Aquarion Evol – 26 (Fin)

Amata, Cayenne and Yunoha try to attack Mikage’s machine angel directly, but he’s too powerful. Meanwhile, Kagura, deep in Mikage’s mind, finds Zessica, who asks him to kill her. Instead he frees her. Mikage creates a second sun that dries up the oceans on the planet. Andy and Mix relieve Yunoha and Cayenne, who transfer to Gephard along with Chairman Crea; the spirit of Shrade returns to fight with them.

Mikono seeks to reconnect the damaged souls of Toma and Mikage, but Amata won’t let her die alone and races to her rescue. Zessica and Kagura help him blast through Mikage’s armor and snatch Mikono away, whereupon they declare their true love for one another and kiss. Aquarion Evol becomes Aquarion Love, and its tears of joy refill the oceans. Bodyless, Mikage is absorbed by Fudo Zen, reuniting Apollonius and Toma. Life on earth returns to normal, and Mikono and Amata return victorious.

Just like the finale of Kawamora’s epic Macross Frontier, Aquarion Evol’s end spares no expense of the big, the bright, the loud, and…the little bit cheesy. But we can forgive a little cheese in a series that has been all about love and destiny. So lots of big bombastic music, tons of yelling at the top of various lungs, etc. Even the bad guy ends up esentially where he always wanted to be; in Apollonius’ heart. And unlike Macross, the guy chooses a girl: Amata chooses Zessica. Whoopsie, haha, we meant Mikono. He chooses Mikono! Frankly, it’s about freaking time.

But he and Kagura remain two seperate people. And while it was very satisfying to see Amata and Mikono finally embrace, we don’t discount Kagura and Zessica’s role in the finale. Free from Mikage’s hold thanks to Kagura, Zessica – having learned a lesson – moves on. Perhaps those two crazy kids can find solace in one another; Kagura did save her life, after all (albeit after choking her). We would have liked a little more epilogue, though perhaps there’s a movie or something in the works that will address that…


Rating: 4

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Aquarion Evol – 24

As Kagura fights off Izumo and his men in the Legendary Aquarion and Andy fights Mixy in Aquarion Gephard, trying to get through to her, Amata wakes up and is drawn to the compound where his mother Alicia is in stasis. She tells him Izumo is his father, and how she left him on Vega to help Izumo lift the Curse of Eve.

Through Zessica, Mikage compels Kagura to lash out with Aquarion’s weapons, destroying Alicia’s chamber, then taking out Izumo’s mecha with a Mugen Punch. Izumo fires one last shot that disunions Kagura, Zessica and Mikono. Before Izumo dies, he’s able to see Amata briefly. He and Alicia leave the fate of the two worlds in Amata’s hands.

 

We’re now in the home stretch; this week began the arduous process of setting up what we presume will be one double world-resetter of a finale. As we probably could have deduced had we cared to, Izumo is revealed as Amata’s father and Alicia’s lover. Unfortunatly for Amata, he’s unable to spend much time with his estranged parents, as both lose their lives. Izumo’s heavy burden of saving Altair is now over; he’s shifted the responsibility to Amata. Can he manage it?

We think he’ll need help, both from his friends and enemies, if he considers Kagura his enemy. Obviously, they’re opposites, but the two of them are also representative of Vega and Altair: neither can survive alone anymore, so they must be combined. Altair’s Ianthe system ruined the natural “mother nature”, but it’s starting to reassert itself. But Mikage – the transdimensional puppeteering bad guy who is unfortunately pretty blandly evil – has other plans. How is Amata going to thwart a god?


Rating: 3.5

Aquarion Evol – 23

As Shrade, Amata and Zessica traverse dimensions, Fudo briefs the rest of Neo-Deava on the Book of Twin Stars, starting with Celiane and Apollonius, then Silvie and Apollo, Apollon’s winged dog reincarnated; and finally Mikono and Amata/Kagura. Like Vega and Altair, the two were once whole, but split apart by the latest incarnation of Toma, Apollonius’s betrothed, who is now Mikage. Shrade sacrifices himself to get Amata and Zessica into Altair, but they’re separated and Mikage takes possession of Zessica’s body. She meets up with Kagura and Mikono, and urges Kagura to summon Solar Aquarion to oppose Izumo.

Whoa, major exposition dump this week; and not quite done the way we would do it. See, we’ve never been fans of the abstract and somewhat silly ways past information is presented on this series, and unfortunately there’s a lot of that this week. The elements standing on a big book with trippy patterns in the background; images lifting off the pages like a pop-up book; and floating video screens helpfully illustrating Fudo and Crea’s tale (who, pray, was filming these events 12-24 millienia ago??). Like we said, it all looks a bit silly. Frankly, we would have preferred if the story were told as a flashback episode in and of itself. This felt like a recap, even though it revealed lots of information we either didn’t know or weren’t sure about. And recaps are boring. But at least it’s out of the way now.

All that exposition, while necessary, kind of ground proceedings to a halt. As Cayenne said, they didn’t have time to sit around listening to a story, but Fudo didn’t listen. We just wish there was a more serious, less goofy way of supplying this information. For that matter, Shrade’s death was kind of…meh. Between turning the blood stains on his shirt into musical scales and his overwrought “final melody”, it was all a little silly and hard to take seriously, unlike Jin’s death. Meanwhile, as expected, Mikage has made his move on Zessica, which means he now has physical form. From unrequited love victim to unrequited angel vessel…you can’t say she’s not moving up in the world(s)!


Rating: 3

Aquarion Evol – 22

As Schrade, Cayenne, and Sazanka battle Mikage’s mecha, Kagura tells Amata how they were once one person, but Mikage split Amata in two and raised the dark Amata as Kagura. When Mikono emerges from a fissure in the earth, along with the Legendary Aquarion, they fight over her. Mikage wakes up Zessica, urging her to fulfill her promise. Mikages mecha snatches the Legendary Aquarion while Kagura snatches Mikono and the two enter a dimension gate. Amata, a fading Shrade, and Zessica team up to follow them to Altair. With the Aquarion’s seal broken, the past balance between Vega and Altair begins to shift.

Things are definitely starting to get pretty climactic, as the Legendary Aquarion is finally unearthed, Kagura maintains he’s the Apollon to Mikono’s Silvie, Shrade is closer to death than ever, Vega’s ideal weather is turning, and Mikage’s newest trump card – Zessica – is right where she needs to be to cause the most trouble. If we didn’t know better, we’d say this resembled a penultimate episode, even though three episodes remain to build up what we’re hoping is going to be an epic finale with no cop-outs or deus ex machinas. Kids can dream.

This episode had its share of rock-em-sock-em robots (and dopplegangers) and there was certainly some new exposition (and new music), but there was also a lot of reiterating of key points. Clearly, Mikage making off with the Legendary Aquarion is bad, and so is Kagura making off with his smelly wench. But we know that wench connects people, so maybe she’s the key to bringing the two pieces of Amata back together. Or perhaps her role is to somehow unite Vega and Altair in peace. In any case, here’s hoping Zessica and Mikono don’t turn into dudes due  to being on Altair.


Rating: 3.5

Aquarion Evol – 21

Forced to return without Mix, everyone awaits Mikono and Fudo’s return. Fudo tells Mikono the legend of Genesis, in which the angel Apollonius shed his wings and joined the humans after falling in love with Celiane. The time has come for the legend to repeat. A disturbing dream leads Amata to sortie without authorization. Both he and Kagura are drawn to the city where Amata first met Mikono, now a deserted ruin, decaying and overrun with vines. Zessica and Cayenne are sent to retrieve Amata, but a powerful mecha attacks them. Zessica is trapped under stones, and kisses Amata so he’ll fly away to safety. Shrade and Sazanka union with Cayenne to battle the mecha, but Kagura and Amata meet and learn they are – and always have been – the same person.

We should have known; the reason Amata is so kind and shy and the reason why Kagura is so forward and aggressive: they’re two sides of the same coin. Amata is Kagura and vice versa. It seems they’re meant to coalesce into a single entity, “Amagura.” This also rather neatly explains why Mikono feels such a close attachment to both of them: she’s the Big Connector, and she’s to be the Celiane to their Apollonius in what is the latest version of the Legend of Genesis, which created the world. Amagura and Mikono will create a new world, which probably means bye-bye old world.

Speaking of farewells, it’s not clear at all whether Mixy will ever be able to become Mix again, Shrade is probably not going to last much longer considering he can’t help but union yet again, and Zessica says goodbye to Amata in a pretty contrived and random sequence of unfortunate events. Her element power allows her to break up rocks, but for some reason she can’t break the ones on top of her. We liked how she made Amata leave her behind by kissing him, thus involuntarily activating his flying powers. But we don’t believe she’s dead. Not yet, anyway. Mikage had plans for her, after all.


Rating: 3.5

Aquarion Evol – 16

With the Kagura threat neutralized for the time being, Fudo orders a mock battle between Aquarions: Cayenne, Sazanka and Malloy in Gephard against Amata, Mikono, and Zessica in Evol. The special training increased and augment everyone’s powers, and Gephard initially dominates, but when Zessica confesses to Amata, her unrequited love sends Evol into a brief berzerk mode, moving on its own and launching an Infinity Punch that trancends time and space and gives the Evol pilots a glimpse of the true story of Apollo and Sylvia. Gephard is defeated, and the training island is destroyed.

After all the excitement last week we expected things to slow down and cool off a bit, and with Amata buying cat treats to woo Mikono’s “cat” Shush, that’s how things started. But then we had elements put back into Aquarions for the first time in a while, only this time sparring with one another. Sazanka and Malloy’s powers are revealed, Zessica finally works up the courage to confess to Amata, Amata reacts predictably, and the Evol goes berzerk, blasting a punch so far our heroes can watch their counterparts from the previous Aquarion Series (which we haven’t seen)!

So now they know all that stuff really happened 12,000 years ago, leaving Amata worried: he was all gung-ho about fighting fate, but now he’s not so sure. Zessica’s confession doesn’t do anything for him (i.e. he’s not thinking about backup girlfriends); his focus is on Mikono, and whether he has any chance against Kagura. And so nobody is really happy. Except, strangely enough, Andy and MIX. Next week: we’ll see how Aquarion Evol does its inevitable swimsuit episode. Our prediction: there’ll be boobs.


Rating: 3.5 

Aquarion Evol – 13

The berzerk Kagura, in his fortified Mithra Ghis, wreaks havoc on the movie screening, looking for Mikono, his “Sylvie”. Amata, Mikono, and Zessica form Aquarion Evol, but Kagura is being fed by an energy thread through a dimension gate to Altair, and is able to reverse any element power, quickly overhwelming the trio. Mikono and Amata are saved by Andy and MIX. Meanwhile, Jin learns that Yunoha knows of his treachery, so he prepares to return to Altair with her as his hostage, but she convinces him to stay and aid their new friends. Cayenne and Shrade, who came to pursue Jin, instead union with him, forming Espada. They close the gate and defeat the weakened Kagura, but in the process Mikage kills Jin and turns his attention on Amata.

With this episode, we’re now halfway through the sci-fi romance epic that is Aquarion Evol, and we’re pleased to say it’s a hell of a midpoint. Like any good season finale, it showed us things we hadn’t seen before, pulled out all the emotional stops, gave just about everybody something to do, revealed new potential routes for the story to take, raised fresh stakes…and killed off at least one character. The character in question is someone we had really grown to like in Jin. His struggles with divided loyalties and similarly schitzophrenic relationship with Yunoha made him one of the more interesting, well-rounded characters, so it’s a shame he’s gone.

But his death wasn’t just random; Mikage was pretty adamant about cutting his head open with rose pedals, despite his being the final son born on Altair. Wasn’t he…important? Or was his decision to side with Yunoha an act of treason that lifted him of his responsibilities – and life. We’re thinking this because Mikage (who has wings coming out of his head) really wants to know where the guy with the golden wings is – who we know to be Amata – and perhaps Amata is his next “project.” It would be par for the course, as Mikage has already manipulated Kagura and Jin. At the end of the day, everyone seems to be the pawn of some superior being.


Rating: 4

Aquarion Evol – 12

Disappointed that Amata hasn’t confessed to Mikono yet, Andy organizes a perfect opportunity in an outdoor screening of Wings of Aquaria, projected against the Berlin and preceeded by an overture by Shrade. Jin is almost caught contacting Izumo by Yunoha, and he accidentally tears her stuffed animal. He repairs it and they agree to go to the screening together, but she discovers his communicator. Amata and Mikono also go together, and hold hands and fly up into the sky during the film, which is also interrupted by the berserk Kagura.

This was primarily a calm-before-the-storm episode that tightened a triangle by bringing Amata and Mikono closer to true love than ever before, and making Zessica jealous enough to destroy school property (likely foreshadowing). When Kagura shows up, he seems to be in the mindset of tying Mikono up like a ham and roasting her on a spit with a side of fava beans for supper, which we don’t have to tell you is not chivalrous conduct.

One can’t blame Jin for getting antsy when he thinks his cover is blown, because not much later Mikage (we think) plays a prank on him by allowing his communicator to fall in Yunoha’s hands. Credit to Yunoha for not giving away that she knows what’s up, but it seems to us if someone hears “Kagura is on the way. The gate to Vega will open soon,” it’s probably a good idea to, I don’t know, warn somebody of an impending attack rather than go on your movie date. Ah, youth…


Rating: 4

Aquarion Evol – 11

Mikage antagonizes Kagura until he escapes from his thorn cage in beast form and steals his mecha. Izumo tries to stop him, but Mikage exponentially enhances his combat abilities, and opens the gate to Vega for him. He’s coming for his “wench”, Mikono, thought to be the Sylvie to his Apollon – the ones who will awaken the machine god Genesis that slumbers beneath Vega. Back at Neo-Deava, Zessica struggles with feelings for Amata, while Amata tries to make his feelings known to Mikono, and learn what Kagura is to her.

After last week, when an antagonist was given the most screen time, this week is primarily dedicated to Kagura as he escapes from Altair. Our usual cast occupy the B-story; the antihero gets the A. But for all the time he and his voice-throwing benefactor get, they’re still not the most compelling characters, and this episode wasn’t nearly as good at fleshing them out as it was Jin. We find Kagura a shonen-like pain in the ass, frankly, what with all his roaring and screaming and “my wench” this and “my wench” that. That’s not how you court a lady, son.

As for Mikage, well, we’re not huge fans quite yet. Now that he’s awake, what, Izumo and the powers that be simply tolerate him? Or perhaps they weren’t aware how powerful he could be, how how strong he could make Kagura. Either way, his constant flowery patter gets a little repetitive. One things for certain: there’s more than one faction of the Abductors. Izumo wants True Eve to repopulate Altair, but Mikage has a more romantic – and for Vega and possibly Altair as well, more dangerous and chaotic – goal. And if Kagura unions with Mikono, well, that’s good news for Zessica, as Amata will suddenly be a free agent!


Rating: 3

Aquarion Evol – 06

Amata snatches Mikono back from Kagura’s clutches and escapes with his wings, while Shrade incapacitates the abductor with a violin. Kagura gets away and gives chase in the Mislagnissa, which he was able to steal with the help of a recently-awakened Mikage. Neo-Deava cancels training; Cayenne, Zessica and Andy take flight in vectors, but are no match for Kagura. An injured Cayenne lets Shrade take over, while Andy gets switched out for Amata, and the union of the three creates Aquarion Spada, a musical weapon that beheads Mislagnissa. Kagura is dragged home by Izumo, while the brief attack severely weakened an already weak Shrade, whose element power has always been too powerful for his body to withstand.

After a fairly lightweight outing last week, the peril returns in the form of the wild, angry Kagura. Curiously, both Mikono and Amata get a very strange familiarity with him, and Amata even has a vision of him and Mikono in some kind of unholy matrimony – something he doesn’t want to happen, and knows can’t. This episode is also the first night battle, and it’s very strikingly presented, what with the mecha weaving through Neo-Kowloon’s glowing forest of skyscrapers. Night or day, the city is effing gorgeous, and feels alive and pulsing.

There’s a new Aquarion combo this week too: the elegant Spada with Shrade at the head. With its whip and sure, dignified movements stern master to the feral wolf that is Kagura and his Mislagnissa. Shrade doesn’t spare the whip, and Kagura is quickly dealt with, but Shrade, whose life hangs by a thread every day, may not survive another battle. He’d have probably bought the farm if the battle had continued. Kagura is definitely not the most charming of guys, but as Mikono senses, his determination and drive are sincere – Amata’s dark counterpart.


Rating: 4

Aquarion Evol – 05

Thee newly united, co-ed elements of Holy Angel Academy are broken up into groups of three and unleashed into Neo-Kowloon to enter into all manner of suspiciously-date-like situations while the newly arrived child chairman Crea, High Commander Fudo, and other faculty observe them. All elements are fitted with armbands that shock them if feelings of love grow too intense. Amata is teamed up with Mikono and Zessica; the former gets upset that Amata is excited by Zessica’s shameless flirting. She stalks off, but Amata follows her and they almost fall in love before a romantic sunset when the Abductor Kagura crashes the scene.

We’ll tell you, we’re a bit surprised we were totally okay with the premise of this episode – in which the boys and girls essentially go on dates for school – which is awesome in and of itself. But it isn’t just for fun or for purposes of coupling off. Far from it: with the wild card of the electro-armbands, this is about training the raw and excited elements to control their emotions – the things that power their mecha. The goal is the ‘edge of love’, not true love itself. Two elements falling in love is what caused the last Aquarion catastrophe. Donar Dantes was a copilot, and he lost the love of his life along with his arms when the mecha went berserk.

This makes Donar quite the tragic figure, but also underscores the dangers of what Mikono and Amata are playing around with. Besides Donar, we see more of High Commander Fudo, who lays down some devastating donut metaphors, the academy’s doll-come-to-life chairman, and peripheral students like MIX and Sazanka. We also must note just how amazing the series continues to look. Everything is polished to dazzling and the colors are as intense as the emotions flying around.


Rating: 4

Sket Dance 26

The three-person main cast of Gintama crosses over to Sket Dance, using a strange interdimensional device that then shorts out. As Switch works to repair it, the two casts trade barbs, pointing out the similarities in their characters and their voices. When they activate the device again, it takes the two casts back in time to the first episode of Sket Dance. Eventually, the Gintama club returns to whence it came.

Sket Dance is apparently going on another 13 episodes, if not more, but I believe I’ve had my fill; it’s time to say goodbye. Update: due to the poor debut of C³, we’ll be dropping that and continuing to watch this for the time being. I must admit, I have never watched a single episode of Gintama and know nothing about it or its characters, nor the understanding that Sket Dance is, at its core, Gintama in a school setting, what with all the gags and parody. Ah well, you learn something new everyday! And the fact the core trio was essentially doubled gave this episode an immense amount of energy.

Despite not knowing anything about Gintama, I could still appreciate virtually an entire episode of breaking the fourth wall, though I’ll admit it seemed a bit overdone at times – fourth wallbreaking is best when used sparingly, lest it get tired. I did recognize Rie Kugimiya as the voice of the red Chun Li, and the fact that Switch and Gin had the same voice, and the harking back to Teppei – the red herring for the main character in the first episode – was a nice touch. If nothing else, pointing out its blatant similarities to the obviously very popular Gintama franchise – obviously done to cash in on its success – is a nice bit of self-depricating humor.


Rating: 3