Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 02

Lillia raises the Lasas and the Turan fleet regroups to intercept the Ades fleet, while she sends Millia ahead to Iglasia, care of Fam and Gisey. The city is evacuated of civilians, but the ailing king is staying. Lillia attempts to ram Luscinia’s flagship, the Impetuous, but fails when Lukea steals aboard, kills her crew, and captures her. Dio is aboard his vanship at the time, and informs Fam of the situation. Millia orders Fam to rescue her siter, so they join the battle and fly into the Impetuous from a gap in her hull and travel the ventilation shafts to emerge right on the bridge. After a brief standoff, Luscinia utters a spell that puts Lillia in a trance and send an immense shard of Exile careening into Iglesia. Fam, Gisey and Millia are forced to retreat.

Any concerns about whether the eye candy would be ratcheted back in this, the second episode, after the feast-for-the-eyes first episode, were quickly dismissed. If anything, there was even more cinematic majesty this week, including a phenomenal scene of Fam flying into and through the big bad Impetuous. The sheer visual complexity and intricate detail presented at such a breakneck speed makes for a most engrossing experience. And even things like light and sky are just so incredibly gorgeous. On looks and production values alone, this series is quickly running away from the Fall pack.

But with all the airship battles and cresent moons falling on cities, the show doesn’t forget about the little humans. Fam and Gisey are once again game, valiant, fearless, and adorable at the same time. We are fully invested in these go-getters as they find themselves in the middle of a conflict much bigger than they might’ve imagined. Even Dio, who was a little too comic-reliefy last week, settled down and got serious when shit started hitting the van. Luscinia is still a bit stiff, and his right hand man is downright scary. On top of that, Turan is in serious trouble; it’s king is dead, the crown princess is who knows what, Iglasia is a ruin, and the fleet is in tatters. But hey, their luck can only improve from here, right?


Rating: 4

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Guilty Crown – 02

Ouma Shu contracted with Inori with the Void Genome that was meant for Gai, the leader of the resistance group called Undertaker. He’s pressed into service to deliver the coup-de-grace in an intricately planned operation to save a hundred citizens from the Anti Bodies, among them the sadistic Lt. Daryl Yan, son of the Bureau’s leader. The operation is successful, but Shu turns down the offer to join Undertaker. He believes he’s put it behind him and returned to his normal life when Inori shows up at school, having transferred to his class.

This episode was another feast for eye and ear; home to some pretty fantastic action and combat sequences, with some nice gamble suspense mixed in for good measure. Ouma Shu may not like it, but he has the powers of a god now, and a girl who isn’t shy about calling herself his. He stuck his neck out for her last week, and the reward was being thrust into a world he probably hadn’t even known about. It’s a world where government-sanctioned genocide in the name of eradicating disease is commonplace, and where the weak have to be protected from jack-booted thugs.

It’s only a matter of time before Shu and that little germophobic bastard Yan square off. There’s a lot to like here: you have your etherially beautiful songstress/muse, you’ve got old-fashioned and newfangled mecha (called “endlaves” here), your diverse crew of freedom fighters who have a very serious mission, but trying to keep it nice and casual between one another (contrast that with the cold military style of the Anti Bodies), and the concrete jungle of Tokyo to play in (the vistas continue to impress). Ouma Shu may still be a little on the dull side, but so far he hasn’t shied away from his duty when called upon.


Rating: 3.5 

Un-Go – 02

Yokohama power player Hisako Osada’s corpse is found in a suitcase in front of her own mansion, and prosecutor Koyama enlists the aid of Kaishou. The intricate case is studded with false culprits apparently placed to confuddle the investigator, but Shinjurou and Inga eventually discover that Hisako’s daughter An is the murderer. Hisako forbade An to pursue her dream of singing, even after she contributed her voice to a popular idol group set up by Hisako to heighten morale during the war. An was the voice of Eri Anzai, the fourth member of the group believed to have been killed in a terrorist attack before their debut. Sinjurou has a computer-savvy acquaintence release the prohibited music out onto the web.

Whereas a series like Night Raid took place in an alternate version of the thirties when Japan occupied China, Un-Go takes literature from the period (by Sakaguchi Ango, hence the title Un-go) and sets it in the near future instead, after a similar war broke out. I like that choice, because history repeats itself, even when it comes to the type of wars countries tend to fight. There’s also an intense sense of decadence and uneasiness to this postwar Japan; it comes close to being dystopic, but very subtly so, since it sticks so close to reality. Unlike so many anime that are hastily produced from manga that aren’t even complete, there’s a sense of authenticity and richness to the cases, in addition to being well thought-out. It’s a flavor that comes from time-honored, finely-honed source material.

Whether Inga is an invention of the show’s producers, or an invention of Ango, we don’t know, but she’s definitely an interesting wild card. When her grown-up version is released, it’s just a matter of asking the right person the right question, and the case breaks open. But finding that person and having that question are the challenges Shinjurou faces. The series’ music is beyond reproach, particularly that of the idol group, which sounded almost throwback in its consturction yet more honest and robust because of that. The idea of the government using talented singers and then discarding them when their usefullness is at an end isn’t all that farfetched, either.


Rating: 4

Mirai Nikki – 02

Amano’s school is bombed by the terrorist Minene Uryuu, AKA the Ninth. She then holds the school hostage and promises to finish the job until they hand him and Yuno over. They do, but the Fourth, a policeman, arrives and evens the odds. They’re able to defeat the Ninth with teamwork, but she escapes before they can kill her. Amano, Yuno, and the Fourth agree to form a “Diary Alliance”.

A school being bombed: we remember that about the brief OVA preview for this show. Turns out the perpetrator is a psychopathic pink maid with purple hair who was able to fill a school with bombs and mines. She wants godhood, and she’s good and ready to kill whoever gets in her way. This episode did a good job establishing just how much danger Amano is in, but also how his future/destiny is always changing as his actions deviate from what the diaries say.

And it isn’t only his phone. Everyone has a special diary that gives them an edge. Amano’s sweats the details; Yuno’s is all about him, whom she calls “Yukkii”, while the detective and bomb maid have diaries of investigation and escape, respectively. It’s a neat plot device that I hope the series continues to use in clever ways. It is indeed an interesting narrative that comes right out and gives you an outcome, and then puts the onus of preventing that outcome on the characters. It’s also nice that they didn’t forget about Amano’s prowess with darts, which will surely keep coming in handy moving forward.


Rating: 3.5

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 02

Nora’s structure has been compromised by the UE attack, and will be destroyed in six hours. Commander Bruzar orders the new battleship Diva to extract Nora’s core, where everyone has evacuated. His deputy Grodek captures the Diva’s Captain Dian at gunpoint – witnessed by Emily and Dique, who tag along – and takes command. Meanwhile, Flit escapes to space with Yurin, a girl he rescued from the streets. Vargas activates the AGE system, which fabricates a rifle Flit uses to take out a UE, but more are on the way and the clock is ticking on Nora…

Gundam tends to take its time with long, drawn out arcs with a single underlying objective: in this case, saving the people of Nora before its destruction. Naturally, there’s a clash of military command, and the hero, Flit, first meets Yurin, the girl who perhaps completes the triangle with him and Emily. Again, We’re a bit amazed this kid not only built Gundam, but the AGE system as well, but the show is adamant about it, so fine, whatever. He’s Einstein, Edison and Tesla all wrapped up and topped with green hair. We’re talking almost unapproachable/unrelatable genius here…they’ll have to eventually humanize him a little more.

Our main beef with this episode, which is otherwise quite exciting and action-packed (though not as exciting and action-packed as Last Exile’s debut) is another Gundam trope: The massive space colony that is utterly incapable of defending itself, or even evacuating its population in a timely fashion. This is just horrible planning. It clearly took years to build something as huge as Nora…during its construction, didn’t anyone ever ask, is it really such a good idea to pack thousands of innocent civilians into such a fragile metal tube in space? UE or no UE, it just seems shortsighted.


Rating: 3

Ben-To – 02

You and Hana join Sen’s club, and learn many crucial rules of the game: always wait for the God of Discounts to finish; Never take more than your fill; have respect and pride. But these are the rules of wolves; there are other beasts to content with, like a boar who breaks all of the rules, or a storm of pigs who would clean the place out. With help from the Wizard, You successfully wins the Bento with the honor seal, and thus the day. But Oshiroi’s obsessive friend Ume Shiraume has taken her hostage and won’t let her befriend anyone else.

Another fantastic effort for a series that looks to be extremely strong as the fall season progresses. This week we learn supermarkets are not only arenas, they are jungles; ecosystems with well-defined hierarchies, and each member of that system has its roles, strengths and weaknesses. After essentially being swept into the club (he had to sign while Sen had him in a choke hold), You has definitely gotten into the swing of things. It’s likely up to this point his life has been dull and monotonous; this new element is just the thing, awakening and reinforcing values in him like honor, pride, and respect – things he’ll need if he wants to rise from dog to wolf. Values true wolves always put first.

I’m a little surprised what a good fighter he is; he is able to pile through a rugby team without getting knocked out requires a certain suspension of disbelief, but who cares. As for Oshiroi; she seems to have been game from the start, but in her case, it seems she wants to make new friends besides the one she has – Ume, who is naught but a clingy bully. You is yet again at the recieving end of her physical and verbal abuse. Considering the strength and endurance he exhibited winning a half-price Bento later on, one has to wonder if and when he’ll ever stand up to her. One last comment: Taku Iwasaku is in the house, lending an excellent score to the proceedings.


Rating: 4