Believe it or not, I take no pleasure in the heaps of abuse Fam (the character, not the show) has been receiving lately. I really hoped she’d come around and vindicate her presence in the series.
The fully duality of Last Exile: Fam was on display this week. We had a very interesting and subtle opening half that dealt with the aftermath of the devastation in Glacies, and the growing political unrest in Ades. Following the eyecatch we had a Fam-centric second half that was every bit as stilted and clumsy as the first cour would have led you to expect. If the show has improved at all lately – and it has – it’s because “Fam” has focused more in the big picture, and in the interior scenes given more focus to Millia – hardly character of the year, but certainly the best of the three mains. But the reality is that Fam is the one with her name in the title, and the series is going to end up focusing in on her as it did this week – and take the whole show crashing down with it. I wouldn’t put this week’s drag race on a par with the infamous hockey match for sheer irritation, but it was weak – and the entire sequence surrounding Millia and her feelings about her sister was infected by the fact that no scene involving Fam seems to be capable of producing any depth or subtlety. I’m curious to see what’s going to happen with the revolt in Ades, what Luscinia is up to, and how having an Ades turncloak in their midst will help Glacies fight back. I’m surely interested in seeing what will happen with Millia gets to Anatoray. But as long as “Fam” has its titular anchor weighing it down, it can never really soar like Last Exile should.
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 16
That was certainly a brisk and bracing start to the second arc of “AGE”, full of new faces and old faces – old-looking, anyway – with new voices. Our time skip is 25 years, and Flit is now now a 40 year-old military commander with a new voice (Inoue Kazuhiko). He’s grown a bit of a soul patch and
settled for married Emily, who lives with their two kids on a horse farm while Dad plots his vengeance against the Vagans (formerly known as the UE). Flit seems like he turned out OK, but he does have that hatred thing going on, which seems to unsettle his attaché, Frederick Algreus (Koyasu Takehito). As for the two kids, that’s our new hero Asem (Eguchi Takuya) and kid sister Unoa (Oogame Asuka). Asem also has two pals in the “Mobile Suit Club”, Macil Voyd (sigh…Yuki Kaji) and Shawee (!) Belton (Ishii Kazutaka). This being Gundam, he has to have a love interest, and her name is Romary Stone – played by, you guessed it, Hanazawa Kana.
Things really began to hot up when Daddy Flit pays Asem a visit for hit 17th birthday, and makes a gift of the AGE system without telling his son what it is. Flit’s been keeping a lot of secrets from his son, including the fact that he’s been hiding the Gundam under the hay in the stable, under the watchful eye of Vargas who, despite surely being in his 80’s at least, still hops around like a pinball and eats like he should live in the stable himself. Soon after Flit leaves, a mysterious transfer student arrives – Zeheart Galette (Kamiya Hiroshi). I knew leaving Desil alive was going to bite Flit’s son, but it was nice of Zeheart to use his real name. And soon after he arrives, the Vagans attack the colony – and Vargas gently pushes a willing Asem into piloting the Gundam to defend his home.
It’s hard to say just yet how this arc is going to differ from the first. For his part, Asem is a little older than Flit was and seems a bit less angry and troubled – hardly surprising given the difference in their upbringing. We’re clearly going to have the added element of father-son conflict as a part of this arc, and I’m intrigued by the many shots in the ED that appear to show Asem, Zeheart and Romary happily doing fun and family-approved teen activities as friends. Since it’s clear from the ending of the first arc that the Vagans are victims no matter what that’s driven them to, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that generational conflict arise over the notion of a peace settlement with the Vagans, which Flit adamantly opposes but perhaps Asem (through friendship with Zeheart?) might support. Asem also seemed none too happy when he mused that “Dad wants me to be a soldier.”
Shakugan no Shana III – 16
OK, how cute was it that Marchosias was wearing his seat belt?
It was certainly time for a breather episode, time for the protagonists to reflect on “getting their asses kicked”, as Sophie put it. At least they had first class lounge passes at the Hong Kong airport, and that counts for a lot. I know Shana’s speech was supposed to be inspirational and all, but I must confess I’m still not sold on the reason for continuing this fight – it still seems like fighting for its own sake to me (which is ironic, as Sophie points out that many of the flame haze fled the field and won’t participate in Shana’a nebulous plan because they’ve been fighting for personal grudges all these millennia). Satou has rejoined the group for the final push – the exact nature of which we don’t know yet – as Sophie heads back to Zurich to take the fall for the defeat. And the others head off to New York to try and talk the three surviving Earth Gods into helping. Sounds like the plan is doomed without their help.
Looks like we may be in for a reflective period for a bit. The second ED is full of shots of long-forgotten S1 characters, and Yuji’s parents have made a reappearance in the story, with his Dad (Fujiwara Keiji, if you recall) crossing paths with her unnoticed in Hong Kong. The Snake of the Festival has announced he’s going to implement his Xanadu plan in Misaki City, where we head next week. Then there’s the ever-mysterious Lamies, as always playing both sides. We see that he gave Wilhelmina something called the Scroll of Secrets – which is vital to Shana’s plan – and that he has a meeting with SotF/Yuji in which some sort of new task is being given to him. And what of those three folks on the farm in the mountains, who’d just received a summons from Bal Masque – and who was it inhabiting the body of the postman who found them at the end?