One of the more interesting Gundam series in recent years is that of Iron-Blooded Orphans. A bleak and militarily honest anime, it takes more cues from Ryosuke Takahashi anime than classic Gundam and the results have been nothing short of spectacular. The main Gundam in the series is the Gundam Barbatos and Bandai has finally graced us with a very nice Robot Damashii figure of the design.
There are lots of big differences that set Iron-Blooded Orphans apart from regular Gundam shows. For one, the mobile suits are almost relics of a three hundred year old war, and for another, there are no beam weapons. The result of all this gives the mobile suits a mysterious vibe and forces much of the combat to work in close quarters with heavy blunt weapons.
The reason Ryosuke Takahashi has a lot to answer for this series is that it takes a lot of inspiration from Fang of the Sun Dougram rather than classic Gundam. The titular Iron-Blooded Orphans are all Martian child soldiers and thoroughly expendable with it. What’s more, the combat in Iron-Blooded Orphans still relies on infantry and an updated form of tank.
In that sense, the use of mobile suits consequently become quite terrifying as these are clearly preposterously powerful weapons.
The Gundam Barbatos itself is one of 72 Gundam frames from the Calamity War that occurred 300 years prior to the start of the series. Equipped with two Ahab reactors, it’s a very fast and powerful mobile suit. What makes it unique in the series is that in order to pilot it, Mikazuki Augus has to directly interface with the mobile suit.
In prior Gundam shows, you often have a core theme of the real potency being in the pilots themselves and not the mecha. In the original Gundam this manifested as Newtypes, the next stage of human evolution and able to call upon a nascent form of telepathy. The result was that these pilots could read any enemy pilot’s intents before an attack and avoid it accordingly. This made Newtypes very powerful and quite mysterious within the narrative.
In Iron-Blooded Orphans there is something similar at work. Called the Alaya-Vijnana System, through various surgical operations at a young age pilots plug themselves directly into whatever they control via sockets along their spine. The result is that not only does it make the need for training on complex vehicles irrelevant but it drastically increases reaction time.
While this is standard for the mobile worker type tanks the characters use, on mobile suits it becomes problematic as the sheer scale of the mecha can be overwhelming.
What makes the Barbatos interesting though is that it uses the Alaya-Vijnana System and as such makes it an incredibly powerful mobile suit.
This means any toys or kits of the design need to have some pretty epic articulation and this Robot Damashii figure does not disappoint on that front. Based on the fourth, or original, iteration of the mobile suit Bandai has done an excellent job on making this design come to life.
The review will go up shortly, so keep an eye out for that!