Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans
Episode 4: The Price of Life
Release Date: October 25, 2015
Genre: Sci-fi, Mecha
Synopsis: The episode begins with an explanation of Tekkadan’s plan to escort Princess Kudelia: they need to get to an orbital station, secure a ship formerly owned by CGS, and from there take some back routes to arrive on Earth, due to the major spaceways being watched by Gjallarhorn. One of the leftovers from CGS, a Mr. Todo, recommends that they use a company called Orcus to get to Earth, as he knows them personally, but he seems to have less-than-upright motives for doing so. As Orga dispatches Ahki and some others to secure the ship, we are taken to the Gjallarhorn Inspectors as they check out the records of Major Coral, the officer who sent the attack against CGS in the previous episodes. They don’t see eye-to-eye, and the Inspectors leave to investigate the conflict themselves. Meanwhile, Mika invites Kudelia to visit the farm of Biscuit’s grandmother, and they have some time to talk. Kudelia just barely manages to avoid the sudden intrusion of the Gjallarhorn Inspectors, as they have a run-in with Mika and Biscuit as they drive around the area searching for clues. As Mika and the gang return to base, they are greeted with the new symbol for Tekkadan, and yet Todo seems to be up to something.
Planning is half the battle.
My Thoughts: To be honest, while this episode was interesting, it was kind of slow. Not that things didn’t happen, but it was a bit slower-paced than the last two episodes. It did switch between scenes quickly enough to keep you from becoming too bored with anyone, but it was a switch from the previous episode, as it had no real action scenes. Nevertheless, this isn’t just a filler episode, as it does introduce a few new things that will be important to the rest of the development of the story.
First off, I thought it was interesting how this episode addressed the “Human Debris” that has been stated a few times during the course of the past few episodes. We learn that “human debris” is a word for people who have been sold into servitude for another person, and usually not for a lot of money. Ahki and a lot of the other members of Tekkadan are in this situation: they can’t escape from their life of work even if they wanted to because their families need the money they make. It’s why there are so many younger kids working at CGS/Tekkadan, where you’d think the general staff would consist of mostly older teens and adults. This as a result of the colonization of Mars is an interesting parallel to the indentured servitude and slavery that occurred as the result of colonization of North America, and it offers a look into human nature. The promise of opportunity also brings greed with it, and this opens a can of worms that can lead to results like this.
This leads to an awesome flashback where we see Orga give Ahki the data that gave CGS ownership of him: Orga frees all of those under his charge, and promises to protect those who stay with him. I think he’s won over Ahki’s loyalty for the rest of the series.
When it comes to the Gjallarhorn Inspectors, it seems like the blonde one (McGillis) will end up being the by-the-book, honorably guy: similar to Lt. Graham from 00. And yes, I will be comparing them for the rest of the series. Don’t judge; Graham was AWESOME. Anyways, McGillis is personally invested in finding the princess, but we don’t know exactly why other than the fact that he’s checking out the Major Coral (the guy who orchestrated the attack against CGS) for Gjallarhorn. He also mentions how Kudelia was negotiating directly with a government bloc on Earth before the attack, making me wonder how deep the Princess has gotten in the independence movement. It doesn’t seem to be very easy working for Earth government. We do get a nice look at how the Earth has split up its powers in this world though:
We’re also given a quick shot of a grieving Ein, as he mourns the loss of Lt. Crank. It looks like the series is setting him up to be a major rival for Mika, who is growing a bit as a character in this episode. He invites Kudelia to accompany him and Biscuit to the farm of Biscuit’s grandmother, who owns a corn farm. But rather than selling this corn for food, it’s all sold cheaply for biofuel, and she relies on the salary that Biscuit makes in order for her to make ends meet and keep Cookie and Cracker fed. Mika shows her this in order to explain what life is like for the kids of Tekkadan, and he explains the entire idea of “Human Debris” to her. As the Princess was back to bemoaning her powerlessness earlier in the episode, I hope that this helps (again?) to motivate the Princess to keep hope and to keep fighting. Also, they share a moment:
All it’s missing are the slowly falling cherry blossoms.
Kind of a stereotypical “caught-her-falling-and-stared-into-her-eyes” type of scene, and it is solidifying the triangle the series is building between Mika, Atla, and Kudelia. The sequence draws to a close with a close encounter with the Inspectors, as they were driving around the general area of the battle between CGS and Gjallarhorn in the first episode and nearly hit Cookie and Cracker. When this happens, Mika completely flips out and starts choking one of the Ins[ectors:
Don’t mess with Mika.
His eyes seem to be glazed over: perhaps this is a side-effect of the implants he has? Maybe the additional spatial awareness is balanced out by the slow deterioration of the mind? The Alaya-Viranaia system seems like it will be a small yet important detail to the series; I’m worried that it might be the hinge point that ends the series with Mika dead, or brain-dead or something.
Gimme the Skinny!
In the end, this episode was a bit slower-paced than the earlier episodes, but it was because the series is setting up for more action and drama that I believe we’ll start to see by next episode. It’s nice that the series is doing some actual world-building in this episode, though: we learn more about the slavery that is “Human Debris” and how it affects most of the poorer colonists on Mars, we learn how the Earth government has expanded into 4 main powers, and we even learn a few tidbits about Kudelia’s backstory. It does feel like the series is getting more comfortable with telling its story and allowing character growth and world-building to exist together, and not mutually exclusive.
The relationship between Kudelia and Mika is certainly growing, and Mika is actually capable of showing happy emotions for once! While a part of my hopes that he ends up with Atra, I do feel like the relationship between Mika and the Princess is necessary for both of them to grow as people. Maybe they can continue as friends, and have Mika end up with Atla anyways, I dunno, but I am enjoying the character interactions a lot. From the stubbornness of Eugene, the suave and serious leadership of Orga, and even the sleazy feel of Mr. Todo, it’s a lot of fun just watching the characters interact and learn about one another, and I’m looking forward to seeing more interactions as more characters are introduced to the roster. Also, I want to know what Mr. Todo is planning. He always did look fairly shifty…