Valvrave the Liberator – 24 (Fin)

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New JIOR’s plan PR falters when the Council leans on the media to report their stunt as a hoax. Cain sorties and defeats X-eins. Haruto body-jacks L-elf and defeats Cain, but loses all his runes in the process and dies. The Royalists begin a coup of Dorssia, and ARUS takes advantage to rid themselves of the Magius, leading to a long, bloody struggle. In the future, a new Galactic Empire thrives based on peaceful interaction with extra-terrestrials like the Magius.

Since he never showed up in any of the future cold opens, and due to the amount of memories he’d lost in all the fighting, we were fairly certain Haruto wouldn’t survive the final battle. When he first his the “Yes” button to “resigning his humanity”, it didn’t (just) mean turning into a rune-sucking monster. Most humans, after all, do whatever they can to survive. He and the other Valvraves, on the other hand, were given eternal life and the choice to give it all up fighting for the survival of others, which meant laying down his life. Of course, even had he gone after Cain with everything he had (and everything he was), he probably still wouldn’t have beaten him without L-elf by his side.

We reach end of the Valvrave saga a little disappointed. The finale had some moving moments, the episode felt rushed, and the epilogue was a little paltry after so much epic struggle: Satomi and Takahi get married, Saki and Akira are teachers of some sort, and all the fallen heroes from the past get…cheesy marble busts all crowded together in a musty room. Between Cain’s defeat and the good future, we’re a little fuzzy on how the world achieved the peace they enjoy. The final shot of Unit 1’s cockpit was a bit on the preachy side, trying to tidily sum up the moral of the show. Trust alone isn’t enough to garner peace. Humans will always harbor secrets; how they’re unveiled affects the course of history.


Rating: 6 (Good)
Final Cumulative Rating: 7.333
MyAnimeList Score (as of 12/27/13): 7.74

Valvrave the Liberator – 23

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Haruto, Rukino, Yamada and Akira return to the rocketship, where Shoko thanks them but confines them to the hangar. Posing as an injured pilot, L-elf infiltrates Dorssian forces; A-drei and X-eins share his goals to eliminate Cain and his allies. As the Dorssian Fuhrer holds a speech on a heavily-defended Module 77, the Valvraves launch a seemingly desperate attack. Haruto loses more memories of Shoko but fights on as he promised Rukino. Yamada is killed by Q-vier while defending Akira, and she’s able to hack the comms network so the Council can’t cut the feed when L-elf appears on stage, slits the Fuhrer’s throat, and the world watches the wound heal, exposing his inhumanity.

In case you missed it (you probably didn’t): what’s left of New JIOR continues to owe its very existence to the efforts of L-elf, who springs back into action, dons his old gaudy uniform, yells “LIGHTNING SWORD!”, and fights alongside his old comrades, all doing their part to “unveil the world.” It’s a triumphant turnaround to be sure after the abject despair of two weeks ago. That being said, the important victory achieved this week was a full team effort. L-elf was aided by comrades on both sides. Haruto Valvrave pilots were resolved to fight to the bitter end even if their own people hated them, while Cain’s villainy had simply gotten to be too much for A-drei and X-eins, and Kriemhild.

It’s also an episode of brave faces: Haruto’s, Shoko’s, and L-elf’s. They put them on not just for their friends and allies, but for themselves, to get through what must be gotten through. These three simply cannot give up. Of course, all the resolve and bravery in the world (ahem, Yamada, RIP) won’t save you if you don’t have a decent plan for victory: enter L-elf once more, turning the tables in the P.R. battle. The people may not yet trust JIOR, but they now know they can’t trust anyone. The people still have to be convinced they can trust the Valvraves, while the Council must still be brought low, and Cain hasn’t even entered the fray in honest yet. There’s an awful lot to do in the final episode, much like last season.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Valvrave the Liberator – 22

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Haruto and L-elf crash land in a deep crater with a broken transmitter. Haruto finds a flare, but the two start arguing and get into a fight. Meanwhile, when another student Shoko is tending to dies, it compels her to enter Unit 1’s cockpit, where she learns from Pino that Haruto resigned his humanity to avenge her when he thought she was dead. After experiencing visions of the dead, Haruto and L-elf say they’re not ready to die, creating a reaction that shoves L-elf off him. They use the power to launch the flare. Three Dorssian fighters arrive, but they’re fought off by Rukino Saki in Unit 4, who was freed by A-drei. Haruto and L-elf promise to help each other “unveil the world” by exposing the Council of 101.

In the depths of despair Haruto claims that he’s being punished for his actions, which he deems sins. But the terrible situation he, L-elf, Shouko, and JIOR find themselves in is a result not of actions, but inactions and omissions. With some time to think and get whaled on by L-elf while they’re in chunky orange Tintin spacesuits, he finally learns that. Everyone learns a lot this week: L-elf learns Liseilotte was a pro-human Magius, and finds something to live for: carrying on her dream of a world where her kind can coexist with humans. Shouko learns that Haruto had to push that button, and he only pushed it because of her. A-drei learns that L-elf was possessed when he shot his eye, and didn’t really betray him.

After all hell broke loose last week, this was a welcome taking-stock episode that allowed everyone to catch up. What’s so brutally ironic (and typical of this show) is that had the things that came to light for people this week happened just two weeks before, Shouko could have postponed the ill-fated summit that led to the branding of JIOR as a nation of monsters. A-drei could have freed Saki earlier. Alas, Shouko and A-drei learned the truth and Haruto and L-elf had it out too late to avoid a bunch of death. Now that they have, there’s a path forward; perhaps bumpier than it needed to be, but at least Haruto and L-elf are in agreement: it’s not time for them to die, and there’ll be no more secrets. It’s time to unveil the world.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Why, it’s another Future Saki cold open, with what looks like Satomi and a baby L-elf “prince.” They’ve also apparently preserved the school where this all began. Interesting…
  • Shouko gets the full rundown from Pino, complete with Haruto-absolving ValvTube evidence! The scene unnderlines just how much easier things could have gone in the last two episodes had Haruto just told Shouko the truth.
  • Spacesuit fights are always so amusingly clumsy, aren’t they?
  • Something very Star Wars-y about Haruto meeting with Dead Kyuuma, Mari, and Aina (Hi Aina!).

Valvrave the Liberator – 21

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After the Dorssian Fuhrer reveals Rukino Saki’s immortality, he cuts to live footage of a reporter entering the hold of the Phantom and finding the humans being drained of runes, among them Iori’s father. The ARUS president declares all New JIORans dangerous lifeforms, and his soldiers commence the wholesale execution the students. He and the Furher also form a Dorssio-ARUS alliance, vowing to stamp out JIOR. The Valvraves scramble to cover the survivors’ escape, but students led by Iori trick Haruto and hand him and L-elf over in exchange for leniency. ARUS immediately double-crosses them, but Inuzuka shields them until they’re able to launch, and rescues Haruto and L-elf before dying in a blaze of glory.

It’s a near total defeat for the fledgling nation of New JIOR, as we see what happens when they play with fire and depend on such a small and fragile force to defend them. For all the weapons brought to bear on either side, and weapons they’ve endured, the ultimate weapon of their downfall turned out to be…PR. The instant wide-ranging media access meant to gather other nations to their cause was turned against them by the Council, a force far more skilled and experienced in its manipulation. Even if Shouko knew what the hell was going on, no one has the patience to hear any more explanations, as painfully demonstrated when a JIOR student comes forward to calmly explain – and gets a bullet in the head for his trouble. The bloody, merciless purge of unarmed, mortal students that follows is truly gut-wrenching and difficult to watch.

The show fixes an unblinking eye on the carnage, as classrooms are sprayed with bullets and terrified, cowering students are mowed down. As they’re being slaughtered like sheep, they turn on their once-saviors, and you really can’t blame them. For all the Valvraves’ heroics, they dug the graves of their countrymen by keeping them in the dark about so many important, dangerous things for too long. The truth didn’t kill them; being protected from the truth did. As we saw, an international summit on live TV was not the ideal time for Shouko or the world to learn such things. Now Shouko has turned away from Haruto, not knowing who he is anymore, while Haruto’s memories are literally shattering; L-elf is useless, Inuzuka is dead (in heroic fashion), Rukino is still imprisoned; and all of humanity have united against what’s left of New JIOR. They’ve never been more down, but they’re not out. Nothing is out of the question where this show is concerned.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Valvrave the Liberator – 20

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Haruto and the rest of the team that went to earth successfully stop the Phantom headed to Module 77 and return to a hero’s welcome, as Shoko has been gathering support and media attention. She has also arranged an international summit, where ARUS and other powers have pledged to condemn Dorssia’s actions. L-elf has isolated himself in a cargo hold. When the summit starts, the Dorssian Fuhrer commences a broadcast announcing they have Rukino Saki in custody. Cain stabs her through the heart and everyone watches her revive and heal, proving she isn’t human.

Last season we weren’t shy in expressing our reservations about the viability of an independent country ruled for and by a bunch of high schoolers. We’d spent so much time with the Earth-bound team recently that we nearly forgot the bulk of the country was still on the Moon, trying not to wear out their welcome and forging alliances. Haruto also forgot that Shoko and the others were fighting while he was otherwise occupied. It’s a shock to see the fruit of his labors in the form of tearful family reunions and hard-hitting media interviews by journalist who have dealt with his naive sort before, who make him wonder if he really is tilting at windmills.

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Kyuuma also tells Haruto he’ll go mad if he tries to fix all the myriad problems currently on his plate, and should enjoy life while he can; for tomorrow, everything could be over. Haruto shows a glimmer of reception to that, as he’s well aware he’s running himself ragged trying to do everything when he can’t. There’s no more powerful reminder of the result of that path than poor L-elf, who executed his plan all the way to the end but ended up losing the most important thing in the world to him. Now he’s lost, inconsolable, and New JIOR is immediately worse off for it, as Dorssia proves they can fight a P.R. war with the best of them.

Now that the secret of the Valvrave pilots is essentially out, New JIOR will likely find themselves standing alone, and all of Shoko’s diplomatic work blowing up in her face. That unfortunate and sudden reversal of fortune is the Council’s doing, as they’re tired of these children and want them out of the way. Even if L-elf was 100% back on his game, the fact remained they left Saki behind. And almost as a cruel self-rebuttal to that horrible music video the JIORans made in more innocent times, the show has Saki viciously stabbed through the heart on live TV to an audience of hundreds of millions. Valvrave does not mess around.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)
)

Valvrave the Liberator – 19

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L-elf rescues Lieselotte from her captivity, confessing his love, but their escape is interrupted by Q-vier. Haruto crashes through the wall in Unit 1, and L-elf hands Lieselotte off to him. Her presence in the cockpit surprises Pino, and Haruto learns she is a Magius—a being with no physical body that lives off of runes—and that he’s one too. The rocket launch is stymied by the loss of a runway, but L-elf lowers a drawbridge and the rocket launches as the Valvraves protect it. Q-vier hits one of its hydrogen tanks, but Liselotte repairs it, at the cost of all her runes.

So the Magius crash on earth, possess animals and people to live and consume their runes to survive. They eventually form a council with humans to oversee earth’s affairs, of which Lieselotte doesn’t want any part, so she’s imprisoned and regularly drained of power with that tanning booth. Meanwhile, the Magius serve as cores for Valvrave units, whose pilots must literally resign humanity in order to operate them, thus becoming a “new lifeform” similar to immortal Magius, which explains Saki’s presence in the distant future. Should we be worried that some of this is actually making sense? Valvrave, how could you!

Practically speaking, this is an episode in which the New JIORans get the hell out of Dodge—er, Dorssiana. But L-elf also came to rescue the one he loves. He helped build and strengthen New JIOR for her more than anyone else. Sure he’s only known less than an hour in total, but that’s apparently enough. So it’s unfortunate, even tragic, when we find that she can’t return his feelings, not because she doesn’t share them, but because she’s unsure what love is, even after centuries of living in human form. It’s your classic lovers-of-different-races predicament. Worse still, she ends up “emptied” like Marie. L-elf just can’t catch a break!

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 11

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As Module 77 draws closer to the neutral Moon, the new ministers of JIOR gather for a photo shoot. Haruto and Saki skip it, instead visiting an abandoned part of the city to talk privately, but Saki won’t let Haruto apologize. Their talk is interrupted by alarms; a massive Dorssian fleet is bearing down on them. Shoko speaks to their leader, Admiral Wartenberg, who shows her her hostage father being prepared for execution and offers a deal: peace for the students of Module 77 in exchange for the Valvraves and giving up on the rest of JIOR. Shoko’s dad implores her to move forward, but before she can make a decision, Haruto uses his harakiri blade to obliterate most of the fleet, killing her father and the admiral. Colonel Cain uses the chaos to break through the bottom of the module and start drilling through its core, something L-elf apparently hadn’t foreseen.

What Haruto did to Saki last week was unquestionably a sexual assault, but unlike a case where he was drunk, or high, or just a fucking asshole, it happened because of something completely outside of his control. A real-world parallel would be a mental illness for which there is no known cure. Under those circumstances, while we condemn his actions we can’t fairly condemn Haruto the person, and neither does Saki, who was in kinda love with him anyway. She doesn’t want him to apologize, not just because what happened happened because of the curse, but also because he agreed to bear that curse in exchange for the power to protect everyone else. Part of it could also be simply because she can’t give up on the one person who could deliver her from a life of loneliness and despair, at least in her mind. And when he’s not “possessed”, Haruto indeed doesn’t want Saki to feel like she’s alone anymore, because she isn’t: in the Crazy Event of the Week (CEW), he proposes to her before going to deal with the Dorssian intruders. He’s taking responsibility for what  he’s done, even if it means spurning Shouko.

Of course, you could also throw in another CEW, involving Shoko, the new prime minister. Up to this point she’d held out hope her father could be rescued and restored to his old position, and everything could go back to the way it was. But as he himself tells her, that’s thinking backwards to a time that can never be again. She has to weigh her love for him with the fate of Module 77 and all who inhabit it, and little does she know L-Elf has a gun ready to kill her before she makes the wrong choice. It’s a tense scene, especially when Admiral Wartenberg coldly lays out how adults attain ends regardless of means; they’re okay with getting their hands dirty as long as they get the desired results. It’s all well and good for Shoko to condemn this philosophy – and it sounds pretty evil to us – but let’s not forget that in order to achieve their ends, Haruto, Saki, and the rest of the Valvrave pilots resigned their friggin’ humanity. The (Late) Admiral Wertenberg would be proud of such adult choices, right?

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The fleet is destroyed, but it worked out to be a giant diversion while Cain and his elite team infiltrated Module 77. They immediately start stirring up some serious shit, and once again the students are backed into a corner.
  • The material with Akira seemed a bit extraneous to this episode. Yeah, we get it, she’s deathly afraid of human contact of any kind. What else ya got?
  • What with the Dorssians knocking on Module 77’s door every week, utterly ignoring the threat of Valvrave falling into ARUS hands, we’re a little surprised we haven’t seen any counter-moves by ARUS.
  • Cain himself is on point this time, and he’s confident he can stay a step ahead of L-elf. We’ll see about that, won’t we?

Valvrave the Liberator – 09

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L-elf organizes military drills for the students, and when Cain’s Dorssian fleet attacks again, Module 77 has a sturdy defense prepared. However, Haruto and Saki are lured out of position, leaving the module vulnerable to attack by a second Dorssian fleet. Inuzuka and Yamada both contract with the blue and yellow Valvraves, respectively, and fight the fleet. Inuzuka deflects the Dorssian’s main cannon and destroys it; Cain retreats. Back on the module, bound for the neutral Moon, L-elf learns that Takumi is a JIOR soldier, and the entire module and everyone on it was intended “for the Valvraves.”

Well, it wasn’t that hard to predict, but the two people we figured most likely to be the next Valvrave pilots – Inuzuka and Yamada, both resigned as humans and joined the ranks of Haruto and Saki on Team Valvrave. Doing so proves beneficial for Module 77, as the other two pilots fall for a very easy ploy to draw them away from the thing they’re protecting, and if it weren’t for Inuzuka’s Valvrave shield, New JIOR would have been toast. He and Yamada waste no time exhibiting the power of their Valvraves, which if anything seem more powerful and dominant than the red and green ones, at least up to this point.

It’s good to see L-elf’s genuine efforts to whip New JIOR’s long-useless student body into something resembling a disciplined fighting force. If nothing else it keeps the kids busy and focused. But more interesting is the revelation that Module 77 has always been one big facility dedicated to the development of Valvraves and, potentially, their pilots as well. Now there are four Valvrave pilots who have already proven mostly capable of protecting their new nation, suggesting that while things may not have unfolded exactly as the Valvraves’ creators envisioned, their experiment is proceeding apace.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Kakumeiki Valvrave – 05

Tokishima Haruto, Rukino Saki

Sakimori academy revels in its new-found independence as ARUS and Dorssia are at a stalemate where Module 77 is concerned. Things take a turn for the worse when the power shuts off and its starts to snow. Otamaya volunteers to fix the system, but as the girls are waiting in the school a fight breaks out between Saki and Takahi. The power is restored and tempers cool. The academy decides to produce a video to cheer up their families in occupied JIOR, and they end up gaining popularity and increased donations from ARUS citizens as well. While surveying the module, Haruto and Saki find more Valvrave-style mobile suits. Saki agrees to keep them a secret and then kisses Haruto.

Last week Shouko declared Sakimori Academy an independent country, and this week we find out how a bunch of kids run that country: poorly. They act like kids who are home alone for the first time, playing among ruins, making messes in stores, abusing machinery, watching porn, jumping on the bed, and generally just fucking around. Meanwhile their families are suffering under the jackbooted Dorssians. These kids can barely get along in a classroom, so why should they have any hope maintaining the infrastructure of their module? We didn’t like all the girls just huddled in the school waiting for “The Boys” to save them. If Otamaya doesn’t just happen to know how to fix the outage, everyone freezes to death. Pretty small margin for error! Where’s Plan B?

We also didn’t like how Takahi, her minions, and Saki fly off the rail so quickly; it doesn’t bode well for the future of a stable nation. We also found their heavily produced and choreographed cheer-up video not only over-long and embarrassingly hoaky, but also in bad taste, when you again consider the suffering they’re immune from simply because Haruto controls Valvrave. They come off as a bunch of entitled brats. Also, we don’t know that much about Saki yet, but this episode doesn’t help matters. She goes from mopey and emo to pop-idol-y and then seductive as she enters a contract of sorts with Haruto, sealing a love triangle between three underdeveloped main characters. She was kinda all over the place, as was the whole episode.

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Rating: 4
(Fair)

Stray Observations:

  • This episode doesn’t match up favorably to Majestic Prince’s latest episode, and here’s why: Majestic Prince kept a laser focus on its core characters and didn’t try to do too much, dealing with themes of change and new beginnings that resonated with us. Valvrave tried to juggle way too much this week and dropped the ball; we couldn’t make a connection.
  • The wildly fluctuating tone didn’t help matters either.
  • Another thing weighing down this series is that aside from all of the dozen or so students with lines, there are hundreds of others who are all basically sheep. All we’ve seen from them is they’re able to make a goody propaganda video, but we otherwise couldn’t care less what happens to them as a group; they’re so inert.
  • L-Elf literally just sneaks around the whole time. That’s it.