Back in 2000 in Nevada, Yuuya is with the Ghost team participating in Raptor tests, and he goes beyond the parameters of their sortie. His chaser Lt. Sven is killed in action. A tribunal clears Yuuya of any fault in the death, but Leon vows never to forgive him. Shortly thereafter Yuuya broke up with Sharon and transferred to Alaska and the Argos Flight. When Argos celebrates its win over Bao Feng, Lt. Cui warns Yui to give up on Yuuya. Yuuya is being followed and monitored, and Cryska is confronted by her superior regarding her interactions with him.
While last week was mostly about how virtually everyone is now in love with Yuuya, this week focuses more on the cause of his feud with Leon Kuze, explaining and justifying both Kuze’s hostility thus far. The series made a good move telling Yui’s story first, so we’d be on her side when Yuuya suddenly shows up all brash and arrogant. This week we learn exactly what happened and why he seemed like such an asshole when we first met him. In short, Yuuya wasn’t born into money or power; he’s earned his rank and status and risen to excellence by hard work and willpower. He’s also always been hated; making Kuze’s vendetta just icing on the cake of his life, going back to his childhood in the racist deep south.
Yuuya has certainly changed since his joining Argos, but the driven young man who always has something to prove is still there. Cui, Cryska, and even the bartender Natalie all have nice mature conversations this week. Cui castigates Yui for falling in love with the person Yuuya has become through her tending, not the person Yuuya was before he changed. Cui believes people should be accepted for who they are, not accepted only when they change to suit your ideal of them. Cryska and Natalie tell Yuuya not to dwell on a past you can’t change, and simply continue to savor every day you’re still alive to shape the future, something precious few humans have that luxury. And all this talking is backed up by a really nice soundtrack.
Rating: 6 (Good)
P.S. Didn’t Yuuya say he wanted Yui to teach him kendo? There seemed to be ample free time to do so this week, but nothing has come of it yet.
Leon and Sharon chat with Vincent at the Polestar bar about Yuuya. Cryska and Yuuya finally find Inia. Idar fights the EU’s Slechtvalk Flight and defeat them easily in less than ten minutes, but Cryska and Inia’s CO is concerned with a slight drop in reaction times. Argos Flight goes up next against Bao Feng, led by Lt. Cui, and after the Chinese repeatedly toy with them, Yuuya takes Tarisa’s advice and challenges Cui to a one-on-one duel and defeats her. Cui shows up later giving him permission to fall in love with her.
Yuuya wants to be the best test pilot he can be. That means making the Shiranui look as good as possible, but for him, it also means getting that “feeling” back – the one he got whilst surrounded by Beta. The latter is the means to the end. He doesn’t let Leon faze him, and while Inia’s always-cryptic comments shook him a little, he also stood up against Cui Yifei and learned that she’s apparently attracted to eishis who are able to slice her TSF in two. Add Cryska’s apparently growing feelings for Yuuya and Yui’s post-duel attaboy, and he has himself a nice harem in the making.
Cui is luckier than Cryska and Inia, because she loses and gets to hit on the victor, while the Scarlet Twins are poked and prodded by Soviet scientists to determine why their victory wasn’t perfect. There’s little doubt Cryska’s emotional wavering will factor into a future Blue Flag final between Argos and Idar, which we assume this is leading up to. Though we shouldn’t rule out Leon Ruze and the American flight, as their Raptor TSFs look like they could also pose a challenge. We’d also like to say it’s awfully considerate of the Beta to pause their anti-human offensive for the extent of this tournament. After all, why attack the humans when their guards are down and they’re preoccupied with sparring with one another?
Rating: 6 (Good)
Lt. Takamura puts Yuuya in the Fubuki 97 TSF until the new Shiranui 94 is complete, and he has trouble controlling the Japanese design. Takamura tells him to curb his attitude, but in the subsequent joint BETA battle with the Soviets, he proves a liability, and has to be saved by his Argos teammates. Takamura tells him he lack talent, and he lets himself be led into a Top Secret Soviet base by Inia, one of the Scarlet twins, and is then arrested by Inia’s sister Cryska. Takamura pulls strings to get him released, but she warns him that this isn’t a game.
Yuuya’s American buddy Vincent suggests that if he wants to master a Japanese TSF, he has to know the Japanese mind that created it. The only problem is, as a second-gen Japanese-American, he was raised hating his Japanese side, and ostracized by his peers. Thus we have to backtrack a bit on him having a good life up to this point; the flashbacks were vivid proof his childhood was no picnic, while Takamura was from a proud and supportive family. But this still doesn’t excuse Yuuya for being the Genuine Class A Asshat that he is. Sure, his Argos Flight comrades are more forgiving with him, but we welcomed Takamura’s consistently scathing observations. She has a knack for rattling his cage, and he deserves everything she’s doling out.
Takamura isn’t in the habit of coddling her subordinates, dubbing Yuuya talentless and an embarrassmant to her race. To add injury to insult, Yuuya is almost tortured by Soviets for looking like a Japanese spy, but is bailed out at the last second by Takamura. And the jerk doesn’t even thank her. Sorry, but he doesn’t have the right to act this way. He’s one of the few people able to pilot TSFs, and he’s been chosen to be part of an outfit that looks to take the fight to the BETA. He needs to check his ego, attitude, and issues at the door before his idiocy gets people killed. Just so we’re clear: Takamura: still our fave; Yuuya: insufferable wretch in need of an attitude adjustment. Inia and Cryska: twincestuous Soviets??? O_o
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Ensign Yuuya Bridges transfers from Nevada to Yukon Base in Alaska, joining a international group of elite TSF pilots called Argos Flight: Stella Bremer from Sweden, Valerio Giacosa from Italy; Tarisa Manandal from Nepal; and lieutenants Takamura Yui from Japan and Ibraham Doglu from Turkey. Bridges and Stella team up against Tarisa and VG in a mock battle. Bridges is able to use himself as a decoy in order to get the cocky Tarisa in the right position for Stella to snipe her. Though he won the battle, Takamura isn’t impressed.
With Takamura the only survivor in last week’s dark bloodbath, the series serves up a fresh cast; the one we’ll probably be following the rest of the series. We like how casually the group comes together; no barrage of dozens of characters. The episode doesn’t try to do too much, after all, we’re still a little disoriented after the events of the first two episodes, which covered years; this week only covers days. But those first episodes painted a vivid picture of the trials Takamura Yui went through to get to where she is now: a lieutenant in an elite UN corps that may be humanity’s last best hope of survival. It also explains why she doesn’t like Bridges.
Of the members of Argos, only Bridges and his pal Vincent are from the US, a country not under Beta occupation. It’s apparent his life’s been a lot easier than Yui’s, nor he hasn’t seen any of the horrors she’s lived through (i.e., he hasn’t seen any friends get EATEN). The way he wins the battle – letting the enemy get right on top of him and relying on Stella to bail him out – probably wouldn’t work in a real batle against the Beta. At this point, we still like Yui the best, followed Stella (nicknamed “Venus”) and Valerio (“Macaroni”), where were inoffensive enough. But “Top Gun” Bridges seems like kind of a dick, while Tarisa (“Chobi”) is a shrill, irritating, arrogant little brat. Here’s hoping they mellow out a little.
Rating: 6 (Good)