We’re only hearing about this now, but apparently all of Japan is locked in a brutal civil war between Tokyo and the rest of the country, and Tokyo is winning. Only the district of West Udogawa has remained neutral, but the threat of Zvezda is used as an excuse to invade. This week Zvezda’s HQ is destroyed and its members apprehended one by one.
The show attempts to preserve its laid-back, tongue-in-cheek, optimistic tone throughout, but there’s still a pall of despair and desperation over everything. Without their lair or transforming powers, Zvezda is just a bunch of wide-eyed dreamers in ridiculous garb hiding in a playground, but Governor Asuta (on his own conquest kick) has decided now is the time to snuff them out once and for all.
To that end, White Light is absorbed by the Tokyo Special Forces, with Falcon becoming a city hall stooge, Egret installed as new commander of the puppet force, and Robin given the task of helping round up what’s left of Zvezda, knowing Asuta’s among them. It’s here where her fierce personal justice—for which she was originally recruited by Falcon—tells her she’s on the wrong side.
As if to clear her vision of the artificial justice the powers that be purport to uphold, Renge sheds her mask, stands between Zvezda and the guns. Asuta decides to surrender to his father, but as far as his father’s concerned, he’s a casualty of conflict. Renge whisks him away just in time, but as the curtain falls on the episode, they, like Zvezda, are still on the run with very little in the way of power. We’ll be watching with great interest to see if and how their justice serves them in the closing acts.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Apparently it was onsen week, as Samurai Flamenco, Nisekoi, and now Zvezda all featured hot springs. Of the three, we’d have to say Zvezda’s offering was the most creative and impactful. Having both White Light and Zvezda hold their company retreats at the same hot spring, and not knowing the either would be there, is both silly and brilliant—as is having the elderly innkeepers be on opposite sides.
When White Robin bumps into Dva, one would think Robin would immediately engage in combat, but it doesn’t go that way; Dva buys her a soda and they simply relax in this neutral place. After all, both “companies” are there to relax; maintaining a truce with the enemy keeps things from getting unrelaxed. But thanks to White Egret, a battle breaks out anyway.
While not happy with Miki picking a fight with Dva, Falcon decides to launch an all-out assault. Watching different halves of the assembled “employees” pull off their robes to unveil their true colors was a great bit of stagecraft, and the innkeepers duelling as Kate dozes below them is both thrilling and hilarious (Kate shows a lot of her kid-side this week by being immodest in the bath, conquering milk, and getting drowsy when its her bedtime). What was really cool was how casually Renge learned that Egret and Dva were Miki and Asuta all along.
Asuta still doesn’t know Renge is Robin, but we thought it was significant that Robin saved Dva before she knew who he was—not because she was betraying White Light, but because she didn’t see him as a threat. Now she knows, and her immediate reaction is tentative. As the war between White Light and Zvezda escalates (it sure looks like Yase betrayed Zvezda and their HQ has been blown up), there will probably be more instances when Renge will have to choose what matters more: duty or love.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Working his ass off as indispensable all-round doer of cooking, laundry, cleaning, and TP acquisition, school is Jimon’s last refuge. So naturally in the cold open he has that refuge snatched away by the surprise transfer of Kate and Roboko to his class. They and the rest ofo Zvezda aren’t there for Jimon, but for the “Udo Bride”, an ancient treasure Kate learns about by a dubious flyer published by the “Treasure Club.”
With Renge and Jimon’s secret identities secure, the sudden arrival of his colorful “cousins” doesn’t faze her; on the contrary, she swoons when she learns Jimon proposed to the school idol Shirasagi Miki when he was little (though he was instantly shot down). It’s kinda funny and ridiculous that the school accepts a grade-schooler and a robot to middle school, while Iitsuka and a fully-clothed Natasha look more at home. Meanwhile Gorou is ingeniously disguised as a bronze bust in the courtyard.
That first scene with Miki seemed random, but sets the stage for the Treasure Club mystery: it’s all another elaborate ploy by Shirasagi, AKA White Egret, AKA Madame M (lotta aliases pilin’ up!) to trap Zvezda, whose members she’s identified by the UDO levels they gave off while at the club meeting (the inexplicably interactive film reel was a nice touch). As Egret she ordered Renge to stay home, but the fact Renge couldn’t stay away (and indeed is so enthusiastic she shows up in full adventurer’s kit) could be a potential wrench in her gears.
This episode was full of interesting interactions between people who’d normally be enemies warming up to each other at school. In that regard, where Zvezda and Renge are concerned, it’s every bit a sanctuary and “neutral space” to them as it had been for Jimon. But Shirasagi is poised to ruin all that by unmasking the Zvezdians (her flyers will serve double duty as Zvezda power-negating talismans, another clever touch). Renge could learn Jimon and her new friends are all members, meaning she’ll have to pick a side.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- We noticed Roboko was eating her udo lightly grilled; nice continuity!
- Not sure where Jimon dredged up tha “Treasure Dance” thing, but it sure was weird…and the positive, reverent reaction to it was even weirder!
- The episode never forgets for a moment that Kate is at the end of the day a little kid, who doesn’t conserve her energy and ends up falling asleep all the time
- To that end, we like how she initially tried to use a more polite, formal affectation while at school, but the more tired she got, the more she just forgot to use it, confusing Renge.
- Roboko’s Schoolgirl mode made her sound a lot more like Morita Moe. We also liked how she was prepared to punish Jimon should his insulting of Kate continue.
Who would’ve thought both Jimon Asuta and Komadori Renge are chronic sufferers of both Voice-Blindness and Hair-Blindness? After all, neither of them had realized they were right on top of one another in a batle between Zvezda and White Light, despite the fact both have fairly distinctive hair and neither disguises their alter-ego’s voice. We know, anime have a certain license when it comes to disguises, so we’ll forgive the fact it takes Asuta seeing a much less noticeable detail than Renge’s purple twin-tails—her homemade strap—to figure out she’s White Robin.
What’s a little harder to forgive is that after teetering so close to the two finding out what their “secret jobs” are, the show pulls up at the last minute. Letting it happen would have been brassy, and there was potential in the scenario of Renge and Asuta knowing each others’ secret identities but maintaining their friendship, with the challenge of keeping it secret from their respective organizations. It would shake up his non-Zvezda life for the first time since, well, running away from home, which happened offscreen anyway.
About that: knowing full well that White Robin is Renge, Asuta saves her from Kate and Natasha’s terrifying tentacle boss, essentially committing an act of treason against Zvezda not just to save Renge’s life, but to save her from being unmasked and publicly humiliated. That part actually wasn’t bad, because it reiterates the fact Asuta still finds all this Zvezda business a bit silly. He knows Renge is trying her best to be a better person, like him. He won’t stand by and let others burn that down for no reason.
But then Renge had to be wearing a mask under her mask, making it so Asuta now thinks White Robin is a stranger. It’s the easy way out. But no one says she won’t unmask him one day, and they’ll be back at that intriguing crossroads we got a taste of this week. If nothing else, we did get to watch a lot of Asuta/Renge interactions, something we’re a fan of since they have such a natural, relaxed rapport. Her fair, earnest response to him saying he wanted to conquer the world was particularly sweet.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- We liked Asuta’s protests to all the histrionic exposition regarding White Light. There’s only so much BS he can take in one sitting.
- That being said, we think Zvezda’s definitely rubbing of on him, as he snaps covert photos of Renge all day, sneaks into the girls locker room and rifles through her things, all rash actions he wouldn’t have undertaken prior to becoming “Dva.”
- We enjoyed all the coded dialogue between Renge and Asuta, accurately expressing their moods while keeping the details secret.
- As an example that the conquests vary greatly in scale from week to week: this week Kate merely conquers the low bar back flip…barely.