In the continuation of the flashback, Captain Saotome Eiji picks Hyoubu to duel with the new Zero prototype fighter, piloted by the officer Fujiko knocked over. Hyoubu is able to shake off his father’s misgivings and summon the power to defeat the Zero. Just then, an American submarine enters Japanese waters, chasing down three dolphins who use telepathy to request asylum. The ESP team and Hyoubu save them, but a few years later, when Japanese surrender is imminent after the first atom bomb is dropped, Eiji shoots Hyoubu in response to one of the dolphins’ premonitions. Hyoubu doesn’t die, kills Eiji, and swears revenge against all normal humans.
Watching Hyoubu’s past, we can’t help but look back to Muv-Luv Alternative, which wasted no time painting the picture of Yui’s horrible, bloody past and engendering our emotional investment and sympathy for her character throughout the series. Rather than tell Hyoubu’s story early in the series, The Unlimited chose the middle of this cour, putting the present-day story on pause. We’re not sure we’re on board with this order. Don’t get us wrong; the last two episodes were great backstory, but it came at the expense of the present story’s momentum. Muv-Luv’s Yui’s story being told before we meet her as an adult was a clear calculation to put us firmly in her corner.
Perhaps this was also a calculation: show us Hyoubu the Bad Guy first and let us form our own opinions, then show us his past to either reinforce or subvert those opinions. In any case, everything we’ll see of Hyoubu (and Fujiko) from this point onward will be informed by the knowledge he was built up and then discarded by the military, and was powerless to stop the defeat of his country. Things went downhill for him so fast; and Eiji’s decision to eliminate him before he could muster an ESP army and destroy mankind…that was a rough hand to be dealt. But just because we’re kinda sympathetic to Hyoubu doesn’t mean he’s not every bit the threat to humanity Eiji believed.
Rating: 6 (Good)