Robotics;Notes – 20

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Robotics;Notes was always going to have to go big at the end if it had any chance to tie the loose ends together, but now that we’re in the moment the change is still a bit shocking.

This is what is looks like when you try and do 22 episodes worth of plot in 4 episodes of a series that’s been mostly character development for the first 18.  There’s something to be said for that approach in terms of pure adrenaline-induced thrills, but I’m a bit sad that R;N as we’re seeing it now seems at quite a big remove from the show I grew to like so much.  At the same time, though, as big a departure as this is stylistically (it could hardly be bigger) I’m pleased that the ending is being crafted in a way that’s philosophically at least in perfect synch with the series as a whole.

I think, at heart, Robotics;Notes has always been a very innocent show.  For all the dystopian conspiracy and occasional outbursts of violence and despair, the other part of the story – the friendship, the club, the pursuit of childlike dreams – is closer to the essence of what the series really is.  It’s only fitting that a series like that should have a good old-fashioned storybook good vs. evil ending, complete with a super-villain, a reunion of the core group and a rallying by the community in support of their plucky efforts.  It’s campy to say the least, and Aki’s speech (cleverly webcast by Deux-ex-Mitchie) is about as corny as it gets.  I don’t think a show like, for example, Psycho-Pass could get away with a speech like that – OK, that might be the understatement of the year – but here it somehow fits.  I wouldn’t have written that speech myself, don’t get me wrong, but I think R;N has more or less earned the privilege.

There are still some elements of the big picture that I don’t quite understand, and the continued avalanche of revelations this week hasn’t changed that fact.  The big news, I think, is that it was Misaki who killed Kimijima Kou – and the fact that she did it to stop his “body experiment” on the SS Anemone doesn’t change the essential fact that she was a murderer even before the Committee of 300 got their claws on her.  For the average person that would be a horrible thing to deal with even if the act were justifiable, and Kimijima (who as best as I can tell was already in the process of transferring his consciousness to Iru-O when he died) uses this as leverage to manipulate her into becoming his puppet in RL.  Eventually this moves on to literal mind control, as he seems to be more or less possessing her at the moment, though she has enough of her own free will left to try and kill herself at the spot where Mizuka died.

Here’s what I’d really like to know:

  • How, exactly, did Misaki know what Kimijima was up to on the Anemone?   How did she get hooked up with him in the first place?  
  • How is it that monopoles began raining from the sky – and why?  Who’s behind it?
  • What exactly is the raison d’etre behind Kimijima and the Committee’s intention to kill 5 billion people with the black hole bombs?  Are we just supposed to assume it’s an issue of resources or general megalomania  or will that be addressed specifically?

I imagine the Report #0 that Misaki sends to Kai in a burst of free will – the same one which she uses to allow her father to flee – will shed some light on at least some of those questions.  In the meantime it seems as if everything is going to come down to a battle between the Committee of 300 and one plucky band of kids on Tagoshima – not so different, really, than the notion of a final battle between SERN and a band of wacky oddballs in Akihabara.  One major difference here is that thanks to Mitchie, the rest of the community knows what’s going on, and thanks to Aki’s speech they’re flocking to help.  That starts with Kona, Subaru, Jun and Doc, who’ve already drafted a plan to retrofit the Gun-Pro-1 with monopole motors and a pile bunker (damn, Subaru is a bigger robot geek than Aki) the time Kai and Aki crash-land their plane from Tokyo at the old airport on Tagoshima.  While I have no idea why the landing gear didn’t deploy, this scene still delivered the funniest moment of the episode as the others watched the plane crash land on its fuselage with eerie calm, until finally Kona said “Shouldn’t we like… run?”  Which they promptly did – knocking the hobbled Subaru to the ground in the process and leaving him to die.

We’re pretty much in pure popcorn territory now – Aki’s speech closed the deal on that – so there’s not much to do except strap in and enjoy the ride.  I don’t expect we’re going to get a reflective character-driven ending, any movement on the romance front or anything of that nature (which is a shame) but just about anything else seems possible.  More Steins;Gate cameos certainly can’t be ruled out, and I expect final showdown between GunPro-1 and Sumeragi to be full of pyrotechnics, both literal and figurative.  I  just hope they’re able to pull it off while still delivering something of the quieter charm that made the first 18 episodes of Robotics;Notes such a refreshing and enjoyable series to watch.

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  1. H

    One thing that's surprising me is the scope of just how much of a bad guy Kimijima Kou is, partly coupled with the *apparent* face-heel turn. He spent 2/3 of the series being this guy who seemed to be trying to sunlight the nefarious deeds of the Committee of 300, and then turned into not just a mastermind of the Committee of 300, but a twisted mind controller and murderer of all scopes: individual, groups, and humanity.

    My take on the Committee of 300's entire point is basically "We think most of humanity is stupid, so let's get rid of them." I may have recommended it here before, but Hugh Howey's recent series of books 'Wool' has a very similar feel of what the aftermath of such a plan could be.

  2. t

    Aki's cornball speech made me cringe to the point where I had to turn down the volume. It was a surprisingly inept moment in what is usually a series that displays good control over its characterization and dialogue. True enough, the anime blogosphere pounced like rabid dogs on this unfortunate lapse, which was a damned shame.

  3. I don't see it quite that negatively. It's not my style, for sure, but I do think it basically fits the personality of the show. It was over-the-top, but for a pardonable indulgence if not a highlight.

  4. H

    Corny speech? Sure. But it was Aki's speech. I'll go farther than Enzo and say I think it was the perfect speech for her. What does she have going for her? She's said it before: energy, optimism, not knowing when to quit. But that's about it. She's got one overt tool, giant robots. And the bad guys have giant robots too. So for her, that's what it comes down to.

    I didn't think it was 'too' corny. I thought it was about perfectly in character for Aki. She's a corny character to begin with. It would have been out of character for her to come up with a cool speech, because she's not cool, and never has been cool.

  5. B

    The speech, to me, symbolizes Aki's optimism and hope. While Kimmijima has a hold on her sister, the fact that Misa still cares about robots was a glint of hope for Aki (who was earlier horrified to see her sister destroy a piece of their dream). Giant robot was their bond, and Aki believes if she made it come true for real this time, so will she be able to save her sister too.

  6. T

    What made me cringe was the parrot mcguffin to prevent Ari from dying – that was significantly worse than Aki's speech…

  7. t

    It wasn't really Akiho's words that were cringeworthy. It was the way in which the scene played out: the parrot guy and Mitchie just standing at the back with their Pokecoms out in front of them, the cheesy rousing BGM, the dramatic zooms and pans, the super sentai stances, the various spectators watching the livestream intently on their pokecoms. They were working the scene to an excessive degree, and that was what made it cringe-inducing.

  8. D

    I also think that it was right because is was Aki's speach, she is that way, it wasn't really my style etiher and it was kind of awkward but I didn't think it was misplaced, in fact she was risking her own life doing that, and that's just how she is, I thought it was awesome. but awkward…

  9. G

    One thing is for sure…. Misaki has death flags all over her. I hope she is redemed and saved somehow but it doesn't look too good for her right now.

  10. H

    Well, for Misaki, it sure seems like death would be her salvation.

  11. s

    this weeks episode made me cringe a lot, especially for a series that mastered subtlety when it came to its characters; The episode wasnt bad episode, for there was still a lot to enjoy (such as the return of kona) but in my opinion this is the point were the series hit a low point. Hopefully the last two episodes do not do this; Robotics notes can still end on a real high note

  12. R

    I have enjoyed Robotics;Notes, but this episode did not work for me.

    Robots and rainbows do not mix well with the conspiracy plot.

    The episode started badly with the cringe-inducing speech of Aki, the speech is simply not appropriate for the situation at hand. At this point we should feel nervous for the destiny of the main characters, but the the atmosphere is too light.

    One thing that Steins;Gate did exceptionally well in the second half was make the show feel heavier, but at the same time it gave us a ton a moments with the same feel of the first half of that show. Robotics;Note not so much, witch is a pity.

  13. B

    Except this is not Steins;Gate.

    Aki's speech is fitting. It is her response after knowing her sister still share a part of their bond and their dream. Aki does not have anything to do with the conspiracy, until she learned her sister's part in it. Learning Misa is mind controlled, Aki's only hope is the bond that they share. Her delivery might be extravagant, but that's the robot spirit, which she always have and believe in since the beginning.

  14. B

    Just going to come right out and say it, this episode was a huge misstep in my opinion. From Aki's speech to the cheesy "everyone from school is here to help!" sequence to the extreme piling on of ridiculous coincidences and deus ex machina, almost nothing about this episode worked for me. I groaned out loud when Subaru said it needed a pile bunker and Doc replied that he just so happens to have one lying around. I cringed during Aki's speech, which may have been in character at half the length but at this length was absurd. I died a little inside when the principal handed them club membership forms. I have been a supporter of this show from episode 1 but I have to call 'em as I see 'em and this episode was bad.

  15. E

    Let's pray that the resolution is something more subtle, to fit the first 18 episode. It will be a joke if they managed to make a Gundam as powerful as shown in the OP overnight, and have a totally cool clash of the robots battle in the finale.

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