Konno Makoto is a normal high school girl who has a bad day and ends up about to be killed by a train when she suddenly leaps back in time a few minutes to avoid the accident. Once she realizes she can literally leap through time at will, she begins using the ability to improve her life in small ways. But she learns the misfortune she’s denying herself is forced on others, and there’s a number on her arm that is counting down. Her ability only makes her life and relationships more complicated, though not necessarily for the worse…
When all’s said and done, Makoto’s trails and tribulations present a pretty good case for why having the power to change the past is not a power any person should ever possess. Humans love to look back on their choices and wonder what coulda woulda shoulda. But we have enough trouble making the choices we make, without having the opportunity to go back and constantly alter them. To be blunt, a power like that would turn us into perfectionists, and even if time travel is possible, perfection is not. Yet we wouldn’t stop trying to grasp it, and it would consume us. When you can go back and change things, you’ll never stop.
That’s why we’re glad TokiKake sets certain limits to the scope of Makoto’s powers. She doesn’t try to go back to change world history, or even Japanese history, just her own history. And while she starts out goofing off, it turns out she had a finite number of leaps, most of which she squandered. In fact, her most important leaps are her first (which saves her life), and her last (which gives Chiaki his one leap back). Let’s not harbor any illusions: if she had unlimited leaps, she probably wouldn’t stop tweaking events, so it’s a good thing she ran out. In the end, she did the right things at the right time, and everything will be fine.
Anyway, we really got a kick out of this film. It fully immersed us in its lush and detailed world – one so much like ours, but where time leaping is possible – and made us care about that world and the people in it. The ordinary, clumsy Makoto’s epic ordeal is punctuated by moments of deep regret and longing, balanced with profound contentment and joy. She takes a lot of hard licks and learns hard lessons, most important of all, that “time waits for no man” (or in her case, girl); leaping back only leaves one further behind time’s unrelenting pace.
The real Luca returns from vacation, and Quartz Christie also returns, where the pirates encircle her with guns. Marika agrees to engage her in a fair fight, which she plans to win. Ironbeard butts in, announcing he is there to retrieve Christie on orders from the queen. Ironbeard’s entourage includes the real Kane (his younger twin brother had been filling in for him) and Ririka, who is back to her “Blaster” role. After a huge feast, Marika challenges Christie to a battle, and Christie assents.
It’s all going to come down to one huge battle between Christie, with technologically-advanced Grand Cross, and Marika, with her band of plucky “frontier” pirates. Who will prevail? We’re guessing Marika, but that isn’t decided here. This week, like any good penultimate episode, gets everyone caught up, checks in on nearly everyone, and basically does the housekeeping that will allow the finale to flow unfettered by loose ends. This episode was a buffet of light and tasty hors d’ouvres.
Lberally peppered throughout the episode were fun little moments. Christie trying to avoid the spotlight (literally); a group of EW techs fawning over Coorie in non-hot mode; Chiaki reacting to her singing voice being transmitted across piratedom. While guys like Ironbeard remain mysterious, at least his motives aren’t: he’s there to fetch Christie, whom we imagine to be some kind of priviliged loose cannon who ran away from home to play with her awesome new toy. That being said, Marika challenged Christie to a fight, and he can’t interfere any more than Christie can refuse. So it’s on like Donkey Kong.
Robert Dolittle leads a huge fleet and bombards the Bentenmaru with laser fire. As Ai evades the attacks, Marika, Jenny, Chiaki, and the Serenity sisters hatch a plan. The Bentenmaru escapes from the Dolittle fleet, intercepts Jenny’s fiance’s ship, and hacks into interstellar broadcasting, recording live coverage of his unsavory dallying in revolutionary movements. Uncle Robert shows up, but thanks to Marika’s quarantined crew, they have more than enough dirt on the company to have him arrested for corruption and weapons trafficking. Her normal crew tests negative for illness, and Marika and her amateur crew return home triumphant.
The Dolittle arc comes to a sudden, action-packed, rousing, sometimes ridiculous conclusion, but unfortunately it did so in a way that very often stretched and strained credulity, coming off as a bit over-neat and tidy. Let’s start at the beginning: the threat of Doolittle’s fleet is all too-easily brushed aside. One of the cooler little moments in the episode is when we see first-year helmsgirl Ai’s legs shaking as she evades the attacks – this is new territory for her. But her piloting is a little too perfect, as are the FTL girl’s engineering skills and Lynn’s apparently limitless hacking abilities. There’s no doubt these are extremely bright and talented girls, but the Doolittle fleet comes of as pathetically inept.
Then there’s the extremely complicated plan to get Jenny out of her fix. It involves boarding the Glorious Krooph, which just happens to be flying around nearby. Never mind the fact that the crew boards her in that stupid cosplay again (though we have to admit we did enjoy priestess Chiaki with her taped-up gun and disgusted outburst) but there’s a friggin’ army on that ship, not tourists, and they let themselves get captured by a handful of high schoolers? Again the bad guys are just too stupid for words. Broadcasting their raid live to expose Krooph and Dolittle certainly tied those guys’ hands somewhat, but again, how in the hell was Lynn able to do that…and who was making the realtime titles and graphics? This episode was fun, but things were wrapped up too easily and neatly, and the Yacht Club students were simply way too perfect.
Yamanobe announces he and the Sket-dan have been invited to represent Japan at the World Grand Prix of Genesis in the remote kingdom of N’preenu Ch’p’p’s’b, where it’s the national sport. Requiring four players plus a manager, they enlist the help of athlete extraordinaire “Captain” Chiaki Takahashi. They arrive and are perturbed to have never heard of most of the participating countries. They defeat Wyoming first, and after a rough start, Chiaki quickly gets the hang of things and excels, taking over the teamcaptaincy from Bossun and emerging as the MVP.
After a string of Serious Sket, this week marks a return to good ol’ lighthearted comedy. We mentioned we loved made-up sports when Genesis was introduced way back in episode 8, and we’re even bigger fans now that we know there’s a whole international movement devoted to it, including four regional schools. Adding Chiaki into the mix was a welcome move too, as she is the series’ resident expert at all sports, and we liked how her role evolved from unsure noob to MVP (and potential marriage to the N’preenu prince, which she declined.)
While Chiaki’s tangible motivation was the year’s supply of some strange seafood, she also admitted to an apologetic Yamanobe that she just loves hanging out with the Sket-dan, no matter the reason. She finds their passion for whatever comes their way (which sometimes builds up gradually from initial apathy) admirable and addictive. And while Sket Dance had previously done a sports anime parody, this had enough unique elements to provide fresh and memorable laughs. And we also know we need to bone up on our geopraphy – we pride ourselves on knowing the names of all the nations of the world!
Chiaki, the softball captain, comes to a Sket-dan whose clubroom is inundated with scientific supplies, to ask them to help her locate a lost candy drop tin. To her, the tin represents the friendship forged between her and Akina, in which they’d each eat a drop a day from the tin. Captain messes that up by giving a drop to a boy Akina liked, and Akina lashes out in anger, throwing the tin out a window. After getting caught in the raid, Chiaki’s out sick on what turns out to be Akina’s final day before her family moves out of town. However Bossun finds the tin, and Akina returns to say goodbye. Chiaki and Akina reconcile, and both draw white drops – representing lifelong friendship.
Oh Sket Dance, we do believe you may have attained new heights in sappiness this week. Who would have thought so much drama and strife could be created from one silly little box of candy! And yet Sket Dance is replete with seemingly mundane artifacts with considerable sentimental value to their owners – Himeko’s cyclone and Pelocan doll, Switch’s laptop, Bossun’s hat, and the Friske mints, just to name a few. Without realizing just how important the candy was to her friendship was Akina, Captain offered one out of politeness to a boy that turned out to be Akina’s crush. So really, Akina was upset about the boy, not the candy.
The candy tin has a little tiny photo of the two on it, and Captain feels it would be a nice gesture if she could find what had been discarded. But digging through perhaps a hundred bags of filthy garbage to find it? I suppose if it was sorted Japanese trash, it would be a less smelly, disgusting affair, but it still seems excessive. And Akina shows up with a new tin anyway, in which they both get the lifelong friend color. So all sket-dan really did this week was sift through a mountain of garbage and release a bunch of balloons that birds will try to eat and choke on when they come back down to earth. And there were so many potential jokes in that junk-filled clubroom…
The electronic attack is resolved when the Odette II’s auto-defense system kicks in, redistributes power, and trips the ship’s breakers. The Yacht Club returns to the planet surface to take their final exams, then return to the Odette II for their practice cruise. The ship is successfully launched out of spacedock, but when they try to deploy the masts, a yard gets caught, requiring an EVA and some elbow grease to fix. Marika, Kane, and Chiaki, and four others suit up and leave the ship, successfully untangle the masts and unfurl the sails.
When Marika ultimately makes the decision to become a real pirate, it will set a lot of things into motion, and she (and by extension those around her) will no longer be protected by the non-aggression pact on the Sea of Morningstar. It’s not even clear if that pact extends into space, but the fact remains, it’s a big choice and she’ll have to be ready when she makes it. This episode really drove home the point that even if she doesn’t claim her birthright, she still leads a pretty awesome life…but is it enough? The episode also did a really good job laying out all the procedures required to launch a starship. The students comport themselves well, while also showing their age and relative inmaturity while changing into their spacesuits for instance, much to Kane’s chagrin.
While we’re at it, the Odette II is a really cool-looking ship, and a more realistic, novel design than the sillier “galleons in space” of Treasure Planet or Rogue Galaxy. It’s cool that it’s a ship that sails the stars using solar wind and thermal radiation.We’re no scientist, so we’re not looking for ironcclad physics, but there’s nothing offensively far-fetched to pick at. The spacewalk scene ably captures the sheer awe and majesty of the inky black vastness, while cheerfully twinkling stars lessen the foreboding. Marika is a little scared (we’d be worried if she wasn’t), but she’s pumped-up and excited too.