Life Imitating GATE: Diet Votes to Expand JSDF’s Role

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Rambling observational commentary follows.

The fictional Japanese military of countless anime throughout the years have been typically portrayed as serving in a strictly defensive capacity: only allowing the use of arms if directly attacked. And attacked they have been, be it from terrorists, giant monsters, aliens, or other nations.

In the first episode of GATE: Thus the JSDF Fought There!, it’s the same story: a massive enemy force invades Ginza and the JSDF get their SD on. But what happens next is not only a rare(r) occurrence in anime, but also presaged the movements of the government of real-world Japan: Prime Minister Abe wants the ability for the JSDF to go on the offensive under certain circumstances. He wants a JSOF.

Today, it would seem he got his wish, in a contentious vote that caused opposition lawmakers to walk out and spurred large protests in Tokyo. Polls indicate a small plurality of Japanese are opposed to the expansion. The approved measure means Japan has lost its unique—at least for a country of its size—pacifist stance laid out in its constitution, though many anti-militarist opponents believe this vote violates the constitution.

In any case, the timing of GATE’s airing, and the fact it portrays a modern 2015-era JSDF invading enemy territory and mowing down feudal armies of tens of thousands with ease, adds credence to rumblings that it is veiled pro-offensive-military propaganda, even if the creators and producers of GATE didn’t quite intend it that way. Of course, the timing could also just be a coincidence (if anyone has any insights one way or another, feel free to voice them in the ‘ments).

We’ll continue to closely watch both GATE and the developments in real-world Japan, a country whose constitution “forever renounces war as an instrument for settling international disputes”, but currently led by those who believe the country’s best chance of maintaining security and stability in the region is to amend, if not outright abrogate, that long-standing renouncement.

Whatever your personal position on these developments (and we welcome all viewpoints; it’s a free internet!), they certainly comprise a fascinating juxtaposition of anime and real-world politics.

—RABUJOI STAFF

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Gatchaman Crowds Insight – 02

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As Gelsadra is welcomed to Earth (touted by Paiman as a potential facilitator of world peace) and Misudachi initiated into the Gatchamen, X reports to Rui an increase in GALAX de-installations as a result of VAPE’s mischief. Their leader even shows up in Rui’s living room, using a red Crowds as a conduit.

He doesn’t see VAPE as making mischief, only demonstrating the folly of giving the “ape-like” masses such powerful technology. He believes society is sure to abuse it, as VAPE does, while Rui still believes in the inherent goodness of people. In a way, VAPE is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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There’s a ceremony at a Nagaoka mall to celebrate Gel and Tsubasa, but it’s crashed by VAPE, whose red Crowds are soon challenged by the blue Crowds of bystanders looking to help the outnumbered Gatchamen. In fact, it’s just Hajime at the mall; Tsubasa isn’t able to reach the emotional intensity necessary to transform, or is possibly too nervous.

When she does try to intervene without transforming, the Crowds she incapacitates almost falls on a granny. She’s still got a lot to learn about the intricacies of heroism, and with the red Crowds intent on showing that all Crowds are bad news, she’s been thrown into the proverbial frying pan to train.

It’s a defeat for Crowds and Rui, because he had no choice but to forcefully terminate the blue Crowds accounts to stop the chaos.

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Tsubasa regrets indirectly injuring a bystander, but Hajime won’t scold or punish her, except by turning her head to face the gorgeous sunset. I like the dynamic of these two, with Hajime as the more mysterious/opaque personality and Tsubasa much more of an open book, devoid of vocal tics. It’s also clear that Gelsadra, the possible savior of the world based on her race’s track record upon arriving on worlds, must be protected both physically and mentally if she’s going to fulfill that promise.

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Rui manages to get the name of the orange-haired VAPE leader—college student Suzuki Rizumu—so I imagine Rui is eager to be the one to confront him for their next meeting and philosophical debate. Meantime, despite her early hiccup, Tsubasa is headed back to the city with Hajime to hone her Gatchaman skills and join the ranks of the heroes.

Her gramps (a part of whom I’m sure is proud of her, though he’d never show it) warns her she can’t shoulder the weight of peace. I take that to mean it must be shouldered by all. While she may be strong, she mustn’t fear the help and support of others, strong or weak, nor bite off more than she can chew.

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Gatchaman Crowds Insight – 01

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After a half-length, action-packed zeroth episode, GCI’s first full-length episode feels a lot more leisurely and filler-y. In fact, the true-feast-for-the-eyes OP and ED showed more action than the show in between. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t without its notable events. First we meet the girl who will by episode’s end become the newest Gatchaman, the energetic firework crafter’s apprentice Misudachi Tsubasa (voiced by Ishihara Kaori of Rinne no Lagrange).

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The Gatchamen have arrived in Tsubasa’s hometown of Nagaoka, Niigata to find their newest member when an alien spacecraft suddenly soft-lands in a rice field, bearing a new, red-skinned, blue-haired alien: Gelsadra (Hanazawa Kana). Gel has the rather interesting ability to place social media-icon like symbols above people’s heads showing their present state of mind.

As those states shift, the shape and color of the symbol shifts too (except, notably, for those Hajime and Tsubasa’s great-grandpa, which remain neutral gray). Did I mention Berg Katze now resides within Hajime’s bust, where I assume he can do no harm? Well…he does.

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Meanwhile, Sugane is at college and extremely popular with the pastel-haired young ladies, Hibiki Jo now works for the PM’s office, and O.D. has his own variety show, in which his cameras just happen to descend on Tsubasa’s hometown to get info on both the alien and new Gatchaman. Oh, and the next national election will be open to everyone 16 or older, and people will be able to vote by smartphone.

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Tsubasa is somewhat frightened by her encounter with JJ, but once she gets her Gatchaman notebook and is able to transform as a result of her frustration with the gaggle of reporters, JJ’s prophecy turns out to have made sense after all: “A delicate ray of light (the UFO) falls upon a land illuminated by fireworks (Nagaoka) near the North Sea (Sea of Japan) where it will meet wings that are still blue (Tsubasa’s notebook is blue). 

Despite the length of time spent in her town and her house, we didn’t learn that much about Tsubasa, except that she seems to have made quick friends with Hajime and Gel, doesn’t like big gray guys with claws or reporters, and should make a nice addition to the Gatchaman corps, just when Red Crowds attacks are on the rise.

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Gatchaman Crowds Insight – 00 (First Impressions)

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What is it: A sequel to the stylish, upbeat Summer 2013 series. Thanks to his gamification of mass altruism through the online app Crowds, cross-dressing tech whiz Ninomiya Rui has brought a measure of harmony and stability to the world.

After a brief recap of the story so far, this half-episode introduces new threat in the red Crowds of an organization called VAPE that wants to prove the defeated alien Berg-Katze right. They go after the Prime Minister’s state jet, but Rui, Hajime, Sugane, Jo neutralize the threat in grand fashion, before preparing to meet a newly-awakened Gatchaman living in Niigata.

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Why should you watch? If you watched and enjoyed the colorful, zany CGI-enhanced hijinx of Gatchaman Crowds, this looks like more of the same. Only now, rather than battling an evil alien, they are battling a faction of society that still believes Crowds can do more harm than good, using the same tech as the Gatchamen to create chaos to prove their point.

The visuals are as slick and lush as the original, the action is fun and inventive but never flies off the rails, and the soundtrack is as bumpin’ as ever (though it will be hard to beat the original OP).

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Why shouldn’t you watch? If you didn’t watch the first show, the three minutes of backstory hardly do it justice, so I don’t see why anyone would start with Insight. Also, while the show looks and sounds good, the messages and motivations of its characters can be a little loosey-goosey. Hajime in particular is a cool, likable heroine who gets the job done with a wink and a song, but rarely lets us into what kind of person she is.

The Verdict: I for one will be watching this “happy cyberpunk” variant of the magical girl/guy—genre. The tech is magical, but it’s driven by good old-fashioned, perpetually dueling human concepts of altruism and egoism; of hope and fear, with all the gray in between. I’m also interested in learning what the new characters bring to the mix, hoping they don’t make the show too, well, crowded.

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Samurai Flamenco – 20

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A lot of weird stuff has been happening to Masayoshi of late, particularly in the mental/metaphysical departments. So while his latest enemy appears to be a real flesh-and-blood guy, and someone he briefly met once before and has a whole story, that doesn’t mean he’s…real. Nothing this week suggests he really is, which is why no one really believes him.

“Real” or not, Sawada Haiji is a refreshing change of pace from the usual loud, boisterous, theatrical foes Flamenco has fought and defeated in the past. He’s incredibly stealthy and precise; impossibly so, as there are never any witnesses or evidence of his involvement in anything that happens to Masayoshi or his friends. And we say “that happens” instead of “Sawada does”, because the truth is, it could all be a coincidental sequence of simultaneous mishaps.

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Only Masayoshi is connecting the dots, egged on by the first in-person appearance and subsequent phone calls. Sawada is more than just an obsessed stalker or enemy, he’s the enemy; a classic nemesis, with the exact opposite goals of Masayoshi, and will hit him anywhere and everywhere where it hurts, even playing around with the idea of killing Goto. It’s telling then that when Masayoshi visits Goto, both to ensure he’s alright and to seek advice, this time bad things happen it has nothing to do with Sawada.

When Goto doesn’t believe him, Masayoshi throws Goto’s dead girlfriend in his face…which is a bad move, and Goto throws him out of his house. Masayoshi ends up by a riverbank to try to make sense of what’s going on, but ends up swimming wildly after a mirage of Sawada, a pretty creepy experience that awakens him to the possibility that no one else can see this newest evil because it resides within him, and only he can defeat it.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Samurai Flamenco – 17

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Since bottoming out with the From Beyond battle, Samurai Flamenco has been clawing its way back to respectability at a pretty good clip. Last week the crucial bonds between friends were reaffirmed, and much like the Railgun, Masayoshi only becomes more powerful and capable when she’s surrounded by friends supporting her. After what happened to Flamen Blue last week, going up against Prime Minister Okuzaki wasn’t going to be a cakewalk.

But first, he had to get to the Diet, where the PM was putting the finishing touches on his campaign for 100% Approval. Goto was never in doubt as to whether Masayoshi was really a terrorist mastermind (he knows Masayoshi is too stupid to trick anyone), while Jun is happy for another chance to see his special stationary in action. His getaway car is a first-gen Toyota Harrier, AKA Lexus RX300. So he went for reliability and comfort, not speed.

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Konno’s also on Masayoshi’s side, and even Mister Justice shows up to clear their path to the Diet, while the reborn Flamenco Girls and Goto make sure no one disturbs Masayoshi’s chat with Okuzaki. Of course, Okuzaki has no intention of chatting, cutting the audio feed but keeping the cameras rolling as he dons his battle armor, which is fittingly powered by his constantly refreshing public approval ratings.

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His heart’s in the right place—he wants only to protect Japan—but he doesn’t respect the people and is willing to lie to them to increase his power.This is where Konno takes up the mantle of unlikely hero. Okuzaki may be invulnerable to physical attacks, but he’s extremely susceptible to the effects of the truth, which is shown to the world when Konno live-streams his megalomaniacal ranting to the nation (having probably snuck in when the Girls arrived). Okuzaki’s ratings plummet, and with them his strength, and it’s Bye-bye, Mr. Prime Minister. All thanks to Konno—and smartphones.

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It’s a satisfying, creative victory that gave everyone something to do, and it was Samurai Flamenco ridiculousness at its best. But it wouldn’t be Flamenco if the victory celebration lasted more than a few moments. Turns out Okuzaki was the country’s last best hope against the REAL foe: Mister Justice! Well, not really Mister Justice (no American bad guys here!) it was just a disguise for…Alien Flamenco! And just like that, the show expands its conflict all the way out into space. Never a dull moment for our hero and his integral support circle.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Samurai Flamenco – 16

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Given the ample resources of the Prime Minister, he can shout his lies loudly and consistently enough that the public comes to believe them as truths. Masayoshi has hit rock bottom not because his career has been destroyed and he’s homeless, hungry, and filthy, but because he has almost lost hope. He feels a fool for allowing the government to manipulate him, and sees world around him as a hostile enemy.

Stuck in this downward spiral and unwilling to steal or ask anyone for help lest he hurt more people with his selfish actions and dreams, he ends up becoming the recipient of aid from a Good Samaritan in the form of a poor, nearly-blind chap living in a tent in the park. After Masayoshi regales him with the abridged version of his story, the man tells him his: he was in the same spot Masayoshi finds himself: angry for being fooled and devoid of hope for the world. When a thug started beating him, he was ready to give up and die. Then Samurai Flamenco saved him.

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All it took was one kind, decent, good act for the man to realize he was wrong about the world. He started to help people, and they helped him and others in return. His world became a better place, but only because he refused to give in to despair and cynicism. He returns the favor, facilitating Masayoshi’s escape from a patrolling cop. The encounter reminded Masayoshi that even heroes need saving from those psychological villains. So he finally pays Gotou a visit, and Gotou asks what took him so long.

This is the Gotou who took Mari in when she too became lost, but also allowed Mizuki and Moe to confront her when she’d spent enough time stewing in her own angst. We mercifully, finally see that confrontation, and it’s a heated one, with lots of thrown punches and scathing remarks that cut to the quick. Mari hates Moe’s face right now because it reminds her that she’s a coward; that Moe volunteered to die for her in order to show her up. Like Masayoshi, she feels the world has turned on her, and she just wants to curl up and die.

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The other two M’s don’t let that happen. Even after she rips them to shreds about how much they depend on her greatness (Mizuki doesn’t dispute this, but hates the pathetic creature Mari has become) and flees to the place where King Torture tortured her, where she vomits and lies in it. Moe and Mizuki find her, and Moe, wearing a bag on her head, convinces Mari to return to their world, which isn’t complete without her. It was a showdown we’d been waiting for, so kudos to the show for finally giving it to us. It didn’t disappoint.

We also appreciated the symmetry of Masayoshi and Mari, at the end of their ropes, seeking out and being sought out by their best friends, respectively, and that the entire episode was devoted to the characters and relationships that had been neglected of late. It was welcome reparation for all the From Beyond shit the show put us through. With wounds healed, friendships repaired, and faith restored in the inherent, indomitable goodness of the world that shines beneath even the most well-funded lies, everyone’s in good shape for the final six episodes.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Kaname Joji is in full Hannibal Lector prison regalia, which is hilarious. Looks like his wife (who doesn’t know Sakura’s a flamenger, btw) could play a more important role soon.
  • Even at rock bottom, Masayoshi ain’t stealing bread. Dude’s for real.
  • It may seem a little contrived, but we like how a past recipient of Samurai Flamenco’s herosim is the one to pull him out of the abyss. Blind or no, that guy wasn’t going to turn him in.
  • Moe’s crush on Mari earlier in the show was played for chuckles, but we like how it evolved into genuine, unswaying love, which proves crucial Mari out of the abyss.
  • We actually liked how Mari and Moe’s embrace turned into a makeout session…Moe earned the hell of out that! Mizuki’s reaction is also pretty priceless.
  • Alright, show of hands: who thought that bright glowing vomit Mari spewed out was going to turn into something evil? We thought so; the show’s pulled that crazy shit out of left field before. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

Samurai Flamenco – 15

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Ah, now that’s better. For now, Masayoshi’s evil clone is just a red herring, and the From Beyond crisis is thankfully brought to a close with a somewhat clunky resolution: The Flamengers fly Flamen Robo into Mt. Fuji’s caldera and physcially beat the giant drill up until it breaks. All the From Beyond baddies disappear, Cloneayoshi kills himself with Masayoshi’s ray gun. The Flamengers get more awards, parades, and national praise, and then disband, their job done. With all this in the first half, one would expect a cooling-off period in which Masayoshi checks in with the characters who had been marginalized throughout the last arc. One would be wrong.

As stupid as Torture was, and as even stupider as From Beyond was, the show has thankfully not dwelled on them any longer than they needed to (though we had a problem with them dwelling on them at all). So it wastes no time introducing Masayoshi’s latest foe, and what do you know: It’s The Government. Nothing unites the people quite like a common threat, and the government furnished that threat in From Beyond. The Flamengers and other heroes were conscripted to be the hero of the public, but grew too popular. With control of the mass media, it was a simple matter to find and apprehend them all, and throw Masayoshi & Co. under the bus by proclaiming they were terrorists who orchestrated From Beyond to throw Japan into chaos and grab power.

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Before the cops get to Masayoshi, he’s lucky enough to be found by Mister Justice first, a hulking, boisterous American counterpart to Kaname, who has also been made persona non grata by the government that betrayed him. While the show hardly needed another blowhard beefsteak superhero, Mister Justice is a hoot to watch, whether he’s humming The Star-Spangled Banner to “calm” Hazama in his conspicuous star-spangled semi, or beating up an entire SWAT team; scolding them for not eating enough oatmeal and red meat. And he genuinely seems to want to help Masayoshi, successfully covering his escape.

Masayoshi now suddenly finds himself an enemy of the state, with a very famous face and even more famous disguise. But he’s not alone: Sumi, Kanno, Harazuka, and Gotou remain free (for now), as does MMM (though judging from Mari’s body language MMM might be over); all could help him in various ways. The first step would seem to be freeing the other four Flamengers from custody. But after the way Aoshima gets destroyed by Prime Minister Okuzaki, that probably won’t be easy. But then nothing is when you’re fighting on the side of right.

7_very_goodRating: 7 (Very Good)

Samurai Flamenco – 13

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As the enemies of From Beyond multiply exponentially (theoretically there could be more than 60,000 out there), a pall is gradually cast over Masayoshi’s life, and the realities of the situation and how the powers that be have chosen to react to it, conspire with the weight of his exponentially expanding responsibilities to wear down his spirit, to the point that he’s vomiting in a TV studio men’s room just before appearing on the air.

One could say that vomit, and the awful physical and emotional stress that led to it, is an expression of his inability to accept evil. As soon as the Prime Minister decides to hold off on warning the public about the From Beyond attack, we knew something wasn’t right. When the order came down that a select few politicians and VIPs were going to be quietly evactuated first, no logical explanation like the need to maintain the chain of command could change the fact that Masayoshi and the other Flamengers were being made to go along with something that went against their personal ethics. They were protecting the wealthy and powerful, and keeping the innocent masses in the dark.

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Asked to choose five people to evacuate along with the VIPs, Masayoshi heads first to Goto, but he just as likely could have gone there to seek his friend’s counsel once more. Instead, he discovers that Mari’s there, and realizes there are more than five people he wants to save. Far from the world of grotesque villains and Megazords, Goto remains unapologetically, placidly normal: a cop who is happy to deal with petty criminals, shelter the occasional traumatized runaway idol, and text his long-distance girlfriend. He savors every day he doesn’t have to ram an ICBM with a Pink Hummer. Beyond moral support, there’s little he can do for Masayoshi, especially when Masayoshi won’t tell him what’s happening.

But his silence doesn’t last long. The last straw is when Kaname once again promises to help and then vanishes the next morning, even going so far as to throw out the handkercheif Sakura gave him with “I trust you” embroidered on it. We can’t call this an act of cowardice yet, as this could well be yet another test for Masayoshi: the beginning of the ultimate test. With Kaname gone, he’s the Deputy Commander of the Flamengers, in charge of Japan’s defense against From Beyond. His fellow Flamengers support him without question. He wastes no time asserting his authority by warning the general public, a decision that wasn’t just about sticking to his principles, but was necessary to preserve his very sanity.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Gatchaman Crowds – 12 (Fin)

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O.D. taunts Berg-Katze into coming to the Spiritual Precipice. There, O.D. finally reveals his Gatchaman form and pummels Katze into the ground, retrieving Rui’s note in the process. O.D. returns teh note to Rui. With the increasing chaos, he knows he can’t do anything alone, so he appeals to the world, offering the Crowds ability to anyone who joins the “Tachikawa Crowds Game”, in which good deeds are incentivized. Millions join and have fun helping out in Tachikawa, and the Neo Hundred’s mischief is soon at an end. The Prime Minister decides that everyone should be allowed to keep their Crowds ability.

Rui’s plans to update the world were based on the assumption that mankind is intrinsically good, and that in this age of evolved society, mutual altruism ensures rather than hampers individual survival. But only under certain conditions. In the blaze of fear and distrust Berg-Katze whipped up, a limited number of people with Crowds act for their own interests; they only care about changing the world insofar as they can control it. Berg gave people Crowds believing that if these stupid humans were given too much power, they’d destroy themselves. Rui successfully douses the flames by leveling the playing field in a risky move.

By giving everyone the power of heroes, he risked augmenting the chaos and accelerating the world’s self-destruction as Katze was hoping for. He does so by diffusing the fear and replacing it with hope and fun. Once he gives the initial friendly invitation, mankind essentially sorts everything out, with the now larger mass of balanced, moderate Crowds neutralizing the extremists. Throughout the episode Hajime asked in her singsong way, “what makes a hero?” The positive outcome answered that: once properly motivated and encouraged, heroes make themselves.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Having rallied everyone who needed to be rallied in order to win the day for the good guys, Hajime does very little besides mill around singing; not the usual role of the heroine, but we kinda like it that way.
  • Of course, JJ-sama does even less, and doesn’t even seem fazed when Katze crashes in and swipes his scissors.
  • It was great seeing Rui cheer up (and return to dressing in drag!) and come out of his shell, charming and entertaining everyone went a long way towards convincing them there was nothing to fear and to participate. 
  • Hajime apparently has Katze in her duck backpack and takes him along on a lovely day. He doesn’t seem enthused.

Gatchaman Crowds – 11

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In the first half, one by one, the Gatchamen look back on their experiences with Hajime thus far, and comment on how much their opinions of her changed with time (except for O.D., who always thought highly of her). All of them are grateful to her for bringing our their better selves. In the second half, they put those selves to use protecting the city. Rui gets X back, and with control over GALAX returned, they can better coordinate the city’s evacuation. Hajime gives the Prime Minister online screen time to rally his citizens and implore them to join GALAX as free smartphones are distributed. In the middle of his speech he’s replaced on the screen by Katze disguised as him. He offers Crowds to all of the new GALAX users, most of whom take it, adding to the chaos.

O.D. may have been perceptive enough to see something in Hajime when she first joined the ranks of the Gatchamen, but the others don’t have the luxury of three centuries of sizing people up, so they first saw her as a ditzy, pushy, flippant, useless newbie. Of course, it was Hajime who got them out of their “caged bird” rut, forcing them out of HQ and onto the streets and on camera. Everyone had personal problems that were holding them back, but Hajime accepted them for what they were and gave them the chance to prove to themselves and others that they could still be great. This isn’t limited to the Gatchamen; her efforts also rouse Rui from his funk, and even gets the Prime Minister to believe in himself and step up. Hajime is fine with Rui’s dream of everyone being a hero, but sometimes even heroes need heroes; enter the Gatchamen.

And in a way, she’s the Gatchamen’s hero(ine), but can she save Tachikawa and the world from Katze? Rui, Umeda, and some of the Neo Hundred may have learned the hard way that accepting Crowds from Katze is a raw deal, but his Faustian tactics are ruinously effective on anyone scared or angry amongst the new Galax members, which is probably most of them. With all that stuff about becoming their own heroes, who wouldn’t press the red button and gain a superpower to use however one pleased? Katze is able to do a lot of damage with minimal effort, but if the world is destroyed, it won’t be by his hands directly; it will be by mankind, proving him right. Here’s hoping Hajime, Rui, O.D., and the gang can turn things around.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

 

Valvrave the Liberator – 11

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As Module 77 draws closer to the neutral Moon, the new ministers of JIOR gather for a photo shoot. Haruto and Saki skip it, instead visiting an abandoned part of the city to talk privately, but Saki won’t let Haruto apologize. Their talk is interrupted by alarms; a massive Dorssian fleet is bearing down on them. Shoko speaks to their leader, Admiral Wartenberg, who shows her her hostage father being prepared for execution and offers a deal: peace for the students of Module 77 in exchange for the Valvraves and giving up on the rest of JIOR. Shoko’s dad implores her to move forward, but before she can make a decision, Haruto uses his harakiri blade to obliterate most of the fleet, killing her father and the admiral. Colonel Cain uses the chaos to break through the bottom of the module and start drilling through its core, something L-elf apparently hadn’t foreseen.

What Haruto did to Saki last week was unquestionably a sexual assault, but unlike a case where he was drunk, or high, or just a fucking asshole, it happened because of something completely outside of his control. A real-world parallel would be a mental illness for which there is no known cure. Under those circumstances, while we condemn his actions we can’t fairly condemn Haruto the person, and neither does Saki, who was in kinda love with him anyway. She doesn’t want him to apologize, not just because what happened happened because of the curse, but also because he agreed to bear that curse in exchange for the power to protect everyone else. Part of it could also be simply because she can’t give up on the one person who could deliver her from a life of loneliness and despair, at least in her mind. And when he’s not “possessed”, Haruto indeed doesn’t want Saki to feel like she’s alone anymore, because she isn’t: in the Crazy Event of the Week (CEW), he proposes to her before going to deal with the Dorssian intruders. He’s taking responsibility for what  he’s done, even if it means spurning Shouko.

Of course, you could also throw in another CEW, involving Shoko, the new prime minister. Up to this point she’d held out hope her father could be rescued and restored to his old position, and everything could go back to the way it was. But as he himself tells her, that’s thinking backwards to a time that can never be again. She has to weigh her love for him with the fate of Module 77 and all who inhabit it, and little does she know L-Elf has a gun ready to kill her before she makes the wrong choice. It’s a tense scene, especially when Admiral Wartenberg coldly lays out how adults attain ends regardless of means; they’re okay with getting their hands dirty as long as they get the desired results. It’s all well and good for Shoko to condemn this philosophy – and it sounds pretty evil to us – but let’s not forget that in order to achieve their ends, Haruto, Saki, and the rest of the Valvrave pilots resigned their friggin’ humanity. The (Late) Admiral Wertenberg would be proud of such adult choices, right?

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The fleet is destroyed, but it worked out to be a giant diversion while Cain and his elite team infiltrated Module 77. They immediately start stirring up some serious shit, and once again the students are backed into a corner.
  • The material with Akira seemed a bit extraneous to this episode. Yeah, we get it, she’s deathly afraid of human contact of any kind. What else ya got?
  • What with the Dorssians knocking on Module 77’s door every week, utterly ignoring the threat of Valvrave falling into ARUS hands, we’re a little surprised we haven’t seen any counter-moves by ARUS.
  • Cain himself is on point this time, and he’s confident he can stay a step ahead of L-elf. We’ll see about that, won’t we?

Valvrave the Liberator – 10

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As Module 77 nears the neutral Moon, Nanami decides to hold elections for the new Prime Minister of JIOR. Entrants include Yamada and the presumptive victor, Renbokouji Satomi. However, after talking with Haruto, who learns her father may still be alive, Shouko decides to run, and makes an impassioned speech that wins the crowd and the election. During this speech, however, Haruto suffers another attack, which had been gaining in regularity. He jumps on Saki, who is aware of the severity of his “curse”, and they have sex on the ground.

We’ve only seen occasional bursts of the price Haruto paid when he “resigned as a human” in order to pilot Valvrave and save his school from the Dorssians, but we see more of it in this episode, and he’s scared that he may not be able to control it. No biggie, says Saki; if he becomes the wild beast he fears he’s becoming, she’ll kill him, and he doesn’t have a problem with that. Being around attractive women seems to bring on the attacks; he almost jumps a scantily-clad Takahi in the elevator, and Saki is there (just in time!) to stop him.

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This is the first time his “curse” has come across as uncontrollable lust, but it justifies his decision at the beginning to give up on a relationship with Shouko. He considers himself a monster now, after all. But Saki feels she’s a monster too, and when he jumps her, she doesn’t fight him. We don’t wish to take this lightly; the show went into very dark territory here, and it’s not clear Saki would’ve been able to fight Haruto off if she’d chosen to reject his advances. But whatever Saki’s mindset, what happened happened, and there will be consequences. Haruto will surely hate himself even more and find it more difficult to interact with Shouko, Saki, or anyone else.

Meanwhile, Shouko hasn’t given up on Haruto and plans to confess to him once they get to the moon and have a school festival. She shows she’s her prime minister father’s daughter and upstages Satomi the technocrat by reaching out to and connecting with people, making them feel like she’s one of them (since she is!), and appealing to their desire to continue being kids who goof off and enjoy the little life they may well have left. Little does Shouko know that while she’s giving this rousing, hedonistic YOLO speech, the guy she loves is coming very close to raping Saki barely ten feet from where he nearly confessed to her.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Yamada tries to get Haruto and Kyuuma on board with “hijacking” the bodies of hot chicks. Yikes! Little does he know.
  • Takahi is still uncomfortable around Haruto after Saki hijacked him and toyed with her.
  • For the record, Satomi seems like the most sensible choice for prime minister, seeing as how he has a practical plan for the country’s survival. Shoko, on the other hand? YOLO!
  • The Dorssians are planning one more attack before the schoolkids reach the moon. Oh, and one of them gets the jump on the second-in-command woman, though we’re not sure why.
  • L-elf, ever the useful defector, helps run the elections.