「明日からの手紙」 (Ashita Kara no Tegami)
“A Letter From Tomorrow”

Wait for it – it’s coming.

If the ultimate test of whether a series is working or not is whether you feel anything for the characters (worry, for example) Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans is definitely working for me.  I think it’s a testament to the experience and savvy of the creative staff that the intra-episode pacing is as good as it is – every episode is a slow build, with the B-Part almost always much more engaging than the A-Part.  And that was certainly true this week.

That’s not to say that this series isn’t an odd duck, because it certainly is.  I still can’t quite figure out where it sits on the spectrum either of Gundam or of She-Who-Must-Not-be-Named, because right now it seems to be falling into the “neither” camp.  And make no mistake, episodes like this one are part of the process of Ok*da softening up the audience like a chef working a tough piece of meat.  The other shoe is hanging by a thread, and it’s a steel-toed boot.

There’s slow build written all over this episode, which marks another in a surprisingly (with Gundam, close to unprecedentedly) long string of what are effectively slice-of-life eps.  I very much appreciate the fact that Writer-san and Nagai-sensei are giving a chance for the secondary characters to form their own identities – kids like Takaki and Ride, too young to hog the glory either in battle or at the negotiating table, but nevertheless trying to make their mark in their own way.  Mind you, it was pretty clear as soon as Takaki told the story of his younger sister that we (and he) were being set up like a bowling pin, but that’s all a part of the tenderizing process.

The other character who gets some development here is Atra, and that’s an area where Iron-Blooded Orphans is losing me a bit.  The notion of the social structure on the Hammerhead being treated as normal is one thing – context is important in this case, and I suppose it might even be said to be daring to treat polygamy in such a matter-of-fact way in a mainstream anime.  But Atra’s calculus during her conversation with Kudelia didn’t exactly strike me as a positive thing.  I would hope Atra at some point comes to realize that she can set her sights higher than that fantasy (in my book she and Biscuit make the much better match anyway).

There’s much nostalgia on the table this week – boys musing about losing their virginity, about their hardscrabble and tragic family histories, and Atra about her first meeting with Mikazuki (and her life as an urchin enslaved in a whorehouse).  This is a tough world these kids live in, one that doesn’t run on empathy or even pity, and Orphans has done a very good job of humanizing them and making us understand why their bond is so important to them.  But it’s building up to something, and when Takaki asks Akihiro to take him with him on a patrol, it’s pretty much a given that the shit is about to hit the fan.

Again, I think Tekketsu no Orphans really passes the test here in the sense that when it seems likely that Takaki is about to sacrificed on the altar of dramatic impact (and he still might), we really care.  It may not be the most difficult path to audience buy-in, but it gets there.  Over the past several episodes this series has focused very much on the human side of the equation – establishing the stakes.  At some point it was always going to turn towards drawing against the reserves of engagement it’s been building up, and we may be starting to see that happen.




    1. The thing about Okada Mari is that she has a very, VERY definite style.

      I understand the people that think Enzo should just stop reflecting on the qualities of the staff and focus 100% on the work as it is, not to mention how he’s gotten tiring with mentioning Okada on almost every review of IBO hes done; but whether you want to or not, at the end of the day this is an Okada Mari show, and she just came out of a very bad mecha show recently. Of course people who are familiar with her and how she’s hit and miss (and how her misses are severe – see Kuroshitsuji II for a good example) can only dread that the rest of the staff lets her run free and everything becomes unhinged.

      Of course, there’s no one way to ruin a show, and in the case someone isn’t liking IBO, Okada won’t be 100% to blame. But with her style of writing and her penchant for overblown drama (and how her stuff sometimes just doesn’t work and comes off as worse than plain old ridiculous), watching any show where she’s staff is kinda like trying to be in a room where someone placed a cup right at the edge of the table. You can’t avoid thinking the cup is gonna fall.

      1. Hm…may I ask what exactly about Kuroshitsuji II people are blaming Okada for? I’m not trying to be snarky or to pick a fight – I’m just curious as to what people think she was responsible for.

      2. Same thing here. I for one, wouldn’t know as I’ve never had much of an interest in Kuroshitsuji. I’ve seen some of the other shows Okada has scripted and well, let’s just say that Aquarion EVOL was probably the only one that I liked- felt a strong connection to. And you guys can all say whatcha want, I appreciated M3 for what it was despite the problems it had.

        Nishizawa Mihashi
  1. i am not taking the Bait here. Are you doing it on purpose to stand out of your Blogger buddies here on RC? Then you doing it wrong. You should be yourself, and do not need this Bait. You just hurt your own reputation with that

  2. Uhm… This is slowly becoming Nagi No Asukara – only with Mechas. LOL. The romantic aspect is handled awkwardly but I think that one is intended given these men only deal with their kinds or lolis or someone like Kudelia before.

    I agree with your comment with Atra. This is not a romcom. Darn it. That montage of Mikazuki having a harem made me cringe. It was really out of place for Tekkadan. Ugh.

  3. Atra & Biscuit sounds like they would be a good ship, too bad it probably won’t happen even as a joke 🙁 Also the kids talking in the lunch room don’t know what they are talking about, Fumitan all the way!

  4. I liked the episode, but a few things:

    I really hope they don’t pull the trigger on these death flags. Not because it’s sad but because the whole notion of death flags is dramatically hollow. What death flags are is character development given to characters that don’t normally receive so that we’ll care when they die. But if they don’t die, then it’s just character development, meaning the overall show is better and the cast is more developed. The idea that any time a side character receives development means they have to die is why so few animes have strong supporting casts.

    The review summed up my thoughts on the harem nicely. It’s weird. It’s not offensive since they’re going to such lengths to present it as normal and inoffensive, but to present as universally positive and even something to be emulated is very strange to me and taking it a little far. Generally, in non-polygamous cultures monogamy is very integral to our identities. It’s not a switch we can flip. Painful to choose or not, the idea of sharing doesn’t physically OCCUR to people in monogamous cultures and if it does, it’s upsetting to think of sharing the one you love.

    The idea that a girl in a monogamous culture (and it clearly is given how confused everyone is by the Turbines) could so quickly decide ‘hey we’re all friends, let’s have sex for the rest of our lives’ is so culturally odd that it almost suggests Atra is mildly sociopathic. Not in the violent way, but in the way that her brain doesn’t process cultural mores and simply cares about what makes her happy in the moment. Someone on another site suggested that her growing up in a brothel may explain her strange view on love, which is an interesting theory, but it’s weird either way.

    1. “I really hope they don’t pull the trigger on these death flags. Not because it’s sad but because the whole notion of death flags is dramatically hollow. What death flags are is character development given to characters that don’t normally receive so that we’ll care when they die. But if they don’t die, then it’s just character development, meaning the overall show is better and the cast is more developed.”

      For the most part I agree. I really don’t want to see either Akihito or Takaki die at this point because I actually like them and would like to see them continue to grow as characters. Although I have grown so use to the trope that at this point I find it more inoffensive than annoying. If one of them does have to die then hopefully it will least serve some purpose in the long run as opposed to just shock value.

    2. That’s very hard on Atra. Tean years working as a slave in a brothel, followed by working in a shop and close to a group of child soldiers, most of them orphans or at least members of disfunctional families. No family, no schooling, and interpersonal relationship limited to the worst parts of Martian society.

      Now she’s having her first contact with romantic love, jealousy and the tricky way to balance it all with friendship, while at the same time meeting a group of people which are most likely the richest, most powerful and apparently successful she has seen in her whole life. It’s nothing strange she’s getting ideas. Childish ideas, but she’s still a child (as she lampshaded in this very episode).

      Kudelia is her foil in that regard. Interestingly, Atra has an idealized version of parent-child relationships that future Mars (and us) may consider “normal”, but Kudelia (and us) know that it doesn’t match reality among powerful families.

      1. Again, this is a misunderstanding of my point and how cultural mores work. A misunderstanding the show itself seems to have. Being dysfunctional doesn’t simply allow these sorts of things to switch that easily. It’s weird. And the show is not letting it go. It’s come back every episode since it was introduced. This isn’t about happiness vs sadness. Even people caught in similar situations (as I sort of once was) don’t think to themselves ‘well what if I just married them both?’ It’s not a natural response. And again, based on everyone’s reaction to the Turbines, this is not a society where polygamy is normal. The Turbines are weird.

        Again, I’m not against the idea of this being a stage in Atra’s development, in that she has this sort of childish fantasy and has to grow past it, but I made that comment in response to the review in that, yes, that is the one element of the show that puts me off a bit because they keep coming back to it and it’s not TREATED as a childish fantasy. It’s treated as reasonable.

  5. Copy and pasting my initial reddit impression
    Weird, I wasn’t as upset as I thought for the 3rd consecutive episode of character(s) building. Maybe it’s the convenient timing for all those flashbacks/retelling since they haven’t opened up their past before. (and we don’t need flashbacks for EVERYTHING)

    PS. they got some mean graffiti in some of the rooms now. The highlight is always the big one…


    -Atra’s train of thought is most likely under the influences of her past and her recent visit to the Turbines’ nursery. Though I would tentatively agree with Enzo that she can set her sights higher…
    -Orga’s feelings on having Merribit Stapleton onboard as an liaison is rather negative, though more complicated than what I personally give credit for (the first meeting last week didn’t help).

    1. I like Merribit, I hope she sticks around. She’s an interesting figure since she’s not a member of Tekkadan or one of their clients/honorary members like Fumitan or Kudelia.

      She’s basically an antagonist, but she’s friendly. Sometimes when you grow up you have to learn to deal with people through work that are, in function, antagonistic to you. Sometimes you might even come to like them despite that. It fits very well into Tekkadan’s theme of becoming adults. She could be a fun relationship if they do it right, and they’ve done most relationships right so far.

  6. I really wish they spent less time with the whole “ZOMG THE NEW MEMBER HAS TWO XX Chromosomes!!!”. Yes we get it, she’s hot but maybe they should actually spend there runtime more relevant.

    Atra does get some development but I really don’t care since her only significance so far is the be a designated love interest. Also am I the only one who felt that the polygamy joke inappropriate AFTER they established that Atra was enslaved to a whorehouse?

    Akihiro is the only I found interesting because he is a primary character so its nice to see him show more sides. Though my cliche senses are tingling. I think blond-kid-who-we-never-established-had-a-sister-but-does-now just setup his own death flag. Good luck to him. I’m calling it now, Akihiro’s brother is one the pirates attacking them and he will die because its a cheap setup for DRAMATIC IRONY!

    I will declare the first epic fail if IBO though: Replacing Barbatos awesome Mace-Pile Bunker for a lame Katana. I’ve waited for so long for a Gundam to use a Pile Bunker but no, it has to replaced with a generic “upgrade”. Nothing really important but I just really hated it.

    1. You really just blast everything.

      I think the idea that a group of all boys, many of them adolescent, fawning over the addition of a beautiful woman is rather realistic to the point that it would seem weirder if they were matter-of-fact about it.

      As for Atra, I kind of agree that her past and (desired) future seemed to be in poor taste in combination. But as I mentioned above, maybe that’s the point…? Like she really is messed up by her background and can’t view love normally, much like how Mika being a badass is actually a cover for severe abandonment issues and fear that if he screws up EVEN A LITTLE, he’ll be left behind.

      And I’m almost completely with you on the katana. I like that it’s still metal and not a beam saber, but I much preferred the polearm/mace/pile bunker. One thing that made me less annoyed than I was in the last episode when they showed the katana in the opening is he still has the cannon. I like the mace/cannon setup because it was just so brutal. If we had lost both for the katana I would be really sad, but at least we have the cannon so some of the brutal remains. But I hope the katana goes away and he goes back to the mace. Seems unlikely, but given how often he goes through weapons it’s not impossible.

  7. So true, I swear once “Orphan Tears” started playing in the background all I could think was “Oh god! they’re gonna kill off Takaki (or Akihiro)” and then BAM Mika drops in at the last second.

    If someone is to be sacrificed on the alter of dramatic impact next week then Takaki’s days are numbered if only because Akihiro is a little too important to kill off at this stage. Though killing him off would have a much greater impact on Tekkadan especially since he’s the only other MS pilot they have atm.

  8. To quote a fellow Troper:
    “Atra, I think you’re misunderstanding something here, dear.”

    And that “Big Damn Heroes” moment from Mikazuki… Although the katana upgrade looks cool (albeit being done to death in a few other Gundam series such as SEED Astray), with those heavily armored mobile suits as opponents, that mace would have been more effective in this situation.

    Finally, it was nice to see Mikazuki’s compassionate side in that flashback. I like it when shows do take the time to make me care about the characters, even the supporting ones.

    1. You know, I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right. I simply missed the mace because it was so fun and different, but going off what different melee weapons are actually used for (which I’ll forgive them for ignoring, because media never pays attention) a mace would be way better than a katana for fighting these things. WAY BETTER. At least they showed him use it to stab rather than cut through metal. Though I’m sure it will be able to randomly cut through metal due to sharpness or hyperalloy or some random anime explanation.

    2. True, the mace would make more sense, but given the effect that katana had on the enemy mecha, I wonder if it’s a convenient weapon to capture the machines more or less intact. The Gundam is great, but Tekkadan needs better machines soon for the rest of their potential pilots.

  9. I was quite disappointed in this episode. The writing just came off as lazy to me. We’re given this story about Akihiro having this brother, who we’ve never heard of up until now, and my first thought at watching this was, OK, now they’ll be attacked and one of the attackers will be his lost little brother, and then like clockwork, boom, there he is. Then they follow that up with Mikazuki, who apparently can teleport I guess, showing up at exactly the perfect time to save him, when the last that we saw him, he was left on that base. I mean, holy hell, at least give us SOME buildup here. My only hope is that they don’t follow through with the rather obvious death flags involving Takaki’s sister, or I may really start to dislike this series, which is a shame, b/c, up until now, it’s been my favorite currently airing series, and one of the few that I truly look forward to every week.

    1. “Then they follow that up with Mikazuki, who apparently can teleport I guess”

      I place my bet that the reason why Mika can get there so fast will be explained in the next episode. Just like how the beginning of Episode 2 explained how Mika got into the Barbatos at the end of Episode 1, or when the beginning of Episode 8 explained how Orga & co managed to take over Hammerhead at the end of Episode 7.

      1. not even close in terms of comparisons

        3 words: suspension of disbelief

        All of those things were adequately set up before they happened.

        We saw Mikazuki being told to go back the short distance required to get into the Gundam. We saw them already on the enemy ship.

        Those are things where we received adequate build up, or heck, ANY setup at all. The last time that we saw him, Mikazuki was back on the base. His appearance makes no sense in the context of the scene, while those others did, b/c they were built up. This just reaks of poor writing, but hopefully things get better.

    2. “We saw Mikazuki being told to go back the short distance required to get into the Gundam.”
      “Those are things where we received adequate build up, or heck, ANY setup at all.”

      So you’re just gonna ignore the fact that Yukinojo blatantly said to Mika: “Don’t worry. Once Barbatos is overhauled, you can catch up to them” early in the episode? Well? That’s not a setup to you? Yukinojo already laid the basic reason why Mika/Barba can catch up to Isaribi. Now what’s left is the details of how.

      If you deny Yukinojo’s obvious clue/setup but acknowledge the setup in episode 1 & 7 then you have a severe case of double standard or being biased or inconsistent, mate.

      1. That’s nonsense. He was at a stationary place, while they were moving. Unless he was in a ship which was twice as fast their’s (which was not setup), then he couldn’t be there.

        I’m hoping that they don’t just go with some lazy excuse like “we hurried as fast we could to catch up to you” or something like that.

        Again:suspension of disbelief

        Saying that he WILL go to them, doesn’t explain HOW he did. In both of those other events, the how was already given or implied, which is why they qualify as “set up,” and it’s also why this doesn’t.

      2. It all depends on how fast the ships are going. If it was a jet being upgraded at an airbase, and he flew it after Tekkadan in their aircraft carrier, would you complain about how could he have caught up with them?

  10. Oh, the usual lost sibling bingo…
    So, what do you guys think? Will Akihiro:
    a) have to fight and possibly kill his brother (DRAMA)?
    b) have to choose between Tekkadan and his “real” family (more DRAMA)?
    c) die and be replaced with his conveniently similarly named and skilled brother (unlikely, but after G00 I am wary)?

    I am now hoping Atra lives through the whole anime and gets a mentally and emotionally healthy love interest. Honestly, Mika as he currently is would a bad match for anyone. Probably a horrible father, too.

    Really enjoyed the colours in Atra’s flashback. Her child design is so adorable. And if she was starved, no wonder she’s so tiny.

    Takaki should really stop telling people about his sister. Does he have a deathwish or something?

    1. “Takaki should really stop telling people about his sister. Does he have a deathwish or something?”

      Well, what do you expect? These characters aren’t anime-savvy, genre-savvy, or even aware that they’re in a Gundam show :P. Not every fictional character can be Deadpool you know.

  11. I honestly didn’t mind Atra’s harem idea. Gundam is often so serious in tone and nature that it sometimes gets difficult to watch. I loved Gundam 00, but by god Setsuna’s got no sense of humor whatsoever. It was especially ironic that he had less of a personality than Tieria: who’s pretty much an artificial subject. It actually felt pleasantly good to be caught off with unexpected humor.

  12. Like i wrote in the Spoiler teaser in the previous episode entry.

    I hope it’s now Time for Action, to get some steam off from the Fans here. Time to turn the dish inside the Pan or it’s get burned

  13. That’s no Zaku boy!

    At this rate, I’m starting to get worried that they’ll be able to pull off a proper denumont to the climax they’re building up to. It’s been good so far, but there doesn’t seem to be much progress on the central front of Mars vs Earth. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t fumble in the last quarter.

    Doctor Hochmeister
    1. That’s no Graze, Akihiro!

      Although from this angle, that Man Rodi does look like a Zaku. And from this angle, it looks like a Gerbera-Tetra (Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory).

      Though after reading the name of the faction that operates those armored mobile suits (Brewers), I couldn’t help but laugh. (So does that mean they’re pirates who are always drunk?)

    2. Well, the central premise so far has been “the journey of a group of orphans from Chryse-Mars to escort Kudelia to Arbrau-Earth to negotiate for Chryse’s independence”. Remember that Kudelia isn’t really representing all of Mars but only the Chryse region under Arbrau (one of the 4 eco-blocks). And the whole “this things can lead to war” by Barriston is just a (high) possibility, not the premise (or promise) of the show itself. Right now, the goal is to reach Earth safely to attend the hearing and to make a name out of Tekkadan for future business. Yeah, this Gundam is strangely entrepreneur-y but I can appreciate variety, especially one that’s fresh and done well (so far).

      If season 2 is confirmed, then we can talk about all-out interplanetary war.

  14. Bring back the pile driver mace ASAP, Sunrise. I don’t care if its some SEED-like Striker Pack launching sequence… but just bring back the mace. Swords are cool and all but unless its a beam saber, its going to be hard selling to me that a mere katana can do considerable amount of damage or even cut through nanolaminated armor. Unless of course the katana’s edges has a superheated and rapidly rotating sawblade.

    1. Superheated blade is overrated. In fact, realistically-speaking, if both clashing metal has the same quality, it’s the superheated blade that will lost and bent out of shape, or at least destroyed each other.

  15. I feel like these recent two episodes have been the best of the series thus far. This one especially was very tragic and sad. They’re doing a great at showing us how tough their lives have been. It’s very affecting.

    Also, what’s this? Possible Orga x the new woman shipping? Interesting.

  16. Btw, someone on another forum said that Merribit Stapleton character is possibly made based on Nina Purpleton from Gundam 0083 and will have similar character arc.

    My reaction: Sh*****t. If it’s true, I’m expecting NTR to the max for Orga.

  17. Its funny how similar this show is in some concepts to it’s would be franchise surpasser Aldnoah.Zero yet how much it is the polar opposite opposite of it in terms of having human characters you can actually care about. If that show did everything wrong as far as running a space opera sci-fi mecha series this show is doing most things right so far. It also feels like it was actually conceived largely as a whole and not so much as a separate collection of popular elements that don’t really gel into a cohesive whole at all. Again though the biggest and yet overwhelming edge this show has over that one is just the cast and character development, just not even in the same universe.

  18. So there’s nothing wrong with adults killing kids, adults enslaving kids, adults mutilating kids, adults beating up kids, kids killing adults, kids using mechs and heavy machinary, kids joining the mafia.

    But tell the viewers that a polygamy relationship is possible in the future makes this the worse thing this show can ever thing of…..

  19. The only relevant/interesting bits in this episode were the flashback scenes. Which makes me wonder whether they are not aiming for 50 episodes after all seeing how the pacing is sluggishly slow.

  20. I loved this episode so much, it was a return to form after the last two episodes.
    While the last two episodes gave development to Orga and Mika, we now get a chance to really develop some of the smaller ones.

    I’m really so glad we got to see Takaki, Atra, and Akihiro’s backstory. We get to see what Takaki is working towards. He’s barely literate himself, but he’s working himself to the bone in order to take care of his sister at the young age of 13. Atra kept her cheerful heart and demeanor, despite all the abuse and obstacles that life threw in her way, and despite her love of Mika, she is happy to call Kudelia “sister”.
    Akihiro’s backstory was definitely the saddest. I actually teared up with his. I really hope that that story doesn’t end tragically and he’s able to find his brother.

    Many are getting caught up on the harem ideal that Atra puts forward, and yet that’s the least that I ever see. To me, it was a throw-away joke, especially in comparison to what we learned about Atra. I’m fascinated in how innocent she really is, with both life in general and relationships, considering her background and where she grew up. Also, someone brought up the fact that a girl who was purposefully starved as a child, finds enjoyment in cooking and providing food for other orphans.

    Orga and Merribit are interesting. I like that while Orga was a little out of his depth with the woman at first, when it comes to his men and his family, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the woman, he will not stand for it.

    A really great episode and It was just punctuated in the best way possible in that last end scene. Mika is such a boss!

  21. Ep 11:

    Show Spoiler ▼


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