This is first and foremost a Gundam series that breaks the mold of the Gundam franchise. With that said, it was too ambitious for its own good. Iron Blooded Orphans removes the complex gray line that is war the past series had. It is straightforward plot where the good guys beat the bad guys in a one sided race. They even have the theme of "family" embedded in the story which falls off on its own with so many cannon fodders within their group. There's nothing that's really holding the members together except the few members that actually get screen time, bu even for them their bond feels weak and shallow.
The characters are bland without any kind of unique and realistic character trait, yet they had the audacity to base the personality and development of a certain character on her FLASHBACK/BACKSTORY before getting rid of her.
The main character had less emotions and development, besides him being implied as a genius mobile suit pilot. I have no problem with cool and calm characters most of the time, but Mikazuki takes it to a whole new level that his actions can barely speak for themselves. This kid is implied to be a genius mobile suit pilot acting on his instincts, given his talents, the rest of his crew just stand back while he does all the work. Sure he had his friends behind his back, but they never really stood out so much to be actually relevant to what's happening around them or the story itself. Specifically for Akihiro's pointless and avoidable character arc that didn't really contribute to further the plot but was only there for emphasizing the exposition that we already knew about from the beginning of the series.
Comparing Alfred(0080) to the main heroine, Kudelia is just insulting Al, but this is the most appropriate comparison between the same character trope. Simply put, they're both naive kids. However, in Kudelia's case she tries so hard that she thinks her beliefs are pointing the right direction, it actually becomes more annoying compared to Alfred who was acting like a normal and realistic child that was unaware of the effects of war. To be fair, she gets the most character development within the series, and she does become more mature throughout, but the way they executed that transition of her character was the issue. her growth was like a snap of a finger after a few main events of the series.
From the Universal Century Timeline, we had Bright, an outstanding and well respected leader that picks his battles and makes sure his strategies will work using his mobile suit pilots and the rest of the ship's crew(except during ZZ). Orga on the other hand, just throws Mika out the ship and hopes he beats the enemies in a single blow. EVERY SINGLE TIME.
At first, I had high hopes for this series, it looked good. The mecha designs weren't the blocky aesthetic the past series had, there were no beam weapons in sight, the art was fresh and wild. Only to be disappointed as the story went on. By the end of the series the only good things I got from this were the Gundam Gusion( not Rebake....definitely not Rebake) and the Gundam Kimaris. I found myself rooting for the main antagonists by the end of the series because of how stupid the main characters handled things.
Season 2 is coming out soon so I thought I'd review the 1st half in hopes that the next one will make things right.