Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 16

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Izuru undergoes more tests, but is judged to be fine. The Rabbits throw an official welcoming party for Ange. Amane, armed with the knowledge of a Wulgaru defector from Rin, is chosen to accompany the C-in-C of the GDF to a meeting with various economic powers. Simon offers Izuru and Asagi the chance to quit Team Rabbits and become instructors; they both decline. Daneel informs Izuru that Theoria wants to have dinner with him. He brings Asagi along for support, but before Theoria can get to why she invited him, the Wulgaru break through the absolute defense line, and the Rabbits are ordered to sortie.

Team Rabbits may be the heroes and potential saviors of mankind with their advanced, Wulgaru-based AHSMB suits, but they are also serving as test pilots, ironing out the kinks in the system before expanding the fleet. That’s sensible; if something goes wrong and an AHSMB wipes the personality of a pilot, he or she may do more harm than good (imagine an entire fleet of crazed Anges, taking orders from no one…chaos!) Then the political angle comes into play: the GDF doesn’t want to show its entire hand to rival powers, choosing to only sell older tech to appease them.

Amane (again quickly rising in the world as we thought she would) rightly calls this behavior out as petty squabbling amongst powers when the entire earth is at equal risk of being annihilated by the Wulgaru. We were also listening when Theoria lamented that her people are only looking out for number one; they are cultureless but for the hunt. But there’s a degree of that selfishness in humanity as well, which may be their undoing. It’s nice and all that Izuru and Asagi want to remain as pilots, protecting those they care about, but is that enough against the enormity of their foe?


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • After last week’s thrilling battle, Team Rabbits is off-duty the entire episode.
  • They throw a party for Ange, but still no one is able to glean his/her true gender.
  • Tamaki is totally oblivious of Patrick’s interest in her, assuming he’s checking out Giuliano behind her. Poor Pat!
  • The “date strategy” meeting is pretty fun: Izuru is told the key to Theoria’s heart is to feed her pickled fish guts, compliment her cake, look cool while complimenting her as she talks, and doing little things to show he cares.
  • Theoria asks Daneel to pick a place, and he asks Peko, who chooses the Red Comet Okonomiyaki Teppanyaki Grill.
  • We guess it would be presumptuous to hope that when everything shakes out, Amane becomes the new head of the GDF…or even the President of Earth? She’s such a go-getter!

 

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Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 15

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As Izuru recovers in the infirmary, Suzukane learns from Simon that the AHSMB units contain their pilots’ DNA. When awakened, there’s a chance a unit could eradicate a pilot’s personality. Indeed, when Izuru wakes up, he seems different and strange to his teammates. Meanwhile, Amane has been promoted and put in charge of Team Doberman, leading the defense of Vesta Base. When they’re overwhelmed by Wulgaru forces led by Rumes and Radha, they call the Rabbits for assistance. They too get bogged down, so Izuru, initially on standby, sorties without armor and saves the day. But Rumes was able to hack into GDF mainframe and gather intel on the MJP project and Gurantseere Academy.

This was a diverse episode that managed to deal with the aftermath of Izuru’s unit awakening by showing the subtle yet very noticeable change in him without going overboard, everyone’s reactions to that change, another fresh and frenzied battle, and surprisingly managed to check in on one of our favorite characters of the first half of the series, Lieutenant Amane. She jumps three ranks in this episode, and after dealing with inept superiors for so long, she was more than deserving of them. She proves to be a confident, competent commander, fearless in the face of impossible odds. Her promotions, while well-earned, also underline the increasingly desperate position of the GDF, with its dwindling forces.

The GDF got a good deal this week, with nine AHSMBs and their two motherships taking on two huge Wulgaru fleets and mostly thanks to the new-and-improved (for now, at least) Izuru are able to send one of them packing. We say one becaue Rumes withdraws of his own accord. The point of the battle wasn’t to invade Vesta, but to gather her secrets. Now the Wulgaru know where mankind’s elite pilots (and final hopes) are developed. That’s bad news, but even though things are a bit dire, there’s still plenty of reasons to maintain hope the Rabbits and GDF can and will prevail against their hunters.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The symptoms of Izuru’s unit’s awakening: he’s more direct, less dense with Kei’s feelings, and he’s basically gone from iliciting mild pity and disgust to making everyone blush with his Glint-On-Demand teeth. Even his manga is better too.
  • This begs the question: is he still Izuru? Will he continue to change the more time he spends with his awakened unit?
  • Tamaki shocks the cook by exhibting her knowledge of the “Suspension Bridge Effect”, only to be distracted by Giuliano.
  • Izuru takes too brave a bite of Rin’s latest confection, and it almost kills him. Cute little slapstick scene. 
  • Ange has to be saved yet againby Izuru. S/he can’t be happy about that.
  • We also dug the girls-night-out to celebrate Captain Amane’s many promotions.

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 12

Kugimiya Kei, Irie Tamaki

Izuru, Asagi, and Suruga have days off while Tamaki and Kei go on a PR tour with Peko. Izuru works on his manga and tries to show it to the pit crews. Asagi spends the day shopping with his pit crew member Anna. Suruga spends the entire day doing EVA with his crew, waiting for a countdown to end and a ship to appear. Tamaki and Kei go from photo op to photo op, wearing various costumes and helping to promote the GDF.

It would be…generous to say anything of consequence happened this week. This is a two-cour series, which means there’s going to be lightweight episodes like this, particularly after the revelatory, action-packed battle of last week. These kids need a break, but interestingly two of them don’t get one. The ladies are pressed into P.R. service, which strikes us as a little unfair. Why do the guys get to do what they want while Tamaki and Kei endure a dizzying schedule of photo ops? We don’t know, but the ladies do perform admirably.

The only thing we can say about this episode is that we’re glad it wasn’t just a straight recap. We hate recaps, and while there were a few recap moments, the episode had enough new material not to just fast-forward through in disappointment. There were some nice character moments, both between Tamaki and Kei and Asagi and that random girl on his pit crew, while repeatedly cutting back to Suruga out in space gave a nice slight sense of mystery to the episode, even if it’s never really explained what that ship is and why he was waiting for it.


Rating: 5 (Average)

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 11

Irie Tamaki, Kugimiya Kei

Team Rabbits is ordered to Mars to infiltrate a crashed Wulgaru capital ship, which will disintegrate in 36 hours.Izuru and Asagi enter the ship with Daneel, who recovers the data, while Kei, Suruga and Tamaki support them from outside. Izuru and Asagi are both troubled to learn that Wulgaru soldiers are expendible clones with no free will. Giuliano keeps Tamaki’s synch levels high by flirting with her over the radio, but she ends up overworking her AHSMB, and after the operation is successfully completed, her pit crew must work feverishly to prevent its core from melting down with Tamaki inside.

In a series that has had no shortage of grand naval space battles and dogfights, this atmospheric operation is a nice change of pace. Each member of the team is given their role and they work together well to carry out the operation successfully, netting the GDF valuable new data on the Wulgaru. As usual, its fun to watch them work together and get shit done. There’s the feeling that this operation wasn’t without a certain degree of risk, and that losing the Majestic Princes would have dealt Earth a serious blow, but the rewards to be reaped from a downed Wulgaru battleship were too enticing to pass up.

Hitachi Izuru, Daneel, Asagi Toshizaku

While the operation is a success, there were still some costs involved. Perhaps most important is the knowledge Asagi and Izuru learn by listening to Daneel explain the nature of Wulgaru society. Soldiers are cloned drones incapable of independent thought or will; treated as machines that are discarded when no longer needed and promptly replaced by more. Asagi can’t help but think Team Rabbits is in a similar position, and he has a point: they were robbed of their memories and placed in the AHSMB program, after all. And if you consider that the Wulgaru were once more like humans, you can’t help but think if huanity survives long enough, they’ll develop a system similar to the Wulgaru, like some vicious cycle.

But no, you have to think positive! Tamaki may be a bit simple-minded, and it again proves useful as she’s the only one who can move freely in the storms…though she does nearly go too far and trash her AHSMB. The point is, every member of Team Rabbits has their strengths and weaknesses, and so far, they’ve complemented each other well enough to neutralize those weaknesses. There’s still the issue of Izuru and Tamaki perhaps progressing too far for their own good while Kei and Asagi continue to struggle with their synch rates, but there’s plenty more show to address all that.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 07

Hitachi Izuru, Asagi Toshizaku, Irie Tamaki, Kugimiya Kei, Suruga Ataru

The Wulgaru brass plan an attack on the “lamata” from their stronghold in order to fulfill a prophecy. Meanwhile, Komine and the GDF plan to destroy Wulgaru’s forward base, Ragazza, which is close to their own base at Ceres. The Princes try to get used to their new home of Star Rose and interacting with their pit crews; Rin also appoints Yamada Peko to handle their scheules and everyday lives. They then board the Godinion and prepare to participate in the battle, which starts prematurely when the Wulgaru strike first. Among them is Prince Pleguzes Jiart, who is eager to see Theoria in action.

This week fully half of the episode is spent introducing us to the Wulgaru that were teased at the end of last week’s episode. We weren’t too impressed by their goofy designs, and came away from this episode not any more impressed. They’re dysfunctional, but not in a charming way like Team Fail – they’re just a bunch of arrogant pricks who can’t stand each other, and we can’t really blame them. We’re of the mind that a really interesting enemy is one that you end up kinda liking despite the fact they’re villains, and half of you roots them for while the other half is for the good guys. We don’t see that happening here. Not even a little.

Their reveal also suddenly dropped like nine new characters in our laps at once, and none of them were memorable. In fact, we liked the pit crews better, including Izuru’s. Not only are they friendly and helpful in the mess hall, they even stand up to him when some other officers try to bully him. We’re not sure what exactly Yamada Peko is supposed to contribute to the rapidly expanding cast, but hey, at least she’s really easy to draw! Otherwise, cats and kittens, it was a build-up episode. The battle will unfold next week; the first we’ll see from the perspectives of  both Human and Wulgaru pilots.

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Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Wulgaru servants must suck blood from their masters and give in to their sexual advances without complaint.
  • Lt. Amane is just barely containing her contempt for her CO Komine. But she can’t deny, the man cleans up for the cameras like a boss!
  • The Princes are so uncomfortable in their huge new dorms, they all naturally gravitate together in one of them…usually Asagi’s.
  • Why the hell does Asagi’s pit crew have a little kid again? That’s just random!
  • Prince Pleguzes Servantbanger XIV is interested in Theoria. That might be interesting…assuming we knew who she was by now (we don’t).

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 05

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After some shaky supplemental training on Earth, Team Rabbits’ suits are repaired and they are paired up with Team Doberman for a new mission to destroy a Wulgaru base. Doberman’s leader Randy gives Izuru some tips about how to be a hero, and lends him what turns out to be a sex tape. When they arrive at the planetoid, a fleet of Wulgaru enemies swarms over the base. Dobermans distract them while Izuru, Kei and Suruga infiltrate the base and Asagi and Tamaki guard their exit. The bomb they brought is damaged, but Izuru gives Suruga the time he needs to repair it. It explodes, and Tamaki saves them from the blast wave.

After a string of morale-busting failures, the Majestic Princes are given another chance to prove themselves to their superiors, their peers, and the world, after being labeled fuck-ups and one-hit-wonders. The Dobermans’ leader Randy, while possibly a pervert and a cad, nevertheless inspires Izuru and provides sound advice: there’s more to being a hero than simply saving the day on your own. Izuru has to learn to trust his comrades, project and air of confidence, make quick decisions, and never give up. Randy also advises him to enjoy life, meet people, and make memories, as every mission could be his last.

This mission isn’t Izuru’s last, nor is it anyone elses’, as they score a decisive victory despite having to deal with a whole Wulgaru task force in addition to the base’s defenses. This was the best-looking and most exciting battle since the first one, and we’re relieved that the quality of these sequences has been maintained. The Dobermans, initially thought to be taking the lead on the mission, end up playing a supporting role; it’s Izuru and the Rabbits’ show, and they don’t disappoint, ending their losing streak and proving that when properly motivated, the Fail Five can succeed with style and authority.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The Rabbits’ individual reactions to the sex tape were worth a chuckle, particularly the fact Izuru and Asagi didn’t stop watching until the end…
  • Tamaki’s always complaining about her weight, but it’s her Rose’s width that keeps her from entering the base.
  • Izuru sees a small group of ships escaping from the blown-up base. Who could they be…just Wulgaru, or …someone else?

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 03

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After thorough examinations, Team Rabbits is assigned a new mission, but first they have 36 hours of down time at a luxury space resort. After they all try to relax in their own ways, they’re placed under the command of GDF’s Vice Chief of Staff, Captain Komine, who orders them to launch a surprise attack on a Wulgaru supply fleet. That fleet turns out to be an advanced and heavily-armed recon squad, but Komine orders the Princes to charge ahead anyway. In the process, Tamaki loses her shields and takes damage…

“Majestic Princes”, as it turns out, is a pretty fitting name, as it describes Team Rabbits even better than “The Fail Five.” They’re majestic because, well, just look at how beautifully they dance through space in their suits. Even when they’re overwhelmed, they still look great in action, and their first mission provided a hint of what they’re capable of when firing on all cylinders. But like princes, they didn’t choose the paths they’re on. Their memories were wiped at a young age, and they’ve been engineered to work in concert with each other and the JURIA System of their suits.

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Also like a Prince, they inherited great wealth (their suits and the budget to use them) and great responsibility to put those resources to good use, and there’s a war on so their hands aren’t going to be held along the way. Only they can decide if they are going to be good and successful princes or keep thinking they’ll always be screw-ups. It’s a lot for a quintet of kids to carry on their shoulders, and the series thus far has done a good job putting them through the professional ringer, but at the same time not skimping on their personal interactions.

We like how Hitachi is dedicating himself to being the leader and hero, and even more enthralled that the others aren’t fully behind him yet. It’s not just the Princes either: everyone seems to give someone a disapproving or dubious look, and everyone’s little quirks bounce off the others’ in interesting ways. It also helps that things move along at quite brisk pace, although there’s not enough time to show their latest mission in full – in which, naturally, the odds are stacked against them and they’ll have to perform miraculously to not only prevail, but survive. And survive they shall.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The series has been painting very detailed pictures of the five princes’ personalities through their idle chatter, but goes a step further this week by showing how each of them spend their free time, with great success.
  • Kei’s baking marathon was pretty darn cute. Did she put that icing on her cheek to see if Hitachi would notice it?
  • Hitachi doesn’t so much meet the white-haired chick so much as he meets the fist of her bodyguard-handler-whatever. Zero-G pools FTMFW.
  • Tamaki wants pickled fish guts, Tamaki gets pickled fish guts.
  • Lt. Amane makes damn sure Komine introduces her. Lady’s got ambition.
  • Suzukaze is apparently allowed to suck on all the lolipops she likes while on duty.
  • Apologies for the late review; we were out watching baseball.

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 02

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MJP Team Rabbits is awarded a medal of merit for their successful defense of Undina Base. After an…interesting and highly publicized press conference, the media dubs them the “Majestic Princes.” Their commander immediately re-mobilizes them; their task is to set up new satellites to replace those destroyed as the cameras roll. However, four Wulgaru ships appear, toy with the Princes, destroy the satellites and withdraw before Princes are able to enter battle formation. Suzukaze and Saionji tell them not to worry about the setback and to rest up for the next mission, but opinion of them on the net take a dive.

Ah, ya can’t win ’em all, right? Certainly not here, as Team Rabbits suffers a humiliating defeat against a squad of four Wulgaru ships that catch them with their pants down and make quick work of the satellites. They couldn’t even slow them down. Of course, we don’t quite know the disposition of that Wulgaru squad; for all we know, that weird-accented pilot dude was older and far more experienced than Hitachi & Co. Or he could be a kid like them, and just happens to be better for the moment. Also, the Wulgaru didn’t have to deal with cameras and the constant feed of snide comments from the net…to say nothing of goofy, Tiger & Bunny-style corporate liveries.

The scene when the civilians they saved greet and embrace the Rabbits was a really nice touch; how often do mecha pilots in these kinds of series get to interact with those they save? The press conference was pretty funny, and went about as well as you could expect from a group of kids not used to the gaze cameras. Asagi gets stomach pains, Irie drops the mic…on her head, Kugimiya says two words, Suruga’s geeks out on his arsenal, and most embarrassing of all, Hitachi presents his feelings in the form of a goofy drawing. It’s not smooth as silk, nor is the mission that follows, but they’re learning. It’s a process.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Our only main beef with the execution here is that the Princes are totally unprepared to go to battle, and the time delay in getting them ready is a bit contrived. Basically, they never had a chance, and it wasn’t entirely their fault.
  • This series, not Hataraku Maou-sama is directed by Motonaga Keitarou, who did Jormungand. And hey, Itou Shizuka is voicing a girl with white hair here too!

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 01

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Team Rabbits is a group of underachieving GDF AHSMB (mecha) trainee pilots who don’t gel well and score poorly in training exercises. When a huge Wulgaru (alien) fleet attacks the GDF’s forward base at Undina, they are sent into active duty in real-deal AHSMBs; each pilot given a specific role. Their mission is to simply buy enough time for Undina’s forces to evacuate, but they notice civilians were left behind, and they stand their ground. They do enough damage to force the Wulgaru fleet to retreat.

This series immediately immerses us in the middle of a heated space battle, and we’re thinking “alright, this could be cool.” Then we start seeing characters in the quite-unmistakable style of Hirai Hisahi of the excellent Gundam SEED/Destiny saga, and we take in their snappy interactions and very simple but well-defined personalities and we start warming up to it. Like Gundam, these are mecha pilots whose circumstances lead them to accomplish great things. Unlike SEED, these guys start out as slackers, who haven’t yet figured out how to work as a team or fully exploit their innate talents.

But whether it’s beginners luck or something just clicking, all five of them rise to the occasion when it matters most: when lifes are depending on them. They even go beyond the call of duty when they realize how awesome their new mecha are. They end up surprising everyone, including themselves. Color us surprised, too: while the characters have that unique, simple look of Gundam Seed, this is a fully modern series with suitably up-to-date production values. When the real fighting begins and the misfits find themselves in the big leagues, the pace quickens and after some initial disorientation, the team finds a groove and goes for it, which seems to be what their commander Simon was hoping for. But mostly this outing was just flat-out FUN.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • While the characters look very Gundam SEEDy, they’re way more lively and free to show goofy emotions, which they do in rapid succession.
  • At the same time, the space procedural operations-speak Gundam is known for is here in force during deployment sequences and lots of lingo, although not an oppresive amount of it.
  • The episode is also very efficient; Vividred insisted on showing each of its girls transforming individually; this one shows everyone launching at the same time in a 4-way split screen, multiplayer-style. More of this.
  • The bad guys are pretty one-dimensional so far, but that’s okay.
  • PEW PEW! KABLAMO!