Raise your Flags! "Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans," The First 3 Episodes

Written by: Jon Castillo

TV | Oct 25, 2015

Gundam Gundam 00 Gundam Wing Gundam: G-Tekketsu Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Gundam using children as main characters often end up in blunders. Just take a look at "Gundam AGE" and "Reconguista in G." Both had children as main characters, and both turned out to be the weakest in Gundam history. They're not that bad, not really. The pacing (AGE) and unrealistic character behaviors (Recon G) burned up all good potential those two series had. If they weren't part of the "Gundam" franchise, people might have different opinions about them. Only "Build Fighters" seemed to have succeeded in having kids be the central characters, with damn good reason too. It dwelled on ultra-basic storytelling that no one can go wrong with, and lots and lots of action. I'm well aware that both seasons of "Build Fighters" were 50 20-minute commercials - I don't care, the show kicked ass, and it served its purpose well.

Roughly a month ago, the new Gundam series sets out, raising its flag with so much manliness brimming from the very pores of its skin, titled gracefully as the "Iron-Blooded Orphans." It's also the first Gundam series since "Gundam 00" to return the target to older audiences, and this time, taking the whole "children" main characters more seriously, by putting them in adult situations.

We also dive down a bit on immigration, as political tensions rise between Earth and Mars - Mars is now habitable, which, kind of makes of politically relevant since science people discovered water on the Red Planet.

The show doesn't hold back, which is kind of refreshing from all the kiddie stuff we had to endure for the past few years. We had expected a re-visioning of of "After War: Gundam X," similar to what "Seed" has done to the original Gundam, and "00" to "Wing." But instead, we get something more. A mix-match feeling from "Wing," "00," and the original "Mobile Suit Gundam."

His character archetype always dies, despite all the good intentions

It sounds like the best of everything, only without the coordinator crap they've been tossing at us lately. And it seems, for once since Heero Yui (the protagonist in "Wing"), we're getting a pilot that has actual piloting skills than relying on superhuman enhancements, but we're only talking about the first three episodes, so that remains to be seen.

The story so far, centers on child labor, and children forced - or having no other choice - turned into soldiers. Sexual abuse has been hinted, and while none of the characters have shown any physical traumas, the mere fact these children seem to accept it as a norm is terrifying.

But this is Gundam - let's not give a damn about politics, it gave "00" bad publicity (despite excellent execution). Let's talk about the good stuff, the mechas. This series's RX variant, the Barbatos.

It takes its name from one of the demons in grimoire "Ars Goetia." Barbatos is an earl in Hell that has command of his own legion, represents wickedness, and is in the frontlines of battle. That last part is interesting as Gundam Barbatos is currently, as usual, the team's ace, naturally, leading the frontlines.

Since we've brought up "Gundam Wing" and "Gundam 00," the name Barbatos strikes with an interesting note. The custom version of Wing had angel wings, and in the first season of "00" the hero's Gundam is Exia, which is an angelic hierarchy. I could be wrong, but since Exia belonged to a group called "Celestial Being," says a lot about Exia.

So far, the Barbatos is a mobile suit designed for melee combat. It gets its upgrades from defeating enemies, which patches up its old pieces and missing plate armors. Prior to the events of Episode One, Barbatos was used as an "Ahab Reactor." This series' version of some magical power source.

I can't say too much about the characters. Not because there isn't anything to talk about them. It's just that, they're pretty generic so far. Mikazuki Augus, is just another Heero-Setsuna rehash. Then there's Orga, acting as the mercenary leader and big brother to all, whom has a 75% of dying that will throw everyone into angst-mode for a while. If he doesn't die, he has about a 50% chance of being the final boss as a Char clone.

Speaking of Char clone. No one has been introduced thus far. It could either be the cool guy Orga, or the psychotic youth, Ein, whose team was demolished by Mika and Barbatos. My gut tells me it could be Ein. In reference to Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," Captain Ahab is constantly pursuing the white sperm whale in a fit of rage. This could seems to be Ein's main role, pursing the white devil for revenge.

Then there's the princess, Kudelia Aina Bernstein - whose role I had already forgotten. She's a political figure, a minor one, with a father that is bullied upon by other politicians.  Okay, I like women in my Gundam - but all ladies who do not pilot a Gundam are practically useless. Except Cagali from "Seed Destiny," she was totally useless in that uber mobile suit.

By episode three, the only character that had the sense to make peace was put out of his misery. While it was a heartbreaking scene, I suppose in good riddance. His character archetype always die, despite all the good intentions, putting everything they have been working for, cut short. At least by episode 3, his death wouldn't be pointless, and still served a purpose, instead for the sake of killing a morality aligned character.

The rest of the characters are still too raw to give anything out. But, the potential for character development is far greater than any Gundam franchise has had for a while. There's a strong risk as well that everything can go downhill, once characters start "growing," which basically means, they stop killing and innocent people tend to pay the price for their blunders.

Episode 4 should be out by now.

"Gundam: Iron Blooded-Orphans" makes a weekly appearance on YouTube, uploaded by Gundam Info, with English subs. A second video of the same episode is uploaded with Tagalog subs. 

About the author: Jon Castillo

Jonathan is hiding from a lynch mob after messing with the wrong basketball team. His favorite song is "Boys do Fall in Love" by Robin Gibb.

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