PANDRA attends a summit in the Kingdom of Monarch, whose leader Princess Sophie is in favor of normal-esper coexistence. They cross paths with Minamoto and Sasaki of the BAse of Backing ESP Laboratory (BABEL). Sasaki steals a USB drive from Hyoubu that contains a video game, which unlocks state secrets when they beat it. Meanwhile, PANDRA kidnaps Sophie after Yugiri had a premonition about her assassination. Minamoto finds out that an anti-Esper member of the government arranged the assassination. PANDRA successfully foils his plans and he is arrested.
There’s comfort in easy wins, but not much excitement. Sometimes, you want the good guys (or in this case bad…ish guys) to be truly challenged; to have to put everything on the line and expend the maximum amount of energy and resources to achieve their goals. But that’s not yet the case, and part of it is because PANDRA and Hyoubu Kyousuke are so damned powerful, they more often than not make humans look pitiful, powerless, and silly. The number of humans who hate espers may outnumber those espers by quite a degree, but they can’t kill an esper with a thought.
So: easy wins. This is certainly one. The outcome was never in doubt; Princess Sophie wasn’t going to get assassinated. The trick was to get the assassin – the mastermind, if you can call him that – to reveal himself. To do so, Hyoubu arranged a clever set of lures, including the princess herself. But the time spent wandering the city with her and watching the BABEL guys play a video game, while fun, feel like padding, and the animation didn’t look particularly good this week. One redeeming quality: the princess was neither a high-pitched squirt nor spoiled bitch. She was an adult, and a very pleasant one.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Andy acclimates to life aboard the Catastrophe and meets the various members of P.A.N.D.R.A., each of which has a unique esper power. Hyoubu takes him on his first job, meeting with the mafia in Venice. They make good use of Andy’s power negation to foil the mafia boss Carlo’s plan to take out Hyoubu, who turns around and kills him with his “Unlimited” power. They return to the Catastrophe and have a celebratory shindig.
The first episode introduced us to (anti)hero Hyoubu, his pint-sized ward Yugiri and his newest employee, the two-faced Andy. This week we meet more members of P.A.N.D.R.A. and learn what it is a criminal esper organization does with itself, besides cruise around on giant yachts. Yugiri is a mind-readers; Momotaro has the body of a squirrel; Magi can change his form into, say, wings, which he uses to fly. Momiji can teleport. Yoh manipulates sound. All these skills prove valuable in Andy’s first official mission, which amounts to killing off a mafia boss and old friend. Andy’s passive power – to negate the powers of others, is perhaps most powerful and useful of all, which is probably why Hyoubu is keeping him around.
Some like Magi don’t trust him – and they’re right not to – but he defers to “Major” Hyoubu, an 80-year-old Dorian Gray who’s stayed young by using his esper powers (and drinking lots of milk). Hyoubu may be exceedingly confident, but as the incident with the mob boss proves, he doesn’t strike us as someone who will let someone pull the wool over his eyes. He’s a survivor. We’ll also note that Andy was struck by the family atmosphere of P.A.N.D.R.A. when off-duty. It’s definitely not what he expected – there are even orphan espers aboard, suggesting Hyoubu is an immortal gangster with a heart o’gold. Or maybe he’s just making sure he has a deep bench of esper “talent” waiting in the wings?
Rating: 6 (Good)
Hyoubu Kyousuke, leader of the criminal esper organization P.A.N.D.R.A., is willingly taken into custody and taken to Deadlock, an island prison for espers. There, he meets the friendly Andy Shinomiya, whom he poisons in order to get the two to the “hospital”, where he can use his powers to escape. Before they do, Hyoubu retrieves his friend/colleague Yugiri, who was being experimented on by the warden. Hyoubu uses his UNLIMITED power to fend off a genetically-engineered esper supersodier, and when they make it outside, the P.A.N.D.R.A. flagship Catastrophe is waiting for them. Andy is later revealed to be a USEI investigator whose task was to infiltrate P.A.N.D.R.A.
So…Zettai Karen Children. We must confess, we’ve never seen nor heard of it, but we didn’t let that stop us from taking a peek at this spinoff. After all, we watched Railgun before Index, and it made sense. And so does The Unlimited. Hyoubu Kyousuke and P.A.N.D.R.A. were apparently the main antagonists in the original series that spanned 51 episodes some five years ago, but this series will be focusing on them as the (anti)heroes. Hyoubu is a bit of an arrogant prick, but he has the powers to back it up, and while his methods aren’t always morally squeaky-clean, his ultimate goal – rescuing a little girl from a horrible fate – shows his heart is in the right place.
Along with Hyoubu and the girl Yugiri (who really only says “Major”), we have Andy Shinomiya, the pleasant-enough ex-soldier who hates espers despite being one himself. Up until the closing minutes, he seems like he’ll be the Rock of the bunch, the newbie whom everyone will tease and harass but who won’t go back on his promise to join the club if Hyoubu sprung him. Of course, in that closing minute, we learn he’s some kind of government agent who probably doesn’t have Hyoubu’s best interests at heart. Hyoubu may well know this, but probably won’t tell Andy. This was diversionary and cohesive enough, but not quite up to snuff with the first two Winter series we’ve sampled.
Rating: 6 (Good)