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Monday, 14 November 2016

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2E7.

Mobile Suit Gundam:
Iron-Blooded Orphans
Series 2, Episode 7
My Friend.

So, the Arbrau war arc has ended much more quickly than I expected, with just three episodes dedicated to it. Could this possibly be setting us up for a five episode arc next? It does, after all, look like the next arc is going to focus heavily on Tekkadan clashing with Vidar, and it will probably include the Flauros making its battlefield debut as well. I can see Sunrise wanting to put a fair amount of focus on that.

In this week's episode, Galan, Takaki, and Aston move out to battle a reluctant McGillis. Before long, Mika has intervened, but not before McGillis has been forced to kill a member of Tekkadan. As Galan flees, Tekkadan sets off in pursuit of him, along with confronting Radice on his treachery. In the heat of battle, however, Hash finds himself paralysed with fear.

This was actually a kind of lackluster episode, if I'm being honest. The battle between McGillis' forces and the Arbrau forces is pretty short, lasting only long enough for him to kill Aston (and man, am I disappointed that it wasn't Takaki, who's a much less interesting character, who died instead), and while the episode very quickly transitions to another battle, against Galan's forces, there's no real sense of stakes or progression to that battle.

In fact, it's basically over and done with almost as soon as it started, with only Akihiro's battle with Galan getting any attention.

Man, the Gusion has a boring design.

Which is to say, it's obvious from the moment that battle starts that Tekkadan is going to curb-stomp Galan's forces, because from a narrative standpoint, it serves basically the same function as when Orga and Mika invaded Allium's office -- it's a capping off point to the plot, in which the group seeks revenge on someone who wronged them.

We did get some nice shots in the battles, though: Akihiro in the Gusion vs Galan in his Geirail was pretty nicely animated, and their brief conversation about Akihiro one day ending up like Galan was interesting, at least. Similarly, it was very nice to see McGillis attempting to reason with Takaki and Aston, even if, ultiamtely, he failed and had to kill Aston.

(It's also nice that nobody really blames McGillis for acting in self-defense. Instead, their blame is heaped upon Galan and Radice for creating that situation in the first place.)

In a slightly odd move, the show tries to make you feel sorry for Galan after he dies, as back at Rustal's ship, Julietta breaks down in tears over him, and Rustal explains that Galan had thrown away his name and family to serve Rustal. Obviously there's some connection between Galan and Julietta here that hasn't been explored (maybe he's her father?), but the show seems unlikely to touch upon it again, so it's just kind of jarring and out of nowhere.

How many different maces does Mika have?

Aston's death is a much more emotional moment, as, even though we were all expecting that either he or Takaki would die, we did at least have set-up of meaningful character relationships, and some semblance of a character arc that his death cut short. It prompts a shift in Takaki's character to somebody much more brutal, but only time will tell if that actually amounts to anything as the series goes on.

(I've seen some people suggesting that he could become the Flauros' pilot, but that seems unlikely -- Takaki's not that great a pilot. Shino still seems overwhelmingly likely. Given that the next few episodes look like they may well have Mars being attacked while Mika, Akihiro, and Orga are absent, it's entirely likely, even probable, that we're going to see Shino heading out in the Flauros, and maybe being the first person to fight Vidar.)

We also got Radice getting his comeuppance, as Takaki shoots him three times while he tries to claim that he was only doing what he did for the good of Tekkadan. It's interesting that, compared to the Allium execution, this is presented as a brutal but also much less morally muddy act, with the mobster-ish overtones being taken away in favour of a focus on Takaki's emotions.

Also, poor Hash. His life. So difficult.

All in all, this doesn't make for a great finish to the Arbrau war storyline. In fact, it feels like, with the exception of a few major plot beats like Aston's death, this episode is almost phoned-in, with very little enthusiasm or passion behind it. That's a shame, because the groundwork had been laid for a really interesting and exciting conclusion to this arc, and the show just failed to deliver.

Next episode, we're seemingly getting a jam-packed if possibly very talky episode, with McGillis and Rustal finally having a confrontation, Julietta and Vidar continuing their bromance, Chad recovering, and Kudelia talking to Makanai. Probably not going to get much in the way of giant robot battles, but oh well. Can't have everything.

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