|Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai|
Music by Masaru Yokoyama
Licensed by Sunrise
|Written by Mari Okada|
|Genre Drama, Mecha, Military science fiction|
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム 鉄血のオルフェンズ, Hepburn: Kidō Senshi Gandamu Tekketsu no Orufenzu), also referred to as G-Tekketsu (Gの鉄血), is a 2015 Japanese mecha anime series and the fourteenth installment in Sunrise's long-running Gundam franchise. It is directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai and written by Mari Okada, a team which previously collaborated on Toradora! and Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. It aired in Japan on MBS and other JNN stations from October 4, 2015 to March 27, 2016. making this the first Gundam series to return to a Sunday late afternoon time slot since Mobile Suit Gundam AGE. A second season premiered on October 2, 2016. The series follows the exploits of a group of juvenile soldiers who establish their own security company after rebelling against the adults who betrayed them on a futuristic, terraformed Mars.
Iron-Blooded Orphans deals with several real-life problems such as war, slavery, child soldiers, poverty, corruption and neo-colonialism. The series's catchphrase is "The sustenance of life is on the battlefield." (いのちの糧は、戦場にある。, Inochi no kate wa, senjō ni aru.)
The year is Post Disaster 323. More than 300 years after a great war between Earth and Outer colonies known as the "Calamity War", Mars has been successfully terraformed and colonized by humans. However, even with the technological advancements, the humans on Mars crave freedom against the government of Earth and seek to improve their livelihoods. Furthermore, while most of Mars' nations have received autonomy, the planet is virtually dependent on Earth for economic development with many living in impoverished conditions.
Kudelia Aina Bernstein, a Martian Noblewoman, employs the civilian security company Chryse Guard Security (CGS) to transport her to Earth to negotiate the independence of her nation, Chryse, from Earth. But the Earth Military organization, Gjallarhorn, attacks CGS in an attempt to halt the Martian independence movement. During the attack, Orga Itsuka, the leader of the Third Army Division within CGS, which is composed of children, decides to rebel against the adult higher-ups who had escaped and left the child and teen foot-soldiers to fight and die as disposable decoys. As all hope seems lost, a young orphan under Orga's command named Mikazuki Augus enters the battle, piloting a hastily repaired mobile suit: the legendary Gundam Barbatos. After repealing Gjallarhorn's attack, Orga and the rest of the Third Army Division dispose of the adult higher-ups who betrayed them and take control of CGS, refounding it as the mercenary company "Tekkadan".
In Tekkadan's first job, they accept to escort Kudelia to Earth for her to take part in the negociations with the government of Arbrau, the superpower that rules over Chryse. However, Gjallarhorn's contnuous attempts to stop theis progress leads Tekkadan to join forces with Teiwaz, a business conglomerate that operates around Jupiter. Under Teiwaz's protection and assisted in secret by McGillis Fareed, one of the top echelons of Gjallarhorn with is own agenda, Tekkadan sucessfully takes Kudelia to Earth, and safely escorts her to Arbrau's capital where she sucessfully negociates more economic freedom for Mars, while McGillis takes advantage of their success to overthrow his own adoptive father and bolster his position in the organization.
Some years later, Tekkadan establishes itself as a proeminent military company, while Kudelia establishes a mining company in Chryse, working to improve the inhabitants' conditions and McGillis moves forward with his agenda to reform Gjallarhorn. However, one of Gjallarhorn's factions opposing him, the Arianhod Fleet starts working in the shadows to sabotage both McGillis and Tekkadan, leading both to join forces against them, with McGillis promising that once he manages to take full control of Gjallarhorn, he will transfer all authority over Mars to Tekkadan, making them the de facto rulers of the planet.
The series was first teased by Sunrise through a new teaser site for the series, with a countdown to reveal the new main Mobile Suit on July 15, 2015. As it was only referred to as G-Tekketsu, the details for the new lead Gundam was shown day by day until the full reveal at Sunrise and Bandai's press conference. Following the official unveiling of the series, Sunrise plans for a new wave of merchandise for the series, including Gunpla kits and video game tie-ins. A second Promotional video was then revealed, confirming the voice actors for the series's main cast. The series ran for 25 episodes. During the end credits of episode 25, a second season was confirmed.
For episodes 24 and 25, the battle in Edmonton in the fictional state of Arbrau features backgrounds based on actual locations of the city in Alberta, Canada.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans premiered in Japan on MBS and TBS in October 4, 2015 Sunday at 5:00 PM, replacing The Heroic Legend of Arslan on its initial timeslot. It is the first Gundam series to return on the late afternoon schedule since Mobile Suit Gundam AGE. Sunrise announced that the series will be streamed worldwide on YouTube via the Gundam.Info Channel, Funimation Channel, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Daisuki. On October 9, 2015, Sunrise announced at their panel at New York Comic Con that the anime will get an English dub to be produced by Bang Zoom! Entertainment. On May 12, 2016, Turner Broadcasting announced the series will begin airing on Adult Swim's Toonami block on June 4, 2016.
Bandai Visual released the first volume of the series in both Blu-ray and DVD on December 24, 2015, containing a serial code for Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Force to obtain the Gundam Barbatos.
Following the conclusion to the anime's 25th episode, it was announced that a second season will premiere in the fall of 2016.
A manga adaptation by Kazuma Isobe will begin its serialization in the December Issue of Gundam Ace on October 26, 2015. A Side Story manga titled "Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Steel Moon" (Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム 鉄血のオルフェンズ 月鋼, Hepburn: Kidō Senshi Gandamu Tekketsu no Orufenzu Gekkō) is launched in both Hobby Japan and Gundam Ace on June 2016.
The soundtrack is composed by Masaru Yokoyama, who previously did the soundtrack for Nobunaga The Fool and Freezing.
The first season's opening theme song is titled "Raise your flag", performed by Man with a Mission, while the ending theme is "Orphans no Namida" performed by Misia and co-written by Shiro Sagisu. From episode 14 onwards, the opening theme is "Survivor" by Blue Encount, while the ending theme is titled "STEEL -Tekketsu no Kizuna-" (STEEL-鉄血の絆-, STEEL -tekketsu no kizuna-, "STEEL -Iron Blooded Bonds-") by TRUE. The ending theme for episode 19 is "Senka no Tomoshibi" (戦火の灯火, "Lamplight of War") by Yuko Suzuhana.
First used as the end track of episode 26, "RAGE OF DUST" by Spyair is the opening theme beginning with episode 27, while the ending theme for episodes 27 and following is "Shōnen no Hate" (少年の果て, "Childhood's End") by Granrodeo. From episode 39 onward, the opening theme is "Fighter" by Kana-Boon while the ending is "Freesia" performed by Uru.
The series's titular mobile suit (1st form) first appeared on the PlayStation Vita game Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Force through the first Blu-ray volume serial code. The mobile suit (4th form) will also appear in the PlayStation 4 game Gundam Breaker 3 and the Arcade Game Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxi Boost ON. Later, Gundam Kimaris Trooper is added in the game's expansion pack.
Merchandising of the series will be officially linked to Bandai's long running Gunpla model line and related collectable merchandise. Both the High Grade and 1/100 scale models of the titular mecha, Gundam Barbatos, were unveiled during the press conference and both stated for a Fall 2015 release, alongside the standard and commander versions of the HG Graze and weapon packs for the main mobile suit. A NXEDGE Style version of the Gundam Barbatos was also revealed.
The series received mostly positive reviews from critics. Anime News Network's Nick Creamer gave a series a 4 out 5 stars, saying that "After watching half a dozen premiers that just wouldn't stop with the exposition, it sure is nice to watch a show that actually has confidence in its own storytelling. Iron-Blooded Orphans hits the ground running, establishing its world in the natural conversations of its many characters." but he criticized that "Mari Okada's an inconsistent writer, but definitely a talented one, and given the focus of a traditional Gundam-style opening, her gift for illustrating character shines through." Zac Bertschy gave the series a 4.5 for the first episode, saying "Iron-Blooded Orphans has a lot of moving parts, but it's only deceptively complex; this episode starts out confusing (due to the relatively haphazard way they introduce all the various factions and the sizable cast) but as it goes on it all becomes very clear". He also adds "Instantly likable characters, desperate battles, a broad science fiction story about a colony struggling for independence, giant robots and even a Char-like smooth-talking pretty boy weirdo who's working with the bad guys; what's not to love?"
However, the series has received some harsh criticism from the Japanese Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization, regarding the harsh themes and depictions of child soldiers in the anime. They also stated that "several nonresistant prisoners and enemy soldiers are gunned down by the young male protagonist. If you look at the title, one would immediately think of this as a children's show and that many children would be watching.", referring to one scene in Episode 3, and that "If you want to broadcast such material, please provide some sort of age limit for viewers."