Back in the Yukon, Yuuya and Argos Flight enjoys a welcome home party in which Yui cooks him the same niku-jaga his mom used to make. Their love-in is interrupted by Lt. Cui Yifei, leader of the Bao-Feng Flight, one of the many foreign TSF development teams that have been invited to the Yukon to participate in a tournament, the end result of which may determine if the XFJ program is scaled back or eliminated altogether. Inia runs off and Yuuya helps Cryska look for her, until his former squadmates Sharon and Leon Ruze show up.
Not a lot happening this week, more of a breath-catching respite after all the last arc’s excitement. Yuuya also exhibits how much he’s changed since the Soviet excursion, and indeed since joining Argo Flight. He’s a little wiser, a little more patient, and a lot more likable than the prick of yore. Yui is wrestling with the inconvenient but inescapable fact that she may have feelings for him, and even Cryska notices the change, as he volunteers to help her look for Inia, who’s always liked Yuuya.
The new characters we meet are more like the old Yuuya (and a lot like many of the Zhar Battalion eishis, who are all dead now). Cui Yifei calls him out at the bar and asks him upfront: “What’s your race?”, which is no way to greet someone. Yuuya takes the high ground, identifying himself as as “Japanese-American” for what we believe may be the first time. Then there’s his old squad buddies arrive, apparently to beat him at eishi-ing. We agree with Yui and Yuuya: this human-on-human “Blue Flag” tourney seems like a waste of time, considering the Beta are still out there.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Yuuya cannot fight effectively or flee with Yui aboard Shiranui, so he transfers her to Stella. They use a taxiway to try to take off, but Yuuya doesn’t have enough power, so he opens a path for Stella to escape, leaving him on the ground, surrounded by Beta. Meanwhile, Lt. Sendak’s superior orders the Kamchatsky base bombed with no traces left behind.
Nothing’s simple for Yui, Yuuya, and Stella this week. With Yui safe, all they need to do is blow up the cannon and escape the base. Yuuya intentionally aims low, saving the core module so he can carry it with him, but a Beta shears off the arm he was going to carry it with. Because Yui isn’t in a plug suit (there aren’t spare ones aboard the TSF?), Yuuya has to take it easy or risk killing her. And even when he passes her off to Stella, his Shiranui is simply so beaten up he can barely do anything.
With all these logistical issues at hand, Sendak insists he can still retrieve the cannon by ordering Zhar to “rescue” the UN guys. But his boss cuts his losses and orders the base razed. Which means while Stella and Yui are out of harm’s way (for now), Yuuya is about to face dual dilemmas: a company of Beta all up in his grille, and death from above (and shucks, he didn’t even hear Yui insisting he call her by her first name!) Still, Yuuya seems to see this as an opportunity to prove himself yet again, and we’re confident he’ll pull through somehow.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Yuuya begins training in his new Type 94 Shiranui Type 2, and is just as frustrated with it as we was with the Type 97. Lt. Takamura tells him ‘a man and horse must be one’, and Vincent reiterates that fighting the natural tendencies of the TSF won’t get him anywhere. After a belated welcoming party, Argos Flight goes on another training mission, which is interrupted by Takamura herself. She quickly takes out everyone and spars with Yuuya, who adjusts his piloting style and manages to knock her sword away. On her way back to HQ Yui encounters Inia, who greets her and then runs away.
The battle of wills between Yuuya and Yui continues next week, and was just on the verge of becoming stale when Yui decided to go out and teach Yuuya a firsthand lesson in how to handle one’s TSF. As Vincent astutely points out, they’re actually pretty alike; in that neither back down when they should, and neither are totally honest with themselves. Deep down they probably both see themselves in one another, which pisses them off even more. Yui may go on about how useless he is, but as her shower scene makes clear, she’s irked by his fast progress and potential for greatness.
This isn’t surprising, since Yui probably blames herself for not being able to save any of her friends years ago. Ever since then she’s built up a thicker and tougher armor around herself, but that trauma still festers. Still, her job is to polish the rough ore of Argos into a shimmering gem of BETA-killing, and so her surprise crashing of their training mission also made sense. Her goal was to either beat the hell out of him, or get him to trust his TSF enough to defend himself…and it worked. Now, if only we knew what the heck Inia is up to, and why she keeps showing up and calling people nice…
Rating: 6 (Good)