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Monday, 17 October 2016

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2E3

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Series 2, Episode 3
Battle Before Dawn.

It has come to my attention that there are some people who -- disagree that Hash is the best character on this show, and who see him as a whiny upstart who doesn't understand what he's asking for. To those people, I say that that's perfectly all right. It's not necessary to always agree with me. Some people have to be wrong so that my being right can shine that much brighter.


In this week's episode, Tekkadan and McGillis' Gjallarhorn fleet, under the command of Ishidou, engage the Dawn Horizon Corps in battle. When Dawn Horizon initiates a daring gambit to outnumber Tekkadan and Gjallarhorn, however, they are thrown into a pitched battle they couldn't expect -- one which is only further complicated when Gjallarhorn's Arianrhod fleet, under Iok's command, arrives at the battle. Meanwhile, Rustall and the masked man hear of Tekkadan's involvement in McGillis' plans.

Most of this episode is taken up by the battle, and to be perfectly honest, I found said battle really difficult to follow. It's very fast-paced, frenetic, and dramatic, and usually I'd be praising those features, except it was so fast-paced that I struggled to figure out what was going on at any given time. It was pretty easy to get Dawn Horizon's Garm Rodis, Gjallarhorn's Graze's, and Tekkadan's Shiden's mixed up when they were all quickly whizzing by (not even getting started on how there was also the Barbatos Lupus, the Gusion Rebake Full City, and later the Hugo, and two custom suits I don't even know the name of), and the confusion was only magnified when the Arianrhod fleet arrived, adding a bunch of different coloured Grazes to the mix. There's also at least four major ships and a handful of less major ones.

Norba's so pretty.

There's also a lot of named characters at play. There's Mika, obviously, Akihiro, Orga, Eugene, and Norba, and I'll grant that those are ones you'd basically expect to find in an Iron-Blooded Orphans battle. But there's also Ride, Dante, Lafter, Azee (I think), Ishidou, Sandoval, and later Julietta. That's eleven or twelve characters to keep track of, which just adds an extra layer of bewilderment to an already bewildering battle.

It was, however, pretty nice to see some tricks from the first series turn up again. Eugene controlling multiple ships with the Alaya-Vijnana System was a nice callback (although it is clearly bad for his health and he needs to stop doing it), as was using the Big Pink Sensor-Blocking Cloud. It was also pretty nice to see them actually refueling and repairing the mobile suits mid-battle and doing other logistical stuff.

It was also pretty fun to see some use of tactics before the battle started, with Tekkadan and Gjallarhorn plotting to pick the ships off one by one, and Sandoval and the Dawn Horizon Corps tricking them by towing nine ships behind the first one, meaning they'd have no Ahab wave to detect. I'm always a sucker for clever strategies in fiction, and Iron-Blooded Orphans is pretty good for delivering on them.

Barbatos is also so pretty.

The battle scene is beautifully animated, has some great music to go along with it, and even manages to throw in a few emotional moments, like when we get a brief shot of someone crying as Mika kills them. As ever, Iron-Blooded Orphans is pretty keen on hammering in the inherent inhumanity of war, and the injustice and barbarism of child soldiers. From a technical standpoint, it's a really well-done episode, and it would be a great example of how to make up an episode predominantly from a single battle if it wasn't so confusing.

We also got a very brief scene of the masked man, and got to hear his voice, making it pretty clear that he's Gaelio. From the looks of it, he has a new Gundam (the Vidar, I think?) and I'm guessing he survived via a combination of cybernetics and Alaya-Vijnana surgery. We're probably going to get a dramatic reveal moment where we get to see his horribly scarred, maskless face.

Lookin' good, Gali-Gali.

Regrettably, this episode was kind of short on some of the more interesting characters. We basically didn't see McGillis at all, or anyone from the Earth Branch, or Kudelia. Hash shows up in a single scene for about two seconds, working on the Barbatos Lupus' repair and commenting that Mika hardly used any fuel.

It looks like the battle will continue in the next episode, with Julietta taking the field in her super-special Graze, Iok showing up in his Reginlaze, and Sandoval showing off his Hugo. It should be pretty fun, and with the battle probably ending up squarely focusing on Mika, Akihiro, and Norba vs Julietta, Iok, and Sandoval. Possibly with Lafter and Ishidou involved somewhere, who knows. Either way, it should be interesting, especially as it will be functionally a three-way battle.

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