As she’s taken away by the UDF, Rei calls the girls liars. Kenjirou determines she’s from another world and acts as beacon for the alones, leading them to the Manifestor engine. Not happy where they left things with Rei, the girls infiltrate UDF HQ. Akane breaks through to Rei’s cell, and they make up. But the crow arrives and tells Kenjirou its bosses won’t let this world have Manifestor technology. It swallows Rei whole and turns into a giant monster that destroys UDF HQ.
I see what’s going on now…you four were just pretending to be nice to me!
Even if Rei was correct in this assessment (she’s not), what she’s been hiding from them (that she’s trying to destroy their world for the sake of hers) is far worse, so she hardly has the moral high ground. Fortunately for Akane and the other three girls, they’re not so much guilty or upset as they are restless and totally unwilling to let Rei’s misunderstanding…stand. Even before learning the truth – that she’s a pawn with little choice in matters – it was important that they made her realize they weren’t pretending.
Unfortunately, while Rei is a sympathetic anti-heroine, and the girls’ assault on UDF HQ is pretty cool, Rei’s boss the “mediator” crow and the Q/Godlike beings it (she?) represents are pretty one-dimensionally evil and dull. They’re little more than inter-dimensional bullies pushing weaker beings around, only this time their would-be victims won’t go out without a fight, doubtlessly employing more crisp CGI, pose-striking and crotch shots.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
- Why exactly are there nude pictures of Rei in her computer profile? Aren’t there laws against that kinda stuff?
- At the boardroom meeting, a government official calls Kenjirou’s theory of Rei being from a parallel world “a joke.” Mind you, he just received this information from a magical talking weasel.
- Rei’s apartment is only depressing because of the lack of furniture. When this is all over maybe the girls can take her to Ikea!
- The crow suddenly swallowing Rei…well now, that was unexpected!
Rei convinces the bird to tell her when and where the next alone will appear, so she can shoot all of her remaining arrows into it in an all-or-nothing effort to destroy the Manifestor Engine once and for all. She visits Akane to apologize for the tomato, and ends up staying for dinner and spending the night. Himawari and Kenjirou discover Rei’s arrows and devise a plan to track the next one she fires. Droids, marines, and finally Akane arrive at her location, and Rei and Akane both learn who they’ve been fighting all this time…
Well now, it’s about frikkin’ time the truth about Rei came out! The thing is, we weren’t expecting Rei to be as surprised as she was that Akane was one of the “four colored lights” defying her plan to power up the Alones. But that very way of describing the Vividforce points out something we hadn’t realized until now for some reason: Rei has never been close enough to the other four girls while they’re suited up for battle, so she’s never gotten a good look at any of them. Sure, the fact the girls wanting to be her friends have the same color hair as those distant lights, but we guess that wasn’t enough for her to put two and two together; she is under a lot of stress, after all.
When the fog clears and Akane and Rei face each other on the battlefield for the first time, we thought it would be Akane whose heart was broken, but Rei turns it around, making Akane the bad guy, calling her a liar who only wanted to be friends so she could get close to her and find out her secrets. Even though we know that’s not the case, Rei can’t help but feel betrayed, and all Akane has in her defense is her word, which Rei doesn’t believe. A spiral of distrust has been forged, giving Rei more motivation to destroy the manifestor so she can get her parents back. The thing is, she only has one arrow left to fire (one arrow was no match for Vividgreen)…and she’s in custody.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Akane is admitted to the hospital in serious condition. The Alone attaches itself to the Tokyo Sky Tree and builds a cocoon around itself to regenerate. With Akane out of action, docking is not possible, so conventional military tactics need to be considered. However, Aoi, Wakaba and Hiwamari decide to have a go at the alone anyway, destroying it in a way that won’t destroy the city. Their plan nearly works, but Rei shoots an arrow at the alone and it hatches. Aoi borrows some of Akane’s power to dodge the alone’s attacks and defeat it. They then visit Akane, who is on the mend.
This is an interesting dynamic: after a string of victories so easy they didn’t even bother showing one of them, the most powerful Alone yet appears and Akane is quickly taken out of the picture. The military has a plan (with just a 4% chance of success), but it will destroy most of the (evacuated) 23 wards in the process. Not ideal, but if they do nothing, the Incarnate system will go kaput (a lesson in why global power should never be so centralized). So Aoi, Wakaba, and Himawari meet up before dawn, get don their pallet suits, and report for duty. Whatevs, they’ll simply fight a girl down.
Yet even with Akane laid up in hospital, a part of her remains by their side: the love and memories they harbor for her, along with her boomerang, which never de-materialized after her clobbering. Aoi believes a part of her soul is in it, and wisely brings it along for the fight. That choice proves decisive, as it is re-purposed as rocket-powered wings she uses to finish the job the other two girls started, saving them and Tokyo in the process. The only major casualty is the Sky Tree. Poor Sky Tree! Oh, and a bit more of Kuroki Rei’s sanity.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Mizuha informs Akane that her grades are dropping as a result of her busy schedule. Aoi, Wakaba and Himawari organize a Saturday study group at her house. They each invite Rei, who turns them all down, but comes anyway when she learns who Akane’s grandfather is. Unable to take any more “niceness”, Rei leaves, just before a new Alone alert goes off. The girls defeat the Alone easily, but Rei manages to shoot an arrow into a fragment, causing it to regenerate and attack an off-guard Akane. Her Vivid suit overloads and she starts to fall from the sky.
We were a little shocked when we found out Rei didn’t know Akane was the granddaughter of Isshiki Kenjirou. If the name wasn’t a giveaway, the giant satellite dish behind Akane’s house should have. At any rate, this episode starts off with the girls trying to become friends with Rei, not understanding she puts her wish to bring back her parents above everything, including friendship and her own happiness, and with only six feathers left on her tattoo, finally manages to make a dent in the Vivid system, knocking Akane out of the sky and grabbing victory out of the ashes of defeat.
We liked the new alone that generates a continuous EMP that makes electronics go haywire, and it seems a little easy that the girls’ suits are immune to it, and is more evidence the Vivid system is more magic than science. But that’s really okay, because they don’t end up getting home in time for Momo’s delicious home-cooked supper. For once, Kuroki Rei seems to have the advantage, and we’re not sure how the girls are going to get out of this mayo-topped pickle. Catching Akane before she hits the ground would be a start.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
P.S. Rei finding Kenjirou’s human body in the fridge is a great moment of quasi-horror.
When Akane and the girls go to Shikine Island for summer camp, Kenjirou has Mizuha confiscate their keys so he can subject them to a convoluted friendship-building operation that will strengthen them for future Alone battles. He kidnaps Rei (unaware of her connection to the Alones) and takes on a villainous persona, daring the girls to rescue her. Rei escapes captivity and helps defeat the mechanical foes Kenjirou sends at the girls, and Akane in turn saves Rei from the “final boss”, Kenjirou himself piloting a mecha.
As soon as we saw the very literal title, “The Story of How Kenjirou Tries to Strengthen the Power of Friendship Between Akane and the Girls and How It Ends Up a Total Mess”, the thought occurred to us that this would be a bit of a slow one. Indeed, there is not only a scene in which the girls compare their boob sizes, but a scene where the other girls enter Akane’s massive inflatable swimsuit and are mortified that she’s naked from the waist down in there (okay, that was kinda funny). The youngest character, Momo (who doesn’t get a bikini), is the voice of reason, repeatedly pleading with her gramps to quit torturing the girls.
It also features Wakaba asking “what was that sound” when the source of that sound – a giant mechanical teddy bear felled by Aoi with a big rock – is right in front of her face, and Akane (though thankfully not the others) being fooled by Kuroki’s pathetic disguise (i.e., covering her face with the scarf she always wears, even when she’s wearing a bikini). The only moment of significant interest is when Rei briefly fears she’s been detained because they’ve found out about her pro-Alone activities, but alas; it’s just a coincidence. Nothing really moves forward this week, aside from the power of the friendship of the girls. Allegedly.
Rating: 5 (Average)
While playing softball, Akane’s home run that destroys the camera of the secluded hacker Shinomiya Himawari, whom Kenjirou just happened to ID as the the culprit in the theft of confidential Alone data. Akane, Aoi and Wakaba pay her a visit to apologize, and they end up visiting the site of the Streamer plant, which distributes energy to the world from the Manifester engine. When an Alone attacks the site, the three fly off to fight it, leaving Himawari to shut the plant down. Afterwards, Kuroki Rei powers up the Alone, and Himawari gains and quickly masters the Vivid System, docking with Akane to become Vividyellow and defeat the Alone.
And then there were four. We had a red, blue, and green techno shoujo (our own term for what they are, since it’s science and tech, not magic, that they use), so for completion’s sake, we needed a yellow. She turns out to be the egghead of the bunch, being a total Isshiki Kenjirou groupie and hardcore Manifester engine nerd. He brief backstory illustrates how a former friend she trusted betrayed her and turned her into a pariah, and so she’s been skittish about trusting or even interacting with people ever since. Himawari refutes Akane’s claim she loves the Manifester engine, not knowing Akane is its inventor’s granddaughter.
When Akane leaves her behind to shut down the plant while she fights the Alone, Himawari is convinced she won’t come back, even though she promised, because people have promised her things before and let her down. But Akane doesn’t let her down, and as a result of their newly-formed friendship, Himawari becomes the yellow one. Interestingly, the episode points out how quickly she learns the ropes of the Vivid system, though Saegusa learned it just as quickly last week. Her weapon, which reflects the Alone’s weapons back on itself, are suitably badass, and stuff get blow’d up good, as it should in such a series.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
In the near future, Isshiki Akane and her crotch live on the Utopian Izu Oshima island with her sister Momo and grandfather Kenjirou, who invented the revolutionary Incarnate Engine that provides clean energy. On the day when Akane’s friend Futaba Aoi is returning to the island, a powerful “Alone” also approaches, overwhelming UN defense forces.
Kenjirou finishes his latest invention, but as a result his consciousness is transferred into a stuffed weasel. He leads Akane to the Incarnate Engine, atop which Aoi’s plane crashes, and in her flying motorbike, Akane rescues her from falling. Her clothing then changes, and gramps announces the activation of the Vivid Sytem.
This episode does a competent enough job introducing a futuristic world and a brave girl who must get over her fear of heights and utilize her grandfather’s technology to save her island from a fierce baddie the military can’t scratch. When it’s not randomly shoving Akane’s crotch in our faces, that is. Fanservice aside, it’s bright, shiny, and visually arresting at times. There’s no question the production values here are very nice.
We love us some futuristic sci-fi action. But for all its flashy packaging, Vividred feels a bit…routine. Akane is not the most interesting, original heroine (yet). Having watched so much quality sci-fi last year – series that had something to say beyond “girl dresses up fancy/saves world” (They all had that, sure, but that wasn’t all they had.) Vividred will have to find a way to stand out to keep us interested. Less ass shots, more talking weasels.
Rating: 6 (Good)