「相棒」 (Aibou)

It’s a fairly normal occurrence for series like Tekketsu no Orphans – my favorite episodes tend to be the ones the bulk of the audience yawns at, and the crowd favorites often leave me cold.  Last week’s Orphans might have been the worst episode of the series in some ways even as it was among the most acclaimed, and this was definitely my favorite in at least a month – so it won’t surprise me a bit if it goes over like a lead Zeppelin.

The thing is, there’s an old saying in sports – “horses for courses”.  Anybody is going to be more effective if they’re playing in conditions that suit their game, and I think it’s quieter episodes like this that suit Okada Mari and Nagai Tatsuyuki’s game.  Nagai has proven he can deliver good action pieces, no question, but it’s not that hard to find those in the Gundam catalogue.  How many Gundam series can deliver interior material as well as this episode did?  I think it’s a much shorter list, at the very least.

Basically, this is a “fish out of water” story – not unique in Gundam, and one Iron-Blooded Orphans has been building towards from day one.  The country bumpkins have come home – to the home they’ve never seen, and the one in which they’d be viewed by most as dangerous outsiders and even savages rather than prodigal sons on the return.  This could have been saccharine or forced, but it was rather funny and quite believable.  The boys (and Atra) behaved in a manner you’d expect them to behave based on their backgrounds.  How could anything about Earth be more alien to them – I mean, even to Terrans like me a flounder (or was that a sole?) looks like a pretty alien beast.  And you expect them to turn around and eat it?

I’ll allow that the confrontation between Orga and Bisky was a bit sudden, to the point of being forced.  But that too is something the series has been building towards, I think, because these two have a fundamentally different approach to the world.  Orga and Mika were initially presented as the twin pillars of Tekkadan but in truth, we’ve seen no evidence that Mika would ever go against Orga’s wishes – he’s Orga’s sword hand, in effect.  It’s Biscuit who’s Orga’s true foil, the cautious and analytical speed bump to Orga’s big-dreaming and reckless ambition.  This was a collision that was always going to happen – I just wish the specifics had been given a little more buildup.

The catalyst here is Makanai Tougonsuke (the timeless Mugihito), the exiled former Prime Minister who’s brought the Tekkadan boys to Oceania to try and use them to leverage his way back into power.  He offers them protection from Gjallarhorn, but for a price – he wants Tekkadan to take him to the capital he’s been exiled from so he can make a play to re-gain power.  It’s yet another situation where the Tekkadan are in way over their heads – it’s fascinating the way they’ve become such a political football despite having no experience in politics.

Orga’s instinct (once he gets past his snit at being used yet again) is to go big and take the gamble – if the old man wins, he owes them big-time.  Biscuit’s is to play it safe, take the safest route for the family and head back to Mars now that their job is technically done.  He has a reason to react this way – he’s just been told that his brother has committed suicide on Dort (and by the way, it’s highly suspicious that the workers on Dort have somehow gotten themselves a good deal – one suspects the involvement of the newly-shorn McGillis Fareed).  But Bisky would have been inclined to advise that course anyway – it’s his nature.  If Orga is the father figure of Tekkadan Bisky is the mother, and his gut tells him not to take risks with their lives unless there’s no alternative.  The death of his brother influenced the violence of his disagreement with Orga, not the disagreement itself.

In the end I suspect Biscuit quitting Tekkadan (which he’d never have followed through on anyway) and Orga’s choice have  been mooted by the fact that Carta Issue has decided to bull her way into Oceania and try to take Tekkadan out.  This is fine with Makanai no doubt – Orga now has no choice but to take his side.  Meanwhile Ein isn’t dead after all, but beyond the help of traditional medicine.  This could hardly have worked out better for Fareed if he’d planned it, it seems – over Gaileo’s objections he’s going to make Ein a guinea pig for the Alaya-Vijñāna system.  Fareed is whip-smart – he knows how powerful a tool it is, and how social prejudice has prevented Gjallarhorn from using it, and this gives him a chance to fundamentally change the balance of power.  And fundamentally changing stuff is McGillis Fareed’s mission in life, which makes one think he’s the one ultimately moving more of the pieces than anyone else.




  1. I wasn’t as surprised that Ein did not die (we really should be seeing his dead body in a morgue for a 90% confirmation anyways). Though the Alaya-Vijñāna system’s revelation is rather surprising; ANOTHER RUMOR STARTED BY THE GJALLARHORN????? (Just how many more are there that they’ve started?)

    OTOH, at least both Orga and Biscuit have people they can vent to so to not be blinded to any other angles of view of their situation, not that they have a choice in the end. Still, beats the united front the boys have against the local dining:


    1. “beats the united front the boys have against the local dining”

      You know, if I’ve never seen fish in my life, and I suddenly witness a big fish as strange-looking as the flounder in this episode and I have to eat it moments later, I’d probably reacted the same way as the Tekkadan boys. Heck, many Americans do not want to eat French animal-brain cookings just because the thought of eating brains make them sick even though they know it’s a proper and nutritious food.

  2. Overall, I agree with Enzo’s review for this episode as my impression is more or less mirror his. Still, this line from him kinda bugs me:

    “my favorite episodes tend to be the ones the bulk of the audience yawns at, and the crowd favorites often leave me cold.”

    And can I say that the episodes that left you cold are those with good portion of Mecha actions? I have this nagging suspicion that you have this mindset where you think giant-robot battles are stupid and scoff-worthy material by default and you (wanted to) dismiss everything involving mecha-battles if not for your obligation as a critic & reviewer (and of course, Okada-Nagai being your main reason of interest). I hope I’m wrong but your reviews so far kinda mirror my suspicion (see your paragraph from your episode 02 review):

    “The elephant in the room with Iron-Blooded Orphans is and always has been the same: how will Okada Mari’s dominant-gene vision mesh with the supremely well-established and archetypal Gundam universe – and what impact will a powerhouse director like Nagai Tatsuyuki have on that unholy marriage? I’d go so far as to say that for most who aren’t already huge Gundam fans, that elephant is the main curiosity factor for this series.”

    Also, I like this episode 20 as much as the previous full-action episode 19 coz this episode is packed with plot progression while not forgetting to explore characters through both lighthearted and more somber moments. Not a single yawn or checking the watch from me when I was watching this episode. See, I’m a Gundam fan who like & can appreciate both the “talky” moments and the “action-y” ones in the franchise as long as they’re well-executed. Being a Gundam-fan doesn’t mean I’m an action-hound who automatically considers full-action episodes as the best episodes and boos and throws popcorn at the “talky” episodes, nor do I dismiss the mecha-action as something minor or less important in the narrative and only mention it in passing when it happens for the majority of the episode. Balance in appreciation is the key

    1. After 20 weeks, you should have realised that enzo is simply reviewing this as a drama/literature film, anything related to mecha is only worth a sentence per week at most.

      Can we all vote for enzo to do the weekly reviews for the upcoming Gundam Unicorn TV version? Since all the mecha related stuff are covered in the movies, his emphasis on the drama portion will be very entertaining for everyone. /s

    1. Since 1979, iirc there’s been no Gundam series that ended on a cliffhanger that doesn’t resolve the main conflict. Gundam 00 season 1 left things hanging coz season 2 were already on the way at the time. However, rushed ending is a thing in the franchise either due to the series being cancelled/cut short (eg. Gundam X & Gundam AGE) or just poor planning & poor writing by the series’ team (eg. G-Reco & Gundam SEED Destiny broadcast version). If IBO doesn’t get 2nd season, it can either ended in a rushed manner or on a cliffhanger (which should be the first cliffhanger ending in the franchise ever).

  3. A good episode and definitely one of the better non-action episodes. I agree that while the conflict between Biscuit and Orga is a little sudden it definitely makes sense since their conflicting personalities were established way back in episode 6. Though my favorite part is when Orga and Biscuit speak to Merribit and the old man, respectively. Like two kids seeking advice from their parents after having a falling out with each other.

    And poor Tekkadan, even when they have some down time they can’t catch a break. They’ve come all this way just to once again become pawns in a political scheme, this time it being Makanai. However Makanai’s exile raises one question for me. Was he exiled before or after he invited Kudelia to earth?

    If it was before then what was he hoping to gain having her come to earth? He obviously didn’t know about Tekkadan since at the time since it didn’t even exist. Was he hoping that allying himself with her would allow him to gain some kind of political favor?

    If he was exiled after he invited Kudelia then that would make more sense since it just means that the situation has changed in a way he did not foresee and is just taking advantage of Tekkadan who happen to be in the right place at the right time. It would also tie into his comment about Kudelia being his “lady luck” back in episode 18.

    It’s no surprise to me that Ein is still alive or that he’s getting the AV system since the signs were right there. Though what is this true power of the AV system that McGillis is speaking of? Psychic powers perhaps?

  4. in the end i fear, that Tekkadan will “betray” his buddy Turbine. Seems like there is a slowly buildup that he will losing 2 or 3 Woman to them. because this Woman begin to take a liking in some Boys, and well.. He can… no… he will be not Amused!!

      1. Watching/helping Akihiro and later Shino training probably brought about some bond.
        Maybe Naze had already thought of that possibility? Or he just trust his “wives”?
        Past episode made me think they all had babies with Naze.
        Hmm don’t think they have shown Naze being angry and pissed before 😛

  5. So Ein got rushed to A&E but its not good.
    McGillis suggests giving him that Alaya thing.
    Breaking Gjallarhorn’s uniformity as part of his reform?
    McGillis wants to break the social prejudice implanted by Gjallarhorn.
    McGillis tells Gaelio the true power of the Alaya thing…?
    (Bring Gaelio into Montag? Or McGillis have Alaya? Or McGillis have been experimenting? Or some untold Calamity War secret?)

    Will McGillis be happy in the end if he succeeds in the reform?

    If Ein gets Alaya-ed, being a half Martian he will be even more ostracised becoming even more “inhuman”.
    Like Slaine Troyard, maybe better as Gaelio cares for him and even more so after this.
    Maybe he will later get a Gundam or Valkyrie Frame.
    Or will Gaelio die and Ein inherit Kimaris?
    Gaelio pass on the Seven Star thing to Ein on deathbed?
    Ok I’m thinking too much 😛

    Where will revenge take Ein?

    Why is Makanai so confident?
    Does he have some trump card against Henri?
    Don’t tell me he will prop Kudelia even higher for his gain or something.

    McMurdo and Nobliss talking, wonder how it will affect the Tekkadan later on.
    Waiting to see Tekkadan get big and pwn back those scheming rich old men later on 😛

    Things slowly unfold. Kudelia is so appealing as there are many oppressed communities around it seems.
    If Gjallarhorn is Titans than Tekkadan could become AEUG 😛

  6. I’m also glad that they remembered to address the mobile suits needing different equipment (even if not too deeply) given they’re now on Earth and not in space so mobile suit combat will be drastically different for them compared to before now that there are things like gravity, weather conditions, and so on to consider, things they never had to consider that much before even on Mars.

  7. About the Dort workers getting a good deal, Makanai explained it: those space colonies belong to the African Union, and undermining the AU by pushing in favour of better conditions for the workers fits the other three powers’ agendas. No need to include McGillis in the party.

    (In fact, is it just me or Enzo tends to include McGillis as a hidden hand in every development?)

    I have to admit, this series has been good at showing the different parties bit by bit, without causing an informaiton voerload. At first it seemed Mars versus Earth, with Gjallarhorn in the middle. Then we discover than Mars is divided into different zones, that Earth is divided into different powers (and their space colonies), and that Earth’s and Gjallarhorn’s interests don’t always coincide. In afct, there are even different factions inside Gjallarhorn, not just conspirators like McGillis but feuding families and interservice rivalries.

    1. Yeah, it’s only the mask that makes him Char-related, but his mannerisms and the way he’s currently using both sides to some unknown agenda (I’m doubtful that ridding Gjallarhorn of its corruption and such is his only objective) is definitely more reminiscent of Trieze and other such Gundam characters.

  8. ep 23:

    Gundam is back to their old Story cliches, looks like they want to play it save now. Well i can not be angry at them, but it makes me sad.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    Fight and Action are good, but the Story drops back into standard producing..


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