Three episodes remaining and I am growing wary of my once favorite show from Fall 2015. This is my observation regarding the direction this series has taken and how I am going to drive the plot if I was a part of its writing staff. A lot of spoilers ahead so my apologies in advance.
First things first, this is my only Gundam show outside Gundam Wing which I saw about 15 years ago so color me unaware of the tropes this franchise does. I am pretty much judging it as a stand alone anime series which luckily fits given that it has an original story intended for the general audience.
I remember falling in love with Iron Blooded Orphans after its first three episodes as Tekkadan cemented itself as a monolithic group reminiscent of Full Metal Alchemist’s Briggs, albeit more humanized. Then these kids met Kudelia, a Martian princess who asked them for a job to deliver her on Earth. It turns out that her father plotted to kill her own daughter so Tekkadan was in a pinch of defending themselves and her.The earlier offerings focused on the dynamics of this group of children with Orga, Biscuit and Mika as three conflicting but really interesting major characters.
Then they went to space, and the plot got lost somewhere – it is not only slow but it is also uneven with disproportionate focus on developing Kudelia as a central figure in the series. Even worse, the main dudes from Tekkadan and whatever development they had in the beginning was set aside in its heavy-handed second half. Please note that I still like the series for what it is. It’s just, I felt betrayed by what happened recently.
So, how am I going to present this series in case I am the head writer?
#1 Reduce Kudelia’s screen time especially those times she said something about being useless.
It is safe to say that the second half of this series is Kudelia’s arc. The moment they met the head of Teiwaz, her role was magnified as it was revealed that conflicting interests want her for various purposes on Earth. It is actually a very great premise but her inactivity until episode 16 is not exactly the best way to present someone with great importance. Her repetitive chants about her inability to do something is kind of charming at first but became irritating once we crossed the first cour. Man, these cover a sizable chunk of the second half until Fumitan was killed. Not every character is like Yona or Olivier Armstrong but her characterization is more of a plot device rather than a real one. Her forced romance with Mikazuki is nothing short of cringe-worthy too and her naivety is not something that tickles interest with the audience. Kudelia is mostly relegated to the background until these recent episodes but I do not know if the payoff is worth it because of the clunky middle portion of this series. Sure, I still relegate her the role of a naive princess but I will develop her character faster than the span of 16 episodes. That’s 2/3 of the series, you know.
#2 Revise death scenes – Akihiro’s subplot and Fumitan deserved better than that treatment.
Or more like, remove Akihiro’s subplot at all since he is just back to the backseat since then. They can still defeat these space pirates even without including his brother and they will still get these suits without the melodrama given they defeated them. That’s three episodes that could have been used to develop some other lacking aspects in this series. Well, I have no beef with Fumitan and her involvement to the plot but her death scene made me roll my eyes in disgust because it is all hammy. My suggestion? The moment the top dogs knew she betrayed Nobliss should be also her death scene. I mean, kill Fumitan in the corner of a street or in a manner Kudelia wouldn’t see. Then, Kudelia will discover her lifeless body later. I think that will leave a more positive impression rather than using Fumitan’s body to shield Kudelia because God knows how many times this series implemented that trick I sighed in frustration.
#3 The intricacies of the political structure on Earth will be presented on Season 2, if there’s any. My other opinion is land Kudelia on Earth at episode 13 if they wanted to include this in order to be fully explored.
Time constraints. You will not be able to insert and settle that amount of plot lines in a span of six episodes. In Iron Blooded Orphan’s case, the political parties interested with Kudelia was instantly included somewhere when they landed on Earth. What was that? In my opinion, I guess we can remove this or just give some hints in the last episode for a more haunting reminder that Kudelia’s advocacy is not as easy as she thinks. Or land Kudelia on Earth at episode 13 and start the second half of this cour tackling the political portion of Gundam. Nevertheless, it’s quite interesting but we will never be able to see its real potential. Sad.
#4 Give some meat to antagonist – the Gjallarhorn to be exact.
Except McGillis, Ein and Gaelio, who else in this organization is developed to some extent? What else do we know with Gjallarhorn except that they are the bad guys and both Tekkadan and McGillis want to change (or destroy) them? Well, there’s Carta (who screams caricature too!) but Gjallarhorn did not change from episode 1. This organization is caricature-ish and antagonistic for the sake of being one without presenting their intentions. Well, a hallmark of a good series is we get to know both sides and Iron Blooded Orphans has given us none so far.
#5 Exploit the relationships between the members of Tekkadan
Bokurano utilized a heck of characters and made each of them memorable while expanding the plot including commentaries and actions from the government. Saying this is not possible the case for Gundam is not true. Tekkadan is composed of interesting individuals that could have been utilized in portraying the hardships these kids have. Do you still remember the unhealthy dependence of Orga and Mikazuki duo that was brushed aside and was only brought again last episode because the plot brings so? Tekkadan was in the sidelines at the middle portion of Iron Blooded Orphans, which is quite understandable given the respective ruckus on Earth. Only that we had to suffer with an underdeveloped group which is sad because this is their series after all. I guess you will never know other members of this group whose importance is much lesser than Eugene’s. If I was the writer, I will capitalize on their relationships until Tekkadan implodes from the tension. Biscuit will still die but not without bringing a rift to the group as his pacifist nature conflicts with Orga. Mikazuki’s cold-hearted demeanor is also something I would like to explore given he hesitated one time on killing a mobile suit user. Yes. I am so much willing to explore the nature of this group rather than the political portion of this series that I am sure that will be half cooked because we are left with three episodes.
BONUS: I am not against Naze’s harem because I think it was well presented but I am on the verge of being irked with it as that was employed like an ornament to the series.