Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans – 21

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Well, this is one of those episodes where I don’t suppose there’s much point in talking about anything that happened before the ending. I don’t think there’s much chance anything else will be getting a lot of discussion anyway.

Did we see this coming?  Well, yes and no.  Certainly, there have been death flags hoisted for Biscuit over the past few episodes, and that sort of kicked into high gear this week – stuff like the cutaway to his sisters, and all his moonlit musings over what he’s going to do in the future.  Once he came to terms with his fight with Orga and smiled wistfully the die was probably cast – and all the false “all clear” signals Tekketsu no Orphans was sending out as the battle with Carta’s forces drew to a seeming close were the final nail.

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First things first: is this a head-fake, like what happened with Takaki and Ein?  It’s possible, but this one passes the sniff test – I mean, we actually saw what sure seemed like the body, and the theme of the episode itself seems to have been built around Biscuit actually being dead.  The next question I’d ask is whether this is the start of a march of tragedy for the rest of the series – is this the kind of story where all the orphans are sacrificed one by one to prove a narrative point, until none remain?  I wouldn’t be shocked to see that fate befall the older boys like Orga, Mika and Akihiro, but I’ll be surprised if the true children like Takaki and Ride aren’t left to pick up the pieces at the end of the journey.

I liked Biscuit more than most of the characters in Iron-Blooded Orphans, and I do think he was quite important – as I said last week, if Orga is the father figure of the Tekkadan than Biscuit is certainly the mother.  But it was probably a good thing for the story’s credibility to have one of the main Tekkadan boys die at this point.  Orga’s skated by on luck and adult help up to now, but the truth is that he’s led a gang of kids into an incredibly dangerous existence.  He was certainly pushed into it by circumstances, but while his instinct for boldness has worked for him so far, it comes with a cost.  This was really the essence of the final argument between he and Biscuit – which makes the circumstances of Biscuit’s death rather ironic.

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If there’s a recurring theme to Gundam series (and obviously there are several) it’s the innocent being caught up in the ambitions and prejudices of those in power – these are the true victims of war in the Gundam mythology (and not just there).  The young and innocent fight the battles of the old and corrupt.  I’d rather it not be portrayed as broadly as it often has in Tekketsu no Orphans, with its grotesquerie of villains,  but this series could hardly be more traditional in that sense, and the reality more stark.

Fundamentally I think what Orga is trying to do is a losing battle – in this franchise, I don’t think poor and outcast kids who try and seize control of their lives are often (ever?) successful.  Tekkadan has made a splash, but at every step along the way they’ve been manipulated by somebody, and that’s certainly the case now with McGillis and Makanai pulling the strings.  It’s hard not to see the last four episodes of Orphans as the likely final act of a tragedy, with the Tekkadan being ground in the gears of power the way most like them have been over the decades of Gundam storytelling.  I hope not because that would be pretty fucking depressing, but it’s hard to read much optimism into the tea leaves if you know your history.

 

 

 

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6 comments

  1. Not to get political but that recurring theme still exists today. In America rich older people send other people’s kids (mostly poor and minority) off to war in other countries to protect the oil interests of corporations. Meanwhile these rich older people’s kids don’t join the service. They go to college instead and avoid the danger of fighting in a war on foreign soil.Anyone willing to send other people’s kids to fight should be forced to send their own kids too.

  2. Z

    One Political thought for another.

    Well lets just put this insanity to rest right here. While there are numerous studies that show that lower-middle class families do compose the majority of military enlistee’s, the same studies show that enlistees are caucasian in numbers upwards of 65-70%. Most see it is as (as I have seen it for 17 years) a way to garner a free or nearly education (all that college they’re not getting) and training that might not otherwise be available and gain valuable experience in leadership and management. Any serious study of world economics would find that nations always fight to protect there interests at home and abroad whether the gov is controlled by the rich or by the “people” in communist or socialist states.

    War sucks and it is the young who do the fighting and the dying. Saying things like the “rich should fight too” is crazy. They’re the “evil 1%” right? They couldn’t do the fighting even if they wanted to. But some of us are called to be bold, some are called to fight and defend, and sometimes we fight for damn oil. Nothing glorious or righteous about protecting national economic interests, but its still necessary.

    What Tekkadan shows us is that despite sometimes crappy circumstances, you fight for what you believe is right, you fight for the brother standing next to you, and sometimes you fight for the forces standing over you so that someday they won’t control you and you can stand free and then it will be your turn to change the world and conform those beneath you to change.

  3. I’m kind of mixed about Biscuit’s death, you brought up a good point that it stood for all that he was arguing for, but he’s also about the only character that had a differing view from Orga so far. Lets hope that the characters come more into play from now on, Mikazuki especially hasn’t developed much since the start of the series.

  4. Predictable as it may seem, I can certainly say that this is the most effective death scene in the whole of this series if Biscuit is really dead. That is probably due to the fact that he is the only one that has a working brain in Tekkadan aside from Orga. Man, that was cruel. Now that was the reason why he is given a backstory. Formulaic but still effective IMO.

    Anyway, I chuckled a few times in this episode – Mikazuki’s one line word assaults are totally hilarious. If this is intentional comedy, they win me in this case. I also like the humility as to how mechas are portrayed in this episode. No special beams, no whatsoever but robots that somehow comply with the laws of gravity.

  5. J

    Isn’t February 28th some sort of Biscuit Day in Japan?

    Well played, Sunrise.

  6. I was quite unaware of that, but you’re right. Well played, indeed.

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