Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Episode 18 Recap: “Voice”

Original Airdate: February 7th, 2016

Toonami Airdate: October 15th, 2016

McGillis’ disguise is about as effective as Clark Kent’s glasses.

Picking up from last week, Kudelia delivers her speech about the plight of the Dort colonies’ residentsas Tekkadan is surrounded by Gjallarhorn forces, even going as far as to explicitly taunt Gjallarhorn and call them out on their hypocrisy. As they move in to attack, they get orders to back off and retreat, which they have no choice but to follow. As the Tekkadan and Teiwaz members regroup onboard following the conflict, they attempt to develop a new strategy as their original path to Earth is no longer an option. Suddenly, they get interrupted by a surprise Ahab reactor signal coming from a ship commanded by the “mysterious” masked figure (it’s McGillis), who contacts the crew and attempts to make a deal with them.

Meanwhile back on the Gjallarhorn ships, Gaelio and Ein are recovering from the battle. Ein begins reminiscing about his relationship with the late Crank and how he inspired him to be a great soldier and not care what others thought of him (despite being an Earth soldier, Ein is half-Martian, which created friction between him and the other Gjallarhorn members).

The masked stranger (McGillis) meets with Kudelia, Naze, and Orga and offers to provide a safe and reliable transport to Earth for them and their crew in exchange for the supply of resources to the Montag Company. They even provide Tekkadan with supplies of their own as a peace offering between the two. As Biscuit, Orga, and the masked man are roaming around the hallways of the ship, they encounter Mikazuki who *immediately* (as in not even needing to hear his voice) recognizes him as McGillis. McGillis informs them of his aspirations of cleansing Gjallarhorn of its current corruption with the help of Tekkadan and Kudelia in particular, and he tells the three to keep quiet about his current identity.

voice-group-hug
Iron-Blooded Orphans? More like Mikazuki and his bitches!

As news of Kudelia’s speech begins reaching far and wide, Tekkadan continue along their routines of training and repairing their mobile suits. Atra finds Kudelia still reeling from the unexpected death of Fumitan, and she attempts to cheer her up, but Kudelia still breaks down in tears anyway. Mikazuki comes across them as Atra demands that he hug Kudelia as a way to comfort her, which he does without question, bringing in Atra as well when he notices her crying too. The episode ends with Kudelia meeting with Orga and Naze to confirm that she will indeed take Montag up on their offer.

 

So following the events of the Dort colonies, unfortunately it somewhat looks like we’re close to being back to square one again. The first sign of this comes in the form of Kudelia’s speech: it’s meant to be a key dramatic highlight of the overarching story up to now (as well as the capstone to this little run of episodes), but its dramatic impact feels oddly inert. She goes on about how terrible the lives of the colonies’ citizens are, but it doesn’t hit like it should because the previous episodes only glazed over this instead of really diving deep into the colonists’ suffering. Even during her speech, the episode cuts primarily to large audiences watching her speech instead of interjecting with scenes of poverty-stricken colonists experiencing the effects of Earth’s and Gjallarhorn’s control, only turning its eye towards this once when it cuts to some members of the workers’ union watching the speech amongst the beaten and bloodied corpses of their allies. The scene was *begging* for more shots like this to really drive the point of her speech, but alas, it is what it is.

There’s also a minor nitpick with the whole McGillis disguise thing: how does no one pick up on it immediately until Mikazuki points it out? I mean Biscuit was there in the meeting room, he’s met McGillis before, and the dude has a pretty distinctive voice, so it’s not like it would be impossible for Biscuit to remember this guy, so how it slips under his radar is beyond me. Speaking of Gjallarhorn, the character development with Ein, while admirable, comes out of nowhere and feels like it was unintentionally put on the backburner until now. The conversation between him and Gaelio about his history with Crank feels like it was meant to happen earlier (sometime in the immediate aftermath of his death) but instead got delayed to now for no good reason. It’s a legitimately interesting character moment that was timed poorly, a moment that could’ve greatly informed the emotional stakes of the prior fight even more if we had known about this earlier.

If there’s a positive moment to be found in the episode, it’s the scene near the end with Kudelia, Atra, and Mikazuki, where he makes his most explicity attempt yet to express something approaching a sincere sense of humanity through the hardened shell of his usual persona. Other than that, it seems the overall momentum has taken yet another pause with maybe one bright spot amongst a handful of non-impactful dramatic moments. I give this episode 6 groups hugs/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 1:00 AM, only on Toonami.

 

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