Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans debuted on Sunday, and judging from episode one of 25, aptly titled “Iron and Blood,” you can see the new Gundam series has a good chance of being another great installment in the mecha anime (if you’re into that kind of thing).
Iron Blooded Orphans comes on the heels of Gundam G no Reconguista, which was known for its childlike animation style, utter lack of realism, vacuous characters, and confusing plot. As a longtime Gundam fan, I had high hopes for Reconguista when it began and was optimistic that its arcane setting would be better explained in later episodes — but the show only grew more bizarre and unfathomable as it trudged on.
After comparing the first episodes of Reconguista and Orphans, I already have more faith in this newer Gundam series than I ever had in Reconguista. Orphans’ animation is gritty and the sharp, and (so far) the series seems to have a more ‘realistic’ plot that’s both edgier and reminiscent of the wildly popular Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Like 00‘s Setsuna F. Seiei, the good-guy mecha pilots are former child soldiers, which makes the viewer feel for the characters and see their twisted psychology.
Orphans is directed by anime creator Tatsuyuki Nagai, who brought us the likes of Toradora! and Toaru Kagaku no Railgun. Nagai, who also worked on Gundam 00‘s storyboard, has experience in making episodes that will make Gundam hold their breath in anticipation for next week’s release.
Orphans starts with a bloody flashback of a white-haired tough guy called Orga Itsuka, tricking the viewer into thinking he’s the protagonist and would-be pilot of the series’ hallmark Barbatos Gundam robot. Later on, more emphasis is placed on the younger black-haired pilot Mikazuki Augus, especially when he meets with the princess-type personality Kudelia Aina Bernstein. Eventually, the first episode ends with Mika heroically coming to rescue with the Barbatos Gundam.
Each new Gundam universe adds some key element that the setting revolves around. In 00 it was space elevators that acted as massive solar power plants, and for Reconguista it was proton batteries that were regularly delivered from space to people on Earth. In Orphans, the plot centers around growing tension between Earth and the Mars colony.
The Mars in Orphans is very different from the red planet we are used to. Without a spacesuit, humans are able to walk safely on the surface, and breathe the air. But the planet still remains a desolate red. How human life on Mars is possible (or if it was always habitable) hasn’t been explained, yet.
Making a sort of conflict akin to the British Empire’s struggles with their colonies, except that Mars is pretty low on resources and there are giant robots afoot. The people of the Chryse Martian colony want independence, which is why Kudelia Aina Bernstein, the daughter of a cowardly politician, is sent to Earth.
Orphans also introduces a fantastical power source called an Ahab Drive, which makes it possible for humans to live in space. I suspect this piece of technology will play some kind of central tech role.
Staples of the Gundam series are found in Orphans, such as the beloved peace-loving princess Kudelia Aina Bernstein and the calculating commander McGillis Fareed (who will undoubtedly be the antihero and chief rival of the protagonist.) But these staples should be welcomed; they’re what helped make Gundam an anime classic.
Watch the trailer for Mobile Suit Gundam Iron–Blooded Orphans on YouTube below, courtesy of Sunrise.
[Header Image: YouTube/Sunrise]