Haifuri – 08

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Haifuri establishes that the virus was all an evil plot by the scientists or… something this week. See the creatures were created in an underwater submarine and the training mission was just a cover to collect and/or destroy the evidence. Also the virus is bioelectric something something, which explains why electronics have been malfunctioning.

Also, cats are immune. Dun dun duuuun.

This week’s combat focused on using tides and shallow waters to trick a virus-cruiser into grounding itself. The action and the plan was so-so but what broke my will to keep watching this show was how drawn out it all was, and that there is no chance anyone on the crew will be injured, so there’s no drama to the ‘we can’t hold on any longer captain!’ cries everyone belts out emptily.

Then there was butt-grabbing because of course there’s butt grabbing. Oh Hairfuri…

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Haifuri – 07

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Harekaze is running low on fresh water because… a leak or something. The girls are forced to endure salt water showers, salt water douches, stinky salt water laundry for their panties, and a limited menu at the cafeteria due to water rationing.

Then they sail into a fog bank and all animation literally stops. No, I’m not kidding! Stills of girls in swim suits replace any animation for 3o seconds until a storm breaks out and we learn that Captain-chan is afraid of lightening…

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Except she isn’t. She just remembers that her parents died on a ship during a lightening storm but now a civilian ship is stuck in a lightning storm and Harekaze has to come to the rescue, low fresh water and boobs to the face or not.

The civilian ship falls apart during rescue and Deputy Captain-chan is stuck underwater saving a male kitten because WTF??? The episode needs some drama and the writers couldn’t think of anything to actually do with this show so they gave us another middle finger.

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After the non-drama is over and deputy-chan is rescued, Musashi lurks beyond the mist.

Next week the girls will struggle to balance friendship, fire power, salt water, and probably cats, or face the dreadful consequences!

Roll CREDITS!

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Verdict: Episode seven was a wincing turd. There was no drama, Captain-chan’s backstory was hilariously forced and ham fisted, Deputy-Captain-chan’s new cat bloats the cast further and I just want to see each and every dumb girl on this show die in a fire-ball, followed by a slow drowning of their corpses.

Straight and simple, this was all fill. Insulting, empty, pointless fill with a mild helping of fan service on the side. Do not watch this show. Whatever promise it had has been squandered 3 episodes in a row.

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Haifuri – 06

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Back at fleet/school command, the big wigs are not only confused and concerned that Musashi was able to defeat a state-of-the-art fleet but, worse, many more student ships have gone AWOL. The remaining loyal ships either require weeks or months to be deployed or are lighter ships like Harikaze.

Meanwhile, Deputy Captain-chan continues to call Captain-chan out for her appalingly innapropriate command behavior. It’s hard to fault her for this since constantly running off the bridge and disregarding the safety and operation of her own ship really is nonsensical. This makes Captain-chan’s already sacerine goody-goody personality pretty un-compelling, if not truly unlikeable. However, since Deputy Captain-Chan literally brings nothing to the table herself, showing neither leadership nor technical abilities, she’s unlikeable too…

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Then everybody takes a bath, then the ship ends up trapped in a mine field, but German-chan doesn’t like nato, and the kitchen staff tries to make German style food for her but fails, but then the girls assigned to clear the mines goof off and get blown up, except they aren’t killed. Then then then, after the credits, the doctor injects herself with antibodies from the Rats.

Maybe German-chan’s nato/german dinner arc was to remind the viewers of our own ignorance of other cultures? Maybe leading into the bath scene with shadowy Japanese politicians effectively talking about penis size was meant to poke fun at the girl-military genre fetish? …but that’s probably giving Hifuri too much credit.

In short, a lot of stuff happens but few events carry consequences or relevance.

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The verdict: as it bothered me last week, I appreciated the school command’s bewilderment at Musashi’s survival. Blaming the electronic guidance of the missiles seems clunky, especially because we know this is somehow caused by the rat-virus, but it’s far better than a ‘Musashi so strong’ circle-jerk alternative.

That aside, the central conspiracy with the rats is problematic. Even with we ignore their ability to infect people AND ELECTRONICS equally, the plot seems to have moved away from an internal government conspiracy for them being there. Sure, a plot about evil men trying to cause a conflict so they could retake the quasi-military back from women is eye-rollingly simplistic, but at least it would have villains and a sense of purpose.

Overall, Hifuri just lacks tension. No one has died yet — even the girls who drove right into a mine — and no decision has carried consequences of even the blandest sort. Sprinkle in the absurd number of characters, and you have a bland bland bland show about a mysterious virus at sea with explosions that can’t hurt anyone.

Its watchable but by the thinnest of technical margins.

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Haifuri – 05

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A substantial portion of this week’s Harekaze is left to the crew screwing around in swimsuits and sharing a few backstories. Tama is questioned by the adults over her gun-rage, but she can not remember anything. Also German-chan is formally welcomed by the crew with a cake. She responds by comparing the crew to a sausage and a charming but tiny castle.

While not particularly important, these sections function the best. They’re colorful, expand our admittedly fuzzy understanding of the bridge crew and set up Captain-chan’s betrayal at the end of the episode as truly heart breaking: in a time of crisis, she abandons what amounts to family.

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The rest of the episode is mostly dedicated to a fleet of boy-marine-training-destroyers getting demolished by Musashi. The engagement is rendered well enough, at least as 3D rendered objects go, but the pacing is poor and since we don’t know any of the boys and their attacks are so laughably ineffective against Musashi’s great indestructible Japanese armor, it lacks emotional impact.

Long time Rabujoi readers can probably guess that I rolled my eyes at Musashi’s durability. Even if it’s not autoerotic nationalist wank fantasy fuel, a 50 year old battleship being pounded by 12+ modern destroyers (commanded by trained adults) without a scratch is just feels lazy. The writers could at least have come up with a hand-wavey tactic or surprise maneuver to trump the destroyers but no. Musashi stronger than torpedoes sploosh! Sigh…

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The verdict: learning that the original fight between Harekaze and the instructor’s ship was also rat-rage and not a greater conspiracy clarifies where the show can go, which is good. That said, I’m not sure cute brain-rage inducing rodents is a very interesting path to go down.

Ultimately, the parts of this episode let down the whole. Musashi’s battles were too fragmented and without tactical or technical detail to be interesting and, despite beefing up their stories, the cast is still not that interesting, which makes Captain-chan’s decision to run to Musashi’s aide more of a shrug than an ‘oh noes!’

And don’t get me started on the ‘debris’ that flips Captain-chan’s jet-ski at the last second and preventing her from advancing the plot because roll credits! That is why we didn’t need ten minutes of girls screwing around not advancing the plot in the first place!

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Ushio to Tora – 32

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“Mother” – such a simple title for an episode positively bursting with powerful, complex emotions; frustration, loneliness, and powerlessness among them. Ignoring his fearful young colleague, the Undine’s grizzled pilot Goro is willing to take Ushio where he needs to go now that he knows what Ushio wants to do once he sees his mom, which is to give her a stern talking-to about how devastating her absence from his life has been.

But nothing, nothing can prepare Ushio, who has been through so much, for the singular occasion of being in the presence of his mother for the first time since he was barely crawling. He doesn’t even remember her face, and for one horrifying moment I thought a monster or corpse would be all he would find. The episode really does a good job building up this, one of the most important moments both of Ushio’s life and for the show as a whole.

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The sights and sounds of his journey to his mother’s side is filled with a sense of quiet awe and grandeur. And to my relief, his mom is just a regular woman…who happens to have been sitting in the same place for nearly Ushio’s entire life. She may have freakishly-long hair, but she also has Ushio’s familiar dark eyebrows above warm, kind eyes. There’s no doubt about it: this is Ushio’s mom.

And look a how all of the things Ushio wanted to say to his mom melt away, replaced by love, gratitude, and relief. He’s in awe of his mother and her own meekness and contriteness. Her first act upon seeing him is to bow her head. But before he lets her ask his forgiveness, he assures her, by showing her all of his various scars and wounds—some acquired fighting monsters, others just doing stuff kids do—that it’s no big deal; and it’s true.

While she’s been here, the love she put into Ushio endured and sustained him, and made him into the fine young man he is today. He knows that, and he no longer has any hard feelings on the matter. How can he, when his mother sacrificed so much?

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Her look when he starts dusting her off, and the laugh they share when he bashfully askes for miso soup (there’s no kitchen there, bub!), it’s all wonderful. Finally, goddamnit, Ushio gets to see his mom, and she’s not terrible! What is terrible is the impending situation, in which the shit hits the fan before his mom can pat him properly on the head.

The East and West youkai have arrived up at the surface (in giant amalgamated forms), with the former keeping the latter from attacking Hakumen by fighting them. The navy fires its torpedoes and destroys the stone pillar, as Hakumen had planned. Ushio’s mom’s barrier finally fails after 700 years of continuous activation.

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It’s the end of the line for Ushio’s mom as far as being the Oyakume goes, which begs the question: where the heck is Mayuko at? Isn’t she supposed to pick up where Ushio’s mom left off? I hope she gets there soon, because it becomes clear Hakumen isn’t going to stay put.

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Indeed, after ignoring Ushio’s mom’s warning that he’ll be dealt with by Ushio and the others soon enough and has no reason to celebrate, Hakumen still appears to be very happy to be free, and does celebrate by tossing the entire sub fleet into the air and impaling the East youkai, then vowing to destroy everything in the world.

All poor Tora can do is watch! I do hope his girl Mayuko arrives soon with a barrier, or some other somebody comes out of the woodwork to lend him and Tora a hand. I also hope that while her Oyakume days are over, Ushio’s mom doesn’t have to die; at least not until she gets to see her son defeat Hakumen no Mono once and for all.

Then she gets to pat Ushio head, and they get to spend some time as mother and son, with worries about saving the world far behind them. But I’m getting ahead of myself…the next episode’s title isn’t vague at all: “Beast Spear Destroyed.” Nuts!

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Haifuri – 04

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Harekaze is almost out of toilet paper because each girl uses it for some additional, often wasteful, purpose. So Captain-chan and a small team set out to a floating mall ship to buy more.

While they are away, a floating crate is retrieved but instead of supplies, it contains a red-eyed hamster. The crew’s lazy day is interrupted by the arrival of 2 destroyers and 2 cargo ships, and the girl who saved the hamster becomes violent and opens fire.

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Fortunately, the fleet had come to help and suspects something is going on. Harekaze gets repairs, supplies, and sent on its way and no-one really thinks much of the hamster…

So this wasn’t a very good episode. Yes, we the viewers learn these red-eyed hamsters (rats?) are probably causing the violence on Musashi and the Admiral Spee but the cast hasn’t figured it out.

And really, the majority of the episode is spent hanging around not doing anything, repeating character relationships we already know.

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The Vedrict: previous episodes have balanced action and cuteness better than this. Previous episodes also established information that mostly got repeated here. Ho-hum?

But my biggest criticism is with the characters themselves: they are unnecessarily dumb people. The animal outburst is clearly an aberrant sign and the fact that the submarine and Spee attacks were not sanctioned don’t raise immediate concerns from the 4 allied captains makes no sense.

With such a focus on tech and tactics, its hard to suspend my sense of disbelief for details like this. We’ll have to wait and see what goes on next week because cute alone is not a reason to watch this show.

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Haifuri – 03

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The gist: Harekaze gets into it’s first submarine battle, the German exchange student wakes up and, after receiving a message that all school ships can return home, the crew heads for home.

Also, they decide not to find and help the Musashi. Roll Credits!

The Good: in the opening scene with the school principle, we see that the framing of Harekaze is likely part of a larger military power grab. If the school can not capture Harikae, all student ships will be commandeered by the military or sunk if they resist. Later, after German-Name-chan wakes up, we learn that order completely broke down on the Admiral Spee for reasons unknown, which hints at more complex international intrigues going on.

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This is good, because it means Haifuri’s central conflict is interesting and coherent. Multi-level manipulation explains why everyone is shooting at Harikaze at first sight and ignoring it’s surrender flags. It also implies layered enemies, some we may not have even seen yet. Simply, as a story setting, it works.

The not as good: while the pajamas and stuffed animals were fine, some of the cute-girl stuff felt like it was padding out the episode. The ‘www boys are gross/stinky submarine’ antics were particularly eye rolling.

Sadly, the submarine warfare was a little clunky too. I get the crew needed a quirky, out of the box solution to defeat a submarine with only one torpedo, but I’d have to hit wikipedia to understand what exactly the device was that they used in that plan. Regardless, since the submarine was just a faceless enemy with no more personality than ‘it fires torpedoes that miss’ the battle lacked tension.

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The Vedrict: Most of the cast are just ‘parts of the ship’ that serve no greater function than reporting on/using those ship functions, so the large number of characters doesn’t bother me. It also helps that the characters often exist only in the part of the ship that they use: the doctor in the med bay, the engineers in engineering, the observation girl in the observation tower — and the character designs are simple enough to not draw undue attention to their lack of relevant story characterization.

All in all, the padding pulls it down from last week and the battle lacked tension, but Haifuri remains perfectly watchable.

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Haifuri – 02

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The gist: wanted for sinking the Sarushima, the crew of the Harekaze must quickly adjust to their new life as falsely accused mutineers. THe girls don’t really grasp the magnitude of this, even after “German exchange-student Battle Ship Admiral Spee” tries to sink them.

Oh, and they cripple the Admiral Spee with a close range live round to the rear and are able to escape, along with an as yet not introduced German girl who tries to join them during the combat.

Also, curry night. Roll Credits!

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I suppose its understandable that the girls wouldn’t get how screwed they are yet. For them, this should be easily explained confusion they can’t even explain and, besides, no one has been killed yet.

Cute touches: the crew’s biggest gripe seems to be the loss of cell phones and social media (to prevent the fleet hunting them down). The captain’s decision to arm live munitions, and the process involving keys was neat too. It also makes sense, since they carried so few dummy munitions for this first outing that they have nothing else to use.

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Meanwhile, we learn more about XO Munetani-chan and her family’s long relationship with Blue Mermaid. Apparently Japan’s fall into the sea stems from the Ruso-Japan war and that city-ships were the only way to save the nation.

I’m not going to think too hard about this but being told the all-girl nature of BM was an attempt to show Japan’s furious ship building (and aquisition of military craft for conversion into the city ship system) was non-military in nature makes a certain amount of genre sense. The fact Munetani’s great grandmother was the first ship’s commander certainly establishes why she’s such a hard ass, and so disappointed by her own performance.

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You may enjoy it: Haifuri is anachronistic, giant cast, cute girl, coming of age, WW2 naval combat at it’s finest. The cute girls aren’t claw your eyes out cute, the cast isn’t so important that not remembering what they all do doesn’t impact understanding what is going on, and the naval combat is decent. It’s well delivered.

I love the idea of an exchange student battle ship too

You may want to skip it: if a safe political mystery hidden under a safe cute girl ‘high school on a warship’ blanket isn’t really your thing. Honestly, it’s hard to say how much the military genre and political mystery lower or elevate it from any other high school SOL?

It’s got my attention and I’m curious where it’s going. So I’m gonna recommend it for now.

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Haifuri – 01 (First Impressions)

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The gist: in the future, most of Japan is underwater and joining the navy is very popular among little girls. The final parts of these girls’ equivalent to high school is actually spent at sea, commanding World War II-era warships without supervision or observation from any teachers.

During Destroyer Y467 Harikaze’s first training mission, they are fired upon by their teacher’s warship repeatedly until they assume this is a test, return fire with a training torpedo, and escape. Soon, they are labeled as mutineers by their teacher and panic ensues…

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As a rule, I dislike WWII Japanese military hero fetish shows. Those shows typically cast Japan as a victim and/or hero against thinly disguised foils for the USA and China. It’s similar to pro-Confederacy apologists sugarcoat the USA’s own history of slavery and moral failings and it grosses me out.

Haifuri avoids this pitfall (so far) by making this conflict internal to the Japanese navy, either as part of a larger political objective or a ruse to train these girls to be the best of the best without even knowing it.

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Why on earth would adolescents be put on ships without teachers to teach or observe their progress? Why are most of the ships WWII warships when the world is clearly sci-fi ‘built above the sunken ruins of Japan’?

Why is there a swim suit stripping scene in engineering right after the final fight?!? Don’t ask because Haifuri doesn’t have answers for you.

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You may enjoy it: if you like harmless cliche girl humor, WWII naval otakuri and a simple mystery. It’s decently animated and, while cliche, the voice work never approaches finger in a pencil sharpener cute.

You may want to skip it: if you want something fast paced and mature. Spring is choked to death with slow shows and Haifuri is no exception. It is also eye-rollingly cute, down to the fat orange cat that hangs around the bridge, the zero casualties in the opening fire fight, and all the flustered girl social politics of another high school slice-of-life.

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Aldnoah.Zero – 05

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To their enemies and detractors, Slaine and Inaho are insignificant, pathetic, impudent nobodies. Even so, Slaine is able to contact the Emperor of Vers, while Inaho must face off against Vlad a second time, and a second time shows him the door, only this time it’s a permanent arrangement.

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Unfortunately, Slaine’s efforts have the opposite effect that he intended, because Count Saazbaum got to His Majesty first. The emperor may know Slaine since he was a child rescued by his granddaughter after crash landing on Mars, but right now all he cares about is exacting justice for an assassination that didn’t really happen, and certainly wasn’t the UE’s fault.

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The emperor had initially issued an armistice this week, but you wouldn’t have known it from Vlad’s actions. Apparently repairing his personal honor through a rematch with the “Orange Brat” trumps an imperial decree. But when the cat’s away the mice will play, and the cat is between 54.6 and 401 million km away.

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Vlad lands on the deck of the aircraft carrier where Inaho & Co are aboard and starts wrecking up the place, but while the professional soldiers in their top-of-the-line kataphrakts are carved up like a cake, Inaho is ready for him with more unconventional tactics, making full use of explosive armor, putting Vlad’s kat into a hold.

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Vlad’s so confident he’s going to make mincemeat out of Inaho’s orange trainer, he neglects his surroundings. Inaho has the helm tilt the ship as he has Vlad caught in a hold, then bails out as the two kats fall overboard. The heat from Vlad’s own swords causes a steam explosion that destroys him.

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All in all, pretty awesome battle, though he makes the other soldiers look bad, they’re products of their conventional military training, which won’t work against Vers. It’s also a nice touch that the one to pick him up from his escape pod is Rayet, holding out a hand, seeming to say wordlessly “I like living, so thanks for saving us. Again.”

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Rayet also seems to do Asseylum a favor by discouraging her from revealing herself to the ship’s captain and asking them to contact her gramps. Gramps is convinced she’s dead, and unless she can sneak into an orbital knight’s castle and contact him directly, he’ll stay convinced.

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Since Saazbaum is now aware of Slaine’s treachery, further communication with the emporer by anyone with the actual truth in their possession will be no mean feat. The armistice is off again, as are the gloves.

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Aldnoah.Zero – 04

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This was yet another tour-de-force nail-biter of backs-up-against-the-wall, all or nothing action. Again, it’s not a question of whether humanity can defeat Vers; that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. But you take small victories where you can get them, and for Inaho and company, every day their cargo of civilians is safe from harm is a victory.

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Even if their hometown of Shinawara is a meteorite-ridden ruin, they’re still alive; an act of resistance against Vers in and of itself. After Inaho saved her, Asseylum decides to reveal her true identity to him, and he’s his usual cool-as-a-cucumber self. It’s ironic that there’s another character named “Calm” who’s a lot less calm than Inaho; none of what this show has thrown at him has really flustered him.

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With the civilians safe, their new mission is to find the means for the princess to contact her grandfather the emperor; she believes knowing she’s still alive will halt the war in its tracks, but that’s an exceedingly naive assumption. Even if grandpa wants peace with the Terrans as much as she does, the Orbital Knights have landed, staked their claims, and blood is in the water. It’s a veritable feeding frenzy down there, and glory is the repast.

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Still, that’s the plan. Inaho may not consider the princess the enemy, but Rayet won’t hesistate to expose her if she deems it necessary. That becomes a possibility when the navy hovercraft they’re aboard and the installation where they’re resupplying falls under the attack of a Vers kataphrakt, one that wields a really bright, noisy light katana. One by one, the forward Terran kataphrakts are felled, and a great tension builds as the enemy draws closer and closer.

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Asseylum volunteers to go out there and speak to the pilot as she did before, but she’d be flipping a coin over whether he’s loyal or one of the co-conspirators who tried to assassinate her (and still believe they succeeded). Instead, Inaho and Calm go out in their trainers and do what they do best: improvise. Using a cargo crane to knock the Vers kataphrakt on its ass was particularly inspired, and I loved Inko’s sheepish reaction when it doesn’t work a second time.

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But again, Inaho & Co. aren’t trying to pull off miracles, only buying time, plain and simple, for the cavalry to arrive in the form of another naval vessel armed with enough teeth to compel the enemy to bug out. When you’re such an overwhelming underdog, sometimes you need to depend on things other than your own strength and skill—like luck, timing, and the enemy’s arrogance or indifference—to survive the day.

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And then there’s Slaine, who gets in his plane and heads right back to Cruhteo, lying that the meteorite bombardment did Trillram in and not mentioning that Asseylum still draws breath. Even if Cruhteo didn’t conspire against the princess, he’s still exploiting the situation for all it’s worth. And While he gets smacked around, Slaine seems to convince his superior to let him continue to participate in the battle, meaning we can’t rule out him and Asseylum reuniting again.

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