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Monday, 20 March 2017

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2E23

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Series 2, Episode 23

So, there is apparently some controversy over how this episode ended -- from some quarters, at least -- that is mostly to do with people managing to get forty-eight episodes into this show without figuring out that it's about how ugly, sudden, and unglorious war is, who are now shocked and alarmed that Orga didn't either survive or go out in a blaze of glory. In general, it seems like there's a small subset of fans who are only just realising that this isn't a show about heroism bravely saving the day, and that is baffling to me.

The power of expectation, I guess.

In this week's Iron-Blooded Orphans, Tekkadan are left in another impossible position when Rustal's forces, led by Iok, surround the building -- while Nobliss controls the media, propagating a lie that Gjallarhorn is hoping for Tekkadan's surrender. Hope appears when the company finds a collapsed tunnel to Chryse, and when McGillis offers to use Bael to distract Iok's forces long enough for Orga, Kudelia, Atra, Ride, and Chad to escape to Chryse and find the other end of the tunnel. When Orga receives a message from Azee and the reformed Turbines, their plan of escape comes together -- only for tragedy to strike.

Damn, Bael is pretty.

It's another rising action episode, although we do get a brief fight scene with McGillis where he basically demonstrates that he's more than able to use Bael as a faster, flight-ier Grimgerde, in a very brief but actually pretty stunningly choreographed scene of him just tearing through Grazes (and trying to kill Iok, but regrettably failing. Iok really does have superhuman luck, it seems).

Most of the episode, however, is focused on Tekkadan clamouring after any possibility of escape. Their ray of hope is presented pretty early, and things only get better for them from there, which is always an ominous sign. The show even plies us with feel-good moments, like Zack returning, and us seeing Azee (now dressed in a version of Naze's distinctive white suit) leading the Turbines, just to make it absolutely clear that something's horrible going to happen

(I'm not including the scene with Atra, Kudelia, and Mika as 'feel good,' because that was just kind of creepy. It was like the show was turning to the waifu-harem obsessives in the audience, winking, and going 'eh, you like that, eh, you like that, it's good, yeah? It's so good,' and honestly, I don't think any of us not in that small and weird demographic needed that experience.)

Lookin' good, Azee.

This is Iron-Blooded Orphans, though, and it's Iron-Blooded Orphans towards the end of a series, which means that any spot of hope must be stamped on to create more adversity -- which is how we get Orga being gunned down in the street, protecting Ride with his body before dying. The animation in this scene is gorgeous, I'll note, with Orga's blood forming shapes like petals on the ground (tying back to Merribit's earlier remark about how 'iron flowers don't wilt that easily,') while his face curls into borderline animalistic snarls of pain, thus rather neatly representing the duality of Tekkadan.

It's not wholly unexpected -- after all the build-up of how hopeful things are, someone was always going to die -- save insofar that it's Orga. I think most people were expecting Kudelia or Atra to die, but Orga makes a lot more sense. As our protagonist (which he is -- Mika is the character we follow, but the story isn't about Mika, it's about Orga and, to a lesser extent, McGillis), his death naturally has the biggest impact on us as the audience -- but it also has the biggest impact on Tekkadan, forcing them to redefine what 'home' and 'family' mean for them now that the figure they all rallied around is gone.

Orga, just prior to his dying monologue.

I've seen some people saying that since Orga is dead, Mika will probably survive, but I don't buy it. I think Mika is still marked for death, along with Akihiro and McGillis. Eugene's survival is basically assured, though, and I'd be surprised if Kudelia or Atra died. It's looking increasingly likely that Iok will survive as well, although Gali-Gali, Rustal, and Julieta are very much marked for death.

The next episode, we're getting the start of our final battle, and it seems like somebody -- probably Eugene -- is piloting Orga's white Shiden. McGillis is also battling Gali-Gali, and given that the episode is titled 'McGillis Fareed,' he is almost certainly going to die. I think the last episode we got named after a character was 'Fumitan Admoss,' and, sure enough, that was the episode she died in.

So, predictions for how the next few episodes will go: McGillis will battle Gaelio and lose, dying and giving Gaelio his revenge. Julieta will fight Mika, and Mika will kill her. Gaelio (possibly under Ein's control) will end up battling Mika, and Mika will defeat him but be heavily damaged in the process, and eventually overwhelmed by other soldiers. Akihiro will end up overwhelmed by sheer enemy numbers and die. Rustal will be taken out by someone -- maybe McGillis, maybe Eugene -- and Gjallarhorn will collapse. Tekkadan will scatter. Kudelia will usher in a new age.

Yeah, that sounds about right.