As US and Soviet special forces attempt to recapture the Comms Center and HQ, Yui, Yuuya & Co. must execute a feint attack on the RLF’s TSF forces, led by Major Christopher piloting an advanced experimental Soviet model. Sandek intends to activate “Prafka” to sic the Scarlet Twins on the BETA before Red Shift is tripped. Leon and Sharon team up with Yuuya to take on the RLF’s TSFs. Back at HQ, Sharon is ignored by both Christopher and the RLF’s’ “Master”. She intends to send out a surrender order, but is killed by a subordinate. The remaining RLF fighters then kill off the UN command staff before taking their own lives. Only Dogulu and the UN Commander survive. Sandek activates Prafka, but Christopher activates something else that disrupts Cryska and Inia.
There’s a lot going on in what we thought would be the final episode. Now there’s apparently two more to go for a total of 26, not 24. That’s probably for the best, considering all the loose ends that still need tying up. The RLF may contain many fighters who truly care about refugees, but they were all being used by Major Christopher and whomever he answers to. It’s as if their whole raid was just a diversion so that he could get his hands on that badass Soviet TSF. When Zarner realizes their mission has failed and that causing Red Shift would be catastrophic, she puts her partisanship aside and tries to do the right thing…and is killed for it.
That’s a shame, because she was a much more interesting character than the one-dimensional Christopher, who doesn’t seem to care how much the world suffers for his own selfish goals. By attacking Inia and Cryska, he seems intent on allowing the BETA to reach the Red Shift line, which will trigger 2,000 50-megaton nukes and cast a radioactive pall over the last remaining breadbasket on earth. The question is, why? Does he just want to watch the world burn and laugh? Add to that the fact he was introduced to the show so late in the game and we know almost nothing about him, and we have ourselves a fairly dull villain who is sure to have his ass handed to him before the series is over. If and how that happens will determine if this ends well.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Concerned with the increasing rivalry and antagonism between research teams, Lt. Orson orders them to participate in an “international friendship meeting” in which they participate in comradrie-building exercises. This boils down to a camping trip where the various flights converge on an Alaskan hot spring and avail themselves of it.
Yeah, not much to say about this episode; the teams pretty much go camping, make food, then strip down either to swimsuits or nothing at all. This represents a new low for Muv-Luv, because unlike other stinkers in its run, there wasn’t even any significant character development in this episode. We already know Cui likes Yuuya and thinks of him as her husband, We also already know Inia likes Yuuya and Cryska grudingly also likes him. We already know Yui likes Yuuya, and wants to cook awesome food for him…
We also already know Yuuya and Leon are not friends. The fanservice wasn’t even that great, as this seemed like a particularly badly-animated episode. Also, Lt. Orson seems to have set up this whole exercise so he could collect video of all the girls in their skivvies. Next week, it seems we can look forward to a recap and a new OP and ED, which we’ve said are fine and shouldn’t be messed with. In fact, the OP and ED were the best parts of this episode.
Rating: 3 (Bad)
Back in 2000 in Nevada, Yuuya is with the Ghost team participating in Raptor tests, and he goes beyond the parameters of their sortie. His chaser Lt. Sven is killed in action. A tribunal clears Yuuya of any fault in the death, but Leon vows never to forgive him. Shortly thereafter Yuuya broke up with Sharon and transferred to Alaska and the Argos Flight. When Argos celebrates its win over Bao Feng, Lt. Cui warns Yui to give up on Yuuya. Yuuya is being followed and monitored, and Cryska is confronted by her superior regarding her interactions with him.
While last week was mostly about how virtually everyone is now in love with Yuuya, this week focuses more on the cause of his feud with Leon Kuze, explaining and justifying both Kuze’s hostility thus far. The series made a good move telling Yui’s story first, so we’d be on her side when Yuuya suddenly shows up all brash and arrogant. This week we learn exactly what happened and why he seemed like such an asshole when we first met him. In short, Yuuya wasn’t born into money or power; he’s earned his rank and status and risen to excellence by hard work and willpower. He’s also always been hated; making Kuze’s vendetta just icing on the cake of his life, going back to his childhood in the racist deep south.
Yuuya has certainly changed since his joining Argos, but the driven young man who always has something to prove is still there. Cui, Cryska, and even the bartender Natalie all have nice mature conversations this week. Cui castigates Yui for falling in love with the person Yuuya has become through her tending, not the person Yuuya was before he changed. Cui believes people should be accepted for who they are, not accepted only when they change to suit your ideal of them. Cryska and Natalie tell Yuuya not to dwell on a past you can’t change, and simply continue to savor every day you’re still alive to shape the future, something precious few humans have that luxury. And all this talking is backed up by a really nice soundtrack.
Rating: 6 (Good)
P.S. Didn’t Yuuya say he wanted Yui to teach him kendo? There seemed to be ample free time to do so this week, but nothing has come of it yet.
A flashback documents Cryska’s beginnings in a Soviet research facility, where she first met Inia. Back in the present, Lt. Cui now wants to marry Yuuya, and promises they’ll go on honeymoon if Bao Feng beats the Infinities. Unfortunately for her, they are brushed aside with ease. Yuuya goes to town with Inia and Cryska, who wants answers regarding why they’re exhibiting what seems to be feelings for him. Yui stalks Yuuya as he gives the twins flowers and is confronted by Cui. At the local bar, Yuuya asks Yui to train him in kendo, but Leon interrupts, and a fight ensues that they both vow to finish in Blue Flag.
We’ve seen how test pilots are rewarded for risking their lives in new and untested equipment by being given a lot more perks and living more comfortable lives than front-line soldiers. Those benefits are out in full force this week, as for the duration of Blue Flag, if you’re not competing, the day is yours to do with as you please. That means walking around town, hanging out in parks and bars and generally relaxing and not doing much. We’ve always said this series is best when the shit hits the fan and the characters have their backs to the walls. This episode is decidedly not the series at its best.
Nearly every girl is interested in Yuuya, but go about it in different ways. We have Yui, perhaps the most plausible suitor, devolve into full Jealous Blushing Stalker Maiden Mode, and Cui Yifei in Horny Self-Proclaimed Wife Mode. Inia can’t explain why she likes Yuuya, but Cryska likes him too and he makes her happy with a bouquet – only she’s so underdeveloped in social graces, she doesn’t quite grasp what affection, love, or happiness even are. Then there’s apparently a past between Yuuya and Sharon Imes. But more interesting to us is what happened to make Leon hate Yuuya so much and vice versa. Unfortunately, the episode ended before it could get into that.
Rating: 5 (Average)