“Never trust anyone over 30.”
I’m not sure which I’m finding more entertaining – Valvrave the Liberator, or the apoplexy it seems to be generating among the viewers. And they’re both pretty entertaining as far as I’m concerned. This show just gets more and more outrageous every week, but as long as it makes me laugh this much and flashes so much old-school animation, the more outrageous the better. I’m not in this for gritty realism and I suspect Okouchi Ichiro isn’t either.
What makes one silly show appeal to a person, and not others? Who knows – it’s a strange alchemy that doesn’t lend itself to easy analysis. I’m certainly not weak for Sunrise shenanigans – I haven’t liked most of the over-the-top nonsense they’ve had success with lately – and I’m no fan of Okouchi’s Code Geass, either. But this is clicking for me – I find it hilarious and entertaining – and perhaps part of the reason is that it’s reminding me a lot of another Sunrise chestnut, Infinite Ryvius. It’s not entirely coincidental, of course – no studio is more self-referential than Sunrise, and the director of that show (Taniguchi Goro) was the other major player in the Code Geass franchise. Infinite Ryvius was one of my favorite series in my formative years as an anime fan, and while it wasn’t as outlandish as this one – and a lot more overtly emo – there’s a similarity in the premise and even the look that’s inescapable for
It certainly isn’t any surprise that the outlandishly slimy Senator Figaro pulled a fast one on the Sashinami students, but that it happened so quickly and decisively is an interesting turn. With ARUS proving just as disinterested as Dorssia in their welfare, this puts Haruto and the students in quite the pickle – and L-Elf is only too happy to offer his services to Haruto, offering him a deal: help me overthrow the Dorssian dictatorship and I’ll save your school. As usual he’s supremely confident that his prediction will come true and Haruto will come a-begging (a peace sign being the signal, though L-Elf has never heard of such a thing – what it means on Dorssia is anyone’s guess). What he doesn’t count on is Shouko, who proves to be full of surprises. She overhears Figaro’s message that the plan is to ditch the kids and flee with the Valvrave (and Haruto) on “Rainbow’s” com system – and Rainbow turns out to be Renbokouji Akira (Aoi Yuuki). She is indeed the sister of the weak-kneed Student Council President Renbokouji Satomi (the parade of seiyuu stars continues with Namikawa Dasiuke, using his Waver voice). Not sure what’s up with Akira, but she seems to be some sort of hikikomori, or at least someone who really, really doesn’t like to be with other people.
In any event, this is Shouko’s episode through and through. First she manages to convince Satomi and the Council that she’s telling the truth about the ARUS double-cross by taking off her clothes. Why does that work? Who knows – maybe the later revelation that she’s the daughter of the Prime Minister of JIOR is the reason. After the reveal that Dorssia has taken control of the rest of JIOR and effectively holds the students’ families hostage, she hatches a plan to use the Valvrave itself as a hostage to keep both ARUS and Dorssia at bay, and tells the students about it by climbing up on the Valvrave like Boris Yeltsin climbing on a tank (and to mix our Communist imagery, we have Raizou re-enacting a moment from Tiananmen Square). Just to really rub L-Elf’s nose in it she flashes Haruto a peace sign. As if that weren’t enough she proposes that Sashinami declare independence and become its own country – to which one of the assembled mob memorably replies “Our own country? That sounds like fun!” And Haruto apparently takes this quite literally, because he proceeds to physically rip the module holding the school away from the rest of JIOR, setting it free in space.
There’s admittedly a moment or two where I uncomfortably wondered whether I was supposed to find all that as hilarious as I did, but I think the tipoff is when L-Elf gets a good laugh about it himself. There are holes in the logic of all this big enough to drive a Gundam through – I mean, what’s to prevent ARUS from saying “Go ahead and give the Valvrave to Dorssia, who holds your families hostage – I dare you.” just for starters. I know it, but it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the show, because Valvrave is just unapologetic enough about all this to make it work. And the sequence at the end where Dorssia attacks is great fun (and none of it CGI) too, especially the bit where the Dorssian fighters (which look a lot like Imperial TIE fighters) do a kind of gattai move to form a massive shield with their wings, and then blow the crap out of the ground-based anti-aircraft nests. Sashinami as an independent country, with L-Elf hitching a ride uninvited? Bring it on, Sunrise. Let the detractors use the “GC” epithet all they want – if they can’t see the difference between this show and that one, they’re clearly too far gone to matter…