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Monday, 30 January 2017

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2E16.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Series 2, Episode 16
Natural for a Human.

At this point, I think we all know the Iron-Blooded Orphans formula. We get a build-up episode (or two) in which a problem which can only be solved via giant robots hitting each other is presented, and then we get a battle (in which a new Ace Custom is usually debuted), and then we get a cooldown episode in which the characters all deal with the aftermath of that battle and reflect on how they are definitely on a one-way bullet train to tragedy and hell. Sometimes there's a degree of overlap between the phases, as in the Arbrau War arc where 'battle' and 'cooldown' kind of swapped in for each other, back and forth, but for the most part, it's a fairly rigid formula.

Having had our build-up episode two weeks ago, and our battle episode a week ago, this week's episode is the cooldown portion of the arc, except it's also kind of really totally not that at all, because while it serves as a cooldown for the Turbines vs Iok arc, it's simultaneously a build-up episode for a Tekkadan vs JPT arc. You could make the argument that they're all one arc, but either way, Iron-Blooded Orphans is breaking from its established pattern, and that's always nice to see.

In this week's episode, Iok returns to Rustal, who reprimands him, informing him that McGillis is now investigating Iok's use of a banned weapons. Meanwhile, Jasley attempts to provoke Tekkadan into a fight, meaning to call Iok in to help. The Turbines are repurposed into a shipping company directly under McMurdo, while Lafter is torn between staying with the Turbines and joining Tekkadan. No sooner has she made her decision, though, does Jasley have his men violently murder her. With the Turbines in danger and with revenge on their minds, Tekkadan decides to take the fight to Jasley and the JPT, with McGillis pledging his support.

Eugene and Shino.

So, I admit, Lafter being shot caught me by surprise. Everything we'd seen so far had suggested that she was going to join Tekkadan, and having her killed off an episode after Naze and Amida get killed off is a fairly shocking move. I'm also not sure how I feel about it: This show already has a shortage of female characters, and it's killed off two of them in two episodes, with two more looking likely to just exit stage right for the rest of the series. It's not necessarily a problem, since there's still Kudelia, Julieta, Merribit, and Atra (although I'm increasingly starting to hate Atra), most of whom are major players, but it does make me grimace a little.

(Incidentally, do the writers just hate Akihiro?)

Most of the rest of the episode, however, proceeded mostly how I think everyone expected it to. I think we all knew that Rustal was not going to be happy with Iok, and I think we all knew that Jasley would be spoiling for a fight with Tekkadan, so neither of those things are surprises. With Iok likely joining the battle between Tekkadan and the JPT, I don't see him surviving past the next two episodes -- Mika will probably kill him, or, if McGillis and Isurugi join the battle, one of those two will.

Speaking of McGillis and Isurugi, they appear to have gathered a group of pilots who they'll be sending out. I've seen it suggested that those pilots will all be piloting the remaining Valkyrie units -- Brunnhilde, Gertlinde, Ortlinde, Waltraute, Schwertliete, Siegrune, and Rossweisse. I don't know how likely that is, but I certainly hope that's the case.

Although there's only five of them for seven free Valkyries.

(I would also definitely watch a series about nine pilots using fast, agile Valkyrie mobile suits, while we're here.)

In other news, I would like the Atra and Mika plot to die immediately. It's making me start to hate Atra, and honestly, it'll make me hate Mika too if it goes on for much longer. Most of all, though, it's just kind of weird. Mika is so disconnected with society that it never seems like he fully understands what it is that Atra's getting at, but even leaving that aside (since that's clearly intentional), Atra also comes across as very, very childlike in these scenes. Which, I mean, she is meant to be quite young, but then don't have a storyline that revolves around sex and babies, you know?

Anyway, here's Lafter.

Also, apropos of nothing, when on earth is Vidar actually going to get a proper battle with a named character? The series only has about eight or nine episodes left, he's running out of time, especially since it seems like he probably won't be involved in next episode's battle.

I did like this episode, though, and I'm very much looking forward to the next episode, where we will be getting at least the start of the battle between the JPT and Tekkadan -- and probably the end, too, given that there's a shot of Akihiro using his giant pliers -- aka the most inefficient weapon in the show -- on someone. Hopefully Jasley.

(Probably Jasley.)

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