Rukino Saki made quite an impression on me last episode, but this week I think she exceeded my expectations – though not entirely a good way. It seems fitting that she chose to compare herself to a bat, because she’s pretty batty. Turns out what seemed like actions driven by fierce pride and self-righteous anger in last week’s episode were pretty much don’t-give-a-rat’s-ass crazy leaking out.
It seems only fitting that the series that’s most off its rocker should increasingly focus on a character who meets the same description, and Saki is stepping up to the plate big-time. She’s become something of a symbolic personification of Valvrave’s loopy approach to storytelling. One of the joys of watching original series is supposed to be that you don’t have to worry much about spoilers, but for whatever reason Sunrise once again seems to be filling the pages of Newtype and its own website with them, setting off a feeding frenzy among the viewers. I’m religiously avoiding them as much as I can, but I’d already been tipped off (not that it wasn’t pretty likely anyway) that she was going to choose the path of piloting a Valvrave.
As it turns out, that decision was just the start of a daisy-chain of reckless and self-indulgent behavior. Once she’d finished messing with Haruto’s head (sorry, Valvrave OS, but it looks like they didn’t have sex) she promptly hops into the cockpit of the second Valvrave and clicks “HAI!” enthusiastically when if she’d care to relinquish her humanity. Not satisfied with that, after taking her new mecha on a joy ride she promptly bites Haruto on the neck and in doing so, proves that one Valvampires are not immune from body-switching by other Valvampires. With Haruto’s body at her disposal she seems to go on quite the spree – making web videos promoting their relationship, posting as Haruto talking about how great Saki Rukino is, doing some insertion with Takahi, and who knows what else. Perhaps it’s better not to ask.
I’m not buying into Saki’s incredibly generic back-story about how her nasty parents and troubled childhood made her want to be famous at any cost, which is why she’s doing what she’s doing now. Why famous, exactly? I don’t quite get the route she took from Point A to Point B on that, and the flashback sequences don’t offer much help. But playing with the generic is a big part of what Valvrave is, and making sense isn’t – plus, I confess I find Saki’s sheer dangerous abandon somewhat appealing, as least as it relates to her role as a narrative device. The best part of the episode comes when she takes to the skies (in a Valvrave she’s named “Carmilla” for PR reasons) to do battle with an invading Dorssian fleet (which blasts Senator Moses Figaro into dust, apparently) and promptly realizes she’s in over her head, as Haruto rushes in to help. But a rousing round of cheers from Shouko brings her around, and she leaps back into the fray and takes the lead in pushing the Dorssians back. All the while L-Elf is unraveling the mysteries of the Valvraves, and A-Drei is landing on Module 77 either on a secret mission, or a rogue assassination attempt on his former colleague.
On the whole, this episode was less effective for me than last few have been. As crazy as Saki was, the ep itself seemed to have less of the gleeful bakayaroucity those episodes had – less a self-referential twist on Sunrise mecha anime than a kind of pastiche of all their tropes in one package. The mecha battles were quite good, but I was less entertained – I think I like Kakumeiki Valvrave best when it’s completely unhinged from start to finish, which frees it to some extent from playing too much like just another derivative Sunrise series. There were individual moments – like Takahi and her minions taking Saki-as-Harotu’s order to “cheer for me” so literally that they changed into skimpy cheerleader outfits when the Dorssians showed up – but not quite enough of them for my taste. As for the main trio I think I’m back in Shouko’s camp by a nose – but I’ve flipped on that a few times already, and probably will again…