Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Episode 21 – Sun, Sand, and Shellshock

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SPOILERS AHOY!

It seems wholly fitting I named the title of my article last week as the “Wrong Kind of Soggy Biscuit.” Cuz it turns out the reason it was all soggy was because of all the blood.

Now we are at the major flashpoint for Tekkadan, and like Fumitan’s death for Kudelia, Biscuit’s death for our wayward heroes will shake the foundation to their very core and (most definitely) renew their conviction. It’s a remarkably well-done death and uses the old cadences of how important characters in Gundam die to great effect. You know the one, either last episode or episodes before the character is at a physical or moral impasse regarding current events, then the episode spends its time focusing on the character, showing him eager  to set things right and help his comrades. Then the moment happens, and they’re revealed to be in a position of great distress, the shock comes and you’re wondering if that person will survive. Biscuit takes a blow from Carta Issue in order to defend Orga, and his final scenes are him pinned to the wreck of a mobile worker. I’m thinking, “Nooooo, it can’t be. But at least it’s only his legs. Maybe he’ll be in a wheelchair—“

OOOOOOOOOORPHAAAAAAAAAAAAANS NAMIDA

Then the next episode preview impresses the fact that he’s dead and I sigh defeated: “Goddammit.” Yet, man that is a great way to go from a storytelling standpoint. Unlike Fumitan’s death which was done with what is tantamount to a formal announcement that “SHE IS GOING TO DIE!” right down to the episode title, Biscuit came out of nowhere. After EPISODES of false alarms and Tekkadan escaping by the skin of their teeth, finally the bad guys successfully bite off a big meaty part of their team with no fanfare whatsoever. Biscuit didn’t narrate last week’s next episode preview (Carta did) and the episode’s title (“To the Place of Return”) is innocuous enough to raise any flags (hur hur). Okada in this episode evokes the best of the 0079-era Yoshiyuki Tomino in crafting a death episode that leaves you reeling.

There’s also what I see as a big fake out to the efficacy of one Carta Issue that makes this episode. You’d think somebody so ostentatious and into decorum would be a foe that could be easily defeated with a bit of effort. Yet it is her, not Ein, not Galli-Galli, and not Maccy, who deals the fatal blow. Then here comes the kicker: the act is done out of revenge for a subordinate killed by Shino. A nice juxtaposition, one side’s unnamed grunt is another side’s precious subordinate, and one side’s character that we’ve been familiar with for 21 episodes is another side’s unnamed enemy who needs to die. Poetic or something…

Oh there’s also all that battle happening this episode. That stuff is great I guess. Still…

That biscuit is only soggy because of all that blood.

Iron-Blooded Notes:

  • You think Tekkadan taking it hard will be the worst of the Biscuit reactions, imagine what happens when Cookie and Cracker find out. Probably will tear your heart out. Intriguingly, Mika and Orga are absent from the episode preview. Do I anticipate a hugout like a few episodes ago? We shall see.
  • Love how that big club-like thing the Barbatos is wielding in one Gunpla, was just something Mika found among their supplies and thought was useful as a weapon.
  • Points to anybody who knows where I got the title of the article.