The berzerk Kagura, in his fortified Mithra Ghis, wreaks havoc on the movie screening, looking for Mikono, his “Sylvie”. Amata, Mikono, and Zessica form Aquarion Evol, but Kagura is being fed by an energy thread through a dimension gate to Altair, and is able to reverse any element power, quickly overhwelming the trio. Mikono and Amata are saved by Andy and MIX. Meanwhile, Jin learns that Yunoha knows of his treachery, so he prepares to return to Altair with her as his hostage, but she convinces him to stay and aid their new friends. Cayenne and Shrade, who came to pursue Jin, instead union with him, forming Espada. They close the gate and defeat the weakened Kagura, but in the process Mikage kills Jin and turns his attention on Amata.
With this episode, we’re now halfway through the sci-fi romance epic that is Aquarion Evol, and we’re pleased to say it’s a hell of a midpoint. Like any good season finale, it showed us things we hadn’t seen before, pulled out all the emotional stops, gave just about everybody something to do, revealed new potential routes for the story to take, raised fresh stakes…and killed off at least one character. The character in question is someone we had really grown to like in Jin. His struggles with divided loyalties and similarly schitzophrenic relationship with Yunoha made him one of the more interesting, well-rounded characters, so it’s a shame he’s gone.
But his death wasn’t just random; Mikage was pretty adamant about cutting his head open with rose pedals, despite his being the final son born on Altair. Wasn’t he…important? Or was his decision to side with Yunoha an act of treason that lifted him of his responsibilities – and life. We’re thinking this because Mikage (who has wings coming out of his head) really wants to know where the guy with the golden wings is – who we know to be Amata – and perhaps Amata is his next “project.” It would be par for the course, as Mikage has already manipulated Kagura and Jin. At the end of the day, everyone seems to be the pawn of some superior being.
Disappointed that Amata hasn’t confessed to Mikono yet, Andy organizes a perfect opportunity in an outdoor screening of Wings of Aquaria, projected against the Berlin and preceeded by an overture by Shrade. Jin is almost caught contacting Izumo by Yunoha, and he accidentally tears her stuffed animal. He repairs it and they agree to go to the screening together, but she discovers his communicator. Amata and Mikono also go together, and hold hands and fly up into the sky during the film, which is also interrupted by the berserk Kagura.
This was primarily a calm-before-the-storm episode that tightened a triangle by bringing Amata and Mikono closer to true love than ever before, and making Zessica jealous enough to destroy school property (likely foreshadowing). When Kagura shows up, he seems to be in the mindset of tying Mikono up like a ham and roasting her on a spit with a side of fava beans for supper, which we don’t have to tell you is not chivalrous conduct.
One can’t blame Jin for getting antsy when he thinks his cover is blown, because not much later Mikage (we think) plays a prank on him by allowing his communicator to fall in Yunoha’s hands. Credit to Yunoha for not giving away that she knows what’s up, but it seems to us if someone hears “Kagura is on the way. The gate to Vega will open soon,” it’s probably a good idea to, I don’t know, warn somebody of an impending attack rather than go on your movie date. Ah, youth…
Mikage antagonizes Kagura until he escapes from his thorn cage in beast form and steals his mecha. Izumo tries to stop him, but Mikage exponentially enhances his combat abilities, and opens the gate to Vega for him. He’s coming for his “wench”, Mikono, thought to be the Sylvie to his Apollon – the ones who will awaken the machine god Genesis that slumbers beneath Vega. Back at Neo-Deava, Zessica struggles with feelings for Amata, while Amata tries to make his feelings known to Mikono, and learn what Kagura is to her.
After last week, when an antagonist was given the most screen time, this week is primarily dedicated to Kagura as he escapes from Altair. Our usual cast occupy the B-story; the antihero gets the A. But for all the time he and his voice-throwing benefactor get, they’re still not the most compelling characters, and this episode wasn’t nearly as good at fleshing them out as it was Jin. We find Kagura a shonen-like pain in the ass, frankly, what with all his roaring and screaming and “my wench” this and “my wench” that. That’s not how you court a lady, son.
As for Mikage, well, we’re not huge fans quite yet. Now that he’s awake, what, Izumo and the powers that be simply tolerate him? Or perhaps they weren’t aware how powerful he could be, how how strong he could make Kagura. Either way, his constant flowery patter gets a little repetitive. One things for certain: there’s more than one faction of the Abductors. Izumo wants True Eve to repopulate Altair, but Mikage has a more romantic – and for Vega and possibly Altair as well, more dangerous and chaotic – goal. And if Kagura unions with Mikono, well, that’s good news for Zessica, as Amata will suddenly be a free agent!
By taking the place of an incoming transfer student, Jin infiltrates Neo-Deava Academy with orders to observe the Reaiglers (women) and gather information on those that seem most powerful. Under the alias of Akbarjin, he quickly gains a reputation for being creepy and awkward, as he is disturbed by the females’ behavior and doesn’t know how to interact. However, he finds an unlikely sympathizer in Yunoha, who sees a lot of her former antisocial self in him. Meanwhile, Shrade detects an abductor in the sounds of the school, and Cayenne follows Jin and catches him trying to climb into Yunoha’s dorm. Jin saves Yunoha from an errant stun gun blast with a protective barrier – an element power Jin didn’t know he had.
We’d question the logic of sending an undercover agent who has no idea how to interact with women into a situation full of them, but considering his homeworld has no women, it seems they had little choice but to send the last child born of a Reaigler in Jin. He observes high school girls burying men alive (Mix), ripping a man’s hand off (Suomi), stampeding over melon bread, and talking in apparent code; and only Yunoha keeps him from getting gang-beaten when he accidentally stumbles into the girls’ locker room. We really enjoyed his fish-out-of-water experience; the school is indeed overwhelming from his point of view. We can certainly see how Amata and Andy giving him a nickname that’s actually his real name would be unnerving.
Enter Yunoha: and leave it to this series to redeem a character we took an immediate dislike to mere episodes after she was introduced. She takes pity on him, as she herself knows what it’s like to feel totally unable to reach out to people. Hesitating and being ignored caused her invisibility power to awaken, and in the episode’s climax, Jin’s power suddenly awakens right when he needed it to. What’s clever about this episode is, some people suspect Jin’s up to no good (Shrade and Cayenne), and others don’t (Yunoha, Andy, and Amata), but with the birth of his powers and his first friendship with a girl, the truth about him may be somewhere in the middle. It was up in the air whether he’d go through with abducting Yunoha or merely wanted to talk to her. Now, will he retrieve the True Eve for them like a good little pawn, or will he choose a different path? It’s still up in the air.
P.S. This is the second anime episode in a row we’ve watched that focused on the “bad guy(s)” mingling with the “good guys” relatively peacefully. Also, the ending theme was remixed with new vocals and a more pronounced piano track. We loved it, and continue to love the ending’s visuals, which portray everyone as souped-up Final Fantasy characters.
Izumo cancels all sorties until Jin’s safety is confirmed, but Mikage manipulates the minds of three pilots and sends them to Vega. Andy is confounded by all his holes getting filled, and isn’t surprised when it turns out to be Mix’s doing. Her element power is the exact opposite of his, but despite being able to fill holes, she can’t fill the hole in her heart, caused by a father who ran off with another woman. Fudo sends the two out into battle with Mikono. Thanks to her powers of connection and Andy’s selfless acts, Mix agrees to union with them. Before they can complete it, the abductors attack, and Andy takes a hit for Mix. He is switched out for Amata, and re-unions with Mix and Mikono. She uses her power to jam the enemies’ weapons, causing their machines to explode.
Chairman Fudo is quite fond of donuts, and waxes philosophically about holes. Everyone else joins in the absurdity with traditional sayings modified to include holes, with perhaps the silliest being Crea’s “Bros Before Holes” line. But all the talk of holes – and the rings around the holes of said donuts – was consistent with the key conflict of the week: whether Mix and Andy can ever union, let alone get along. They’re diametrically opposed: oil and water, digging holes and filling them. And Mix is an insufferable prude, believing all men to be evil and tainted.
That position was going to hold her back from exploring her full potential, however, so Fudo had to get them working together. It’s helpful that Andy isn’t a dick, but rather an otherwise charming, honorable guy who just happens to have a compulsion to dig holes. It’s in his blood. We’re definitely enjoying how elements’ character traits shine through in their abilities, but even those can’t be fully expressed unless all the members of a union trust one another. Mikono is the glue that helps those unions stick – making her a very hot commodity for both Neo-Deava and the lady-less Abductors.
While trying to dig his way to the girls’ locker room, Andy happens upon what he believes is the Book of Twin Stars, the key to Aquarion. Mix, an expert in linguistics, determines it to be an ancient student handbook. She wants to start implementing its strict dress code, starting with Zessica covering up more. Jin returns to Vega in search of the “perfect reaigler” who could be “True Eve” to Altair, which no longer has any women.
Amata, Mikono, and Zessica are sent out, but Jin proves a tough customer, using infiltration ammo to bypass Aquarion’s armor and deliver shockwaves straight to the pilots. This has a side effect of tearing their uniforms, and Zessica realizes the more skin she’s showing, the better she can dodge the weapons. Amata and Mikono follow (de)suit, stripping off most of their clothes, giving them the best offense – a total lack of defense, or modesty. They dodge all of Jin’s attacks and defeat him with a decisive blow.
The moral of this episode was “Naked Is Good.” Tyler Durden said “It’s only when we lose everything that we’re free to do anything,” which we’re gonna go ahead and apply here. After so many episodes of Zessica strutting around in Sexy Espada cosplay, the series – through the ultra-prude Mix – finally calls her out on it. But this week her near-nakedness was her secret weapon. She had to show more skin than ever. And Amata and Mikono also had to tear away their inhibitions – and clothes – in order to prevail.
Is this really ridiculous? Sure, but the show at least knows that; Jin couldn’t believe he was beaten by something so stupid. That awareness, and the nice tie-in with Zessica’s exhibitionism vs. Mikono’s bashfulness outside the cockpits, helped us let our own guard down and just enjoy the silliness. But against even her own judgement, Zessica continues falling for Amata. But they’ve seen each other mostly naked, so they’ve cleared that hurdle…
When Andy suggests the class change its seating chart, Amata ends up seated between Mikono and Zessica but closer to the latter. Andy is seated between Mix and a strange doll he claims belonged to a former student. After class Amata and Zessica end up locked out of the dorms, but they run into the doll, which is moving on its own, and freak out; Mikono sees them together and is displeased. It’s abductor Jin’s turn to attack Neo-Kowloon, and after her wavering heart negatively affects the union, Zessica is switched out for the doll, which it turns out has been held all along by an element named Yunoha, who is alive, but invisible. Her power shields Aquarion in invisibility, and Jin is defeated, though he was only controlling his mecha remotely.
We don’t really mind love triangles, with so much else in common with Macross Frontier, it was inevitable we’d run into a couple with this series; it’s just part of the territory. At least this week, a misunderstanding occurred and was cleared up. But Zessica is clearly starting to like Amata, so the tension between those two and Mikono will likely continue apace. Meanwhile, Mikono can’t stop thinking about Kagura. Whether that’s love or a crush or a brainwashing, we’ll have to see. Neither of these triangles really bothered us. But there was stuff this week that did, and it was enough to break this series’ perfect “4” streak at six episodes.
For one thing, while we like her invisibility power, the Yunoha character is a little moe. We already have a childlike character in the chairman: with Yunoha the series doubles down, and Yunoha’s voice is wayyyy more irritating, quite like Sae’s from Amagami SS. We also thought it was kind of silly to evacuate a city block, but let Aquarion use the buildings as cover. Aren’t those people’s homes and businesses? And all those roads will have to be re-paved…repaving ain’t cheap son. Unlike Rinne no Lagrange, this series has little or no regard for collateral damage, which is just a bit silly, considering Amata has the power of flight and could have drawn Jin’s fire away from the city. Ah well, perhaps they want to redevelop that particular district…
Car Cameo: Cayenne and Shrade are rollin’ in a Ferrari California. Must be Shrade’s, ’cause I doubt Cayenne has that kind of coin. I mean, look at his clothes!
Amata snatches Mikono back from Kagura’s clutches and escapes with his wings, while Shrade incapacitates the abductor with a violin. Kagura gets away and gives chase in the Mislagnissa, which he was able to steal with the help of a recently-awakened Mikage. Neo-Deava cancels training; Cayenne, Zessica and Andy take flight in vectors, but are no match for Kagura. An injured Cayenne lets Shrade take over, while Andy gets switched out for Amata, and the union of the three creates Aquarion Spada, a musical weapon that beheads Mislagnissa. Kagura is dragged home by Izumo, while the brief attack severely weakened an already weak Shrade, whose element power has always been too powerful for his body to withstand.
After a fairly lightweight outing last week, the peril returns in the form of the wild, angry Kagura. Curiously, both Mikono and Amata get a very strange familiarity with him, and Amata even has a vision of him and Mikono in some kind of unholy matrimony – something he doesn’t want to happen, and knows can’t. This episode is also the first night battle, and it’s very strikingly presented, what with the mecha weaving through Neo-Kowloon’s glowing forest of skyscrapers. Night or day, the city is effing gorgeous, and feels alive and pulsing.
There’s a new Aquarion combo this week too: the elegant Spada with Shrade at the head. With its whip and sure, dignified movements stern master to the feral wolf that is Kagura and his Mislagnissa. Shrade doesn’t spare the whip, and Kagura is quickly dealt with, but Shrade, whose life hangs by a thread every day, may not survive another battle. He’d have probably bought the farm if the battle had continued. Kagura is definitely not the most charming of guys, but as Mikono senses, his determination and drive are sincere – Amata’s dark counterpart.
Thee newly united, co-ed elements of Holy Angel Academy are broken up into groups of three and unleashed into Neo-Kowloon to enter into all manner of suspiciously-date-like situations while the newly arrived child chairman Crea, High Commander Fudo, and other faculty observe them. All elements are fitted with armbands that shock them if feelings of love grow too intense. Amata is teamed up with Mikono and Zessica; the former gets upset that Amata is excited by Zessica’s shameless flirting. She stalks off, but Amata follows her and they almost fall in love before a romantic sunset when the Abductor Kagura crashes the scene.
We’ll tell you, we’re a bit surprised we were totally okay with the premise of this episode – in which the boys and girls essentially go on dates for school – which is awesome in and of itself. But it isn’t just for fun or for purposes of coupling off. Far from it: with the wild card of the electro-armbands, this is about training the raw and excited elements to control their emotions – the things that power their mecha. The goal is the ‘edge of love’, not true love itself. Two elements falling in love is what caused the last Aquarion catastrophe. Donar Dantes was a copilot, and he lost the love of his life along with his arms when the mecha went berserk.
This makes Donar quite the tragic figure, but also underscores the dangers of what Mikono and Amata are playing around with. Besides Donar, we see more of High Commander Fudo, who lays down some devastating donut metaphors, the academy’s doll-come-to-life chairman, and peripheral students like MIX and Sazanka. We also must note just how amazing the series continues to look. Everything is polished to dazzling and the colors are as intense as the emotions flying around.
After she fails to exhibit any element powers, Neo-Deava sends Mikono on her way. Andy introduces Amata to Shrade, who can manipulate emotions and draw out the power of others with a piano. Amata, Andy, and Cayenne are sent out to deal with a new Abductor attack, but even uniting into Aquarion and getting boosted by Shrade, they are overmatched. High Commander Fudo Zen turns the boat Mikono is on around and back to the academy, where he exchanges Andy for her in Aquarion. She gets her chance to finally protect those who protect her, and together with Amata and Cayenne reform EVOL. Their Mugen Fist not only reaches out into space and defeats the Abductor’s ringleader, but circles the globe before bashing through the Berlin, reuniting the genders. Fudo is fine with this, but decrees that “love is forbidden.”
Aquarion Evol is high-powered, peppy, ridiculous, infectious, FUN. We’re glad the amazing visuals appear to be here to stay, and every episode leaves us wanting more. In addition to looking like several million bucks, there’s a lot of heart and raw emotion backing it up. Battles and their participants work themselves up into a frenzy, and their climaxes are, well, really climactic – as in visual and emotional explosions that provide huge exclamation points and leave no doubt as to their outcomes. Hell, High Commander Fudo actually tells Amata to start yelling. Naturally; mechas won’t perform optimally without yelling. A pretty young lady in the cockpit always helps, too. And there are few statements as huge as tearing down a Berlin-style wall. Gettin’ all Reaganesque up in this bitch!
Fudo’s arrival means a new order for the Academy, as boys and girls will no longer be segregated. And why should they be? In every episode now it’s been proven that whenever the genders get together, the resulting weapon is far more powerful than when they’re separate. The Abductors are no slouches in the powerfulness department, and it just makes military sense to do what it takes to muster the most powerful defense they can against the enemy. Of course, Amata was pretty comfortable coming into this episode; it was Mikono’s turn to awaken her power and tell her brother and her would-be boyfriend that she’s sick of being Useless® and letting them hurt themselves to protect her. She wants to get hurt to. We swear to God, the double entendres ingrained within this series are going to kill us…
Amata wakes up in a dorm, where he learns Cayenne is Mikono’s big brother. He’s given tour of the Neo-Deava Holy Angel Academy, where elements are trained, and he’s subjected to a series of tests to determine his worthiness to enter himself. That night, while pining for Mikono, he falls down a deep pit, which is being dug by fellow element Andy W. Hol beneath the “Berlin”, a wall that segregates the male and female wings of the academy. They dig to the other side, coming up right beside Mikono, causing a…misunderstanding. In a mock battle the next day, Amata not only unions with Andy and Cayenne to re-form Evol, but prostrates as an apology to Mikono, who is watching along with the rest of the academy.
In some other dimension, on a world called Altea, the Abductors plot and scheme and prepare to attack Neo-Deava again. But their battle is for another episode; this was about Amata getting acquainted with his new surroundings. He, like Cayenne, Zessica, and Mikono, also have a reputation around the academy for being in boy-girl unions which is talked about like it’s sex. The nigh-impenetrable “Berlin” wall is a nice touch; what we have here is essentially back-to-back boys- and girls-only schools, with the genders in constant states of both rivalry and flirtation. Those who unioned with the opposite sex aren’t just gawked at; they’re envied. Kinda makes you wonder what calamity occurred that led to gender segregation in the first place, eh?
Whatever the case, it would seem Amata has a clear path to Mikono’s heart, and while he shoots himself in the (winged) foot by lifting her high into the air by the crotch with his head in the middle of the night, it would seem she acknowledged his apology, made at the cost of winning his first mock battle. The foreboding bookends of the episode foretell rough times ahead, so the kids need to have their fun while they can. We can also gladly report there was no discernible downturn in production values; everything was tip-top. Yoko Kanno’s distinctive score has some corny numbers, but we’ve always loved her eclectic sound that’s somehow both nostalgic and forward, perfect for this series.
Amata Sora is a projectionist at a movie theater. He meets girl named Mikono, who wants to learn more about the legend of Aquaria. While they’re walking around, enemy ‘Abductors’ launch an attack on the city. Seperate male and female ‘Elements’ Cayenne and Zessica pilot mecha called Aquaria in a counterattack, but Amata and Mikono are trapped under stone wings, so he has to use his ‘wings of the sun’ to fly them to safety.
Doing so awakens Aquarion, and his ‘union’ with Mikono combines all the other pilots’ mechas into one – Aquarion Evol. By using their myriad element powers, including Amata’s flight, amplified by Mikono’s presence, they’re able to send the lead Abductor Kagura into the atmosphere and defeat him…for now. Back on the surface, Cayenne and Zessica take Amata and Mikono into custody.
Bam, wham, thank you ma’am. Aquarion Evol busts out onto the Winter scene with a one-two cinematic punch that immediately pushes it to the top of our watchlist. Granted, it borrows heavily from other mecha series; Macross Frontier, in particular. It has the same director, Shoji Kamamori; the well-designed characters feature hair in every conceivable color; there’s the same conflict between a more earthlike conventional civilization and a more warlike, elemental foe; there are plenty of Itano Circuses; there’s an underlying love story…even Yoko Kanno and her orchestra provide a fittingly ambitious soundtrack. When it borrows so well, who are we to complain? Ambitious describes pretty much every element of this two-part pilot. Whether moving or standing still, we’re treated to a sumptuous feast of eye candy fit for a king.
The only downside to starting off with such awesomeness is there’s frankly no way we see this level of quality being maintained for the whole run; but hey, prove us wrong, Evol! We felt like we were watching a high-end movie. Clearly, they wanted to start off firing with both barrels, and they succeeded, to say the least. The pilot wasn’t just candy though, there were charms in what it had to say as well as what it had to show. The idea that guys and girls have to be kept apart and sealed off with “guize stones” (read: chastidy belts) to avoid “impure unions” and forbidden acts is a pretty funny premise; especially when push comes to shove, it was the lasses and lads coming together that helped them defeat their foe this time. Now comes the consequences, and in all likelihood, Amata and Mikono’s assimillation into the organization that protected them up to this point. Looking forward to it.