Original Airdate: February 14th, 2016
Toonami Airdate: October 22nd, 2016
Okay, I get the purple smokescreen, but… why the sparkles?
Tekkadan is processing a shipment of supplies from the Montag Corporation as they find themselves finally within the vicinity of their goal: the planet Earth. As they’re getting ready, Eugene is mulling around the ship pondering his own usefulness and how he wants to step up to Orga’s level in the next battle.
Meanwhile, Gjallarhorn forces led by Captain Carta Issues are preparing an assault on our heroes, having set up a blockade outside the planet to intercept Tekkadan when the time comes. After an unpleasant conversation between Carta and Gaelio, the latter begins venting to Ein about his history with the former.
The Tekkadan ship finally encounters the Gjallarhorn blockade (with Eugene leading the charge instead of Orga), and they begin engaging in combat. Eugene’s ship manages to gain the upper hand through strategic usage of glittery smoke screens (THEY’RE SO SPARKLY!!) and use the advantage to cut through and eliminate one of the command ships in the blockade, opening up a potential route for Tekkadan to escape through. Eugene, Orga, Biscuit, Atra, Kudelia, and Merribit board a space shuttle to escort themselves to Earth’s surface as Mikazuki takes control of Barbatos to fend off Gjallarhorn’s forces. Akihiro and the Teiwaz pilots bring their mobile suits into the fray to assist Mikazuki as they battle Gaelio and Ein in addition to the other ships in the fleet.
In the midst of the battle, MIkazuki finds himself face-to-face with Gaelio, and as the two square off, Mikazuki launches a potentially fatal strike in Gaelio’s direction… only for it to be intercepted by Ein who takes a direct blow the chest and dies almost immediately after. Out of nowhere, McGillis (still in disguise) shows up in his own mobile suit to help our heroes as they begin to penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. The fight continues as the descent to Earth begins, with Gjallarhorn’s forces eventually backing off, leaving our heroes to deal with the friction of the atmosphere. Thankfully, the shuttle manages to remain intact upon entering the planet’s skies, as does Barbatos, seeing as how Mikazuki used an enemy mobile suit as shielding against the friction. It appears our heroes have finally made it to their destination.
The long arduous journey from Mars to Earth has been fraught with much peril, death, and emotional heartbreak for our heroes. Clearly it can’t be expected that it’ll end anytime soon, with Gjallarhorn stepping in yet again to make our heroes’ journey hell. As always, the fight itself is spectacularly well-animated and choreographed, providing constant engagement from start to finish as every shot and every strike always brings all the players one step closer to certain death. The battle is helped by the presence of Carta who, out of all the significant villains presented thus far, is easily the most entertaining and charismatic opponent faced up to now. As weird as this may sound, in my mind she comes across as a mix of Lin Beifong from The Legend of Korra and Dio from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure in terms of her villainous presence (yes, I know Lin wasn’t a villain. Now’s not the time to be pedantic.)
With all that said, once again the show finds its attempts to be dramatic falling short due to bad timing and inefficient usage of characters when needed. To demonstrate the latter, let’s talk about Eugene. Quick show of hands: how many of you remembered this guy was a character in this show, or even what his name was? I certainly didn’t, as he’s mostly just hung around in the background for a good chunk of the series run, never really doing anything important. However, this episode presents Eugene in a way that’s supposed to make us think he’s important, and unsurprisingly it’s impossible to react or feel anything other than “…meh”.
As for bad timing, the show finds itself doing the exact same thing with Ein’s death as it did with the deaths of Masahiro and Fumitan; i.e. the show tells us some important part of the character’s backstory in the episode *right before* it comes into play, and then they die in the next episode or 2. This is *not* an effectively dramatic form of storytelling, coming across more like the punchline to a comedic sketch about bad TV show twists. How this show pulled this trick 3 times in the same season and still thinks its storytelling is good is beyond me. We have about 6 more episodes of the series left, so who knows? Maybe this last chunk will manage to turn the show around in quality (at least for this first season), but I’m not holding my breath. I give this episode 6-7 glittery smokescreens/10.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know down in the comments below.
Note: there will be no recap next week as Toonami will be airing a marathon of Iron-Blooded Orphans next Saturday over Halloween weekend.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans airs every Saturday at 1:00 AM, only on Toonami.
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