Saotome plans to change the future in which espers revolt by using a hypnotized Yuugiri to assassinate New York’s new pro-esper mayor, starting riots and causing anti-esper sentiment to spread. Hyoubu penetrate’s Saotome’s elaborate lattice of illusions to get through to Yuugiri and break her hypnosis. His use of Unlimited causes his power to go out of control, but Andy and Yuugiri won’t abandon him: Andy uses his eye to stop the power overload. Hyoubu tracks down Saotome and erases his memories. Andy sets off on his own, but is made an honorary member of PANDRA.
If this is the end, it isn’t such a bad one.
Whoa, there, Hyoubu: we’ll be the judge of that! The finale ends in New York City, pretty much the last place you want ESP bombs like Yuugiri or Hyoubu going off, unless it’s your intent to cause mayhem. Saotome has clung to life just as Hyoubu has so that he can change the future he saw. He thought the survival of humanity required the subjugation of espers. Not surprisingly, his ethos loses out, thanks to Hyoubu’s persistence and Andy’s magic eye. Everyone else sits this out, with only token scenes of farewell, but the focus on Hyoubu, Saotomne, Andy and Yuugiri was as good a place as any to end things.
To its credit, this series doesn’t go longer than the twelve promised episodes, and manages to bring everything to a satisfying close. Hyoubu is ready to finally give in to the grim reaper, but his family stops him. He lives on to realize a future of equal rights for espers. One could say the doomsday Saotome warned is still in the cards, but screw that old man; his alternative future that curbs the freedom of an entire people wasn’t a future worth saving. Maybe a revolt has to happen if equality is ever going to be a reality.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
- The BABEL chaps arrive right at the nick of time to save Andy from getting arrested. Good timing, right?
- If the Children want to be treated more like adults, maybe they should stop sleeping in the same bed, eh?
- We were surprised Kaoru didn’t really do anything here, but maybe they’ll make a spin-off show about the older her. Maybe!
Hyoubu and Andy locate Walsh, and make him show them the location of Yugiri. He leads them to the bowels of a USEI installation, but it’s a trap. Saotome tells them they have to “administer” espers in order to prevent Ihachigo’s prophecy of catastrophe led by Akashi Kaoru in the future. Hyoubu and Andy are able to escape as PANDRA members show up to help, but when they travel to New York, where they find a reprogramed Yugiri who defeats them one by one.
This week, Hyoubu reunites with PANDRA, Andy chooses a side, they learn that Saotome’s still alive (somehow), and the USEI’s plan for espers, manage to escape a maximum security military installation, and did we mention a pro-esper mayor is elected in New York? Yeah, that last one is kinda out of left field; apparently meant to be a hint that the foretold destruction of mankind will occur there. The idea is, that if given equal rights, espers will cause the apocalypse. Unfortunately, Hyoubu and Andy’s escape is downright ludicrous.
There’s a scene during their escape when all of their opponents helpfully stop firing for a very long time…for no reason. The mini-security drones are laughably inept, and the human commandos have abysmal aim. Combined with the routine twist of Yuugiri being re-programmed by USEI to attack espers and the convenient reappearance of PANDRA’s sub in the knick of time, this episode is a bit of a mess: more concerned with packing in as much plot and action as possible without regard to pace and plausibility. When the baddies are this stupid, it neutralizes the peril. Though we do like how Kaoru is prophesied to be the harbinger of doom.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Andy saves Hyoubu, and Fujiko saves the two of them. Andy is sent to BABEL, where a USEI tracking chip is removed from his skull. Hyoubu is brought to the Tsubomi Manor. The children gain Hyoubu’s location from a BABEl administrator, and Kaoru agrees to let Andy come along, and he confirms that Saotome Eiji hired him. Kaoru donates blood to Hyoubu, who escapes to find Eiji. Tsubomi and Kaoru let him go, and Andy joins him.
Hyoubu and Kaoru are both immensely powerful espers, who could accomplish a lot if they joined forces, just like if BABEL and PANDRA did the same. But that doesn’t ever seem likely, for one very important reason: while Kaoru is always looking towards a future, one in which espers and normals can coexist and thrive, Hyoubu is stuck in the past, devoted to making normals pay for their sins. And ne’r the twain shall meet, and all that. Kaoru faces endless possibilities; but Hyoubu claims to be trapped.
You can’t fault Kaoru for her wide-eyed dreamer optimism, but nor can we dismiss Hyoubu’s thirst for justice, let alone revenge. After all, the man he trusted most in the world shot him dead, and he only came back because he has unfinished business. As far as he’s concerned, he only lives to exact justice on Saotome Eiji and everyone else who wronged him. And yet, we can help but think part of him wants to correct the mistakes he himself has made, which got Yuugiri captured and put his PANDRA family in jeopardy.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
P.S. We enjoyed scenes with estranged siblings Fujiko and Hyoubu, even if the latter wasn’t interested in any kind of re-connection; we also dug the tense post-betrayal interactions between Hyoubu and Andy; as the episode is quite eager to point out, Hyoubu doesn’t take well to betrayal.
In the continuation of the flashback, Captain Saotome Eiji picks Hyoubu to duel with the new Zero prototype fighter, piloted by the officer Fujiko knocked over. Hyoubu is able to shake off his father’s misgivings and summon the power to defeat the Zero. Just then, an American submarine enters Japanese waters, chasing down three dolphins who use telepathy to request asylum. The ESP team and Hyoubu save them, but a few years later, when Japanese surrender is imminent after the first atom bomb is dropped, Eiji shoots Hyoubu in response to one of the dolphins’ premonitions. Hyoubu doesn’t die, kills Eiji, and swears revenge against all normal humans.
Watching Hyoubu’s past, we can’t help but look back to Muv-Luv Alternative, which wasted no time painting the picture of Yui’s horrible, bloody past and engendering our emotional investment and sympathy for her character throughout the series. Rather than tell Hyoubu’s story early in the series, The Unlimited chose the middle of this cour, putting the present-day story on pause. We’re not sure we’re on board with this order. Don’t get us wrong; the last two episodes were great backstory, but it came at the expense of the present story’s momentum. Muv-Luv’s Yui’s story being told before we meet her as an adult was a clear calculation to put us firmly in her corner.
Perhaps this was also a calculation: show us Hyoubu the Bad Guy first and let us form our own opinions, then show us his past to either reinforce or subvert those opinions. In any case, everything we’ll see of Hyoubu (and Fujiko) from this point onward will be informed by the knowledge he was built up and then discarded by the military, and was powerless to stop the defeat of his country. Things went downhill for him so fast; and Eiji’s decision to eliminate him before he could muster an ESP army and destroy mankind…that was a rough hand to be dealt. But just because we’re kinda sympathetic to Hyoubu doesn’t mean he’s not every bit the threat to humanity Eiji believed.
Rating: 6 (Good)
In the thirties, a young Hyoubu Kyousuke moves from the mainland to Japan to live with his new adoptive father Baron Tsubomi and his daughter, Fujiko, who is an esper like him. Imperial Army Captain Saotome Eiji asks the children to join his special ESP unit, which mimics a similar Nazi program that makes use of espers for the accelerating war effort.
They join the unit and watch themselves be advertised in the newsreels as Japan’s newest weapon. The unit falls out of favor when Fujiko gets in an altercation with a policeman and naval officer. Rather than submit to standard military training, which will harm their powers, Eiji proposes a duel: the ESP unit versus the Navy’s new Mitsubishi Zero fighter plane.
As last week ended in something of a cliffhanger, and we’re in the middle of the season, now’s as good a time as any for more backstory on Hyoubu. Specifically, the show backs up many decades to when Hyoubu first meets Fujuko (and learn she’s his adoptive sister), to when he first gets involved with the military. It’s fun to watch this proto-PANDRA come to life. And like that later group, this is more of a family than a military unit.
We also like how one seemingly minor incident with the cop and naval officer gets blow into a situation where the entire unit is punished and the whole program threatened. It’s as if the military higher-ups were just waiting for an excuse to shut them down. Fortunately, the unit enjoys the support of Baron Tsubomi. But knowing how things turn out in the present day, the mood is bound to sour sometime in the next episode.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)