“It’s Gundam, bad things happen” is how Cherami Lee, voice actress for Kudelia Aina Bernstein puts it. The English voice cast of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans appeared at Anime NYC this past weekend along with producer Masakazu Ogawa. During their panel discussion, the anime cast and crew discussed their reaction to Iron-Blooded Orphans and the dark twists ahead.
Gundam is notorious for its bloody and bittersweet endings. When not showing off cool mechs (that are available in stores to buy as toys) Gundam is a complex war series. Villains have believable motivations so have won over large fanbases. The tragedy comes when the well-crafted characters on one side collide with the well-crafted characters on the other. So while not spoiling too much for Iron-Blooded Orphans as it is still airing on Toonami, things are about to get much, much darker.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Pulling off a show like Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is a difficult balance. The characters are very young so they must feel authentic. Yet they have to fight in a brutal war where anybody they know might die. For characters like the central hero, Mikazuki Augus (Kyle McCarley), any childlike innocence of their character has already disappeared. Other characters, like Ride Mass (Amanda C. Miller), are pushed into growing up far too fast.
Cherami Leigh noted how her character Kudelia was adept at dealing with adults. She’s already a solid politician at a very young age. Yet Kudelia is adorably flustered around people her own age, particularly Mikazuki. Sure, Mars is fighting a desperate battle for independence, but Kudelia still doesn’t know how to process her first kiss. Teenagers are still teenagers, no matter what the circumstances.
The actors also noted that as adults, they had lost a kind of innocence that the characters of Iron-Blooded Orphans still have. The characters on Mars can still be idealistic and believe in major change. Cherami Leigh learned from her character that “We need to keep our optimism alive because the world can be a dark place.”
Darkness to Come
Masakazu Ogawa explained that his plan for Iron-Blooded Orphans was to present a likable cast in Season 1, then hit the fans with the tragedy in Season 2. Gundam fans have been here before, so they should know to prepare for the worst. The future is so devastating that one of the voice actresses couldn’t believe a line her character is supposed to say in an upcoming episode. She had to ask the voice acting director if the script was correct. It was.
Despite how sad events will become, Iron-Blooded Orphans is not just brutal for brutality’s sake. Ogawa and his team designed this show to be a commentary on child warfare, which is an actual problem in the real world. Mikazuki and his fellows in Tekkadan fight shirtless. But this isn’t fan service, it’s a note on their poverty; they can’t afford uniforms.
Iron-Blooded Orphans is not the kind of show that will end happily. But there is inspiration to draw from the lives of characters who will undoubtedly fall before the end.
The second season is currently airing on Toonami. Season 1 has just been released on BluRay and DVD this month by Funimation.