GKMP is another one of those “tortoise” anime of this Spring season, one that took a while to get started and doesn’t dazzle you with a whole lot of flash. But this one does have two cours to unwind its story, and while I was skeptical that there was enough weight here to carry a series for that long, I’m pretty well convinced that Majestic Prince has the goods to make it to the finish line. It continues to surprise me both with the level of sophistication in the plot and the subtlety of the character dynamics.
An episode like this one, coming on the heels of last week’s full-throated blockbuster, is a good example of why this is simply a very good show. It has the ability to swing back and forth between action-driven and reflective episodes quite effectively, and we see the afterimage of each on display in the other. There’s not a scrap of combat this week (apart from some eyes looking daggers and a loli shin-kick) but by no means are the events of last week forgotten. While Rabbits are being hyped by the military as heroes of a glorious victory, they know the truth – the Earth forces suffered far heavier losses and were once again saved by a mysterious Wulgaru retreat. Not only that but the press was witness to the carnage unfolding live, so it seems impossible that the truth will be kept from the public eye for that much longer.
Truth was busting out all over this week, in fact. While Suzukaze is doing her best to force Izuru to keep a lid on what he saw in the enemy cockpit, Theoria forces the issue and seemingly more or less demands that Simon tell Team Rabbits at least a little of what’s facing them. Some things which seemed likely are apparently true – the AHSMB units are indeed bio-machines based on Wulgaru technology, and Theoria is a defector from the Wulgaru – the one who brought the technology to Earth, along with a warning that the Wulgaru were about to invade. It explains why Izuru was so surprised by what he saw in Jiart’s cockpit, but not why Jiart was so surprised in turn. We know there’s a connection between Izuru and Theoria – a meeting at the very least that’s been wiped from his memory. And there seems to be a direct connection between she and Jiart, who resemble each other enough to be twins. And then there’s the question of whether the Wulgaru are in fact a “completely different species” as Simon insists. I’m skeptical, but for now it’s an open question.
It’s also become quite clear that Kei has romantic feelings for Izuru, and that Toshikazu has them for her. This is a messy situation and potentially could get much messier, as Theoria is the girl who’s very much at the forefront of Izuru’s mind. What with Toshikazu already wrestling with feelings of inadequacy and resentment towards Izuru, seeing Kei rush off the check on him and leaving him behind can only make them fester. Meanwhile Kei is likewise left to stew when Izuru leaves her by the fountain (beautifully drawn and animated, by the way) and rushes off after Theoria, whose ghostlike vision he’s seen through the spray. None of this is a broadside aimed at the audience – it simply happens and we’re left to connect the dots ourselves. While it’s not especially difficult to do so, it’s a nicely restrained presentation that’s considerable more dignified than what we see in most mecha series where potential romance is concerned.
The other thing that quite impresses me about GKMP is the way it can carry off a somber, weighty tone without feeling pretentious or above itself. This is a series that grimly depicts the death that’s a soldier’s constant companion without wailing or histrionics, but simply in the hushed words and downcast faces of the survivors. The mistakes of those in charge exact a heavy cost in human lives, and Team Rabbits are obviously being exploited in a quite chilling manner, and as with the personal interactions it’s presented in understated fashion – low-key but no less tragic for that. The ability to express sadness without theatrics is relatively rare in anime, and when it’s done as well as it here it should certainly be applauded. As well, I applaud the fact that Majestic Prince is still able to inject moments of humor effectively, such as the introduction of “second tier hottie” Operations Officers Siegfried von Westernach (Nojima Hirofumi) and Giuliano Visconti (Toriumi Kosuke). As with the action and reflection, with tone we see GKMP able to blend the two extremes quite effectively, and there’s always a sense of pathos in these comic interludes. Like so many of the adults in this series, Siegfried and Luigi always seem to look at Team Rabbits with deeply sad eyes, as if they know that a terrible future awaits them. That, more than anything, is the feeling that dominates this series now, and it seems to foretell deeply painful times ahead.