Overlord II – 04

The Lizardmen are allowed to bask in their victory over an army of the undead for an evening, while back at Nazarick the Great One Ains Ooal Gown is debriefing Cocytus before his other guardians.

Momonga got what he wanted: Cocytus forms an original thought—that he doesn’t want to exterminate the Lizardmen. But when he can’t come up with a good reason to spare them, Demiurge comes through with an alternative plan: they’ll make the Lizardmen an experiment in rule without fear.

Everything is going according to Ains’ plans, and his guardians think that’s only natural, but privately, Momonga is excited at the prospect of his guardians learning independent thought and gaining experience through defeat…not that he likes defeat.

That much is clear the next day when he shows up with an enormous magically-armored undead army, catching the still celebratory Lizardmen unawares.

Ains himself shows up, and makes quite an entrance, freezing an entire lake, using Gargantua to throw a huge cube of rock into the middle of it, then having his grunts form an undead staircase.

Ains climbs to the top of the rock with his retinue of guardians, proud as you please, and when Zaryusu and his brother meet them in the lake, Demiurge has them prostrate themselves.

Zaryusu knows he and his people are at the mercy of Ains and his forces, and that they don’t have a hope of victory against such power. However, he also presumes the Great One does not intend to utterly exterminate his people, but wants a proper battle to make things interesting.

If that requires a few sacrificial lambs, with him among them, Zaryusu can live with that, even if it distresses the woman he loves. He asks that she put up with his selfishness this once and hold out hope he’ll come back from the battle in one piece. She seems willing to go along with this…IF he impregnates her first. Love: it’s all about give-and-take.

Overlord II – 03

In order to build great things, one must construct a solid foundation. The first two episodes accomplished that. At first, I wondered why all of a sudden we were so immersed in the lives and politics of a bunch of Lizardmen. Then, when I got to know a few of them, I became emotionally invested in their fate, even rooting for their victory against the armies of Cocytus, even though Cocytus is a servant of our ostensible protagonist, Momonga.

What was made clear this week is that not only was it well worth all the table-setting, which I enjoyed far more than I ‘endured’; but that Momonga and his court were given heightened mystique by being pushed into the background, such that every time we cut to them (which wasn’t often, or for a very long duration), it felt like an occasion.

Things start out small, with Zaryusu earning Zenberu’s trust and an alliance after fighting him one-on-one. Crusch heals both, and after returning to Zaryusu’s brother Green Claw, the five assembled tribal leaders have a strategy meeting.

The enemy outnumbers them over three to one. Zenberu is confident every lizard can take out three zombies or skeletons each, but they have to plan carefully to avoid being routed. Zaryusu forms an elite squad with Crusch, Zenberu, and his trusty hydra Rororo, to face the enemy commander when they show themselves.

Cocytus orders his army to advance, and Ains Ooal Gown seems slightly disappointed that things aren’t going the way he hoped, and that’s all we see of him. From here on in, it’s all battle, which means it’s all payoff for the careful preparation of the previous two episodes.

The Lizardmen send out their forces to meet the undead army, while their magical units efficiently keep the foes at bay. Cocytus confides in Demiurge for advice on how to proceed (that is, how to salvage what is starting to resemble a defeat on the field); Demiurge muses that their great lord meant to give Cocytus a weak army and a wide berth in hopes it would promote his awareness.

Cocytus is ready to take his medicine, but first sees how his reserves will fare, led by the Elder Lich Iguva, who launches huge fireballs in Zaryusu’s direction, helpfully revealing to the elite unit the position of the enemy leader.

Zaryusu decides upon a direct frontal assault, using Rororo’s bulk to shield himself, Crusch, and Zenberu. Once close enough, Zenberu starts carving up the reserves while Zaryusu faces off against Iguva, who is a formidable opponent from any range. It’s too bad none of the Lizardmen had Holy magic!

For a moment, Iguva has Zaryusu caught trapped in a Scare spell, but Crusch comes through in the clutch and breaks him out with Lion Heart, in addition to healing Zaryusu’s wounds. Good to see Crusch can hold her own on the battlefield, and indeed plays a vital role keeping Zaryusu up and running.

Iguva is full of hubris until the end, when he wrongfully assumes Zaryusu foolishly unleashed the full power of his Icy Burst against him (as a lich he’s immune to ice). However, the ice was only meant to provide cover for Zaryusu’s attack from above, stabbing Iguva through the eye.

After a struggle, Iguva is vanquished, and the Lizardmen are victorious, in what was a hard-hitting, heart-pounding, perfectly-paced battle. From his base, Cocytus congratulates the Lizardmen; it was a very close victory, but a win’s a win.

Not only that, the battle forced the Lizardmen to give up their tribal squabbles, come together, and sacrifice for the sake of their race’s survival. I would think they would continue in peace the unity that was forged by the threat of annihilation, while Zaryusu and Crusch, having come out of the battle in one piece, are poised to marry.

Overall, this episode was as satisfying, complete victory; a sure-handed execution of an intricately-constructed, multi-layered story in which the lines of heroes and villains are blurred. I’m eager to see what Lord Ains has planned next—and for whom.

Aquarion Evol – 01 & 02

Amata Sora is a projectionist at a movie theater. He meets girl named Mikono, who wants to learn more about the legend of Aquaria. While they’re walking around, enemy ‘Abductors’ launch an attack on the city. Seperate male and female ‘Elements’ Cayenne and Zessica pilot mecha called Aquaria in a counterattack, but Amata and Mikono are trapped under stone wings, so he has to use his ‘wings of the sun’ to fly them to safety.

Doing so awakens Aquarion, and his ‘union’ with Mikono combines all the other pilots’ mechas into one – Aquarion Evol. By using their myriad element powers, including Amata’s flight, amplified by Mikono’s presence, they’re able to send the lead Abductor Kagura into the atmosphere and defeat him…for now. Back on the surface, Cayenne and Zessica take Amata and Mikono into custody.

Bam, wham, thank you ma’am. Aquarion Evol busts out onto the Winter scene with a one-two cinematic punch that immediately pushes it to the top of our watchlist. Granted, it borrows heavily from other mecha series; Macross Frontier, in particular. It has the same director, Shoji Kamamori; the well-designed characters feature hair in every conceivable color; there’s the same conflict between a more earthlike conventional civilization and a more warlike, elemental foe; there are plenty of Itano Circuses; there’s an underlying love story…even Yoko Kanno and her orchestra provide a fittingly ambitious soundtrack. When it borrows so well, who are we to complain? Ambitious describes pretty much every element of this two-part pilot. Whether moving or standing still, we’re treated to a sumptuous feast of eye candy fit for a king.

The only downside to starting off with such awesomeness is there’s frankly no way we see this level of quality being maintained for the whole run; but hey, prove us wrong, Evol!  We felt like we were watching a high-end movie. Clearly, they wanted to start off firing with both barrels, and they succeeded, to say the least. The pilot wasn’t just candy though, there were charms in what it had to say as well as what it had to show. The idea that guys and girls have to be kept apart and sealed off with “guize stones” (read: chastidy belts) to avoid “impure unions” and forbidden acts is a pretty funny premise; especially when push comes to shove, it was the lasses and lads coming together that helped them defeat their foe this time. Now comes the consequences, and in all likelihood, Amata and Mikono’s assimillation into the organization that protected them up to this point. Looking forward to it.


Rating: 4