Valvrave the Liberator – 21

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After the Dorssian Fuhrer reveals Rukino Saki’s immortality, he cuts to live footage of a reporter entering the hold of the Phantom and finding the humans being drained of runes, among them Iori’s father. The ARUS president declares all New JIORans dangerous lifeforms, and his soldiers commence the wholesale execution the students. He and the Furher also form a Dorssio-ARUS alliance, vowing to stamp out JIOR. The Valvraves scramble to cover the survivors’ escape, but students led by Iori trick Haruto and hand him and L-elf over in exchange for leniency. ARUS immediately double-crosses them, but Inuzuka shields them until they’re able to launch, and rescues Haruto and L-elf before dying in a blaze of glory.

It’s a near total defeat for the fledgling nation of New JIOR, as we see what happens when they play with fire and depend on such a small and fragile force to defend them. For all the weapons brought to bear on either side, and weapons they’ve endured, the ultimate weapon of their downfall turned out to be…PR. The instant wide-ranging media access meant to gather other nations to their cause was turned against them by the Council, a force far more skilled and experienced in its manipulation. Even if Shouko knew what the hell was going on, no one has the patience to hear any more explanations, as painfully demonstrated when a JIOR student comes forward to calmly explain – and gets a bullet in the head for his trouble. The bloody, merciless purge of unarmed, mortal students that follows is truly gut-wrenching and difficult to watch.

The show fixes an unblinking eye on the carnage, as classrooms are sprayed with bullets and terrified, cowering students are mowed down. As they’re being slaughtered like sheep, they turn on their once-saviors, and you really can’t blame them. For all the Valvraves’ heroics, they dug the graves of their countrymen by keeping them in the dark about so many important, dangerous things for too long. The truth didn’t kill them; being protected from the truth did. As we saw, an international summit on live TV was not the ideal time for Shouko or the world to learn such things. Now Shouko has turned away from Haruto, not knowing who he is anymore, while Haruto’s memories are literally shattering; L-elf is useless, Inuzuka is dead (in heroic fashion), Rukino is still imprisoned; and all of humanity have united against what’s left of New JIOR. They’ve never been more down, but they’re not out. Nothing is out of the question where this show is concerned.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

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Valvrave the Liberator – 16

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Saki switches on her radio so L-Elf can hear that A-Drei is part of the Dorssian operation. Knowing the plan has gone bust, L-Elf detonates the bombs anyway. Saki is stuck with A-Drei in the same spot where he, L-Elf, and their other friends killed their Royalist teammate to save themselves. L-Elf is stuck with Marie and Unit 1, which Marie boards. Pino tells her that she was the Valvrave test pilot, and she “ate” her memories in the form of runes.

Akira, waiting to hack the transport, informs them that Satomi, Takahi and the others have been found by the Dorssians and Inuzuka and Yamada are bogged down, making Unit 1 the only Valvrave that can act. Marie pilots it, allowing Pino to take all of her remaining memories in order to destroy the Dorssian fleet and secure everyone’s escape. However, surpassing the unit’s limits and unleashing one more devastating attack leaves Marie an empty husk.

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The revelations come fast and furious this week: the truth of Marie’s past – which was quite a surprise, when we look back on how minor and unassuming a character she was in the first season. We like how that past elevated her into a much more prominent position in the Valvrave mythos. It’s a shame that her exploits this week may have well left her brain-dead, but you can’t say she didn’t go out in a blaze of glory, and for a good cause: she quite literally saves everyone else, who manage to get away safely in the stolen transport. If this was the end for her, it was a righteous one.

Additionally, we learn more about L-Elf’s past with his former buddies, and how they all “sinned” at that Karlstein facility. This info comes from A-Drei himself, who isn’t aware that the student he’s talking to is actually Saki. It also introduces the Royalists as a shunned and hated element of Dorssia. L-Elf was the one who pulled the trigger on their Royalist friend, which is interesting, considering years before his life was saved by a princess (whom we also catch a brief glimpse of). And while Marie, Akira, Inuzuka and Yamada were all instrumental in New JIOR’s eventual victory, Haruto was notably useless this week.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Valvrave the Liberator – 09

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L-elf organizes military drills for the students, and when Cain’s Dorssian fleet attacks again, Module 77 has a sturdy defense prepared. However, Haruto and Saki are lured out of position, leaving the module vulnerable to attack by a second Dorssian fleet. Inuzuka and Yamada both contract with the blue and yellow Valvraves, respectively, and fight the fleet. Inuzuka deflects the Dorssian’s main cannon and destroys it; Cain retreats. Back on the module, bound for the neutral Moon, L-elf learns that Takumi is a JIOR soldier, and the entire module and everyone on it was intended “for the Valvraves.”

Well, it wasn’t that hard to predict, but the two people we figured most likely to be the next Valvrave pilots – Inuzuka and Yamada, both resigned as humans and joined the ranks of Haruto and Saki on Team Valvrave. Doing so proves beneficial for Module 77, as the other two pilots fall for a very easy ploy to draw them away from the thing they’re protecting, and if it weren’t for Inuzuka’s Valvrave shield, New JIOR would have been toast. He and Yamada waste no time exhibiting the power of their Valvraves, which if anything seem more powerful and dominant than the red and green ones, at least up to this point.

It’s good to see L-elf’s genuine efforts to whip New JIOR’s long-useless student body into something resembling a disciplined fighting force. If nothing else it keeps the kids busy and focused. But more interesting is the revelation that Module 77 has always been one big facility dedicated to the development of Valvraves and, potentially, their pilots as well. Now there are four Valvrave pilots who have already proven mostly capable of protecting their new nation, suggesting that while things may not have unfolded exactly as the Valvraves’ creators envisioned, their experiment is proceeding apace.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 08

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L-Elf dreams of the time he escaped from captivity and took a Dorssian princess hostage. He wakes up bound to a table, and predicts that New JIOR will fall in six hours if Haruto doesn’t contract with him. Everyone is shaken by Aina-chan’s death, particularly Inuzuka, but Kibukawa won’t let anyone else pilot Valvraves until he’s determined they’re safe to use. Colonel Cain launches another attack on Module 77, as A-drei infiltrates the module and commandeers JOIR battleships, threatening the school. As the battle inside and out goes badly, Haruto finally agrees to contract with L-Elf, who gives him and Saki precise instructions that foil the Dorssians and save the new nation with no casualties.

By portraying accurately (for once) the plight of a new nation run by students with minimal political and military experience, Valvrave delivered what we consider its best episode since its first. Dorssia was briefly sent off, but they return immediately, because they know all New JIOR has protecting them are two amateur-piloted Valvraves. Constant attacks like this are to be expected when your nation is so vulnerable. What Dorssia (or at least A-drei and Co…who knows about that Colonel Cain cat) wasn’t banking on is L-Elf joining forces with Haruto once again. If L-Elf hadn’t formulated a plan to thwart the Dorssians, it’s a good bet the entire school-nation would have been obliterated, with everyone either killed or interned.

As much as he may want to be enough to protect everyone, Haruto realizes he’s not, not even with Saki fighting by his side. Hell, even if those five other Valvraves were manned and deployed, you’re still talking about civilian students piloting them. No, this episode proves yet again that without L-Elf, this country would have died in its infancy. Once he gets the okay from Haruto, he kicks ass, takes names, and doesn’t look back. Even his elite colleagues are no match for him. And interesting, instead of pounding his desk after the defeat, Dorssia’s Colonel Cain seems to get a kick out of L-Elf’s antics. Something tells us he wants the guy in a Valvrave as soon as possible. Meanwhile, L-Elf’s just trying to reconcile that young princess giving him half her life, saving her from the guards.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Well, looks like Sakurai Aina died after all. Huh! We really thought they’d bring her back to life with some Valvrave nonsense. Oh well. Not like Kayano Ai won’t get more work!
  • Saki says she’s been practicing. She should probably practice more.
  • Potential candidates to pilot the five remaining Valvraves: Inuzuka (who wants to avenge Aina); Yamada (who wants to kick some ass); Satomi (the class president); L-Elf (naturally); and…possibly Shoko. We’ll see how we do
  • The coffee-and-sugar analogy? Kinda lame.
  • L-Elf’s flashback prison looked a lot like the Kremlin, while the bay with all the bridges from which A-drei was bombarding land looked a lot like San Francisco.