「命の値段」 (Inochi no Nedan)
“The Price of Life”

It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for.  In Gundam, anyway.

Iron-Blooded Orphans is certainly shaping up as an interesting show, albeit one with some discernible flaws (and I’m not talking about the quite significant drop in animation quality this week).  The first four episodes have generally been inconsistent, but it strikes me that the B-parts have been significantly the better halves of every episode, which is a favorable sign in more ways than one.

In a sense, one could look at Tekketsu no Orphans as Okada Mari’s attempt to do a take on the Aldnoah-Zero theme – though to be fair, it could just as easily be argued that show was Gen Urobuchi riffing on Gundam.  There are certain holy relics here which must be honored, that’s a given – even writers this influential only have so much freedom to twist expectations.  And if anything Okada has even less than Gen did, because her series has the “G” word in the title.  It may seem strange for me to be bemoaning Okada Mari not having enough creative license, but there’s still something about this show that feels too reverential – and reverential is not a cloak that rests easily on Okada’s shoulders.

But having gotten the negativity (mostly) out of the way, there was a lot in this episode that sparked my interest in where the story is going.  Setting aside the laboured moe-pandering with Cookie and Cracker and Todo being turned into a villain so broad he’s actually got a Hitler moustache, things got a lot more interesting.  And a lot of that is thanks to developments with McGillis Fareed and Galileo Bauduin (those Gundam names…) who impacted the story like an asteroid on the East Coast of Australia.

In many ways, McGillis and Galileo’s behavior here makes little sense.  Why would they be driving around Mars with a Gjallahorn logo on the side of their SUV, asking leading questions?  I like the fact that McGillis is more than the conventional villain here, a guy with more than one angle he’s playing at.  And just what is Gjallahorn in this confusing geo (and beyond) -politic, anyway?  They don’t seem to be a representative of any specific government that’s part of either the Earth or Mars power structure.

Earth’s new map is certainly an interesting one.  Europe painted green and part of Africa?  Canada allied with an Asian Federation, a hemisphere away?  It seems as if the four power blocs that reign over post-disaster Earth each have a colonial stake on Mars, and there’s some evidence that Kudelia is in secret talks with one of them (“Arbrau”, the Asia-Canadian bloc).  Colonialism and its evils are clearly going to be a big part of what Okada is tackling here – another tie-in with Aldnoah, though again that was itself a tie-in with decades of Gundam mythology.  Added to the that is the issue of “Human Debris”, which is effectively slavery, and a stigma which stays with the victims even if they manage to buy their way out of it.

On the personal side, Mika continues to be an interesting sort of anti-hero – his comfort level with acts of extreme violence is quite disturbing.  Kudelia is obviously falling for him and Atra obviously stressing over it, but I’m not feeling the romance side of the story right now (if anything, I kind of like the idea of Kudelia and Biscuit, but that doesn’t have a chance in hell).  In fact, I would say the story of the orphans as a group has more emotional heft than that of any of them individually right now.  The boys at the heart of Iron-Blooded Orphans are basically the branded of society, defined by what they are and what’s been done to them rather than as individuals.  The irony is that this makes for a compelling story, but that lack on individual distinctiveness carries over to the narrative as well, and renders them less interesting as people (at least so far).


A very sincere thanks to Samu-kun for filling in on Iron-Blooded Orphans for me last week!




  1. First thing first: A certain country has now been literally turned into “the-country-must-not-be-named”. Subtle, very subtle. (Given current world events, I can’t really blame you, Enzo, if that’s your intention)

    Speaking of subtle:


    I highly doubt driving that outside of cities would cause much fuss, unless we’re talking about Red-factions-style rebellion.

    OTOH, seeing Mika grabbing Kudelia by the forearm in one minute, and then seeing him choking Galileo a few minutes later may be a little disturbing, but it shows how much force he would go with to keep the ones he cared unharmed (or avenged), at full throttle…

    Side note: looks like its not just Mika (or Akihiro if the OP was anything to go by) that can handle a MS sized machine given how it got moved to help get the main building a new logo

    1. Mika continues to be intriguing. If anything, this episode confirms what I was saying in the last episode’s review; Mika is a nice guy. The main action in this episode only took place because Mika was trying to help Kudelia feel better and clear her head.

      Yet at the same time he is clearly a very unstable individual who is WAY too willing to jump to lethal force if he thinks anything he cares about is threatened. I would imagine that dichotomy will be at the heart of his character arc.

  2. https://randomc.net/image/Gundam%20Tekketsu%20no%20Orphans/Gundam%20Tekketsu%20no%20Orphans%20-%2004%20-%20Large%2014.jpg

    Sorry just no, I don’t buy this at all, these political boundaries are ridiculous and makes Gundam 00 three Superpowers plausible by comparison. Sometimes I wonder if the writers get their kids to draw crayons on the maps and decide to run with it. And while we are on the subject, why does Gundam hate Australia? Did Australia kill the mom of one of the CEOs of Sunrise? Seriously leave Australia alone!

    Now for the actual episode I’m a bit disappointed. I was happy that they got rid of the one-dimensional First Group but now to give even more one-dimensional antagonists. I may not have liked Gundam 00 but at least the writers were smart enough to use characters like Ali sparingly. Here they are have too much screen time to the point of annoyance. Most notably is Todo and his annoying weasel face. Please put a bullet in Hitler-stache head ASAP Mika.

    The character building for Mika is good at least. Its nice to actually see him dong something other that being Orga loyal dog, even if it used the idealized farm life cliche. Don’t care much for the love triangle though especially since both women are have not impressed me in any way. They still need to be built up more than just being pretty faces.

    Also McGrillis is blond, handsome, has a 9 year old fiance and hands candy to little girls? I think we just found our Char Clone. And even more creepy in hindsight….

    1. “Also McGrillis is blond, handsome, has a 9 year old fiance and hands candy to little girls? I think we just found our Char Clone. And even more creepy in hindsight….”

      And it seems to be an arranged marriage, too…so I guess the concept of aristocracy/nobility (and all the good/bad stuff that it entails) is still a thing in Gundam.

      All we need now is a reason for McGillis to wear a cool mask… (Or maybe a pair of Quattro-esque cool shades, at least.)

    2. Well, technically speaking, the world powers of 00 were based on real world examples (The HRL is actually based on the real life SCO, or rather it’s successor)

      I believe the large hole near Sydney is possibly a reference to Operation British in the original Gundam series, which by definition would make this series as a possible continuation of Universal Century.

    3. Now I remember that in Code Geass, Australia appeared as blank in a world otherwise completely divided between three world powers.

      I don’t know if it’s love or hate, but it seems Sunrise wants Australia to stand out.

  3. “Why would they be driving around Mars with a Gjallahorn logo on the side of their SUV, asking leading questions?”
    Not exactly inconspicuous, is it? It’s like old SHIELD (pre-Winter Soldier) rolling around in SUVs with their logo on them, and it is only in season 3 of Agents of SHIELD (also airing this season) where they decide to get rid of that practice. But I digress.

    Anyway, while for all intents and purposes a bottleneck episode (read: poor Atra being off-model), I did like the glimpse of how the normal folk (represented by Biscuit’s family) live on Mars. Though it’s heartening to see that Mars can be terraformed to the point where agriculture is possible, at the same time, it is sad to see that the same old problems still remain (read: the farmers ultimately getting little to no benefits from what they harvest).

    It’s also good character development for Kudelia (who’s starting to experience more and more of what her Martian constituents go through every day) as well as Mikazuki (who’s starting to mellow a little towards Kudelia…at least until Cookie and Cracker almost get run over).

    And it was amusing to read a little more of Post-Disaster Earth’s history (though I had to pause a lot just to read the scrolling text and the “Space-Filling Empire” trope is in full effect). Doubly so, because it was in surprisingly good English.

    Other impressions:
    – So is this fat old guy the Nobliss dude? Man, and I thought Nobliss was the ambiguously brown casanova seen in the opening sequence!
    – And finally…damnit Orga, you should know better than to trust that old two-faced sneak!

    1. I think people are over-thinking Gjallarhorn as the ‘antagonist’ faction. They’re apparently just the government or an arm of the government. In principle, there is no reason for them to hide what they’re doing and it may even be against the rules for them to do so. I’m curious how they’ll shape up anyway, because at least so far Tekkadan has no real issue with them other than the issues they may have with Kudelia, but these two are very clearly unaware of those issues in the first place.

      And the farm thing is funny. I come from farm country, and to say they make no money from what they harvest is a misnomer. Many of the farmers in my area are some of the more well-off people living there. It simply depends on the market in the area and so on (corporate farm vs family farm, etc). This is particularly funny given they cite biofuel as the reason for the depreciated value of corn, despite the fact that biofuel tends to pay quite well to the point of screwing up food markets because farmers prefer to sell to the biofuel makers as opposed to selling for food.

      Biofuel is also pretty well understood to be a boondoggle that serves no real purpose already. Sci-fi though so they can do what they want. I will say though that unless their terraforming has covered a HUGE proportion of the planet, food should still be a fairly valuable commodity on Mars, but eh…

      1. Well, in first-world countries (I’m gonna guess you’re from one since you did say farmers in your place are well-off), farmers do enjoy subsidies from the government that help them cover most of their expenses.

        The same can’t be said for farmers in third-world nations, who sometimes have to get capital from unscrupulous loan sharks (at exorbitant interest rates) just to start farming, and when disaster hits (drought, pestilence, floods, storms, acts of nature in general), they sink deeper into debt. And given the impoverished condition of most of those living on Mars (and its overall treatment as a colony by Earth’s power blocs), I can’t help but want to compare their situation to those living in third-world countries.

        Well, they did manage to show that terraforming Mars is possible with that farming scene, but most of what we see on the surface of Mars in this show is still barren wasteland. My best guess why Mars hasn’t been fully terraformed yet is because of intentional technological stasis/restrictions by Earth’s power blocs–in order to keep the Martian colonists dependent on Earth. (Either that or terraforming really does take a while.)

      2. Hmm, fair point on comparing Mars to a third world nation, though at the same time that’s a little odd to believe since to even have/support a colony would require immense wealth and development and traditionally the whole point of colonies was wealth procurement, but I guess you could definitely imagine a path of history where that had come full circle and Earth was now purposely turning their colonies into under-developed areas.

        That aside, I also didn’t go in-depth into the farming economics because frankly, they’re complicated and it’s not as simple as first world farmers are rich and third world farmers are poor. I was more just commenting on the fact that I find it funny that the pop culture depiction of farmers (even in most first world movies/tv shows) is generally struggling to make ends meet while MANY of the farmers I knew were the ones with pools and buying cars for their kids at 16 and so on. Not making a statement on society so much as how weird things can be.

  4. https://randomc.net/image/Gundam%20Tekketsu%20no%20Orphans/Gundam%20Tekketsu%20no%20Orphans%20-%2004%20-%20Large%2014.jpg

    …wonder if the hole in Australia is an ode to Mobile Suit Gundam and the Principality of Zeon’s failed Operation British – trying to drop a colony onto the Earth Federation’s headquarters in Jaburo, South America, but the colony getting destroyed and diverted by the Earth Federation’s high atmospheric fighters, with the largest chunk impacting and wiping out Sydney, Australia.

    1. I would assume so, given that the Oceanian Union isn’t even the country that Kudelia was mentioned to have links to, I would assume that’s an easter egg rather than anything important.

  5. Summary of the political infodump, from Reddit:

    Show Spoiler ▼

    So Gjallarhorn initially brokered a peace out of the ongoing wars at the beginning. They’re not just a simple military arm.

  6. Canada allied with an Asian Federation, a hemisphere away?</

    But you can see Russia from Sarah Palin’s house!! 😛

    if anything, I kind of like the idea of Kudelia and Biscuit, but that doesn’t have a chance in hell</

    A blond-haired princess from Mars and a character voiced by Natsuki Hanae (Kaizuka Inaho/Aldnoah.Zero)? YES PLEASE. LOL

    Magnus Tancred
  7. The standard projection that most of the planet uses for world maps (generally a modified mercator projection, though I think there’s a different name for the modern version) gives people a rather skewed idea of how ‘far’ Russia and Canada are from each other. This is due to the fact that those projections become worse and worse the closer you get to the poles; expanding towards infinity in fact.

    In reality, Canada and Russia are pretty much right next to each other, share a disputed border, and have to interact politically on a regular basis. While culturally we may assume them to be night and day, it’s easy enough to imagine a future where they get into a war over the arctic ocean, and then one conquers the other, really not that odd.

    The other three powers are also pretty easy to imagine. Europe, while still very powerful, is generally in decline, if you imagine it continuing, it’s fairly simple to imagine it being swallowed up economically and politically by a developing Africa (again: future). Asia could easily be dominated by China and the Americas by the US and/or Brazil perhaps. Politics is always a role of the dice. These organizations are hardly unlikely, it’s just we’re more used to the standard mecha setups that tend to suggest the main cultures of today will basically unify in a really linear manner.

    1. I’m not sure if they really intended the map to represent any viable future. In fact, when you stop to think about it, it seems the opposite: it’s our world as we know it upside down.

      -Arbrau: Canada conquers Alaska and annexes Russia. All Hail Glorious Mother Canada Arbrau.
      -SAU: A South American country (preferably the smallest one) takes advantage of USA’s weakened state to subdue the continent.
      -African Union: The scenario is repeated, but now with Africans and Europeans. Who’s the colony now?
      -Oceanian Federation: Despite the horrific Australian disaster, Oceanian forces led by Nauru conquer Asia.

      I mean, every other scenario can more or less be logically explained by changes in politics, economy and influence, but once you have all Eastern Asia (China, India, Japan, everything) under an Oceanian banner, things start getting ridiculous unless the intended effect with that map was to subvert every idea of world powers we have now.

      In a way, it would be refreshing if that happened.

      1. Never said it needed to be viable.

        I was responding to people above, including the reviewer, saying that these particular nations are sort of crazy and impossible and Canada and Russia are too far apart and so forth. I was just pointing out they’re perfectly plausible.

        Also, did they actually say where these countries come from? Like Canada conquering Russia and some South American nation conquering the US? Or are you just guessing?

        That aside, the reddit thing above makes it sound like these blocs were created arbitrarily by gjallarhorn, which makes any logic behind them moot since they don’t need to make sense. They apparently really are just lines on a map.

      2. Oh, yes, I agree completely with that bit about Canada and Russia (why did the review keep on using “Asia”?)not being as far from each other as many people may think. After all, Alaska was part of Russia in the past. The thing is, plausible doesn’t meen credible, and when you start piling them up, the end result can suspend the disbelief of some. I think it might be caused by comparison with Gundam 00, which tried to paint a more realistic future world.

        No, I was joking. I mean, “Nauru conquering Asia” would be a good enough clue of that XD

        The info in the episode you mention said that the four blocs were created with Gjallarhorn’s help, not exactly that they created them. We need to know more about that and the Calamity War (for example, that map starts making more sense if the war ravaged the leading nations, leaving others to fill the gap). What Gjallarhorn did indeed create from scratch was the current Martian frontiers.

  8. A blond antagonist with a sidekick unknowingly meeting the protagonist in the desert? Hello, Gundam 00.

    I’m really enjoying Mika’s character. He’s not a stock emo protagonist and acts refreshingly normal around people he knows.

    I’m wondering about his sudden aggression. Biscuit’s grandma implied it may be not something he can truly control, and his eyes were animated in a way that just screams “not himself”. Notice how Mika didn’ react to anything, even Cookie and Cracker’s explanation, until he was touched by Sakura-chan, and how he acted a bit confused after this. Is it the neural system’s fault, or maybe foreshadowing of something else?…

    Why do the ladies keep blushing around Mika though? I’m a bit tired of the “blushing whenever your crush says anything to you” trope.
    Kudelia and Biscuit? That would certainly be Something…

    1. It will be interesting to see whether the explanation for Mika’s aggression is simply ‘troubled past’ or something more concrete like a side-effect of having three of the surgeries. Maybe it overclocks his fight or flight response?

      As for the blushing thing, in my experience it’s not so much a trope as simply the actual way Japanese people, and girls in particular, behave. I’ve studied, worked, and lived in Japan for years and when i first came as a young college student, it was exceedingly easy to get girls to blush at something i’d say. They’re just so closed off emotionally for the most part that they sort of overreact to emotional stimuli, at least compared to how a Westerner reacts. Actually kind of a fun party trick.

      It’s interesting to see how accurate anime romances kind of are (minus harems, those aren’t really accurate anywhere that I’ve been) from watching my Japanese friends navigate their love-lives.

      1. I thought of it as more like a triggered switch into unstoppable rage killer mode, like a “perfect soldier” programming, but I may be reading too much into our good old Gundam setting. 🙂 But maybe Mika’s ability to live through three surgeries is not a cause, but a result of him being special in some way? He did kill people without hesitation in his childhood, after all…

        As for the blushing thing – thanks for sharing, I didn’t know it’s that close to reality in Japan. I thought it was just a visual shortcut, since I’ve never actually seen anybody blush as a sign of romantic attraction. I can forgive Atra, since she’s obviously an inexperienced child, but Kudelia is supposed to be a diplomat, so it’s still quite jarring…

        And why do girls fall for Mika anyway when Orga’s still around? Must be the eyebrows…

  9. How the Hell was Mika able to hold that one guy up by his throat? His piloting abilities are one thing, this is a Gundam series after all, but being able to hold up a full grown adult by his neck is just implausible. It begs the question, is this some aspect of the biotech surgery he got or just a writer not thinking things through? I’m hoping for the former.

    I do enjoy this series because it has created a very interesting set of problems for these kids and we get to see them try to navigate them. The basic logistics of life are at issue. They also aren’t in an actual war. Usually, there is some sort of war going on or the heroes are striking military targets to forward some sort of goal. Right now they just need to get along. They do appear to be maneuvering Tekkadan into being some sort of PMC.

  10. The world map looks like the what the world would be if axis won ww2, pink being the great Japan empire, green being great Germany plus Italy, blue being expanded ussr, and yellow being the rest which somehow us manage to unite them

  11. You see two girls who may have been ran over by a car, but show no obvious signs of damage (bleeding, twisted limbs etc). Quick, what do you do?

    1. See if they are alive or in need of first aid
    – OR –
    2. Strangle a random dude who happens to be standing at the nearby car

    Mika, never change. 🙂

    1. I’m thinking Mika is violently protective, and prone to acting on impulse. He saw the girl on the ground and a stranger next to them, and decided that he hurt them. That’s all.

    1. Greenland may be more hostile to permanent habitation than Mars – I’m not sure she’d be doing them any favors. It’s incredibly beautiful, but there’s a reason why there have been basically no settlements there apart from a few along the coast.

  12. I think McGillis and Galileo’s were the good guys. There role is to probe the corruption in the Gjallarhorn Mars branch. But it seems the soldier around the base are afraid to talk.


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