Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Episode 12 Recap: “The Shoals”

Original Airdate: December 20th, 2015

Toonami Airdate: August 27th, 2016

“Why can’t weeeeee be friends? Why can’t weeeeee be friends?”

Tekkadan and the Turbines attempt to plan a strategy against the Brewers, but they find themselves at a bit of an impasse since they can’t seem to get a read on the pirates’ movements. In addition, they suspect someone must have leaked their mission information over to the pirates, explaining why they want Kudelia specifically. The group continues on their current trajectory intending to take vengeance against the Brewers, and their path takes them through a massive debris field, a path typically used by Teiwaz due to its secretive nature. Planning ahead against a likely ambush, Tekkadan intends to send Lafter and Mikazuki in first to assess the situation and offer a distraction of sorts. As Mikazuki prepares to head off, Akihiro makes him promise to not kill Masahiro, trying to leave him alive until Akihiro gets there.

The Shoals - Barbatos In ActionMikazuki and Lafter make their way through the debris field, coming across the younger members of the Brewers as they expected. As they begin to engage in battle, Tekkadan and the Turbines manage to successfully intrude the fight and catch the Brewers’ main ship off-guard, deploying members to invade it on foot. Meanwhile, Akihiro is deployed into the battlefield, as well as Kudal once it becomes clear that the pirates might lose. As the battle rages on, Akihiro eventually manages to confront Masahiro, who vents about how he views himself as nothing more than disposable garbage, constantly in despair ever since Akihiro had abandoned him. He tries to comfort his brother by professing about how Tekkadan managed to help him get his life together and are willing to take Masahiro in and treat him like family, but he rejects this offer, finding himself enraged that Akihiro had been making no proper effort to search for him. In a state of anger, Masahiro pushes Akihiro away from him at exactly the time that Kudal happens to be heading towards their path, leading Kudal to pierce his mobile suit directly through the chest as Masahiro is forced to look on.

 

Both this and last week’s episode seem to be compensating for the lack of action in the episodes prior, even going as far as to actually attempt a big dramatic character moment with the second (and seemingly last) confrontation between Masahiro and Akihiro out in the battlefield. Wow, character development *in the middle* of pulse-pounding action? What a novel storytelling concept. In all seriousness, this episode tries its best to be what I would ideally want out of a show like this. However, taking a closer look at how things play out, the emotional conflict between the two doesn’t really work, and this is due to poor pacing and planning. From the start, this moment was already a little hamstrung thanks to suffering from a case of Conveniently Timed BackstoryTM. The attempt at foreshadowing their initial encounter kind of fell flat because of poor timing, but it was still possible to salvage something compelling from both Akihiro and Masahiro. Unfortunately, once the two actually lock arms with one another, the writing feels the need to, for lack of a better phrase, give us the cliff notes version of the arc between these two. Masahiro in disbelief at what he’s encountered, Akihiro trying to convince him to join Tekkadan, Masahiro angrily refusing to do so, and then capping it off with the heroic sacrifice(?) at the end.

The Shoals - Akihiro Confronts MasahiroI say sacrifice in that manner because the episode frames this event in a way that suggests Masahiro actually did have some lingering hope of being able to resolve things with his brother, but because of how quickly it glosses over this moment, it’s also equally possible that Masahiro sacrificed himself just to inflict more emotional pain onto his brother. It’s almost like the show wanted to devote more time to these two and their struggle, but the writers procrastinated and took too long, realizing that they had to work this stuff in at the last possible minute. The show essentially crippled itself in trying to bring about what could’ve been a legitimately great and compelling character moment. The episode admittingly also suffers a bit from the extremely corny on-the-nose symbolism of having the battle take place in a debris field as Masahiro goes on about him and everyone else being disposable garbage. At least the action was thrilling as always with its excellent animation and fight choreography alongside the series’ still excellent musical score. Overall, I give this episode 5.5 maximum bars/10.

Note: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans will not be airing next weekend due to Labor Day, with the block instead running a One-Punch Man marathon. Recaps will resume the week after.

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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