Sidonia no Kishi – 07

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I had a feeling Hoshijiro Shizuka (whose kanji I’ve learned also mean “silent star”) would fall at some point, and stay fallen (note that I didn’t say “dead”, more on that later), based on the simple fact she’s only listed as a supporting character, as opposed to Izana’s main billing. But last week, that fact was dropped in my—and Nagate’s—lap like a dead cat, so it didn’t quite feel real…yet.

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This week, we get to see the doomed mission that claims Shizuka, and learn that it was Kunato—using the private channel, the sniveling punk—who caused Nagate’s screw-up, which led to a momentary lapse in concentration. And all space needs is a moment to kill you or someone you love. Despite knowing how badly this would all turn out, it was still thrilling every step of the way, right up to the point the knife was twisted.

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What’s even darker about Kunato’s vendetta is that he’s seen enough of Nagate and Shizuka to know that if one of them got into trouble, the other would go after, against orders or reason. Heck, his little scheme could have ended up destroying his precious Tsugumori, too. In both cases, getting back at Nagate takes precedence over all other considerations, including defeating the Gauna.

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Kunato is just one of many enemies and critics of Nagate to come out of the woodwork, not counting Nagate’s harshest critic: himself. Fortunately, he has allies as well; powerful ones like Kobayashi, who willfully ignores all calls to “do something” about him, almost as if she’s aware someone could be trying to sabotage him. Or maybe she just doesn’t want to admit to being wrong about him, or anything else.

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Nagate also has his landladybear Hiyama and his not-presumptuously self-appointed best friend Izana to drag him out of his dusty room and his funk. A food vender mistakes Izana for a girl, probably because that’s what she’s slowly becoming because of Nagate. But most significant of his allies is his late gramps, who he remembers talking about a pilot having to show Resolve with a capital R—not coincidentally this episode’s title.

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“The Gauna won’t wait for you to dry your tears,” Nagate recalls him saying. But whether it’s fear of (or grief from) loved ones dying, or one-sided rivals fucking with him, a pilot must shut it all out in order to perform. The Elite Four couldn’t do that, and got slaughtered. Kunato clearly can, but one day his recklessness could blow up in his face. Even Yuhata, promoted to Kobayashi’s XO (Damn, she rose faster than Amane!) exhibits an ability to Keep Calm and Carry On.

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Shizuka let personal feelings affect her judgement out there, and as we see, the Gauna have little mercy for those who do so. The detailed-yet-split-second destruction of her frame was as heart-wrenching to watch as it was inevitable. The sight of her Gauna-corrupted frame emerging from the gas giant debris (an explosion we only saw in 8-bit, sadly) sent chills up my spine.

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That’s because the “702” raggedly scrawled on its flesh-like coating (a stark contrast to the tidy fonts the humans use) suggests the Gauna aren’t as mindless as I first thought, inadvertently lending credence to the growing portion of the populace that believes the Gauna will cease their aggression if they cease theirs. But that won’t happen as long as Kobayashi’s in charge. She’s like an anime Adama.

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Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 22

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As Izuru serves tea on the Godinion’s bridge, the Rabbits arrive at the gate just as Lutier and Dorgna’s fleets are coming through it. Tamaki goes after Lutier as Asagi heads to the gate’s core to plant the target marker. Lutier blocks his path, but the other Rabbits surround Lutier, and blow her to bits. Asagi plants the marker, but the laser attack is absorbed by the gate’s energy shield. Dorgana surrounds the crestfallen Rabbits.

And so the climactic mega-battle everything’s been building to finally commences, and we were most impressed with its might and grandeur, as Earth throws everything they have left at the Wulgaru gate. Vast Napoleonic lines and webs of starships exchanging multi-color laser fire at one another can quickly grow monotonous, so the episode wisely mixes up many different kinds of battles, including a very novel multi-stage dogfight with the pesky, sadistic Lutier, whom Tamaki isn’t forgiving for killing Patrick. Asagi proves he’s a capable leader, and even Ange behaves himself and listens to orders.

Yes, Earth’s big trump card ultimately failed in a stunningly executed (if not altogether unexpected) twist of fate, but they’re not out of the fight yet. The challenge now is to bring down something as massive as the gate with conventional projectile weapons. Our first thought was, simply lob Star Rose at it; it’s the biggest “projectile” they have in their armory. Of course, we’re not expecting that gate to go anywhere before Jiart, Rumes, and their fleets come through to make things even more difficult. The Rabbits survived the first stage of the battle, but will we lose anyone in the onslaught to follow?

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • At first we were scratching our heads at the impromptu lunch scene aboard the Godinion, but then we realized, they’re not at the front lines, so there were going to be some stretches of…nothing. 
  • In the end, we liked how the scene served as a kind of “coming up for air”, a brief respite in which even the exciting battle music pauses.
  • Simon takes his plan not working pretty well, all things considered. Does anything phase this guy?
  • The remaining Wulgaru generals are the smartest and most pragmatic of the original bunch, so things are surely going to get worse before they get better.
  • Will give Lutier this: her birdlike AHSMB was a gorgeous machine.

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 21

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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.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 20

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Everyone is shaken and numb from the death of Randy and Patrick. Rakesh gives Tamaki the gift Patrick meant to give her when he returned: premium pickled fish guts. Kei shares her bed with Tamaki but they can’t sleep, so they join the other Rabbits in Asagi’s room. Izuru passes out and turns out to be suffering from accelerated aging. When Asagi activates Red 5 during tests, Suzukane reveals to him that he and Izuru share paternal DNA, sourced from Cmdr. Simon. With help from Theoria, Amane is able to convince the world powers to join forces to destroy the Wulgaru base.

Last week while drinking with Suzukane, Captain Amane lambasted world leaders as impotent morons. This week, as GDF Chief of Staff for Operations, it falls to her to convince those assembled morons that they must combine their forces at one big offensive aimed at the Wulgaru gate if humanity is to have a chance. Not surprisingly to her or us, she isn’t able to do so, at least not without a badass entrance from Princess Theoria, who pledges to fight by their side. So the course to mankind’s salvation set. The question is, will they actually be able to ice that gate?

Team Rabbits doesn’t see any action this week, but had to deal with a lot: Izuru’s health is rapidly deteriorating, which worries Ke. Tamaki is distraught upon realizing Patrick liked her. Asagi suddenly learns he and Izuru are technically brothers, with Simon as their likely father. Needless to say, no one is in a particularly optimum psychological state at a pivotal time. In the final four episodes (or three, if four is a prologue) the Rabbits will have to put aside all their ills and rise to the occasion. That gate’s gotta go.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 17

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Ange is sent to assist the fleets on the front lines, but the rest of the Rabbits turn around and head to earth, where an independent Wulgaru detachment is headed, targeting the Gurantseere Academy. The detachment is led by Klein, who wants revenge for what the lumata did to him. Lumes (Rumes?) wants to join him, but is ordered to stay put. Izuru, Asagi, and Tamaki intercept them in time and stall them as Kei coordinates from orbit. Further out in space, Suruga targets a massive optical cannon at Klein, but after firing, he either misses or it is ineffective, as Klein emerges from the smoke unscathed.

Majestic Prince is nothing if not consistent –  always taking an episode off and change before the next big battle – and workmanlike in executing that battle once it comes.  This one’s the biggest so far; so big, we only get to see one half of it this week. Ange is sent to the front lines with the Dobermans, while Team Rabbits is ordered to deal with a far more imminent threat of a pissed Klein and a crafty Lumes armed with knowledge of where the humans make their elite pilots. Even snooty Price Jiart appreciates that pathetic as humans are, they’ve made a few such elites who have at least entertained him, meaning all this isn’t a complete hassle.

As for Klein, he’s still butthurt from his previous defeat by Ange, who isn’t even there for the rematch. But the Rabbits work much better as a team without that dude(ette), and while watching him/her battle among massive fleets of warring ships in space, the episode’s showpiece is the battle on earth, which starts with with Izuru and Asagi piggybacking on Tamaki’s Rose 3 as it barrels into the atmosphere. The Rabbits-on-Wulgaru skirmishing is kept fresh with the new backdrop of the blue sky and fluffy clouds. Suruga’s ultra-sniper weapon may have failed, but it looked awesome doing so.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Curiously, Amane isn’t promoted to Admiral in this episode. Not yet, anyway.
  • The other rabbits want to know how Izuru’s “date” went, knowing full well he only had five minutes with the girl, and she had a chaperone. It was a disaster.
  • Up until Asagi says otherwise, Tamaki had always believed she was the Ace of the team. She does have the biggest, toughest, most powerful mecha, after all.
  • The camera cut to the reaction shots of the evacuating humans on the surface, but one guy stuck out like a sore thumb on a few occasions…Click here to see what we’re on about.

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 15

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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.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • 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.

Ginga Kikotai Majestic Prince – 08

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The battle to destroy the Wulgaru base Ragazza commences earlier than planned, and the GDF first line of defense crumbles. Team Rabbits mobilizes, but once Izuru is locked in single combat with Pleguzes Jiart, the team starts act independently and erratically. Izuru gives Asagi command of the rest of the team, and they start coordinating their efforts to great effect. The GDF’s heavy laser is able to get a second shot off, but is destroyed out by another Wulgaru force from above. Jiart cracks the housing to Izuru’s cockpit, and the two adversaries see who they’re fighting. Jiart withdraws, vowing they’ll duel again.

The key to a good space battle is keeping things interesting and tension levels high, and this episode excelled at both, putting the battle in the last episode of Valvrave to shame. Despite taking up the entire episode, we weren’t bored with the action for one minute. It also flowed very fluidly, as opposed to the choppy, somewhat jarring, and inelegant Valvrave battle. Hell, this battle lasted so long, people had to return to base to resupply on weapons and ammo. And for the second straight mission, Team Rabbits distinguished themselves. The battle started out rocky, with everyone holding their own against the Wulgaru but no one working together, since the leader Izuru was off fighting Jiart.

His duel was vital in distracting and stalling Jiart, who was so excited to be fighting someone near his own level, he didn’t bother participating in the attack on the vulnerable GDF fleet. Once Izuru gives Asagi command of the Rabbits, shit starts getting organized, and before long the team is a well-oiled ass-kicking machine. It’s a superb transition that even they notice and revel in. As for Jiart, once he sees the dude inside Red 5, and Izuru sees him, it’s for the first time, and rather than finish him, he flies off, hopeful for a future encounter. Izuru can’t help but notice the resemblance between his Wulgaru opponent and Theoria, the white-haired girl that interests him. So we’ll see where that goes.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Asagi really does a bang-up job as the leader, not complaining about his stomach once and making snap decisions to best utilize his teammates.
  • Everyone is useful in this battle, from Suruga, using his weapons knowledge to make sure he’s fully equipped; Tamaki launching herself at the Wulgaru and laying waste; and Kei coordinating units even faster than her Doberman counterpart can manage.
  • Komine very nearly loses the battle with his absolutely dreadful command decisions. The guy is a liability, and we sorely hope Lt. Amane takes action to rectify this soon.

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 06

Suruga Ataru, Asagi Toshikazu, Irie Tamaki, Hitachi Izuru, Kugimiya Kei

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.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • 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.