Valvrave the Liberator – 19

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L-elf rescues Lieselotte from her captivity, confessing his love, but their escape is interrupted by Q-vier. Haruto crashes through the wall in Unit 1, and L-elf hands Lieselotte off to him. Her presence in the cockpit surprises Pino, and Haruto learns she is a Magius—a being with no physical body that lives off of runes—and that he’s one too. The rocket launch is stymied by the loss of a runway, but L-elf lowers a drawbridge and the rocket launches as the Valvraves protect it. Q-vier hits one of its hydrogen tanks, but Liselotte repairs it, at the cost of all her runes.

So the Magius crash on earth, possess animals and people to live and consume their runes to survive. They eventually form a council with humans to oversee earth’s affairs, of which Lieselotte doesn’t want any part, so she’s imprisoned and regularly drained of power with that tanning booth. Meanwhile, the Magius serve as cores for Valvrave units, whose pilots must literally resign humanity in order to operate them, thus becoming a “new lifeform” similar to immortal Magius, which explains Saki’s presence in the distant future. Should we be worried that some of this is actually making sense? Valvrave, how could you!

Practically speaking, this is an episode in which the New JIORans get the hell out of Dodge—er, Dorssiana. But L-elf also came to rescue the one he loves. He helped build and strengthen New JIOR for her more than anyone else. Sure he’s only known less than an hour in total, but that’s apparently enough. So it’s unfortunate, even tragic, when we find that she can’t return his feelings, not because she doesn’t share them, but because she’s unsure what love is, even after centuries of living in human form. It’s your classic lovers-of-different-races predicament. Worse still, she ends up “emptied” like Marie. L-elf just can’t catch a break!

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

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Valvrave the Liberator – 16

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

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

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

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

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Valvrave the Liberator – 14

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

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

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

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

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

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.