In Japan’s capital Nagoya, army officer Nakamura argues in vain with the defense ministry on developing an artificial plant coral with which to reassurt Japan’s strength. He carries out the plan anyway, and Gen Bleu dispatches Pied Piper to retrieve the quartz at the core of the coral under Tokyo Bay. When the coral forms, a secret emerges. Ao diverts to deal with it while Fleur and Elena head for the coral. They learn the quartz is not whole, but the collected shards of the one that destroyed Tokyo 70 years ago. The secret and the water pressure damage Nirvash, but Ao is saved by Fleur and then Elena. He opens their trapar tanks to lure the secret to its destruction, and when the Nirvash runs out of fuel and is about to implode, Fleur and Elena carry him to the surface. Back on dry land, Gazelle & Co. discover Truth was behind everything. Truth lures Nakamura to his cause.
This week was another rousing and thoroughly entertaining episode with a little bit of everything, including Truth, who as it happens, is not so bad in small doses. We’re not even that concerned with learning more about him. He wants to destroy the world; we’ll leave it at that. This episode also features Fleur and Elena in surprisingly traditional bathing suits teasing Ao (go swim with them, dweeb…the sloth is!); a trip to Japan to maintain the balance of power (which no longer has a Tokyo…or an Okinawa, obviously); some cool, sleek submarine combat, and some really bad van driving from Gazelle (seriously, they’re lucky to have survived that crash…)
The underwater scenes had a nice sense of claustrophobia and suspence, especially when Ao strikes out on his own. About that: he’s never going to see eye-to-eye with Gen Bleu. They may need him to pilot Nirvash, but even if their missions put other considerations before peoples’ safety, Ao never will: he’s going after that secret before it hurts anyone. He gets a pass this week, since there was no quartz per se to retrieve and his insubordination has no ill effects, but there may come a time when Gen Bleu wants him to do something he really doesn’t feel right about doing. Of the three pilots, I’d bet Elena is the only one with no qualms about following orders. The other two have chips on their shoulders, so we’ll see.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Car Cameos: Nakamura travels around in a Toyota Harrier (AKA Lexus RX), while Gazelle & Co. ride in a Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear.
As a typhoon approaches town, the girls recall the last time they were caught in one four years ago, while exploring a haunted hotel, but don’t remember why they went or how they got out of the ordeal safe and sound. They make a wish at the big rock to remember what happened, and as a result, younger versions of themselves appear later that day, whom they then follow. The original reason for going was because there was a stage to perform on. The young counterparts attack them and lock them in the room with the stage, where the older versions sing. The youngins head home but are almost swept out to sea, but the older ones save them (and thus themselves), and then disappear like ghosts.
This was yet another instance of “be careful what you wish for” because where the big rock is concerned, it’s almost never what the wishers expect. In this way, the rock almost has a tricksterish quality to it; every wish it grants comes with a valuable lesson that helps the girls grow. This week they met the Muppet Babies versions of themselves, and they were quite a handful. Saki in particular is fiercely protective of everyone else, and they arm themselves to the teeth to visit an abandoned hotel on a day when a typhoon is forcasted. Pretty bold. The true genious of this episode is how it plays with time to simultaneously resolve the mystery from their past and pave the way to the future.
There’s a causality loop in play: the girls are saved by whom they percieve to be “ghosts” taking the form of older versions of themselves, who were only there to save them because they were curious about how they survived that day four years ago. Not only that, while initially the younger girls appear in the present day, by the time they’ve been saved, time has shifted to four years in the past, since the older girls disappear. It’s a very neat little point-of-view switcheroo. When everything’s resolved, Yuka announces she’s gotten them an idol audition: something they wished for four years ago. That’s right: there were actually two wishes this week: one in the present that led to the girls saving their younger selves, and the another in the past that gets them a shot a idol fame. Good times!
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Tied up in a dark room, Furuya is approached by Aria, Dan’ichiro’s wife and Rea’s stepmother. She tells him the story of how she became a trusted member of the Sanka family’s household staff, but like the other maids, could not seduce Dan’ichiro, who ended up marrying a sickly 15-year-old who attended a charity fencing event at his house. She died giving birth to Rea, and Dan went into a spiral of despair, nearly starving himself. Aria nursed him back to health and Dan married her, but only so Rea could have a mother. Meanwhile, Rea races to her former home to rescue Furuya.
With Furuya firmly in Dan’ichiro’s clutches, we truly didn’t know what would happen. His judgement upon Furuya was ultimately delayed this week, but not without good reason: this episode was all about Aria, Dan’ichiro’s bitter, drunk, tanned wife, and how she came to be there in the first place. Furuya mostly sits there and listens, which is fine with us; she told quite a stirring and sad story. We learn why she is the way she is, and gain a lot more sympathy and pity for her. What it boils down to is, all she ever wanted from him was Dan’ichiro’s love, but he only had love for Rea, the gift his beloved teenage wife gave him before passing away. For Rea’s whole childhood – fifteen years – Aria has been on the sidelines. Her scheme to possess Dan’ichiro’s heart backfired, and badly.
It’s a pretty heartrending moment when the butler shows Aria why she shouldn’t hold out hope Dan’ichiro will ever give her the time of day: he’s utterly obsessed with Rea, and not in a healthy, fatherly way. Aria’s disgust and despair turned to bitterness and hopelessnes. She gave up, and now mills around the mansion with a flask in her garterbelt, aimless and useless. And while Dan’ichiro can claim child porn among his crimes, we can’t help but feel a degree of pity for him too, considering who quite possibly was the love of his life, snatched away before hertime. We’re not sure if losing Rea to Furuya even caused him to snap – he had snapped long ago, and was always touched in the head. The point is, he and Aria aren’t evil villains, just deeply flawed human beings. But as Furuya says to a maid, that doesn’t give them the right to kidnap him.
Rating: 8 (Great)
With the rest of the DisCom neutralized by Medaka, Unzen takes matters into his own hands, walking straight into the Student Council office and scattering dozens of explosive super balls around. After a lengthy philosophical speech, he detonates them, destroying a large chunk of the school, including its main facade. Medaka is able to get Zenkichi, Kikaijima and Akune to safety, thwarting Unzen’s plan to off them. Contradicting Unzen’s belief she’s a perfect saint, Medaka’s rage transforms her into “War God Mode”, and she begins to wail on Unzen.
Sheesh, this Unzen kid can really prattle on at length. We found him more and more intolerable the longer he went on, and the more stylized his face became. We still have no idea what a tween is doing in sophomore year, or why he’s such a psychopath, but it would seem the episode made him intolerable by design. Even Madoka isn’t able to hold back and deliver her usual pretentious appeal to Unzen’s better nature. One, because there’s no sign he has a better nature, he clearly hates humans and loves killing them. And two, because he almost succeeds in killing her precious friends. Now he’s made it personal, and now he’s on Medaka’s bad side.
We’ve never seen her bad side. Zenkichi did, three years ago, so it’s not something that happens often. But it happens here, and we liked it. Medaka is through with diplomacy, and it’s quite satisfying to see her literally throw Unzen through the whole damn school with one punch. His submersible-grade uniform armor (whatever the hell that is) keeps him from suffering mortal wounds, so we imagine a brief extension of the fight is in order moving forward, followed by either Unzen’s destruction or reformation. We’re thinking the latter, since Medaka’s not out to kill some little misguided kid.
Rating: 6 (Good)