Brutal, Unforgiving & One-on-One Duels:
Samu here, taking over Enzo’s coverage of Tekketsu no Orphans for this week. He’s away on a business trip, but fear not, he should be back next episode. However, Enzo’s absence isn’t a bad thing (for me at least) because it means I get to talk about one of my favourite shows in this current season.
Each episode of Tekketsu no Orphans has been better than the last, and this latest one was something special. When I wrote the preview for it over a month ago, I had a feeling this would be right up my alley – I’m a massive fan of both writer, Okada Mari, and director, Nagai Tatsuyuki; last time they worked together they created my favourite anime of all time: Ano Hana, so it was easy for me to get excited about them collaborating on a Gundam title. But my appreciation for what we’ve seen so far goes beyond the staff. I already know Okada Mari’s writing style, but I’m trying my best to put her to the back of my mind, and just enjoy what we’re getting. And what we’re getting is brutal. This promises to be a bloody, devastating war, and it’s barely even begun.
I have to admit, up until this point I wasn’t feeling the true weight of the deaths and destruction, because it all just seemed like arbitrary numbers without real meaning. That all changed this week, when Mika and the rest of the Third Corps committed mutiny, killing most of the First Corps. Maybe I was giving these orphans the benefit of the doubt, but I really did not expect this turn of events. When Mika started gunning them down one after another, I could only stare at the screen in awe and confusion. It’s a dirty tactic, but they obviously feel like it is the best thing for them to do in order to survive and not be betrayed again. Orga has even renamed their group “Tekkadan” in hopes of starting afresh, symbolising iron flowers that stay strong and will not wilt. Hearing about the ten who went through the dangerous surgery is another addition in the list of horrible atrocities they’ve had to live through, with Mika going through the procedure three times (by his own will). For a group of teenagers, they all manage to stay determined and rarely waver in the face of death, and Mika is probably the most dangerous of the lot, able to kill his superiors without batting an eyelash.
This week’s destined mobile suit battle between Mika and Crank was awesome, even if the final outcome was criminally obvious. Crank was as good as dead before he even appeared onscreen. He may have wanted to hold back in fighting children, and tried his best not to cause any unnecessary deaths, but Mika clearly doesn’t have the same moral compass. Crank asked to die, but Mika didn’t even let him finish his sentence before shooting him down. I know we’re meant to be rooting for Mika and company, but there’s something seriously dangerous and unsettling about this boy. I anticipate he’ll be pushed past the breaking point before too long, and have to question all his actions thus far.
The Importance of Kudelia:
As much as I’m fascinated by Mika, Orga, Biscuit, and their various bishounen sidekicks, the star of Tekketsu no Orphans so far has to be Kudelia. I admit that I’m biased, because she is my absolute favourite character archetype: a spoiled/privileged princess who starts off easy to dislike (although I never do) and is forced to develop/grow up through horrible circumstances. Think Sansa Stark (who, if you didn’t know, is my absolute favourite fictional character of all time – if you didn’t know that, now you do!), except Kudelia has already shown noteworthy development in these three episodes. While some may have disliked her from the start, I was compelled by her story and her mission to secure Mars’ independence. Make no mistake, Kudelia cares deeply for her cause and for her people, even if this is her first time experiencing the devastations or war and properly interacting with soldiers. She’s a politician, her battle is not on the field, but with her words. Everything she does, she does because she wants to make a better life for her people and her planet, and for that reason I can’t find any dislike for her – not when everyone around her is willing to kill for their own benefit, and pinning all the blame on Kudelia silences the nuances of the internal and external conflicts going on. More than anyone else, Tekketsu no Orphans is Kudelia’s story: her journey to use her position of power and turn the tides of this war in her (and her people’s) favour. In a way, Mika, Orga, Buscuit, and all the others are just a means to her end – though she clearly does not think of them in that way.
Last episode saw her deducing that her father couldn’t be trusted, which was proof that she’s not as ignorant or naive as initially thought. This week saw her trying to take on all the jobs she could, from helping in the kitchens to offering herself to the opposing faction. She claimed she wasn’t going to be killed so easy, but deep down she must have been prepared to die for her cause. It’s that sort of willingness that Orga must see in her; whenever she speaks it seems like he’s listening. Maybe his smirks indicate his amusement over her somewhat ignorant and idealistic ways, but I think it’s the opposite. I think he sees something in her, something to get behind, and because he’s the one in charge, his word is law. It relieves me that Kudelia and Tekkadan are going to be working together – I didn’t expect anything else, but the way things are going I should be prepared for my expectations to be turned on their head. As long as Kudelia keeps on striving to achieve her goals, adapting to her surroundings, and growing closer to these child soldiers, I think we’ve got a fascinating story on our hands.
Overview – What’s Next?:
My seatbelt is buckled, because this is gonna be one hell of a ride. Three episodes in and I’m already shocked at how bloody this is becoming. Now that we knows it’s going to be 25 episodes long (as suspected), I’m prepared for some turbulence along the way. If I were to make some predictions, I think there will be a change in scenery soon, and either Biscuit or his sisters are going be left behind/killed in a calamitous battle. Whatever happens, I can’t wait. So long as Kudelia, Mika, and Orga stick around and strive for their freedom, I’ll be rooting for their victory. Tekkadan’s morality will surely be put to the test, but for the time being I’m enjoying what we’re getting, and have nothing worth complaining about. Let’s hope this keeps up.