Valvrave the Liberator – 22

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Haruto and L-elf crash land in a deep crater with a broken transmitter. Haruto finds a flare, but the two start arguing and get into a fight. Meanwhile, when another student Shoko is tending to dies, it compels her to enter Unit 1’s cockpit, where she learns from Pino that Haruto resigned his humanity to avenge her when he thought she was dead. After experiencing visions of the dead, Haruto and L-elf say they’re not ready to die, creating a reaction that shoves L-elf off him. They use the power to launch the flare. Three Dorssian fighters arrive, but they’re fought off by Rukino Saki in Unit 4, who was freed by A-drei. Haruto and L-elf promise to help each other “unveil the world” by exposing the Council of 101.

In the depths of despair Haruto claims that he’s being punished for his actions, which he deems sins. But the terrible situation he, L-elf, Shouko, and JIOR find themselves in is a result not of actions, but inactions and omissions. With some time to think and get whaled on by L-elf while they’re in chunky orange Tintin spacesuits, he finally learns that. Everyone learns a lot this week: L-elf learns Liseilotte was a pro-human Magius, and finds something to live for: carrying on her dream of a world where her kind can coexist with humans. Shouko learns that Haruto had to push that button, and he only pushed it because of her. A-drei learns that L-elf was possessed when he shot his eye, and didn’t really betray him.

After all hell broke loose last week, this was a welcome taking-stock episode that allowed everyone to catch up. What’s so brutally ironic (and typical of this show) is that had the things that came to light for people this week happened just two weeks before, Shouko could have postponed the ill-fated summit that led to the branding of JIOR as a nation of monsters. A-drei could have freed Saki earlier. Alas, Shouko and A-drei learned the truth and Haruto and L-elf had it out too late to avoid a bunch of death. Now that they have, there’s a path forward; perhaps bumpier than it needed to be, but at least Haruto and L-elf are in agreement: it’s not time for them to die, and there’ll be no more secrets. It’s time to unveil the world.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Why, it’s another Future Saki cold open, with what looks like Satomi and a baby L-elf “prince.” They’ve also apparently preserved the school where this all began. Interesting…
  • Shouko gets the full rundown from Pino, complete with Haruto-absolving ValvTube evidence! The scene unnderlines just how much easier things could have gone in the last two episodes had Haruto just told Shouko the truth.
  • Spacesuit fights are always so amusingly clumsy, aren’t they?
  • Something very Star Wars-y about Haruto meeting with Dead Kyuuma, Mari, and Aina (Hi Aina!).
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Valvrave the Liberator – 20

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Haruto and the rest of the team that went to earth successfully stop the Phantom headed to Module 77 and return to a hero’s welcome, as Shoko has been gathering support and media attention. She has also arranged an international summit, where ARUS and other powers have pledged to condemn Dorssia’s actions. L-elf has isolated himself in a cargo hold. When the summit starts, the Dorssian Fuhrer commences a broadcast announcing they have Rukino Saki in custody. Cain stabs her through the heart and everyone watches her revive and heal, proving she isn’t human.

Last season we weren’t shy in expressing our reservations about the viability of an independent country ruled for and by a bunch of high schoolers. We’d spent so much time with the Earth-bound team recently that we nearly forgot the bulk of the country was still on the Moon, trying not to wear out their welcome and forging alliances. Haruto also forgot that Shoko and the others were fighting while he was otherwise occupied. It’s a shock to see the fruit of his labors in the form of tearful family reunions and hard-hitting media interviews by journalist who have dealt with his naive sort before, who make him wonder if he really is tilting at windmills.

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Kyuuma also tells Haruto he’ll go mad if he tries to fix all the myriad problems currently on his plate, and should enjoy life while he can; for tomorrow, everything could be over. Haruto shows a glimmer of reception to that, as he’s well aware he’s running himself ragged trying to do everything when he can’t. There’s no more powerful reminder of the result of that path than poor L-elf, who executed his plan all the way to the end but ended up losing the most important thing in the world to him. Now he’s lost, inconsolable, and New JIOR is immediately worse off for it, as Dorssia proves they can fight a P.R. war with the best of them.

Now that the secret of the Valvrave pilots is essentially out, New JIOR will likely find themselves standing alone, and all of Shoko’s diplomatic work blowing up in her face. That unfortunate and sudden reversal of fortune is the Council’s doing, as they’re tired of these children and want them out of the way. Even if L-elf was 100% back on his game, the fact remained they left Saki behind. And almost as a cruel self-rebuttal to that horrible music video the JIORans made in more innocent times, the show has Saki viciously stabbed through the heart on live TV to an audience of hundreds of millions. Valvrave does not mess around.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)
)

Valvrave the Liberator – 19

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L-elf rescues Lieselotte from her captivity, confessing his love, but their escape is interrupted by Q-vier. Haruto crashes through the wall in Unit 1, and L-elf hands Lieselotte off to him. Her presence in the cockpit surprises Pino, and Haruto learns she is a Magius—a being with no physical body that lives off of runes—and that he’s one too. The rocket launch is stymied by the loss of a runway, but L-elf lowers a drawbridge and the rocket launches as the Valvraves protect it. Q-vier hits one of its hydrogen tanks, but Liselotte repairs it, at the cost of all her runes.

So the Magius crash on earth, possess animals and people to live and consume their runes to survive. They eventually form a council with humans to oversee earth’s affairs, of which Lieselotte doesn’t want any part, so she’s imprisoned and regularly drained of power with that tanning booth. Meanwhile, the Magius serve as cores for Valvrave units, whose pilots must literally resign humanity in order to operate them, thus becoming a “new lifeform” similar to immortal Magius, which explains Saki’s presence in the distant future. Should we be worried that some of this is actually making sense? Valvrave, how could you!

Practically speaking, this is an episode in which the New JIORans get the hell out of Dodge—er, Dorssiana. But L-elf also came to rescue the one he loves. He helped build and strengthen New JIOR for her more than anyone else. Sure he’s only known less than an hour in total, but that’s apparently enough. So it’s unfortunate, even tragic, when we find that she can’t return his feelings, not because she doesn’t share them, but because she’s unsure what love is, even after centuries of living in human form. It’s your classic lovers-of-different-races predicament. Worse still, she ends up “emptied” like Marie. L-elf just can’t catch a break!

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 13

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Two months after Module 77 narrowly escapes destruction, they dock at the neutral Moon, where they receive sympathy and supplies but run into bureaucratic hurdles with ARUS. Module 77 plans to send a delegation to Earth, but the Valvraves shut down, their energy exhausted. Kibukawa and L-elf determine that the “runes” that fuel the Valvrave can only be gathered by attacking humans. Haruto grudingly attacks L-elf, refueling the Valvraves, and they cross the neutral zone and battle the Dorssian fleet that was waiting for them.

After a season-long hiatus, Valvrave is back to baffle, shock, and entertain us in relatively equal measure. We can’t say we missed all the mythological mumbo-jumbo about councils of the hundred, magiuses, and holy spirits, but we’re glad to be once again following the trials and tribulations of one of the high school that declared itself an independant nation, protected by five mechas piloted by students who tosses aside their humanity and essentially became vampires. We especially liked how Shouko and L-Elf had settled nicely into their new official roles, though they both faced plenty of challenges.

Reinforcing their status as horrifying burdens in addition to the only force that is currently staving off enslavement by Dorssia, Haruto gets the bad news that he’s been going into fits and viciously attacking people because he’s jonesin’ for their “runes”, which we guess is a fancy way of saying “life force”. Haruto-y Haruto that he is, he’s hell-bent on carrying as much as this burden as he can, and he’s to find the people who developed the damnable things on Earth. He wants to be human again, and if that can’t happen, he wants to destroy the Valvraves once they’ve fulfiled their use. Just one problem: when exactly will New JIOR ever not need them?


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Saki records a bestselling album, then offers her body to Haruto, who resists. Then he feeds from L-Elf. Saki probably won’t be happy if she learns about that.
  • We get to see the Dorssians in their training sweats sipping from 80’s-style water bottles. Pretty sweet.
  • Apparently the OS avatar in Haruto’s unit is called “Pino”, while the one in Cain’s is called “Prue.”
  • Cain and his superior Mirko watch with smug satisfaction as the “children” of Valvrave are constructed. That isn’t going to be good for JIOR.

Valvrave the Liberator – 12

Renbokouji Akira

221 years into the future, Rukino Saki tells a silver-haired boy the story of the “Founder”‘s battles for Module 77, where he encountered the “Magius.” Back in the present, Saki rejects Haruto’s marriage proposal and tells him to go save Shouko. He meets up with L-el as the Dorssian drill is ascending the module towards the school fast, releasing posion gas as it goes. Colonel Cain outsmarts L-elf, shoots Haruto, then beats L-elf up, aiming to take the red Valvrave.

Meanwhile, Shouko is injured while racing to save Akira from the approaching drill. Akira finally leaves her shelter to save Shouko, and finds a purple Valvrave on the way to her. She resigns her humanity and boards it, and her “hacking” weapon disables the drill and all the other Dorssian bogeys. L-elf escapes Cain’s custody with Haruto and they board the red Valvrave and launch a barrage of weapons fire at Cain, but he isn’t scratched. He reveals himself as a “Magius.”

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So yeah, obviously there was going to be more Valvrave coming after this episode, because there still so many storylines not even close to being resolved yet, but we were still pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of stuff that went down in this episode, as well as the high level of tension it maintained throughout it’s running time. Module 77 its most immediate and potentially mortal crisis, while Colonel Cain proves that even a superhuman like L-elf doesn’t stand much of a chance against his non-human “creator.”

They also chose to give Akira the most she’s ever done or said in an episode by far, and we thought her tortured emergence from her security shell was very well done. This is a girl with serious emotional trauma, but even she couldn’t sit and watch her friend get killed. That said, we wonder if she’ll ever leave that cockpit now that she’s in there! Just one of many dozens of things to be sorted out this fall, when the second season airs.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We’re very intrigued by the Future Rukino prologues, all two of them; and that was the problem: all this bigger picture stuff like the two-century jumps forward and the Magius had to fight for screen time (and lost) with things like the presidential election and that horrible music video the school did. We want to see more.
  • Cain’s very thorough beating of L-elf was intense, for no other reason than L-elf has only ever been superior to everyone else in everything…but not against this guy.
  • Akira may share her name with an iconic film, but she and her now-vacated lair have reminded us more of an iconic anime, namely Lain. It was awesome to see her finally spring into action, and we look forward to seeing/hearing more of her.
  • That little silver-haired princess girl L-elf met when they were young – in the OP she’s grown up. Here’s hoping we get more of her story this fall.
  • “It’s THUNDER, Damnit!” The day someone finally actually calls him that is going to be some day.