In Mobile Suit Gundam, often there is one character that garners hatred from the fanbase no matter what season. For this season of Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans, we have that one central hated figure. Iok Kujan is undeniably the most hated character so far in the show and you can ask a lot of fans and they will give you multiple reasons why. Yet many do hate the life out of Iok, this type of character has been used before. Many people watch characters like these just for that moment in which they receive their comeuppance, aka hate watching. So as much as I myself hate Iok in a similar passion, I’ll be tackling the ways in which Iok Kujan is one of the best things to happen in Iron-Blooded Orphans.
This will be spoiling elements of the second season until episode 40, so you are warned if you haven’t caught up in Iron-Blooded Orphans.
So first off who is Iok Kujan? He is one of the Gjallerhorn heads, a lesser one at that comparatively to his idol Rustal and the candy man McGillis. Gjallerhorn is the corporation which watches over Earth and space, kind of like a space militia. When compared to those two characters in Gjallerhorn, Iok has a lot to prove but not in the sense of power oddly enough. Usually you see one character outside of the two sides try to destroy the two sides, yet Iok heavily favours Rustal as his superior and wants to do anything he can in order to help him get one over on McGillis.
This is where Iok seems to make all of his mistakes, he is a minnow swimming amongst sharks. Whereas Rustal and McGillis have huge plans and understand the minutia of the Gjallerhorn power structure, Iok is oblivious to it almost completely. He is someone who has gained power through being born into it, but without the capacity to utilize power properly. He doesn’t come off as someone who abuses his wealth and status for personal glory though, which makes his actions a little bit more erratic. He wants approval above all else, he wants Rustal senpai to notice him. He is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen and here we see where his ineptitude truly comes to light.
Iok Kujan is a tragic character. Not to say that he is a character worth pitying for those who deeply despise him, but Iok Kujan is a troubled sort of soul. Iok wants acceptance in his life for whatever reason and sees Rustal, the head family of Gjallerhorn, to be the one who can give him just that. Therefore he makes leaps in logic into trying to predict what an intelligent and calculating man like Rustal would do. For all extents and purposes, Iok Kujan is a foolish tragic character. The one who we can see everything they do as foolish and lacking of common sense, yet never manages to see their own folly. Iok wants something so bad, but I bet in the end he will never achieve it. He is a man out of his element, playing a game with dangerous circumstances yet he never seems to understand the gravity of them.
Iok hunts down McGillis for the sole purpose of helping Rustal, but when he tracks McGillis to Mars he sets loose one of the dangerous machines of old. Iok thought McGillis was trying to obtain the seat of Rustal’s family at the head of Gjallerhorn through an old tradition, when in fact McGillis was merely trying to stop the machine from ever awakening. Through Iok’s convoluted logic of an old Gjallerhorn tradition, he almost helped to unleash a terror that could’ve eradicated a planet. Then almost ruins the plan McGillis thought up to destroy it by attempting to destroy it himself and failing. Iok sacrifices all of his men that he went to Mars with, just because he tried to play the game of Gjallerhorn for Rustal.
Iok not only stopping there, is being used by another party in order to kill off the Turbines because of some convoluted reasoning that any logical person could see as them being used. Iok however believes this to be the smartest route and hunts and kills the Turbines, even as their civilians are escaping he fires on them anyways. He justifies killing civilians because he needs to be ruthless to stand beside Rustal. He somehow survives a suicide run to kill him in this instance by the person dying before they had the chance to deliver the final blow by staying on course. Iok is literally a cat with nine lives that won’t die no matter how bad he fails or how cowardly he acts.
Yet there is no instance in which we as the audience are supposed to see Iok as anything but a fool. Again let’s take fool out of the context of Shakespeare, where there is an understanding and ironic wisdom to the character played out in a comedic fashion, Iok is purely foolish as a characteristic. Tragic for all the wrong reasons, Iok Kujan manages to be someone who causes devastation the more he hunts after his unreachable goal. Killing off many characters under the guise of his greatness, Iok is often pulled along by other agendas into doing horrible mistakes that have powerful repercussions. He is the reason why innocent lives are ended in harsh fashion and purely earns the vitriol of all who watch the series polarizing Rustal’s side for the audience.
That is why Iok Kujan is a stroke of brilliance in character writing. It truly is hard to make a singular character hateable yet also drives you to want to see them fall. Iok while pitiable in his attempts to garner recognition in life, is often overwhelmed by the terrible acts he commits under his ambition. He embodies the truth behind the corruption of Gjallerhorn the original season was trying to showcase, but does it in a way that makes the character still believable. Iok was someone given immense power through his upbringing alone, gaining his title purely because he was born into it rather than earning it. Rustal is at the very least a very competent strategist and understands the Gjallerhorn power game quite well.
In a way one could say he is one of the best characters to hate watch for how horrible he is but how tragic a character many don’t want to acknowledge because he is that horrible. Iok embodies a lot of skepticism of the elite aristocracy in the olden days of the real world being born into a title or merely having good enough connections. His casual clothes when discussing with Jasper are quite reminiscent of those found in the more colonial days of Britain and the like. He is living in luxury, yet never satisfied with merely have wealth and power. Iok is a character who surprisingly enough is one of the most compelling characters to watch in Iron-Blooded Orphans for the sole purpose of hate watching him. He has created a backlash on forums for his stupidity and utter gall to reject surrender flares from fleeing civilians. In a way this is a complete stroke of brilliance being up there with such characters like King Joffrey in Game of Thrones. There is a believability to him that desires looking into more as the show persists, yet I think this post was needed in order to see just how crucial he is to the success of Iron-Blooded Orphans 2nd Season.
After watching the more recent episode of Iron-Blooded Orphans and seeing the pure vitriol of the viewers in message boards, I knew I needed to make this post. Iok is by far one of the most hated characters in modern anime, especially with how he makes the new series work well as more of a tragedy. Space Operas try to use characters like Iok, but it is hard to accurately convey a character like him well enough to garner this much hate. So what do you think of Iok Kujan? Do you succumb to hate watching? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have a great day!