The dynamic of AGE is definitely more interesting in this second round, with the added elements of the father-son relationship and the enemy now having names and faces – not to mention the hints that Romary (who should be Asemu’s future girl by the laws of Gundam dramatics) appears to have real feelings for Zaeheart. I’m not going to say the series has suddenly found brilliance, but it’s definitely found a groove that’s more engaging that what we’ve seen up to this point. I’d like to see a little more subtlety in the way these relationships are portrayed, and not have so much spelled out overtly by the dialogue (Woolf’s commentary while Asemu was in the simulator is a perfect example of the problem I’m referring to here). But this is broad material to begin with, so I’m not expecting miracles. I think the spine of the story as it currently exists is sufficiently interesting to carry the show forward from here.
A couple of new characters introduced this week – first, the maintenance mechanic Remi Ruth (Sakura Ayane), in charge of the Genoace II and likely participant in a future romantic side story. Second, it’s Rody Madorna (Morita Masakazu) son of the first arc’s elite flightsuit designer (this being Gundam, everyone must have a child involved in the plot, apparently) a young man who specializes in trading barbs with his old man and in designing mobile suit combat simulators. He’s built a rather good one around the data from Flit’s engagements in the AGE I, which gives Asemu an interesting opportunity to symbolically fight his father. Yes, it’s Oedipal impulses in the Gundam era, and it ties right in to the somewhat heavy-handed but still interesting fundamentals that are driving the second arc of the series.
Brave 10 – 09
Brave 10 is certainly getting better as it winds towards its conclusion – or whatever will pass for a conclusion in the adaptation, anyway. Now that the Ten Braves are assembled we get an idea of Sanada has had mind all along, courtesy of ink print displaying the ten roots that form the nature of all things – surrounding the light and darkness of yin and yang in the center. What constitutes darkness in Sanada’s mind comes as a surprise to Saizo, but Sanada is proved right by events later in the episode. The hitch in his plan is that one of his braves is actually a spy, and that’s Ana – though whether she’s working for Tokugawa or someone else isn’t clear yet. What is clear is that she’s after the secret in Rokuro’e eye, though he manages to thwart her attempt to steal it in rather grisly fashion.
I thought that was a really strong episode overall, maybe the best of the series thus far. The dramatic tension built steadily for the entirety of the ep and the big reveal about Isanami’s nature was handled quite well. What still isn’t known is just what Sanada’s ultimate goal is, though one assumes that he’s going to at least try and accomplish it without sacrificing Isanami or sending her back where she came from. I also wonder what happens now that Ana is off the team – was Sanada wrong about her being one of the ten roots, and if not does he need to replace her? Or will he try and win her over to the side of good? “Nine Braves” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Shakugan no Shana III – 21
I think a fatigue factor is setting in for me as this final season of “Shana” rumbles along towards its conclusion. There’s just so much fighting, so much killing, so much talking, so many names to remember and so many plots and plans and rules that sometimes seem to apply only when it’s convenient… It’s all too relentless. I think increasingly this is JC Staff throwing everything they can possibly cram into this last battle to please the novel fans. It’s probably working in that respect, bit for me the series peaked about three or four eps ago and has been steadily backsliding since.
So Sale is the Professor’s son, which is interesting. Shana’s plan is also interesting – not to destroy Xanadu, but to alter the spell so that it comes with a “no killing humans allowed” clause. But you know, what I really get from all this is that everybody involved is arrogant – SotF, Yuji, Shana, the Flame Haze – they’re all arrogant, they all think they should impose their will on the universe, and they seem to enjoy the hell out of killing each other – and the Earth Gods – the sum of whose plan is to revenge kill as many crimson denizens as possible for the publicity – are the worst of the bunch. I’d like to see the annoying lot of them vaporized ASAP, especially the irritating one who whines constantly as she’s massacring crimson denizens. About the only rooting interest I have at this point is for Johann, who seems to have a plan to use the whole clusterfrick to his own advantage and give himself and Pheles some sort of happy ending – though likely a bittersweet one. I wish him luck – I’d like to see him hijack the whole process, foil everyone else’s plans and leave them all pissed off.
A quick note on Mouretsu Pirates – I’m going to put this one on hiatus for a bit. To be honest it’s so clinical I just can’t come up with anything to say about it anymore – I don’t dislike it but it’s hard to write about a series I feel so completely detached from. If things change I may pick it up again, intermittently or not – we’ll see.