That last scene in the aqueduct was just a tease; we actually had to wait until the end of this episode for the Posse of Disgruntled Mutants to escape from Goran Academy. The hitch in the plan turns out not to be any kind of security, which the school apparently lacks, but in the resolve of some of the posse’s members, which in turn causes Ai to waver.
She’s only been outside of her village a half-month (which actually sounds about right to us), after all. What does she really know of the world? Sorry, worlds…as her new friend Alice explains, there are two, the objective and subjective. While Ai isn’t sure how she’s going to save the world, he knows how he’s going to save his: by destroying it. How and why, he’s not kind enough to say, but such a position surely portends a rift in relations with Ai; we’re certain she doesn’t want to destroy anything. Maybe Alice is just being overly ominous?
Anyway, as we said, the very large suspicious-looking gang does eventually escape from Goran, which by default makes this episode better than the last, but that wasn’t all we liked. Most of the gang are still flimsy caricatures, but they were less offensively vapid this time around, and were mostly in the background as our favorite of the bunch, Tanya, was the focus. She has a good, serviceable story: born blind, wished for sight, got the Reirigan instead. Her parents were fine with it, the village wasn’t.
Rather than cause her parents—her whole world, as Ai remarks—trouble and pain, Tanya chose to separate herself from that world. Ai’s wide-eyed optimism starts to overwhelm Tanya, but Ai’s zeal and persistence eventually wrests her from her self-imposed limbo, despite Ai not having any solid argument beyond “C’mon, it’ll be fine!” By piling into Yuri’s microbus (great timing!), Tanya and the others are choosing to believe they can make it in the world beyond Goran. If all else fails, they have a couple of skilled marksmen on their team.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
The next system Ai must face is school, and not altogether surprisingly. She is a child, after all, and children belong in school, if only to “isolate them from the rest of society so that they don’t impede its functioning”, as Hampnie rather hilariously put it. Not to mention children are a dwindling resource in the world, to the point this particular school, Goran Academy, receives generous government stipends for every child they capture in their murdered-out Dodge Chargers (which Yuri’s rundown microbus thankfully can’t hope to catch up to, in a nice bit of automotive accuracy).
Goran in particular rounds up children who’ve had brushes with death. They made powerful wishes that influenced the lives they managed to cling to. The “School for Gifted Youngsters” is a very well-tread trope both within and without anime, from Harry Potter to Soul Eater (the titular protagonist of which shares his voice with Sunday’s Alis Color), and it makes sense for schools to grow ever more “protective” of children in a world where they’re no longer made. But even if it made sense most of the time, this seventh episode was still a bit of a stinker, especially relative to the first six.
We were looking forward to Ai’s road trip with Yuri and Scar (and Scar’s baby too!) to proceed apace after leaving Ortus. Nothing like having Ai suddenly spirited away to a prison-school to abruptly arrest the momentum of both her mission to Save The World. We also felt the episode was overstuffed with technicolor characters who weren’t interesting just because they have special powers. In fact, most of them were downright dreadful, save maybe Tanya, who at least had something quintessentially Sunday Without God-ly to say about Ai’s “sound”, which she compared to a moonbow, of all things.
It’s a credit to the episode that right after things are at their most dire, when Alice breaks into the girl’s bath, the episode starts getting better, as if sensing our displeasure with things so far. The boys aren’t trying to sneak a peek, you see (and the show mercifully refrains from age-inappropriate fanservice): they’re trying to escape from the school. Moreover, Alice’s ghostly familiar Dee tells Ai that the three of them were destined to meet. Perhaps, along with all those other hastily-introduced characters, they’re all meant to aid Ai in her world-saving fight? In any case, this episode had some good parts, but it was still half-bad…and we don’t mean morally-ambiguous!
Rating: 5 (Average)