Original Airdate: October 4th, 2015
Toonami Airdate: June 4th, 2016
Here we are. The much awaited premiere of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, the first Gundam series to air on the current incarnation of Toonami and the first time Gundam’s aired on U.S. television in an extremely long time. Let’s get this premiere recap underway.
The episode opens with an introduction to two of our main characters: Mikazuki and Orga, members of a security outfit called Chryse Guard Security based out of Mars. Orga is summoned to a meeting alongside another CGS member named Biscuit, and the two (along with their team) are tasked with guarding Kudelia Aina Bernstein, a representative of a Mars colony called the Chryse Autonomous Region, as she makes her way to Earth as part of her movement to liberate Mars from Earth’s control.
Back at the CGS headquarters, Orga and Biscuit relays the details of the mission to his team, which also includes Mikazuki and other members named Takaki and Eugene, the latter seeming highly opposed to the mission and nearly starting a fight with Orga. Meanwhile, at the home of the Autonomous Region’s Prime Minister, we meet the aforementioned Kudelia as she bids farewell to her mother before heading off on her mission. As she exits her mother’s room, she vents to her guardian/servant Fumitan about her desire to truly liberate Mars from Earth, having enlisted Orga’s team so she can gain a true understanding of how Earth has affected the lives of Mars’ citizenry.
We then cut to the headquarters of Gjallarhorn, a military organization that exists in service of Earth, as one of their officials, Coral Conrad, discusses Kudelia’s upcoming journey to Earth with, of all people, her father Norman. Under pressure, Norman immediately gives over information regarding his daughter’s mission to Coral, who in turn sends soldiers Crank, Orlis, and Ein on a mission to capture Kudelia. We then see a Gjallerhorn ship making its way to Mars to run an inspection of its various colonies and their contributions to Earth. The ship’s commander, Officer McGillis, discusses the issue of Mars’ independence movement and the need for Gjallerhorn to maintain Earth’s power with his subordinate Gaelio.
It’s the night before the mission, and while most of the CGS is asleep in their bunks, Mikazuki is busy working out, and Orga is mulling over the mission details as well as ruminating on how his superiors view the CGS as nothing more than expendable pawns. The next morning arrives, and the citizens of the Chryse Autonomous Region are out in the streets en masse, protesting as they demand their colony’s liberation. We also get a conversation involving the owner of a grocery store named Haba and her employee, a child named Atra. We then cut to Kudelia meeting with the head of the CGS, Maruba, and the sudden arrival of Orga and a few members of his team, including Biscuit and Mikazuki. Kudelia finds herself immediately drawn to Mikazuki and requests for him to show her around the area, but as she tries to be friendly towards him, he seems reluctant to do so, remarking on the inherent inequality between the two.
It’s nightfall and the CGS is diligently standing guard around the compound, when suddenly two of the guards are taken out by Gjallerhorn snipers. Thankfully a signal goes off alerting the compound to an attack, and they immediately jump inside their tanks to combat the invading forces. Orga goes out to join the battle as he delegates his team to various tasks, including having Biscuit protect Kudelia in the midst of all the chaos, eventually leading her to a room shown earlier which houses a familiar-looking Gundam mech. The battle rages on, with Mikasuki and soldier Akihiro picking off the enemy tanks with ease, but the team is met with some bad news: their superiors have attempted to bail and abandon the base, leaving their forces without any backup. Orga, picking up on this news, orders Biscuit to fire a signal flare into the sky to scare off the enemy, but it appears to be too late as Crank, Orlis, and Ein show up to the battlefield with something more powerful than tanks: mobile suits. The trio quickly lay waste to the CGS, even taking out one of Orga’s men in the process. However, just when things look at their bleakest, Mikazuki suddenly emerges from the ground piloting the mobile suit that was being kept deep in the base and eliminates the opposition with ease, which is where this episode ends.
This is the first time I’ve tried watching a Gundam series in quite some time, as admittedly the franchise has never really clicked with me in any kind of meaningful way, so I tried to be open-minded when watching the premiere of Iron-Blooded Orphans. The series gets off to a fairly solid start, in my opinion, with perhaps the biggest compliment I can give being how full-fledged its story and presentation is from the outset. This first episode does a pretty good job of establishing the large world it lives in, the relationships amongst the key heroes and villains, and every other possible facet of this universe without flooding every line of dialogue with info dumps. The right amount of “show > tell” is employed and it makes the society of Mars feel richly detailed even before we really get into the nitty gritty of the plot. You have to appreciate that level of confidence in presenting itself since right away, you understand how everyone and everything relates to each other and a sense of what life is like on these Mars colonies. The CGS demonstrates some solid starting character work, as again, without relying on too much info dumping, you know the hierarchy and how Orga, Mikazuki, and all the others relate to each other. If there is a knock to be had, it’s that all this solid world and character building comes at the expense of feeling a little slow at times, as I’m just sitting there awaiting the robot action, of which there’s only about 4 minutes (if we isolate to the bits with actual mobile suits). Despite that, things are starting off promising. I give this episode 8 mobile suits/10.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know down in the comments below.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans airs every Saturday at 12:00 AM, only on Toonami.
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