New JIOR’s plan PR falters when the Council leans on the media to report their stunt as a hoax. Cain sorties and defeats X-eins. Haruto body-jacks L-elf and defeats Cain, but loses all his runes in the process and dies. The Royalists begin a coup of Dorssia, and ARUS takes advantage to rid themselves of the Magius, leading to a long, bloody struggle. In the future, a new Galactic Empire thrives based on peaceful interaction with extra-terrestrials like the Magius.
Since he never showed up in any of the future cold opens, and due to the amount of memories he’d lost in all the fighting, we were fairly certain Haruto wouldn’t survive the final battle. When he first his the “Yes” button to “resigning his humanity”, it didn’t (just) mean turning into a rune-sucking monster. Most humans, after all, do whatever they can to survive. He and the other Valvraves, on the other hand, were given eternal life and the choice to give it all up fighting for the survival of others, which meant laying down his life. Of course, even had he gone after Cain with everything he had (and everything he was), he probably still wouldn’t have beaten him without L-elf by his side.
We reach end of the Valvrave saga a little disappointed. The finale had some moving moments, the episode felt rushed, and the epilogue was a little paltry after so much epic struggle: Satomi and Takahi get married, Saki and Akira are teachers of some sort, and all the fallen heroes from the past get…cheesy marble busts all crowded together in a musty room. Between Cain’s defeat and the good future, we’re a little fuzzy on how the world achieved the peace they enjoy. The final shot of Unit 1’s cockpit was a bit on the preachy side, trying to tidily sum up the moral of the show. Trust alone isn’t enough to garner peace. Humans will always harbor secrets; how they’re unveiled affects the course of history.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Final Cumulative Rating: 7.333
MyAnimeList Score (as of 12/27/13): 7.74
Haruto, Rukino, Yamada and Akira return to the rocketship, where Shoko thanks them but confines them to the hangar. Posing as an injured pilot, L-elf infiltrates Dorssian forces; A-drei and X-eins share his goals to eliminate Cain and his allies. As the Dorssian Fuhrer holds a speech on a heavily-defended Module 77, the Valvraves launch a seemingly desperate attack. Haruto loses more memories of Shoko but fights on as he promised Rukino. Yamada is killed by Q-vier while defending Akira, and she’s able to hack the comms network so the Council can’t cut the feed when L-elf appears on stage, slits the Fuhrer’s throat, and the world watches the wound heal, exposing his inhumanity.
In case you missed it (you probably didn’t): what’s left of New JIOR continues to owe its very existence to the efforts of L-elf, who springs back into action, dons his old gaudy uniform, yells “LIGHTNING SWORD!”, and fights alongside his old comrades, all doing their part to “unveil the world.” It’s a triumphant turnaround to be sure after the abject despair of two weeks ago. That being said, the important victory achieved this week was a full team effort. L-elf was aided by comrades on both sides. Haruto Valvrave pilots were resolved to fight to the bitter end even if their own people hated them, while Cain’s villainy had simply gotten to be too much for A-drei and X-eins, and Kriemhild.
It’s also an episode of brave faces: Haruto’s, Shoko’s, and L-elf’s. They put them on not just for their friends and allies, but for themselves, to get through what must be gotten through. These three simply cannot give up. Of course, all the resolve and bravery in the world (ahem, Yamada, RIP) won’t save you if you don’t have a decent plan for victory: enter L-elf once more, turning the tables in the P.R. battle. The people may not yet trust JIOR, but they now know they can’t trust anyone. The people still have to be convinced they can trust the Valvraves, while the Council must still be brought low, and Cain hasn’t even entered the fray in honest yet. There’s an awful lot to do in the final episode, much like last season.
Rating: 8 (Great)
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.
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.
Rating: 8 (Great)
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.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
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.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- 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!
Two months after Module 77 narrowly escapes destruction, they dock at the neutral Moon, where they receive sympathy and supplies but run into bureaucratic hurdles with ARUS. Module 77 plans to send a delegation to Earth, but the Valvraves shut down, their energy exhausted. Kibukawa and L-elf determine that the “runes” that fuel the Valvrave can only be gathered by attacking humans. Haruto grudingly attacks L-elf, refueling the Valvraves, and they cross the neutral zone and battle the Dorssian fleet that was waiting for them.
After a season-long hiatus, Valvrave is back to baffle, shock, and entertain us in relatively equal measure. We can’t say we missed all the mythological mumbo-jumbo about councils of the hundred, magiuses, and holy spirits, but we’re glad to be once again following the trials and tribulations of one of the high school that declared itself an independant nation, protected by five mechas piloted by students who tosses aside their humanity and essentially became vampires. We especially liked how Shouko and L-Elf had settled nicely into their new official roles, though they both faced plenty of challenges.
Reinforcing their status as horrifying burdens in addition to the only force that is currently staving off enslavement by Dorssia, Haruto gets the bad news that he’s been going into fits and viciously attacking people because he’s jonesin’ for their “runes”, which we guess is a fancy way of saying “life force”. Haruto-y Haruto that he is, he’s hell-bent on carrying as much as this burden as he can, and he’s to find the people who developed the damnable things on Earth. He wants to be human again, and if that can’t happen, he wants to destroy the Valvraves once they’ve fulfiled their use. Just one problem: when exactly will New JIOR ever not need them?
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
- Saki records a bestselling album, then offers her body to Haruto, who resists. Then he feeds from L-Elf. Saki probably won’t be happy if she learns about that.
- We get to see the Dorssians in their training sweats sipping from 80’s-style water bottles. Pretty sweet.
- Apparently the OS avatar in Haruto’s unit is called “Pino”, while the one in Cain’s is called “Prue.”
- Cain and his superior Mirko watch with smug satisfaction as the “children” of Valvrave are constructed. That isn’t going to be good for JIOR.
221 years into the future, Rukino Saki tells a silver-haired boy the story of the “Founder”‘s battles for Module 77, where he encountered the “Magius.” Back in the present, Saki rejects Haruto’s marriage proposal and tells him to go save Shouko. He meets up with L-el as the Dorssian drill is ascending the module towards the school fast, releasing posion gas as it goes. Colonel Cain outsmarts L-elf, shoots Haruto, then beats L-elf up, aiming to take the red Valvrave.
Meanwhile, Shouko is injured while racing to save Akira from the approaching drill. Akira finally leaves her shelter to save Shouko, and finds a purple Valvrave on the way to her. She resigns her humanity and boards it, and her “hacking” weapon disables the drill and all the other Dorssian bogeys. L-elf escapes Cain’s custody with Haruto and they board the red Valvrave and launch a barrage of weapons fire at Cain, but he isn’t scratched. He reveals himself as a “Magius.”
So yeah, obviously there was going to be more Valvrave coming after this episode, because there still so many storylines not even close to being resolved yet, but we were still pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of stuff that went down in this episode, as well as the high level of tension it maintained throughout it’s running time. Module 77 its most immediate and potentially mortal crisis, while Colonel Cain proves that even a superhuman like L-elf doesn’t stand much of a chance against his non-human “creator.”
They also chose to give Akira the most she’s ever done or said in an episode by far, and we thought her tortured emergence from her security shell was very well done. This is a girl with serious emotional trauma, but even she couldn’t sit and watch her friend get killed. That said, we wonder if she’ll ever leave that cockpit now that she’s in there! Just one of many dozens of things to be sorted out this fall, when the second season airs.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
- We’re very intrigued by the Future Rukino prologues, all two of them; and that was the problem: all this bigger picture stuff like the two-century jumps forward and the Magius had to fight for screen time (and lost) with things like the presidential election and that horrible music video the school did. We want to see more.
- Cain’s very thorough beating of L-elf was intense, for no other reason than L-elf has only ever been superior to everyone else in everything…but not against this guy.
- Akira may share her name with an iconic film, but she and her now-vacated lair have reminded us more of an iconic anime, namely Lain. It was awesome to see her finally spring into action, and we look forward to seeing/hearing more of her.
- That little silver-haired princess girl L-elf met when they were young – in the OP she’s grown up. Here’s hoping we get more of her story this fall.
- “It’s THUNDER, Damnit!” The day someone finally actually calls him that is going to be some day.