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.