Suisei no Gargantia – 12

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Kugel’s underlings put Pinion to work in a huge warehouse of treasure, assessing what materials can be restored as arms, and is welcome to whatever else there is. Rukkage tells him she’s sick of Kugel’s methods and plans to rebel soon. Ledo begs Kugel not to Gargantia, but he ignores him. Flange meets with Pinion, worried about how the people of the fleet they’ve joined act like ghosts. After witnessing a sickening mass human “sacrifice”, Ledo has had enough. He sends Melty out to warn Gargantia, and Amy saves her from falling into the sea after passing out.

When she wakes up she tells them about Ledo’s plan. Amy pleads with Ridget and the fleet leaders to fight by Ledo’s side rather than run. As Kugel is about to commence the attack on Gargantia, Ledo and Chamber confront him, and Striker attacks. They duel in the skies while Pinion provides support fire from below. The Flange and Rukkage ships rebel against Kugel’s, and a huge battle erupts. Ledo grabs hold of Striker with chamber and slams him into the funnel of a ship. When he open’s Striker’s cockpit, he discovers that Kugel is already dead, and Striker has been acting independently using his voice.

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The epic, cinematic scale of the opening episode returns this week, as the dire situation comes to a head and those who caused it through their past, rash choices are now faced with the fact that they’ve chosen the wrong side. We’re talking about Pinion and Ledo, of course. Pinion saw a future of unbridled riches, power, and prestige, but once Kugel came in, he was reduced to just another drone towing the company line by any other name. Like Rukkage, his underlying yearning to be free was eventually going to overcome his complacency. Watching mass murder under the guise of a religious ritual can’t hurt either! Ledo had been willing to defer to Kugel’s judgment in accordance with the oath he took to the Galactic Alliance to obey his commander, a man who was also a friend and mentor.

But after that sickening ritual, like Pinion, Ledo is all like: “Fuck THIS shit.” He can’t be loyal to a Kugel who allows the destruction of society any more than Pinion and Rukkage can survive under the new order. The ensuing multi-vector battle is a stirring symphony of chaos and awesome laser blasts, and Gargantia isn’t even in the picture yet! And of course, the reveal that Kugel is dead and Striker is operating on her own is a great twist that not only redeems Kugel (he was never this much of a jerk!) but also proves yet again that there’s a point at which humans will have to decide exactly how far they want to progress technologically, before they pass the point of no return: self-destruction.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • A clue to something not being quite right about Kugel: he repeats himself verbatim in telling Ledo not to waver. 
  • Also, looking back, we never saw the guy except in holographic images.
  • Thankfully, Ledo doesn’t have to fight long with Chamber to convince him to fight Striker. Maybe hanging around on Gargantia changed him too, eh?
  • Melty plays a crucial role in this episode both by relaying Flange’s concerns to the isolated Pinion, and more impressively, traveling by surf kite to Gargantia to warn them. She rocks!
  • If the anti-“Kugel” forces combine, they’ll outnumber the “Kugel” fleet by quite a bit, but we’ll see how many of “Kugel”‘s followers are true believers who will fight for him with their last breaths. Also, superior numbers will be meaningless against Striker. She’s at least the equal of Chamber in firepower, and if she wanted, she could wipe out every last human in all the fleets. She’s gotta be stopped.
  • We wonder what “Heaven’s Ladder” is…sounds cool.

 

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Chihayafuru 2 – 24

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In the Class A final, as Taichi and Chihaya enter to watch, Arata has built a good lead against Shinobu using his combination of a nearly flawless game plan and calm demeanor that even throws Shinobu off her game. She breaks a sweat and swipes more aggressively, starting a comeback. But in the end, Arata defeats her by two cards, then finds out Shinobu was playing with a fever from being drenched in the rain. For her part, she’s happy someone finally put up a fight against her, even if she did lose for the first time in years.

This was built up to be quite a match, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. Shinobu is the Queen, and Arata is Heir Apparent to the Master’s throne. Even the karuta boffins are in awe of what they are watching. The atmosphere is so thick you can slice it with a knife and chew it. After watching Shinobu so easily dispatch all below her, Arata puts the screws to her, and we see her growing more emotional and desperate. Both Porky and the Fujisaki dude, other victims of Arata, know that it isn’t just his skills and sadism that intimidate; it’s the easy smile and serene calm he exerts while doing so. But that wasn’t always the case.

Shinobu was born great, but Arata was merely born into greatness, and had to work his ass off to get there. Also, his greatness didn’t fit his younger body; it wasn’t until he became fully grown that the karuta he visualized matched his body. Now that he’s in synch, there may be no stopping him, though Master Suo is a pretty mythic figure in his own right, and if there’s ever a third season, we can easily see Arata losing to him. But for now, he’s the individual champion. He proved Shinobu wrong: she may be more connected to the cards, but her strength wasn’t quite enough against chihayafuru – the perfectly spinning top – the impassionate one.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Hey, Midori sneaks Chihaya and Taichi into the match. She’s not so bad!
  • The poem Kana refers to Hanano is pretty spot-on!
  • Cute Chihaya moments: when she suddenly realizes she and Taichi are now officially rivals; and when she starts practice swinging during the match and Taichi has to stop her.
  • You know you have a badass reputation when people are shocked when you start sweating after five matches.
  • For perhaps the first time, some of the queen’s swings don’t make that bell-through-water sound, indicating she’s off her game and taking risks to stave off defeat. Nice touch there.
  • Arata’s grandfather was very firm and direct, but not cold or strict. He could probably see that Arata wouldn’t rise to greatness until he’d risen a bit in height.