Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 23

War explodes in, over, and around Anatae, as Lucifer joins the battle in his flagship, and the Onyx Soldiers and Charioce loyalists battle the alliance of demons, gods, and men. While these zoom-outs to the wider fighting certainly make for nice eye candy, what truly interested me was when they zoomed back in on the smaller, more intimate moments between various pairs of characters, be it Jeanne and Azazel, or Dias finding Alessand.

Alessand cries, begs for his life, and then stabs Dias when his guard is down, betraying him again. At that point, Dias is done with Al, except to drive a sword into him, but a little demon boy, who can see through Al’s forced smile, doesn’t fall for it, and kills him with a dagger.

After making the wrong choice to murder El in sight of a grander station, Al ended up slain by a small, frail, hungry child and died bleeding out in a dark alley. No songs will be sung of Alessand. But hey, he did get Nina into the palace, right?

Nina doesn’t understand Charioce one bit…but she sure wants to, and that means going to him once more, even if previous instances of doing so didn’t really turn out so well for her or anyone near her. Charioce waits on the top deck of aboard his flagship, surrounded by the Onyx Soldiers…who aren’t doing too hot.

Their bodies reach their absolute limit at just the wrong time: when their king needs them the most to protect him. But the combined force of Jeanne and Azazel proves too much for them, although not by much…if the Commander had had just a few more moments of life, he might’ve managed to stab Jeanne in the throat with a hidden blade.

Lucifer’s flagship, Bacchus’ wagon, and yes, an elevating bridge made out of zombies amassed by Rita bearing her and Kaisar, all descend on the same spot, where Charioce is about to be charged by Jeanne and Azazel. It’s Kaisar who makes it just in time to protect his king, and gets stabbed and impaled by their snakes and spear. Rita is beside herself, while Jeanne and Azazel are sheepish.

Charioce is shocked, but he shouldn’t be: Kaisar Lidfort is, and always has been, a true knight. If the world survives this latest attack from Bahamut, it will need more Kaisars, not more Charioces. A few Favaros wouldn’t hurt though…

Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 22

While Charioce is in Eibos, trying to widen a rift, Jeanne is bringing demon, god, and man together in a grand alliance based upon their mutual hate of the asshole king, and Alessand is now in charge of the Orleans Knights, but a few of his subordinates wonder if they’re on the right side, and when Al tells himself he did nothing wrong, he doesn’t sound very convincing.

Kaisar, hopeless idealist to the end, tries in vain to halt Jeanne’s march by trying to shoulder responsibility for El’s death by giving Al free roam of their hideout. But this simply isn’t about who killed El; it’s about everyone Charioce has killed, hurt, or caused to suffer or despair. Like most things with Jeanne, this has grown into something far bigger than herself and her own desire for revenge…though she does want that revenge.

When Nina and Favaro arrive at Eibos via Bacchus’ wagon, through the obscuring fog they learn what Charioce is up to: awakening Bahamut. Nina rushes into the stronghold and takes down everyone in her path with ease, and even outmaneuvers and overpowers Charioce. But even with his own sword in her hand and the opportunity to cut off his arm and the bracelet attached to it, she can’t close the deal, even when he goads her to “do it”,  and backs down. Which…is a bit disappointing.

Instead, Nina and Favaro listen to Charioce’s advisor explain how this day was always coming; when Bahamut had to be dealt with on a permanent basis to prevent him from awakening anew and destroying the world. Charioce was the king that had been groomed to deal with this mission, and it’s one he’s more than willing to sacrifice his life to achieve. The rift opens further, Nina and Favaro escape, and Charioce comes into possession of a fleet of huge, advanced airships.

This is all very cool, it is…but while it’s now been helpfully explained why Charioce did so many terrible things (to acquire the power to destroy Bahamut) it’s still a classic ends-justify-the-means scenario, and just because he’s puting his life on the line doesn’t automatically make him a martyr.

That applies especially if the ends don’t work out; Bahamut is awakened and blows up most of Charioce’s fleet. Was…that supposed to happen? After all this, is Charioce in over his head? Whatever the case, Jeanne is fighting the wrong war; Bahamut has instantly become the Most Important Thing to deal with at the moment. The rebellion will have to wait.

Kuromukuro – 01 (First Impressions)

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Kuromukuro opens with a striking image: that of two beastly mechas with glowing katana dueling in a snowstorm, as samurai battle and lay bleeding on the ground.

Cut to a parent-teacher conference in which Shirahane Yukina’s advisor is informing her highfalutin’ mom Hiromi as tactfully as possible (though not very) that her daughter may not have the smarts or the talent to make much of herself, as indicated by listing “Mars” among her future goals.

Hiromi storms off, leaving her UN-issued phone behind, and both her mom and her friend Sophie (who also works at the UN lab in Kurobe) aren’t listening when she tries to return it.

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Yukina (voiced ably by Ichimichi Mao, who is also Space Patrol Luluco this Spring) has lofty goals but her motivation is compromised by being the daughter—the princess, in a way—stuck in the shadow of the queen, her mom, the director of the Kurobe Lab.

The episode does a good job establishing Yukina as someone a bit hemmed in and intimidated by her circumstances, who may just need a swift kick in the bum to on track to greatness. But this week she’s very much a passive observer, with one key exception (more on that later).

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Sure enough, a potential bum-kick arrives in the form of a rude invasion by a swarm of evil mecha led by one giant one, who crash landed just outside the UN lab. The security forces do there best, but are soon overwhelmed, and Hiromi (ensconced in a very Evangelionesque CIC) deploys their own experimental mecha.

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It’s at this point that Yukina, who happens to be in a lab where a large, mysterious, black, cubic artifact that was found during the construction of the dam, stops watching and does something.

Specifically, she hits the Big Red Button on the side of the cube, and out pops a naked man, awakening from suspended animation of untold duration.

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Having pushed the button, Yukina returns to Standing Around Mode, while her classmate Sophie pilots one of the UN mecha and takes out the giant enemy mech.

A smaller mech gets in the lab where Yukina is, and the naked guy whips out a katana and protects Yukina, whom he calls “princess” (which may or may not be a coincidence). He looks, talks, and fights like a samurai, and even has a samurai name: Ouma Kennosuke Tokisada.

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Once the small mecha is taken care of, UN police swarm in to deal with the naked man. Thus ends Yukina’s big, interesting day of watching stuff happen around her, to which she contributes a single button push that may just be the most important action taken.

Or it would end, but for another giant mecha headed to the UN Lab, along with another swarm of grunts. There’s a similar giant machine in deep storage at the lab, and judging from the configuration of the UN prototypes, it needs two to pilot. So I suspect Yukina and Ouma will be the ones to do so next week.

So far this is a heckuva lot better and more promising than the last P.A. Work Zane attempted, Haruchika, particularly in terms of production values. I’ll give it an 8 for design and a female heroine, and a 7 for overall story, action, pace, and originality.

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