Gundam 00 left quite a bad impression for me and I have not watched any Gundam series from then on. Thanks to the currently ongoing Gunpla Expo at Takashimaya, I decided to give Iron Blooded Orphans a try. There seems to be more non-Gunpla related merchandises released for this series so I guess this is pretty popular and I decided to give it a try.
Gundam series are usually dealing with the conflict between colonies and earth. Iron Blooded Orphans takes the conflict one step further to Mars. Earth has managed to make Mars habitable but Martians suffer as most of the wealth are sucked by the businesses and governments from earth. Earth itself is divided into 4 factions and the 4 factions do not go to war thanks to an organisation called Gjallarhorn which helps to end the Calamity War 300 years ago and to maintain peace up to today. Kudelia Anna Bernstein is the poster girl of Mars independence movement and her goal is to go to earth for a diplomatic mission for Mars' sake.
Gundam series usually run for about 50 episodes so I kinda expect this 25-episode run is only the first season. With the 2nd season already announced, it is still too premature to judge the series. But from the 25 episodes, I have to sadly say that this is worse and less memorable than Gundam 00. Sigh. The story is patheticly 'thin' and it takes maybe 20 episodes for the journey from Mars to Earth and another 5 episodes to go from their landing point to the city of Edmonton.
The conflict presented does not make sense and has little believability. How can be an organisation as big as Gjallarhorn which maintains peace of earth and space for the past 300+ years unable to defeat Tekkadan which is just a group of mercenaries? Yes they have the arayashiki system and they have Gundam Barbatos but it is an 'outdated' machine and I am pretty sure Gjallarhorn is able to have more advance machines.
Surprisingly, Gundam does not take a center stage in this series as Gundam is considered a relic of the war 300 years ago. That explains the absence of exciting or memorable fights. We only have 1 significant Gundam Barbatos vs other lousy mobile suits controlled by mostly nameless soldiers whose death or survival does not really matter anyway. It is pretty sad for a Gundam series not to have memorable Gundams and Gundam fights. It is mentioned a few times that there are 72 Gundams so I am not sure if somehow they will all make an appearance in the second season.
There are too many characters (I cannot even remember what names goes to which face) but too little character development. Tekkadan is a group of orphans coming together as a family but there is little shown about their bond as a family. They keep saying that they are doing this together because it is a job and it is for money. That basically kills all the emotional aspect which can possibly utilised. With all the talk about "job" and "money", I can't help but feel that Tekkadan is essentially a business and simply wants to complete its job to escorting Kudelia to earth. And that is not exactly a protagonist that we are rooting for. Not to mention the last few episodes make it worse for them to be blinded by rage and revenge. Of course if we are looking from their point of view, I can understand their desperation and fight for survival. If they don't give their all and complete their mission, they will simply perish on earth. However, from audience point of view, they are not exactly heroes that I want to root for.
I think it is quite sad that Tekkadan does not realise that they are simply a pawn being played by bigger parties with their own business or political interests. That is an apt reflection of what is happening in the world today: there are people, especially in conflict regions, who are doing their best to survive and thinking that they are fighting for the good without realising that they are just being used by other people to enrich themselves.
So yeah.. another disappointing Gundam series and I think that this is worse than Gundam 00 which I already dislike. Well at least I am able to remember the name of the 4 pilots from Gundam 00. Lol. It will be interesting to see how season 2 goes but honestly, I doubt it will be good.