Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans – 20

Gundam Orphans - 20 -3 Gundam Orphans - 20 -20 Gundam Orphans - 20 -27

Gundam Orphans - 20 -1It’s a fairly normal occurrence for series like Tekketsu no Orphans – my favorite episodes tend to be the ones the bulk of the audience yawns at, and the crowd favorites often leave me cold.  Last week’s Orphans might have been the worst episode of the series in some ways even as it was among the most acclaimed, and this was definitely my favorite in at least a month – so it won’t surprise me a bit if it goes over like a lead Zeppelin.

Gundam Orphans - 20 -2The thing is, there’s an old saying in sports – “horses for courses”.  Anybody is going to be more effective if they’re playing in conditions that suit their game, and I think it’s quieter episodes like this that suit Okada Mari and Nagai Tatsuyuki’s game.  Nagai has proven he can deliver good action pieces, no question, but it’s not that hard to find those in the Gundam catalogue.  How many Gundam series can deliver interior material as well as this episode did?  I think it’s a much shorter list, at the very least.

Gundam Orphans - 20 -4Basically, this is a “fish out of water” story – not unique in Gundam, and one Iron-Blooded Orphans has been building towards from day one.  The country bumpkins have come home – to the home they’ve never seen, and the one in which they’d be viewed by most as dangerous outsiders and even savages rather than prodigal sons on the return.  This could have been saccharine or forced, but it was rather funny and quite believable.  The boys (and Atra) behaved in a manner you’d expect them to behave based on their backgrounds.  How could anything about Earth be more alien to them – I mean, even to Terrans like me a flounder (or was that a sole?) looks like a pretty alien beast.  And you expect them to turn around and eat it?

Gundam Orphans - 20 -5I’ll allow that the confrontation between Orga and Bisky was a bit sudden, to the point of being forced.  But that too is something the series has been building towards, I think, because these two have a fundamentally different approach to the world.  Orga and Mika were initially presented as the twin pillars of Tekkadan but in truth, we’ve seen no evidence that Mika would ever go against Orga’s wishes – he’s Orga’s sword hand, in effect.  It’s Biscuit who’s Orga’s true foil, the cautious and analytical speed bump to Orga’s big-dreaming and reckless ambition.  This was a collision that was always going to happen – I just wish the specifics had been given a little more buildup.

Gundam Orphans - 20 -6The catalyst here is Makanai Tougonsuke (the timeless Mugihito), the exiled former Prime Minister who’s brought the Tekkadan boys to Oceania to try and use them to leverage his way back into power.  He offers them protection from Gjallarhorn, but for a price – he wants Tekkadan to take him to the capital he’s been exiled from so he can make a play to re-gain power.  It’s yet another situation where the Tekkadan are in way over their heads – it’s fascinating the way they’ve become such a political football despite having no experience in politics.

Gundam Orphans - 20 -7Orga’s instinct (once he gets past his snit at being used yet again) is to go big and take the gamble – if the old man wins, he owes them big-time.  Biscuit’s is to play it safe, take the safest route for the family and head back to Mars now that their job is technically done.  He has a reason to react this way – he’s just been told that his brother has committed suicide on Dort (and by the way, it’s highly suspicious that the workers on Dort have somehow gotten themselves a good deal – one suspects the involvement of the newly-shorn McGillis Fareed).  But Bisky would have been inclined to advise that course anyway – it’s his nature.  If Orga is the father figure of Tekkadan Bisky is the mother, and his gut tells him not to take risks with their lives unless there’s no alternative.  The death of his brother influenced the violence of his disagreement with Orga, not the disagreement itself.

Gundam Orphans - 20 -8In the end I suspect Biscuit quitting Tekkadan (which he’d never have followed through on anyway) and Orga’s choice have  been mooted by the fact that Carta Issue has decided to bull her way into Oceania and try to take Tekkadan out.  This is fine with Makanai no doubt – Orga now has no choice but to take his side.  Meanwhile Ein isn’t dead after all, but beyond the help of traditional medicine.  This could hardly have worked out better for Fareed if he’d planned it, it seems – over Gaileo’s objections he’s going to make Ein a guinea pig for the Alaya-Vijñāna system.  Fareed is whip-smart – he knows how powerful a tool it is, and how social prejudice has prevented Gjallarhorn from using it, and this gives him a chance to fundamentally change the balance of power.  And fundamentally changing stuff is McGillis Fareed’s mission in life, which makes one think he’s the one ultimately moving more of the pieces than anyone else.



  1. D

    What matters is not what suits the director but what suits the anime he’s directing. Gundam has always been about characters expressing themselves through battle, then it’s no wonder that the battle episodes are more acclaimed than the others, because this is where Gundam shines as at what it is, a giant robot war drama – where the giant robot part is as essential as the rest.

    Even if I didn’t enjoy this episode the slightest as much as last week’s, it was necessary to bring closure to some plot points and open some more leading to the conclusion. The resolution of the Dort incident is quite lame (hundreds of people slaughtered and it is all resolved by a handshake ?) as well as the Biscuit drama (being a relative of the main cast seems to be the dangerous situation in this series, more dangerous than being a Mobile Suit pilot itself) but the bits about cyborgs and how they are prejudiced against were the nicest bits of this episode.

  2. Wow. Is this the first time that a quiet Gundam episode that I loved since the first half? Well, Okada has still her chops in making convincing drama after all.

  3. C


    Aaaand once again Kudelia basically does nothing but get taken advantage of while being grossly ignorant about everything. Why couldn’t the older Tekkadan lady be Kudelia? She’s just so much better. Is Kudelia supposed to be some sort of commentary on that “heroes are not what they seem” or is it just very bad writing? My bets are on the latter.

    RIP Savarin, in spite of being the second “long lost brother” you injected some much needed grey morality into the show, and your death is having some tangible consequences that nicely tie into the Orga-Biscuit relationship.

  4. g

    I agree. I’m all about more important female characters, actually I’m the biggest fan. And it’s not like all teenager girls have to know everything about politics, while casually dreaming about the world peace but if you want to play on a politics scene then you have to know about it and its mechanics. Instead bemoaning about Fumita again and buying into myths about some female warriors, she should come prepared with a knowledge about current political situation and who are VIPs on Earth. And she’s so transparent and flustered about everything, I naively thought once she’ll be a hard negotiator and she has an experience. It’s not like I want to be her shady, corrupted or cynical but be little more clever, could you?

    I mean, did she even understand the old fart basically said Oceania was glad, because thanks to Dorts’ fights for blue collars rights, African Union is economically weaker now (and they’re glad only for that)? That it means in long run he doesn’t care about Kudela’s goal or some rights for blue collars/ people of Mars. And probably he would use them for taking back the political power without helping them at all. Orga, you too don’t want to think rationally about it?

  5. C

    The worst thing about it is that Atra, a character far more “useful” than Kudelia considering her age, basically went from “the character that pines over the MC”, to this character that fellates Kudelia every single episode because reasons. “Oh wow you’re so awesome, you’re so amazing, Kudelia.”

  6. J

    Oh good, so not-Jerid will soon become not-Gyunei. Keep shoe-horning them in guys.

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