Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi – 05

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Ai moved up fast this week, having met the retainer of the Princess of Ortus in the back of the van, then Pox, Rex, and the royal doctor Diva, and finally Princess Ulla Eulesse Heckmatika herself (that’s a mouthful, but she’s royalty, so we’ll allow it.) She finds all of them to be friendly, kind, and hospitable. So she wonders: why can’t the living, dead, and gravediggers live in harmony in Ortus? Why is death only way to become a citizen?

There’s no straight answer, but history, trust, and fear clearly all play a role. The dead had been oppressed and forced to wander the earth because the living feared they’d turn into monsters. That oppression rendered most of the dead unable to trust anyone who wasn’t. Finally, it’s precisely because Ortus is so large and grand and happy a place that the dead who live there fear losing everything they’ve built if they’re not constantly vigilant.

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As a practical issue, that fear seems misplaced: they’ve been able to handily deal with any gravediggers who came by, while gravediggers are too rare to muster a force large enough to overpower the city. Yet the fear remains. Moreover, the living who wish to remain so either stay away or limit their contact to trade, while the living who wish to be citizens of Ortus must give up their lives. In short, Ortus’ system is working out just fine…for them. Why should they change it?

This episode wasn’t quite as strong as the last five, juggling lots of plot less elegantly as previous outings (plus Dr. Diva was kind of annoying). Still, there was lots to like: the lion-mask guy’s warning preceding a large group of cloaked people approaching Ortus, only to learn they were peaceful migrants, not raiders? Nice misdirection. Also, the show’s unrelenting truth onslaught on Ai continues, showing her new friend Princess Ulla participating in the “acceptance” (read: killing) ceremony.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

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Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 03

As the clock ticks down on Nora, Grodek has the core tethered to the Diva for extraction. A UE enters Nora and destroys the base where Bruzar was standing by to separate the core. He’s seriously injured, but is able to make it to an older section of the base where the separation can take place. Meanwhile, Flit buys Bruzar and Grodek time by keeping the UEs busy. With Yurin’s help, he’s able to learn the patterns of their movements and keep up with them. The last UE makes for the core as the Diva pulls it from Nora, but Flit blocks it, and it withdraws. Bruzar sacrifices himself by ramming a pylon that was blocking the core. The Diva and core escape, and Nora blows up.

If we were Flit, we imagine our laps would be a bit numb after having Yurin sitting on it for an extended period. But it was certainly a good job he rescued her, yeah? I mean, he’s just firing wildly into space and barely moving as the UEs toy with him, but she settles him down. What’s her deal? Is she somehow affiliated with the UE? We don’t learn anything today. And once the operation is over and everybody’s safe and sound, Flit and Yurin part ways just as quick as they met, though not before she give him her ribbon and a very loving look indeed. The character design may be simple, but there are nice subtleties in expressions when it matters.

As for Nora, well…so long, we hardly knew ye.  We shudder to think how much time and money went into it, only to be destroyed by a mere handful of UEs. If Flit’s is the only mobile suit that’s a match for them, what’s stopping them from attacking other bases, in larger numbers? More importantly, why did that UE just…um, leave when Flit ran out of ammo? Enemies retreating to fight another day is a core Gundamism, and in this case, it showed these UE are more than just mindless killers. There’s a plan in place, and killing Flit and letting the core go is part of that plan.


Rating: 3

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 02

Nora’s structure has been compromised by the UE attack, and will be destroyed in six hours. Commander Bruzar orders the new battleship Diva to extract Nora’s core, where everyone has evacuated. His deputy Grodek captures the Diva’s Captain Dian at gunpoint – witnessed by Emily and Dique, who tag along – and takes command. Meanwhile, Flit escapes to space with Yurin, a girl he rescued from the streets. Vargas activates the AGE system, which fabricates a rifle Flit uses to take out a UE, but more are on the way and the clock is ticking on Nora…

Gundam tends to take its time with long, drawn out arcs with a single underlying objective: in this case, saving the people of Nora before its destruction. Naturally, there’s a clash of military command, and the hero, Flit, first meets Yurin, the girl who perhaps completes the triangle with him and Emily. Again, We’re a bit amazed this kid not only built Gundam, but the AGE system as well, but the show is adamant about it, so fine, whatever. He’s Einstein, Edison and Tesla all wrapped up and topped with green hair. We’re talking almost unapproachable/unrelatable genius here…they’ll have to eventually humanize him a little more.

Our main beef with this episode, which is otherwise quite exciting and action-packed (though not as exciting and action-packed as Last Exile’s debut) is another Gundam trope: The massive space colony that is utterly incapable of defending itself, or even evacuating its population in a timely fashion. This is just horrible planning. It clearly took years to build something as huge as Nora…during its construction, didn’t anyone ever ask, is it really such a good idea to pack thousands of innocent civilians into such a fragile metal tube in space? UE or no UE, it just seems shortsighted.


Rating: 3

Macross Frontier – Itsuwari no Utahime

Finally, I got around to watching the first Macross Frontier film! I put it off believing it would be little more than a condensed, two-hour re-telling of the anime with upgraded eye candy. I had no idea the abridged edition could stand on its own as not just a pretty movie, but a pretty darn good one, too.

It goes without saying this was a tour-de-force of visuals, and not just space battles, epic though they were. Be they cityscapes, forests, or pop concerts, a whole new depth and intimacy is given both to the diverse environments of the fleet and the characters inhabiting them.

Particularly surprising is just how much the story and characters changed. The limited time forced a situation where Alto would be put on the spot regarding, to quote the anime theme song, “who he’s gonna kiss” – Ranka, or “that other girl”, Sheryl. The romance is arguably handled more elegantly here, with Alto more emotionally engaged, and the girls more competitive than chummy. Sheryl isn’t even the one who helps Ranka become a star, for instance, while Ranka is less dense and calls Alto out on his pussy-footing.

Nobody’s character changed more than Brera Stern. He was an opaque asshole practically throughout the anime, but here he’s a lot more human. And rather than crash Alto, he actually helps him out. Hell, the guy even cracks a smile! This is progress.

Of course, if you can’t deal with songs being song throughout the space battles, you’re not going to enjoy Macross, period. I never had a problem with any of Yoko Kanno’s music or the vocals. Most of the anime soundtrack carries over, along with a couple new numbers and rearrangements. Notably missing is “Ai Oboete Imasu ka” (Do You Remember Love?), but that’s bound to turn up in the second film. The music-video-battles were really spectacular in their speed and scope.

So as I said, this wasn’t just a good film adaptation of an anime or just a good-looking film: it was just good, period. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the anime itself, being my first experience with Macross period, but this does the source material justice and turned it up to 11 with its obviously substantial budget. Can’t wait for the continuation in Sayonara no Tsubasa. Rating: 4