Mobile Suit GUNDAM: Iron-Blooded Orphans is BATTLETECH, the Anime


#1

I have only ever watched one mecha anime, that being Gurren Lagann, a show firmly set in the “super robot” subgenre with its wacky monsters and magical transformation. It being the Year of the Mech and all, I decided I needed to broaden my horizons with a “real robot” show and started watching Sunrise’s most recent GUNDAM anime offering, Iron-Blooded Orphans. Ten episodes in to its fifty-episode run, and I can say that it does not disappoint on any front.

As stated, this show shares a lot with Harebrained Schemes’s recent BATTLETECH. They both follow a scrappy, hand-to-mouth company of robot-piloting fighters as they attempt to survive in a cutthroat interstellar economy. Both balance spectacular, gritty (and occasionally flashy) mech combat with tight, effective character writing and pathos. Throw in a side of political intrigue and space politics in the form of a betrayed diplomat whom the team must protect, and the similarities are a little uncanny, but Iron-Blooded Orphans’s focus on holding together a found family and the horrors of being a child in wartime distinguish it more than enough for it to feel fresh and unique.

If you enjoy BATTLETECH, the mecha genre, or anime in general, I highly recommend Orphans. Not being finished with it yet, it could still prove disappointing, and budgetary and time constraints show in less-than-amazing animation and detail in some out-of-combat segments, but its commitment to great concepts and solid character writing make it well worth a watch.


#2

It’s weird to me to hear BATTLETECH combat described as ‘flashy’. If anything, it’s firmly on the gritty end of the mech scale; steely-eyed veterans hoping laser fire doesn’t strip away the important parts of their future coffin while they try to take apart their foes. It’s a spectacle in the way an amateur boxing match is - ugly fist-fights that leave the ring covered in molten steel and scorchmarks.


#3

You’re certainly right. It is difficult to point our similarities between the combat styles in the two pieces aside from how they feel. Instead of flashy, I likely should rather have said spectacular, as you implied. Orphans’s combat scenes have a similar feel to them. The pilots get jostled and wounded by hits to their Mobile Suits as armor and weapons break under heavy strikes. However, I will insist that GUNDAM Frame Barbatos driving its giant lance through the torso of a Graze is indeed flashy, in the same way a perfectly executed Death from Above or balletic barrage of LRMs are. They’re flashes of style and aesthetic in the midst of deadly, down-and-dirty combat.


#4

One thing I really liked about Iron Blooded Orphans is how the mechs change over the series as they salvage parts, equip specialized parts for certain missions, get damaged and overhauled, etc.

The early versions of Barbatos and Graze Custom are great because you can see where they’ve got mismatched armor and missing parts.


#5

There were many things that I liked about GUNDAM: Iron-Blooded Orphans. The plot seems to move at a good pace and never feels static and I like most of the characters. I’m not that big into GUNDAM, but after listening to FATT Season 2 I wanted to consume more media in that vein.

However I dropped out during the first season, because the pirate captain with his entire ship full of women who all unanimously adore him, while also caring for multiple of the children he fathered with them, gave me the creeps.


#6

Yes, that was a rough patch for me as well. I think eventually they went in to some circumstances that made it not as terrible as it looked at first, but I still wish that was not part of the series.