Alderamin on the Sky – 03

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I’m really enjoying Alderamin’s milieu, which in the case of this week is comprised of simplified but still satisfying military procedural elements. It also gets right down to business, as Ikuta & Co. have made their chivalric beds (or rather Chamille made them for them) and now they have to sleep in them, so to speak, by undergoing the very high-level officer training Ikuta had sought to avoid.

That being said, Ikuta does not spend the whole episode skulking. Though he does yawn a lot, he also makes lemons with lemonade. When other students attempt to haze him with a centipede of all things, he shows them just how off-base they are in their line of attack by cutting off the venomous head and chowing down.

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Ikuta also shines in class, and if we’re honest, he could probably teach the class, as the answer he gives the instructor is not only far more detailed than expected, he even questions the lesson they’re supposed to be learning in favor of a different, more important lesson about snatching tactical victory from a strategic defeat.

Chamille and the rest of the class is impressed, while his old friend Yatori simply takes it as yet another familiar Ikuta moment, though there’s a quiet pride for her friend in her expression.

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That brings us to one of the episode’s less interesting elements: Torway’s asshole big brother, who has zero respect for Torway and makes it known. While he uses the excuse of “interrupting his nap” (from a hammock, where else?), Ikuta picks a fight with Sarihaslag that results in his getting stomped on; but he won’t admit defeat or show fear; indeed, he has the haughty bastard right where he wants him.

Enter Yatori, who arrives with Chamille, deems the incident a sparring session in progress, and continues the fight in Ikuta’s name, taking out three of Sarihaslag’s men with ease and forcing his retreat. It’s a showcase for Yatori’s skill in combat, her loyalty to her friends, and her general badassery. Taneda Risa is the perfect voice for her.

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She makes quite an impression on the bully too, for when a mock battle is announced, she’s on Torway’s brother’s team, while Ikuta, Torway, and Matthew are on the other. It either means they value her skills, or they wanted to handicap Ikuta while gaining her knowledge of his strategy and tactics.

Frankly, I doubt those dopes thought that much about it; but Yatori for one speaks with a respectful, almost affectionate glint in her eye when talking about Ikuta’s unpredictability in battle, still able to surprise her after all the time they’ve known each other.

As for Ikuta, the second-in-command of his battalion, Suya Metcalf, is the daughter of a married woman Ikuta slept with, which is actually a refreshingly mature, if unfortunate, situation to have pop up! True to their relationship, Yatori informs him he’s on his own in sorting this out.

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Cute as she is, Suya seems pre-manufactured to be someone Ikuta must prove his worth to, as she’s more concrned with his physical aptitude than her personal issue. Sure enough, once they mobilize and Ikuta doesn’t do things by the book, Suya pushes back, but always lets him have the final decision.

As such, Ikuta positions his camp and his men somewhere perfectly within the rules, and because his opposing commander wouldn’t know the first thing about blindfolded chess, he’s at the “recommended battle site” like some kind of jamoke.

Yatori’s scouts finally learn of Ikuta’s position, and their force has to hustle southwards to avoid being too tardy for the battle. Ikuta already has the upper hand, but he seems to be just getting started. Hopefully he puts that sniveling “sadistic hottie” Sarihaslag in his place.

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Alderamin on the Sky – 02

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Alderamin continues to move along with a wonderful briskness, but not so quickly that the events that transpire don’t hold weight. Last week’s predicament is handled fairly easily by Ikuta, but only because he makes it look easy.

In reality, he’s doing something really hard, especially for someone relatively young: he realizes what he can do and what he cannot; when to act and when to let his friends act. Igsem and Torway follow his lead and thanks to their assistance, the three guards are dealt with.

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Torway is shaken by his faltering during a crucial moment, but Igsem is there to support and praise him for his role in securing the princess. As for Chamille herself, the deaths of the three Kioka soldiers weighs heavily on her, to the point she bites her finger to release the “rotten” royal blood.

While Igsem comforted Torway, it’s Ikuta who comforts Chamille, assuring her her blood “tastes just fine” and to take care of the life he and his companions have worked so hard to preserve. His words make the princess blush, but she can also clearly see there is greatness in Ikuta.

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You can see both Chamille and Ikuta sharing a distaste for bloodshed; Chamille due to her imperial status; Ikuta do to his latent ability as well as the nature of the empire he lives in. As such, Ikuta treats the fallen Kioka soldiers’ remains with respect.

The next day, now possessed of a Kioka blimp, Ikuta formulates an ingenious strategem to get the princess safely across the border without firing a shot. Donning a Kioka uniform and armed with great acting ability and balls of steel, he marches right to the Kioka garrison and threatens the commander (his career, not his life) with the errant blimp.

There are a couple issues with this plan—the lieutenant in charge doesn’t ask for any identification, and lets Ikuta escort the others across. We also cut to a full month after they return to the empire, during which much has transpired that will shape their fates.

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But the events that unfold a month later justify the rapid jump in time. During that month, the famous General Rikan is sent to a battle Ikuta knows he’ll lose, since the empire no longer wants the undeveloped territory. But Rikan, the quintessentiall badass military man, is going to do his goddamn job, even if he knows the war is rigged. Honor, loyalty, “unscientific stupidity”; Ikuta can call it what he likes; he can’t stop Rikan.

Shortly after news of Rikan’s defeat, a demoralizing blow to the people of Katjvarna, the emperor gives Ikuta, Igsem, and the others an audience. Igsem had to knock Ikuta down when he was getting in Rikan’s face, but she warns him not to try pulling any of that shit in front of the emperor, and Ikuta seems to get it. I love their relationship!

Ikuta, of course, probably has an inkling of why they’ve been summoned, and his suspicions are confirmed when the emperor bestows upon them the title of imperial knights. That means they’re going to be trained as soldiers, whether that’s what he wanted or not.

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After the ceremony, in a coach with Igsem, Chamille (who is still just a kid, after all) can’t quite control her enthusiasm for making Ikuta into a hero, one of the three things he never wanted to be (the others being a noble and a soldier). She tells him too much about what she knows about his father (disgraced famous general) or his mother (former imperial concubine awarded to his dad).

Here we see just how much trouble Ikuta can get into when his emotions run rampant: he threatens to snap the princess’ neck; Igsem takes him down and warns him she’ll have to kill him if that happens. She doesn’t want do, but you can tell she sure as shit will. She’s a vital check on the wreckless abandon a troubled Ikuta can get into. He’s got the brilliance—and the ability—of Howl.

Later, when everyone’s cooled down a bit, Igsem leaves the festivities on what may be one of the best nights of her life, to sit with her good friend who declares he’s having one of his worst. Igsem doesn’t lecture him, she just listens and sits. Because like Chamille, she sees great things in Ikuta. No doubt he sees this in himself, and it probably scares the hell out of him. But he won’t be alone on this impending journey.

This episode demonstrated Alderamin’s ability to draw in very close to its surprisingly nuanced characters, and yet still draw back to reveal the huge world they inhabit, which is bound to explode into further combat as the show progresses, and in which heroes will rise.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 13 (fin)

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Not to be outdone by the second to last episode, Luluco’s finale pulls a surprisingly emotional twist before unleashing the series’ best animated fight scene.

Nova is almost immediately destroyed by a micro-blackhole that the Blackholien planted in his head, just in case of emergencies. And while Luluco ultimately gets to say good bye towards the end of the fight, and they both commit to seeing each other again, some day, in some dimension, The immediate emotional damage to Luluco is handled very. Extra credit well for such a goofey 7 minute format show.

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As is always the case, the episodes visuals are packed with meaning. The bullet Luluco and Nova fire when combined is wrapped with the film strips of their memories together, for example.

Another side detail that caught my attention was Luluco’s father, who encourages Luluco to ‘hunt Nova down to the ends of the universe and arrest him again’ because that’s what he’d do… and probably did over Lalaco.

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After Blackholien is defeated, episode 13 treats us to an Epilog: Midori is promoted to Chief, the Chief is promoted to commander in chief, Luluco’s dad is off chasing Lalaco, and Luluco has become ‘Lady Trigger’ a special dimension hopping space patrol agent who’s riding an upside down gun motorcycle.

It’s a neat and tidy wrap up for the show and pleasantly ambiguous about time and greater purpose. Luluco looks older (or sexied up at least) and even though she has a greater quest, the caveat that she can hop dimensions (and is now the Trigger of the universe), she could just as likely become a new mascot for Trigger, as get a sequel.

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Verdict: Space Patrol Luluco had some wonderful highs, often relying on a batshit crazy mix of heart warming music, innocent emotions, incomprehensible action and inside brand-jokes. It also lagged a bit in the middle and, despite the thrill of the best 7 minute segments, there was very little room to build rounded characters and a strong attachment.

At the end of the day, Luluco lives in the shadow of Kill La Kill, FLCL, and TTGL. Absolutely worth your time, possibly an interesting extension of its studio’s brand, but its devotion to the absurd and packed micro episodes holds it back from developing the lived in world — a mad world many viewers would fantasize living in — presented by the greats.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 12

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Nearing the finale, Luluco wastes no time reassembling its cast and bringing out the mega showdown: Lalaco immediately shows up to bail everyone out of jail, re-unites Luluco’s father’s body and brain, and allows Luluco to ‘doc’ with the pirate ship.

Then an over the top space battle ensues and it’s wonderful.

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Nova being empty and Luluco’s love not being fulfilled is the second bit of tidying up we get and it too is as over the top as ever. Luluco literally fills Nova up with her ‘stupid middle school love’ until he can finally feal emotions. His heart blossoms, creating it’s own blue love jem, which combines with Luluco’s to create ‘true mutual first love,’ the most poerful in the universe.

Thus united, the two stand off against Blackholien for the final final show down.

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Verdict: the amount of detail, texture and novelty packed into this episode’s visuals is mind bending. It works well, but there’s so much you can digest, you may feel the urge to rewatch it a few times without subtitles, and to pause a few frames for closer inspection.

In fact, that shiny flashy constant distraction benefits the plot overall, because the plot itself is an eye-rollingly simple affair of Girl Meets Boy, Love wins the Day. This is far from a criticism, obviously. Simple can be wondrous when the visuals and timing are this masterfully crafted.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 11

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Dead Luluco comes into being in a Hell-scape version of Ogikubo, where she’s alone until another Flaming Skull space patrol officer welcomes to eat fake crab meat skewers by the fire.

They chat about her predicament and, eventually, the immortality of the intangible. The skull guy says he’s died many times but has always come back for justice. Realizing that Nova never actually lied to her, Luluco regains heart and decides she has to confess (and arrest) Nova before it’s her time.

Then she returns and demolishes her own funeral. Roll credits…

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Verdict: while this was a bit predictable, get the hero back on her feet story, it was handled with Space Patrol’s typical flair for the bizarre. The flaming Skull guy goes totally unexplained and his ‘eating’ animation is made so blatantly nonexistent that it reads as a joke.

If the line “I’m going to confess to him. Then I’m going to arrest him for shoplifting my love.” gives you a smile, all the rest is just gravy.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 10

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Luluco is in bliss: she’s finally found Ogakubo, she’s being rewarded by Space Patrol Central HQ, and Nova seems as warm as he always is… right until he reaches into her chest and removes the crystal that’s been growing there and she dies.

It was all a trap by the Blackholeians, who are considered the source of all evil in the universe. They’ve taken over HQ… for reasons not entirely clear except that, at the height of any civilization’s technological discovery, a place like Ogakubo is created as an ideal cultural hub.

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The hub itself is worthless, except it has a chance to foster a normal girl who’s first love is perfect. Perfect, in that it is the most worthless thing in the universe, and worthlessness is the most valuable thing to the Blackholeians.

“The first love of a stupid middle schooler is a boy who’s nothing but his looks. This is the pinnacle of worthlessness!”

All of this is explained to Midori via print outs and exposition. The chief is there, but Midori is really the only character interested or, at least, antagonistic to the antagonist. Then everyone is locked in a cell and they hold a funeral for Luluco.

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Verdict: it was hilarious watching a villain flat out say all youth romance is crap, and give a ton of visual examples of why it produces nothing of value. It was also a great development to reveal Nova is not evil or good, just purely empty of everything.

There were good visuals, an interesting narrative turn, and the narrative was funny by poking fun at the characters and at life and conventions of story telling too. Solid solid and only falls short due to a lack of action… which wouldn’t have been possible within the play length of a single short format episode.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 09

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Luluco visists a private investigator on a limited color pallet planet. She’s half heartedly asking about Ogikubo but really, she’s there to away from Nova. She can’t decide if he like her or not?

Luluco doesn’t have much time to ponder, because the PI office is abruptly attacked by a mob boss and a car chase/mass brawl ensues. In the end, Nova comes to rescue her and take her to the real Ogikubo.

Roll credits…

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This was, by far, the worst episode of Space Patrol to date. I have no idea what show was being referenced and, even if I did, the whole battle between the Don and the PI was so truncated that there was no time to build any sort of connection with anyone. It was just weird and epileptic action.

It could actually have worked as a manga — the styling is pretty cool and some of the snarky humor would have had room to breath — but it really doesn’t work as an animation. It’s too hard to follow and not enough is actually going on, even if you pause the action and inspect everything on your own time.

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The verdict: the narrative was all over the place, the action was so energetic I had to keep pausing to re-read dialog, but the dialog wasn’t interesting in anyway. Then the second half reveal of space patrol command and probably next season’s villain just came out of nowhere.

Two acts in 7 minutes devoted to not telling a coherent story or presenting our characters in a new or interesting way is not worth your time. Not even in short format anime.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 08

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Luluco faces a death sentence this week and there’s nothing she can do about it. Facing her sudden mortality, she asks Nova-kun to be her first and last kiss, which he agrees somewhat dismissively as ‘fine either way.’

It’s a wonderful kiss ending on Luluco’s final second of life and she falls to the ground. Except it’s all been a mistake. She will certainly die and nothing can be done about it, except she has another 60 years to live!

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This week’s 3.7 star equivalent to Ogikubo is Magic Planet and home to the sorcerer’s stone, a magic school and a possibly only a single witch. Luluco is there alone with Nova and quickly becomes nervous that the witches would be man crazy but her haste to get to the source of the Ogikubo signal only leads her to being stuffed with magic death mushrooms.

To be clear, watching Luluco’s gun barrel/anus stuffed with mushrooms was genuinely funny, and I found the lack of growth in her relationship with Nova despite the kiss and high drama charming, but this was not a great episode. The setting was basically empty except for the witch, and her only purpose is to reference Little Witch Academia.… and I don’t remember that show at all.

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This is a hard one to rate. The story was very small, the pacing felt dragged despite the 7 minute run time, and there wasn’t any action or much over the top stuff to be distracted by.

But the kiss scene was great and the mushroom stuffing was worth a chuckle. If I could remember what Magic Show it was referencing, I’m sure I’d appreciate it slightly more… however, compared to last week’s vaguely Kill La Kill inspired piece, which was interesting even without the obvious references, this one didn’t. Hrm…

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Space Patrol Luluco – 07

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This week’s Luluco lurched us into the next arc and, to be honest, the dialog was so dense and the goings on so going all over the place, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

After a recap, team Space Patrol finds themselves in orbit of a thread planet that is clearly making more references to Kill La Kill but it’s also apparently auctioning Ogikubo. So the team investigates and quickly finds the 3.5 star rating accurate replica of Ogikuba is really a front for a space criminal to steal everyone’s life energy.

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The hook of the censored out criminals dastardly plan is that everyone looped by his threads sees him as their greatest desire. Luluco sees him as Nova, which is how we see him, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to arrest him for some kind of space fraud.

Fortunately, the chief’s fire lights the criminal on fire — and the planet on fire — and everyone escapes. Nova muses that the criminal was possibly just lonely but Luluco isn’t so sure.

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Roll Credits…

Bits of this episode were funny — like the villain starting to talk about only being defeatable by scissors but immediately catching fire and all the use of on screen text –but in all honesty, the abruptness of the story didn’t grip me. Too much time was dedicated to the recap and too little to the villain. And because he’s clearly a throw away, it wasn’t as satisfying as previous abrupt fights.

It was good, and if I have a chance to watch it again (probably a few times) I’m sure I will appreciate it more but, for what it was, 3rd season’s opener stumbled over the line.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 06

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Luluco’s free-spirited, proudly non-normal mom Lalako Godspeed steals both Luluco’s dad’s frozen body and the e-auction is on for the illicit sale of her home Ogikubo. Now just a pile of bones but still full of spirit, the director general has his secretary microwave and reanimate the slab Keiji’s brain they still have

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Bodyless but still in good shape mind-wise, Keiji leads the others on a mission to shoplift back the shoplifted town from his wife, while making a personal appeal for her to return to normality.

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Lalako won’t hear of it, but before she can ship Ogikubo to the winning bidder via wormhole, Midori uses her modded Blackhole app to pluck Lalako’s ship with her gigantified hand. A struggle ensues, and the ship with Luluco and the others ends up in some distant galaxy/dimension. END OF SEASON 2.

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Space Patrol Luluco does what all good Gainax pieces, but particularly Gurren Lagann, excelled at: playing with leaps in scale at a breakneck pace. At first, Lalako’s ship seem’s massive and imposing, as it’s able to grab the highest skyscraper and pull Ogikubo up from its roots.

Then, all of a sudden, the town folds up into a normal brown cardboard box for shipping, and then Midori’s hand dwarfs the ship and the shipping wormhole. It all brought me back to thinking about the classic National Geographic map of the known universe. No matter how huge you think things are out there, they just get huger and huger!

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This episode-let kept up the fever pace of the last one, packed with action, laughs, imaginative twists, goofy justice speeches and blink-and-you-miss ’em visual gags. Suffice it so say, Luluco’s life isn’t going to be normal for the foreseeable future.

At the same time, there’s enough heart present for me to hope for a day when Luluco and her irascible mom can reconcile, even if becoming a family with her dad is out of the question. Not to mention if she’ll ever be able to restore her dad and her hometown, get back to Earth, and reach that dreamy romantic ideal of the breathy, ethereal end credits. We’ll find out “next season…”

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