Aquarion Evol – 25

Amata goes after Kagura; both union with themselves and fight as top halves of Aquarions. As they fight, Mikage moves Altair through a dimensional gate on a collision course with Vega to create a new world. Andy gets through to Mix, filling the holes in her memory and declaring his love for him/her. Crea appeals to Fudo to do something to stop Mikage, who transforms Zessica’s body and forces Mikono into union with him. After harnessing Ianthe, he also neutralizes Kagura and unions with him to form a Dark Aquarion. Amata unions with Yunoha and Cayenne to face him.

There was definitely a lot of mythology and side-switching to sift through, but now all the pieces just about where they need to be, and we’re all set up for the endgame. This week Amata finally, finally gets some fire in his belly and stands up to his bully of a counterpart. Unfortunately, they play rock-em-sock-em robots while their time could be better spent finding Mikono – the key to their victory. Instead, Mikage, who’s signed the lease to Zessica and revamped her decor, is able to snatch up Mikono. Which is bad news for anyone alive on either Altair or Vega.

We’ll refrain from speculating in too much detail how we see Aquarion Evol wrapping up, but we can tell you what we want. After a lengthy battle between Amata and Mikage, Amata eventually prevails, gets the girl, and saves the world – thereby successfully fighting back the fate he swore he would. We’re not saying a deviation from this plan will result in our writing off the series, but it’s been a long series full of will-they-won’t-they teasing. A nice, clear-cut, unambiguously happy ending would sure be a nice reward for sticking with it all these months.


Rating: 4

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Aquarion Evol – 24

As Kagura fights off Izumo and his men in the Legendary Aquarion and Andy fights Mixy in Aquarion Gephard, trying to get through to her, Amata wakes up and is drawn to the compound where his mother Alicia is in stasis. She tells him Izumo is his father, and how she left him on Vega to help Izumo lift the Curse of Eve.

Through Zessica, Mikage compels Kagura to lash out with Aquarion’s weapons, destroying Alicia’s chamber, then taking out Izumo’s mecha with a Mugen Punch. Izumo fires one last shot that disunions Kagura, Zessica and Mikono. Before Izumo dies, he’s able to see Amata briefly. He and Alicia leave the fate of the two worlds in Amata’s hands.

 

We’re now in the home stretch; this week began the arduous process of setting up what we presume will be one double world-resetter of a finale. As we probably could have deduced had we cared to, Izumo is revealed as Amata’s father and Alicia’s lover. Unfortunatly for Amata, he’s unable to spend much time with his estranged parents, as both lose their lives. Izumo’s heavy burden of saving Altair is now over; he’s shifted the responsibility to Amata. Can he manage it?

We think he’ll need help, both from his friends and enemies, if he considers Kagura his enemy. Obviously, they’re opposites, but the two of them are also representative of Vega and Altair: neither can survive alone anymore, so they must be combined. Altair’s Ianthe system ruined the natural “mother nature”, but it’s starting to reassert itself. But Mikage – the transdimensional puppeteering bad guy who is unfortunately pretty blandly evil – has other plans. How is Amata going to thwart a god?


Rating: 3.5

Aquarion Evol – 17

The elements are transported to a top secret location in a green, placid mountain valley, where they’re instructed to relax and await orders and mind a cargo of strange, seeded bananas. When Mix accidentally hits Andy with a volleyball, he takes the opportunity to confess but it comes out wrong. He sinks deep into the ground just as a dimensional gate opens, causing an instant blizzard and an icy Abductor emerges. Andy unearths a great spring of warm milk that connects the male and female elements and covers each others’ weaknesses, allowing them to defeat the Abductor and shed the Aquarion’s “peel”.

Beach, pool, or swimsuit episodes can often be irksome affairs when not done correctly, but fortunately Aquarion Evol avoided the typical pitfalls by getting the swimsuit part over with quickly and efficiently, then piling on the Aquarion Crazy. Apparently in this world, bananas, not apples, were the forbidden fruit the serpent offered Eve. Fudo had some awfully good arguments for why it’s a better choice. As for those milky geysers…was there an aquafer consisting of Ito-En Banana drink down there? That stuff is delicious.

Andy’s bungled confession to MIX (“I want to fill your hole!”) was priceless; he consistently gets some of the best lines of all his peers. Also, Zessica tells Mikono straight up “he’s all yours,” and while she won’t give up loving him, she’s at least moving on, or at least trying to. Hopefully this will mean her character can evolve beyond full-time Amata-piner; after all, she’s a pretty good fighter. Her new outfit is even more ridiculous than her last – she just isn’t capable of covering more than 45% of her boobs.


Rating: 3.5

Aquarion Evol – 16

With the Kagura threat neutralized for the time being, Fudo orders a mock battle between Aquarions: Cayenne, Sazanka and Malloy in Gephard against Amata, Mikono, and Zessica in Evol. The special training increased and augment everyone’s powers, and Gephard initially dominates, but when Zessica confesses to Amata, her unrequited love sends Evol into a brief berzerk mode, moving on its own and launching an Infinity Punch that trancends time and space and gives the Evol pilots a glimpse of the true story of Apollo and Sylvia. Gephard is defeated, and the training island is destroyed.

After all the excitement last week we expected things to slow down and cool off a bit, and with Amata buying cat treats to woo Mikono’s “cat” Shush, that’s how things started. But then we had elements put back into Aquarions for the first time in a while, only this time sparring with one another. Sazanka and Malloy’s powers are revealed, Zessica finally works up the courage to confess to Amata, Amata reacts predictably, and the Evol goes berzerk, blasting a punch so far our heroes can watch their counterparts from the previous Aquarion Series (which we haven’t seen)!

So now they know all that stuff really happened 12,000 years ago, leaving Amata worried: he was all gung-ho about fighting fate, but now he’s not so sure. Zessica’s confession doesn’t do anything for him (i.e. he’s not thinking about backup girlfriends); his focus is on Mikono, and whether he has any chance against Kagura. And so nobody is really happy. Except, strangely enough, Andy and MIX. Next week: we’ll see how Aquarion Evol does its inevitable swimsuit episode. Our prediction: there’ll be boobs.


Rating: 3.5 

Aquarion Evol – 14

Yunoha locks herself away in her room, invisible and in despair, during Jin’s funeral. Fudo sends Mikono to flush her out, and the class travels to Neo-Stanley for Jin’s interment. When he’s buried, Fudo orders Andy to dig holes for all everyone, for “Special Training of The Grave” Everyone except Mikono is buried alive with only a bamboo snorkel. Their thoughts of attachmend, wickedness, love, stubbornnes and hatred all become jumbled until Mikono uses her power of connection to bring everyone back. They emerge from cocoons of energy, reborn…even Kagura.

Well, now…that was a bizarre episode. No battles. No flirting. The skies over Neo-Deava are grey and dreary for the first time. Jin is dead. Kagura…isn’t. And as for everyone else save Mikono, well…Fudo wanted to teach a harsh lesson, and there was apparently no time to lose. As soon as Jin is buried, while the pain is still fresh in everyone’s minds, he has Andy dig graves. By himself. It seems to take the better part of the day. Everyone else just stands around. Like we said; Bizarre.

But that’s not the half of it. The ground in which everyone is buried seems to be reflecting all their thoughts into one another. Down there, six feet under, you’re mano-a-mano with yourself, and the minds wander. All kinds of inner philosophizing ensues. It may seem to be downright cruel and unusual training, but Fudo has a plan. Mikono refuses to be buried, and it’s a good thing, because she’s the one who ends up bringing them back from the edge of life with her element power. And just when you thought the training was over, boom, Kagura appears, good as new. This series is edging toward sadism vis-a-vis its characters!


Rating: 3.5

Aquarion Evol – 11

Mikage antagonizes Kagura until he escapes from his thorn cage in beast form and steals his mecha. Izumo tries to stop him, but Mikage exponentially enhances his combat abilities, and opens the gate to Vega for him. He’s coming for his “wench”, Mikono, thought to be the Sylvie to his Apollon – the ones who will awaken the machine god Genesis that slumbers beneath Vega. Back at Neo-Deava, Zessica struggles with feelings for Amata, while Amata tries to make his feelings known to Mikono, and learn what Kagura is to her.

After last week, when an antagonist was given the most screen time, this week is primarily dedicated to Kagura as he escapes from Altair. Our usual cast occupy the B-story; the antihero gets the A. But for all the time he and his voice-throwing benefactor get, they’re still not the most compelling characters, and this episode wasn’t nearly as good at fleshing them out as it was Jin. We find Kagura a shonen-like pain in the ass, frankly, what with all his roaring and screaming and “my wench” this and “my wench” that. That’s not how you court a lady, son.

As for Mikage, well, we’re not huge fans quite yet. Now that he’s awake, what, Izumo and the powers that be simply tolerate him? Or perhaps they weren’t aware how powerful he could be, how how strong he could make Kagura. Either way, his constant flowery patter gets a little repetitive. One things for certain: there’s more than one faction of the Abductors. Izumo wants True Eve to repopulate Altair, but Mikage has a more romantic – and for Vega and possibly Altair as well, more dangerous and chaotic – goal. And if Kagura unions with Mikono, well, that’s good news for Zessica, as Amata will suddenly be a free agent!


Rating: 3

Aquarion Evol – 08

While trying to dig his way to the girls’ locker room, Andy happens upon what he believes is the Book of Twin Stars, the key to Aquarion. Mix, an expert in linguistics, determines it to be an ancient student handbook. She wants to start implementing its strict dress code, starting with Zessica covering up more. Jin returns to Vega in search of the “perfect reaigler” who could be “True Eve” to Altair, which no longer has any women.

Amata, Mikono, and Zessica are sent out, but Jin proves a tough customer, using infiltration ammo to bypass Aquarion’s armor and deliver shockwaves straight to the pilots. This has a side effect of tearing their uniforms, and Zessica realizes the more skin she’s showing, the better she can dodge the weapons. Amata and Mikono follow (de)suit, stripping off most of their clothes, giving them the best offense – a total lack of defense, or modesty. They dodge all of Jin’s attacks and defeat him with a decisive blow.

The moral of this episode was “Naked Is Good.” Tyler Durden said “It’s only when we lose everything that we’re free to do anything,” which we’re gonna go ahead and apply here. After so many episodes of Zessica strutting around in Sexy Espada cosplay, the series – through the ultra-prude Mix – finally calls her out on it. But this week her near-nakedness was her secret weapon. She had to show more skin than ever. And Amata and Mikono also had to tear away their inhibitions – and clothes – in order to prevail.

Is this really ridiculous? Sure, but the show at least knows that; Jin couldn’t believe he was beaten by something so stupid. That awareness, and the nice tie-in with Zessica’s exhibitionism vs. Mikono’s bashfulness outside the cockpits, helped us let our own guard down and just enjoy the silliness. But against even her own judgement, Zessica continues falling for Amata. But they’ve seen each other mostly naked, so they’ve cleared that hurdle…


Rating: 3.5

Aquarion Evol – 07

When Andy suggests the class change its seating chart, Amata ends up seated between Mikono and Zessica but closer to the latter. Andy is seated between Mix and a strange doll he claims belonged to a former student. After class Amata and Zessica end up locked out of the dorms, but they run into the doll, which is moving on its own, and freak out; Mikono sees them together and is displeased. It’s abductor Jin’s turn to attack Neo-Kowloon, and after her wavering heart negatively affects the union, Zessica is switched out for the doll, which it turns out has been held all along by an element named Yunoha, who is alive, but invisible. Her power shields Aquarion in invisibility, and Jin is defeated, though he was only controlling his mecha remotely.

We don’t really mind love triangles, with so much else in common with Macross Frontier, it was inevitable we’d run into a couple with this series; it’s just part of the territory. At least this week, a misunderstanding occurred and was cleared up. But Zessica is clearly starting to like Amata, so the tension between those two and Mikono will likely continue apace. Meanwhile, Mikono can’t stop thinking about Kagura. Whether that’s love or a crush or a brainwashing, we’ll have to see. Neither of these triangles really bothered us. But there was stuff this week that did, and it was enough to break this series’ perfect “4” streak at six episodes.

For one thing, while we like her invisibility power, the Yunoha character is a little moe. We already have a childlike character in the chairman: with Yunoha the series doubles down, and Yunoha’s voice is wayyyy more irritating, quite like Sae’s from Amagami SS. We also thought it was kind of silly to evacuate a city block, but let Aquarion use the buildings as cover. Aren’t those people’s homes and businesses? And all those roads will have to be re-paved…repaving ain’t cheap son. Unlike Rinne no Lagrange, this series has little or no regard for collateral damage, which is just a bit silly, considering Amata has the power of flight and could have drawn Jin’s fire away from the city. Ah well, perhaps they want to redevelop that particular district…


Rating: 3.5

Car Cameo: Cayenne and Shrade are rollin’ in a Ferrari California. Must be Shrade’s, ’cause I doubt Cayenne has that kind of coin. I mean, look at his clothes!

Aquarion Evol – 06

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.


Rating: 4

Aquarion Evol – 05

Thee newly united, co-ed elements of Holy Angel Academy are broken up into groups of three and unleashed into Neo-Kowloon to enter into all manner of suspiciously-date-like situations while the newly arrived child chairman Crea, High Commander Fudo, and other faculty observe them. All elements are fitted with armbands that shock them if feelings of love grow too intense. Amata is teamed up with Mikono and Zessica; the former gets upset that Amata is excited by Zessica’s shameless flirting. She stalks off, but Amata follows her and they almost fall in love before a romantic sunset when the Abductor Kagura crashes the scene.

We’ll tell you, we’re a bit surprised we were totally okay with the premise of this episode – in which the boys and girls essentially go on dates for school – which is awesome in and of itself. But it isn’t just for fun or for purposes of coupling off. Far from it: with the wild card of the electro-armbands, this is about training the raw and excited elements to control their emotions – the things that power their mecha. The goal is the ‘edge of love’, not true love itself. Two elements falling in love is what caused the last Aquarion catastrophe. Donar Dantes was a copilot, and he lost the love of his life along with his arms when the mecha went berserk.

This makes Donar quite the tragic figure, but also underscores the dangers of what Mikono and Amata are playing around with. Besides Donar, we see more of High Commander Fudo, who lays down some devastating donut metaphors, the academy’s doll-come-to-life chairman, and peripheral students like MIX and Sazanka. We also must note just how amazing the series continues to look. Everything is polished to dazzling and the colors are as intense as the emotions flying around.


Rating: 4

Aquarion Evol – 03

Amata wakes up in a dorm, where he learns Cayenne is Mikono’s big brother. He’s given tour of the Neo-Deava Holy Angel Academy, where elements are trained, and he’s subjected to a series of tests to determine his worthiness to enter himself. That night, while pining for Mikono, he falls down a deep pit, which is being dug by fellow element Andy W. Hol beneath the “Berlin”, a wall that segregates the male and female wings of the academy. They dig to the other side, coming up right beside Mikono, causing a…misunderstanding. In a mock battle the next day, Amata not only unions with Andy and Cayenne to re-form Evol, but prostrates as an apology to Mikono, who is watching along with the rest of the academy.

In some other dimension, on a world called Altea, the Abductors plot and scheme and prepare to attack Neo-Deava again. But their battle is for another episode; this was about Amata getting acquainted with his new surroundings. He, like Cayenne, Zessica, and Mikono, also have a reputation around the academy for being in boy-girl unions  which is talked about like it’s sex. The nigh-impenetrable “Berlin” wall is a nice touch; what we have here is essentially back-to-back boys- and girls-only schools, with the genders in constant states of both rivalry and flirtation. Those who unioned with the opposite sex aren’t just gawked at; they’re envied. Kinda makes you wonder what calamity occurred that led to gender segregation in the first place, eh?

Whatever the case, it would seem Amata has a clear path to Mikono’s heart, and while he shoots himself in the (winged) foot by lifting her high into the air by the crotch with his head in the middle of the night, it would seem she acknowledged his apology, made at the cost of winning his first mock battle. The foreboding bookends of the episode foretell rough times ahead, so the kids need to have their fun while they can. We can also gladly report there was no discernible downturn in production values; everything was tip-top. Yoko Kanno’s distinctive score has some corny numbers, but we’ve always loved her eclectic sound that’s somehow both nostalgic and forward, perfect for this series.


Rating: 4

Aquarion Evol – 01 & 02

Amata Sora is a projectionist at a movie theater. He meets girl named Mikono, who wants to learn more about the legend of Aquaria. While they’re walking around, enemy ‘Abductors’ launch an attack on the city. Seperate male and female ‘Elements’ Cayenne and Zessica pilot mecha called Aquaria in a counterattack, but Amata and Mikono are trapped under stone wings, so he has to use his ‘wings of the sun’ to fly them to safety.

Doing so awakens Aquarion, and his ‘union’ with Mikono combines all the other pilots’ mechas into one – Aquarion Evol. By using their myriad element powers, including Amata’s flight, amplified by Mikono’s presence, they’re able to send the lead Abductor Kagura into the atmosphere and defeat him…for now. Back on the surface, Cayenne and Zessica take Amata and Mikono into custody.

Bam, wham, thank you ma’am. Aquarion Evol busts out onto the Winter scene with a one-two cinematic punch that immediately pushes it to the top of our watchlist. Granted, it borrows heavily from other mecha series; Macross Frontier, in particular. It has the same director, Shoji Kamamori; the well-designed characters feature hair in every conceivable color; there’s the same conflict between a more earthlike conventional civilization and a more warlike, elemental foe; there are plenty of Itano Circuses; there’s an underlying love story…even Yoko Kanno and her orchestra provide a fittingly ambitious soundtrack. When it borrows so well, who are we to complain? Ambitious describes pretty much every element of this two-part pilot. Whether moving or standing still, we’re treated to a sumptuous feast of eye candy fit for a king.

The only downside to starting off with such awesomeness is there’s frankly no way we see this level of quality being maintained for the whole run; but hey, prove us wrong, Evol!  We felt like we were watching a high-end movie. Clearly, they wanted to start off firing with both barrels, and they succeeded, to say the least. The pilot wasn’t just candy though, there were charms in what it had to say as well as what it had to show. The idea that guys and girls have to be kept apart and sealed off with “guize stones” (read: chastidy belts) to avoid “impure unions” and forbidden acts is a pretty funny premise; especially when push comes to shove, it was the lasses and lads coming together that helped them defeat their foe this time. Now comes the consequences, and in all likelihood, Amata and Mikono’s assimillation into the organization that protected them up to this point. Looking forward to it.


Rating: 4