As I watched this episode and the sheer bakayaroucity (Minami Chiaki’s word – it fits perfectly, but she gets the credit) gathered momentum like a boulder rolling down a ski jump, one thought kept playing in my head – “The can’t be serious, can they?” I suppose on some level it doesn’t really matter how this material is intended, because what’s on-screen is what it is. But in some ways it almost feels like the key question for the entire series. It’s the one element that separates Valvrave from the Guilty Crowns of the world – this is all being done as a kind of self-satire. If that element isn’t there, enjoying Kakumeiki Valvrave is really on the level of enjoying Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or Plan 9 From Outer Space.
On some level, the independence movement at Sakimori Academy goes pretty much as you’d expect. It’s not quite Lord of the Flies, but putting a bunch of high school students in charge of running their own country – never mind one in the precarious physical and position Sakimori is – is obviously a recipe for anarchy. We’ve also got L-Elf running around somewhere waiting to go First Blood when the mood strikes, with his sights still set on stealing Haruto away from both Rukino and Shouko and taking the Valvrave for his nascent Dorssian revolution. In short the blue touch paper has already been lit, and the question isn’t of chaos, only the when and the how.
Still, Valvrave doesn’t go in for half measures, and it takes a somewhat different approach to the issue than the bleak nihilistic turn in Sunrise’s own Infinite Ryvius or the self-serious bloodbath of Guilty Crown. Instead we get slap fights (with hair-pulling), snowstorms, musical numbers and stolen first kisses in secret underground mecha facilities. It’s all ridiculously over-the-top and it really does back that runaway train momentum to it, as if the writers were seeing what they could come up with to top themselves. It all starts out innocently enough, with the carefree teens engaged in seemingly harmless revelry (why, exactly, is Shibuya in Sakimori?) as the two teachers remaining on-site sit idly by – Nanami Rion (shame on me for not mentioning before that she was voiced by Horie Yui) is in over her head, and Kibukawa-sensei (the guy who was in the car with Shouko) is far too (suspiciously) interested in the Valvrave to care about the students and their petty self-governance issues.
The madness begins when the power goes out, causing the temperature to drop and a snowstorm (don’t ask, I didn’t) to begin. The recriminations start flying not long after the snowflakes, and the girls especially get pretty catty – with Shouko the natural target of their ire for pushing the independence idea. But if last week was Shouko’s coming out party as a character, this episode definitely belonged to Saki. True, it all starts when she steps in to defend Shouko (basically by saying the others are just as stupid as she is) from the taunts and threats led by ojou-sama Takahi. But this quickly descends into a physical confrontation with Takahi, and I confess I rather liked the fact that Saki wasn’t taking any shit – when she got slapped, she slapped back, and harder too. Damn straight. I was almost disappointed when Yuusuke and Raizou managed to get the power back on, because I was anxious to see where that confrontation was headed.
Somehow – I guess I didn’t get the memo – the aftermath of all this is Haruto and Shouko effectively saying “Hey, Kids – let’s put on a show!”, which leads to the entire student body participating in an utterly absurd music video to send out to the worried folks in occupied JIOR. Even if you’re buying the self-satire theory this was a bit much, but on the plus side it was a chance to hear Tomatsu Haruka sing, and with some Engrish too. I don’t know what else to say about this bizarre spectacle, and what would be the point anyway? The cherry on top is the finale of the episode, which sees Haruto and Saki descending into the innards of Sakimori Academy, eventually finding a vast underground cavern filled with… more Valvraves? Mechas of another sort? We certainly know – because Saki tells us – that they come in “all colors of the rainbow”. Haruto gives us a Sunrise moment when he tearfully begs Saki to keep this is a secret because he “doesn’t want to see any more monsters like myself”. Saki agrees, with a condition – they get some alone time together – and without waiting for a responds seals the contract by planting a respectably sloppy kiss on Haruto. As this happens, the moe Valvrave OS does a head-bob and asks, “Is this sexual intercourse?”
Now come on – there’s no way I could make up shit like that. If nothing else, I’m impressed with the sheer number of bonzo plot developments in 5 short episodes – what might Valvrave come up with in 20 more? The mind boggles. Kibukawa-sensei hints that the Valvrave might just be alien in origin, and we get a few dramatic shots of occupied JIOR as well as some extremely 1930’s Berlin looks at the Dorssian homeworld (along with mention of a “Red Thursday” which “must never be repeated”). On the personal side, the love triangle (quadrilateral if you want to include L-Elf) certainly seems lively. As I said Saki was rather impressive this week – in addition to the slapping and the stolen kiss, she also tried biting Yahari just to see if she could mind-control her. Shouko is nice enough but I think I prefer Saki at this point – her breed of crazy seems a little more interesting that Shouko’s to me, and there are hints that she might end up as the second Valvrave pilot.