Sidonia no Kishi – 05

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Sidonia belts out yet another BADASS episode, that’s very different from the four that preceded it. In fact, one of the only things that held it back from a 10 was the somewhat meaningless cutaway back to Sidonia in the middle for what was nothing but an infodump by Kobayashi and the wierd Bear woman (?)(Why is she a bear? Inquiring minds want to know…). But the badassery of this episode wasn’t due to any flashy battles or explosions.

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No, this was a bottle episode, the majority of which took place inside Takane’s frame after rescuing Shizuka. They’re beyond the point of no return and his fame is out of juice anyway, so they have to do a lot of sitting and waiting for one of two things: death or rescue. This is by no means original, but I have to say, I’m hard-pressed to recall better executions of this kind of lost-in-space scenario.

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Leaving aside the convenience of two love interests being in such close contact for so long. And Shizuka strips down to her birthday suit for a totally practical reason: to photosynthesize! Despite how cold and terrifying space looks out there and how tiny the frame looks compared to it, there’s a warmth from the two of them that permeates their scenes. You get the feeling everything will be fine, because at the very least, if they die, they’ll die together.

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Ten days pass before any hint of rescue, and food and water are exhausted, the latter an example of over-complicated technology coming to bite them ass at the worst possible time. When Takane starts to succumb to dehydration, that same fancypants tech is his savior, as Shizuka is able to filter her urine for him to drink, a touching scene with shades of Princess Mononoke. The act also gives Takane the idea to filter the frame’s lubricant for more water. Wonderful things, these filters!

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The victory is enough for the couple to try a closer embrace, forgetting their suits are on. Further hanky-panky is interrupted by One Hell Of A Dramatic Entrance by the entire defense wing, which disobeyed orders and formed a 256-frame relay ring to come back for the pilot who defeated the Gauna (along with his would-be girlfriend). Their arrival is a powerful moment of jubilation and relief, and a happy ending that neither felt like a cheat nor an inevitability.

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Sidonia no Kishi – 04

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Like Sidonia’s Kabizashi, I prefer to use “Holy Craps” sparingly; preferably no more than five per season, but in the case of this episode, I feel perfectly justified in exhausting one. Holy Crap, that was one awesome tour-de-force of an episode. My heart rate remains elevated some time after watching it. But worry not, Braverade is near a fresh-air-providing open window, and no harm will come to her.

Going into this episode, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to say the same of Sidonia. When your elite subjugation squad is annihilated and a Gauna manages to dodge the HMD, you know Sidonia is in for a rough ride, and so we get a “Gravity Alert”, in which those bulky safety harnesses prove so crucial to survival. Good thing Nagate put his on! I appreciated the hard sci-fi approach to everything Sidonia does.

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For instance, a small moon-sized colony ship can go into evasive maneuvers without seriously messing up the structures inside. Kobayashi’s job is truly thankless and unenviable: she must either choose to destroy a big chunk of the ship, killing hundreds of people, or lose the whole ship. No wonder she wears a mask. Her’s is one of many choices that make the episode’s title “Choice” so fitting.

It was a single choice—a bad, emotionally-fueled one—that got Sidonia into this hole in the first place: Akai and Momose tried to save one another, when victory hinged on their ability to let each other go. As I assumed, the next four-man group to be sent out would include Nagate, along with Shizuka, Kunato, and En. Izana is notably excluded.

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But this team isn’t supposed to fight the Gauna, it’s merely charged with retrieving one of the two Holy Craps Kabizashis still barely in their frames’ range; if they don’t hypermile, they could end up stranded in space. When Nagate spots the Kabizashi, Kunato is quick to run ahead and grab it, but that puts him in the firing zone of the Gauna, which fires its own Hyggs cannon, disabling all but Nagate’s frame.

From here on, the choices are Nagate’s, and he makes what could be called an emotional choice in going after the Gauna instead of towing his colleagues home. But he’s a clever chap, and his frame fits him like a glove, so he’s able to ice the Gauna, earning him instant ship-wide recognition and celebrity, along with more even ire from Kunato, no doubt.

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But of course, all is not yet well—the emergencies never relent, right until the end, with Nagate making another clearly emotional choice: to search for Shizuka’s ejection pod, flying past the point of no return in the process. Following an episode in which such chivalry ended in disaster and after witnessing how sacrificing a few to save the many worked out, Nagate isn’t following Kobayashi’s lead: he won’t leave a (wo)man behind.

9_brav

Captain Earth – 01

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I wasn’t originally going to give this new Bones sci-fi/mecha series a look, but then I realized I was only watching three shows to my colleagues’ four; something I’d never live down. Having recently come off of the excellent but highly un-serious Space Dandy, your classic straitlaced sci-fi procedural proved highly satisfying, especially considering how much care (and cash) went into its production.

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The episode is replete with all the little design details I love, from the intricate control panels and big bold labels painted on everything, to the minimalist black-and-white bumper style informed by Eva and E-7. The central protagonist Manatsu Daichi bears a rather unfortunate resemblance to Renton, but at least he’s not nearly as annoying out of the gate. In fact, I had no trouble identifying with Daichi’s wanderlust and desire to do great(er) things.

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Flashbacks are interspersed between the escalating present events, efficiently painting the picture of Daichi’s past, the legacy of his dad, and astronaut “Captain”, and the two friends he met while exploring the launch site on the island where he grew up, both of whom carry a very whimsical lab experiment bearing. We also get a slight glimpse of a “Radical Ed” like hackress. All it takes is a news report of a strange phenomenon for him to return home and check things out.

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And down the rabbit hole he goes, into the cockpit of an “Earth Engine” within a rocket that launches into space and passes through three space stations that assemble a formidable, very chunky-looking mecha somewhat like Tieria’s Gundam Nadleeh. His first opponent will be (the battle doesn’t start this episode) the sexy alien Moco from “Kiltgang” (spelled “Kill-T-Gang” on displays), an organization sending AEOs (“Approaching Earth Objects”) at…Earth (duh).

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Sure, long strings of dialogue discussing a whole bunch of terminology I don’t yet understand got a little tiresome, but I enjoyed the technobabble checklists the NASA-equivalent technitions run through as Daichi’s mecha is built. The promo art spoils the fact that Daichi will reunite with the two other kids he befriended, as well as the Ed-like girl, giving us a nice central quartet to work with. I’ve watched a lot in this genre, so we’ll see if Captain Earth can bring something new the table.

7_brav

Sket Dance – 32

The first half is a period piece in which the Sket-dan are ninjas and Roman is a lord’s hostage. However, she breaks the fourth wall and jumps out of the moon, eliminating the need to storm the castle to rescue her. The second half is a sci-fi piece in which the sket-dan is the crew of a very slow spaceship. They pass the time by playing shiritori, but get in a space fender-bender with Tsubaki, a prince headed to his homeworld.

This week, Roman Saotome presents two more anime genre standbys to the Sket Dance repertoire. But this is Sket Dance, so both segments are rife with side commentary, screaming, and a lot of rule-breaking (there was even a nice little nod to Castle in the Sky, though the -dan shuts Roman up before she can say the magic words). The Sket-dan doesn’t so much bury themselves in their parts as simply carry on as they would in the real world, only in cosplay. In this, Sket Dance continues to perpetuate its chameleon-like identity.

Unless you’ve read the manga, there’s no telling what genre it will take on or what other work it will parody. We enjoy surprises, but even for Sket Dance, we felt these two segments were too-often off-topic and self-critique. Opportunities for a samurai duel – or a giant space battle – were missed, but perhaps that’s the point: no matter what environment they’re in, Bossun, Himeko and Switch aren’t giong to give up their normal, mundane existance.


Rating: 3