Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 29

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When Kudelia didn’t play ball with Allium, he sent the Dawn Horizon Corps after Tekkadan, but quickly lost control when Sandoval decided to use the job as an opportunity to put the upstart Tekkadan in its place.

Throw in rival Gjallarhorn forces and you have a chaotic, compelling mix of goals and motivations. It’s a big knot that came together last week, and by the end of this episode, that knot is mostly undone and replaced by other, tighter knots.

First things first: Nab Sandoval, and Tekkadan wins. Orga tells Mika to win it for them, and he does, capturing the pirate leader before Julieta can (Julieta is pissed, but not manically so, at least for now).

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For their victory, Barristan awards them the biggest half-metal mine in Chryse – giving Tekkadan the well-earned opportunity to supplement or even eliminate their mercenary activities with self-sustaining revenue stream…once it’s up and running of course. More victories, more rewards…more problems.

After the fine battle where he was essentially only part of the pit crew, Hush decides he deserves not just to confront Eugene and Shino, but ask them to ask Orga for a mobile suit. Mika says he will, after Hush tells him why: to become stronger than him. That’s fine with Mika; he’s not in a competition to be the strongest, he just is the strongest.

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Later, we see Allium desperately trying to pick up the pieces, continually reminding us of that cockroach Todo, only somehow less capable. Nobliss doesn’t answer his calls, and when Orga and Mika have come to ask for compensation for his treachery, a call to Gjallarhorn is of no avail.

Here we see a combination of the dual hats Orga must wear. He has to be the politician in the tie, making sure all his connections are in order before he steps in Allium’s office. Naze knows this side will be tough for him.

But in using Mika as his unblinking attack dog when diplomacy fails, Orga shows he must still cultivate and bring out the brawler/gangster side, backing words with steel. All Allium had in the end were words: far too many and not convincing enough to save him.

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It’s no accident that this unpleasant if necessary scene is juxtaposed with a far more peaceful moment between Kudelia and Atra at the Sakura Farm, tossing out potential death flags in committing to an endgame that is, as we saw with Orga and Mika, still quite a ways (and many more battles) off.

Kudelia is out of immediate, constant danger of the kind she was in last season, but she is still struggling with exactly how to end the deadly “chain reaction” of creating Mikas and Tekkadans to achieve her desired gains. Like Mika with the other types of seeds, she’s going to have to trying multiple methods, with no guarantee of success despite the conviction of her promise.

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Peace is a lot tougher not just when you’re surrounded by resentful rivals (two of whom Tekkadan ends in Terra Liberionis and the Dawn Horizon Corps) but possessed of all-too-tantalizing weapons.

At the end of the day, the nabbed Sandoval and won the mine thanks to Mika in his Barbatos. I’m not sure if Barristan knew about the more immediate treasures in the mine—a Gundam frame and “something bigger”—but it’s looking more likely like Hush may get his shot.

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Finally, Orga, along with Mika and Merribit, are invited (not summoned) to Gjallarhorn’s Mars HQ, Ares, and to the same office where Coral once plotted their and Kudelia’s demise. That didn’t go well, because Coral was corrupt and unprepared.  McGillis won’t make the same mistake of underestimating Tekkadan’s desire to survive and thrive and the upside of remaining close allies.

Orga and Mika are understanably suspicious—this guy wears more than one mask—but in this place and time it seems only appropriate to continue working with him. They want a less corrupt Gjallarhorn too, and McGillis offers advantages he says will outweigh whatever problems come from gaining the same enemies he has, which include Rustal, Iok, Julieta…and Gaelio.

I really liked this scene, because it shows McGillis dispensing with Gjallarhorn superiority, looking a potential ally level in the face, and offering an earnest hand of friendship and cooperation without strings (that we know of). Perhaps it’s because McGillis, like Orga, Mika, and Tekkadan, is not only an orphan, but an upstart rising high. Upstart orphans gotta stick together in a world trying to keep them down.

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Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 28

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This week is a case of strange bedfellows and an unexpectedly huge and complex space battle. Orga can only move Tekkadan forward, but Merribit is there to remind him not to push too far too fast, and there’s a constant feeling Fareed’s Gjallarhorn allies could turn on them at any minute. So it’s interesting when they don’t, though they only brought one ship out of five promised, for “reasons.”

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The Gjallarhorn no-nonsense Captain Isurugi (perhaps the most level-headed and least scenery-chewing GJ commander to date) wanted to get a head start on the battle because the victor will get the fame of having taken down Dawn Horizon.

But Dawn’s leader Reuters seemed to be counting on his opponent to attack quickly when his forces were scattered…which is why he tricked them by towing seven of his fleet’s ships behind the only three Tekkadan detected. The Orphans used to pull off tricks like this all the time, now they’re falling for them. The times they are a-changin’…

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Even though they have the numbers, Dawn doesn’t have Mikazuki Augus, who goes about his business in his usual casually brutal way. We also meet Akihito’s huge Gusion “Rebake”, and the Tekkadan pilots experience the very strange sensation of being covered, not attacked, by Gjallarhorn Grazes. The goal isn’t total victory over a larger opponent, but simply buying time for the rest of Gjallarhorn’s fleet to show up. And it’s a tremendout battle – one of IBO’s finest.

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Even that task requires all mobile suits to be brought back in for pit stops, and launches are staggered so there’s always someone out there. When Mika comes in, Hush, assigned to flight deck duty, curses under his breath how efficient Mika was with his propellant, despite moving around the most.

Mika, meanwhile, is personally refueled with pita sandwiches by Atra, making sure the pilot who makes Barbatos go doesn’t go hungry in the midst of a battle. Even in an intense battle like this, it’s warmer lighter moments like these that give life and realism to proceedings that would otherwise be stodgy.

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We perhaps learn the reason Fareed’s Gjallarhorn ship arrived so quickly: when the others show up, they have no intention of fighting with Tekkadan. Iok, Julieta, and the bitter Masked Man (Gaelio?) all pilot mobile suits and add even more complexity to the battle. Reuters also covers Dawn’s withdrawal by taking his Hugo out.

But when Mika engages, he’s blocked by Julieta, who so far is not acting as crazy as her butterfly-eating debut. Perhaps, like Mika, she’s All Business when she’s in the cockpit? In any case, these two will either start going at it next week, or one or both of their COs will tell them to stand down. One would hope the pirate leader doesn’t get to slip away in all the confusion over dibs and jurisdiction.

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Akagami no Shirayuki-hime – 19

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I’d been waiting all Winter for an episode of Shirayuki to break out of its streak of polished and quietly competent 8s into 9 territory, and this action-packed conclusion to Shirayuki’s latest predicament did the trick nicely. Even better, it was a team affair, with everyone contributing to securing our heroine’s release.

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Raj is able to appeal directly to the masses and muster a merchant fleet to chase Umihebi, and then able to lead his flagship by the seat of his pants (with no seamanship, just will and pure dumb luck) in order to get past the “Blue Vortex” the pirates hoped to lose them in. Meanwhile, Umihebi marks her captive with her kusarigama, but Shirayuki’s gaze remains defiant.

Umihebi pays pretty quickly for cutting Shirayuki’s face by only being able to gloat about having gotten away for a grand total of, oh, about ten seconds, before Raj’s ship enters their “secret” cave and rams her ship, destroying it.

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Then Kiki takes advantage of the chaos and springs into action. Umihebi snags Shiayuki with her handy weapon once more, but it’s already the beginning of the end of the pirates having their way. First Mitsuhide jumps out of the shadows to aid Kiki, then Prince Zen himself, whose face is a sight for Shirayuki’s sore eyes.

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Shirayuki gets an opening in Umihebi’s hostage hold thanks to Obi, biting the pirate’s hand and then getting separated. As she and Kazuki are whisked away by Zen, the Lions of the Mountain surround the Claw of the Sea and start picking them off.

Kazuki soon joins his fellow Lions in the melee, giving Zen an unexpectedly early moment alone with his love, the first such moment in about five episodes. He doesn’t waste it, drawing Shirayuki in close as their mutual relief and happiness washes over them.

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After that, Zen rejoins the battle with the pirates until Umihebi is surrounded with just a handful of men on her side, and has no choice but to surrender. I wonder if this is the last we see of Umihebi (classically, pirates are hanged), who looked like a worthy adversary for a time but was ultimately not that huge a threat, at least against the unswerving dedication of Raj and Zen to get their girl back.

All’s well that ends well, but there’s one last twist this episode tosses our way. When Shirayuki gets her first good look at the leader of the Lions of the Mountain, she exclaims “Dad?” His hair is kinda reddish now, isn’t it? I personally like this and I’m interested to see how it shakes out: is he really her dad; if and how they’ll bond; what insights on her past he can provide.

There’s also the little matter of Zen telling his bro he intends to marry Shirayuki. After all, Zen didn’t drag his crown in the mud to rescue her, so Izana’s unlikely to ban her from the castle.

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Akagami no Shirayuki-hime – 18

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Having been held captive many times before, I fully expected Shirayuki to waste no time attempting escape, relying on her Ellie Sattler-like botanical knowledge and MacGyver-like resourcefulness…and the girl don’t disappoint. First thing she does is rip up her expensive ball gown to make it easier to move, then she discovers some seeds among the cargo that give off a thick smoke when burned.

They successfully misdirect and knock out their two guards, but once she and Kazuki are on the deck, in broad daylight, they’re instantly re-caught by Umihebi. I was actually glad about that, because while burning smoky nuts is clever, these pirates would look pretty incompetent if they let her get away so easily.

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Back at Raj’s castle, I’m a little surprised the princes haven’t set off yet, though I liked how Mitsuhide and Kiki give Zen (holding the broken watch he gave Shirayuki) a much-needed slap on the back to focus him and release all the stuff he’s holding in. Kiki also gives him a note from Obi that ends up aiding their search considerably.

Rather than damage her precious cargo Shirayuki, Umihebi punishes her by viciously whipping her crew members in front of her. Shirayuki, ever abhorring violence, only gains an even lower opinion of the pirate queen, and can’t help diagnosing their injuries, impressing Umihebi.

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Meanwhile, Zen finds Obi thanks to one of Kihal’s homing birds, drawn to the bell Zen meant for Obi to give to Shirayuki, but was never able to due to her kidnapping. Obi and Itoya had joined up with other members of the autonomous Lions of the Mountain.

It takes a little while to sort out what’s going on (Raj seems especially lost at moments), but the bottom line is that Kazuki was once a “decorative ornament” to nobles, then a member of the Claw of the Sea, but defected to the lions and made it his personal mission to rescue Shirayuki from what he (wrongly) believed was a similar fate.

Kazuki and Itoya were so intent on carrying out the mission, they never gave her a chance to speak for herself. So while Kazuki’s motives were pure, his assumptions were disrespectful, as well as wrong. All that aside, both the princes and the lions want their people back, so Zen and Raj form an alliance with their leader to rescue them from the Claw.

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It’s not a coincidence that right after the Lion leader mentions that the “half-hearted” shrink away when the Claw leader Umihebi glares at them with her cold eyes, we see Shirayuki glaring right the fuck back at her. Shirayuki’s no half-heart, but she’s not a hardened soldier either, so despite putting on a defiant face for Umihebi and a brave one for Hazuki, the latter still sees her trembling in fear, which is all to understandable, considering she’s on the cusp of being shipped off to God-knows-where, with no way to tell Zen where she is.

Except, at the close of the episode, she’s no longer alone with Hazuki. When considering all their options, Kiki volunteers to get herself arrested and thrown onto the Claw’s ship as another prisoner, so that Shirayuki can have a capable ally by her side both to protect her and give her hope. Kiki has always been a appallingly underutilized character – she’s essentially an onna-kishi – but I’m very glad she gets to shine here. I also like how Mitsu doesn’t like the idea of her going, but doesn’t stop her either.

As for where Umihebi’s ship is headed, another underutilized character who had just complained about being an outsider, Mihaya, thinks he knows the location of the Claw’s secret mansion, since his crooked dad and brother once did business with them. Shirayuki may still be in enemy hands, but the addition of Kiki spices up what could have been a monotonous captivity, and now that she knows Zen is on the case, she’s far less likely to lose heart, even if things get worse before they get better.

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Akagami no Shirayuki-hime – 17

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Well, it’s happened: Shirayuki has been whisked away once more, just when I was content with all the easygoing slice-of-court life and looking forward to the ball. But hey, sometimes you gotta let a show take you out of its comfort zone. This isn’t just about romance and daily life, it’s about action and adventure, and for some reason the bishounen Kazuki thinks he knows better where Shirayuki “belongs.”

The entire capture scene is fraught with danger and unpredictability, in the brief period when one could suspend the notion that the abductors would definitely succeed. That’s due to Obi showing us his stuff; to Kazuki’s shock he can fight evenly with his partner Itoya, who is clearly no slouch in the combat department.

But Itoya manages to land a knockout blow to Obi, and he and Kazuki make off with Shirayuki, whom they sedated for easier transport. In the process, Zen’s watch comes loose and falls to the floor, breaking it. Not a good omen for what’s to come at all.

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Obi arguably loses because he’s distracted when Eugena and Rona enter Shirayuki’s room in the middle of the fracas, and Itoya takes advantage of his momentary distraction. But when they come to apologize, Obi doesn’t blame them. From his perspective, they alone shouldn’t have been enough to let Itoya get one over on him.

As Zen races to Tanbarun, and a very lost and distraught Raj plays the song he was to dance to with Shirayuki, a furious Obi decides to hunt down the kidnappers alone. He’s pissed, just as much at himself as the at the kidnappers. After all, he had one job to do: keep Shirayuki safe. He doesn’t want to look at Zen until he gets her back. But beyond all that, Shirayuki is important to him. This cannot stand.

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Raj fully expects to be chewed out or worse by Zen when he arrives, but to his shock, Zen is apologetic for not keeping him informed of the threats against Shirayuki’s safety. Raj apologizes anyway, since it was his duty to protect his guest. When Zen learns Shirayuki was enjoying her stay, he’s glad. Good to see there’s no prince-on-prince bickering holding back the rescue.

Zen does have to report to Raj’s father, the King of Tanbarun, however, to be given leave to move freely within his kingdom for the purpose of retrieving Shirayuki. The king gives him permission, as long as he’s discrete. This is similar to Izana’s warning to Zen that he’d better not draw him or sully his position, or Shirayuki, even if he gets her back, is out.

When Zen, Mitsu, and Kiki prepare to go, Raj sheepishly, then firmly asks that he accompany them; after all. He remember’s Shirayuki’s words about wanting to hear from his people that he’s a good prince, and a good prince doesn’t hide in his castle while others fix problems that occurred on his watch. His valor surprises even his father, but I knew he’d tag along, adding a neat dynamic to the rescue party.

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As two of the three lads who like Shirayuki just starting their mission, the third had a big head start, and is able to catch up to Itoya and Kazuki thanks to his Mad Ninja-Equivalent Skillz. With no distractions and a full head of steam, he has no trouble neutralizing Itoya, but he’s too late: Kazuki and Shirayuki are gone (we knew it wasn’t Obi Kazuki saw, since there were horse hooves, not footsteps).

That’s right: in an interesting twist, Shirayuki is kidnapped from her kidnappers. It sounds ridiculous on its surface, but when considering Kazuki was acting independently after defecting from the Claw of the Sea, and simply got re-captured by them, it’s not that strange. He had “the goods”, now they do. And by “they”, I mean the badass pirate captain Umihebi.

With cooly merciless eyes, she stares right at Shirayuki and tells her straight up “You can’t go home anymore.” Whatever she has in store for her (using her as a bargaining chip for some men in the mountains), it just can’t be good. So now her former kidnapper Kazuki and her are in the same boat: prisoners needing to escape before they’re taken out to sea, just as Itoya and Obi now have the same objective: find Kazuki and Shirayuki. Things are looking good.

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Akagami no Shirayuki-hime – 16

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Throughout the duration of Shirayuki’s visit to Tanbarun, the prevailing issue hasn’t been whether Shirayuki would fall for Raj (she just doesn’t see him that way, and in any case is already in love with Zen) or whether Raj would keep her here against her will (he owes his growth as a prince and a person to her, and the present Raj would never do that). Nor is it whether Obi will fall for Shirayuki (he seems to be, but doesn’t want to).

No, the issue that casts a shadow over this entire Tanbarun trip has been not if, but when those who are after Shirayuki will get their hands on her. Because we knew that when that happened, neither Zen nor Raj nor even Obi would be able to protect her, because if any of them did, because this is Akagami no Shirayuki-hime,which is Japanese for “She’s Getting Kidnapped.”

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That being said, until the night of her abduction arrives, life goes on, and it’s still great to see Raj putting in a very Beauty & the Beast (Disney Version) awkward effort into her sorta-not-quite-courtship. He’s even got a rose and a ginormous and awesome library that would even make Mirepoc Finedel gawk with awe.

Initially cute but quickly wearing out their welcome? Raj’s siblings Rona (who can’t help but meedle for Raj’s sake) and Eugena (too passive to stop the force of nature that is Rona). He’s a big boy, Rona. Let him sort this out for himself. Heck, she doesn’t even have the whole picture, wrongly assuming her heart belongs to Obi, which she “confirms” by shoving Shirayuki into him.

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When left to his own devices, Raj is slowly groping his way in the dark shadows of his selfish upbringing, and gradually starting to see the light of what an equitable interpersonal relationship is. Sure, he cheats a bit with notes, but he’s making the effort, which counts. And there’s no subterfuge in his lovely violin playing – at least this guy knows how to do something!

No amount of notes on general knowledge or violin playing, however, will convince Shirayuki to stay in Tanbarun any longer than originally planned, at least not if she’s not specifically asked to and given a good argument for why she should. She misses Zen terribly, which Obi can see when the two inadvertantly meet on their adjacent balconies.

When Obi said goodnight and went in first, staring at the hand that arrested Shirayuki’s fall in the library, as if thinking “I will never wash this hand again!”,  I was more than 50% sure his hand-staring would be interrupted by a scream indicating Shirayuki had finally been captured. After all, when Obi’s mind is staying to thoughts of impossible romance, his efficacy as a bodyguard is diminished.

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But no, the hammer doesn’t drop until the night of the ball, when Shirayuki gets dolled up in a gorgeously flowing pale green gown that makes her hair pop. Obi is telling her all the ways Raj is making the ball as painless and enjoyable as possible for her, before receiving a letter from Zen warning about Kazuki and an accomplice are on their way to Tanbarun.

How did Kazuki know which room Shirayuki would be in? How did he scale the castle walls without detection? Why the heck is he so gung-ho about kidnapping Shirayuki in the first place? These are all questions for which the answers lie ahead. All we know is, this season’s pleasant extended “honeymoon” is over.

Speaking of honeymoons, Zen, in demanding to go to Tanbarun to rescue Shirayuki, tells his brother he wishes to marry her. And Izana warns Zen if anything happens that requires him to bail him out, he can forget about bringing Shirayuki back to the castle. Yikes…everything is on the line now.

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Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 12

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GIBO has followed a highly effective pattern throughout the Fall: terrific quiet episodes followed by even more terrific LOUD episodes. The latest Loud One might just be the best.

Eugene might scoff at Kudelia’s ignorance of the gravitic effects of Ahab reactors, but I was glad for the little lesson, which explains why there’s a vast churning debris field made up of ships and suits from the calamity war, all gathered together by still-active ahabs, like the Pacific Trash Vortex in space.

It’s a fitting battlefield for Tekkadan and the Turbines’ fight with the Brewers, who have been hired by Gjallarhorn to bring Kudelia back into their orbit, whether she wants to or not. The debris field has powerful metaphorical value too: it’s the ingrained belief of most Human Debris that they’re no different from those hunks of metal floating around; if they’re not useful, they’re worthless.

At the same time, the adoptive, surrogate, and biological families aboard the Hammerhead and Isaribi themselves came together much like the debris field in which they’ll fight, only their shared experiences, emotions, fondness, and love comprise the “gravity” that brought them together.

That “human gravity” gives the impending battle extra weight: it’s not just about giving the Brewers a bloody nose: it’s about saving Masahiro, who isn’t just Akihiro’s brother to Orga and Tekkadan. Mika understands this, so as he goes out to scout with Lafter, he promises Akihiro he’ll try to go easy on Masahiro until he arrives.

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Heartbreakingly juxtaposed with Atra and Kudelia presenting their beloved Mika with a love-infused and no-doubt sumptuous homemade lunch for the battle (how adorably domestic), is the Brewers debris chow scene, who are lucky to get dry packaged protein bars. They notice there’s one extra, for their fallen brother Pedro, and talk arises of rebirth and resurrection into a better life after this one. Naturally, Kudal comes in and smacks them for such talk, but Masahiro seems intrigued.

As Mika and Lafter scout out the debris field (with Mika studying reading and writing and eating his lunch to kill time – every minute is valuable for this guy) Kudelia, Atra, and Merribit wait for the ride to get bumpy in the mess hall. Kudelia is apprehensive, but Atra takes her hands into hers to reassure her: Mika will come back; he always comes back. And because of how this particular Gundam treats statements like that, I know he’ll most likely come back too.

To me, it’s more another sign that Atra’s idea of sharing her love for Mika—rather than “winning” and depriving Kudelia of him—wasn’t a fleeting one. She cares deeply about Kudelia too, and doesn’t want her to worry. The display of affection and concern makes Merribit smile.

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And that’s about it for the “quiet” part of “The Shoals.” Brooke and Kudal end up taking the bait, believing the false readings of enemy ships being right behind their scouts, and sending all their mobile suits to attack, leaving them wide open for when Tekkadan and the Turbines get the jump on them.

The Hammerhead impressively rams Brooke’s ship into an asteroid, while the Isaribi handles the other with arresting cables and a boarding party led by Shino. Kudal sorties in his Gusion (armed with his own hammer), while Mika, Lafter, Azee, and Amida all maneuver the Brewer suits so that Masahiro is isolated, to allow Akihiro to approach and retrieve his bro.

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While the Brewers are no Gjallarhorn, didn’t see through their adversary’s tricks, and don’t impress Shino with their intruder repelling skills, they still put up a hell of a fight. In addition to its hammer, Gusion has anti-ship artillery that packs a punch, while most of the human debris pilots are fighting with revenge on their minds. Of course, ultimately Mika and the ladies don’t have much trouble taking them out; only Kudal looks to be a legitimate headache for our flygirls and boys.

As such, Akihiro gets the one-on-one encounter with Masahiro that he wanted. Akihiro still goes off about how he’s garbage, but Orga makes it clear he’s sick of that talk. Whatever happened in the past, they all have the power to change things as much as they want; they only have to do it. Akihiro thinks he can convince his brother of the same thing…but his brother is too far gone. “Why now?” is his refrain; as if now was too late.

When Akihiro headed out, I wanted him to bring his brother back to the Isaribi. I wanted the words Akihiro heard from Orga, and took to heart, could be successfully relayed to Masahiro and snap him out of his nihilistic human debris mindset. But none of that happened. When Akihiro mentions another family other than him, mom, and dad, Masashiro loses it; Akihiro’s been having fun since abandoning him.

Twisting Akihiro’s brotherly mobile suit hug for a darker purpose, Masahiro releases Akihiro at just the right time to spare him the blow of Kudal’s hammer, which crushes him instead. Whether he was thinking about ending it so he could be reborn in his mother’s belly—a clean slate he felt wasn’t possible in this life—it’s a rejection of Akihiro’s hope, and an immediate end to Masahiro’s suffering…if he’s actually dead, that is.

In a safer, more controlled environment with more time and cooler heads, Akihiro might’ve been able to more carefully explain things and convince his brother to join him, but in the heat of a battle in a debris field wasn’t that environment. And now, no doubt, Akihiro will blame himself for what happened as more evidence debris is all he should ever aspire to be; to hope or wish for more only brings about punishment such as this.

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Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 11

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It didn’t happen last week (there was too much going on with Mika coming in to save the day to add one more thing), but it happens here: Akihiro comes face-to-face with his brother Masahiro, who is fighting with pirates. For some reason, perhaps the fact I had a week to let the information settle, the impact of Aki’s hasty story about him and his brother wasn’t lessened by the brief in-show interval between backstory and plot twist.

On the contrary, that Masahiro is among the pirates, piloting mobile suits with other young lads with the same implants as Mika, adds personal stakes to the conflict with the pirates. The Kudal Cadel guy is another goofy throwback bad guy with a resting evil smirkface, but his child pilot minions and Masahiro in particular complicate what could have been a simple matter of “beat the bad pirates and move on.”

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While Takaki isn’t killed, despite ominously telling us what he’s going to do with the rest of his long, long life last week, he is seriously injured, and Tekkadan…has no doctor. When his blood spurts out of his jacket and floats in the low-grav environment, it’s a horrible moment that could lead to an unraveling of morale and cohesion. Even Kudelia freezes at the sight, compelling Merribit to pass her from behind, grab the medkit from her hands, and stabilize Takaki.

Merribit also lets Orga hear about the recklessness in not having a proper doctor aboard in such a dangerous environment, saying he’s “not being a good boss” by letting something like that go on. Orga can’t argue with her on that, and seems glad for the honest criticism. Still, things could have been a lot worse. They could very well get worse, as Naze accepts a challenge from the boorish, bizarre-looking pirate leader Brooke Kabayan, even as he’s suspicious about why the pirates are so eager to take on a far more powerful Teiwaz.

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We spend some time in orbit around and on Earth—I believe for the first time. Ein is already getting ribbed by superiors for his Martian roots, while Fareed and Gaelio visit their boss (and Fareed’s lordly dad) then Gaelio’s family residence, where Fareed’s betrothed (and Gaelio’s little sister) plies him with tea she’s recently learned how to make.

It’s all very civilized and bougie and dollhouse-y, and we see Fareed is as comfortable here as he is on a ship or in a mobile suit. He’s decided to be more or less hands-off with the Kudelia issue. Gaelio and Ein especially may want revenge for slights or lost comrades, but Fareed is playing a longer game (his ultimate goal seems to be running the whole damn operation), and not dirtying his hands with work he doesn’t have to do. It’s apparent the Brewers, the pirates who attacked Tekkadan, are being financially backed by Gjallarhorn, or someone working for it.

In a stark contrast of worlds, we see Masahiro being mercilessly beaten by Kudal for failing to secure the hostage, as the other human debris boy pilots can only stand there and watch. It doesn’t look like it would take much to turn these guys against their harsh pirate masters, the fact that Mika killed Pedro makes at least one of them put revenge ahead of a better life, which they’d certainly have under Orga’s command.

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While waiting for Takaki to wake up, Akihiro runs himself down for having had so much fun being on Tekkadan, and explains how his brother is with the Brewers. He blames himself for everything that happened, because human debris isn’t supposed to have “fun”, meaning the opportunity to explore his potential as both a fighter and a person.

Even freed of oppression, he still wears that red stripe down his jacket to remind himself of his place in the universe. He doesn’t lament what he is, but rather the fact he strayed from the limited view of who he’s allowed to be, programmed into him from years of abuse.

Orga and Mika, however, don’t let him fall in that trap. Orga promises to take responsibility. No more letting Merribit, or Naze, or Mika, or Akihiro down. He’ll help Akihiro get his brother back, if that’s what he wants, as well, because Akihiro’s brother is Tekkadan’s brother.

Tekkadan and the Turbines are portrayed as principled organizations that do things the right way, while the Brewers aren’t, and don’t. They shouldn’t be taken lightly moving forward, but they’re also a good opportunity for Orga to show what Tekkadan can do when looked down on. Here’s hoping they teach the Brewers a lesson.

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 11

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I held out hope that space would be a kind of clarifying salve for Recon in G; a fitting venue to restore some measure of structure and cohesion to the story after going astray or running into dead ends down on the surface. Something that would encourage me to do more than simply snark-watch.

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But that was only false hope, a fool’s hope; for all who watch this show are fools. But like Mask, I shall embrace my failures and continue to be handsomely rewarded for them!

This week, the G-Self applies SPACE LOTION to Megafauna. But because its pilot Bellri was Bred For Combat and not piddling manual labor, he struggles with even this relatively simple procedure and must be watched like a hawk lest he smash a hole in the ship.

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None of this has anything to do with anything, Bell’s Mom. This is the credo of Recon in G.

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Poor Deck Scruber Fifth Class Manny Ambassada. It’s clear from Mask/Luin’s interactions with Barara the Eureka Seven Reject that the two are sleeping together. Just look at that foot caress. I’ll bet she gives great mask.

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Aida’s Dad (Is it Aida’s Dad? I can’t keep track of all the olds) makes one hell of an entrance, crashing a ship-launching ceremony, and proceeds to have a very public argument about how to proceed with the man at the lectern, whose name is President Zucchini and is apparently Klim’s Dad. The crap these two spew wouldn’t be out of place in that horrible senate babble scene in Star Wars Episode I.

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Either this is an air show, or a very expensive music video is about to start. But no matter what anyone says, I think eleven members is just too many for a rock band!

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Pray, would that be experience as a BODACIOUS Space Pirate, or just a Regular one? Ya know what, forget it. Just stay in the ship and don’t do anything, Princess.

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That line was old in the sixties, man. Get new material.

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DON’T ENCOURAGE HIM! Whoever you are.

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Bellri is face-to-face with his nemesis for the first time, and this is his first observation. Never change, Bellri.

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NOW you’ve done it; he’s never going to shut up! He’s quite proud of that mask. If only it actually helped him win a battle, which he still has yet to do. Probably should have stayed in his cockpit. Why exactly was EVA necessary here? Seemed like a ridiculously unwarranted risk.

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I’m not the biggest fan of Mask’s weird Mack Knife mobile suit with its splaying legs. After getting kicked in the balls by G-Self, I’ll bet Mask isn’t either! How many times now has this state-of-the-art suit gotten its ass handed to it. Now it’ll have to sing “Mack the Knife” in soprano.

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I know that’s the name of his fairy-like comrade, but from the way Mask belts it out it seems like BARARA! is also a curse word.

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LOL YOU’RE JUST REALIZING THIS NOW? Go home you’re drunk Rara.

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 10

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Turns out Lt. Yoh is on Bell and Aida’s side, and he’s not arresting them, he’s getting them out of the Capital in a hurry, so the Megafauna can escape into space. The Capital Army wants the Megafauna, G-Self, and Raraiya Monday to themselves. So off they go on those extremely uncomfortable-looking F-Rugs!

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Meanwhile, some Tintin-villain-looking politcian dude is unveiling yet another new mobile suit; in the middle of a party night, no less! From what I’ve seen of Gundam, it has a strange habit of unveiling new equipment and weapons on both sides out of thin air, and at an impossibly quick pace. Why is it we’ve never heard so much as a whisper about Wuxias before? Or the G-Self’s new flight pack? Or Mask’s Elf Bull earlier?

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She’s a princess, dude…she has to do that. And what’s with the actresses’ girlfriends being all up in the shot there on the right? GET THEM OUT OF THE SHOT!

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In any case, the Caps have new suits and Bell has a new pack and they’ve got to skedaddle. Bell’s Mom and Aida’s Dad remain with the SU-Cordism Pope, with Director Zenam arranging for Surgan to return safely to Ameria. The Capital Army is at odds with the Guard, with the latter willing to help the ‘pirates’ out.

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…Yes, as opposed to the World of Women, where you have three choices for employment: housewife, secretary, or cheerleader. This is The Future, after all: naturally gender roles will devolve to the 1950s, because that makes perfect sense!

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Get some guys to yell and hold up their guns, and the ladies can’t help but break out the pom-poms, followed by white wine spritzers and a Tupperware party! Seriously…why are there no female Wuxia pilots? Or female Capital Guard cadets?

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Oh KNOCK IT OFF already! Yes, Aida is an important person who ideally shouldn’t be on the front lines where she could get killed, and she’s shown she’s not the best in aerial combat, but she’s not some delicate flower to be coddled. I wish the show would stop undermining her agency.

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In this case, Aida buys crucial time for the Megafauna by launching of her own volition, because Bell is delayed by G-Self’s new mods. What she did was stupid and reckless, but it was also necessary, and it would have been just as stupid and reckless if Bell had done what she did.

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So, so that IS what this is about!

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Speaking of reckless, Bell is sent out with the torque pack, which packs a punch (blowing past a sloth was a neat little moment) and proves loud, bright, and hard to control. But in a nifty bit of improv tactics, he removes the pack and uses it as a big loud decoy for the Wuxia holding Aida hostage, allowing him to sneak up from behind and lay a beatdown on him.

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So Bellri ends up rescuing Aida once again, but at least it could be considered paying her back for sortieing and buying time for him to launch, not to mention stopping the Wuxias from blowing up the ‘Fauna’s bridge!

While Bell talks of love with regard to Aida and he takes another admiring look at her when the battle is over, it’s still unclear what makes these two a couple, besides their physical attractiveness and propensity to have each others’ backs. Maybe that’s enough, but it’s not that compelling.

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What’s more interesting than that slow-burn romance is the fact that the ‘Fauna is finally in SPACE. Surely we’ll learn more about the ominous ‘threat’ that lurks up there. The Capital Army and Mask are in pursuit, and I’m sure a lot more all new and improved technology will be hastily rolled out before all’s said and done.

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 09

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Hmm…the Megafauna doesn’t look half-bad from that angle. Not a bad-looking dock carved into the mountain, either.

For reasons that will become clearer later today, Hannah has asked I, Zane, to take over her Gundam review this week. “It’s practically a comedy at this point anyway,” she said to me. Well, then! I haven’t watched nearly as much Gundam as Han or Fran, I’ve been reading her reviews and know that not knowing precisely what’s going on or why is not necessarily a bad thing with this show.

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Don’t make faces! If you don’t like the truth, then change! Actually, this was a far less chaotic episode than the last few, and provided a grand sense of adventure as the Megafauna leaves port and heads south to meet with the Capitals under a flag of truce guaranteed by Bell’s mom. After all, if there’s a threat in space, its better to deal with it from a united front.

That, and America and Capital haven’t really given us any satisfactory answer for why they’re even fighting all the time (other than ‘because’)…so why not quit it?

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*BOP.* “Hee-hee! Whacking people in the back of the skull with a water ball is fun!”

I also kinda like how this huge, menacing pirate ship, the Megafauna, simply flies in under the radar into an enemy port, but only causes mild concern as it buzzes the rural locals (little kids freak out, but little kids freak out about EVERYTHING). Also, the face that they landed so Director Zenam could find a land line to call the Capital Guard to rendezvous with her. Sometimes old ways are the best ways…old phones don’t need electricity, for instance!

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As for barf bags having to be brown paper…that’s just a silly anachronism! Curse this farce of a Gundam with its primative barf bags! But kudos to Aida’s dad, who is if nothing else a gentleman. Maybe these two can get married and then Bellri and Aida will be siblings!

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Well…that would probably be pretty weird, as these two seem to have a sorta kinda thing going. Bell compliments Aida’s piloting prowess…

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…Only for Aida to say she just plain sucks without Bell bailing her out when the Mask squad arrives to harry them. C’mon, girl, you sell yourself short!

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So…you’re saying if you can’t see a person, you’re fine with horribly murdering the unseen pilot inside? Okay, got it.

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I’m inclined to agree! WTF is Mask up to? The answer is, not much. He gets his ass kicked yet again and his squad withdraws yet again. I guess they wanted an aerial combat scene somewhere this week, but didn’t care whether it had anything to do with the other events of the episode. Moving on…

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While the Capital Army harasses the Megafauna during its cruise, the Capital Guard is much nicer and more accomodating, as Instructor Kerbes Yoh makes the rendezvous as Director Zenam instructed and escorts them to a safe landing site. From there, the gang takes the very silly, needlessly bouncy F-Rugs into the city, where something akin to Mari Gras or Carnival is going on!

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Aww, don’t be a stick-in-the-mud, Aida’s dad! I thought you were cool! The Capitals work hard and they party hard. I like the idea that there is no one on duty watching the radar or skies for enemy activity either form the North or from space. It’s Saturday, woot woot!

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Even Colonel Cumpa has ditched his wedding cake-like duty uniform for a puffy frilly party shirt! Though, it seems like he’s so sick of all these drunk shorties at this point in the evening. DON’T FLAUNT YOUR YOUTH BEFORE ME.

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Raraiya is sporting her midriff-bearing outfit this week.

We hear about “SU Cordism” a lot, which is kind of the church of the earth but also the monopolstic provider of photon batteries. The elder Zenam and Surgan beseech His High Cordist Holiness for council on that mysterious threat from space. At least here, through these tow, the rival sides are cordial and civil and working towards a mutually beneficial outcome.

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“KIDS.”

Then Cumpa comes in, having changed into his uniform, along with Yoh and guards who take Bell away. Aida, Noredo and Rara tag along. Did they find out he killed Dellensen, and is he under arrest? Or do they just need him for something real fast. It’s not exactly clear, as so little is on this show. Still, I was pleased with the advancement of the plot, along with the fun journey home.

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 08

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This was another nutty, random episode of Gundam, which I’m obliged to rate slightly higher than last week’s because it was slighty more cohesive (I guess?) and contained a few more funny moments. I can’t say it did much more than that, however. Just when I think I have the story figured out, the show whips out seventeen more proper nouns.

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Whoa now, Cap’n Crunch; easy with the ten-dollar words. To my knowledge, you have yet to win a battle, but you have the temerity to call others impudent? How…er…effronterous.

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Don’t you hate it when you’re tangled up with a giant flying battleship decoy balloon

As for the heated battle Mask and seemingly everyone else is involved in, Aida and Bellri land on an island for a halftime break, and get their suits outfitted with backpacks that let them fly independently. Aida also uses the opportunity to be reunited with and have a nice leisurely chat with the inspector general of the Amerian Army, and…Wait, wasn’t there a battle going on? Where’s the battle? 

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Mask channels the audience.

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Anyway, Bellri’s “Tricky Pack”, which is what it is actually called and not something I just made up, lets him change the color of his armor to a more adorable pink, and uses the pack’s many slick tricks to manhandle Mask.

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What, is that not a proper place for an island? Sure, from your perspective it’s in an odd place, but that’s because you’re perpendicular to the horizon. Get it together, man. By ‘it’, I mean your attitude control.

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Remember Bell’s mom, taking the emergency escape glider to go after her boy? Well, she somehow succeeds in gliding all the way to the location of Bellri’s battle. She also drinks from a bottle filled with water of indeterminate age. Man, I hate it when I do that; old glider water is nasty. But yeah, her casual remark above? Priceless.

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For a second I thought Aida was going to do to Bell’s mom what Bell did to Dellensen: accidentally kill her. Fortunately Bell stops her. Aida seems to be cognizant of the weight of what nearly just happened. Then she makes that face on the right, because this show is awesome…sometimes.

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Oh, and Mask is Luin Lee. Who? Oh yeah, the other guy in the group that included Bell, Noredo and Manny. This revelation would’ve been more…revelatory if I knew or cared about Luin to the slightest degree. But Manny, who cut her hair and became a reservist aboard a Capital carrier to search for her friends, can care about him for the both of us.

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 07

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I’m loath to try to keep analyzing what went on in this episode, because…I’m not entirely sure what went on in this episode. I can tell you it was a very Gundam-y Gundam-loaf, and that I’ll do the best I can.

Mr. Mask, two weeks removed from his stunning defeat, gathers his men into a huddle, having been given another chance to retrieve the G-Self.

Any questions? …
Any questions NOT related to my mask?

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Bellri’s mother continues to complain about the military buildup going on without her leave, but seems powerless to do anything about it. Then she laughs out loud for NO REASON (unless she was laughing at the hippo head trophy on the wall), boards a vintage space glider, and pretends to not know what she’s doing when she “accidentally” takes off. Turns out it was all an act so that she could looking for her son…I guess? Seems like a vintage glider with no spacesuit isn’t the best way to do that, but whatever.

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Speaking of good ideas, Klim gets Rara into the cockpit of the G-Self, because she likes napping in its palm. Yes, by all means, let’s give the erratic, barely-lucid amnesiac with a fish fixation control over the rare, giant killbot!

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When the Capital Army detects the Megafauna on grainy video — actually an inflatable decoy — Mask’s squadron nears, and Bellri has to pilot a different, less awesome mobile suit, the name of which escapes me because every other word in the dialogue of this show is a proper noun I don’t remember the significance of. “Deploy the Waldensteiners over the Genius outside of the Ceres Strip, before the Chiclids and Walleyes launch!”

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Mr. Genius Klim gets into another fight with Mask, and again, proves he’s hardly a genius when it comes to mobile suit combat. He’s more of a “looks like that annoying kid from Last Exile” genius. Who says things like this:

If you would kindly be shot down!

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Rara’s joyride in the G-Self is short-lived, as she quickly falls into the sea and is about to drown when Bellri snatches her up. I guess that’s better than the G-Self awakening Rara’s memories, having her go berserk and attack her own side.

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Then Bellri goes after Mask and gets G-Self all busted up, and they both yell even though I don’t think there’s an open comms, so they’re really just yelling at themselves in their cramped cockpits, which you’d think would hurt your ears! The battle is broken up by a huge green mecha gunship thingy, leading Aida to deliver this gem of a conversation…with herself:

Father has even had things like that developed? But…It saved our lives.

I do not recommend watching this dubbed in English. Oh, and Bellri’s pretty much over killing his instructor, so Yay!

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And now, your RABUJOI Moment of Zen:

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