The low ebb for the episode was dispensed with pretty early – that scene with the nude blonde on the phone did for Engrish what the infamous walking scene in episode 3 did for animation. Achingly, heart-stoppingly bad – but somehow it sorts of fits with the amateur-hour earnestness of this show. Sometimes it’s funny unintentionally, but Senshogear is never boring. We had a little of everything this week – S & M, bondage, gore, bad singing and xenophobia, just for starters. Put in the blender, and it somehow comes out delicious.
It’s been just about a weekly occurrence to point out some series or another that Senshogear reminds me of if, but it really felt like Gurren Lagann to me this week. Hell, even the title cards are right out of TTGL – I don’t know how I didn’t catch that before – and the GAR level is rising rapidly with each passing episode. We kicked right off with a continuation of Hibiki’s training with Genjurou, with paid dividends later in the episode, and built on that. Senshogear also has that same sense of not being afraid to present extremely dark material cut through with extremely silly comedy, which is hard to pull off but rather intoxicating when it works.
The politics of the situation with the Second Branch seem to be moving into an ever-more prominent role as the show progresses. In addition to the issues with the nasty old USA being after their relics, we got a nice dig at the EU this week with the revelation that they traded the powerful relic Durandal to Japan in exchange for a promise to forgive certain debts “if the EU defaults”. Meow! There’s some very weird stuff going on with that relic, and Ryouko is in the middle of all of it. In fact she may be in the middle of more than that, as there are very strong hints that she was the sadistic blonde who was happily torturing poor Chris in the nude (the blonde, not Chris). She’s promised Chris something in return for her cooperation – just what we don’t know yet – but Chris has made the inevitable transition from enemy to victim sooner than I’d expected.
Ryouko is also almost certainly involved in the death of the Defense Minister, apparently one of the few in the government who doesn’t look at Second Branch as a necessary evil at best, and an embarrassment at worst. She returns from a meeting with him with a bloody attaché case full of top secret government orders to move the relic Durandal to the giant vault underneath parliament (LOL) just as the news breaks that he’s been assassinated (by English-speaking attackers, as it happens) and she’s in the process of moving the relic when she and Hibiki are attacked the Chris and her pet Noise. Exactly just how much of a traitor Ryouko is isn’t clear yet, but she’s certainly a double-agent at the very least. It’s also clear that Hibiki is highly compatible with the rare intact relic, going into Black Hibiki mode and kicking some serious Noise ass.
One aspect of Senshogear that I’m immensely enjoying is just how far outside the realms of the normal sci-fi action hero – boy or girl, take your pick – Hibiki is. I love the fact that she doesn’t sing in a slick and professional voice, and I love the fact that she’s getting stronger realistically – she certainly took something of value away from her training with Genjurou, but she still tripped over her own feet and had to break the heels of her combat boots to be able to fight. Of all the girl leads elbowing for space in the sci-fi segment this season Hibiki is my favorite, and the best combination of genki optimism and genuine angst. In fact, I could make that same statement about my feelings for the show as a whole.