It’s always fun to see a good old-fashioned samurai/ninja period piece, even if this one is aimed more at Higashi-Ikebukuro than Akihabara or the middle school. As always, Brave 10 is fun in it’s slightly gender-bending and silly way, with this week mostly being taken up with a fight between Saizou and Kamanosuke Yuri (Takagi Motoki) an outlaw ninja who lures Saizou and Isanami into his “trap” and proceeds to kidnap and torture her, mostly for the thrill of battle with Saizou and the sight of blood, it seems. But before that the cast is joined by Juzo Kakei (the always rock-solid Ryotaro Okiayu) the gruff and haughty vassal of Yukimura who joins Saizou and the priestess for their journey to Izumo. My favorite moment of the episode is the very funny bit at the beginning when Sasuke makes a gift of an owl to Isanami, causing Yukimura to remark on how smooth he is with the girls – to which Sasuke gives one of the better embarrassed reactions in a long while (that dude is really shy).
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 15
Congratulations, Emily – you’re officially the fallback girl.
There weren’t too many surprises in this wrapup to the first arc, but it was a solid episode on the whole. I’d say last week’s ep was definitely the dramatic peak, but it’s usually the case that the penultimate episode is the highlight. As pretty much everyone had guessed the UE were indeed humans – the remains of a failed Mars colonization projected (“Mars Birthday”) started 15 years earlier. When disease from mars magnetic radiation caused much of the population to sicken and die, the Earth authorities left the rest to die and covered the whole line up, which more or less leads us in a straight line to the present day.
I’m sure the interpretation of all this is an area where my lack of “Gundam” expertise will undercut me, but things seem pretty straightforward. What’s clear is that Flit and Grodek have left a generation of pissed-off UE kids behind to provide the opposition for Flit’s son – last week Flit didn’t finish off Desil, and Yark Dole’s angry son was left to fester and become an evil supervillain by Grodek (who was kind enough to predict it for the audience). I rather expected the UE would end up as not just enemies, but victims, though the big unknown is just what their master plan under the leadership of the still-unseen “Sir Ezelcant” will be. With Ambat destroyed and Grodek in prison as a traitor thanks to yet another coverup, the scene is fully set for the time skip which will take us to the next generation of heroes and villains, with Flit playing a supporting role. While the first arc was hit and miss and I’m not qualified to judge it against earlier Gundam-verse efforts, I found it generally enjoyable – the straightforward, boys adventure style and bright and clean animation provided a pleasant if unchallenging viewing experience.
Shakugan no Shana III – 15
“I’m sure the decision to fight isn’t wrong. I’m sure of it.” I’m glad you’re sure, Shana – because to be honest, I’m not…
Am I supposed to feel that way? Whether I am or not, I’m still not convinced that the God of Creation’s plan is necessarily the wrong path, and Centerhill’s explanation didn’t convince me. It’s an interesting philosophical debate if you divorce it from the weird technical details of the Shana-verse, but within those boundaries it’s still muddled – just in a different way. Frankly it sounds as if the Flame Haze and the four Earth Gods are fighting for its own sake, and an awful lot of people are dying in the process.
It was certainly interesting to see the mind games at play between the armies, as Sophie tried desperately to turn a rout back into a retreat. We finally had some name-character blood drawn of the side of the “good guys” with Centerhill and Sirocti sacrificing themselves to aid the escape. It doesn’t match all the top-level crimson lords that have died, but it’s a start. It was also interesting to see Sydonay get his hands dirty by actually getting involved in the fighting, thought he was suckered into a trap and sealed by Margery – off her ass and back in the fight at last. With the last several eps on the epic side in a big way, I think it might be time for something a little more reflective, and hopefully a deeper look at the issue of just why what Yuji has stakes his existence on is supposed to be such a terrible thing.