Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Episode 10 Recap: “A Letter From Tomorrow”

Original Airdate: December 6th, 2015

Toonami Airdate: August 13th, 2016

…Atra, we’re gonna need to have a conversation after this recap is over.

Following the Sakazuki ritual, Tekkadan goes about their business doing their contracted work for Teiwaz. Orga and company receive messages from the Tekkadan base down on Mars that update them on the state of things, with Biscuit receiving his own private message from his sisters Cookie and Cracker back home. On a side note, I feel compelled to point out that he has a container of drinkable chocolate in this scene. …GET IT?! CAUSE HE’S FAT! WE HAD TO REMIND YOU OF THIS BECAUSE WE’RE SO SUBTLE!

Anyway…

Orga and some other Tekkadan members meet up with Naze to plan their route to Earth, as Naze notes that despite the fact that the Ariadne network would protect them from Gjallarhorn, the path is still often susceptible to assaults by random pirates. He then introduces them to a liaison to assist with the mission, and it turns out to be the woman from last episode (named Merribit) who came across Orga puking after his celebratory night of drinking. Naturally, this leaves Orga a bit on edge around her presence, which holds true in a later encounter after this meeting.

A Letter From Tomorrow - Atra's Harem Fantasy
The look of regret on Mikazuki’s face is palpable.

Atra is busy taking care of things in the kitchen when Kudelia comes by to help, and she asks about how she came to know Tekkadan in the first place. Atra delves into her backstory, starting with when she was 10 and working a job in a brothel doing chores, often getting scolded for messing up. One day, she decided to run away, and she later had a chance encounter with a younger MIkazuki eating a sandwich on the sidewalk. After she passes out from starvation, Mikazuki decides to use the last of his money to buy some food for her at a nearby grocery store, and the manager decides to show mercy and hire Atra on the spot. Meanwhile, Akihiro finishes a training session with Lafter as he heads off for patrol work and is accompanied by fellow team member Takaki. As Takaki goes on about his sister and wanting to help her, Akihiro tells a story about his own younger sibling: his brother Masahiro (not to be confused with our Lord and Savior of Smash Bros). The two worked for a fleet of merchant ships as children until they were raided by pirates one day, killing off all the adults and taking Masahiro with them. In the middle of this discussion, the two of them are ambushed by pirates piloting mobile suits, and just when it seems like they’re about to suffer a deadly blow, Mikazuki comes in with Barbatos at the last minute, piercing one of the enemy mobile suits and ending the episode.

I want to get something out of the way first before my usual Gundam spiel: there were a couple of nice character segments in this episode. The backstory of Atra and how she came to know Mikazuki was a solid bit of exposition that helps to further expand Mikazuki’s character and providing full context as to why Atra feels indebted to Tekkadan. The scenes where Biscuit and Takaki speak with their younger sisters back home was also really sweet; Biscuit has the most adorable siblings, and I doubt anyone can dispute this. Now with all that being said, when you look at the past 3 episodes and all that happened across them and factoring in the material that’s legitimately important (major plot points, character beats, etc.), there was only really about 1 ½ episodes’ worth of vital material, and everything else was ostensibly empty padding that failed to do anything of note or significance. In this week’s instance, we have the scenes with Biscuit and Takaki talking to their siblings, the establishment of Merribit as a liaison, and the backstories of both Atra and Akihiro.

A Letter From Tomorrow - Mikazuki Saves AkihiroAll of this could take up about half of an episode’s run, but instead these events are separated by a bunch of redundant padding showing the operations of the secondary Tekkadan lackeys that aren’t likely to fight anytime soon. The scenes of these kids tackling the uninteresting hard labor and lamenting how they can’t score with the adult women and their big boobs doesn’t add anything of importance and just pads out the run time, especially since these pervy tendencies had been established and shown before, so what purpose do they serve here other than telling us what we already know? The only saving grace aside from the character bits that I do like is that ending money shot of Barbatos penetrating the enemy mobile suit (phrasing!), as it’s an example of how this series can present visually impressive fight scenes in terms of framing and shot composition, and it’s also a hopeful promise that next week we’ll finally get some action again and the plot momentum can pick up again after three straight episodes of inactivity. I give this episode 6 inappropriate harem fantasies/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 12:30 AM, only on Toonami.

 

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