Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Episode 14 Recap: “Vessel of Hope”

Original Airdate: January 10th, 2016

Toonami Airdate: September 17th, 2016

“Survivor” doesn’t induce anywhere near the same levels of hype or excitement as “Raise Your Flag”.

When you haven't gotten to do anything in this show up until now.
When you haven’t gotten to do anything in this show up until now.

Kudelia finds herself restless after the surprise kiss with Mikazuki, seeking out advice on the situation from Fumitan as this is all new to her. They’re interrupted by Atra who summons them to the bridge of the ship to gaze out at their next destination: a group of stations collectively referred to as the Dort Colonies, which is within surprisingly close distance of their destination: Earth. Tekkadan has to make a stop at Dort Colony 2 to drop off some cargo on behalf of Teiwaz, and Kudelia decides to use this opportunity to get some shopping done on Dort 3 with Atra, Fumitan, Mikazuki, and Biscuit accompanying her.

Orga and company make their way to Dort 2 and rendezvous with some factory workers while the others go on their shopping trip. The workers vent about their situation: being treated like dirt by the superiors, receiving no insurance, and basically receiving an instantaneous boot the second a minor slip-up happens, similar to Tekkadan’s initial lives on Mars. They got word of Kudelia’s mission to Earth and the efforts of Tekkadan to guide her there, making them heroes to the desperate factory workers. Meanwhile, Biscuit hangs around the store with Mikazuki and begins to vent about his childhood, having actually grown up in the poorer parts of Dort 2 with his family, including an older brother named Savarin. When their parents died, Biscuit and his sisters were adopted by their grandmother, while Savarin was lucky enough to get taken in by a businessman. Thanks to the encouragement of Atra, he eventually calls him up and arranges to meet up with him later on.

That's a lot of supplies and laundry stuff. Tekkadan must really smell like a Taco Bell bathroom at this point.
That’s a lot of supplies and laundry stuff. Tekkadan must really smell like a Taco Bell bathroom at this point.

Back with the factory workers, Orga and company are surprised to learn that the cargo they were delivering included a hefty supply of weapons, including a couple of Tekkadan’s mobile workers. Demanding an answer, they’re only told that the order was approved by someone identifying as a proxy for Kudelia who offered them the weapons as a way of kickstarting their own rebellion against their oppressors. Before Orga can get an answer, the meeting is suddenly ambushed by Gjallarhorn soldiers, but the factory works take up arms and begin making surprisingly quick work of their enemies. The enemy forces retreat, and while the factory workers celebrate their temporary victory, Orga reminds them that this is only the beginning. Meanwhile Kudelia, Mikazuki, and Fumitan continue on their shopping trip, where an internal monologue on the part of Fumitan reveals that she is the traitor responsible for alerting Gjallarhorn to Tekkadan and Kudelia’s presence, but she seems to have developed a regret or two regarding her involvement.

 

So close. Tekkadan is within spitting distance of Earth, where things will no doubt get even more difficult for our heroes, as if they haven’t already. We’re also close to another ramp-up in tension for the plot, and for once it seems like the show actually has a decent handle on things, mostly due to have some decent character development and legitimately charming character moments. As awkward as the opening conversation between Kudelia and Fumitan is, it’s a fun and funny scene especially since it highlights the disconnect between her sheltered upper-class lifestyle on Mars and the emotional struggles that average joes have to deal with. The reveal of Fumitan as a traitor is handled better than I would have expected for this kind of twist, hinted at through slight head movements and carefully framed shots. The reveal still has a very “we’re pulling this out of our ass” kind of feeling, but it could be interesting based on how long this sticks around as a viable plot point. I also kind of liked the back-and-forth between Orga and the factory workers, as he begins to come to terms with how Tekkadan’s actions are affecting the people of Earth and its surrounding colonies.

As a counter-point to these positive bits, the reveal of Biscuit’s brother comes across as too convenient, especially considering the last major battle revolved around a character encountering their brother only for them to die. The show could very well go the obvious route and have Savarin die amidst the chaos caused by the factory workers battling Gjallarhorn, but I’m crossing my fingers the show doesn’t act *that* predictably. The episode still has its deliberately slow pace that’s been a major flaw up to now, but at least here in this episode, it’s actually using the downtime to *build* character and plot instead of just letting it be a bunch of empty dead space the whole time. Iron-Blooded Orphans may still redeem itself yet. I give this episode 7 carts of laundry detergent/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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