Kakumeiki Valvrave – 17

Valvrave - 17 -4 Valvrave - 17 -13 Valvrave - 17 -17

We’re past the joking stage now – Kakumeiki Valvrave is just plain good.

I’m wrong plenty of the time, so it’s OK to feel good about being right, especially when so many other people were wrong.  Those of us that saw something in Valvrave the Liberator have been proved right pretty conclusively at this point – even if the series were to tank the last seven episodes (which I don’t expect to happen) it’s still delivered a pretty fair quantity of entertainment already.  A lot of abuse was dished out by a lot of self-important critics in those early days when Valvrave was being defended, but if they bailed that’s their loss and no one else’s.

That being said, it’s fair to say Valvrave has exceeded my expectations (in truth I didn’t do much more than say it wasn’t terrible, as so many others were calling it) by proving it can be highly successful as a straight-up, plot and character driven sci-fi series and not just an unholy whirlpool of mismatched plot elements and orgiastically cheesy dialogue.  For all that it seems to have tried to include every cliche and trope ever used in mecha and sci-fi, the plot is coming together splendidly and the cast is finding traction in places where one might have expected it.  Making supporting characters interesting has always been a strength of Valvrave, and the quality goes far deeper into the cast than most of its competitors.

We have a lot going on simultaneously on several fronts (this is still Valvrave after all) but it’s surprisingly coherent and well thought-out.  One aspect of this season I really like is the way Yama Arashi has been growing steadily more human and multi-faceted, even as the heroes side has been growing more and more dysfunctional and angry.  Leading the charge for me has been H-Neun, and the little snapshots we’ve been getting of him have revealed a pretty interesting guy.  There are certainly suggestions this week that his ultimate loyalty is not to the idol group but perhaps to some kind of intelligence agency – or perhaps simply to himself, as he might be gathering all the information he has in order to try and protect himself in what’s obviously a very dangerous line of work.

Sadly, just as H-Neun was really blooming as a character he may have fatally erred in following X-Eins (to whom it must be said H-Neun is also loyal) to Grunau, a castle where he’s been invited by Cain.  This is the castle from which “no one ever returns” and indeed that seemed to be X’s fate, as he was destined to be one of the Magius’ new body.  We don’t know exactly what the “ceremony” being conducted at Grunau was, but it required the harvesting of a tremendous amount of runes (more on that shortly) and after being caught by Cain, it seems that H-Neun’s luck may have run out.  I hope not, as he was quickly becoming one of the most interesting characters in the entire cast.

Those runes, as it happens, are being harvested from a huge number of Dorssian victims (all of whom seemed to be female unless my eyes deceived me) on board the Phantom, a secret submarine the Dorssian royalists contract L-Elf to destroy in exchange for providing logistical support.  This is the truth Maria’s fate revealed, and she seems even more likely than H-Neun to be demised – when the memories run out, the life itself is consumed.  And Haruto is next in-line for this fate, having done the most piloting himself.  Haruto has been set up as the self-sacrifice figure for a while, but it’s even more clear-cut now – no matter his anger at seeing the Dorssian victims, he can’t do anything to help them without defeating Dorssia itself.  “You can run as much as you want, the world won’t stop turning.” L-Elf scolds him – and then, after Haruto comes to terms with sacrificing himself by continuing to fight, “I’ll use you until you’re worn out!”  Seriously, this guy needs his own little red book.

The really interesting element here that it casts JIOR as unmitigated villains in all this.  They set up Sashinami Academy as a food source for Valvraves, effectively, and knowing full-well what the fate of the pilots would be.  In essence, it seemed the strategy was to create as many modified pilots as possible so that they could be rotated, increasing the total number of hours the Valvraves could be used before their pilots were dead.  Of course L-Elf is planning to use the same strategy now, but he can at least argue it’s out of necessity – and he’s nothing if not the ultimate practicalist anyway.  Dorssia is evil too of course, though it’s hard to tell the players without a scorecard there – to what extent the entire country is a puppet of the Magius at this point and what factions pursue which goals – but we know that Cain is taking an even more direct approach to sucking the life force out of his victims to harvest their runes.  The only ones not using runes, it seems, are ARUS – and it may be that we simply haven’t seen the evidence yet that they are.

In short, good guys are in short supply here, and the Sashinami gang can count on no one in this universe.  They’re on their own, following a borderline-psychotic genius traitor who’s ultimately using them for his own ends, and will find them useful only for as long as their goals overlap with his.  Haruto is undeniably a good person, trying to throw away his life for a noble purpose (and the flash-forwards suggest he may succeed) but this is a world full of users and abusers, and the only force anyone can truly rely on is themselves.  That casts the actions of someone like A-Drei (who was revealed as “former royalty”, interestingly), who saves shota-Saki’s life in the cave-in, in a somewhat different light – any selfless act is a rare thing in this world, and he may not ultimately be the enemy it was so easy to assume he was.

Valvrave - 17 -9 Valvrave - 17 -10 Valvrave - 17 -11
Valvrave - 17 -12 Valvrave - 17 -14 Valvrave - 17 -15
Valvrave - 17 -16 Valvrave - 17 -18 Valvrave - 17 -19
Valvrave - 17 -20 Valvrave - 17 -21 Valvrave - 17 -22
Valvrave - 17 -23 Valvrave - 17 -24 Valvrave - 17 -25
Valvrave - 17 -26 Valvrave - 17 -27 Valvrave - 17 -28


  1. K

    I didn't expect Marie to died. That was unexpected. Also, I think the Dorssian princess had been hijacked.


  2. m

    I was going to dropped Valvrave in the first episodes..I'm glad I didn't. I kept watching it because of L-Elf and he hasn't disappoint me. But now I can see that the first episodes were silly, because of the characters. They were a bunch of silly guys. But now they've been forced to grow and the story has been growing with them.

  3. s

    I have mentioned many times that the second season of valvare has taken on a much darker and serious tone than its predecessor and its better for it; even the art reflects this shift in tone. Ive thought that this season has seen a quality shift in terms of writing but valvare still has its slight hiccups (they can definitely be overlooked though as it doesnt truly hurt what this series is or is trying to do at the moment): Marie's development was still kinda stiff and lacked the true emotional punch it should have; the act of her sacrafice was much more riveting than the exploration of her character as a whole and haruto's little nightmare in the beginning of this recent ep was a bit of a hit or miss.

    Regardless, valvare is in true top form, something i felt would eventually happen from its first season (aside from the cotroversial development of the first season). The opposing dynamics between haruto and l-elf continue to grow and are becoming more intense with each passing ep and this is just all building up to quite the ending.

    Again its nice to see shoko be mentioned this ep as im quite a fan of her character and i find Seto Asami to be quite an endearing voice actress. I hope shoko and haruto get some closure in their relationship regardless of what they decide before this series is over. As far as im concerned, one or both of them are gonna die…that much seems certain.

  4. M

    I don't think Shouko & Haruto will have much time for that anymore,lol.In her case,I'll give her credit if she manages to keep her sanity after the shitstorm that's about to hit her.She's kind of been missing out on the "fun" after all.

  5. s

    I definitely see where you're coming from, I can almost guarantee that in two more eps, things are going to turn very grim for a large portion of the cast.

  6. Z

    Sounds just like Code Geass.

  7. m

    @Zeta Zero

    Or the mirror image of Code Geass which first half was coherent and tight in terms of plot whilst R2 was a mess of too many unresolved elements.

    Also, L-elf's 'I'll use you until you're worn out!' sounds ominously like what Lulouch said about Rolo and we all know how that ended…

  8. M

    "I'm wrong plenty of the time, so it's OK to feel good about being right, especially when so many other people were wrong."


    Your head has been so far up your rectum since this show began Daniel, so it comes as no surprise that you would get ample titillation from further proving to yourself, no less, that naysayers were wrong about a Japanese cartoon. Surely nothing self-important about that.

    Reward yourself further and have a wee boast on AnimeSuki Forums next! : )

  9. .

    Enzo, how does Valvrave fare in popularity amongst the Japanese fandom? To my knowledge, Kill la KIll and Infinite Stratos 2 seem to get the most attention from the Japanese fanbase, but I can't find any info pertaining to Valvrave's reception there.

    It's interesting that Sakimori Academy and Karlstein were set up as parellel opposites to one another, although I wonder if JIOR's aim was loftier than simply defending their borders and making the students a Valvrave food source. Perhaps JIOR intended to defeat the Magius at their own game?

  10. Judging by the S1 sales of about 4-5K per volume, fairly well – it's not a huge hit on the order of Isio Nisin and whatever McMonogatari series is airing, or Infinite Stratos, but it posts solid numbers overall. For a non-moe or fujoshi series it's very hard to do much better than that these days, unless you just hit a one in a million shot like Shingeki.

  11. .

    I see, thanks for clearing that up!

    Given how Kakumei Dualism's currently a mainstream hit in Japan now, could you consider a show like Valvrave as worthy of being a somewhat 'mainstream' anime series that is safe to discuss with mainstreamer Japanese viewers, or not at all?

    And also, will you be attending the Anime Festival Asia in Singapore? I hear all the OP and ED singers for Valvrave, including TM Revolution and Nana Mizuki will be performing, and the voice actors for Haruto and L-11 will be in attendance as well.

  12. It's not so cheap to go to Singapore, so sadly not. Whatever meager travel budget I have is spent on domestic travel in all likelihood, at least for now.

    I don't think Valvrave is anywhere near as mainstream as something like Shingeki, no, but I do think it has a component of the anime fanbase from 8 or 10 years ago more so than most of the strong-selling shows.

  13. K

    Actually that's not that great for a Sunrise mecha series. Not that I think sales speak for quality either way.

    On another note I am glad you are enjoying it but I am still happy I dropped it. There are other "good" shows out there that don't need to use vampire rape as a plot point. But to each their own.

  14. .

    Really? That's a pity, because I Iove the unpredictability and twists in each episode. It's like watching Asian soap operas, with the whole 'tune-in-next-week-to find out what happens' element.

  15. I wasn't too happy with that development either – mostly because I didn't think it was handled in a way that said it was being used sensitively for genuine dramatic purpose – but that's one plot point in 17 episodes.

  16. E

    Valvrave has certainly become more well written. But at the same time, it's pretty far from what you would call great anime. The main flaw that I find in this anime is, it has too many things in the dark. Who are these aliens with body-take-over ability and where did they come from? It seems that Cain and the Fuhrer are being overtaken by the aliens already, but just how far have these aliens overtaken the humanity? Have they taken over JIOR too? Thus the Sakimori Academy experiment? What's the deal with the princess so that L-elf betrays his own country? What is going to happen to his boys band? What is going to happen to Saki? How can Haruto and L-Elf turn the battle around when they can't even beat one Cain? Are they going to die? How did they win and achieve the state we saw in the teasers? Can all of these be wrapped in current season, while 'stranded in enemy's territory' plot alone has taken a lot of time? I expect Deus ex Machinas in the future episode.

  17. J

    Enzo hits an interesting point in one of his comments about attracting the anime fanbase from 8-10 years ago. One of the reasons I've always tended to gravitate towards Sunrise anime as an older fan of anime from the 80's and 90's is that even while they are starting to use and incorporate modern anime tropes more and more it rarely feels like their shows ever become about just pushing that sort of stuff. Their production philosophy still tends to put more emphasis on the basic storytelling and development things than wink/nods at otaku sub-culture for episodes on end though they do still do that sort of thing occasionally (example might be the nerdy engineer kids commenting about sending Akira into battle and the argument that ensues with Saki) albeit more sparingly so it feels less irksome a lot of time.

    It also allows a lot of their more comedic series like Gintama, Binbogami and the like to breath and be a little more experimental too since it's not just all about references to one particular subculture or style of humor. Essentially I think they're one of the best companies at appealing to people that aren't expressly moe otaku more often than not thanks to a rather old school philosophy and probably also thanks to a near endless supply of resources to essentially be their own producer and publisher. I don't know, I just sort of appreciate being able to have faith that a show isn't going to get totally bogged down in that sort of stuff.

  18. Z

    Actually modern Sunrise series do get bogged down with that sort of stuff from time to time. Characters that are designed to appeal to specific niche demographics (but have an arbitrary role in the story) often get inserted later in the piece.

  19. J

    lol I thought I said that when I wrote "even while they are starting to use and incorporate modern anime tropes more and more it rarely feels like their shows ever become about just pushing that sort of stuff.", but nevertheless I agree.

  20. Z

    Aye, you did. I just wanted to stress the bogged down part, since it can vary from mild irritation to complete turn off.

  21. S

    My only small issue with this episode was that suddenly they're putting a lot of emphasis on the danger of piloting the valvrave. Yes their runes are being used as food for it, but it seemed pretty clear to me that the only reason that happened to Marie was because something was wrong with her and she couldn't limit the amount of runes that were being taken (also the reason the scientists were so kind as to stop using her). So taking that into account, should it really be that big an issue for anyone else? No one elses runes should be taken at that speed, and like Marie was saying, even if memories and such are taken, more can be made. Runes seem like a pretty renewable resource as long as they don't have Marie's problem. Though if at the very least Mr. Student Council President gets to pilot one, that would give an explanation other than being his descendant to his look-alike in that flash forward from last episode I believe.

    Just a small issue though. Overall its been great this season, and I was even enjoying it during season one quite a bit. Definitely one of the shows I've been looking forward to each week, and can't wait for more.

  22. f

    I think we're operating under the assumption that marie was utilized only for a brief period as a test pilot and look what it did to her memories already. Now that the valvraves are being relied upon on a regular basis, runes are in short supply. It certainly makes for an interesting dilemma going forward (although it seems that haruto is hellbent on playing the martyr here)

    So happy I picked this show back up. I bit the bullet and pushed through the initial eye-rolling and this show has turned into something pretty special for me.

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