I’ll give credit to R;N for continuing to do something well (I seem to be doing that a lot with shows lately), and that’s create an interesting set of questions. But you know, even though I knew there were only four episodes left after this week I guess I didn’t really think about it all that much – when I actually typed out “18” it really hit me just how close we are to the end and just how much is still unresolved. Even such a major development as the release of the Kimijima Reports last week merits only a brief mention in this episode.
As I said last week, it’s very interesting how Production I.G. has both ends of the NoitaminA block this season and they’re providing shows which are really polar opposites of each other. While Psycho-Pass has lots of exposition and action every week and struggles with believability in the character development side because the characters tend to act however the plot needs them to, Robotics;Notes has been character-first right from the beginning. Normally I prefer that approach (and truth be told, I’d give this the nod as the better series to this point, though it’s close and I like both a lot) but while it’s provided plenty of exposition in terms of setting up the grand conspiracy that’s inherent given the creators, it’s done remarkably little to provide clues as to how it’s going to be resolved. Of course one might also point out that this ep showed none of the animation problems that plagued P-P this week, which is interesting given that R;N is the series that isn’t selling well – it lends credence to the notion that Psycho-Pass suffered from deadline rather than budgetary issues, though it’s possible they simply spent too much on the first 17 eps.
Two things stand out about this ep for me. First, that it was mainly a small-scale episode dedicated to Kai-Aki development, and second that I’m even more confused about where things stand (and where they’re going) than I was before it started. I certainly think the former was needed, as Aki’s development has rather taken a back seat for most of the series. In fact I think this might just be the first ep where I’d say she, rather than Kai, was the main character – or co-lead at the very least. Fittingly too, as this was an ep dedicated to the Robotics Club, which is taking it’s progeny to Big Sight at last to show the world. This is Aki’s dream after all, and Kai is pretty much in it because he knows how important it is to her more than any special passion for “Gunvarrel” himself. Shippers will no doubt have perked up at the news of Aki and Kai sharing a hotel room (that expense further evidence of Mitchie’s remorse over his poor stewardship, though seriously Mitchie – one room and then a warning not to fool around?) but really, this scene more than anything cements the notion that Aki and Kai are more than anything else a very close brother and sister (in fact, it’s quite clear that Misa considers Kai a little brother). I do love the bond between Kai and Aki but I just don’t see any romance there, and you know – that’s just fine. Not every series needs to have romance just because it’s about teenagers (and there’s ample chemistry with Kona should this one decide to go that route).
Sadly for Aki, this is just about the worst time for the club to exhibit a giant Gunvarrel clone, given the bad publicity over the series. I find it a bit of a logic hole that the public is so hostile towards “Gunvarrel” but seemingly accepting of big corporate robot technology after the abortive robot revolt in Tokyo, to be honest. Nevertheless it is what it is, and while GunPro-2’s very cool Iru-O effects do win over one little boy, the rest of the crowd is a harder sell. Meanwhile Misa-nee is in town as Exoskeleton puts on a grand display around its new “Sumeragi” robot, and Kai manages to stake out the garage where she’s parked her car and guilt her into a drive around town with Mizuka’s last words as ammo. But like so much else in this series, we get more questions than answers from Misa. I still get the sense that she’s trying to protect her sister and that, more than anything, is the reason for her coldness. But there’s also the sense that she’s trying to send a coded message to Kai, over and over – it’s clear she considers him crucial to whatever’s happening with Kimijima Kou and the Committee of 300.
Speaking of them, Sawada is in town too, looking as grouchy as ever. He seems to notice Kai at the expo, and Kai certainly notices him – but no words are exchanged. We do have certain interesting clues – Sumeragi more or less translates to “Emperor” and it’s hard not to see meaning in that, and we also see Misaki participating in a project called “Wyvern”. But the most puzzling development of all comes at the very end, after Kai and Aki spot Misa backstage in an exo-suit and call out to her. She speaks in a relatively kind tone but refuses to turn and face her sister and “brother”, and then Sawada shows up with a gun and seems intent on taking her into custody. So apparently these two are no longer on the same side, if they ever were – but whose side should we be rooting for, if either? Perhaps it’s simply a case of Misaki having been perceived as betraying the Committee by telling Kai too much – but that smells wrong to me, or at least incomplete. We have Misaki’s last words (whether of the episode or altogether depends on how good a shot Sawada is – I strongly suspect the exo-suit is bullet-proof)) to try and draw on – she asks Aki when the rocket launch is – but while there’s surely significance in the question she chose to ask, just exactly what significance that is mostly eludes me. Fitting that R;N should choose to end with a question this week, as there are more of them floating around than ever.