Valvrave the Liberator – 24 (Fin)

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New JIOR’s plan PR falters when the Council leans on the media to report their stunt as a hoax. Cain sorties and defeats X-eins. Haruto body-jacks L-elf and defeats Cain, but loses all his runes in the process and dies. The Royalists begin a coup of Dorssia, and ARUS takes advantage to rid themselves of the Magius, leading to a long, bloody struggle. In the future, a new Galactic Empire thrives based on peaceful interaction with extra-terrestrials like the Magius.

Since he never showed up in any of the future cold opens, and due to the amount of memories he’d lost in all the fighting, we were fairly certain Haruto wouldn’t survive the final battle. When he first his the “Yes” button to “resigning his humanity”, it didn’t (just) mean turning into a rune-sucking monster. Most humans, after all, do whatever they can to survive. He and the other Valvraves, on the other hand, were given eternal life and the choice to give it all up fighting for the survival of others, which meant laying down his life. Of course, even had he gone after Cain with everything he had (and everything he was), he probably still wouldn’t have beaten him without L-elf by his side.

We reach end of the Valvrave saga a little disappointed. The finale had some moving moments, the episode felt rushed, and the epilogue was a little paltry after so much epic struggle: Satomi and Takahi get married, Saki and Akira are teachers of some sort, and all the fallen heroes from the past get…cheesy marble busts all crowded together in a musty room. Between Cain’s defeat and the good future, we’re a little fuzzy on how the world achieved the peace they enjoy. The final shot of Unit 1’s cockpit was a bit on the preachy side, trying to tidily sum up the moral of the show. Trust alone isn’t enough to garner peace. Humans will always harbor secrets; how they’re unveiled affects the course of history.


Rating: 6 (Good)
Final Cumulative Rating: 7.333
MyAnimeList Score (as of 12/27/13): 7.74

Valvrave the Liberator – 23

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Haruto, Rukino, Yamada and Akira return to the rocketship, where Shoko thanks them but confines them to the hangar. Posing as an injured pilot, L-elf infiltrates Dorssian forces; A-drei and X-eins share his goals to eliminate Cain and his allies. As the Dorssian Fuhrer holds a speech on a heavily-defended Module 77, the Valvraves launch a seemingly desperate attack. Haruto loses more memories of Shoko but fights on as he promised Rukino. Yamada is killed by Q-vier while defending Akira, and she’s able to hack the comms network so the Council can’t cut the feed when L-elf appears on stage, slits the Fuhrer’s throat, and the world watches the wound heal, exposing his inhumanity.

In case you missed it (you probably didn’t): what’s left of New JIOR continues to owe its very existence to the efforts of L-elf, who springs back into action, dons his old gaudy uniform, yells “LIGHTNING SWORD!”, and fights alongside his old comrades, all doing their part to “unveil the world.” It’s a triumphant turnaround to be sure after the abject despair of two weeks ago. That being said, the important victory achieved this week was a full team effort. L-elf was aided by comrades on both sides. Haruto Valvrave pilots were resolved to fight to the bitter end even if their own people hated them, while Cain’s villainy had simply gotten to be too much for A-drei and X-eins, and Kriemhild.

It’s also an episode of brave faces: Haruto’s, Shoko’s, and L-elf’s. They put them on not just for their friends and allies, but for themselves, to get through what must be gotten through. These three simply cannot give up. Of course, all the resolve and bravery in the world (ahem, Yamada, RIP) won’t save you if you don’t have a decent plan for victory: enter L-elf once more, turning the tables in the P.R. battle. The people may not yet trust JIOR, but they now know they can’t trust anyone. The people still have to be convinced they can trust the Valvraves, while the Council must still be brought low, and Cain hasn’t even entered the fray in honest yet. There’s an awful lot to do in the final episode, much like last season.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Valvrave the Liberator – 22

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Haruto and L-elf crash land in a deep crater with a broken transmitter. Haruto finds a flare, but the two start arguing and get into a fight. Meanwhile, when another student Shoko is tending to dies, it compels her to enter Unit 1’s cockpit, where she learns from Pino that Haruto resigned his humanity to avenge her when he thought she was dead. After experiencing visions of the dead, Haruto and L-elf say they’re not ready to die, creating a reaction that shoves L-elf off him. They use the power to launch the flare. Three Dorssian fighters arrive, but they’re fought off by Rukino Saki in Unit 4, who was freed by A-drei. Haruto and L-elf promise to help each other “unveil the world” by exposing the Council of 101.

In the depths of despair Haruto claims that he’s being punished for his actions, which he deems sins. But the terrible situation he, L-elf, Shouko, and JIOR find themselves in is a result not of actions, but inactions and omissions. With some time to think and get whaled on by L-elf while they’re in chunky orange Tintin spacesuits, he finally learns that. Everyone learns a lot this week: L-elf learns Liseilotte was a pro-human Magius, and finds something to live for: carrying on her dream of a world where her kind can coexist with humans. Shouko learns that Haruto had to push that button, and he only pushed it because of her. A-drei learns that L-elf was possessed when he shot his eye, and didn’t really betray him.

After all hell broke loose last week, this was a welcome taking-stock episode that allowed everyone to catch up. What’s so brutally ironic (and typical of this show) is that had the things that came to light for people this week happened just two weeks before, Shouko could have postponed the ill-fated summit that led to the branding of JIOR as a nation of monsters. A-drei could have freed Saki earlier. Alas, Shouko and A-drei learned the truth and Haruto and L-elf had it out too late to avoid a bunch of death. Now that they have, there’s a path forward; perhaps bumpier than it needed to be, but at least Haruto and L-elf are in agreement: it’s not time for them to die, and there’ll be no more secrets. It’s time to unveil the world.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Why, it’s another Future Saki cold open, with what looks like Satomi and a baby L-elf “prince.” They’ve also apparently preserved the school where this all began. Interesting…
  • Shouko gets the full rundown from Pino, complete with Haruto-absolving ValvTube evidence! The scene unnderlines just how much easier things could have gone in the last two episodes had Haruto just told Shouko the truth.
  • Spacesuit fights are always so amusingly clumsy, aren’t they?
  • Something very Star Wars-y about Haruto meeting with Dead Kyuuma, Mari, and Aina (Hi Aina!).

Valvrave the Liberator – 21

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After the Dorssian Fuhrer reveals Rukino Saki’s immortality, he cuts to live footage of a reporter entering the hold of the Phantom and finding the humans being drained of runes, among them Iori’s father. The ARUS president declares all New JIORans dangerous lifeforms, and his soldiers commence the wholesale execution the students. He and the Furher also form a Dorssio-ARUS alliance, vowing to stamp out JIOR. The Valvraves scramble to cover the survivors’ escape, but students led by Iori trick Haruto and hand him and L-elf over in exchange for leniency. ARUS immediately double-crosses them, but Inuzuka shields them until they’re able to launch, and rescues Haruto and L-elf before dying in a blaze of glory.

It’s a near total defeat for the fledgling nation of New JIOR, as we see what happens when they play with fire and depend on such a small and fragile force to defend them. For all the weapons brought to bear on either side, and weapons they’ve endured, the ultimate weapon of their downfall turned out to be…PR. The instant wide-ranging media access meant to gather other nations to their cause was turned against them by the Council, a force far more skilled and experienced in its manipulation. Even if Shouko knew what the hell was going on, no one has the patience to hear any more explanations, as painfully demonstrated when a JIOR student comes forward to calmly explain – and gets a bullet in the head for his trouble. The bloody, merciless purge of unarmed, mortal students that follows is truly gut-wrenching and difficult to watch.

The show fixes an unblinking eye on the carnage, as classrooms are sprayed with bullets and terrified, cowering students are mowed down. As they’re being slaughtered like sheep, they turn on their once-saviors, and you really can’t blame them. For all the Valvraves’ heroics, they dug the graves of their countrymen by keeping them in the dark about so many important, dangerous things for too long. The truth didn’t kill them; being protected from the truth did. As we saw, an international summit on live TV was not the ideal time for Shouko or the world to learn such things. Now Shouko has turned away from Haruto, not knowing who he is anymore, while Haruto’s memories are literally shattering; L-elf is useless, Inuzuka is dead (in heroic fashion), Rukino is still imprisoned; and all of humanity have united against what’s left of New JIOR. They’ve never been more down, but they’re not out. Nothing is out of the question where this show is concerned.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Valvrave the Liberator – 20

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Haruto and the rest of the team that went to earth successfully stop the Phantom headed to Module 77 and return to a hero’s welcome, as Shoko has been gathering support and media attention. She has also arranged an international summit, where ARUS and other powers have pledged to condemn Dorssia’s actions. L-elf has isolated himself in a cargo hold. When the summit starts, the Dorssian Fuhrer commences a broadcast announcing they have Rukino Saki in custody. Cain stabs her through the heart and everyone watches her revive and heal, proving she isn’t human.

Last season we weren’t shy in expressing our reservations about the viability of an independent country ruled for and by a bunch of high schoolers. We’d spent so much time with the Earth-bound team recently that we nearly forgot the bulk of the country was still on the Moon, trying not to wear out their welcome and forging alliances. Haruto also forgot that Shoko and the others were fighting while he was otherwise occupied. It’s a shock to see the fruit of his labors in the form of tearful family reunions and hard-hitting media interviews by journalist who have dealt with his naive sort before, who make him wonder if he really is tilting at windmills.

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Kyuuma also tells Haruto he’ll go mad if he tries to fix all the myriad problems currently on his plate, and should enjoy life while he can; for tomorrow, everything could be over. Haruto shows a glimmer of reception to that, as he’s well aware he’s running himself ragged trying to do everything when he can’t. There’s no more powerful reminder of the result of that path than poor L-elf, who executed his plan all the way to the end but ended up losing the most important thing in the world to him. Now he’s lost, inconsolable, and New JIOR is immediately worse off for it, as Dorssia proves they can fight a P.R. war with the best of them.

Now that the secret of the Valvrave pilots is essentially out, New JIOR will likely find themselves standing alone, and all of Shoko’s diplomatic work blowing up in her face. That unfortunate and sudden reversal of fortune is the Council’s doing, as they’re tired of these children and want them out of the way. Even if L-elf was 100% back on his game, the fact remained they left Saki behind. And almost as a cruel self-rebuttal to that horrible music video the JIORans made in more innocent times, the show has Saki viciously stabbed through the heart on live TV to an audience of hundreds of millions. Valvrave does not mess around.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)
)

Valvrave the Liberator – 19

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L-elf rescues Lieselotte from her captivity, confessing his love, but their escape is interrupted by Q-vier. Haruto crashes through the wall in Unit 1, and L-elf hands Lieselotte off to him. Her presence in the cockpit surprises Pino, and Haruto learns she is a Magius—a being with no physical body that lives off of runes—and that he’s one too. The rocket launch is stymied by the loss of a runway, but L-elf lowers a drawbridge and the rocket launches as the Valvraves protect it. Q-vier hits one of its hydrogen tanks, but Liselotte repairs it, at the cost of all her runes.

So the Magius crash on earth, possess animals and people to live and consume their runes to survive. They eventually form a council with humans to oversee earth’s affairs, of which Lieselotte doesn’t want any part, so she’s imprisoned and regularly drained of power with that tanning booth. Meanwhile, the Magius serve as cores for Valvrave units, whose pilots must literally resign humanity in order to operate them, thus becoming a “new lifeform” similar to immortal Magius, which explains Saki’s presence in the distant future. Should we be worried that some of this is actually making sense? Valvrave, how could you!

Practically speaking, this is an episode in which the New JIORans get the hell out of Dodge—er, Dorssiana. But L-elf also came to rescue the one he loves. He helped build and strengthen New JIOR for her more than anyone else. Sure he’s only known less than an hour in total, but that’s apparently enough. So it’s unfortunate, even tragic, when we find that she can’t return his feelings, not because she doesn’t share them, but because she’s unsure what love is, even after centuries of living in human form. It’s your classic lovers-of-different-races predicament. Worse still, she ends up “emptied” like Marie. L-elf just can’t catch a break!

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 18

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L-elf receives intel from the Royalists about an old-fashioned multi-stage rocket in a museum in the old capital of Dorssiana, and a list of JIORans who were deported to that town, including Haruto’s dad Soichi. When L-elf figures out Lieselotte is the member of the royal family helping him, he runs off. Haruto’s dad turns out to be the head scientist in charge of the VVV Project, and engineered Haruto and the others to create a new, superior lifeform. Disgusted, Haruto promises his dad he’ll destroy the Valvraves. L-elf infiltrates the castle where Lieselotte is being held captive, and offers to take her away.

Back when he and Lieselotte were last together, L-elf didn’t have a plan, but now he does. He has a friendly country in New JIOR she can escape to, and powerful weapons to protect her in Haruto and the Valvraves. If indeed everything L-elf has done since participating in the invasion of JIOR and defecting from Dorssia has been so he could one day rescue his princess, well, we must applaud his long game and diligent planning. So…what will be her excuse for not coming with him this time? The wrath of Cain, perhaps…

Anyway, everyone’s got something to do this week, with Saki still possessing a boy and chillin’ with A-drei, Otamaya and his team preparing to commandeer an old rocket in a museum for transportation (?!?), and L-elf off doin’ his thang, Haruto finally gets to meet his dad, something he was very excited about until, oh, about a minute after reuniting with him. His dad turns out to be a deluded, comically awful human being. But hey, you didn’t think this show was going to cut Haruto any slack, did you?

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 17

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Haruto learns that anyone who pilots Valvrave will eventually end up an empty shell like Marie. The Dorssian Royalists ask New JIOR to destroy a covert Dorssian submarine, the Phantom, in exchange for supplies. Yamada and Akira are sent to search for Rukino, while L-elf and Haruto infiltrate the sub as the others stand by in the stolen transport hidden underwater. Meanwhile X-eins is summoned by Colonel Cain to the “Castle of No Return” in Grunau.

A concerned H-neun beats X there, and Cain hunts him down. In the bowels of the Phantom, L-elf and Haruto find a hundreds of unconscious people having Runes extracted. When L-elf threatens to make Satomi pilot Unit 1, Haruto pilots it instead, sets off a volcanic eruption, and mops up the Dorssian forces attacking the transport. X-eins arrives at the castle, where Cain laments he has to start “the ceremony” over again.

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While they started out as monolithic, brutal Space Nazis—an opaque villain to root against, the Dorssians have become a lot more textured and nuanced, starting obviously with L-elf’s decision to revolt against his own people, but carried through with all of the military-political intrigue involving Cain, and the fact that he’s not really human, but some kind of godlike being who’s up to no good. And obviously conscious that it has a whole season to fill, the series is delving even deeper into the everyday lives, pasts, and motivations of L-elf’s former comrades, namely H-neun and X-eins.

Meanwhile Haruto and L-elf get some quality time together, and Haruto, with his post-Marie nightmares and the knowledge he’s being slowly killed by his mecha, appears to waver, and L-elf decides that maybe it would be best if more JIORans resign their humanity so the burden can be shared. This has the semi-intentional effect of rattling Haruto’s cage to the point where he jumps back into the cockpit and raises hell, vowing never to share his unit – or his curse – with anyone else. Which leads to him setting off a friggin’ volcano, which is such Valvrave-y thing to do.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • R.I.P. Marie…though she’s not so much dead as…decompiled into oblivion, which sucks.
  • Considering how cruelly logical L-Elf is, we’re surprised he sent a search party after Rukino, but we know she’ll be back, as we’ve already seen her in the distant future last season.
  • The whole sequence at the castle…yeah. That was awkward and kind of silly, an we’re not just talking about big jars of green glitter. There was just something absurd about Cain chasing one of his former subordinates through the house taking potshots at him. It had an air of horseplay to it, as the culty guys sat around their table doin’ culty-ass shit.
  • In rattling Haruto’s cage, L-elf also impresses upon him how personally frustrated he is to not be able to pilot a Valvrave, which in his mind makes him “powerless,” relegated to commanding troops, but lacking the strength to fight on the front lines, something Haruto not only takes for granted, but despises
  • Grunau Castle reminded us a little of Muska’s huge fortress from Castle in the Sky.

Valvrave the Liberator – 16

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Saki switches on her radio so L-Elf can hear that A-Drei is part of the Dorssian operation. Knowing the plan has gone bust, L-Elf detonates the bombs anyway. Saki is stuck with A-Drei in the same spot where he, L-Elf, and their other friends killed their Royalist teammate to save themselves. L-Elf is stuck with Marie and Unit 1, which Marie boards. Pino tells her that she was the Valvrave test pilot, and she “ate” her memories in the form of runes.

Akira, waiting to hack the transport, informs them that Satomi, Takahi and the others have been found by the Dorssians and Inuzuka and Yamada are bogged down, making Unit 1 the only Valvrave that can act. Marie pilots it, allowing Pino to take all of her remaining memories in order to destroy the Dorssian fleet and secure everyone’s escape. However, surpassing the unit’s limits and unleashing one more devastating attack leaves Marie an empty husk.

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The revelations come fast and furious this week: the truth of Marie’s past – which was quite a surprise, when we look back on how minor and unassuming a character she was in the first season. We like how that past elevated her into a much more prominent position in the Valvrave mythos. It’s a shame that her exploits this week may have well left her brain-dead, but you can’t say she didn’t go out in a blaze of glory, and for a good cause: she quite literally saves everyone else, who manage to get away safely in the stolen transport. If this was the end for her, it was a righteous one.

Additionally, we learn more about L-Elf’s past with his former buddies, and how they all “sinned” at that Karlstein facility. This info comes from A-Drei himself, who isn’t aware that the student he’s talking to is actually Saki. It also introduces the Royalists as a shunned and hated element of Dorssia. L-Elf was the one who pulled the trigger on their Royalist friend, which is interesting, considering years before his life was saved by a princess (whom we also catch a brief glimpse of). And while Marie, Akira, Inuzuka and Yamada were all instrumental in New JIOR’s eventual victory, Haruto was notably useless this week.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Valvrave the Liberator – 15

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The New JIOR crew abandon their crashed ship, which landed not far from the Karlstein Facility, where L-Elf and his former colleagues were “made.” L-Elf comes up with a plan to secure a new means of transport from there. He infiltrates the base with Saki and Akira. One of the child sentries shoots Saki, but she survives due to her contract with Valvrave. L-elf takes the two sentries out, and Saki and Akira possess their bodies. The rest of the crew plants bombs in the tunnels near the base. Marie sneaks into Haruto’s Valvrave, where Pino treats her like an old friend. Kyuuma and Yamada deal with the Dorssian “Ideal Blumes.” Haruto’s role in the plan is interrupted when Marie confronts him about what he is. L-elf shoots her in the head to preserve Haruto’s secrets, but she rises up soon after, unharmed.

Gee, what a coincidence the ship just happens to crash land within walking distance of the compound where L-Elf was created and raised! That aside, he takes full advantage of his knowledge of the place and formulates a plan to get everyone mobile again as soon as possible. As his original infiltration of JIOR early last season proved, it doesn’t matter whether he’s in space or on the ground, L-Elf knows how to get things done, using what he has at his disposal. Fortunately, that includes five Valvrave pilots, who use their body-swapping ability for the first time in a while. It’s pretty upsetting when that kid soldier just shot Saki in the chest, but we knew she’d be fine, even if Akira didn’t.

What was more surprising was that L-Elf was willing to kill Marie to protect the secret of the Valvraves. We had assumed Marie already knew about Haruto’s “curse”, but apparently she was kept out of the loop; more to the point, keeping the Valvraves’ secrets is important enough to L-Elf to warrant shooting her in the friggin’ head to preserve them. Like Saki’s shooting, seeing poor Marie take a bullet was no less upsetting even though we were reasonably certain at some point in her past she too resigned as a human, only she forgot about it. But if she was once a pilot, it stands to reason she could be a pilot again; that is, if she doesn’t become a psychological wreck.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 14

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The Dorssians out of their hair for the moment, the New JIOR shuttle and Valvraves reach Earth orbit and begin the process of gaining access to the surface via follow rings. Everything is going according to L-elf’s plan when Satomi answers a call made by the Dorssians, who send a squadron of fighters after them. The Valvraves overheat quickly while defending the shuttle. Akira drifts too far away to be recovered, but Haruto goes after her. Satomi begs L-elf to leave the follow rings while Akira hacks the air traffic control network, which Satomi parses. Akira and Haruto are saved, but the shuttle ends up crash landing in Dorssian territory.

We hope you’ll forgive the rather clinical summary above for leaving out much of the Akira-Satomi plot; we’ll talk about it down here. Akira and Satomi’s dynamic makes a lot more sense now that we know more of their backstory, which remains true to the characters we know thus far. Pressured by his asshole parents to succeed at all costs, he pulled all-nighters studying for the best school’s entrance exams, giving him a fever. A concerned Akira couldn’t take it anymore, and did what she does best: she hacked the exams. She’s caught; Satomi didn’t come to her defense; and never helped her when she’s brutally bullied at school. She’s never forgiven him for that, and he’s never forgiven himself. But as Marie says, it’s better to have bad memories than none at all (she’s missing hers).

And at the end of the day, they’re siblings who still love each other, and they take the first steps towards making things right this week. Their development aside, this great episode overall, one that kept the momentum and tension going. Even if Module 77 is safe on the neutral Moon, all of the characters we care about were very vulnerable for this entire episode, aboard a fragile shuttle and with Valvraves that can’t fight forever. It’s also great that, for once, Haruto and even L-elf can’t save the day, but it falls to Satomi and Akira instead. One could definitely argue it was their fault the ship ended up crashing off-course in enemy territory, but at least they’re all alive. In Valvrave, if you’re alive, anything and everything is still possible.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The episode starts with Rukino complaining about depending on Satomi to relay everything from Akira, which is exactly what happens in the climax.
  • The repair crew’s idle banter alludes to the past events we’re shown later in flashback form. Sometimes school rumors are true!
  • Akira’s adventure out of her cockpit (hiding her face in a box) is nice mood-lightening stuff.
  • Marie not having memories of her past is actually pretty good cover for her character being so underdeveloped.
  • More scenes of the evil Dorssians off-duty doing evil things like horseback riding inside or hitting on random chicks. They’re just like us…only eviler!

Valvrave the Liberator – 13

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Two months after Module 77 narrowly escapes destruction, they dock at the neutral Moon, where they receive sympathy and supplies but run into bureaucratic hurdles with ARUS. Module 77 plans to send a delegation to Earth, but the Valvraves shut down, their energy exhausted. Kibukawa and L-elf determine that the “runes” that fuel the Valvrave can only be gathered by attacking humans. Haruto grudingly attacks L-elf, refueling the Valvraves, and they cross the neutral zone and battle the Dorssian fleet that was waiting for them.

After a season-long hiatus, Valvrave is back to baffle, shock, and entertain us in relatively equal measure. We can’t say we missed all the mythological mumbo-jumbo about councils of the hundred, magiuses, and holy spirits, but we’re glad to be once again following the trials and tribulations of one of the high school that declared itself an independant nation, protected by five mechas piloted by students who tosses aside their humanity and essentially became vampires. We especially liked how Shouko and L-Elf had settled nicely into their new official roles, though they both faced plenty of challenges.

Reinforcing their status as horrifying burdens in addition to the only force that is currently staving off enslavement by Dorssia, Haruto gets the bad news that he’s been going into fits and viciously attacking people because he’s jonesin’ for their “runes”, which we guess is a fancy way of saying “life force”. Haruto-y Haruto that he is, he’s hell-bent on carrying as much as this burden as he can, and he’s to find the people who developed the damnable things on Earth. He wants to be human again, and if that can’t happen, he wants to destroy the Valvraves once they’ve fulfiled their use. Just one problem: when exactly will New JIOR ever not need them?


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Saki records a bestselling album, then offers her body to Haruto, who resists. Then he feeds from L-Elf. Saki probably won’t be happy if she learns about that.
  • We get to see the Dorssians in their training sweats sipping from 80’s-style water bottles. Pretty sweet.
  • Apparently the OS avatar in Haruto’s unit is called “Pino”, while the one in Cain’s is called “Prue.”
  • Cain and his superior Mirko watch with smug satisfaction as the “children” of Valvrave are constructed. That isn’t going to be good for JIOR.