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After putting up my What Else Should You Watch: Doctor Stone post a few weeks ago, I again thought about the kinds of posts how I have not done in a while, and I settled on a first impressions, if for nothing else than because its kind of an easier one to write while I am dealing with end of the semester stuff. For this first impressions, I am taking a look at a show that was put on Netflix only recently, but has been given a lot of critical acclaim for a while, that being Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans
Iron-Blooded Orphans, like many of its Gundam counterparts, takes place in a world after great destruction. In its case, the Calamity War, a battle between earth and its outer colonies in space, ended in the division of earth into four separate economic blocks. Mars, meanwhile, is in deplorable conditions, and its people are quickly signing on to the idea of Independence from Earth. Kudelia Bernstein, an aristocrat representing the independence movement, decides to enlist the help of the CGS, a local military branch. However, her sense of security is somewhat short-lived, as Gjallarhorn, the organization responsible for keeping peace in the universe, attempts to assassinate her. Despite the attempt, Mikazuki Angus and Orga Itsuka, along with many other child soldiers working under the organization, pull together to help defend her.
Now, I will get this out of the way upfront: I am in no way an expert on Gundam, so what I say after this point is going to apply to this series only. I do not want to generalize to much and then have Scott tell me I am wrong. Anyway, onto the rest of it.
After watching three episodes of Iron-Blooded Orphans, I can say for sure that the series is not boring. While it sticks to a lot of science fiction convention, even from the first couple of episodes it has an extremely ambitious vision of the story it wants to tell. One of the good parts about it right of the bat is its main characters, Mikazuki and Orga. The first scene of the first episode shows the two of them struggling to survive, even having to kill someone to do so. The desperation of their situation becomes immediately apparent, and so its makes sense why they ended up joining a military organization, even as kids. Another important thing that first scene shows is the dynamic between the two of them. Mikazuki is very much someone who will whatever Orga asks him to, even killing someone. This kind of dynamic is both immediately concerning, and also hints at what might come later on.
The story also alludes to a lot of other important themes early on, such as poverty. Orga, Mikazuki, along with many of the other kids at CGS, came from desperate situations where they were on the brink of dying in the streets. To escape this suffering, they did what they thought they had to and joined the military, if for nothing else than the basics of food, water, and shelter.
For as much as I try and put my own taste aside when talking about the artistic merit of a series, it is not always easy, and while I have enjoyed certain mecha series in the past it is not a genre that generally peeks my interest. I mainly took a look at Iron-Blooded Orphans as a way to test my own waters, so to speak. However, as it turns out, I am still not much of a fan of the idea of giants robots slamming each other into the dust, at least not under normal circumstances.
One thing that is worthy of criticism outside of personal preference though are the character designs. Specifically, the way the character designs clash with the feel of the story being told. Iron-Blooded Orphans is clearly trying to show us the gritty reality of its main characters, from murder, to betrayal, it wants to capture all of the feelings and actions involved with life at war. Which is why it is strange that the characters all still look like they are supposed to be in a shounen series. I would say that normally this does not bother me as much, but Iron-Blooded Orphans is aggressive in how much it wants to be taken seriously, and so the clash is much more noticeable.
Suffice it to say that I will likely not continue the series, or if I do it might just be a few more episodes. While there is probably a lot of good left to be found in the show, it frankly just does not appeal to me much and the clash between its characters design and its tone will probably throw me off the whole way through.
How do you all feel about Iron-Blooded Orphans? Let me know in the comments below.
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