Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans
Episode 3: Glorious Demise
Release Date: October 18, 2015
Genre: Sci-fi, Mecha
Synopsis: The arrival of Atra brings warm food and happiness to the members of CGS (the name of the company), but it also precedes the takeover of the company by Orga, who leads a few of the other members in a coup and takes over the company. While they are still figuring out what to do from thre, Lt. Crank arrives and challenges them to a one-on-one duel, with the promise that he will only take Kudelia and end the feud between CGS and Gjallarhorn if he wins. Mika accepts the challenge and defeats Crank; Kudelia gives the group a mission by allowing them to continue their job as her escort to Earth, and the episode ends there.
My thoughts: I want to start by addressing something I should have talked about from the beginning of the series: the relationship between Mika and Orga. It’s definitely going to play a major role in the development of the story, as they are pretty much all over the series: the OP is full of shots of the two of them, most of the flashbacks are about them, and even the plan from Episode 2 to overthrow the leaders of CGS hinged on Mika’s cooperation. There’s so much riding on this bond between the two of them that I’m really interested in knowing how they met, and what made them so closely knit. We know that they’ve been together for a long time and that Mika respects Orga greatly, but we don’t know what circumstances led them to that point: a nice play on the part of the writers for keeping me interested in the characters.
Speaking of Mika and relationships, it does seem like the series is trying to set up a love triangle between him, Atra, and Princess Kudelia. Atra clearly has feelings for him but doesn’t tell him, and Kudelia seems to also have some feeling for him in an “admiring-and-maybe-liking-but-not-sure-and-embarassed-she’s-even-considering-it” kind of way. This could potentially be used for some good character development, but only if handled well; I hope this doesn’t just become an unresolved subplot that’s only around for comedic effect.
Always make the cat’s paws.
Now, the main part of this episode is the coup. Organized by Orga, several of the older teen members of 3rd Group drug the First Group with sedatives in their food, bind them, and have a bit of a reckoning. They kill the leader of 1st Group, and another member who rushed them as they asserted their control over the company. Orga does allow those who want to leave to leave, however; he’s trying to be a good leader and not a tyrant, unlike the previous leaders of CGS, and I like that he’s stepping up into this role: we’ll not only get to see him develop more as a character, but get to learn more about who he is as a person, which is always central to a good story.
One does not simply mess with Orga.
That being said, the scene does ask some important questions. When is it right to kill? When someone puts you in a position where you could be killed? In self-defense? Was Orga’s execution of some of the leaders of the First Group right? Personally, I believe his actions were right as a leader; Orga wanted to establish his rule over the company and eliminate any possible challenge. But coming from a Christian perspective, were Orga’s actions right? It’s not an easy question to answer, and that’s what I like about the Gundam series: they don’t shy away from asking the tough questions about war, politics, and individual fights for freedom. It seems like this series will be more focused on an exploration of the human nature itself than anything, and I’m looking forward to the ride.
Princess Kudelia had another few moments in this episode, like she has in the last couple. Yet again we see her ruminating over her life: she’s searching for a use. She wants to help, but doesn’t know how; she’s confused and feels afraid. She’s feeling guilt over the deaths that her visit caused, and she’s angry over her own powerlessness to help. In a way, she’s just like a lot of Christians. We want to help change the world around us, but we don’t really know how. We want to be a light for Christ, and to be an instigator of change. But it’s not easy, and oftentimes it looks like we can’t do anything. The Princess goes through a period of self-searching just as we do: looking for outlets in which to work. In her case, she even considered undergoing the dangerous surgery that would allow her to control the Gundam. But she learned that her place was not to fight on the front lines, but in the debate rooms. By the end of the episode, she has learned her purpose: she will fight for the freedom of the colonists of Mars, and she does so with renewed passion. Why? Because she has experienced the products of the oppression they have faced. And like the Princess, we find our reason to fight in Christ; He gives us the strength to fight against sin and the world each day, never abandoning us to our fate.
Determination comes clothed in red.
And then we come to the last main event of this episode: the death of Crank. I will admit that I was fairly saddened by this; Crank was a good guy. If he had joined up with CGS, he and Mika could have made an awesome team. But he would never do that, due to his responsibilities as an officer of Gjallarhorn. In fact, that’s what both drives him and kills him at the same time: he knows that he has a responsibility to obey his superior officers, but his conscience won’t allow him to simply murder children. So he opts for the best course he can: dueling one-on-one to mitigate overall damage, taking Kudelia back, and ending the grudge between CGS and Gjallarhorn so that the remaining children can live on in peace.
The last stand of Lt. Crank.
Or at least, that’s what he planned on doing. Of course Mika defeated Crank: it’s too early in the series for Mika to suffer any type of defeat just yet. But I did enjoy the fact that the series (and Gundam series in general) doesn’t give us this black-and-white “good guys vs bad guys” scenario, but rather it shows that there are always different viewpoints and personalities on both sides of a conflict. It makes the story more realistic and alive, reminding the viewer that the world isn’t always so clear-cut.
By the end of the episode, the new company of Tekkadan (Orga’s new name) has their first job, and they will be supported by an as-of-yet-unseen character: Nobliss Gordon. Well, kind of unseen: I have my suspicions that he’s in the OP, but either way, we don’t know who this guy is besides the fact that he’s super-rich and supports the independence movement. A rich guy helping the little people story could lead to some interesting developments for the characters. I also want to say that I love the name of Tekkadan and the meaning behind it: the “iron flower that never wilts” seems to fully capture the essence of the group: strong and resilient, and yet beautiful in their diversity and will to live. Kind of makes me want to write a poem.
Gimme the Skinny!
This episode was definitely another plot-builder: a lot of dialogue with some action here and there to progress the plot. Nothing too fast, and yet nothing too slow. Kind of in the middle, but it does make up for it with the awesome Gundam fight at the end. The characters all seem to be shaping up quite nicely except for Mika: he’s still the cool, unruffled, and almost emotionally detached character he’s been from the beginning. I understand that he has an unshakable trust for Orga, and that he is strong, but I don’t get why it seems like Mika has no struggles at all. He’s just kind of there when we need him, and not there when we don’t. He’s not as emotionally dead as Nao from Aldonoah.Zero was (please don’t watch that show; the ending will scar you), but he doesn’t seem to have too much depth as of yet. He does deliver a few remarks that indicate that Mika’s got some deep thought going on though, so I won’t write him off just yet.
Orga is really stepping up as the leader of the group, but I want to learn more about him and Mika as individuals: we know too little about their relationship, and the series clearly shows that they’ve known each other for a long time, and that their relationship is basically the anchor for just about everything else that’ll happen to them. We also don’t know that much about any of the other characters, or why there are so many orphans in the first place. We need answers, Sunrise! I’m looking forward to learn about the world they live in, especially as information has been so sparse in these opening episodes. Character-building and world-building need not be mutually exclusive, after all.
Also wanted to address the ED: it’s really classy and reminds me of classic, old-timey blues. It fits really well with the series, especially the lyrics. The OP and ED both have different feels: the OP is more motivational where the ED is more contemplative, but each fits the series overall tones really well. Gundam series like to change OP’s and ED’s midway through a season sometimes, so I’m looking forward to the next set of songs we’ll get describing the plights of the orphans we’re growing to love.