Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans – 16

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I think this was an episode that highlighted the lingering issues with Tekketsu no Orphans.

Gundam Orphans - 16 -1I’m hard-pressed to remember many shows about which my feelings have see-sawed from week to week more than this one.  And in a way that’s probably not surprising, given that you have a director and writer who excel at a certain style of storytelling and a franchise as iconic and rigid as anime itself  – one which favors a very different style.  It may just be the classic case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object – with predictable results.

The first problem I have with episode concerns predictability.  Yes, it’s certainly true that there’s a comfort level when watching a Gundam series that you know basically what’s going to happen.  But it grows wearisome sometimes, especially when you don’t have a script that accounts for that familiarity very well.  But this is a Gundam show and by gosh, this is how things work – when a character’s death flags are raised, they salute.  When their name is in an episode title, they die as ordered.

Then there’s the matter of the big emotional scenes in episodes like this one, which have fallen flat more often than not.  Any veteran of AnoHana or Toradora knows the Nagai-Okada pairing can be as elite as it gets when it comes to melodrama, but something just seems off in Tekketsu no Orphans – whether they feel constrained by the weight of the franchise or not, I don’t know.  But these big emotional crescendoes just haven’t clicked with me too often – the emotional buy-in with the characters hasn’t been earned and the show just seems to be trying too hard.

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My biggest problem here, though, is Kudelia.  We’re two-thirds of the way through the series and she’s still a purely passive character.  She impacts only by her existence,  not by her thoughts, words or deeds.  I get that she’s a symbol because of what she is – but I need more than that to actually care about her.  If you’re going to put her out there as some kind of Jon of Arc figure, you’ve got to give her a voice – give her a perspective, give her charisma, give her bold and foolish courage.  Right now Kudelia is being held up at the epicentre of everything that’s happening, but she’s very much what she was when Tekketsu no Orphans started – a naive and sheltered girl who wants to make a difference but has no idea how to do it, always on the periphery of tragic events she’s helpless to prevent or even mitigate.

Gundam Orphans - 16 -6Is there still time for that to change?  Yeah, I suppose – especially now that word has leaked out that Iron-Blooded Orphans is getting a second season.  Is there still time for it to change and be credible?  I’m more skeptical there – but ask me  when it changes (given the next episode title, hopefully next week).  In the meantime I hope this series focuses on its strengths – its depiction of the nascent stages of the coming war, an unstoppable tidal wave on the horizon.  And the characters on the fringes of the story looking to take advantage of it in ways still opaque, especially McGillis Fareed.

 

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6 comments

  1. f

    My main problem with the episode is that Fumitan’s story is somewhat incomplete. We never get to learn about her motivations for betraying Kudelia to Nobliss, which could have given a bit more punch to her sacrifice. Though I am actually am fine with the predictability of this ep.

    Oddly enough, what actually fascinates me about the series as a whole at the moment is Kudelia herself. Rather than an active plot mover, i see her as IBO’s central POV character. It is also worth noting that the whole Joan of Arc symbolism is addressed in an interesting manner in the series. It is a grand image built around her by the people who wish to exploit her, and something she is unprepared to be. So, rather than outright being a Joan of Arc figure (as is common with the Princess character in Gundam), Kudelia’s narrative is instead about her growing to become that figure.

  2. K

    I agree with you. I think Kudelia is more develop than we realize. I mean this is really about breaking her and remolding her to a lady of war persona.

  3. D

    Kudelia was never meant to be a central character of this show. The story is about the Orphans who want to build an safe haven for themselves, Kudelia is just a cargo they have to deliver to Earth. She is litterally a plot device, that’s why any time the series focuses on her it falls flat and boring. This episode was espacially clumsy, I don’t get how so-called “elite” writers can come up with something so predictable that it loses all impact. The script was also full of strange leaps in logic, some random protester recognize Kudelia in the crowd because “he saw it on the news” while Gjallahorn soldiers, who are controlling the mass media, didn’t even know what she looked like last week ?

    The show should indeed focus on its strenghts which are politics and mechs battles, that’s what Gundam is about. Anytime it tries character drama it becomes as embarrassing as Okada’s previous works.

    And the second season thing is only a rumour by this point.

  4. C

    “The script was also full of strange leaps in logic, some random protester recognize Kudelia in the crowd because “he saw it on the news” while Gjallahorn soldiers, who are controlling the mass media, didn’t even know what she looked like last week ?”

    THIS. ALL OF THIS.

    Holy crap Kudelia is such a bad, empty character it hurts to watch. She could be replaced by an object, some parcel they need to deliver and almost nothing would change.

  5. K

    It does feel clunky. I was surprise about that. The whole thing could have gone a lot smoother…

  6. I have mixed reactions in this episode. The death of Fumitan was handled in a sooo predictable manner that my only reaction is “eh?”. She is also undeveloped as a character.

    What I love about this one though is it still in complete all hell broke loose mode. See how the power that be begins to move? I was also amused at that one. IBO excels with being chaotic and this episode is one of those moments.

    Kudelia needs to move after this. I am getting tired of seeing her as the damsel in this series. Also, bring the focus back to Orga! Ugh.

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