No half measures for me – if I’m going to connect with Kakumeiki Valvrave, it has to go all-in. Last week’s ep was almost sensible by Valvrave standards, and that’s why it didn’t do much for me. The thing that separates this series from the Guilty Crowns of the world is that it knows how far over the line it is, and makes no efforts at being profound or making sense. As long as it remembers that Valvrave can offer up rousingly entertaining episodes like this one was, even allowing for the occasionally harrowing drop in animation quality.
This ep was full of the whiplash plot twists that Valvrave tosses out with alarmingly regularity when it’s on its game, starting with a whopper before the OP even rolled – a 200-year timeskip into the future, showing a Saki quite unaged from the one we’ve been watching talking about a 200-year old promise as she does battle in her Carmilla. We also see the caption “Year 214 of the Galactic Reich”, which implies that the current situation doesn’t end happily for JIOR or the good guys in general – but given the level of asspull we’ve already seen in just seven episodes, I’m not taking anything as gospel when it comes to that episode prequel.
The meat of the episode is pretty much straight-up blood and guts and melodrama. L-Elf has been relatively quiet for a couple of weeks but he’s very much the alpha dog in this ep, staging coups and kicking ass. The former he executes when the girls are naturally all in the kitchen working on a feast, and after promptly doing some aforementioned ass-kicking on Saki (hey, Elf is no sexist) and Renbokouji he lays a trap for Haruto in the armory. Alas, even L-Elf’s best-laid plans can go off track when an invasion takes place at the same time, and he quite unsentimentally uses Haruto as a
human valvampire shield when A-Drei opens fire (turns out he was on official – if secret – Dorssian orders after all).
When the rest of Yama Arashi shows up that’s when things get really Valvrave-y. Q-Vier bursts into the armory in full Kaji Yuuki scenery chewing mode, blasting the hell out of the place in “death to traitors” glee, despite A-Drei’s orders to the contrary. L-Elf manages to dodge the bullet (many hundreds of them in fact) but poor Aina isn’t so lucky. Turns out she’s an important enough character to kill after all, and I guess I should have seen her death flags waving when she seemed so much more prominent than usual early in the episode. Unlike the Shouko incident in the premiere we have a body this time, and it doesn’t look at all unambiguous in its state of not being alive ever again. I like this willingness of Valvrave to pull anything at any time – it really does give you the feeling that nothing is off limits – and while Aina seemed nice enough, she only made enough of an impression for her death to be a little shocking, rather than truly sad. Harsh – but that’s just how it is in anime. It may be enough, though, to push Kyuuma over the edge into joining the ranks of Valvampires to seek his revenge for the death of his crush.
My favorite part of the episode, though, was L-Elf’s decision to voluntarily give up his body for Haruto to use in piloting his Valvrave after the latter is stuck under a convenient fallen beam. A very practical move (and one that will no doubt delight the fujoshi) and it has the desired result. Saki and Carmilla are in serious trouble against an army who came prepared, but Haruto-Elf storms the field and takes care of business pretty quickly. This is thanks, in part, to L-Elf having left helpful post-it notes in the cockpit telling him the tendencies and weak points of all his former allies in the band. In fact there’s even time for Haruto to notice the picture in L-Elf’s pocket and for L-Elf’s body to shed a few tears over it, though why he has a picture of Alvis Hamilton (Lisolette? Is that you?) in there I’m not sure. Hell, it’s Valvrave – does it really matter?