I haven't found anime I have been willing to talk about in a long time. A few of you guys know that I am huge on Gundam (even the bad series). However, I wanted to spread the solid writing, animation, and pacing about MSG: Iron-Blooded Orphans.
The basic premise of Iron-Blooded Orphans centers around child soldiers who are thrust into an interplanetary struggle between the Mars independence movement and the existing Earth government. The child soldiers work for a private military company, CGS. CGS receives a contract to transport Kudelia Aina Bernstein, the daughter of the represented of the Mars autonomous region, to Earth to achieve Martian independence.
Kudelia is the leader of the independence movement due to her upbringing; however, Gjallarhorn, the military organization in charge of Earth unity and the true masters of Mars, has no intention of allowing her to reach Earth to do so as it may disrupt the profitable resource mining venture that Earth has on the Mars.
The story involves two of these child soldiers, Orga and Mikazuki, and their fellow soldiers who get tangled up in this conflict. However, they are intent on seeing the job through, and struggle to get Kudelia to Earth. In particular, it involves Mikazuki's use of the Gundam Barbatos, which was being used for its generator (a special reactor that could only be developed by Gjallarhorn).
Like many other Gundam series before it, Iron-Blooded Orphans starts in its own universe, which is called Post Disaster. The calendar is called so due to the fact that 300 years ago from the time of the beginning of the anime series, a great war between Earth and Mars, the "Calamity War" finally ended, leading the successful terraforming and colonization of Mars by humans. During the war, mobile suits were used extensively; however, 72 special mobile suits, the Gundams, were designed and built to put a stop the war.
Once hostilities ceased, Mars was subdivided between the various Earth governing regions under spheres of influence where each region had rights to extract resources. However, it also became necessary to bring in labor and security. As a result, children born on the Martian soil were used as soldiers and labor.
Gjallarhorn monitors the Ariadne lines, lanes of traffic between Mars and Earth, with a heavy military presence in space. They also recruit Martian children to act as their military outfit watching Mars. As a result, smugglers and extra-legal ventures can't utilize these lanes and must travel under heavy guard of PMCs as well as navigation companies. This gives rise to space piracy, and also the capture of slaves, named "Human Debris."
All the while, Earth enjoys the benefits of plentiful resources from Mars without harming the environment on their planet.
With all the background information laid out, I have to say that this show has a really good pace. Most Gundam series tend to be a little heavy with their mobile suit toss, because Bandai wants to sell you gunpla. However, this series is more subtle. Though it does introduce new mobile suits, thus far it hasn't been ridiculous like Gundam Seed or 00.
But the one thing I really love about the pacing is that the writers and producers have managed to set up the timing of when to the ending theme:
The show's balance comes with a lot of character development in between with a few fights between the main Gundam and a number of factions the child soldiers run into.
I will say that the 24-26minute run time of each episode is not wasted on useless details; however, I do have reservations about the "enemy of the week" attitude that Gundam series tend to suffer from. Though, in the case of Iron-Blooded Orphans, it's every 2 weeks or so after the first two episodes.
Finally, they do a lot of 180s on typical TV tropes if you like to watch that.
If you loved the original universal century, I would recommend watching this. It is currently on a weekly run and on Episode 11.