Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Episode 2 Recap: “Barbatos”

Original Airdate: October 11th, 2015

Toonami Airdate: June 11th, 2016

Note: the Gundam Barbatos is not to be confused with Barbados Slim, the greatest athlete in all of Barbados.

Barbatos - Screen DisplayThe episode starts off moments before where the first episode ended, with Mikazuki heading down to the bunker where the Gundam was stored, as he’s getting prepped to operate the mech. The mobile suit turns out to be compatible with the results of whatever surgical implants Mikazuki was given in his back, allowing him to interface perfectly with the mech, officially named “Barbatos”. Cutting back to the main fight, Ein charges at Mikazuki but gets his mobile suit’s arm cut off, and as the dust from the impact begins to clear, Crank suddenly attacks, locking weapons with Barbatos. However, he gets cold feet when he realizes that Barbatos is being operated by a child, same as all the mobile workers killed in the struggle. Crank commands Ein to fall back and retreat at the same time the Barbatos runs low on fuel, ending the fight for the time being, and reports the status of his mission to Coral, who’s less than pleased about the whole situation. He voices his concerns about fighting battles against children, but Coral simply doesn’t care and just wants the job of capturing Kudelia done by any means necessary.

Barbatos - Biscuit, Cookie, and Cracker
So they’re *all* named after food items? Did their mom have the munchies when naming them or something?

The CGS tries to recoup and get itself together in the aftermath of the battle, as various members mourn the losses of their fellow comrades (included an odd line about one of the deceased wanting to die “smothered between huge boobs”… actual dialogue). While everyone attempts to recuperate, a delivery is made to the CGS base by Atra, the little girl from the grocery store in the first episode. She finds herself in the company of twins named Cookie and Cracker, who are at the base to meet with their older brother: none other than Biscuit. While Atra makes her delivery, she asks about Mikazuki, who’s still out in the battlefield, stuck inside the Barbatos cockpit as Nady, the mechanic, tries to pull him out. She manages to catch him on his way back to the base, but the two don’t exchange very many words before he continues off.

We see Kudelia giving her speech about how Earth’s control of Mars is responsible for the poverty and famine plaguing the Mars population (disproportionately affecting children more than anyone), and then it flashes back to Kudelia in the base following the battle. Fumitan tries to comfort her and get her to go back home, but she’s insistent that she completes her mission. Mikazuki shows up, and Kudelia tries to apologize for being the cause of the recent casualties, but he finds it incredibly disrespectful that she tries to make this situation about her. As she wanders off on her own to mull over what he just said, she comes across Cookie, Cracker, and Atra, who recognize her from the news.

Orga and his team are summoned to a meeting where one of their superiors berates them for their actions during the battle. When Orga tries to defend his actions, he gets pummeled on the spot, and he later meets with his team to put a plan in place to overthrow the leadership of CGS and take control themselves. He goes off to meet with Mikazuki and get his approval to go through with the uprising, presenting him with a gun, and Mikazuki agrees to whatever the plan is without even hearing it first.

Back on the Gjallarhorn ship, McGillis and Gaelio meet up with Coral to conduct their planned inspection. Meanwhile, Crank is getting ready for his next mission as Ein begs to go with him, but since he’s still pretty wounded from the battle, Crank forces him to stay behind, as the episode ends with him ready to get back into action.

 

Following up on the first episode, this one seeps into some more familiar storytelling turf for the Gundam franchise, chiefly the whole “war is hell” business that runs throughout most of the major entries. The toll of just one major battle is shown on both sides, from the deaths and psychological casualties within the CGS to how even Crank was affected. Apparently even a villainous entity like him appears to have a conscience and is facing personal doubt regarding attacking children. This will no doubt play a role in the future, however long he sticks around, as he finds himself caught between his morals and his official duties. The abandonment of Orga’s crew by the CGS higher-ups is shown as the last straw that will force his team to take drastic action, so we know this isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. This goes back to what I mentioned in my recap of episode 1 about the story’s confident presentation of characters, story, and themes. While the series will no doubt expand upon these conflicts as it goes on, it presents them early on in a way that is substantial enough that anyone can latch onto and understand right away.

The episode also expands a bit on what I assume will be another major theme throughout IBO’s run: class inequality, chiefly through the brief interaction between Kudelia and Mikazuki in which he chastises her for not really understanding the importance of the battle that had just occurred. Kudelia believes all of the casualties to be her own fault, but Mikazuki chews her out for pretending she’s in a position of knowledge about what just happened. With her being someone who was born in a higher-up part of the Mars colonies and him being an orphan in the streets for a lot of his life, you can see how it would be tasteless for her to act like she really knows the struggle of the CGS. Despite some of the more interesting character moments in the episode, being an aftermath exploration means that it does feel noticeably slow, but things should eventually pick up in the next episode or two. I give this episode 7 butt-shaped apples/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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