Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Episode 01 – These Kids’re Alright…

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…Except for all those things that have been done to them, never mind their place in a PMC that sees them as expendable. But let’s not dwell on that much, because there’s a lot to like in this very good first episode.

The greatest strength of this premiere is its handling of a universe that’s the result of a 300 year long reign of Mars by the Earth Sphere. The peace is frayed, calls for independence are beginning to rise, and there is an undercurrent of tension on every level. All of this is established without firing a shot given the series describing the Special Forces of Earth, Gjallarhorn, as very violent in their quelling of uprisings. The way a well-to-do Martian citizen wipes his sweating brow as he diplomatically grovels for his daughter’s independence seeking behavior, is well done and establishes how much fear can be generated if Earth is opposed. Heck, a shot won’t be fired from their elite units until near the end of the episode, and even then you can see tensions are frayed there too! I like these little touches, and hope it remains such throughout the course of the series, even if Gjallarhorn/Earth eventually goes full Titans (Zeta) or A-LAWS (00 Season 2).

This helps when it comes to the characters. Instead of the inexperienced, in-over-their-heads, rookies that dot the Gundam landscape when war comes to their front door, CGS (Chryse Guard Security) is the complete opposite. Their lower status in not just in their company but society allows us to see war from an underclass. This is well-manifested in Mikazuki Augus (our Gundam pilot) and his childhood friend cum leader of the Third Group, Orga. Mika, while maintaining a stoicism that would make Setsuna F. Seiei envious, is very astute even if very deferring to Orga, and utilizes his expertise not for revenge or power but to protect his comrades and follow his friend. Orga is also very much the same, albeit a bit more talkative and a bit more cunning in not just making sure the Third Group (and Mika) gets out alive, but that whoever leaves them behind gets it, and gets it bad. It’s a nice dynamic, evoking comparisons at best to Simon/Kamina or at worst Guts/Griffith. Regardless of where those two end up on that scale of bros/comrades, hopefully it is executed very well.

This is exemplified well when it comes to clashing with the resident peace Princess du jour, Kudelia Aina Bernstein. Unlike a good number of princesses in the Gundam franchise since probably Relena Peacecraft, she’s thrown into the shit from the get go and even before the episode’s attack, her worldview is immediately challenged. On one hand, there’s a genuine feeling of concern from her over the treatment of people like the Third Group, but on the other it inadvertently feels like it’s political posturing and they’re being used not just as protection, but promotional material for independence. How that disparity of class level will be addressed as the series goes on remains to be seen when it comes to her behavior, but something’s got to happen especially after Mika’s curt, tactless refusal to shake hands with Aina.

Aesthetically in both visuals and sounds the show looks as great as it did in the promotional videos, so nothing much to be said there.

Overall… Well, go watch the first episode of Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. It’s right here. It looks like it’ll be a smartly written, well-produced ride, that won’t pull its punches as things continue on from this rather electric beginning.

Iron-Blooded Notes:

- Amplify that comparison of Mika/Orga to Simon/Kamina by giving them the goggles and the sunglasses. Once you do, you can see it can’t you?

- I like how much a relic the Gundam Barbatos is. It not only used as power source, but is totally stripped of its original weaponry so as to make it pretty much a skeleton model. I’m looking forward to how they’ll add onto it.

- Also looking forward to any and all future cosplays of the Gjallarhorn guys. Most regal-as-heck uniform designs since Treize Khushrenada.