Bad CGI and all, this last sequence of battles has been one of the best I’ve seen in anime for a long time. Admittedly that’s a pretty low bar since hardly anyone is doing this sort of thing these days, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the staging has been truly great. This episode especially was an adrenaline rush from start to finish, with both the larger conflict and the individual battles choreographed beautifully in both the physical and narrative sense.
I know I’m not supposed to, but I find myself rooting for Lun Hu a little bit here – not to win, necessarily, but not to get killed. Great villains like him don’t grow on trees, and I like the idea of him continuing to lurk out there as a threat. But if we saw anything this week, it was that great generals are susceptible to overconfidence just like anyone else – it might be their most common failing, in fact. In Lun Hu’s case it seems to be a simple miscalculation that there wasn’t anyone on the Qin side clever enough to really surprise him. But there was – one man, at least.
Make no mistake, no matter whether it’s Xin or Wang Ben who takes Lun Hu’s head – if it comes to that – the victory belongs to Meng Tian. It was he who devised the brilliant strategy that got the other two young wolves within sword’s breadth of the enemy, and he who softened up the enemy by taking out a good chunk of Lun Hu’s elite 700-man personal guard, and great cost to his own Yueha Unit. Not only is Meng Tian brilliant, but selfless – his judgment was that only his unit was strong enough to take on the thankless role of attacking first, so that’s exactly what he did.
The Meng family grows more and more interesting with each new twist – Meng Ao himself is a bit of an odd duck as far as generals go, especially of this era – a genuinely kind man who leads more by collaboration than force of will. Clearly he’s overprotective of his grandson, despite (or perhaps because) he knows how brilliant the boy is. Meng Tian’s own father feels he has to push Meng Ao to give Tian a bigger (and more dangerous) role, a seemingly somewhat cold and emotionless act but one that reflects the fact that Meng Wu is a more typical military man than either his father or his son.
As for the others, they have their showdown with Lun Hu, thanks to Meng Tian’s perfectly timed retreat which lured still more of Lun Hu’s guards away from their Lord. Are they enough to take him two-on-one? They’ll have to be, because Qian Lei has pulled back to help keep the rest of the Feixin Force from being wiped out and keep as many of the enemy occupied as possible. Lun Hu makes another mistake here, declaring Xin the more “manageable” of the two foes and therefore going after Wang Ben first – but he’s underestimated Xin. For all he lacks in military expertise he has that intangible quality of GAR that makes him more dangerous than anyone when the chips are down, even Meng Tian. It took Meng Tian’s genius to get Xin to Lun Hu’s doorstep but once events boil down to a simple struggle to the death, Xin is the one you wouldn’t want to be crossing blades with.
Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta – 06
If you blink when you’re watching Yozakura Quartet, you’re liable to miss a panty shot. The beginning, anyway – the camera usually holds on for five or six seconds.
We’ve pretty much been down this road with YQ before, so there’s not a whole lot to comment on with this episode. There was some pretty awesome action, solidly in the Gainax tradition (though with a fair bit of CGI in the train-cannon sequence), unapologetic and extended panty shots, and enough deux ex machina for a month’s supply of fanfiction.
The most striking this about this series is definitely the effortless way stuff just happens, without any explanation. In a way Yozakura exists in a sort of Memento world, always living in the present. As I’ve said before that’s both a blessing and a curse, as it makes those individual moments easy to enjoy but prevents any of it from having any lasting impact. Kotoha is a glaring example both generally and in this episode – her ability is a huge dramatic cheat to begin with, because Yasuda just has her come up with whatever she needs to serve the plot (read, get some panties exposed and spectacularly have things explode and collide with other things). But that’s also what gives Ryo-timo an excuse to do that cannon-train sequence, and who’d be crazy enough to complain about that?
The other takeaway from this ep is that Akina really is pretty useless in battle – Hime did everything but tell him to stay barefoot while he’s in the kitchen doing the cooking. But then, to each his role, and Akina’a is not to do the heavy lifting – that’s for the likes of Hime, Kotoha and Kyousuke. I don’t much care about The Tall Man, the sniveling rival mayor and the kidnapped moeblob, but I do feel bad for the lizards – they didn’t ask to be turned into giant schmoos and tossed around like professional wrestlers. Oh, and Hime now has a giant lance called Sakanade that’s made of up pure energy from the “Dragon Vein”. And white panties.