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Monday, 10 October 2016

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2E2.

Mobile Suit Gundam:
Iron-Blooded Orphans
Series 2, Episode 2
In The Midst of Jealousy.

This week's episode finally gives us the full opening theme, which predictably focuses mostly on Mika and Orga, with only very brief shots of other characters. I should clarify, I'm actually not all that keen on Mika as a character -- I don't dislike him, by any means, but I think he's one of the less interesting characters in the cast, and there's something quite jarring about his design when you put him next to any other character in the show.

In this week's episode, after finishing their battle with the pirates, Tekkadan starts to regroup and gear up to go on the offensive, after McGillis hires them to take out their assailants, a band of pirate mercenaries known as the Dawn Horizon Corps who have no declared all out war on Tekkadan. Meanwhile, Hash pushes to be given the Alaya-Vijnana surgery but is turned down, and explains his reasons to another new Tekkadan member. On the Earth branch, Chad and Takaki deal with their problem subordinates, including Aston, a former Brewers.

So, in this episode we unlock Hash's tragic backstory, which makes me worry about him a little -- I think the last character whose tragic backstory was unlocked this quickly was Ein, and that was because we saw his tragic backstory happen. Anyway, he hates Mika (and Tekkadan?) because an older friend of his left to become a soldier for CGS, Tekkadan's predecessor, only for the Alaya-Vijnana surgery to paralyse him (and do some weird stuff to his back) and for CGS soldiers to respond by dumping him back in the slums, prompting him to eventually commit suicide.

Honestly, is Eugene even a necessary character, at this point?

That's a -- fairly dark backstory, even by Iron-Blooded Orphan's standards, and it sets up an interesting dynamic: That Tekkadan is, and necessarily kind of has to be, somewhat responsible for the group whose jackets they wear, whose mechas they use, whose money they used to start themselves up, whose headquarters they use, and who they themselves used to be members of. CGS was an organisation of almost incalculable cruelty, but there is a direct line of succession between it and Tekkadan, and with that comes a shade of accountability, especially since Tekkadan's entire success is built on CGS' cruelty.

At the moment, I almost feel like Hash is being set up as Mika's successor to the Barbatos. One recurring theme with the series is that while Orga, Kudelia, Atra, Eugene, and so on, can all foresee lives for themselves after Tekkadan, Mika is basically a soldier all the way through -- even more so now that he's lost the use of one of his arms, since on a world with a heavy emphasis on manual labour, the only kind of manual labour he can do involves the Alaya-Vijnana system temporarily giving him the use of his arm back to pilot the Barbatos. Mika even references the idea that the only thing he can do is fight.

For a series and franchise that's very concerned with ideas of the future, and sustainability, and doing bad things in order to achieve a better life for yourself, the fact that Mika really can't see any life for himself outside of fighting bodes poorly for him. Hash, however, has an end goal in mind: He wants to help the children in Mars' slums, and that bodes well for him.

Hash Gordon is my favourite 80s film.

Interestingly, we see Nady tell Hash that he's too old to receive the surgery for the Alaya-Vijnana system, but that's obviously a lie: Ein received the surgery and the nanites took root just fine. Sure, Ein went crazy and ended up as a legless, armless guy in a tank, but that's largely due to injuries he received prior to the surgery.

We also get some set up involving Aston and Takaki on the Earth branch -- this will seemingly be a major-ish part of the story, since the two of them are featured in the opening, including a sinister (?) smile on Aston's face, but nothing that happens with them in today's episode is that remarkable. Aston is mean to some soldiers, Takaki talks him down, and then they eat. More on that story in another episode, I suppose.

Apart from all that, this episode is predominantly set up, establishing that the Dawn Horizon Corps and Tekkadan will shortly be at war, while also introducing us to the elements of Gjallarhorn that will be influencing each side of the war, with McGillis throwing his weight behind Tekkadan, and Rustal and Iok throwing their weight behind the Dawn Horizon Corps (or possibly just entering the fray as a third party? It wasn't clear).


This episode also introduces Rustal's mysterious benefactor, the masked man from the opening. I've seen people suggesting before that he's Ein or Gaulio, and I didn't really buy it until this episode revealed that he was apparently more than able to predict McGillis' plans -- which makes me pretty convinced it's Gaulio.

As with the first series, this one is getting off to a slow-paced start, but once the war with the Dawn Horizon Corps starts, I fully expect it to pick up pretty sharp-like. Also, hopefully we'll see who all those new mechs featured in the promotional material are going to go to. Only one has been seen in the opening, I think, and it's on Tekkadan's side. Anyway, I did enjoy this episode, so I'm looking forward to whatever next week has to offer.

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