English Dub Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans “The Man Who Holds the Soul”

He’s a SOUL MAN! Play it, Steve!

OVERVIEW (SPOILERS)

We pick up right where we left off, with Gaelio declaring to take on McGillis, with Rustal backing up his story regarding all of McGillis’ plans and the trail of bodies he left or tried to leave along the way, including Carta Issue. Orga and Tekkadan are reeling from the news, but decide to wait for an explanation. On Earth, Mikazuki asks McGillis about getting the Alaya-Vijnana surgery, which he thought wasn’t possible for adults. McGillis responds by bringing up their fight against Ein, but words it carefully so as to not implicate himself in Ein’s experimentation. What’s important, at least to him, is that getting the surgery has allowed him to gain control of Bael because Agnika Kaieru also had that system, something that the modern incarnation of Gjallerhorn had chosen to forget since making the surgery a social taboo. So, now he’s assumed power thanks to the Excalibur-like mysticism and legend surrounding Bael and the elitism and corruption of the organization intentionally making a scapegoat and distancing themselves from their very roots. Everything should fall into place now…

…or at least, that’s how it was SUPPOSED to go. Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as “The Idiot’s Guide to Wrestling Away Control of a Giant Political Organization” said it would be. The present Seven Stars aren’t particularly fond of this hostile takeover, not helped by Rustal bringing to light McGillis’ dirty laundry. To McGillis, this shouldn’t matter now that he has Bael, a symbol of undeniable power and authority, and whoever stands against him now can only be a dirty stinky poopyhead traitor like Rustal.

Gaelio returns to the Arianrhod Fleet, regretful he couldn’t stop Bael’s capture. Rustal assures him this sort of rebellion is natural for any organization that lasts this long. Corruption builds in the ranks and either persists or is overthrown, and they must stop this corruption so that Gjallerhorn can be passed down to the future. But it can’t all be good news, since Iok’s now joined them. Rustal calmly reminds him of his utter idiocy, but notes his men are still fiercely loyal, mostly due to his father being such a great man that they hope the sequel will be just as good, particularly in Iok’s own brazen honesty and devotion to his subordinates. Rustal sees this as signs of a Seven Stars family that relies on history, while McGillis relies on a legend. The former based in fact, the latter embellished or entirely fictional. Both potentially inspirational, but only one in a productive way. Us Americans remember George Washington as a wise and noble leader who laid the foundation for the country we live in, but we don’t settle elections by seeing who can pull his axe out of a cherry tree (yet anyway). In the same way, Rustal acknowledges Agnika’s accomplishments for the organization he believes in, but only to the point that he was best for STARTING it. The organization as it is now requires someone who has his head in the present, not the past. Though, luckily, he’s not talking about Iok.

McGillis returns to his mansion to see Almiria Bauduin, only to find her holding a knife and feeling betrayed after being lied to all this time about her brother. She plans to kill McGillis, but even when McGillis seemingly accepts it, she finds she can’t due to her feelings for him. She then turns the blade on herself but is stopped by him, still committed to his promise to make her happy.

Mika makes it back to Tekkadan just in time for Orga and the boys to give McGillis a collective “what the hell, bro?” They signed up for being kings of Mars, not fighting an army twice their size for some pretty boy. Turns out things didn’t end up exactly going McGillis’ way, as the other Seven Star families have decided on their involvement. They won’t defy the order of whomever controls Gundam Bael, they can’t bring themselves to follow the orders of someone who has committed so many crimes as McGillis. As such, they and their forces will be sitting things out until this matter between him and Rustal is concluded before they decide who they’ll be supporting. They won’t help Rustal either, so it’ll be down to whichever of their wills can triumph over the other. This isn’t super convenient for Tekkadan, however, as they thought all their fighting would be over with by now. But they’ve burned all their other bridges and they’ve got no qualms destroying their enemies, so they’ll just have to make it work. One more time, for one more big fight.

Everyone starts preparing for the final battle. Yamagi sends over the last of the Teiwaz equipment to the Ryu-Sei-Go IV, Dexter and Merribit wait restlessly as adults who can’t help the children around them, and Zach freaks out at how narrow their chances of winning are. Gaelio and Julieta reflect on their pursuit of strength, Shino and Eugene wonder how much of this situation is the result of their pushing Orga or Orga pushing them, and Orga and McGillis meet to discuss their options. Seems this would’ve become a fight no matter what, though not having the support of the other families was a hiccup. But it’s his callous nature towards the inevitable body count that pushes Orga over the edge. It hasn’t gotten to the point that they’ll betray him, but Orga won’t make them throw away their lives if they don’t see the point.

While the rest are getting hyped up for the end, Atra calls Kudelia to tell her how scared she is, as well as the fear she may not be able to stop Mika from dying out there. Kudelia pushes her on, telling her that while she plans to create a future where children never have to grow up like Mika and Orga did, it can’t be denied that those conditions allowed them to grow as close as they did, and why Atra is the only one who can stay this close to Mika. Atra goes to see Mika and confess her feelings, and Mika responds that she is precious to him, even if he’s only ever known fighting.

Rustal’s fleet begin to enter the battle. No matter what, it will be the end, but Kudelia hopes it will also be the beginning.

OUR TAKE

SO MANY EMOTIONS! All this character work and reflection and reinforcement of themes and ideas. It’s a lot to cover, so we’ll just stick to a few, since I have no doubt we’ll be seeing them play out in greater detail as we fly through the last six episodes.

First, McGillis and his ethos. As Rustal pointed out, his claiming of Bael and reliance on its legend for power was more a sign of his immaturity than anything, but it does hold some logic from knowing what we know about him. All this time he’s strived for power and found it in this one weapon that he thought for sure would be able to make everyone fall in line. Now, he finds that simply claiming Bael isn’t the end of it, as he’ll have to show that he can walk the walk as well. This isn’t enough to break his spirits, but it is the first sign after revealing his true plans that the world doesn’t work the way he thinks, and most likely will not be the last. Also of interest is his interactions with Almiria this episode. His betrothal to her has always been a bit on the squicky side from the first time we heard about it at the start of the series, but the revelations about his upbringing add an extra layer to their interactions. Considering how he grew up, specifically the abuse and exploitation by older men, he probably sees a bit of himself in Almiria and wishes to bring about this new world and Gjallerhorn for her sake. In his own twisted way, he probably does truly love her.

Next, Rustal. So far, we’ve mainly seen him as being pretty detached from the actions of his subordinates, and partly outright saved by their observance on things he might’ve missed. This episode is the first time I can tell of us truly getting a sense of what he’s really thinking, and what his aspirations for Gjallerhorn really are. He sees the flaws of the council and the forming corruption in it just as McGillis is, but his way of improving it is about acknowledging these flaws and moving forward. How he goes about it, and what he allows to happen under his command is…questionable, but like McGillis, he at least has an understandable method to his seeming madness.

And now these two planetary egos clash in the ultimate battle for the fate of the world, with Tekkadan caught in the crossfire. Who will live? Who will die? And how many toys can we sell from this bloodshed in an alleged anti-war story? Stay tuned to find out!

Score
9/10

David Kaldor

Green Lynx (David Kaldor): Aimless 20-something given a paid outlet for his thoughts on cartoons. Fears being boring slightly more than being outright disliked.

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