Able athlete and “Sweats Club” president Kyono Madoka is one day confronted by a mysterious silver-haired girl named Lan, who escorts her to an offshore installation where she’s brought face to face with a robot she’s meant to pilot. Lan was sent from space by L’Egalite to protect her from Demetria, their enemy. Madoka pilots the robot and defeats the Demetrian counterpart using a kendo move.
This Winter 2012 series has delivered the most visual punch, and if it keeps up this ambitious level of quality, it will certainly be doing battle with Moretsu Pirates, once that series gets out into space and starts flexing its muscles. Still, this series was the first to provide a big action setpiece (Madoka’s first duel), and it was quite well done. This show has a budget and knows how to use it, both in CGI and design as well as really nice use of color, light, and a really appealing futuristic techno score, all working in concert to create a sleek, slick, and optimistic setting, with darker forces lurking beneath it.
We had misgivings when heroine Madoka stripped down in the first minute (she had a swimsuit on underneath), but we found ourselves warming up to her the more we saw her. We certainly appreciate another strong female character this season. She’s great at swimming, tennis, kendo, baseball – all skills that should serve her well as a mecha pilot. She’s got nice quirky details like her track suit with one rolled-up sleave pant leg and her hair bunched by a rubber band. And while the Vox robot seems initially “icky”, she quickly gets the hang of things. It’s suggested this robot may have saved her from drowning in the past, but it seems like her older cousin would rather she not pilot Vox. We’re glad she will, though; otherwise there’d be no show!
Miyoshi stays away from the studio, and when Takagi calls her she blows him off. Busy with their gag manga manuscript, they continue working. When Miyoshi tells Miho about her suspicions, Miho worries that Mashiro is in on the deception as well. “Tanto” is well recieved in NEXT, but Fukuda, Niizuma, and Hattori all believe Ashirogi Muto’s talents are wasted on gag manga. Meanwhile, Aoki’s manga draws heavily from her experience with Nakai and rips off Mashiro and Miho’s romance. Miho finally calls Takagi wanting an explanation from both of them. When Mashiro can’t give her one, she hangs up.
Yikes…the hole just got deeper for Ashirogi Muto, as both are caught up in Takagi’s multi-girl carousel…and for what? While “Tanto” looks to be serialized, everyone who knows them best are disappointed they’re not doing more serious work. To that, we’d argue they already tried that and failed, and right now they just need a hit; and to us it seems looking down at gag manga is akin to novelists looking down on mangakas. But as they hunch over their desks working on “Tanto”, all kinds of things are being set in motion in their real lives. It kind of sucks that the letter Iwase put in Takagi’s book is such an obvious plot device for romantic conflict, but it was really a catalyst for bigger problems.
Takagi and Mashiro have been taking advantage of Miyoshi’s kindness. And with Aoki exhibiting signs that she may be falling for Takagi, and the fact her manga so closely mirrors Mashiro and Miho’s story, compound the problems quite a bit. We’re as disappointed as Miho when Mashiro conceals the truth from her. If all four people simply sat in a room and unraveled everything – without omissions or lies – everything would be cleared up. After all, it started innocently as Takagi seeking the advice from someone who better understood girls. As for Mashiro failing to tell Miho that her mother and his uncle exchanged letters, well, bad move. And more ammunition for Miho’s assertion she can’t trust him.