Kaoru notices Sentaro has the girl he saved, Yurika, on his mind, and proposes a double date, with Sentaro asking her out, and Kaoru coming with Ritsuko. Sentaro screws up and tells Yurika Kaoru invited her, which she relays to Ritsuko on the day of the date. Even so, Sentaro clearly has the chemistry with Yurika, and Ritsuko gets upset, troubling Kaoru. He and Sentaro have a fight, but make up with a jazz session in Ritsuko’s basement at her behest. Later, Kaoru plays Bill Evans especially for Ritsuko and confesses, but doesn’t ask for an immediate answer.
Absorbing. Uplifting. Compelling. Captivating. Lovely. All of these things can describe this, our favorite episode yet of Sakamichi no Apollon. Such realistic and interesting depictions of groups of friends coming to terms with feelings for one another – and the challenges of those feelings not necesarily lining up – are rare, and should be cherished. But love triangles aren’t all that’s going on here; there’s those excellent, inspired scenes of jazz. First, Ritsuko misunderstands that Kaoru is feuding with Sentaro because he likes Yurika, so does the logical thing: lock them in the basement with a piano and drums and let them work it out, which they do.
No physical or verbal argument takes place: they duke it out with music. Then, Kaoru decides to do the same with Ritsuko: convey his feelings with a lovely and moving rendition of “Someday My Prince Will Come,” a real song we think had moreimpact than anything he could have written (he’s still green, after all). When she still doesn’t get it, he tells her, and then there is no more misunderstanding. We don’t hear how or if she responds, but we can imagine as flattered as she is, she won’t immediately get over Sentaro.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Haru’s duel with Cyan Pile starts badly, as Silver Crow quickly loses an arm and a foot, negating his speed advantage. Taku knows about Haru linking with Chiyu, and is tired of competing with him for her affections, and wants to defeat Haru to prove his usefulness to the Blue Legion. He Spiral Gravity Drives Haru deep underground, where Haru finds Kuroyukihime. Silver Crow is repaired and spreads wings, and flies Taku high into the sky, but doesn’t defeat him, as he wants him as his ally. Kuroyukihime arrives and reveals her true Black Lotus form to everyone. In the real world, Haru visits her in the hospital, where she prepares to tell him her real name.
This episode paints Taku as an underhanded, calculating, coward, who has used his accelerating abilities to get ahead at school and in life. He was glad when Chiyu chose him, the “practical” choice, but he’d admit that he knows Chiyu also likes Haru, and not just as a friend. Haru may have snooped around Chiyu’s files too, but that’s because it was possible she was Cyan Pile. So Haru is always in the right this week, and even though there’s a point when his avatar is literally bowing before Taku, in the end, he’s the one in control. In true Haru fashion, he chooses to forgive his friend, despite the fact he’s been a colossal jerk.
We see Haru and Taku’s relationship as similar to Shuu and Yahiro’s in Guilty Crown; they’d always had their differences, but they’re friends and they always work them out. Only here, there’s a girl between them, even though Haru seems to be in good standing with Kuroyukihime, who is magically unscathed despite getting punted by a car last week. With her identity revealed to the other linkers, and her legion Nego Nebulus (silly name) mobilized, it seems she’ll be commanding both Haru and Taku in future virtual campaigns.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Robert Dolittle leads a huge fleet and bombards the Bentenmaru with laser fire. As Ai evades the attacks, Marika, Jenny, Chiaki, and the Serenity sisters hatch a plan. The Bentenmaru escapes from the Dolittle fleet, intercepts Jenny’s fiance’s ship, and hacks into interstellar broadcasting, recording live coverage of his unsavory dallying in revolutionary movements. Uncle Robert shows up, but thanks to Marika’s quarantined crew, they have more than enough dirt on the company to have him arrested for corruption and weapons trafficking. Her normal crew tests negative for illness, and Marika and her amateur crew return home triumphant.
The Dolittle arc comes to a sudden, action-packed, rousing, sometimes ridiculous conclusion, but unfortunately it did so in a way that very often stretched and strained credulity, coming off as a bit over-neat and tidy. Let’s start at the beginning: the threat of Doolittle’s fleet is all too-easily brushed aside. One of the cooler little moments in the episode is when we see first-year helmsgirl Ai’s legs shaking as she evades the attacks – this is new territory for her. But her piloting is a little too perfect, as are the FTL girl’s engineering skills and Lynn’s apparently limitless hacking abilities. There’s no doubt these are extremely bright and talented girls, but the Doolittle fleet comes of as pathetically inept.
Then there’s the extremely complicated plan to get Jenny out of her fix. It involves boarding the Glorious Krooph, which just happens to be flying around nearby. Never mind the fact that the crew boards her in that stupid cosplay again (though we have to admit we did enjoy priestess Chiaki with her taped-up gun and disgusted outburst) but there’s a friggin’ army on that ship, not tourists, and they let themselves get captured by a handful of high schoolers? Again the bad guys are just too stupid for words. Broadcasting their raid live to expose Krooph and Dolittle certainly tied those guys’ hands somewhat, but again, how in the hell was Lynn able to do that…and who was making the realtime titles and graphics? This episode was fun, but things were wrapped up too easily and neatly, and the Yacht Club students were simply way too perfect.
Ao gets assistance from Fleur and Elena and manages to destroy the secret carrier, but he crash-lands on a beach. A good samaratin rescues him and takes him to the Okinawan capital, where his sister promptly sells him out. They head to a trapar mine, where Generation Bleu and Naru are waiting for him. With the JAF on his tail, he decides to join. He wants Naru to stay with her family, but takes Noah with him. Gazelle & Co. stow away aboard the Triton.
Ao has now chosen to follow in his mother’s footsteps and pilot the Nirvash to protect his island, even if his island doesn’t like him. It may get him killed, but that’s what he feels he needs to do. This week he learned not everyone resents him, as Eureka saved many lives in the Nirvash, and many of those people remain grateful, like the good samaratin. Unfortunately his sister represented the other side; those who would sell Ao out for a quick buck or passage to the US.
As a member of Generation Bleu, Ao will be protected from all those who want him and his mecha. We can also look forward to more interations between him and the somewhat haughty and spoiled Fleur and Elena, whose senses of smug entitlement he cannot hope to match (though you neve rknow, as piloting Nirvash may go to his head too.) Personally we wish Naru was going with him to keep keep him grounded, but her mysterious illness (perhaps caused by scub coral particles) would put her at risk.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Rinko catches a cold and Yuka nurses her back to health. The next day, Yuka gets sick and can’t hang out with the other three. She’s out of commision for four days, during which Natsumi, Rin and Saki take measure of their relationship with her.
This week there were no dates, no girls gettting stuck together or switching bodies. In fact, not much of anything happened at all. Saki and Natsumi agreed to play one final match together at the request of their senpais, but there’s no match this week, while Rin and Yuka both get sick. It’s a quiet, contemplative episode of simply hanging out and existing.
We’re okay with that – not every week needs to be a slapstick comedy based on a granted wish gone wrong. And as always, the girls are fun to watch even when they’re not doing anything. Laid-back anime that’s still entertaining is no easy task, but this series works for us. Also, the whale hallucinations were a nice trippy touch. That Rin is a weird one…
Rating: 6 (Good)