The priests blew their trumpets and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. The Israelites fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hands.

The connection for me came from the fact that Tekkadan sort of does get sandwiched between Gjallarhorn and Orcus during this episode’s battle, although it’s not exactly with one in the front and one in the rear. Still, the fledgling company finds itself surrounded by foes, but ultimately finds its way out. The difference between this situation and the one described in the above Scripture is that Tekkadan had to rely on their own craftiness and resourcefulness, while Judah was able to call upon God and He rescued them from their enemies. I don’t know about you, but having God fight for me and take care of my seemingly hopeless situation is much preferred to relying on my own ability to figure it out. It’s not really much of a spiritual lesson, but if nothing else we can see the benefits of having God on our side by looking at it from this perspective.

Content Guide:

Language: 5 “d*rn”, 1 “a**”

Alcohol/Drug Use: A man smokes a cigar

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Todo is tied up in nothing but his boxers
Violence:
Todo is punched in the face; mobile suit combat takes place, with suits firing at each other, at a space ship, and beignd esroyed in melee combat; one ship fires at another

Blood/Gore: Gaelio’s head bleeds

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Episode 4: The Price of Life

Review:

Tekkadan continues to work on their plan to get Kudelia to Earth by sending a group to a nearby spaceport to take possession of an old CGS ship. Meanwhile, Todo offers to help the operation by hooking Tekkadan’s members up with a connection that he has to a certain CEO. Unfortunately, Todo’s intentions don’t appear to be as innocent and helpful as he would have Orga and the others believe, although we don’t know what the former First Corp member could have in mind. Elsewhere, Mikazuki drags Kudelia along with himself and Biscuit to harvest corn with Biscuit’s family, which gives Kudelia a bit more insight into how the economy of Mars works and why young men must hire themselves out as labor. While there, they encounter the two agents from Gjallarhorn who were previously shown conducting their investigation in space and then later on Mars when the agents almost run over Biscuits sisters. After an initially tense encounter with Mikazuki, the situation becomes rather calm and the agents leave without incident. As Mikazuki and company return to the base later, they see that Orga has commissioned a new design for their base’s logo, and the whole company prepares for the upcoming mission, unaware of Todo’s deception at work in the background.

Generally speaking, this was a pretty slow episode, although it did serve to set up the next phase of the plot and to further establish some already present points. For example, there was enough reason to conclude that the inspectors from Gjallarhorn were not on good terms with the ship that they were investigating, and this episode seems to further drive that point home, especially as the two inspectors descend to Mars and observe the telltale signs of recent battle. We are as of yet unaware as to why there is bad blood between the two groups, so it is possible that these slow moments are building up to something more substantial later on in the series. That’s the problem with watching a show episode-by-episode: we can only see the momentary events and not the overall picture. It’s true that this is the case with pretty much anything you watch, but at least when all of the episodes are available you can watch one after another and more readily see where a particular set of circumstances were leading. For now, we can only hope that these small moments will lead to something worthwhile.

With the previous points in mind, it has to be said that Iron-Blooded Orphans deserves praise for its ability to hold viewers’ attention despite the slow pace. Whether it’s the characters themselves or the writers’ ability to tease out just enough to make you wonder what will happen next is probably a matter of debate, but the episode doesn’t feel like a waste despite its lack of action. The most intense moments are limited to Todo’s occasional hints of betrayal and Mikazuki’s group encountering the Gjallarhorn inspectors. Granted, the bit of world building in the episode helps to maintain interest, as do the minor plot progressions (such as the team Orga sent out securing the space ship). Whatever the case may be, the writers are doing something right, and they have what appears to be a more action-oriented episode prepared for next time, so those who were disappointed with this episode should stick around.

A Christian Perspective:

Read Ephesians 4.

As Christians, we are instructed to be unified as the body of Christ, not dividing ourselves over arguments and disagreements. True, we will often disagree on some point of doctrine (continuation versus cessation, free will versus predestination, etc.), but we should be able to disagree without dividing ourselves, as long as the essentials of the faith are agreed upon (you know, the things that make us Christians in the first place). The need for unity is pretty clear—it’s hard to function effectively if the parts are all working against each other and tripping each other up, not to mention the fact that if the world only sees in-fighting amongst the members of the Church, then what incentive do they have to want to join us? How are we emulating the love of Christ? So, how does this work in conjunction with this episode? I’m glad you asked!

As the review touched upon, there appears to be a lack of cooperation amongst the Gjallarhorn forces, and even among Tekkadan in the form of Todo. While the mission of the Gjallarhorn inspectors is not known presently, we can surmise that things would be much easier on them if they didn’t have to sift through data and investigate the Mars landscape in an attempt to piece information together. Todo working against Tekkadan is, of course, to their detriment because he basically plans to betray them. In this case, it was unwise of Orga to allow him to stay, and Todo is serving as more of a virus within the body than an actual part of the body itself. In any event, both of these cases present a lack of unity and how it is making the tasks of those involved more difficult than they would otherwise be.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Shirtless men

Violence: A flashback shows Mikazuki destroying Crank’s mobile suit; a man slams his head against a wall; Mikazuki grabs a man by the throat

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Arta and Mikazuki wear good luck charms

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Episode 3: Glorious Demise

Review:

Life seems to go about normally at the base, with characters shown going about their duties and conversing normally. Kudelia is shown to be assisting Biscuit and his sisters with serving food, and it is also revealed that she tried to help with the cooking, as well. Despite her protests, Mikazuki is served a portion of the food prepared by Kudelia, which he ultimately compliments due to the large chunks of vegetables. During all of this, Biscuit is called away to feed the members of First Corp, who are rude as usual, but the tables quickly turn as they later wake up to find themselves bound in a room thanks to the food being laced. Orga and Third Corp enter and announce that they are taking over before Mikazuki executes a man. The survivors are given the option to stay or leave, with a guy from accounting being made to stay. In the aftermath, Third Corp is shown going over the numbers to determine how much money they have until Crank shows up to challenge the base to a duel. Despite a First Corp defectors protests, Orga will not agree to just hand Kudelia over, instead allowing Mikazuki to take Barbatos into battle. The two combatants engage in a violent duel leading up to a bloody finish.

While the coup was already expected thanks to last episode’s preview, what wasn’t expected was how little time the episode actually devoted to it. While one might expect a big, bloody confrontation, what we actually get is a quiet, stealth mission that is over in minutes. Granted, this is certainly a wiser method (less deaths and less noise so that more people don’t jump in), but it’s not the most exciting thing to watch. Mikazuki shows just how brutally violent he can be, though, as he shoots a bound man in the head without hesitation. Truth be told, there is a lot of talking in this episode, but it builds up the plot fairly well and manages to keep the viewer engaged because the characters themselves are actually likable and interesting.

Of course, the climax of this episode is the duel between Mikazuki and Crank at the end, and it doesn’t disappoint. While the general rule of thumb in Gundam anime is that the Gundam is leaps and bounds more powerful than any other mobile suit, it is nice to see Crank actually give Mika a run for his money. It was also nice to have an antagonist that we could actually feel sorry for. A lot of times the antagonists are just jerks, but in this case we have a guy who is actually morally against what he is being asked to do (fight children), hence the reason for only seeking a duel. Crank’s honor makes him likable, and makes this writer wish he would have defected instead of doing battle with Mika. There is also a stark contrast between the two fighters: Crank questioned his commander’s orders and sought a resolution that didn’t require bloodshed while Mikazuki followed Orga’s orders wholeheartedly and sought a fight to the death, even though Crank had no intention of pursuing that end initially. In retrospect, it actually makes Mika a little less likable, but perhaps this will ultimately move him towards some kind of change? At this point, only time will tell.

The story of Iron Blooded Orphans is just getting started—the next episode looks like it will put us in space, and what’s a Gundam series without space fights? The series is off to a strong start so far, and we can only hope that it continues in that direction.

A Christian Perspective:

Matthew 22: 37-38 – Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.

My focus in this episode is Mikazuki’s supreme, unquestioning devotion to Orga against everything else. Case in point, Crank clearly states that the duel between him and Mikazuki does not have to be so serious as to be unto death, yet Mikazuki rejects that stipulation, stating that Orga ordered him to kill Crank. If you’ve seen this episode, then you know that Mikazuki ultimately kills Crank and emerges victorious. While Mikazuki’s handling of the situation isn’t to be admired in and of itself (Crank was, for all intents and purposes, a noble man who had no desire to kill children), his unwavering devotion to Orga’s commands is, if only for the fact that we, as Christians, are also called to have unwavering devotion to the commands of our Lord Jesus. As with most of my comparisons, this one is, of course, imperfect, and maybe even moreso than others, because Orga’s command in this situation (and Mikazuki’s adherence to it) is downright deplorable given the fact that their opponent was not seeking bloodshed, and I feel I must continue to stress that it is the idea of Mikzuki’s obedience and not necessarily his actions that I am making the focal point here.

At the end of the day, there will always be things that Jesus will ask of us that aren’t easy for us to do, and there will be other people who will try to get us to act in a way that is not in accordance with those commands. In those situations, we must make sue we adhere to Jesus’ command above all else. The good news is that Jesus won’t ask us to do something morally repugnant, but He very well may ask us to do things that we wouldn’t be comfortable with.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “d*rn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Mikazuki is shown shirtless; a flashback appears to show several shirtless men

Violence: A man kicks Biscuit; Orga kicks a man in the face; Mikazuki shoots two men in the head; Mikazuki and Crank battle in their mobile suits

Blood/Gore: Blood splatters on a man’s jacket and pools under his body; A LOT of blood at the end of the Mikazuki/Crank duel

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

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Episode 1: Iron and Blood

Review:

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.

Content Guide:

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