The last Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans episode went live almost a week ago, and my heart still hurts remembering it. It took some time to process everything that happened but I’m finally ready to type it down on paper. After almost 2 years of playtime, we finally got closure to the story of Tekkadan and their fight against Gjallarhorn. There are going to be spoilers. Stop now before you get one of the most enjoyable Gundam storylines spoiled.
The first half
Going into the episode, everyone expected a very intense battle between the Gundam team and the scrubs from Gjallarhorn. We got some cool action shots that ended once Rustal Elion, master strategist, again relied on the banned Dainsleif spears. From a fan’s perspective, it was a cowardly tactic from an old man too afraid to take on his enemies one on one. We have to keep in mind however that this wasn’t a game, it was a war. Rustal knew that if he fought them fairly, the casualties would be second highest since the calamity war. In terms of strategy and his character, it was very on point.
Gundam: IBO is very good at subverting expectations put forward. A lot of fans expected a one way curb stomping of epic proportions from the Gundam boys, and instead we received a desperate last stand from being punctured by the Dainsleif spears. Iok and Julieta joining the fight made things a bit more interesting. I must say that nothing has ever felt as good as seeing a character get killed off the way Iok was. It was as if the writers took pity on us for killing off so many great characters that they decided to give us (and Akihiro) one last hurrah before the big send off.
Akihiro’s death was sad, but not as much as Mika’s. Gundam Barbatos Lupus Rex was the first time (in my memory) that a Gundam wasn’t just destroyed but completely desecrated in its last moments. And who else but Julieta to do the dastardly deed? A lot of fans liked her character but I found her to be nothing more than a plot device to help us get insight into Gaelio’s mind and its inner workings. In fewer words: I don’t like her character, and I probably never will. I did however like the symbolism of cutting the Gundam‘s head off marking the end of the McGillis Fareed incident.
The second half
You’re probably thinking “So that’s it huh? Tekkadan fought a losing war and all of the core members died?”
That’s the plot until we hit the second part, a time skip that would’ve been better as an individual episode.
A few years later, we see where all of the characters are at in their lives. It certainly wasn’t as interesting as the first part, but it did provide closure.
The motivation for season 2 was Tekkadan becoming the King of Mars; instead we got a symbolic Queen in the form of Kudelia. She made many organizations to help the surviving members of Tekkadan integrate into society. Takaki, Chad and the rest are shown either working directly with her or her other venues.
All but Ride and a couple of other unnamed characters are shown living new lives. Throughout the series Ride was demonized as a character that caused the death of at least 2 lovable characters (Shino and Orga). In a moment of redemption, he tracks Nobliss and assassinates him. It was interesting that Nobliss’ last words were about not knowing who Orga was, showing us that to him, all of this was just business and nothing personal. However as Gyp Rosetti (from Boardwalk Empire) said “what is life, if it’s not personal?”
Not so bleak future
Another important event from the second part was Rustal’s elimination of the seven stars council and transformation of the governing body into a democratic system led by himself. He also co-signed a treaty that would abolish Human Debris. He finally also removed a good portion of Earth’s forces from Mars which allows Mars to have more political and economic freedom. Everything McGillis fought for was ironically accomplished after his death by the man he fought his hardest against.
Now, a lot of people see Rustal’s actions as conflicting. I believe that is only because as viewers he was presented to us as Tekkadan’s ultimate enemy and, therefore, was automatically “bad”. We need to keep in mind however that nothing in life is black and white, and instead differing shades of gray. The man wasn’t evil; he just knew how to manipulate politics in his favor to accomplish his goals. In my opinion he was one of the most interesting characters of this season who most of us passed over in favor of flashier and cooler characters.
First time for everything
An interesting fact about this show is that the Gundam pilots were the first to have had death flags on them from day one. If we take a look back through the episodes, not a single one of them got out with their lives (except for Gaelio, but he lost something important too). They all needed to die in order for the world to advance towards an age of peace, as they represented the old. I also liked that the Gundam pilots essentially made deals demons from the Ars Goetia, and we all know that never really pays off. That was pretty cool.
In conclusion, if you haven’t already, you should watch Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans. It is a mafia story with giant robots, while also sprinkling in political matters and strategy. The characters all have attractive personality traits to them, so you’ll at least have one character you’ll love until they inevitably get killed off. It will definitely tear up your insides by how brusque it executes some of its kills, and leave you a shadow of your former self. The music and animation are top notch and you’ll sometimes find yourself humming tunes as you go about your day. This last episode was a good finale that wraps everything up nicely while leaving you wanting more.