As the global powers muster their fleets, Simon orders Izuru to resign, but he refuses. While he’s allowed to board the Godinion, he’ll remain on standby on the bridge as a last-resort asset during Operation Heaven’s Gate. The GDF’s C-in-C puts Simon in charge of the operation, and Simon pilots the evacuated Star Rose, whose core is the Wulgaru ship Theoria arrived in. The Rose will bear the fleet to the location of the Wulgaru gate.
With the forces of earth united and mobilized and the Wulgaru force similarly united and preparing for the final hunt, the endgame draws near. This episode was the calm before what should be one hell of a storm; an episode of physical and mental preparation, and also an episode of new roles. Ange is back on the Rabbits, Asagi assumes the role of their leader, and Theoria will jump in a cockpit and fight beside them, but everyone is doing everything possible to keep Izuru – who is not well – on the sidelines, as another sortie could kill him. Before the two massive armadas clash, this episode does a great job focusing on all the little stories of people stepping into their new roles.
There was also an emphasis on family and humans’ tendency to protect others and not just themselves, something the Wulgaru find unnatural. Asagi is taken aback by the sudden brotherly responsibility he now feels toward Izuru. Imbued with this new sense of family, he also lets his “little sister” Anna stay with her dad and granddad rather than flee to earth alone. The family theme is drilled home when Papa Simon invites the fleet to pile into the car (Star Rose) for a road trip that will determine the survival of mankind against a race of aliens who have underestimated them at every turn. And they’re not stopping to go to the bathroom.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
As Izuru recovers in the infirmary, Suzukane learns from Simon that the AHSMB units contain their pilots’ DNA. When awakened, there’s a chance a unit could eradicate a pilot’s personality. Indeed, when Izuru wakes up, he seems different and strange to his teammates. Meanwhile, Amane has been promoted and put in charge of Team Doberman, leading the defense of Vesta Base. When they’re overwhelmed by Wulgaru forces led by Rumes and Radha, they call the Rabbits for assistance. They too get bogged down, so Izuru, initially on standby, sorties without armor and saves the day. But Rumes was able to hack into GDF mainframe and gather intel on the MJP project and Gurantseere Academy.
This was a diverse episode that managed to deal with the aftermath of Izuru’s unit awakening by showing the subtle yet very noticeable change in him without going overboard, everyone’s reactions to that change, another fresh and frenzied battle, and surprisingly managed to check in on one of our favorite characters of the first half of the series, Lieutenant Amane. She jumps three ranks in this episode, and after dealing with inept superiors for so long, she was more than deserving of them. She proves to be a confident, competent commander, fearless in the face of impossible odds. Her promotions, while well-earned, also underline the increasingly desperate position of the GDF, with its dwindling forces.
The GDF got a good deal this week, with nine AHSMBs and their two motherships taking on two huge Wulgaru fleets and mostly thanks to the new-and-improved (for now, at least) Izuru are able to send one of them packing. We say one becaue Rumes withdraws of his own accord. The point of the battle wasn’t to invade Vesta, but to gather her secrets. Now the Wulgaru know where mankind’s elite pilots (and final hopes) are developed. That’s bad news, but even though things are a bit dire, there’s still plenty of reasons to maintain hope the Rabbits and GDF can and will prevail against their hunters.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- The symptoms of Izuru’s unit’s awakening: he’s more direct, less dense with Kei’s feelings, and he’s basically gone from iliciting mild pity and disgust to making everyone blush with his Glint-On-Demand teeth. Even his manga is better too.
- This begs the question: is he still Izuru? Will he continue to change the more time he spends with his awakened unit?
- Tamaki shocks the cook by exhibting her knowledge of the “Suspension Bridge Effect”, only to be distracted by Giuliano.
- Izuru takes too brave a bite of Rin’s latest confection, and it almost kills him. Cute little slapstick scene.
- Ange has to be saved yet againby Izuru. S/he can’t be happy about that.
- We also dug the girls-night-out to celebrate Captain Amane’s many promotions.
The ship Suruga was waiting for his entire day off turns out to be transporting a new AHSMB, Black 6, to be piloted by a new member of Team Rabbits, Ange Kuroki. While seemingly shy and submissive at first, after engaging in a mock battle with Izuru (which he wins handily) his personality totally changes; a slap from Kei and the soft-spoken Ange returns. The MJPs are deployed to 4 Vesta to defend the GDF base from a Wulgaru attack led by Klein. Ange ignores all orders and operates on his own, destroying Klein’s entire squadron, then Klein himself, all while displaying the highest harmonic levels ever seen.
Well, that’s one way to shake things up! With a new half-season comes a new character, the “aloof ace”, someone who isn’t concerned with hobbies, socializing with his teammates, or even listening to a damn word they say. Ange Kuroki…well, he gets Angery. Ahem…we mean angry. He totally schools Izuru, then looks down on him. His AHSMB is the most advanced unit, and he must be the product of some new training program that’s left him less functional as a complete human being than the others. He’s not fitting in, nor does he seem to want to. Sure, Ange disobeyed orders, broke formation and did whatever he wanted, but he got the job done, and the superiors only care about results.
With the possibility Ange ever becoming one of the team being remote when he and his AHSMB are so far ahead of the curve, you have to wonder why he isn’t just his own one-man team. He certainly makes the other Rabbits look bad; no one but Ange is able to save an ambused Kei, who let herself get surrounded, and Tamaki just blasted after the first bogey Kei saw: a decoy. Add a pinned Izuru and Asagi and an inaccurate Suruga, and the team looked pretty poor out there. Even so, we’ve seen what they’re capable of and know they’re better than this. It just seems like Ange served as a hair in their pickled fish guts. Unfortunately for them, it’s a hair they’ll have to live with.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- We’re assuming Ange’s a male and not a female, though he obviously has at least two distinct personalities. FWIW he’s voiced by a lady; Watanabe Akeno, who’s voiced characters of both genders, including Gou from Free!
- That said, we like how disenchanted Suruga and Tamaki get after Ange’s revealing tantrum.
- As if we didn’t have enough reasons to love Kei, she’s the first to slap Ange. Excellent!
- Rin keeps trying to get closer to Izuru, only for him to completely not notice her. Keep at it, Kei!
- We like the new OP and ED; we liked the old ones too but it’s good to freshen things up.
The Wulgaru defector, Theoria, tells Team Rabbits that humanity was one of many species that evolved as a result of the Wulgaru spreading their genes across the galaxy to combat death. They then engage in “hunts”, the latest of which is against Earth. Simon and GDF intend to use the Rabbits as decoys and trump cards, knowing the Wulgaru will consider them prized prey. Theoria also tells Izuru they were once close friends, which explains his familiar feeling he has around her. Back at Wulgaru HQ, Jiart declares the earthling he encountered to be his personal prey, and that his compatriots should also each choose one of the other four earthlings who put up a fight during the Battle of Ceres. Simon informs the Rabbits that a Wulgaru vessel has been found on Mars.
Like the queerats of New World and the Hideauze of Gargantia, the Wulgaru share genetic commonality with humans, who now find themselves locked in combat with them. But if it weren’t for the Wulgaru, the human race wouldn’t exist; the reverse of those other two scenarios. Humans are one of many genetic “crops” the Wulgaru have spread across the galaxy in hopes of keeping their civilization alive. We wish the show would let us in on exactly how killing off large numbers of humans extends the Wulgaru lifespan (???) but there it is. Theoria and her missing mother are Wulgaru noblewomen who oppose such “hunts” and she’s worked with the GDF to devise defenses against Wulgaru belligerence.
There’s a lot of Majestic Prince yet to watch, so this was a good time to reveal these truths. It speaks to a larger theme of honesty always having a positive impact on things. Now that the Rabbits know the score, they can psychologically prepare. Izuru, Tamaki, and Suruga are synching better to their AHSMBs because they’re open and honest with their feelings, while Asagi and Kei struggle because they’re more introspective and self-conscious. Every time Izuru and Theoria talk to each other, Kei has this subtle look of irritation on her face, but if she has something to say, she hasn’t expressed it strongly enough for Izuru to notice. We’ll see if either she or Asagi open up a little more. Their lives may depend on it.
Rating: 6 (Good)
- Both Izuru and Tamaki are excited to meet Theoria and Daneel, respectively, but they go about expressing their attraction in very different ways.
- For Theoria’s part, she seems game about one day reconnecting with Izuru.
- Jiart: Kinda a dick. His brother’s king, but gives him a lot of leeway.
- Can’t get on board with the other Wulgaru generals. Aside from the fact they all look ridiculous, they’re little more than sniveling thugs.
- We didn’t realize just how ENORMOUS Tamaki’s AHSMB was until they showed them all to scale.
Before returning to base, Izuru is forbidden by Suzukaze from discussing with anyone that he saw a Wulgaru up close, and she won’t tell him anything. After waiting for him to come back, Kei goes looking for Izuru and finds him, but he’s distracted by Theoria and runs in vain after her. While the Wulgaru did withdraw, the Rabbits see that the massive losses the GDF suffered take a toll on general morale. Two GDF operators are about to buy them dessert when they are summoned by Commander Simon, who decides to divulge that the Wulgaru resemble humans, and furthermore, their AHSMBs were developed using technology shared with the GDF by a Wulgaru defector,Theoria.
We left last week’s battle thinking Team Rabbits, and Acting Leader Asagi did a pretty good job under the circumstances, but Asagi’s lil’est pit crew member isn’t as generous with praise, dubbing him a “lame pilot.” And it gets to him, at least until Kei tries to cheer him up. There was some nice romantic tension in that little moment too, underlined by the fact that Kei was only there, in his room, because she was waiting to hear about Izuru, whom she cares about a lot. But despite how well the Rabbits may have performed, the fact remains the GDF got pwned by the Wulgaru, and would have been wiped out had the enemy not just sodded off of their own accord. It’s good to see that not even the Rabbits’ eleventh-hour heroics will always save the day.
Earth took heavy losses, and there’s fear and doubt seething through the ranks. As it turns out, the only ones who had any success against the Wulgaru at all were those using tech lifted from those very Wulgaru, courtesy of Koko Hekmatwulgar herself, Theoria. Hey, nine episodes in and we finally learn who she is! She’s also something of Izuru’s Muse/Dream Girl, which pisses of Kei to no end. Until the rest of the team learns why he’s acting so distant, Izuru also has to deal (albeit very briefly) with privileged information he can’t even tell his closest comrades, which is something of a first that would have frayed their bonds had he needed to keep that secret longer-term. Instead, the whole team is in on it, because they’ll be playing a far larger role in the conflict from now on. We look forward to it!
Rating: 8 (Great)
- Interesting how Izuru’s AHSMB won’t move when he tries to pursue Jiart.
- Suzukaze’s riding crop slapping across the desk was a nice little touch, literally slapping down Izuru’s curiosity. They’re no longer an Instructor and Student, they’re Captain and Subordinate meaning it’s no longer her job to satiate his curiosity ..it’s her job to issue orders and it’s his job to follow them, period. We liked how that scene underlined the distinction and the resulting change in their character dynamic.
- Kei pines for Izuru while Asagi pines for Kei, but Ataru and Tamaki prefer to pine for those outside of their circle, which kinda makes them the smart ones, until you realize both of them have unrealistically high standards.
- While there was plenty of foreshadowing, Theoria’s reveal, combined with the revelation about the AHSMBs being derived from Wulgaru designs was still surprisingly thrilling.
After their victory at RA122, the Rabbits return to academy, where Suzukaze informs them they’ll be graduated early and enter the GDF army. They move out of their dorms and reminice on how they met as a team and eventually gelled. They then perform a competent demonstration in their AHSMBs that impresses the student body. After their graduation ceremony they board a bus, and the entire school assembles to salute them as they leave, perhaps never to return.
This episode had an air of final episode-ness to it, only we’re just a quarter of the way through the series. The young, now affectionately-named “Team Fail” is leaving the academy because they didn’t fail; they proved they were ready for prime time. We like this move and its promptness; we didn’t need another few episodes of them dicking around in school when there’s real battles to be fought. As Commander Simon says, there’s nothing more for them to learn at the academy. Their new schoolroom will be space and the war with the Wulgaru, and they’ll only progress with JURIA integration if their lives are put on the line.
Somewhat ironically, we hadn’t seen a whole lot of the team at academy, which is where they’d spent the majority of their time prior to becoming the Majestic Princes, so while this was a farewell tour of the school for them, it was simultaneously an introduction to their student lives for us. Despite not spending a lot of time here, the emotions of suddenly leaving a familiar place and entering adulthood are very relatable themes. They’re excited about going and meeting their destinies, but they’re also weary of “leaving the nest” and eveything they knew for drastically different and far more hazardous lives. Next week, their military careers officially begin.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- We liked how a group of classmates did not instantly lavish praise on them for their victory. After all, they assumed the Dobermans were the key to success, even though the Princes did all the heavy lifting.
- Even better, that same guy who mocked Asagi comes back after the demonstration to apologize. Classy move.
- Lt. Amane is merely stewing for now, but we’ll see if her discontent with her superiors’ superiors leads to action in the future.
- Subverting expectations for a fiasco, the Princes actually perform a clean demonstration, greatly improving their standing with the students.
- Of course Asagi trips and falls at the graduation cremony.
- Tamaki tearing up as the bus pulls away from their former home is a subtle but touching little moment.
- Turns out those ships that escapes the base’s explosion were just Wulgaru.
- Speaking of which, we finally see some Wulgaru in the flesh! And they’re damned silly-looking, with an aesthetic that combines sci-fi with midieval fantasy.
- Their presence makes us wonder: is that white-haired chick one of them? She certainly has an otherworldly air to her.
Team Rabbits is a group of underachieving GDF AHSMB (mecha) trainee pilots who don’t gel well and score poorly in training exercises. When a huge Wulgaru (alien) fleet attacks the GDF’s forward base at Undina, they are sent into active duty in real-deal AHSMBs; each pilot given a specific role. Their mission is to simply buy enough time for Undina’s forces to evacuate, but they notice civilians were left behind, and they stand their ground. They do enough damage to force the Wulgaru fleet to retreat.
This series immediately immerses us in the middle of a heated space battle, and we’re thinking “alright, this could be cool.” Then we start seeing characters in the quite-unmistakable style of Hirai Hisahi of the excellent Gundam SEED/Destiny saga, and we take in their snappy interactions and very simple but well-defined personalities and we start warming up to it. Like Gundam, these are mecha pilots whose circumstances lead them to accomplish great things. Unlike SEED, these guys start out as slackers, who haven’t yet figured out how to work as a team or fully exploit their innate talents.
But whether it’s beginners luck or something just clicking, all five of them rise to the occasion when it matters most: when lifes are depending on them. They even go beyond the call of duty when they realize how awesome their new mecha are. They end up surprising everyone, including themselves. Color us surprised, too: while the characters have that unique, simple look of Gundam Seed, this is a fully modern series with suitably up-to-date production values. When the real fighting begins and the misfits find themselves in the big leagues, the pace quickens and after some initial disorientation, the team finds a groove and goes for it, which seems to be what their commander Simon was hoping for. But mostly this outing was just flat-out FUN.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
- While the characters look very Gundam SEEDy, they’re way more lively and free to show goofy emotions, which they do in rapid succession.
- At the same time, the space procedural operations-speak Gundam is known for is here in force during deployment sequences and lots of lingo, although not an oppresive amount of it.
- The episode is also very efficient; Vividred insisted on showing each of its girls transforming individually; this one shows everyone launching at the same time in a 4-way split screen, multiplayer-style. More of this.
- The bad guys are pretty one-dimensional so far, but that’s okay.
- PEW PEW! KABLAMO!