Rinne no Lagrange – 15

Asteria, Todoroko, and the rest of Nuvomundus determine that in order to present a peaceful demonstration of Vox, they need to subject Madoka to the same tests Dizelmine subjected Lan to. Despite the risks, Madoka is gung-ho about the idea, so they proceed, with her entering a high orbit. After artificial mind stimulation fails, Asteria resorts to talking about subjects that make Madoka blush and get overexcited, leading to the opening of Rin-ne. Madoka snaps out of a dreamlike state and closes it, destroying all of the ships the phenomenon created – but the damage was done – now the Vox looks more powerful a weapon than ever.

Finally, the episode where conversation about Madoka’s virginity leads to the opening of a Rin-ne, and a red one at that. Where have you been all our lives? In all seriousness, though, Asteria and Nuvomundus took quite a risk sending out Madoka, someone known to be unpredictable when it comes to Vox Aura. Not surprisingly, the trend continues, and Asteria’s gamble backfires. Vox is as tempting a technology as ever to the great powers of the immediate stellar neighborhood…but its peaceful application remains elusive.

Meanwhile, De Metrio and Le Garite are about to descend upon lowly old Kamogawa, Japan, Earth, for a quick exchange of terms. With King Dizelmine determined to eliminate anyone who opposes his plan, and Villagiulio determined to stop him, war seems all but inevitable. In the midst of all this impending doom, Todoroko makes deliciously inappropriate, scene-silencing remarks, Madoka meets that etherial woman who warns her not to open Rin-ne (it destroys planets, dontcha know), and that same woman appears at Dizelmine’s side, calling herself Yurikano and making him tea. Why not?

Rating: 6 (Good)

Kokoro Connect – 03

While on cleanup duty, Inaba warns Taichi not to take their predicament lightly; it could end up destroying them. She wants him to make a move on Iori before she breaks from the strain of the swapping. Aoki and Taichi are caught taking video of themselves when in Inaba and Yui’s bodies. Aoki notices that Yui shakes when around men, and Yui flees the clubroom. When Yui and Taichi swap, they meet in a park, where Taichi insists on helping her get over her androphobia, giving her a painful practical lesson in how to defend herself against men, which seems to do the trick. The next day, she’s more friendly with Taichi, but Inaba suddenly faints in the middle of a sentence.

The five members of the CRC are all handling their plight in different ways, according to their personalities and worldviews. Aoki sees this as a chance to get to know Yui better (though he learns this week not to go too far when Inaba threatens to streak as him). Yui clearly doesn’t like the situation, and tried in vain to use force on Heartseed. Inaba is pessimisstic about coming out of the ordeal unscathed. Taichi, while not overjoyed, seems more willing to look on the bright side and make the most of it, where appropriate. For instance, there’s no better way to explain to a girl in a boy’s body how to defend herself than by..kicking her in the balls. Yui gets the message loud and clear, and appreciates Taichi hurting himself to help her.

We could call this a miraculous turnaround considering she’d been androphobic since middle school…but let’s not forget body-swapping is pretty damned miraculous too, and it looks like it flipped a switch in Yui. That brings us to Iori. She was totally absent from this episode, save for two brief scenes: one in which she’s assenting to something her mother recommends (we don’t know what or where), and one in which she, Aoki and Inaba hear the tail end of Yui’s new, more touchy-feeling morning greeting. It isn’t explained why she was on the sidelines, but Inaba believes she’s the weakest link in the CRC. And just when Inaba was about to concede that some good came out of the swapping, she seems to swap, then faint. A cliffhanger, eh?

Rating: 8 (Great)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 04

Lt. Takamura puts Yuuya in the Fubuki 97 TSF until the new Shiranui 94 is complete, and he has trouble controlling the Japanese design. Takamura tells him to curb his attitude, but in the subsequent joint BETA battle with the Soviets, he proves a liability, and has to be saved by his Argos teammates. Takamura tells him he lack talent, and he lets himself be led into a Top Secret Soviet base by Inia, one of the Scarlet twins, and is then arrested by Inia’s sister Cryska. Takamura pulls strings to get him released, but she warns him that this isn’t a game.

Yuuya’s American buddy Vincent suggests that if he wants to master a Japanese TSF, he has to know the Japanese mind that created it. The only problem is, as a second-gen Japanese-American, he was raised hating his Japanese side, and ostracized by his peers. Thus we have to backtrack a bit on him having a good life up to this point; the flashbacks were vivid proof his childhood was no picnic, while Takamura was from a proud and supportive family. But this still doesn’t excuse Yuuya for being the Genuine Class A Asshat that he is. Sure, his Argos Flight comrades are more forgiving with him, but we welcomed Takamura’s consistently scathing observations. She has a knack for rattling his cage, and he deserves everything she’s doling out.

Takamura isn’t in the habit of coddling her subordinates, dubbing Yuuya talentless and an embarrassmant to her race. To add injury to insult, Yuuya is almost tortured by Soviets for looking like a Japanese spy, but is bailed out at the last second by Takamura. And the jerk doesn’t even thank her. Sorry, but he doesn’t have the right to act this way. He’s one of the few people able to pilot TSFs, and he’s been chosen to be part of an outfit that looks to take the fight to the BETA. He needs to check his ego, attitude, and issues at the door before his idiocy gets people killed. Just so we’re clear: Takamura: still our fave; Yuuya: insufferable wretch in need of an attitude adjustment. Inia and Cryska: twincestuous Soviets??? O_o

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Sword Art Online – 03

While the front line teams are approaching the halfway point of the game, Kirito wallows down on the 20th floor, where he saves the lives of a guild called the Moonlit Black Cats. They insist he join them, and he does, though he conceals his far higher level from them. While a member, they climb high, and he befriends Sachi, a girl constantly afraid of dying; Kirito insists she won’t. While the Cats’ leader Keita is off buying the guild’s first house, the rest go to a dungeon and are ensnared in a treasure box trap, and everyone is killed except for Kirito. When Keita returns and learns of Kirito’s level, he commits suicide.

Kirito goes after a level boss called Nicholas Renegade, who arrives at the stroke of midnight on Christmas, believing he’ll drop a rare item that will bring Sachi back. Klein and his men fight off the elite Holy Dragon Alliance, and Kirito defeats Nicholas, but the item will only bring back a life ‘within ten seconds’ of dying. He gives the item to Klein and slinks off on his own. That night, he recieves an auto-sent message from Sachi, in case she died, telling him not to blame himself and keep surviving to the end.

This weeks episode shows us a Kirito who hasn’t taken leadership of any group or guild, but merely wanders the game, leveling up and staying away from the front lines. But circumstances led him to saving a lower-leveled guild, and when they insist he join up, he can’t say no. This is a group of friends in real life (a PC research club), and it’s probably nice from Kirito’s perspective, at this point in the game, to see that there are close-knit ‘families’ fighting for one another. He probably couldn’t turn his back on that…only he didn’t reveal he was double their level when he joined. Thus he entered a “safe” arrangement – until he learns that one stupid mistake in the game can mean game over. It’s pretty awful to see the guild get killed one by one, but as soon as Kirito told Sachi earlier she wouldn’t die, we kinda expected her to, and she did.

Sometimes simple premises are the best when dealing with single-episode romances like that of Kirito and Sachi, so we’re glad they didn’t do too much, and were moved nonetheless. We found ourselves hoping he could keep her alive and help her overcome her fear. When she died, we hoped he could bring her back, but it just wasn’t to be (the “within ten seconds” catch was particularly heartbreaking). Sachi’s posthumous message was a touching coda to their story of tender, doomed romance. It hopefully allows Kirito to move forward and become a more important force in SAO – if not for himself, than for everyone else; something his dead leader Keita insisted the elite groups were doing.

Rating: 9 (Superior)