Valvrave the Liberator – 12

Renbokouji Akira

221 years into the future, Rukino Saki tells a silver-haired boy the story of the “Founder”‘s battles for Module 77, where he encountered the “Magius.” Back in the present, Saki rejects Haruto’s marriage proposal and tells him to go save Shouko. He meets up with L-el as the Dorssian drill is ascending the module towards the school fast, releasing posion gas as it goes. Colonel Cain outsmarts L-elf, shoots Haruto, then beats L-elf up, aiming to take the red Valvrave.

Meanwhile, Shouko is injured while racing to save Akira from the approaching drill. Akira finally leaves her shelter to save Shouko, and finds a purple Valvrave on the way to her. She resigns her humanity and boards it, and her “hacking” weapon disables the drill and all the other Dorssian bogeys. L-elf escapes Cain’s custody with Haruto and they board the red Valvrave and launch a barrage of weapons fire at Cain, but he isn’t scratched. He reveals himself as a “Magius.”

Colonel Cain

So yeah, obviously there was going to be more Valvrave coming after this episode, because there still so many storylines not even close to being resolved yet, but we were still pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of stuff that went down in this episode, as well as the high level of tension it maintained throughout it’s running time. Module 77 its most immediate and potentially mortal crisis, while Colonel Cain proves that even a superhuman like L-elf doesn’t stand much of a chance against his non-human “creator.”

They also chose to give Akira the most she’s ever done or said in an episode by far, and we thought her tortured emergence from her security shell was very well done. This is a girl with serious emotional trauma, but even she couldn’t sit and watch her friend get killed. That said, we wonder if she’ll ever leave that cockpit now that she’s in there! Just one of many dozens of things to be sorted out this fall, when the second season airs.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We’re very intrigued by the Future Rukino prologues, all two of them; and that was the problem: all this bigger picture stuff like the two-century jumps forward and the Magius had to fight for screen time (and lost) with things like the presidential election and that horrible music video the school did. We want to see more.
  • Cain’s very thorough beating of L-elf was intense, for no other reason than L-elf has only ever been superior to everyone else in everything…but not against this guy.
  • Akira may share her name with an iconic film, but she and her now-vacated lair have reminded us more of an iconic anime, namely Lain. It was awesome to see her finally spring into action, and we look forward to seeing/hearing more of her.
  • That little silver-haired princess girl L-elf met when they were young – in the OP she’s grown up. Here’s hoping we get more of her story this fall.
  • “It’s THUNDER, Damnit!” The day someone finally actually calls him that is going to be some day.
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Valvrave the Liberator – 11

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As Module 77 draws closer to the neutral Moon, the new ministers of JIOR gather for a photo shoot. Haruto and Saki skip it, instead visiting an abandoned part of the city to talk privately, but Saki won’t let Haruto apologize. Their talk is interrupted by alarms; a massive Dorssian fleet is bearing down on them. Shoko speaks to their leader, Admiral Wartenberg, who shows her her hostage father being prepared for execution and offers a deal: peace for the students of Module 77 in exchange for the Valvraves and giving up on the rest of JIOR. Shoko’s dad implores her to move forward, but before she can make a decision, Haruto uses his harakiri blade to obliterate most of the fleet, killing her father and the admiral. Colonel Cain uses the chaos to break through the bottom of the module and start drilling through its core, something L-elf apparently hadn’t foreseen.

What Haruto did to Saki last week was unquestionably a sexual assault, but unlike a case where he was drunk, or high, or just a fucking asshole, it happened because of something completely outside of his control. A real-world parallel would be a mental illness for which there is no known cure. Under those circumstances, while we condemn his actions we can’t fairly condemn Haruto the person, and neither does Saki, who was in kinda love with him anyway. She doesn’t want him to apologize, not just because what happened happened because of the curse, but also because he agreed to bear that curse in exchange for the power to protect everyone else. Part of it could also be simply because she can’t give up on the one person who could deliver her from a life of loneliness and despair, at least in her mind. And when he’s not “possessed”, Haruto indeed doesn’t want Saki to feel like she’s alone anymore, because she isn’t: in the Crazy Event of the Week (CEW), he proposes to her before going to deal with the Dorssian intruders. He’s taking responsibility for what  he’s done, even if it means spurning Shouko.

Of course, you could also throw in another CEW, involving Shoko, the new prime minister. Up to this point she’d held out hope her father could be rescued and restored to his old position, and everything could go back to the way it was. But as he himself tells her, that’s thinking backwards to a time that can never be again. She has to weigh her love for him with the fate of Module 77 and all who inhabit it, and little does she know L-Elf has a gun ready to kill her before she makes the wrong choice. It’s a tense scene, especially when Admiral Wartenberg coldly lays out how adults attain ends regardless of means; they’re okay with getting their hands dirty as long as they get the desired results. It’s all well and good for Shoko to condemn this philosophy – and it sounds pretty evil to us – but let’s not forget that in order to achieve their ends, Haruto, Saki, and the rest of the Valvrave pilots resigned their friggin’ humanity. The (Late) Admiral Wertenberg would be proud of such adult choices, right?

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The fleet is destroyed, but it worked out to be a giant diversion while Cain and his elite team infiltrated Module 77. They immediately start stirring up some serious shit, and once again the students are backed into a corner.
  • The material with Akira seemed a bit extraneous to this episode. Yeah, we get it, she’s deathly afraid of human contact of any kind. What else ya got?
  • What with the Dorssians knocking on Module 77’s door every week, utterly ignoring the threat of Valvrave falling into ARUS hands, we’re a little surprised we haven’t seen any counter-moves by ARUS.
  • Cain himself is on point this time, and he’s confident he can stay a step ahead of L-elf. We’ll see about that, won’t we?

Valvrave the Liberator – 10

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As Module 77 nears the neutral Moon, Nanami decides to hold elections for the new Prime Minister of JIOR. Entrants include Yamada and the presumptive victor, Renbokouji Satomi. However, after talking with Haruto, who learns her father may still be alive, Shouko decides to run, and makes an impassioned speech that wins the crowd and the election. During this speech, however, Haruto suffers another attack, which had been gaining in regularity. He jumps on Saki, who is aware of the severity of his “curse”, and they have sex on the ground.

We’ve only seen occasional bursts of the price Haruto paid when he “resigned as a human” in order to pilot Valvrave and save his school from the Dorssians, but we see more of it in this episode, and he’s scared that he may not be able to control it. No biggie, says Saki; if he becomes the wild beast he fears he’s becoming, she’ll kill him, and he doesn’t have a problem with that. Being around attractive women seems to bring on the attacks; he almost jumps a scantily-clad Takahi in the elevator, and Saki is there (just in time!) to stop him.

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This is the first time his “curse” has come across as uncontrollable lust, but it justifies his decision at the beginning to give up on a relationship with Shouko. He considers himself a monster now, after all. But Saki feels she’s a monster too, and when he jumps her, she doesn’t fight him. We don’t wish to take this lightly; the show went into very dark territory here, and it’s not clear Saki would’ve been able to fight Haruto off if she’d chosen to reject his advances. But whatever Saki’s mindset, what happened happened, and there will be consequences. Haruto will surely hate himself even more and find it more difficult to interact with Shouko, Saki, or anyone else.

Meanwhile, Shouko hasn’t given up on Haruto and plans to confess to him once they get to the moon and have a school festival. She shows she’s her prime minister father’s daughter and upstages Satomi the technocrat by reaching out to and connecting with people, making them feel like she’s one of them (since she is!), and appealing to their desire to continue being kids who goof off and enjoy the little life they may well have left. Little does Shouko know that while she’s giving this rousing, hedonistic YOLO speech, the guy she loves is coming very close to raping Saki barely ten feet from where he nearly confessed to her.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Yamada tries to get Haruto and Kyuuma on board with “hijacking” the bodies of hot chicks. Yikes! Little does he know.
  • Takahi is still uncomfortable around Haruto after Saki hijacked him and toyed with her.
  • For the record, Satomi seems like the most sensible choice for prime minister, seeing as how he has a practical plan for the country’s survival. Shoko, on the other hand? YOLO!
  • The Dorssians are planning one more attack before the schoolkids reach the moon. Oh, and one of them gets the jump on the second-in-command woman, though we’re not sure why.
  • L-elf, ever the useful defector, helps run the elections.

Valvrave the Liberator – 09

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L-elf organizes military drills for the students, and when Cain’s Dorssian fleet attacks again, Module 77 has a sturdy defense prepared. However, Haruto and Saki are lured out of position, leaving the module vulnerable to attack by a second Dorssian fleet. Inuzuka and Yamada both contract with the blue and yellow Valvraves, respectively, and fight the fleet. Inuzuka deflects the Dorssian’s main cannon and destroys it; Cain retreats. Back on the module, bound for the neutral Moon, L-elf learns that Takumi is a JIOR soldier, and the entire module and everyone on it was intended “for the Valvraves.”

Well, it wasn’t that hard to predict, but the two people we figured most likely to be the next Valvrave pilots – Inuzuka and Yamada, both resigned as humans and joined the ranks of Haruto and Saki on Team Valvrave. Doing so proves beneficial for Module 77, as the other two pilots fall for a very easy ploy to draw them away from the thing they’re protecting, and if it weren’t for Inuzuka’s Valvrave shield, New JIOR would have been toast. He and Yamada waste no time exhibiting the power of their Valvraves, which if anything seem more powerful and dominant than the red and green ones, at least up to this point.

It’s good to see L-elf’s genuine efforts to whip New JIOR’s long-useless student body into something resembling a disciplined fighting force. If nothing else it keeps the kids busy and focused. But more interesting is the revelation that Module 77 has always been one big facility dedicated to the development of Valvraves and, potentially, their pilots as well. Now there are four Valvrave pilots who have already proven mostly capable of protecting their new nation, suggesting that while things may not have unfolded exactly as the Valvraves’ creators envisioned, their experiment is proceeding apace.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 08

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L-Elf dreams of the time he escaped from captivity and took a Dorssian princess hostage. He wakes up bound to a table, and predicts that New JIOR will fall in six hours if Haruto doesn’t contract with him. Everyone is shaken by Aina-chan’s death, particularly Inuzuka, but Kibukawa won’t let anyone else pilot Valvraves until he’s determined they’re safe to use. Colonel Cain launches another attack on Module 77, as A-drei infiltrates the module and commandeers JOIR battleships, threatening the school. As the battle inside and out goes badly, Haruto finally agrees to contract with L-Elf, who gives him and Saki precise instructions that foil the Dorssians and save the new nation with no casualties.

By portraying accurately (for once) the plight of a new nation run by students with minimal political and military experience, Valvrave delivered what we consider its best episode since its first. Dorssia was briefly sent off, but they return immediately, because they know all New JIOR has protecting them are two amateur-piloted Valvraves. Constant attacks like this are to be expected when your nation is so vulnerable. What Dorssia (or at least A-drei and Co…who knows about that Colonel Cain cat) wasn’t banking on is L-Elf joining forces with Haruto once again. If L-Elf hadn’t formulated a plan to thwart the Dorssians, it’s a good bet the entire school-nation would have been obliterated, with everyone either killed or interned.

As much as he may want to be enough to protect everyone, Haruto realizes he’s not, not even with Saki fighting by his side. Hell, even if those five other Valvraves were manned and deployed, you’re still talking about civilian students piloting them. No, this episode proves yet again that without L-Elf, this country would have died in its infancy. Once he gets the okay from Haruto, he kicks ass, takes names, and doesn’t look back. Even his elite colleagues are no match for him. And interesting, instead of pounding his desk after the defeat, Dorssia’s Colonel Cain seems to get a kick out of L-Elf’s antics. Something tells us he wants the guy in a Valvrave as soon as possible. Meanwhile, L-Elf’s just trying to reconcile that young princess giving him half her life, saving her from the guards.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Well, looks like Sakurai Aina died after all. Huh! We really thought they’d bring her back to life with some Valvrave nonsense. Oh well. Not like Kayano Ai won’t get more work!
  • Saki says she’s been practicing. She should probably practice more.
  • Potential candidates to pilot the five remaining Valvraves: Inuzuka (who wants to avenge Aina); Yamada (who wants to kick some ass); Satomi (the class president); L-Elf (naturally); and…possibly Shoko. We’ll see how we do
  • The coffee-and-sugar analogy? Kinda lame.
  • L-Elf’s flashback prison looked a lot like the Kremlin, while the bay with all the bridges from which A-drei was bombarding land looked a lot like San Francisco.

Valvrave the Liberator – 07

Inuzuka Kyuuma, Sakurai Aina, Tokishima Haruto

President Satomi tries to take control of the newly-discovered Valvraves, but Haruto won’t let him, and the other students support Haruto. While Saki is helping Shouko cook, L-elf appears and stages a coup d’etat of New JIOR, seeking to militarize the country and ordering Haruto to man Valvrave. A-drei makes his move, but L-elf is ready for him. Q-vier bails A-drei out, and L-elf ejects them into space, where the rest of the Dorssian squadron is waiting. Saki sorties in Camilia, but is neutralized by the Dorssians. Haruto bites L-elf and uses his body to pilot Valvrave and force the Dorssians to retreat. When they return to New JIOR, Haruto finds that Sakurai Aina was killed in the chaos.

When you’re a newly independent nation besieged on all sides by warlike superpowers, do you spend your time learning to cook? NO. Thankfully, L-elf is there to teach the New JIORians a lesson in staying on your toes. The students can simply rest on their laurels now that they’ve declared their independence just because Haruto is around to help them. As we see, Haruto can get trapped under a metal beam, and if L-elf wasn’t there to offer his body, it would have been game over for New JIOR, pure and simple.That said, it’s nice to see just how useful the ability to possess others can be, especially when the only other active Valvrave, Saki, is still very green (literally and figuratively) and is caught off guard by the Dorssians.

Speaking of Valvraves, we have a feeling there’s going to be a third pilot very soon, and we’re not talking about L-elf. Unless the show simply decided to randomly kill off one of its characters, We feel like it’s within Haruto and Valvrave’s powers to bring Sakurai Aina back to life. They are essentially gods, after all. If she does end up being dead for good, R.I.P. Aina-chan, we hardly knew ye. Seriously. Additionally, L-elf has essentially sealed his fate as a Dorssian traitor, but that doesn’t mean he’s on Haruto’s side. As for Saki, well, in the cold open we see her two hundred years in the future, still piloting Camillia, which is apparently a relic but still capable of kicking ass.

This was an interesting way to start the episode, showing that at some point Saki will get better at piloting her Valvrave, and will also live far longer than she would have had she remained human.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 06

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Ignoring Haruto’s warnings, Rukino Saki enters the cockpit of a green Valvrave and contracts with it, becoming a “vampire” and its new master. She bites Haruto and inhabits his body briefly and commits some mischief, making it appear that they’re a couple in order to align herself with his celebrity. When the Dorssians launch an attack and destroy the module’s ARUS escort, Rukino sets out to fight, but when the battle gets tough she wavers. Shouko, Takahi, and her classmates cheer her on, and she destroys X-ein’s ship. The Dorssians retreat, but Cain leaves A-drei behind to infiltrate the JOIR module and face L-elf.

Typically, in order to make a meaningful connection with a character or characters, we need to spend a little time with them; learn a little about who they are, where they come from, and what makes them tick. But we don’t know much of anything about Rukino Saki as we’re thrust into her own little personal drama. She’s a former idol, and she’s as insecure as she is selfish. She seems to take joy in messing with Haruto and using him for her own purposes. So if she’s such a bitch, why should we care about her? Because she’s cute? All the girls on this show are cute. Because we see some flashes of the unpleasantness she suffered during her idol career? Well, maybe.

The thing is, like Haruto, Shouko, and L-elf, the show itself doesn’t seem to care about Rukino Saki any more than we do…not yet, at least. That’s not exactly unforgivable, as a lot of shit has gone down in these peoples’ lives. It just means this series is more concerned with action and zany, over-the-top situations than it is fleshing out anyone at this point. The thing is, last week’s outing wasn’t particularly entertaining and its flaws outshone the insanity. This week did a far more respectable job holding our interest, but if our emotional investment in the cast remains negligible, we’re going to have a hard time sticking with this show simply for the spectacle. We like characters, particularly ones that make a lick of sense.


Rating: 5 (Average)

Stray Obsevations:

  • Some, er, choice quotes from this week: “This is amazing! I feel like a bird! Wait, I’m a vampire now…so that makes me a bat!” “Rukino, you’re overextending!” “Who cares? We’re invincible super-humans!” “L-elf! For the sake of our friendship, please die.”
  • Did Figaro really just get snuffed out? Meh…whatever.
  • This series is so far akin to a Gundam series on drugs, so it make sense that the trope of enemies retreating early and often would show itself here.
  • In case you forgot this show is nuts: Nanami the ditzy trainee teacher is made the representative of New JIOR. Long may she reign.
  • L-elf literally just stands around doing nothing…again. With A-drei near, next week he’ll probably do…something. Maybe.

Kakumeiki Valvrave – 05

Tokishima Haruto, Rukino Saki

Sakimori academy revels in its new-found independence as ARUS and Dorssia are at a stalemate where Module 77 is concerned. Things take a turn for the worse when the power shuts off and its starts to snow. Otamaya volunteers to fix the system, but as the girls are waiting in the school a fight breaks out between Saki and Takahi. The power is restored and tempers cool. The academy decides to produce a video to cheer up their families in occupied JIOR, and they end up gaining popularity and increased donations from ARUS citizens as well. While surveying the module, Haruto and Saki find more Valvrave-style mobile suits. Saki agrees to keep them a secret and then kisses Haruto.

Last week Shouko declared Sakimori Academy an independent country, and this week we find out how a bunch of kids run that country: poorly. They act like kids who are home alone for the first time, playing among ruins, making messes in stores, abusing machinery, watching porn, jumping on the bed, and generally just fucking around. Meanwhile their families are suffering under the jackbooted Dorssians. These kids can barely get along in a classroom, so why should they have any hope maintaining the infrastructure of their module? We didn’t like all the girls just huddled in the school waiting for “The Boys” to save them. If Otamaya doesn’t just happen to know how to fix the outage, everyone freezes to death. Pretty small margin for error! Where’s Plan B?

We also didn’t like how Takahi, her minions, and Saki fly off the rail so quickly; it doesn’t bode well for the future of a stable nation. We also found their heavily produced and choreographed cheer-up video not only over-long and embarrassingly hoaky, but also in bad taste, when you again consider the suffering they’re immune from simply because Haruto controls Valvrave. They come off as a bunch of entitled brats. Also, we don’t know that much about Saki yet, but this episode doesn’t help matters. She goes from mopey and emo to pop-idol-y and then seductive as she enters a contract of sorts with Haruto, sealing a love triangle between three underdeveloped main characters. She was kinda all over the place, as was the whole episode.

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Rating: 4
(Fair)

Stray Observations:

  • This episode doesn’t match up favorably to Majestic Prince’s latest episode, and here’s why: Majestic Prince kept a laser focus on its core characters and didn’t try to do too much, dealing with themes of change and new beginnings that resonated with us. Valvrave tried to juggle way too much this week and dropped the ball; we couldn’t make a connection.
  • The wildly fluctuating tone didn’t help matters either.
  • Another thing weighing down this series is that aside from all of the dozen or so students with lines, there are hundreds of others who are all basically sheep. All we’ve seen from them is they’re able to make a goody propaganda video, but we otherwise couldn’t care less what happens to them as a group; they’re so inert.
  • L-Elf literally just sneaks around the whole time. That’s it.

Kakumeiki Valvrave – 04

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L-elf wants Haruto to team up with him and aid in “bringing revolution to Dorssia.” Haruto refuses, but L-elf predicts they’ll contract, and tells him he’ll flash a peace sign when its time. While with Akira, Shouko overhears Senator Figaro planning to abandon the students and run, then manages to convince the student council without telling them about Akira. The students distract Figaro and the guards while Shouko, Izunuka, and Otamaya rescue Haruto, who boards Valvrave, preventing Figaro from escaping. L-elf flashes a sign, but Shouko gets Haruto’s attention first, and comes up with a bold plan to ensure Sakimori Academy’s survival.

Last week was mostly set-up, outlining L-elf’s seemingly precognitive abilities and introducing an ARUS force that looked on its surface to be the school’s savior. But once the Dorssian fleet regroups and takes it to the far smaller ARUS force, and Figaro’s back is against the wall, he decides to turn tail and run, leaving the students behind to suffer subjugation and internment by ruthless Dorssia. This week he shows his true colors, and shows that the students of Sakimori cannot rely on anyone but themselves, including their classmate Haruto, his childhood friend Shouko, and his awesome robot Valvrave, which, by the way, kills anyone who isn’t Haruto who tries to pilot her.

At the beginning of the episode, Haruto sees his new power a curse, and by the end probably still does, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to use it. It’s just a matter of to what ends. L-elf is the first to suggest the two of them take on Dorssia together, suggesting he may have been a malcontent even before the misunderstanding that got him labelled a deserter. But it’s Shouko who gets to Haruto first, and both he and the school take to her idea with enthusiasm. It’s a sudden, drastic, and unusual step – turning the academy into its own independent state, but with Valvrave on their side, anything’s possible.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We like Shoko’s nervous habit of clutching the hem of her skirt when she’s in a spot.
  • While it seems a bit ludicrous to literally break the entire Sakimori module off from the rest of JIOR, but as the rest of JIOR is already occupied, it’s not like they have a lot of choices.
  • Akira looks cool and collected enough while alone, but as soon as she’s in the presence of another human being she totally freaks out. Her cave fort is awesome, though.
  • Haruto seemingly says “fuck you” to everyone in this episode. Not Shoko though…that would be uncouth.
  • Wild card Yamada blocks Figaro’s truck – and gets shot in the arm for it. We doubt he’s okay with Haruto and Shoko saving him.

Kakumeiki Valvrave – 03

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ARUS forces led by Senator Figaro prepare to evacuate Module 77 and take L-elf into custody. Haruto learns he has hundreds of millions of friends, but nearly attacks one of them when his powers briefly awaken. L-elf escapes easily and begins wreaking havoc, foiling ARUS’ plans to evacuate the module. While searching the school Haruto runs into Yamada, who wants his robot. Shouko goes back into the school to find Haruto, but finds Akira hacking away. L-elf kills Yamada and confronts Haruto, proposing they form a contract to “bring revolution to Dorssia.”

The loudspeaker. Earthquake. Panic. 3:14. The answer is behind you.

This seemingly random jumble of words turn out to be a very accurate foreshadowing of the sequence of events Haruto will experience in the episode that follows. Either L-elf is some kind of prognosticator or he is very good at planning out his actions to the minute. We wouldn’t put either past him, as he proves just how dangerous he can be. Tied up in a chair surrounded by armed guards, he takes advantage of small details (his hands are free enough to unscrew a screw; the light above him is made of glass he can shatter) and makes the ARUS forces look silly.

So L-elf is strong and smart, which means he’s not going to try to kill Haruto, whom he already tried and failed to kill once before. He considers Haruto an anomaly – one that caused a significant change in the course of his already distinguished existence. He is now technically a Dorssian defector, and so rather than fight Haruto, it looks like he means to request his aid. Aside from L-elf’s escape and eventual meetup with Haruto, the episode does lag a bit, showing way to many helpless people milling around, taking time away from people with the power to move things along.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • This series is going to have its work cut out for it juggling the enormous cast it has amassed.
  • Unfortunately ARUS probably won’t lean any lessons about properly handling L-elf, as he killed any ARUS personnel who got near him.
  • We’re wondering how a slap to the fact snaps Haruto out of his vampiric rage, but if it works it works!
  • We’re also wondering if L-elf will continue the practice of presaging what’s going to happen in future episodes. They could have him do the previews!

Kakumeiki Valvrave – 02

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Saki, Kyuuma and Aina find an unconscious Haruto and L-elf, but they’re cornered by A-drei, H-neun, X-eins and Q-vier. L-elf wakes up, shoots A-drei in the eye, helps Haruto’s friends escape, and goes with them. The Dorssians consider L-elf a deserter and take the Valvrave into custody. Haruto, who is in L-elf’s body, uses his special forces skills to retrieve his own body and the Valvrave.

Once back in his body, Haruto heads into space with Saki and a bound L-elf. Shouko calls Haruto to tell him she’s alive and trapped in a car under rubble. A-drei and Q-vier pursue and pummel the Valvrave whose overboost engages when it hits 666 heat capacity. Haruto cripples A-drei’s Ideal, and when an ARUS fleet arrives, Dorssia beats a retreat. Reunited with Shouko, Haruto still doesn’t confess.

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This episode debunks a couple assumptions we made about last week. First, Shouko isn’t dead, so Haruto’s services as her furious avenger are no longer required. Frankly should have known she’d be back, considering she’s a main character. Second, Haruto, who also cheated death last week, isn’t a vampire per se. Rather, biting necks allows him to “borrow” the body of the bitee, and they’ll have no memory of what he does as them.

L-elf calls him a monster for stealing his body and making it appear that he’s betrayed Dorssia. Frankly, Elfie’s a monster too for participating in a slimy, unprovoked attack on the peaceful, if naive, JIOR. Perhaps more so, since all Haruto pushed was the “resign humanity” button. But that’s enough for him to wave off his confession to Shouko. He takes L-elf’s monster label to heart, and probably fears hurting her and the others with his new abilities. He’s probably not wrong.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • For elite special forces, L-elf’s buddies sure have bad aim, right?
  • On that note, Dorssia retreats awfully fast when the ARUS fleet arrives. They don’t have a problem wrangling up unarmed innocents, but when someone fights back, they flutter off like well-dressed gazelles.
  • 666 is classically the “number of the beast”, but it may actually be 616.

Kakumeiki Valvrave – 01

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On a Dyson Sphere where 70% of the human population lives, the neutral, peace-loving nation of JIOR falls victim to a vicious surprise attack by militaristic Dorssia, who attack from within with young special forces led by L-Elf and from outside with a squadron of flying mecha. Tokishima Haruto is about to confess to his friend Sashinami Shouko when fighting breaks. Shouko is killed by an errant weapons blast.

A scientist manages to deploy the experimental mecha Valvrave before L-Elf can get to it. A devastated Haruto boards it to take his revenge. After agreeing to “resign his humanity”, he easily dispatches the enemy squadron. His actions are recorded by a hacker and streamed to the world, making him an instant celebrity and a hero. When he exits Valvrave, L-Elf is there, and kills him, but Haruto wakes back up and bites him in the neck.

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9/10ths of this episode is a pretty by-the-numbers shonen mecha story: weak, un-driven kid from a peaceful world is thrust into despair by the loss of someone precious, and is in the right place at the right time to take control of the super-duper brand-new mecha suit. There’s about two dozen characters and there’s only time to paint them with the broadest of strokes. What’s more important is the spectacle and style of everything that transpires around them. Still, Valvrave offers some interesting new tricks to the usually solid, sometimes stolid Gundam formula.

First of all, the modern double-edged sword of social meda rears its head early, and as the official factions war, a hacker in a dark room can influence millions. Haruto also has to deal with fame at the same time he’s dealing with terrible loss, both of his love and his innocence. Oh yeah, and Valvrave makes him lose his humanity, and not in a figurative sense: he literally turns into an immortal vampire beast of sorts. Which is very sudden and weird, but we certainly like the clashing of genres, and are eager to see where they go with it.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Stray Observations:

  • For a series clearly not afraid to show blood and graphic deaths, the “romance” between Haruto and Shouko was over-tame by comparison. Then again, not even having time to say he loved her before he lost her must sting particularly hard.
  • Yes, the mecha designer has done most Gundams, including SEED/Destiny and 00, the two series we’ve watched in full.
  • Valvrave is suitably menacing and powerful looking, and moves with equal parts grace and fury.
  • Dorssia, the evil empire where you can never get a table.
  • Why the hell did there have to be five “transfer students” instead of two? At least two of those guys are extraneous…
  • This is our Spring “dark horse”;  the series we hadn’t even heard of but decided  to jump into late. Previous dark horses include Kotoura-san and Penguindrum.