Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans
Episode 2: Barbatos
Release Date: October 11, 2015
Genre: Sci-fi, Mecha
Synopsis: The episode opens where the last ended, as Mika takes on the two Gjallarhorn soldiers in Mobile Suits (Ein and Lieutenant Crank). Mika holds them off and they retreat. As a result of their defeat, the guy in charge of the attack orders Lieutenant Crank to capture Kudelia and destroy the base completely, Meanwhile, the First Group returns to base and is pretty pissed off at Third Group for delaying their retreat, and Orga gets beaten up as a result. He then takes some of his closest confidantes and they plot to take over the company from the First Group. While this is happening, the two Specialist Majors from the first episode arrive on the ship of the main force of Gjallarhorn that attacked the base, and there appears to be some tension between them. Cut to ending credits, and the episode is over.
My Thoughts: This episode was definitely a more plot-heavy episode, as it tried to both build off what episode 1 started and fill in some missing pieces. We learn that Gjallarhorn wants Mars to be against Earth, so perhaps this is Earth wanting to just crush the people of Mars and set up a new economy there that answers only to Earth? It does seem odd that there appear to be different schools of thought within the ranks of Gjallarhorn, so perhaps this sentiment is shared only by the Major coordinating the attack against the Chyrese region. Either way, the series is already setting up the dichotomy of good and bad characters on either side of a conflict, just as we’ve come to expect from Gundam series. The clearest example of this right now is in Lieutenant Crank, who tries to resist an order to attack the base again because he doesn’t want to fight children. We get to see him struggle a bit with his order, and he decides to go alone because he would rather not have anyone else dishonor their military service. In short, Crank is a pretty classy guy, and I hope that he doesn’t die too quickly in the series.
Also, we finally get an explanation for the back ports! The show explains that nanobots create a pseudo lobe that allows the brain to directly process Mobile Suit data, allowing anyone with the port to operate it. Good thing too, since apparently Mika can’t read. You’d think that might be a requirement for the job, but I guess security/military organizations that hire orphan kids don’t really have many prereqs besides “listening to orders”. This does take a toll on Mika, however; he bleeds heavily from his face and passes out after using Barbatos for the first time. I wonder how this will affect him as the series goes on. Maybe this will cause them to be more and more cautious as to when and how they use the Gundam. A limiter on how often a Gundam could be used by the pilot would be an interesting story to explore.
The blonde tan-haired girl introduced in the first episode is also featured in this one: she delivers food to the base, accompanied by twin girls who are apparently Biscuit’s sisters; they’re appropriately named Cookie and Cracker. I think either Biscuit’s mom was a baker, or she was really hungry when she gave birth. But this does mark the first other family unit we see in the show beside the connection between Mika and Orga, so I believe they’ll play a role in bringing out the more human side of the conflict as the series goes on. Also, the blonde girl (whose name happens to be Atla) seems to have a thing for Mika, who’s ever popular with the ladies, it seems.
Speaking of which, the Princess has a few moments of introspection in this episode, and she’s fairly discouraged at her own weakness and seeming uselessness. She was feeling especially guilty about the loss of human lives thanks to her presence, but similar to last week, Mika cut down her assumptions about how she thinks about the world with a sentence, so it’s clear to see that they have a special relationship, not unlike the relationship between Setsuna and Princess Marina in Gundam 00. I think that Mika will open her eyes to how terrible the world truly is, while showing her that it can only be changed if you work for it and don’t give up, while she’ll be the softening influence on Mika (and probably Orga and the rest) by giving them hope and a new, more innocent perspective on things.
Mika and Orga as a whole are seeming to exert more and more influence over the characters around them, and it looks like the series will use their gradual journey into leading the group of orphans to show their growth as individuals. Orga seems to be coming into more of a tactical leader role, while Mika seems to be more of a field leader type. I wonder how his connection with Barbatos will factor into his overall effectiveness on the field.
So far, it seems like the series will be focusing on the abuse of power, starting at the individual level (as evidenced by First Corps) and then getting larger and larger scale as we look out over Gjallarhorn and the Earth Administration. I’m looking forward to the political intrigue that will come with the exploration of these themes.
Overall, this episode was a bit faster paced than the last one, giving us a lot of information and switching quickly between scenes so we could learn everything that was going on. Despite that the plot held together well and flowed naturally, but I did hope for more worldbuilding this episode. The most we got was an explanation of the backstory of the Mars colony, which was short in and of itself. As per the usual with Gundam series, the action sequences were tight and well animated, as is the overall animation style; I look forward to seeing more from the series.
The best part of this episode, to me, was getting to know the characters more; there was a lot of character interaction and dialogue this time around, and it does seem to be shaping up for more in the next episode. The show seems to want to establish a firm foundation for how each character thinks, and it’s going to affect the overall tone of the show. Too much exposition and it becomes boring, while too little makes it confusing. This also has the tendency to slow down the plot of the show as we become more and more entangled in the sub-plots of character interactions, so hopefully the show doesn’t place too much emphasis there.
In the end, this was a pretty decent episode. Nice amount of character-building, the plot lacked some action but was building up to more for the next episode, and the overall feel of the show so far is that of a sci-fi story that has the potential to be quite epic, if handled correctly. I’m looking forward to the next episode, but let me know what you all think! How did you like this episode? What do you hope to see in the series as it progresses? Sound off in the comments below, and as always: God bless, and happy watching.