What a puddle of contradictions is Iron-Blooded Orphans.
If ever there was an episode that showed off both sides of Tekketsu no Orphans, it would be this one – and this is a show that makes a habit of drawing you in with one hand and pushing you away with the other. It does some things very well, but comes off as almost shockingly clumsy at times. And I think the question is now begging to be asked – has there ever been another show that’s fumbled pretty much every major emotional payoff for this long and still been engaging to watch?
At this point it’s really the politics of the situation that’s keeping me invested in Orphans, because the character stuff just isn’t working for me. While it was the final scene of the episode I think the climax needs to be discussed first, because it really stands out as a weak moment in an otherwise fairly strong week. There was such a push-button quality to the emotions there – frankly I would expect more, given the talent level involved in this series. Characters that cry on cue are not the way to try and get an audience to do the same.
I am glad Kudelia has finally become an active participant in the story, don’t get me wrong. But it just took too long for it to really have a lot of weight behind its emotional punch now. What does it say about her, frankly, that she was not just passive but blind to the reality of the situation for so long, and it was only when a situation which hurt her feelings personally occurred that she woke up and lumbered into action? Kudos to Kudelia for getting with the program, but if the lesson is that everyone’s lives matter – and not just those of our loves ones – then she’s a poor exemplar of that lesson.
Fortunately we still have one of the more interesting political scenarios (with a couple of new players) in the recent Gundam catalog playing itself out. Fareed remains a fascinating puzzle, even if Occam’s Razor did apply all along to his motivations – assuming he’s being truthful with Tekkadan (and I suspect he is – more or less – now that sharp-eyed Mika saw through his impenetrable disguise) his aim all along has been to take down Gjallarhorn and remake it in his own image. I like the fact that Gjallarhorn is not an Empire-like monolith with one face and purpose, but a huge and unwieldy organization that contains many competing imperatives within its umbrella.
McGillis and Tekkadan have overlapping interests for now, and for once it’s Tekkadan who knows something Naze does not rather than the other way around. The course of the first 18 episodes suggests that Tekketsu no Orphans is not going to follow a path of blind idealism as this intrigue unravels over the final 7 – I certainly hope that’s the case. One could interpret this series as first and foremost a story of the education of the Tekkadan boys in the practical ways of the world (I think it’s most interesting when viewed in that light) and Fareed certainly represents a valuable potential teacher.