Iron Blooded Orphans – First Impressions

I will do a whole review of this series, once I either finish it or abandon it, but I want to look at how it has started. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans is available on AnimeLab and Crunchyroll.

At the time of writing, I’d watched the first 5 episodes of this series and it brought back to me why I say so often I have a love/hate relationship with anything Gundam. So far Iron Blooded Orphans is sitting on the love side of that but it’s already showing signs that it may not be able to stay there for the duration.

Just so you know, I have deliberately not read about how this story progresses because if I’m going to watch it through, I’d like to discover what happens for myself.

So what is Iron Blooded Orphans about?

It’s a Gundam anime. It’s about giant robots and how horrible war is and that humans are greedy  and even once we colonise space we’ll just find new and different ways to discriminate against other people. Really, that’s what it’s about.

However, if you want the official write up from Anime Lab I’ve included it below for you. If you can process all of that back story you’ll see it’s an anime about a bunch of orphans working for a security company trying to transport some girl to Earth but other people are trying to stop them.

What’s good about it?

  • In the first few episodes there are some action sequences, but these are short, frantic bursts of conflict that feel like they serve a purpose, other than show-casing more robot models (although they do that as well).
  • Orga and Mikazuki are interesting as characters and there’s a lot of hints and flashes to the back story around their relationship so it will be interesting to see how they develop throughout the series. (If normal Gundam rules stay in place they will probably have a falling out at some point and may or may not have to fight each – but will feel really bad about it).
  • The set up doesn’t feel as contrived as some other Gundam stories. The rebellion and inter-company squabbling and maneuvering are coming off as something we could expect to see in the future which is lending some weight to the plot.

What’s not so good about it?

  • Mikazuki by himself is an extraordinarily dull character. That said, Orga by himself would be too. It’s only the combination and the play between that give us a decent protagonist so far. Unless these characters start developing fast (which they might) they aren’t going to be particularly memorable as individuals.
  • Kudelia (other than having a needlessly hard to say name) is really pathetic. Maybe she’ll mature and maybe she’ll do something great, but for someone who is supposedly the leader of a political movement she is a hand-wringing ball of low self-esteem which doesn’t make her particularly compelling.
  • They kill one of the orphans in one of the early fights (well they kill a lot but only one that really has a name or a poignant moment as they collect what’s left of him) mostly just to tug on the audience’s heart strings. It’s cheap emotional tactics and we already felt pretty sorry of the crew. Either let all of the deaths in that battle have equal weight, or give us some more reason to care about that individual.
  • The hair. Oh, the gravity defying, totally inappropriate for anyone who is going to be fighting and need a full range of vision, hair. While Bleach and other Shonen anime can do what they like, Gundam tries so hard to set up militaries and governments with processes and rules, so why is there no dress code that states your hair at least shouldn’t be obscuring your vision? (Okay, that is a petty complaint by it is legitimate in the context of the show.)

I won’t do another write up on this until I finish it, so I am hoping I enjoy what’s left of the series.

If you’ve watched it, let me know your thoughts below (spoiler free please). If you haven’t, maybe check it out as the first part is enjoyable.

“There was once a great conflict known as the “Calamity War.” Roughly 300 years have passed since the end of this war.The Earth Sphere had lost its previous governing structure, and a new world was created under new systems of government. While a temporary peace had arrived, the seeds of a new conflict were being sown in the Mars Sphere, far away from Earth.Our hero, a boy named Mikazuki Augus, belongs to a private security company called Chryse Guard Security (CGS). The company accepts a mission to escort Kudelia Aina Bernstein, a girl who seeks to liberate the Martian city of Chryse from the rule of one of Earth’s major powers. However, the military organization Gjallarhorn attacks CGS in order to nip this rebellion in the bud. CGS begins an evacuation, using Mikazuki and the other children as decoys.Orga Itsuka, the leader of the boys, decides to take this opportunity to rise up in revolt and launch a coup d’etat against the adults who have been oppressing them. He gives Mikazuki the task of repulsing Gjallarhorn, and Mikazuki enters battle using the Gundam Barbatos, a mobile suit from the Calamity War era which has been serving as CGS’s power source.”

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