Not spoiler free so...
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is the third Gundam series I have watched after Seed and 00, and as much as I have only watched two, I got the "gist" of the franchise's different plots for its series. But boy was I surprised with this one.
Let me start off with the story. The complexity of it aside, it's basically another anime about an overpowered protagonist and a selfless man of dreams. We'd usually get the two in the same package but the creator/s decided to make a team of two this time. From start to finish, the anime's plot was an absolute roller coaster of extreme ups and downs where you just really start to wonder about its direction and how it's going to get where it's supposed to. In the end, the destination of the plot was understandable and, in a way, realistic. But it certainly doesn't justify the amount of deaths we see in this anime, and most, if not all, in vain. The plot was, all in all, good, but definitely not great if it leaves me feeling a little frustrated and unsatisfied, although many would find it quite unique.
The art, however, was absolutely fantastic for an anime of its genre. The fight scenes were amazing and fluid, character designs were on point, backgrounds were detailed, the design of the anime's technology is basically what you would expect from a Gundam anime. Well, the art is the same of what I can say about other animes of its time.
Sound was amazing as well, especially the OST, as expected of the man behind the music of Your Lie in April and Plastic Memories. Each piece of music fits the scenes so well that I was compelled to listen to the individual pieces online.
Ah, the characters. I'm going to keep this short or I'll end up ranting for paragraphs on end.
So, we have the main characters, Mikazuki Augus and Orga Itsuka. Two very different personalities but somehow work as the leading duo of the anime. One is a born leader and the next is his born follower. Orga's drive to keep moving on is Mikazuki, and Mikazuki's drive is Orga. Of the two, the only one who actually earns obvious character development from this mutual relationship is Orga. Mikazuki is like a finished painting that doesn't exactly need more details, but to display it, it needs some sort of support. Orga is that support, or his "trigger" more like. Whatever Orga wants from him, he does it without question. As characters, I actually like their relationship as a duo. I don't think I've ever watched an anime with such main characters as them until this.
Next, the supporting characters. We have the sort of stereotypical ragtag group of friends who consider themselves a family, which is Tekkadan in this case. Nothing special to say but they were all basically great as supporting characters for the plot, as much as some of their deaths hit me like a tonne of bricks. The Gjallarhorn guys also played their parts well as the antagonists. But one special mention is McGillis, whose presence in the anime is actually what led to the sort of ending the anime had, which just goes to say that, as much as McGillis was made to be involved with the main characters of the show, it didn't erase the fact that his intentions can be deemed "evil" from a certain perspective and so died as a result of playing the anti-protagonist role.
Truthfully, I can't say that I didn't enjoy this anime. It was great and I would probably watch it over, only it would be years from now when I have completely forgotten the plot just so I can experience it all over again, but who can really forget an unforgettable anime like this?
Overall, IBO is a great, imperfect anime with a few downfalls, but great nonetheless.