Kuromukuro – 07

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Ken and Yukina achieved a great victory; they are the only ones in the world who were able to defeat a geoframe of Efidolg, even if Hedo took his own life rather than allow himself to be captured. But it’s far worse than that: Yukina is simply done.

She’s gone along up to this point, but she never truly signed up for this, and she just can’t get into the headspace required to take more life, especially when the so-called “demons” have human form. She retreats into her room; into her dreams; into her past, when she was berated by peers for being the daughter of a presumed madman.

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His “lies” made her a liar. She’s always resented this, and her mother was never present enough, either emotionally or physically, to do much about it. So it’s stewed. That Dad turned out to be right doesn’t change the fact she carries scars, even if they’re not the kind that show, like Ken’s (whose bashfulness with “virtually naked” girls during a free swim was another nice touch. Dude is simply not used to women.)

It’s not that she takes a particular moral stance against fighting the enemy; she simply feels deeply in her bones that she’s not the girl for the job. Tom doesn’t help matters by calling her worthless. At school, Yukina feels lost, and she can’t accept the adoration and gratitude of most of her classmates, because some believe she did nothing to save Akagi and Kaya from being killed (their fates remain a mystery).

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Sophie, for her part, tries to make an appeal to Yukina’s inner bushido, but to no avail. Yukina doesn’t want to be the person with the fate of the world on her shoulders. It’s just too BIG. Why can’t she just go to the supermarket after work and buy ingredients for dinner?

When Ken finally tries to assure her he doesn’t think she’s just a tool, and then plots out his post-revenge course as leading to his eventual reunion with the princess (i.e. death or suicide), Yukina’s refusal to ride with him intensifies. She doesn’t want any blood on her hands.

She also believes the demons aren’t demons, after meeting one and seeing an ordinary human. We’re finally allowed inside the orbiting Efidolg mothership, where a small council of pilots like Hedo reach the consensus that their plans cannot continue as long as Glongur walks the Earth; it and its pilot must be destroyed.

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These spacefaring warriors seem so very far away from Yukina’s simple life, but at this point I just don’t see her staying out of the fighting. Even if her mother won’t force her, something will surely come up to convince Yukina, like her male Eva counterpart Ikari Shinji, to jump into that cockpit once more.

Despite Yukina’s multiple (and reasonable, considering the life she’s led thus far) reservations, and the fact this week ends with her running away from home after her mother slapped her for being presumptuous about her late father, this only seems like delaying the inevitable: Yukina and Ken will keep fighting Efidolg, because no one else can, and because those Yukina loves and cares about will be in danger if she doesn’t.

There’s also, like, a million episodes left. Way too early for our heroine to throw in the towel…but probably not the last time she’ll waver, either.

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Kuromukuro – 06

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The time for messing around at home or school is over, as the Yellow Crab and two red Headless (which Yukina calls Dullahans) land near the airport, which, if you’ve watched Captain America: Civil War, you know is a great open place to stage a big fight while minimizing civilian casualties.

Ken and Yukina arrive to find themselves outnumbered 3:1, and the conventional military backup is completely toothless against their foes. That’s made plain when the Yellow Crab plucks an attacking gunship out of the sky as if it were a buzzing fly.

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The mission for our main couple is to stay alive and hang in there until help can arrive in the form of the two GAUS units, which are launched from a railgun-like catapult thingy that emerges from an innocent-looking telescope dome. This sequence comes with all the requisite technobabble checklists and “all clears” one would expect of a sci-fi mecha show.

The show takes its time with this sequence, making it feel like the big deal that it is that they’re launching these things. Heft is also added to the proceedings by the foreboding rust-colored sky, and the hasty evacuation of the city.

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The cockpit of Ken’s and Yukina’s artifact is pierced, but Ken only gets a glancing wound to the head and is okay. Things are kept relatively light with Yukina’s comment about there being a “bunch of things” (meaning HUD warnings), and her elation at the cavalry arriving being shot down when Sophie tells her not to chat during combat.

Once the two GAUS’s arrive, the playing field is evened a bit, as at least the two Headless are too busy fighting off Sophie and Tom to gang up on Ken and Yukina.

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With some slick moves and samurai training, Ken manages to strike a blow to the Crab’s vital area that brings it down, turning black in the process. Then, to everyone’s surprise (including Kaya and Akagi, who are filming the action from not too far away and streaming it to the world), a pilot emerges and removes his helmet.

He’s…human. Or some kind of space-faring human, or an alien who looks just like a human. He calls himself Hedo, “Frontier Reform Officer” for “Efidolg.” He also calls Ken’s artifact “Glongur” and asks why he betrayed his people. Neither Ken nor Yukina nor anyone else know what the heck this guy is talking about, but they don’t get any time to ask questions.

Rather than be killed like a dog or taken captive, Hedo activates the Crab’s self-destruct. The blast that ensues is pretty intense—intense enough to roast Akagi and Kaya, if the show had chosen to go that dark here—but not town-encompassing. All that remains of Hedo and the Crab is a crater and a heap of questions, chief among them, in the words of Tom, exactly are those asshole fucks up in orbit, and why are they attacking?

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Kuromukuro – 05

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Yukina has neither nerves of steel nor a dead family to avenge; she’s just…a girl. Below average in some areas, above average in others, and just average in still others. She has a little sister, an uncle, a morning routine.

She goes to school. She has an admirer in Akagi Ryouto, but doesn’t know it. And she’s now suddenly living companion, navigator, and classmate to a ruggedly handsome but extremely prickly 400+ year-old samurai who happens to be the same age as her and ruggedly handsome.

There’s nothing out of left field here, but I’m finding it a neat dynamic that sells itself, even if it didn’t have impeccably clean, attractive design backing it up. Kuromukuro’s originality and pacing may still be in question, but its execution is assuredly not.

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Indeed, despite being the fifth episode, a lot of people are introduced for the first time, and Yukina’s suddenly highly-modified, previously-normal life takes a lot of turns. And yet things still begin with breakfast. Kuromukuro has been adept at showing us the life in between the big bold battles.

Kennosuke, AKA Ken or “Kenny-chan”, is now a part of every aspect of Yukina’s life now, and she seems a little…overwhelmed at times; almost in a kind of shock. And why shouldn’t she? So much has happened all at once. She’s a second lieutenant now, as well as a celebrity at school, and she’s being challenged by the likes of established pilot Sophie Noelle “Why do you fight?”

Fight? She’s barely had time to catch her breath, let alone ponder such questions. Furthermore, Yukina isn’t what you’d call a deep thinker; she’s been largely gliding through life so far, and you can see the weight of all this shit suddenly on her.

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When an emergency strikes, she’s swept up in a big public departure operation with Ken with the whole school gawking at her. Ryouto, who’d been watching her from afar the whole episode (and certainly before all this stuff happened to her), isn’t content to let her speed off in Ken’s steed; he hops on his bike and goes after her.

Could he do anything to protect her? Maybe not, but he wants to. And say what you want about Yukina, but it’s not like she’s in love with Ken. We didn’t get a lot of Ryouto (most of it came via his two mates), but I don’t hate the guy, and it’s nice to see the guy chase the (justifiably) oblivious girl once in a while.

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Yukina didn’t really choose all this upheaval in her life, and yet here she is, in a cockpit, being assured by Ken that he’ll take care of everything. She’s got nanomachines in her body that can’t be removed without risking paralysis or death, and so she’s the navigator of Ken’s artifact, whether she actually wanted to be (she didn’t) or had a reason to be (she doesn’t)

She’s a lot like Shinji in Eva (sans Hedgehog’s dilemma and other psychoses); her emotions have yet to catch up to all this, even though there have been down times here and there to do so. This is a lot, and all she can do for now is go along for the ride.

And like I said, unlike Ken, she hasn’t lost anyone or anything yet, so there’s that. But does tragedy and a desire for revenge have to chart her course in life the way it charted his? Will she find her sense of duty, to protect, not merely avenge? We shall see…

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