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.