Image Source: Bandai Visual on YouTube

The latest Gundam series, Iron-Blooded Orphans, has killed off more than a few characters during its run, but few have been more shocking—and necessary—than the most recent one.

[This article contains major spoilers for Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans seasons one and two.]

Image Source: GundamInfo on YouTube

Iron-Blooded Orphans is, in general, the story of two young men who find themselves as key players in shaping the future of Earth and Mars. The first, Orga, turns a group of oppressed child soldiers into an intimidating fighting force. The other, Mikazuki, serves as the core of the group’s military might through piloting a super weapon from a war long past: Gundam Barbados.

Over the course of the series, the child soldiers—or “Tekkadan” as they’re called—go from a ragtag group escorting a Martian “princess” to Earth to a critical force in a civil war that threatens to overthrow a 300-year-old status quo. The impetus of this major growth, however, is not based on Orga or Mikazuki’s lust for wealth or power. Rather, all this comes from their co-dependency on one another.

Image Source: GundamInfo on YouTube

Orga, as a character, is defined by a single internal conflict. His basic goal is that he wishes to find a place in the world for himself and his fellow discarded child soldiers—a place where they can live a life free from danger. Now, as they are child soldiers, all they know is the art of war. Thus fighting their way to the top of the mercenary hierarchy is the only way Organ can think of to get the wealth and power needed to protect his group—his family.

The internal conflict, then, is one of love versus ego. On one hand he wishes to keep his family safe, so that they can enjoy the final, eventual fruits of their labors. On the other hand is his need to live up to the expectations of everyone around him—especially Mikazuki.

In Mikazuki’s eyes, Orga is a genius—a man able to take the shortest, riskiest path to victory and succeed every time. Thus Orga time and time again plays dice with the lives of his group to play into this role—being so utterly reckless that his opponents find themselves unprepared for the brashness and brutality of it all. It’s only through luck and the strength of the Gundam that Tekkadan keeps winning. Of course, just because they win doesn’t mean that everyone lives.

Image Source: GundamInfo on YouTube

Throughout the second season, more and more of his men—and other friends—die en masse in his gamble to become “King of Mars.” While it pains him and his internal conflict rages on, he nonetheless pushes on as recklessly bold as before. And, in the end, he backs the wrong horse in the civil war, leading to a situation where the victors don’t want his surrender; they only want the dead bodies of himself and the “family” he is responsible for putting in danger.

Locked in their home base, surrounded by enemies, and branded “evil” by the media, it is only then that Orga finally comes to realize the truth: Safety and peace aren’t what his men want. What they want is a place to belong—and they already have that in Tekkadan. As long as they have him and each other, they don’t care where they are or what they are doing. Becoming “King of Mars” is not the true solution, simply accepting them as they are and being together is enough. All that’s left is to pull off one last desperate gamble to help his remaining companions escape and disappear.

From a story perspective, with this personal realization, Orga has reached the end of his arc—i.e., his character has grown and changed into its final iteration. There is little left to do with the character in a thematic sense.

Well, living, anyway.

Image Source: GundamInfo on YouTube

The death of Orga leading into the final few episodes is a brilliant move. Sure, it strongly affects emotionally invested viewers who have come to know and sympathize with Orga over the journey of 48 episodes, but where the death of Orga really shines is how it set to effect the remaining cast of characters—especially Mikazuki.

As much as Orga is defined by Mikazuki’s view of him, Mikazuki is even more dependant on Orga. As a person, Mikazuki has almost no personal wants of his own beyond the most immediate and superficial. When he’s hungry, he eats. When he’s tired, he sleeps. Unless he has a strong aversion to doing something, he will do whatever anyone tells him he should—trusting that his companions (namely Kudelia and Atra) have more understanding of the world than he does.

Image Source: GundamInfo on YouTube

But even that is a symptom of the greater problem. Mikazuki has defined his entire being around one single moment in his childhood—the moment when Orga promised to take him to a place where he would belong. Mikazuki has no idea what that place would be or how to get there, but he believes Orga does. It is a belief that has become fanaticism.

Anything Orga tells Mikazuki to do, he does without question. He kills without hesitation and willingly sacrifices his body and mind—trusting all the while that this is necessary to get to the place where they belong.

It is only in the rare cases when Orga’s self doubt threatens to overwhelm him that Mikazuki stands up to Orga, knowing that Orga knows what to do to further their ultimate goal but is struggling (for a reason Mikazuki can’t seem to understand) to give the order.

Image Source: GundamInfo on YouTube

This is shown to be true even in the most recent episode when McGillis asks Mikazuki directly what his goals, wants, and needs are. Mikazuki is annoyed by the question as much as anything. To him the answer is obvious: whatever Orga’s are.

However, this in turn begs the question: What if there were no Orga to answer the question for Mikazuki? What if, for the first time in years, he had to make choices for himself all on his own? What if he had to actually discover what he wants from life?

Image Source: GundamInfo on YouTube

For these questions to be answered, Orga has to die—and that’s exactly why it’s fantastic for the story as a whole that he did. With his death, Mikazuki can finally move into the final stage of his own character development: discovering for himself who he truly is as an individual in the final days of a civil war.

The second season of Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans is streaming with English subtitles on Daisuki, Crunchyroll, and GUNDAM.INFO’s official YouTube channel.

Comments (7)
  1. That scene broke my heart. This shows love to play with my emotions. For that reason, this has become my favorite show within the Gundam series.

  2. I was crying when Orga died! It really hurt my feelings! But you are right: what will Mikazuki do how? How will he act? I can’t help but think McGillis had something to do with this, because he was practically trying to coax Mikazuki to join him in fighting Rustal and his forces. He knew they would be a force to be reckoned with, but Orga was literally the boy’s ‘leash’. I’m definitely curious as to seeing how he will react next week! He just might go nuts!

  3. This is great. Well done.
    Someone on IBOs staff basically said the same thing regarding Mikazuki. With these final 2 episodes mikazuki will learn to look at the world in a different way.
    Let’s see how they go about this.

  4. This is the best Gundam show since “Gundam Wings” in the 90’s

  5. And here I thought Wing, Zeta, Victory and 00 were very good and Seed S1 was the best. But with a new head writer, IBO ripped my heart out and made me screamed FUCK at the top of my lungs. Looking forward for only 2 eps left to see if Mari Okada (writer) and Tatsuyuki Nagai (director) deserves to stand besides the grand daddy Tomino.

  6. Listen Mikazuki… Don’t forget. Believe in yourself. Not in the you who believes in me. Not the me who believes in you. Believe in the you who believes in yourself.

  7. I don’t think he’s dead.. I think he’s gonna be. Out of commission it will make the story better

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