GKMP has really progressed nicely since about the fourth episode, proving itself to be more thoughtful and less predictable than I had it pegged for. It has a nice blend of earnest innocence, silliness and a surprising melancholy that I find appealing. But I still wonder, sometimes, if it really wants to be taken seriously. Take, for example, this week’s scene where the Global Defense Force decide to broadcast their plan for a massive attack against the Wulgaru to the world. I’m not just talking about a troop escalation or something vague like that – no, we get every detail of the size of the force, the type of weaponry, the target, the timing… Hell, I’m surprised they didn’t bother to announce what the pilots were eating for breakfast. And in proper media whore fashion they’ve even given the operation a name – “The Battle of Ceres”.
Now I wonder – just how seriously are we supposed to take that? After the premiere I figured GKMP was going to be a spoof of mecha anime, but it’s spent the intervening five episodes convincing me otherwise. But how could anyone not recognize this (it’s not even the first time it’s happened, though by far the most egregious) as being monumentally stupid? Never mind the possibility that the Wulgaru might have spies on Earth – does the GDF simply assume the Wulgaru have no means of intercepting their broadcasts? It’s one thing to have a doofus like Komine in charge of operation after operation – that’s the sort of mistake that happens a lot in the military (check your Civil War history if you don’t believe me). I’m not crazy about how broad that character is and how he plays as a very cartoony villain, but compared to broadcasting your forces intentions, strength and last bowel movement to anyone who cares to listen it’s documentary realism. Is there still an element of spoof in GKMP, always waiting to burst through?
That aside, I did enjoy this episode once again – rather a lot, actually. Clearly we’ve entered a new phase in the series with the Academy left behind, and it begins with the long-awaited extended introduction of the Wulgaru. There’s a veritable avalanche of new names and terminology here – “Ta Hevara” I take to be the Wulgaru term for battle, Lamata their word for humans. As for the Wulgaru they seem like a sybaritic bunch, their culture driven by pleasures of the flesh and their code of behavior something along the lines of “always follow your instincts”. They’re certainly humanoid – they could pass for human – and their technology seems to be of the biomechanical vein, which seemed likely from their appearance in battle. Suwabe Junichi, Yukana and Suzuki Chihiro are among the seiyuu cast in Wulgaru roles, but the most important of them seems to be Jiart Plaguzesia (Midorikawa Hikaru, Kyousuke from Little Busters!). He’s the younger brother of the Wulgaru leader and has top boss written all over him, though at this point he’s seemingly a loose cannon among the Wulgaru and it isn’t clear where his loyalties really lie.
As for our brave heroes of Team Rabbits, they’re entering a new phase too – leaving school behind and arriving at a real military base, where they get spacious rooms of their own but end up spending all their time huddled together in one of their rooms at a time (one of those funny bad sad elements that Majestic Prince is proving rather good at generating). They’re assigned a babysitter of some sort – the very odd Yamada Peko (Touyama Nao, quite funny, as she often is). Between her strange attire, hair antlers and Nadeshiko-on-acid behavior, she’s certainly one of the more inexplicable characters we’ve been introduced to. As they wait on standby for the Battle of Ceres to begin the Rabbits – and the audience – also meet their ground crews. GKMP has also proved rather adept at making the supporting characters distinctive enough to be interesting and treating them with enough dignity to make it seem as if they matter, and so it is here. It’s a diverse and enigmatic bunch, with Izuru’s “family unit” dynamic the most important of the bunch so far. There are implications for that, given the Rabbits’ history – they’re only touched on lightly this week but I suspect we’ll be seeing that element play out quite a bit in coming weeks.
Given the circumstances it can hardly be considered a surprise that the Wulgaru have gotten wind of the GDF’s battle plan and outflanked them. The Battle of Ceres looks as if it’s going to be the biggest extended set-piece of the series so far, and the biggest test of whether the children of Team Rabbits are truly ready for the horrors of war. Now that we’ve got some faces among the enemy and enough information about them to make us curious for more, the struggle with the Wulgaru likewise steps up to another level of interest. I had my doubts about whether Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince had enough firepower to sustain its story for two cours, but this episode makes me feel at least somewhat more optimistic that it does.