Called out by Lan, Muginami admits that the two of them are enemies who will inevitably go to war, but she wanted to enjoy student life with her and Madoka as long as she could. Madoka finally entertains Lan’s suspicions when someone Muginami claims to be her brother shows up, having befriended Uncle Hiroshi earlier. He is actually Lord Villagiulio of the organization known as Kiss, and he’s angry that Muginami took Vox for herself, and doesn’t consider her one of them. He tells Lan to have the Voxes destroyed, or he’ll come and do it for them.
Wow, talk about a lot of development in a short time…some light has finally shone on the somewhat annoying mystery of Muginami, and she shows her true colors, which aren’t that far removed from her manner with Madoka and Lan thus far. It’s very insidious how she talks the same way, only about much sterner things like war and enemies. She not only betrays her underlying arrogance towards her new (and she believes temporary) friends, but also a certain naivete when she acts as though her people’s conflict with Lan’s wouldn’t concern Madoka. This episode left us liking Muginami a lot more, despite her treachery. Also: Madoka is not always right!
Madoka is hurt, but that anger turns to pity when Villagiulio grabs her and dresses her down. Muginami acted of her own accord in binding herself to her orange Vox, which displeases him. That Lan knows him from her past (and even dreams about it the morning he arrives) shows us that Madoka has just stepped into some very complex and dangerous new worlds…and at this point it’s up to her and her Vox to protect Kamogawa. Being shunned and all but discarded by Villagiulio means Muginami has nowhere to turn but the comrades she’d silently looked down upon. This was an episode of bad blood, past wrongs, deceptive personalities, and hurt feelings. The honeymoon would seem to be over for the jersey club.
Marika has the Odette II shorten its course, and their opponent begins hacking their dummy systems. When Lynn launches a counter-cyberattack on the ship – called the ‘Lightning 11’ – it shuts down all its systems and starts firing shots from a beam cannon at the Odette II. Seeing that they’re using their eyeballs to target, Marika has the ships sail’s concentrate the sunlight of Tau Ceti into one massive beam of their own, which blinds them. Reinforcements arrive: the Bentenmaru, Stellar navy escorts and a second pirate ship, the Barbalusa, which Chiaki announces his her father’s ship. Her cruise successful, Marika agrees to become captain of the Bentenmaru.
Marika proves herself to everyone that she’s skipper material by making confident decisions, sticking with them, and thinking outside the box to defeat her foe, whom she and the yacht club believed was a legitimate threat. While there’s a bit of space battle eye candy in this episode, we witness the lion’s share of the battle from the bridge, on console readouts and schematics and alarms. The ship is alive with activity, and the reports and commands fly rapidly. It’s all about the procedure, the process, and the details – the real nitty-gritty of running a ship under duress. Weapons finally come into the equation, but the electronic warfare and solar sails werewhat proved decisive. Great use of strategy, tactics, and resourcefulness.
We now also learn that Chiaki Kurihara isn’t just someone Marika met by chance who’ll serve under her command on the Bentenmaru. No, Chiaki is also a pirate’s daughter (though hers is still alive); which makes her and Marika potential allies, rivals, even foes, depending on what paths they take. And so concludes the five-episode arc in which Marika shows not only her observers but herself that She Can Do This, and in which she makes her decision to take her father’s chair, was very well-orchestrated, and offered what we hope will only be a taste of the adventures to come. Next week we board the Bentenmaru and meet the rest of her crew. Should be fun.
Amata snatches Mikono back from Kagura’s clutches and escapes with his wings, while Shrade incapacitates the abductor with a violin. Kagura gets away and gives chase in the Mislagnissa, which he was able to steal with the help of a recently-awakened Mikage. Neo-Deava cancels training; Cayenne, Zessica and Andy take flight in vectors, but are no match for Kagura. An injured Cayenne lets Shrade take over, while Andy gets switched out for Amata, and the union of the three creates Aquarion Spada, a musical weapon that beheads Mislagnissa. Kagura is dragged home by Izumo, while the brief attack severely weakened an already weak Shrade, whose element power has always been too powerful for his body to withstand.
After a fairly lightweight outing last week, the peril returns in the form of the wild, angry Kagura. Curiously, both Mikono and Amata get a very strange familiarity with him, and Amata even has a vision of him and Mikono in some kind of unholy matrimony – something he doesn’t want to happen, and knows can’t. This episode is also the first night battle, and it’s very strikingly presented, what with the mecha weaving through Neo-Kowloon’s glowing forest of skyscrapers. Night or day, the city is effing gorgeous, and feels alive and pulsing.
There’s a new Aquarion combo this week too: the elegant Spada with Shrade at the head. With its whip and sure, dignified movements stern master to the feral wolf that is Kagura and his Mislagnissa. Shrade doesn’t spare the whip, and Kagura is quickly dealt with, but Shrade, whose life hangs by a thread every day, may not survive another battle. He’d have probably bought the farm if the battle had continued. Kagura is definitely not the most charming of guys, but as Mikono senses, his determination and drive are sincere – Amata’s dark counterpart.
The expressive but sometimes clingy Kuroi Mato has just entered a new year of high school and meets the beautiful, artistic Takanashi Yomi. She is polite, but Yomi’s ‘relative’ Kagari doesn’t want her befriending Mato. Distressed that Yomi may hate her, Mato talks with the school counselor, Saya, who tells her no matter how much her heart may hurt, the pain will be taken away by someone else. In Mato’s case, it’s the Black Rock Shooter, a punk’d out version of herself in a dreamworld, getting brutally punished by enormous monsters piloted by dream versions of both Yomi and Kagari. In the ordinary world, Mato reaches out to Yomi once more, resolved to be her friend…whatever the cost.
(Cracks knuckles)…Well now, with out winter staff retreat behind us, we thought we’d resume our reviews with the first of only eight episodes of the newest series on the scene. Not only were we impressed with the level of quality in the production values and the stark contrast achieved in depicting two very different universes, but we also like how at the heart of this exquisitely sweet-looking series resides a very simple story about friendship – in this case, the uneasy genesis of one – and the risk taken and costs incurred in opening one’s hand and heart to another.
The world in which the badass looking Black Rock Shooter resides, and the battles she fights, can be seen as literal manifestations of the emotional states of the ordinary Mato. Kagari freaks Mato out and rubs her in every wrong way imaginable; and in the otherworld, it is Kagari laying waste to Black Rock Shooter. Still, we expect the kid will score some victories down the road. It may have taken a month longer to arrive, but so far it’s been worth the wait. It doesn’t hurt that two of our favorite seiyus (Hanazawa and Sawashiro) voice the two lead girls.