Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Episode 15 Recap: “The Trail of Footprints”

Original Airdate: January 17th, 2016

Toonami Airdate: September 24th, 2016

Savarin is the kind of guy Riley would call a “bitch ass nigga”.

Picking up from last week, Fumitan and Mikazuki exchange some words about responsibility as Kudelia takes care of some more shopping. Meanwhile, Orga and company are pondering what to do next in the aftermath of Gjallarhorn’s assault on the Dort 2 workers union, and they’re greeted by the union leader Navona who offers them protection and shelter for the time being. He takes them to their apartment complex, filling them in on the miserable living conditions of slum workers, hoping to trigger some kind of uprising. The only one of them to move on up from their status was Biscuit’s brother Savarin, who helps mediate union negotiations when he can.

Elsewhere, Atra and Biscuit wait around for Savarin to show up, suddenly greeting them and leading to a sincere heartfelt reunion. Upon taking notice of Atra, he quickly goes to a nearby phone booth to put in an extremely suspicious phone call. This leads to Biscuit and Atra being trapped in a room by Savarin and some Gjallarhorn troops as he mistakenly believes her to be Kudelia, and after some interrogation, Atra lies and states that she is indeed Kudelia. Word of this spreads to Dort 2, eventually reaching both Navona and Orga, who’s concerned that the incident will damage both their mission and their status with Teiwaz.

Orga calls Mikazuki to fill them in on the situation, leaving Fumitan and Kudelia behind so he can help take care of things. Meanwhile, Gaelio is hoping to launch a full-scale Gjallarhorn assault of his own on the Dort colonies, but his ship captain tells him that won’t be able to happen, as he wants the troops already present on the colonies to provoke dissidents into attacking violently to justify capturing them all at once.

the-trail-of-footprints-atra-tortured-by-gjallarhornAtra’s beaten mercilessly by Gjallarhorn soldiers but fails to give up any information, and while this is happening, Biscuit and Savarin get into a heated argument, as Savarin believes that giving up Kudelia to Gjallarhorn might lead to them going easy on the union workers, allowing negotiations to ensue and preventing any unneeded bloodshed. Biscuit adamantly refuses, even revealing that Atra is not in fact Kudelia, but his brother refuses to listen, desperate for an easy solution to his problems. Meanwhile, the real Kudelia wishes to turn herself in, but Fumitan prevents her from doing so, delivering a monologue about her shifting emotions towards Kudelia, going from hatred to a strange sort of respect. The two are then interrupted by the arrival of a masked figure (with an incredibly obvious voice) who reveals that the man funding Kudelia’s escort mission, Nobliss Gordon, was actually the one who stowed the weapons with Tekkadan’s shipment in order to frame them and stop their mission. He also reveals that Fumitan was acting as a traitor as well, and when Kudelia tries to get a straight answer out of her, she leaves the hotel.

the-trail-of-footprints-masked-figure
The new season of Kamen Rider looks pretty damn good.

The union workers and Tekkadan launch an attack on the building that Biscuit and Atra are being held captive in, with Mikazuki eventually finding the two of them and breaking them out. As they make their way to the getaway vehicle, Savarin and Gjallarhorn quickly pursue behind them. As Biscuit’s brother makes one last desperate plea for their surrender, Biscuit denies him the satisfaction before heading off. The episode ends with the workers’ union preparing to take up armed revolution in the streets with their guns and the mobile workers as Tekkadan reaches the hotel only to learn that Kudelia has gone off on her own.

 

Now I’ve made it clear in the past that I haven’t been much of a fan of the series up to now, primarily due to its inefficient storytelling and lack of any legitimately compelling drama between all the big robot fights. However, I am one to always be honest about how I feel, and so in this instance I have to admit… this was actually a pretty good episode of the series. The main thing going for the episode is that it seems like the writers finally figured out how to maintain a consistent sense of tension throughout an entire episode, especially through the ways in which the multiple running plots all cross over and influence each other. There’s a constant legitimate sense of not knowing where things are going to go, with Savarin’s actions based on a deep desperate need for peace, Fumitan’s tenuous and now strained relationship with Kudelia, and the workers’ union’s plans for armed rebellion. The highlights of the episode are the scenes between Biscuit and Savarin, providing a brother vs. brother conflict with significantly more emotional depth and effort put into it than the Akihiro vs. Masahiro fight from earlier.

That being said, I still think there were a couple of problems with this episode, the big one being that unfortunately, it still suffers a bit from last-minute establishment of key details and a little bit of rushing into things. The pacing could have been helped out more if the series had established Biscuit having a brother earlier in the story and slowly ramping up from there. This kind of 11th-hour revelation usually somewhat diminishes the full impact of certain kinds of plot reveals, even if the impact is still somewhat effective.

Also, I have to call bullshit on the whole plot point of Atra proclaiming to be Kudelia. Not necessarily because of the whole child abuse thing of Gjallarhorn soldiers beating the shit out of her (although that was kinda tough to watch). No, my problem with this is that the soldiers just *go* with it. Remember: Gjallarhorn has been pursuing Tekkadan and Kudelia since the beginning of the series, her capture is their ultimate goal at the present time… and these soldiers can’t piece together that Atra *isn’t* Kudelia? Given that she’s a prominent political figure in the universe of Iron-Blooded Orphans, one that has the potential to liberate Mars from Earth’s control, wouldn’t these soldiers have a better idea of who they’re actually pursuing? Also, shouldn’t they have a picture on hand, like printed out or some kind of digital scan that they can just pull up on a communications device or something? I’m just guessing that for this specific mission, Gjallarhorn sent their dumbest soldiers out because they were the only ones available. Always sucks when Gary The Shit-Eater & Friends are your only real hope. Despite that, this was a good episode overall, and I’m praying the show actually manages to hold to this level of quality. I give this episode 8 masked Sephiroths/10.

Note: Iron-Blooded Orphans will be moving to 1:00 AM next Saturday due to Toonami’s schedule shifting back up to starting at Midnight for the time being.

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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