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Monday, 5 December 2016

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2E10.


Mobile Suit Gundam:
Iron-Blooded Orphans
Series 2, Episode 10
Awakening Calamity.



So, a lot of people in fandom have been all abuzz about the appearance of a Mobile Armour in-series (specifically, the Hashmal, which while barely seen factors heavily into this episode), and I admit, I've not been that hyped over it. Possibly because Mobile Armours are apparently longtime series standbys, but the only other Gundam series I've seen is Gundam Wing, which didn't have any, so there isn't that nostalgic element of a recurring thing returning in a new form for me.

Still, if I wasn't hyped before, this episode actually does a fairly good job of getting me hyped, albeit more to see how the main cast beat Hashmal than anything else.

In this week's episode, Orga informs McGillis of the massive machine they're excavating from the Tekkadan half-metal mine, only for McGillis to urge him to stop excavating immediately. Traveling to Mars, McGillis explains that the device is a Mobile Armour, an unmanned and semi-intelligent weapon that the Gundams were created to fight, which devastated entire civilisations during the Calamity War. However, matters are complicated when Iok, working on information given to him by Jasley Donomikols, arrives in his Reginlaze, with the Mobile Armour detecting the presence of a Mobile Suit and becoming active once again.

The Flauros, in shadow.

Someone made a pretty good point elsewhere that if Gundams are knights in this universe -- and they are definitely presented as being knight-like in their design and armaments -- then Mobile Armours are dragons, and given that we know that Hashmal is big, winged, and equipped with some kind of beam weapon that makes for a pretty functional stand-in for fiery breath, that seems very apt. Interestingly, this episode also establishes, implicitly at least, why the Gundams are named after demons -- since Mobile Armours are named after angels, the Gundams are presumably named specifically to be antithetical to that.

Anyway, while we don't see much of Hashmal in this episode, we do hear plenty about how dangerous it is, how the tiny Mobile Worker like things found near it are Plumias, sort of slave units that cause havoc around it, and how destroying a Mobile Armour results in the Seven Stars family in question essentially getting bumped up in rank, by receiving an Order of the Seven Stars -- and that if McGillis were to destroy one, he'd functionally be the most powerful member of the Seven Stars, since the Issue family's seat currently isn't filled.

Up until the very end, though, this is quite a slow burn episode, as we cover things like the Flauros' repairs (it now has Shino's trademark pink paint job, and you can just about see his shark eye decals on it), how Mika lets Kudelia manage his finances, Kudelia's free school, and Jasley Donomikols' machinations.

The Arianrhod Gang.

In an amusingly hypocritical note, Jasley goes straight from ranting about how it's terrible that a Teiwaz-owned organisation would be in bed with Gjallarhorn, only to reveal moments later that he also has contacts within Gjallarhorn. That 'one rule for me, one for everyone else' mentality fits perfectly with his character, though, especially as he's not really meant to be a reasonable, calm sort, so much as he's meant to be someone who absolutely hates Naze and is seemingly convinced that Naze is scheming against him.

Things are also increasingly not looking very positive for Mika. More and more, we're getting storyline beats that suggest that he doesn't really have a possibility for a life after war -- and that's only compounded by the fact that the war Tekkadan is entering has no real end in sight, and that even if they come out victorious, they'll have carved out a position for themselves that Mika isn't really interested in.

Our one brief look at Hashmal.

This episode clarifies that Mika has no idea how to handle money, and no interest in doing so, and on its own, that would just be a slightly sad 'the Tekkadan boys don't really know how to live in the real world, but they can learn' moment. But we're getting it hammered in every single episode now that, for Mika at least, there's nothing after the fighting -- the one big thing he had was the farm, and he's no longer involved in that. The fact that he has an apprentice also makes that kind of more pronounced, since he's now passing his knowledge down to someone who actually does have a life outside of fighting.

Anyway, that was episode ten. We're very nearly at the end of the first cour for this series, with just a few more episodes to go, most of which are probably going to involve dealing with Hashmal and Iok -- although I'd be surprised of Vidar doesn't at least put in an appearance as well. So far, this has been a solidly good series, and I'm actually really looking forward to seeing Mika, Akihiro, Shino, and Iok facing off against Hashmal. Well, I assume it'll be those four anyway. Akihiro's not much in evidence this episode, so maybe he won't be joining them.

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