Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.
S1E1: Iron And Blood | Sundays at 12:00 AM eastern | Cartoon Network
What’s It About?
The people of Mars are tired of the Earth Sphere’s rule and a small band of orphan soldiers are ready to do something about it, armed with a Gundam.
300 years after the Calamity War, Earth Sphere rules over its space colonies with an iron fist. On Mars, the call for independence is spreading like wildfire. The representative for Mars doesn’t believe in this movement, but his daughter, Kudelia Bernstein does, and is a leader for the growing rebellion. To appease his daughter, he agrees to send Kudelia to Earth to try and mediate a peaceful separation. Unbeknownst to her, he promptly sells her out to the Earth Sphere’s Gjallarhorn as the leader of the independence movement.
In order to make the trip, Kudelia hires Chryse Guard Security (CGS) for protection, handpicking the 3rd group as her escort. Constantly oppressed by CGS’s 1st Corps, they are a group of orphan child soldiers, fitted with “Whiskers,” or spinal implants that enable them to better pilot their Mobile Workers. Whether fighting, or performing labor, Whiskers give the pilot a symbiotic link to their Mobile Worker by sticking a metal spike in their spine Robocop style. The company’s president, Maruba, believes in their strength, but still sees them as expendable trash. Because their existence is so miserable, Kudelia chose them as a way for her to feel the pain of the less fortunate.
The 3rd Group is suspicious of the assignment, but they have no choice. Orga, their leader, is as tough as he is smart, but he pales in comparison to his right hand man, Mikazuki. They have a mysterious past, hinted at in flashbacks, but it seems Mikazuki has been Orga’s special weapon since they were little kids. Mikazuki is cold and emotionless, where Orga is the slick guy with all the charisma. Can you guess who’s who?
Kudelia quickly zeroes in on Mikazuki when she first meets the crew, and she waste no time trying to establish a connection alone with him, but it backfires horribly. He knows they’ll never be equals, but her naivety makes her a slow learner.
That night, after a few of the kid guards are sniped by Gjallarhorn, the alarm is sounded, and the attack begins in full force. The 1st Corps orders Orga and his men to fight Gjallarhorn head-on while they will move in for a pincer attack. Orga easily sees right through their lie and sets his own plan into motion with the help of the group’s runner-up MVP, Biscuit. Biscuit may look like the chubby comic relief, but in a refreshing twist, he turns out to not only also be tough, but capable and intelligent to boot. After scooping up Kudelia and getting her to safety, he gets to work on readying their secret weapon.
Outside, the 3rd group is barely holding their own before their 2 aces join the battle, Mikazuki and the older Akahiro. Together, they are holding the line while Orga directs traffic from the rear. The 1st Corps and Maruba take their chance to flee from the back of the base, but Biscuit and Orga were ready. Biscuit sets off a group of flares hidden in one of the 1st Corps Mobile Workers, splitting Gjallarhorn’s forces. Orga and his crew had put up with them long enough, and it was time to make their move.
Before 3rd Group could take full advantage, 3 Gjallarhorn Mobile Suits arrive. Superior to Mobile Workers in every way with their humanoid form, they know they are in trouble. Luckily, the commander Orliss can’t help but be the tailbone he was born to be, causing his subordinates to get angry enough with him that they leave him on his own. This proves to be his undoing as Orga leads him right into a trap, Mikazuki’s Gundam. Orliss doesn’t last 2 minutes before his Mobile Suit is pounded in to the ground. Now 3rd group is truly free to go where they think they belong.
Oh boy, where to start? First, Gundam fans rejoice! They’re finally getting back to the basics. Admittedly, I had checked out on Gundam shows. After watching it get watered down into a fighting tournament, switched to a battle between humans and superhumans, and even paraded around in the cute chibi animation style, it’s a relief to see them getting back to what this series does best. The better series seem to always start with pissed of colonies who aren’t going to take Earth’s crap anymore. Another hallmark of Gundam shows is the depth, and this has it in spades. There’s so much going on that you almost have to have a scorecard, but this is only the first 30 minutes of the next 12. 5 hours to come. All that being said, there was one thing that quickly became apparent: this is a dark and uncompromising show. The last 15 minutes of this episode was filled with kids getting headshots, blown up, smashed to bits, and even catching a robot kick. Let that sink in for a moment. I did. And then I watched it again.
For a show opener, there was so much information to soak up. Honestly, even if I wasn’t reviewing this, you do have to watch it twice. Hell, I didn’t even mention the inspectors, and I still don’t completely understand where they fit in, or who / what the hell Nobliss is. They get a little love in this episode, but not much explanation. Again, this is just the first episode, so they are sowing seeds of what’s to come, but they could have hit the cutting room floor and not been missed.
I’m all in. They hooked me with the mysteries and promises of what’s on the horizon. I have a feeling the relationship between Orga and Mikazuki will be worth watching alone. And, as Gundam fans will tell you, part of the formula for a good Gundam series is a few good complex relationships that get rocked, torn apart, or just plain ole tested. Also, some sweet, sweet mecha action is always welcome.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans = 8.1/10