Robotics;Notes – 18

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Robotics;Notes has got the mystery part down pretty much pat.

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.

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  1. i

    I want to be a billionaire so freaking bad.

    Buy all the good anime no one ever wants.

    I want to make Chihayafuru the cover of Sankaku Complex.

    Every time I close my eyes, I see only good anime on the BD sales list.

    A different story with proper characters every night.

    Oh I swear, moe better prepare for when I'm a billionaire.

  2. M

    R;N has gone for three unexpected endings in a row and I am most impressed. I'm hearing rumors that the next four episodes will be epic and admitedly some trepedation on if they can fit everything in, so I look foreward to the endgame with cautious optimism.

  3. M

    Adding on… I still stand by my theory from episode 16 that Misaki is being brainwashed by the Committee of 300. So there are two ways this goes…

    1.) She broke free from the brainwashing and is trying to stop the Committee's (And Sawada's) plan or…
    2.)She is still being brainwashed by the Committee and Sawada isn't actually from the Committee and he is unaware of Misaki's brainwashing.

    I'm gonna go with number 2 because that's more surprising an option. As for the KaixAki going on here, I'm still a KaixKona fan, but I'd be content with the next best thing… If it does go that way of course. Not saying it will.

  4. C

    Misa-nee is sooo definitely brainwashed. And of course the cause of al these mishaps in EXOSKELETON

  5. G

    I just can't see the older sister being the cold heartless villian the series has made her out to be. I smell some death flags around her tho so she better watch out.

  6. S

    Misa seems to be repeating a conversation from their past in a loop. I keep going back to the flashback where all three of them watch a launch. Anyway there's definitely something weird about Misa.

  7. T

    I kept wondering if something was wrong with Misas face when she wouldn't turn, but it certinly got me more tense than when I was watching this week's PP (which was still a good episode, but I agree on liking R;N more)

    I will admit, I sort of smirked at the seemingly KaixAki shipbaiting, but I was smart enough to see it as rather good character momment.

    Yikes 4 episodes left… I hope this show can wrap things up nice enough without pushing too hard, seeing as how it won't get anything else once the run is over (curse you poor BD sales you strike at me again!)

  8. E

    On contrary, I lost my respect towards Robotics Notes as more and more episode comes out.
    You can speculate all you want, but it didn't change the fact that this anime spend 18 episode without explaining anything.
    What the hell actually happened out on SS Anemone a long time ago? How did it grant Kai and Aki supernatural power? Even this simple question, which is already present from episode 1, is not answered until now.
    That was just one example. This anime has 1001 things yet to be explained, and the harsh reality of "there's only four episode left" makes me facepalm. There's not enough time to explain them all. Instead of marathoning to answer all those questions now, we have sweet moment of Aki and Kai sleeping in one room. Great. Just great.

  9. Z

    This is a situation you get when character is emphasised over plot.

  10. w

    I'm still shipping Kai x Aki! But like you said, Enzo, this show is great even without the messy teenage romances, and is made even better by focusing on the strong relationships between all the characters. Nobody is particularly trope-ish, and Kai is such a great male lead that we need more of him in other shows! Seriously, what a nice guy without being ultra pervy or stubborn. xD

    I'm excited to see the conclusion(s) that await our characters and the mysteries, but I feel like I'd be okay with the mystery not being totally resolved. I've felt that this show is so character driven while the mystery takes a back seat–I wouldn't be disappointed if some mysteries are left mysteries, as long as we square away what's up with Misa (double agent, lover of Kou…got close to Sawada to finish some unfinished business?). She needs to seriously be a better sister to Aki, Aki deserves better!

    Also wanted to thank you, Enzo, for your great posts on PP and R:N. I'm always checking back on LiA for those–you're so timely and have great insight into them! Thanks for all that you do, even though you must be very busy in Japan!

  11. Thank you Windaerie – I will be disappointed if we don't at least got the major questions answered, but I agree with your larger point.

  12. C

    Am I the only one afraid of all those conventionally powered robots standing around that concentrated number of people?

    Aside from that GUN-PRO 2 looks like it might be immune to Kagome Kagome, maybe a super robot battle with it an malfunctioning giant robots?

  13. B

    I feel pretty good about this episode overall. The KaixAki moments were a little hard to take since I'm firmly in the Frau Kojiro camp but the ending more than made up for that. That said, this is a show that's going to live or die based on how they manage the ending and with so much still left to resolve and so little time to do it I'm losing faith week by week that they will manage it. It's episode 18 for the FSM's sake and we're still doing basic shipbait moments that aren't even connected to the main plot? Enough, this isn't a romcom, it's time to get on with the plot. S;G managed this better, the romance aspects were inextricably woven in to the main plot so they could do both simultaneously. In this show trying to do both at this late hour seems out of place.

    Still like the plot, trying to find a Kagome Kagome ringtone for my phone ;).

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