Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Episode 11 Recap: “Human Debris”

Original Airdate: December 13th, 2015

Toonami Airdate: August 20th, 2016

I didn’t know the pirates were led by Pigma from Star Wolf.

Human Debris - Merribit Heals TakakiThe episode picks up from last week with the pirates ambushing Akihiro and Mikazuki stepping in to help level the playing field. The fight goes on for a bit, with Mikazuki easily holding off the two pirates, until their punk-like snake-tongued commander, Kudal Cadel, steps in to take care of business himself. During the fight, Takaki and his mech suffer near-fatal damage, driving Akihiro into a rage where he assaults one of the enemy pirates, suspiciously named Masahiro. As the two are locked in combat, something is set off in Masahiro’s memories, causing him to directly ask and confirm Akihiro’s identity. Before this moment can proceed further, Tekkadan receives backup from two of the Turbines, breaking up the fight.

Takaki is in critical condition, but thankfully Merribit steps in to take care of the injuries, sewing up the wound and placing him in a specialized treatment device. Meanwhile, Naze is engaged in a call with the leader of the pirate group (the Brewers), Brooke Kabayan. The leader threatens the Turbines for a bit before hanging up, with Naze filling Orga and Biscuit in on the details later. Turns out they also want to kidnap Kudelia as well, but they’re curious as to who tipped off the pirates about Kudelia’s presence.

Human Debris - McGillis and Gaelio Meet Iznario
I’ll admit that I love the framing and use of light/shadows in this scene, with McGillis having to kneel in the shadow of his father both literally and metaphorically, waiting for the moment when he can take control of Gjallarhorn from Iznario.

Meanwhile, Gjallarhorn heads off to Earth where McGillis and Gaelio meet with McGillis’ father, Iznario, before settling in at McGillis’ home. The two are greeted by Gaelio’s sister Almiria, who is also McGillis’ fiancé, just in case your mind blocked out that little factoid for reasons that I’m sure are perfectly understandable. Did I mention she’s like only 9 or 10 years old by the way? Getting back on track, the two discuss the state of their conflict with Tekkadan, revealing that Scrawny Space Hitler was the one who hired the Brewers to take out the organization. It seems as though Gjallarhorn, or rather McGillis specifically, wants to kidnap her in order to force a major reform within Gjallarhorn’s regime, eliminating the corrupting influence of people like Coral Conrad.

In the Brewers’ base, Kudal is busy beating up on his fellow team members for failing to hold their own in the recent skirmish as Masahiro reflects on the encounter. Back over with Tekkadan, Orga tries to comfort Akihiro over the injuries that Takaki suffered. He begins venting about his encounter with Masahiro out on the battlefield, with Orga and the rest of Tekkadan (barging in unexpectedly) promising that they’ll rescue Masahiro and put him on their side. The episode ends with Takaki waking up and asking everyone to settle down a bit so he can sleep some more, much to everyone’s amazement.

 

I’ve bellyached quite a bit about the past few Iron-Blooded Orphans episode for what I feel are unnecessary slowdowns in the overall plot momentum and sense of tension between the big action set pieces, and I’m slightly inclined to do so again here, if only because this episode perfectly encapsulates my various feelings both positive and negative about the entire series up to now. As is typical for the series, the opening fight is absolutely fantastic, showing off plenty of slick battle animations and money shot-worthy moments, even giving us an entertainingly off-putting new villain with Kudal. The exact moment where Akihiro locks horns with Masahiro was the highlight for me, as I was more engaged than I had been before, eagerly awaiting a tense and impactful character moment to play out amidst the chaotic mech combat. Admittingly, it’s kind of silly that the last 5 minutes of last week’s episode had Akihiro conveniently bring up his brother right before the two encounter each other, but that can be forgiven a bit.

And then Azee and Lafter step in. The scene where they enter the fight is a damn near literal representation of my big overriding problem that I’ve been going on about for these past few recaps. The only reason these two show up at all is to call a time out on the fight against the Brewers, preventing and delaying a potentially interesting character moment for Akihiro for no good reason. The sense of tension felt when Akihiro confronts Masahiro just absolutely deflates, and while there’s sort of a decent bonding moment between him and the rest of Tekkadan at the end of the episode, it wasn’t really worth the sacrifice. While I want to be fair and say the episode at least tries to maintain the mental strain that the fight leaves on Tekkadan, this is again undercut by a random interruption that follows what McGillis and Gaelio are up to, with only a minor handful of lines of dialogue to tie it back to the main conflict of the episode. Even though there’s some key information here revealing some sneaky motives for McGillis’ pursuit of Tekkadan and Kudelia, it doesn’t really connect with anything else in the episode apart from those few lines of dialogue, so this probably could have been cut out and saved for another episode down the road. Maybe there will be a rematch with the Brewers next week that’ll be more satisfying without an unneeded interruption. I give this episode 6.5 underage waifus/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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