Valvrave the Liberator – 17

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Haruto learns that anyone who pilots Valvrave will eventually end up an empty shell like Marie. The Dorssian Royalists ask New JIOR to destroy a covert Dorssian submarine, the Phantom, in exchange for supplies. Yamada and Akira are sent to search for Rukino, while L-elf and Haruto infiltrate the sub as the others stand by in the stolen transport hidden underwater. Meanwhile X-eins is summoned by Colonel Cain to the “Castle of No Return” in Grunau.

A concerned H-neun beats X there, and Cain hunts him down. In the bowels of the Phantom, L-elf and Haruto find a hundreds of unconscious people having Runes extracted. When L-elf threatens to make Satomi pilot Unit 1, Haruto pilots it instead, sets off a volcanic eruption, and mops up the Dorssian forces attacking the transport. X-eins arrives at the castle, where Cain laments he has to start “the ceremony” over again.

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While they started out as monolithic, brutal Space Nazis—an opaque villain to root against, the Dorssians have become a lot more textured and nuanced, starting obviously with L-elf’s decision to revolt against his own people, but carried through with all of the military-political intrigue involving Cain, and the fact that he’s not really human, but some kind of godlike being who’s up to no good. And obviously conscious that it has a whole season to fill, the series is delving even deeper into the everyday lives, pasts, and motivations of L-elf’s former comrades, namely H-neun and X-eins.

Meanwhile Haruto and L-elf get some quality time together, and Haruto, with his post-Marie nightmares and the knowledge he’s being slowly killed by his mecha, appears to waver, and L-elf decides that maybe it would be best if more JIORans resign their humanity so the burden can be shared. This has the semi-intentional effect of rattling Haruto’s cage to the point where he jumps back into the cockpit and raises hell, vowing never to share his unit – or his curse – with anyone else. Which leads to him setting off a friggin’ volcano, which is such Valvrave-y thing to do.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • R.I.P. Marie…though she’s not so much dead as…decompiled into oblivion, which sucks.
  • Considering how cruelly logical L-Elf is, we’re surprised he sent a search party after Rukino, but we know she’ll be back, as we’ve already seen her in the distant future last season.
  • The whole sequence at the castle…yeah. That was awkward and kind of silly, an we’re not just talking about big jars of green glitter. There was just something absurd about Cain chasing one of his former subordinates through the house taking potshots at him. It had an air of horseplay to it, as the culty guys sat around their table doin’ culty-ass shit.
  • In rattling Haruto’s cage, L-elf also impresses upon him how personally frustrated he is to not be able to pilot a Valvrave, which in his mind makes him “powerless,” relegated to commanding troops, but lacking the strength to fight on the front lines, something Haruto not only takes for granted, but despises
  • Grunau Castle reminded us a little of Muska’s huge fortress from Castle in the Sky.

Valvrave the Liberator – 16

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Saki switches on her radio so L-Elf can hear that A-Drei is part of the Dorssian operation. Knowing the plan has gone bust, L-Elf detonates the bombs anyway. Saki is stuck with A-Drei in the same spot where he, L-Elf, and their other friends killed their Royalist teammate to save themselves. L-Elf is stuck with Marie and Unit 1, which Marie boards. Pino tells her that she was the Valvrave test pilot, and she “ate” her memories in the form of runes.

Akira, waiting to hack the transport, informs them that Satomi, Takahi and the others have been found by the Dorssians and Inuzuka and Yamada are bogged down, making Unit 1 the only Valvrave that can act. Marie pilots it, allowing Pino to take all of her remaining memories in order to destroy the Dorssian fleet and secure everyone’s escape. However, surpassing the unit’s limits and unleashing one more devastating attack leaves Marie an empty husk.

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The revelations come fast and furious this week: the truth of Marie’s past – which was quite a surprise, when we look back on how minor and unassuming a character she was in the first season. We like how that past elevated her into a much more prominent position in the Valvrave mythos. It’s a shame that her exploits this week may have well left her brain-dead, but you can’t say she didn’t go out in a blaze of glory, and for a good cause: she quite literally saves everyone else, who manage to get away safely in the stolen transport. If this was the end for her, it was a righteous one.

Additionally, we learn more about L-Elf’s past with his former buddies, and how they all “sinned” at that Karlstein facility. This info comes from A-Drei himself, who isn’t aware that the student he’s talking to is actually Saki. It also introduces the Royalists as a shunned and hated element of Dorssia. L-Elf was the one who pulled the trigger on their Royalist friend, which is interesting, considering years before his life was saved by a princess (whom we also catch a brief glimpse of). And while Marie, Akira, Inuzuka and Yamada were all instrumental in New JIOR’s eventual victory, Haruto was notably useless this week.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Valvrave the Liberator – 15

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The New JIOR crew abandon their crashed ship, which landed not far from the Karlstein Facility, where L-Elf and his former colleagues were “made.” L-Elf comes up with a plan to secure a new means of transport from there. He infiltrates the base with Saki and Akira. One of the child sentries shoots Saki, but she survives due to her contract with Valvrave. L-elf takes the two sentries out, and Saki and Akira possess their bodies. The rest of the crew plants bombs in the tunnels near the base. Marie sneaks into Haruto’s Valvrave, where Pino treats her like an old friend. Kyuuma and Yamada deal with the Dorssian “Ideal Blumes.” Haruto’s role in the plan is interrupted when Marie confronts him about what he is. L-elf shoots her in the head to preserve Haruto’s secrets, but she rises up soon after, unharmed.

Gee, what a coincidence the ship just happens to crash land within walking distance of the compound where L-Elf was created and raised! That aside, he takes full advantage of his knowledge of the place and formulates a plan to get everyone mobile again as soon as possible. As his original infiltration of JIOR early last season proved, it doesn’t matter whether he’s in space or on the ground, L-Elf knows how to get things done, using what he has at his disposal. Fortunately, that includes five Valvrave pilots, who use their body-swapping ability for the first time in a while. It’s pretty upsetting when that kid soldier just shot Saki in the chest, but we knew she’d be fine, even if Akira didn’t.

What was more surprising was that L-Elf was willing to kill Marie to protect the secret of the Valvraves. We had assumed Marie already knew about Haruto’s “curse”, but apparently she was kept out of the loop; more to the point, keeping the Valvraves’ secrets is important enough to L-Elf to warrant shooting her in the friggin’ head to preserve them. Like Saki’s shooting, seeing poor Marie take a bullet was no less upsetting even though we were reasonably certain at some point in her past she too resigned as a human, only she forgot about it. But if she was once a pilot, it stands to reason she could be a pilot again; that is, if she doesn’t become a psychological wreck.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 14

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The Dorssians out of their hair for the moment, the New JIOR shuttle and Valvraves reach Earth orbit and begin the process of gaining access to the surface via follow rings. Everything is going according to L-elf’s plan when Satomi answers a call made by the Dorssians, who send a squadron of fighters after them. The Valvraves overheat quickly while defending the shuttle. Akira drifts too far away to be recovered, but Haruto goes after her. Satomi begs L-elf to leave the follow rings while Akira hacks the air traffic control network, which Satomi parses. Akira and Haruto are saved, but the shuttle ends up crash landing in Dorssian territory.

We hope you’ll forgive the rather clinical summary above for leaving out much of the Akira-Satomi plot; we’ll talk about it down here. Akira and Satomi’s dynamic makes a lot more sense now that we know more of their backstory, which remains true to the characters we know thus far. Pressured by his asshole parents to succeed at all costs, he pulled all-nighters studying for the best school’s entrance exams, giving him a fever. A concerned Akira couldn’t take it anymore, and did what she does best: she hacked the exams. She’s caught; Satomi didn’t come to her defense; and never helped her when she’s brutally bullied at school. She’s never forgiven him for that, and he’s never forgiven himself. But as Marie says, it’s better to have bad memories than none at all (she’s missing hers).

And at the end of the day, they’re siblings who still love each other, and they take the first steps towards making things right this week. Their development aside, this great episode overall, one that kept the momentum and tension going. Even if Module 77 is safe on the neutral Moon, all of the characters we care about were very vulnerable for this entire episode, aboard a fragile shuttle and with Valvraves that can’t fight forever. It’s also great that, for once, Haruto and even L-elf can’t save the day, but it falls to Satomi and Akira instead. One could definitely argue it was their fault the ship ended up crashing off-course in enemy territory, but at least they’re all alive. In Valvrave, if you’re alive, anything and everything is still possible.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The episode starts with Rukino complaining about depending on Satomi to relay everything from Akira, which is exactly what happens in the climax.
  • The repair crew’s idle banter alludes to the past events we’re shown later in flashback form. Sometimes school rumors are true!
  • Akira’s adventure out of her cockpit (hiding her face in a box) is nice mood-lightening stuff.
  • Marie not having memories of her past is actually pretty good cover for her character being so underdeveloped.
  • More scenes of the evil Dorssians off-duty doing evil things like horseback riding inside or hitting on random chicks. They’re just like us…only eviler!