After done with Natsume Yuujincho seasons 5 & 6 and Yuri on Ice, I run out of idea on what anime to watch next. That's why I decided to give Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans season 2 a try despite the disappointing first season. I finished this in 1.5 months so it is not as terrible as the first season.
Season 2 takes a place a few years after the end of season 1. Tekkadan has grown to be quite big, even with an earth branch. Unfortunately, their ambition grows bigger than what they are capable of doing and this leads to their downfall. Orga seems to forget his dream to give happiness to Tekkadan and strikes a deal with McGillis who is overconfident that with getting Gundam Bael, he will have Gjallarhorn under his control and promise Tekkadan to be "King of Mars" -whatever it means. Sadly, despite getting Bael, McGillis does not gain the control that he is expecting and the tide of war is turned with McGillis and Tekkadan to be the losing side. Although it is too late, Orga realises his mistake in the end. Instead of going stupid to fight a losing war, he tries to find alternatives -even by an unheroic surrender- to ensure survival of Tekkadan members and ultimately realises his original dream of happiness of Tekkadan.
It sucks to invest time in a series which end with the death of the main characters no matter how 'makes sense' as a story it is. The ending is sad but honestly I don't see any way that the story can go with Tekkadan being the victor of war. A lot of people hate that the war ends in favour of the antagonist, but just like real world, history is written by the winner. Rustal Elion does a lot of bad things and even fire the forbidden weapon, Dainslef, but noone cares since he ends the war. Does that sound a lot like how World War II ends with the atomic bombs?
Shit story aside, lets go back to this as an anime. As a Gundam title, Iron Blooded Orphans is underwhelming. It is being mentioned that there are 72 Gundam frames etc but only less than 10 appear eventually. With all the man-machine interface, it is no longer about who is the better pilot but it is more about which machine is stronger. The battles are disappointing and the deaths of the characters are stupid: Shino commits suicides (yes it is a suicide for going towards the enemy instead of backing of), Akihiro and Mikazuki die because of Dainslef barrage (imagine how on earth human can survive atomic bomb), Lafter, Orga, and McGillis all die because of gunshot (Lafter and Orga are shot by faceless and nameless characters too! urgh). Where are all the heroic fights and deaths etc? I have no idea what the heck Kudelia is actually doing in this series and for Mars independence. It seems that at the end of the war, Rustal just wants to focus on earth first that he is simply giving Mars over to Kudelia. It does not feel that it is because of Tekkadan's fight.
Characters are badly written and unrelatable. In the grand scheme of things, the war can be summarised as Tekkadan stupidly sides with McGillis' coup d'etat against Rustal. It seems that only McGillis has an agenda while Tekkadan and Rustal's Arianrhod fleet are just dragged into the war and story as a 'by the way thing' and do not really have a reason to be involved in the war in the first place. Everybody at all sides seem to be very stupid and brainlessly loyal to their leaders without any reason to justify their loyalty: be it Tekkadan members who mostly just follows Orga (don't they care of their own lives?), McGillis' nameless and faceless followers/army, as well as Julieta & Gaelio who do not seem to have any reason to fight the war and can be considered as silent supporters of Rustal's inhumane tactics and action.
Still about the characters, I am quite surprised with the threesome relationship between Kudelia-Mikazuki-Atra. Perhaps the creator wants to take a modern approach but their relationship is very cringey to watch. Occasionally sweet, but cringey most of the time. In addition, Yamagi is gay which is made clear and explicit and it is interesting that his object of affection, Shino, actually knows it and is pretty cool about it. McGillis is also revealed to be a toy boy in a brothel in his childhood. Not exactly his choice but it is still a surprising background story.
I usually like some realism in the fiction work that I read or watch. Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans depicts war story very realistically with the blurring of the line between good and bad as both sides seem to be justifiable with their actions. McGillis wants to end corruption within Gjallarhorn while Rustal just wants to maintain his position. While Rustal is ruthless in war, he is not exactly the enemy who corrupts the Gjallarhorn or starts the war. In that sense, he is not exactly the antagonist. This plot itself is okay. Unfortunately, other characters lack of believable motivation and they become mere plot devices and pawns. To me, that is the main reason that I find this Iron Blooded Orphans suck as an anime. I take Gundam Build Fighters over this any day :)