Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Episode 20 – A Wrong Kind of Soggy Biscuit

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Gotta give this show some credit. Immediately after landing on Earth (and on an island paradise no less), the episode thrusts Tekkadan into more political intrigue, with a bit of character friction as a topping. Pretty darn nice of the show to do so, given after this we’ve only five episodes left and we needn’t spend an ENTIRE episode stranded on said island navel gazing about life and/or whether to fight.

This week we’re introduced to the strange Japanese man who appeared a couple of episodes back: Maganai Todonosuke, a former Arbrau prime minister in exile. While the talks with Kudelia and him go nowhere (predictably thanks to the exile part), we do learn more about Earth. Gjallarhorn seems not to have as much jurisdiction on Earth if this episode’s any indication. Unless you have some pull like that Carta lady in the last episode, or you’re the Oceanic Federation (IngSoc saves Tekkadan’s hide!), they sometimes will stay out of things. A neat, if short-lived, development as said Carta lady pulls some strings to set the stage for an island battle next episode. Other than that, hard to feel much about this part of the episode, since we don’t truly know if Todonosuke will be a boon or a burden to Tekkadan, either here or when he and Kudelia attend an important plenary session a few episodes down the line.

The strength to this episode though lies with Orga and Biscuit. After being rather hurried the past few episodes with all the action going on, those two finally have some downtime for development. It’s a relationship that has not been touched upon in a while, so it’s nice to see it resurface with a nice helping of character struggle. The situation on Earth puts Tekkadan at a crossroads. Sure, they’ve finished their job getting Kudelia to Earth, but even if they come back to Mars (and that’s a big IF) their fame would be ephemeral, nothing more than one-hit wonders with giant robots. On the other hand, they can go big and make a name for themselves. Both are not wrong in their beliefs. Orga is right in thinking they can’t coast on this one amazing job, and Biscuit is right about the risks involved in going big, especially in their line of work. The latter’s investment in such a view is compounded by the news of his brother’s suicide.

Now that is a surprise, since I thought we would see the last of him after he laments his failure to stop the massacre in Dort 3. Instead, Savarin leaves us a final message on the risks of pushing for ideas too hard, finding one’s own individual piece of happiness, and for Biscuit not to follow in his footsteps (Orga gets similar advice from Turbine in regards to Teiwaz). This leads into some perfect navel-gazing because Orga and Biscuit have perfect foils for such: Merribit and Yukinojo respectively. Each provides an extra insight that despite this friction they’ve come this far and it would not hurt if they do what they’ve always done when it comes to certain disagreements. Those scenes are short and only happen at the tail end of the episode, but they go a long way, and reveal once again the deep ties of family across Tekkadan. It isn’t just between your battle-hardened peers, but the older generation as well. I like that.

I’d go into some spiel about ‘going big’ or ‘going home’ and the theming there ,but hey… if Mika can help with the big picture (aiding Orga) so it could provide him with his little picture (his farm), then so can Biscuit and Orga. The answer is already there if you’ve been watching, no need to put up a thinkpiece for it.

Iron-Blooded Notes:

  • LOVE how Tekkadan (aside from Atra) are completely shocked at the discovery of fish, and how it can be delicious. Cultural philistines the lot of them, but hey… they’re from Mars.
  • EYOP, Ein lives, and instead of death he might have an even worse fate: Being outfitted with the weapon of his enemies, the Alaya-Vijnana System. What IS the true potential of that system, according to Maccy? What will Ein think of his new fate? Who knows, but quite the development.
  • Boo, that ending last episode was only for that episode.