Robotics;Notes – 19

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In a way, this ep of Robotics;Notes has the feeling of a sort of “Take that!” to the show’s countless critics.

I haven’t watched this week’s Psycho-Pass yet, but it’s undeniably interesting that after it offered us a reflective and character-driven ep last week, R;N chimes in with a supremely action-packed and plot-first thrill ride of an episode.  Maybe there’s some sort of golden mean that good anime want to strive for, and it was inevitable that these two photo-negative series would start to drift towards each other stylistically at least a little.  In any event it was certainly inevitable that Robotics;Notes was going to pick up the pace big-time, if it was going to deliver any kind of definitive ending anyway.  I like the show very much but going into this week it was left with a harrowing number of loose threads with only four eps to go.

Make no mistake, this was the busiest episode of R;N yet, both in terms of firepower and exposition.  It flew by for me, in true Shin Sekai Yori style – it felt as if it lasted about seven minutes – but man, it was quite a shock to the system.  We certainly didn’t get answers to every question but we did at least get pretty much every major question factored into the plot.  The first and foremost piece of news (assuming we can trust it, and it seems pretty likely we can) is that Sawada is in fact not a bad guy at all, but a rogue member of the Committee of 300 who’s out to stop their nefarious (more in a minute) schemes.  As I’ve mentioned recently there were elements of his behavior that seemed puzzling if he was nothing more than he seemed, and this certainly explains them – though by no means does it explain everything about what he’s been up to, especially as regards Kai.

Of course, if Sawada is a member of the good guys there’s basically a necessity that Misaki (the one at the robot expo was apparently an illusion) isn’t if we’re to draw on the events of last week.  And indeed, it appears that Misa-nee is in fact working for the Committee and for the implementation of Project Atom.  But she’s not the mastermind – no, that would appear to be one Kimijima Kou.  Pretty much everything we’ve been shown so far (in hindsight, given the nature of Iru-O, it should have been an obvious possibility) has been a lie.  The Kimijima Reports were a misdirection, and their release (and the “Gunvarrel” controversy) a plan to spread panic among the populace – which I assume also means everything we’ve been told about solar flares and such is also a misdirection.  However, there seem to be elements of the reports that were quite accurate (such as the talk of robots running wild) so it’s hard to know where the truth ends and the fiction begins.  It’s also impossible not to wonder what’s going on with those magnetic monopoles raining from the sky, which certainly can’t be explained away under the existing science of this mythology – is Kimijima responsible for those finding their way to Kai, as the reports would seem to suggest?

In any event it seems likely Kimijima is the one who’s been pulling most of the strings – certainly Misa’s, though to what extent her behavior is a product of mind control is impossible to say.  Airi (both flesh and binary) is a tool of Kimijima too, both of them apparently a sort of stalking horse for his consciousness, which he’s managed to transfer from his physical body to Iru-O.  It seems what we’re looking at is a massive campaign to cause the illusion that a massive solar flare has caused devastation worldwide, so the Committee of 300 can enact their real plan in the confusion.  That plan?  Detonate black-hole bombs in space, which will apparently cause the death of roughly 5 billion humans.  Why?  Again, at this point I can’t even begin to guess beyond the usual suspects – eliminate competition for the planet’s resources and allow the Committee to assume world domination in the aftermath of the destruction.  Dystopia, here we come!

I’m not sure quite what to make of all that and there’s still a lot the series has to answer, but I’m sure it will.  Ultimately I’m primarily interested in the characters as they’ve been the most compelling part of Robotics;Notes all along.  For Kai the knowledge (courtesy of Sawada) that he and Aki – and presumably Misaki – were all victims of a “body experiment” that was the true cause of the SS Anenome faintings seems to have given him even more resolve, if anything.  He doesn’t sound like he’s totally given up on Misa-nee, but that doesn’t stop him from using her betrayal as a rallying cry to roust Aki out of the funk the destruction of GunPro-2 (and the entire robot expo) has left her in.  As for Kona, she’s finally managed to link everything back to Kimijima – the rent on his house, the financing for the “Gunvarrel” anime, the Maguyan incident – but just as that happens the Committee goons arrive at her door.  Fortunately Nae Tennouji (all right, I guess I have to trust her now) – or “S. Braun” as Sawada knows her – arrives in the nick of time to save her, and the roots of a resistance army seem to be taking shape.  Mitchie the revolutionary?

I certainly enjoyed the excitement of seeing all that unfold, but I find myself hoping that the final three episodes don’t proceed in a similar vein because that just wouldn’t feel like an ending that fits the series. Problem is, there’s still so much left to do that it’s hard to see any other possibility except a Pamplona-like stampede to the finish.  As much as any two-cour series of recent vintage Robotics;Notes is one that desperately needs to finish with a coda episode, a post-resolution finale that allows the series to end on a reflective and character-focused note.  I find it hard to be terribly optimistic that we’re going to get one – they’re the exception rather than the rule to begin with, never mind the massive plot tangle here – but at the very least I hope the final arc doesn’t lose sight of the elements that make R;N such a good show in the first place.

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  1. B

    Nae may be a good guy but it's obvious she got lessons in kicking ass from her dad. I don't blame you for your mistrust of her given her father but I never really expected her to be an out and out villain, I kinda thought she was just going to be a fanservice character for fans of the previous show and not have any real importance in the plot. Hopefully that scene means that Kona will be making a return to importance. The last few episodes have been amazing in terms of advancing the plot but Kona has been missed.

  2. t

    I've never understood the vitriol hurled against this show. This is probably the third best carry-over from last season after SSY and Space Brothers. I seem to get the impression that a lot of people are frustrated that R;N just isn't the show they expected it to be.

  3. T

    They totally should go the Ender's Game route (specifically Children of the Mind) and totally just kill the Iru-O network and thus eliminate Kou. Not sure if that is possible in the science the series has set up but it would be totally badass.

  4. S

    I think that the Committe's objective has been explicitly stated in one of the reports. They want to reduce Earth's population to 1 billion and create a unified World Government dominated by them: the Human Domestication Project.

    One thing that didn't sit well with me was the illusionary Misa-nee. How did she manage that? One thing is to show fake images through Iru-O, but to show a completely believable 3D hologram?

    Will we ever see the completed GunPro-1 going to save the world?
    I am also curious about the shared past of Kimijima, Misaki and Mizuka. If only the latter had told the truth to Kai…

  5. M

    Oops. Accidentally deleted that. What I said was that this is something that Chaos;Head fills in better. Basically the Noah IV uses people's brainwaves and receptors into making them see things that aren't really there. I don't blame you if you didn't see Chaos;Head though. To put it kindly, the anime adaption was botched up, but luckily for me I read the VN so I have a better understanding.

  6. So you want to go with the fictional Kimijima Reports as a reliable source for what the Committee of 300's true motives are?

  7. S

    @MCAL: Actually I watched Chaos;Head and even played the VN, but in the end the Noah II was destroyed. They shouldn't have it unless it was rebuilt off-screen (by whom? Norose is dead…)

    @Enzo: Kimijima mixed truth and lies in his reports. I believe this tidbit of info because it's consistent with what happened in S;G (Alpha Worldline: SERN's dystopia; Beta Worldline: WW3)

  8. H

    I don't see why we shouldn't believe the Kimijima Reports as far as the Committee of 300's motives. He certainly didn't sugar coat what they were, or try to sell the motives as particularly virtuous or morally good. Just by changing the apparent voice that he was speaking from (as an outsider rather than as an insider) he made it seem like he opposed them, rather than supporting them.

    It also fits in with the attitude of the Committee of 300 with respect to their actions and playing Kagome Kagome before they do something. They're not particularly shy about announcing what they're doing.

  9. s

    aaahhhh it's good to see kona back in the fray of things; regarding Nae, my guess since the moment she showed up is that she, along with the cast of stein's gate, have been investigating the commitee of 300 and have been trying to get any info on their nefarious plans so that they could put a stop to them. Nae's mission was to investigate tageheshima (i think that's how you spell it) island for any clues regarding the committee; and now that the shit has hit the fan, Nae and most likely the rest of the stein's gate cast are ready to act and put a stop to it. Who knew our misfit group of time travelers would end up having the occupation of saving the world, assuming that my guess is accurate.

  10. j

    So is Kagome Kagome some sort of trigger for some sort of mind control (or something else)?
    I have no basis for this other than Airi hearing it in her hospital bed then the next time we see here she's actually "Kimijima."
    I don't remember too well what happened the other times kagome kagome played other than before Mizuka was killed (btw I have a feeling she is still important to the story, I can tell).
    Anyways, I wonder what the fate of the older Misaki will be. Is she just "evil," being brainwashed, or perhaps she thought what the committee of 300 was doing WAS justified?

  11. It does seem as if Kagome, Kagome is a kind of trigger device for the Committee's mind control. That's how I took it, anyway.

  12. H

    I've always taken the Kagome Kagome playing as more of a "We're going to do something, and you can't stop us" kind of thing. It's not necessarily the trigger, it's just the announcement.

  13. M

    An unexpected ending in Robotics;Notes. So what else is new. luckily this episode was excellent. I never saw Kimijima being the antagonist coming, but it still fits in with the theory I made back in episode 16, so no ass pull. We also get our Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate connection. So it seems like the Committee of 300 is the thread that connects these stories together. Be nice if we could see those characters again, but I won't get my hopes up.

  14. U

    Wait, what? How is this being connected to Steins;Gate? I must be completely oblivious…

    Thanks ahead of time for clearing this up for me.

  15. Well, Nae Tennouji is a character in both shows for one. The Committee of 300 exists in both. And we may yet see more connections before it's done.

  16. M

    Thanks, totally forgot. Doh

  17. G

    So is Kona's mom alive or dead? I always thought she was dead but someone this week made a comment that she is still alive?

  18. If she's alive it's a spoiler or a mistake, because I don't think there was anything Kona said that would lead to that conclusion.

  19. H

    As far as I know we don't know where Kona's mom is except that she's still missing. I don't recall seeing anything where she was presumed dead, but nor have we seen any evidence that she's alive.

  20. l

    I think the moment when Misaki's betrayal hit me hardest was the quick scene in the JAXA office when I realized that the employee lying bound and probably unconscious at her feet was her own father.

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