As Shrade, Amata and Zessica traverse dimensions, Fudo briefs the rest of Neo-Deava on the Book of Twin Stars, starting with Celiane and Apollonius, then Silvie and Apollo, Apollon’s winged dog reincarnated; and finally Mikono and Amata/Kagura. Like Vega and Altair, the two were once whole, but split apart by the latest incarnation of Toma, Apollonius’s betrothed, who is now Mikage. Shrade sacrifices himself to get Amata and Zessica into Altair, but they’re separated and Mikage takes possession of Zessica’s body. She meets up with Kagura and Mikono, and urges Kagura to summon Solar Aquarion to oppose Izumo.
Whoa, major exposition dump this week; and not quite done the way we would do it. See, we’ve never been fans of the abstract and somewhat silly ways past information is presented on this series, and unfortunately there’s a lot of that this week. The elements standing on a big book with trippy patterns in the background; images lifting off the pages like a pop-up book; and floating video screens helpfully illustrating Fudo and Crea’s tale (who, pray, was filming these events 12-24 millienia ago??). Like we said, it all looks a bit silly. Frankly, we would have preferred if the story were told as a flashback episode in and of itself. This felt like a recap, even though it revealed lots of information we either didn’t know or weren’t sure about. And recaps are boring. But at least it’s out of the way now.
All that exposition, while necessary, kind of ground proceedings to a halt. As Cayenne said, they didn’t have time to sit around listening to a story, but Fudo didn’t listen. We just wish there was a more serious, less goofy way of supplying this information. For that matter, Shrade’s death was kind of…meh. Between turning the blood stains on his shirt into musical scales and his overwrought “final melody”, it was all a little silly and hard to take seriously, unlike Jin’s death. Meanwhile, as expected, Mikage has made his move on Zessica, which means he now has physical form. From unrequited love victim to unrequited angel vessel…you can’t say she’s not moving up in the world(s)!
Forced to return without Mix, everyone awaits Mikono and Fudo’s return. Fudo tells Mikono the legend of Genesis, in which the angel Apollonius shed his wings and joined the humans after falling in love with Celiane. The time has come for the legend to repeat. A disturbing dream leads Amata to sortie without authorization. Both he and Kagura are drawn to the city where Amata first met Mikono, now a deserted ruin, decaying and overrun with vines. Zessica and Cayenne are sent to retrieve Amata, but a powerful mecha attacks them. Zessica is trapped under stones, and kisses Amata so he’ll fly away to safety. Shrade and Sazanka union with Cayenne to battle the mecha, but Kagura and Amata meet and learn they are – and always have been – the same person.
We should have known; the reason Amata is so kind and shy and the reason why Kagura is so forward and aggressive: they’re two sides of the same coin. Amata is Kagura and vice versa. It seems they’re meant to coalesce into a single entity, “Amagura.” This also rather neatly explains why Mikono feels such a close attachment to both of them: she’s the Big Connector, and she’s to be the Celiane to their Apollonius in what is the latest version of the Legend of Genesis, which created the world. Amagura and Mikono will create a new world, which probably means bye-bye old world.
Speaking of farewells, it’s not clear at all whether Mixy will ever be able to become Mix again, Shrade is probably not going to last much longer considering he can’t help but union yet again, and Zessica says goodbye to Amata in a pretty contrived and random sequence of unfortunate events. Her element power allows her to break up rocks, but for some reason she can’t break the ones on top of her. We liked how she made Amata leave her behind by kissing him, thus involuntarily activating his flying powers. But we don’t believe she’s dead. Not yet, anyway. Mikage had plans for her, after all.
Zessica skulks in her dorm when Mikage apparates from the shards of a broken mirror. He plants a kiss on her forehead that leaves a glowing sigil. When a dimension gate opens above the academy, Crea heeds a cryptic message from Fudo and orders the Aquarions to go through and rescue Mix. Amata, Andy, Zessica, Yunoha and Shrade arrive in Altair, and find it a depressing, run-down place devoid of women. Using schematics from Jin’s imager, they locate the central command, and are met by resistance. Andy takes a young pilot hostage, but when he realizes Andy can’t kill him, he trips an alarm and he’s arrested. Amata escapes and finds his mother in stasis. The pilot removes a helmet, revealing Mix’s braid.
We knew it wouldn’t be long before some kind of rescue mission for Mix was mounted, and so here we are. We have an interesting and diverse group, since Mikono is off to go find Fudo. Shrade knocks out Cayene and takes his place on the team, so that he can experience the melodies of Altair for himself. Yunoha goes to see Jin’s home. Amata goes because he can fly. Andy goes because no one’s going to stop him, plus his hole-making abilities prove quite useful. Zessica comes too (more on her in a bit). We like how all of their element powers are put to good use, and not merely supplementing Aquarion, but in personal combat. They do this so rarely, sometimes we forget just how powerful these kids are, especially after their training sessions.
We also get to see Altair from the eyes of our heroes for the first time, and well, the place is a depressing dump, with the melody of “a wailing old woman”, according to Shrade. More telling, both Yunoha and Zessica immediately start not feeling so good, which is probably why there are no women on Altair. Even stranger is when the young, androgynous pilot Andy takes hostage shows her braid, revealing she’s Mix…but we saw her chest and her boobs are gone. What the hell happened to her? And let’s not forget the reason they were able to reach Altair at all – Mikage. He’s taken an interest in Zessica, which ironically bodes well for her stalled character. The prospect of her becoming another oneof his puppets is more interesting than if she had been taken by Izumo in the first place. Throw in Amata finding his mom, and this Altair rescue mission has opened up a whole new can of worms…or rather, donut ants.
The berzerk Kagura, in his fortified Mithra Ghis, wreaks havoc on the movie screening, looking for Mikono, his “Sylvie”. Amata, Mikono, and Zessica form Aquarion Evol, but Kagura is being fed by an energy thread through a dimension gate to Altair, and is able to reverse any element power, quickly overhwelming the trio. Mikono and Amata are saved by Andy and MIX. Meanwhile, Jin learns that Yunoha knows of his treachery, so he prepares to return to Altair with her as his hostage, but she convinces him to stay and aid their new friends. Cayenne and Shrade, who came to pursue Jin, instead union with him, forming Espada. They close the gate and defeat the weakened Kagura, but in the process Mikage kills Jin and turns his attention on Amata.
With this episode, we’re now halfway through the sci-fi romance epic that is Aquarion Evol, and we’re pleased to say it’s a hell of a midpoint. Like any good season finale, it showed us things we hadn’t seen before, pulled out all the emotional stops, gave just about everybody something to do, revealed new potential routes for the story to take, raised fresh stakes…and killed off at least one character. The character in question is someone we had really grown to like in Jin. His struggles with divided loyalties and similarly schitzophrenic relationship with Yunoha made him one of the more interesting, well-rounded characters, so it’s a shame he’s gone.
But his death wasn’t just random; Mikage was pretty adamant about cutting his head open with rose pedals, despite his being the final son born on Altair. Wasn’t he…important? Or was his decision to side with Yunoha an act of treason that lifted him of his responsibilities – and life. We’re thinking this because Mikage (who has wings coming out of his head) really wants to know where the guy with the golden wings is – who we know to be Amata – and perhaps Amata is his next “project.” It would be par for the course, as Mikage has already manipulated Kagura and Jin. At the end of the day, everyone seems to be the pawn of some superior being.
Amata snatches Mikono back from Kagura’s clutches and escapes with his wings, while Shrade incapacitates the abductor with a violin. Kagura gets away and gives chase in the Mislagnissa, which he was able to steal with the help of a recently-awakened Mikage. Neo-Deava cancels training; Cayenne, Zessica and Andy take flight in vectors, but are no match for Kagura. An injured Cayenne lets Shrade take over, while Andy gets switched out for Amata, and the union of the three creates Aquarion Spada, a musical weapon that beheads Mislagnissa. Kagura is dragged home by Izumo, while the brief attack severely weakened an already weak Shrade, whose element power has always been too powerful for his body to withstand.
After a fairly lightweight outing last week, the peril returns in the form of the wild, angry Kagura. Curiously, both Mikono and Amata get a very strange familiarity with him, and Amata even has a vision of him and Mikono in some kind of unholy matrimony – something he doesn’t want to happen, and knows can’t. This episode is also the first night battle, and it’s very strikingly presented, what with the mecha weaving through Neo-Kowloon’s glowing forest of skyscrapers. Night or day, the city is effing gorgeous, and feels alive and pulsing.
There’s a new Aquarion combo this week too: the elegant Spada with Shrade at the head. With its whip and sure, dignified movements stern master to the feral wolf that is Kagura and his Mislagnissa. Shrade doesn’t spare the whip, and Kagura is quickly dealt with, but Shrade, whose life hangs by a thread every day, may not survive another battle. He’d have probably bought the farm if the battle had continued. Kagura is definitely not the most charming of guys, but as Mikono senses, his determination and drive are sincere – Amata’s dark counterpart.
After she fails to exhibit any element powers, Neo-Deava sends Mikono on her way. Andy introduces Amata to Shrade, who can manipulate emotions and draw out the power of others with a piano. Amata, Andy, and Cayenne are sent out to deal with a new Abductor attack, but even uniting into Aquarion and getting boosted by Shrade, they are overmatched. High Commander Fudo Zen turns the boat Mikono is on around and back to the academy, where he exchanges Andy for her in Aquarion. She gets her chance to finally protect those who protect her, and together with Amata and Cayenne reform EVOL. Their Mugen Fist not only reaches out into space and defeats the Abductor’s ringleader, but circles the globe before bashing through the Berlin, reuniting the genders. Fudo is fine with this, but decrees that “love is forbidden.”
Aquarion Evol is high-powered, peppy, ridiculous, infectious, FUN. We’re glad the amazing visuals appear to be here to stay, and every episode leaves us wanting more. In addition to looking like several million bucks, there’s a lot of heart and raw emotion backing it up. Battles and their participants work themselves up into a frenzy, and their climaxes are, well, really climactic – as in visual and emotional explosions that provide huge exclamation points and leave no doubt as to their outcomes. Hell, High Commander Fudo actually tells Amata to start yelling. Naturally; mechas won’t perform optimally without yelling. A pretty young lady in the cockpit always helps, too. And there are few statements as huge as tearing down a Berlin-style wall. Gettin’ all Reaganesque up in this bitch!
Fudo’s arrival means a new order for the Academy, as boys and girls will no longer be segregated. And why should they be? In every episode now it’s been proven that whenever the genders get together, the resulting weapon is far more powerful than when they’re separate. The Abductors are no slouches in the powerfulness department, and it just makes military sense to do what it takes to muster the most powerful defense they can against the enemy. Of course, Amata was pretty comfortable coming into this episode; it was Mikono’s turn to awaken her power and tell her brother and her would-be boyfriend that she’s sick of being Useless® and letting them hurt themselves to protect her. She wants to get hurt to. We swear to God, the double entendres ingrained within this series are going to kill us…