’THE LAST FLAG’, an event to commemorate the end of the Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans series, of which Yu Ito designed the characters, was held on 2 April 2017 at Nakano Sun Plaza Hall in Tokyo. This report will cover the matinee event.
The 50th episode of the series was screened in the hall ahead of its TV broadcast and the fans watched the fate of the boys with tears in their eyes. After the screening, host Minoru Shiraishi, along with voice actors Kengo Kawanishi (who voiced Mikazuki Augus), Yoshimasa Hosoya (Orga Itsuka), Yasuaki Takumi (Akihiro Altland), Taishi Murata (Norba Shino), Hisako Kanemoto (Atra Mixta), Mutsumi Tamura (Ride Mass), Masaya Matsukaze (Gaelio Bauduin) as well as Tatsuyuki Nagai (series director) and Masakazu Ogawa (series producer) appeared on stage and each greeted the fans. Hosoya and Kawanishi spoke to each other, with Hosoya (as Orga) saying ‘Can you do it for me, Mika?’ Kawanishi gave Mika’s never-changing reply ‘I’ll do anything you order,’ and then the event kicked off with everybody shouting ‘Raise your Flag!’
A video message from Yuichiro Umehara (Eugene Sevenstark) and Yuka Terasaki (Kudelia Aina Bernstein) played on-screen. ‘I didn’t expect Eugene to survive until the 50th episode,’ confessed Umehara. Terasaki recalled, ‘At first I was convinced that Kudelia and Atra were two separate heroines, but since watching the last episode I’ve realized that together they are one heroine.’ In the following video, Takahiro Sakurai (McGillis Fareed) recalled the series by saying, ‘My heart ached with sorrow at the end of the series. The ending entails hope for the future, which is a very Gundam-like ending and gave me a bittersweet feeling.’ Borrowing McGillis’ line as a message to the fans, he said ‘Today is a special day. Forget everything, even your pending fates, and enjoy yourselves.’
The Tekkadan Orchestra, led by IBO music composer Masaru Yokoyama, performed the main theme music from the first and second seasons. The cast members then performed a scene that had been newly-written by scriptwriter Mari Okada. In the play, Orga, Akihiro, and Shino recall the time when Shino and Akihiro were appointed as the leaders of the 1st and 2nd Working Units by Orga. The next play featured Akihiro, Shino, Atra, and Ride recalling the time when Ride disclosed his wish for kids in Tekkadan and the orphanage to eat sweets whenever they wanted and as much as they liked. Ride expressed how happy he was when Orga patted his head in Season 1 Episode 9 ‘Sakazaki’, in which Ride set aside sweets for the younger members of the Tekkadan.
Kawanishi and Kanemoto read the scene about ‘the existence of parents’ and ‘the name of the child’. Matsukaze performed the scene of him talking to Ein Dalton just before confronting McGillis, revealing what exchanges had been made at the time. Furthermore, Kawanishi and Hosoya appeared on stage to talk about Orga’s dream, in which members of Tekkendan: Biscuit, Takaki, and Aston, cultivated corn and celebrated one of the members’ birthday at Sakura’s farm. Mikazuki told Orga about the dream he himself had, then revealing his desires: ‘Although there are things that never come back to us, I will make his dream come true.’ The line brought tears to the fans. With the audience still feeling emotional, Uru appeared on stage as a secret guest and sang ‘Freesia’, the second ending song of the second season.
The event had reached its final phase, and the cast members plus Nagai and Ogawa reappeared on stage. They called in Genki Muro, who voiced Derma Altland, as a secret guest. The fans were excited at his unexpected entrance; he was the center of attention at the ‘Tekkadan Rally’ which took place last December. Muro humbly introduced himself and apologized, ‘You must have expected someone different as a guest, though I’m afraid it’s me.’ His modest personality made the fans smile. They discussed memorable lines and Takumi replayed Akihiro’s line to Derma, ‘Thank you for surviving, Derma Altland’ from Episode 46 ‘For Whom?’.
At the end of the event, Ogawa addressed the fans, ‘I have hopes for producing an anime set during the time between Seasons 1 and 2, as well as when they were happy.’ The comment fans’ expectations for another season. Murata was wearing a T-shirt with an illustration of the 4th generation of Ryusei-Go, Gundam Fraulos, and a bandage over his left hand, which was reminiscent of the scene where Yamagi dressed Shino’s bandages in Episode 45 ‘If This is the End’. He talked about his thoughts towards Shino, ‘Though Norba Shino was killed in such a way, we understand the reason why he wanted to protect Tekkadan.’
Hosoya revealed his view towards the series, ‘I appreciate every opinion towards the series whether it’s approval or criticism. Making Orphans made me realize that our works are to evoke reactions from the viewers, even if they are disturbing.’ Kawanishi said to the fans, ‘Although the TV series has ended, I believe there will be another chance to see you in some way. Please keep on believing and voicing your hopes.’
Cheers were heard throughout the venue as SPYAIR took to the stage as the last secret guest. They played the first opening theme song of the second season, ‘Rage of Dust,’ which boosted the atmosphere of the hall until the end. The cast and staff members reappeared on stage for the grand finale and took a ceremonial photograph. Everyone thanked the fans after their cues from Kawanishi and Hosoya. While leaving the stage, Takumi and Tamura, who voiced Akihiro and Ride from the Muscle Unit, showed their bodybuilding poses. Just before leaving the stage, Kawanishi and Hosoya recreated the scene in which Mikazuki and Orga bro-fisted.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Blu-ray/DVD Volume 4 and 5 will be released 21 April 2017.