(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)
Last episode was the last written by Gen Urobuchi, and ended with an affirmation of hope, after we’ve been told it’s a lie. But the world is never so simple.
Likewise, last episode ended with each of the three main characters, Slaine, Asselyum, and Inaho each asserting their agency, their motivation to act and change the world in which they live.
Now, now’s the interesting part – where will the show go from here? What themes will it discuss? Let’s find out (Sorry about the delay, had a podcast in the middle of the episode, and then I had to grab something to eat).
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Honour’s Weight, and The Weight of Living:
1) The first three episodes had been a mini-arc. The way this episode opened was more than just reminding us what happened thus far, but to reorient us on where we’re headed. The show’s byline says, “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.” It means that even if the luminaries (another celestial reference) are the ones to blame, one will follow on what is just, to its fullest course.
That means that Count Cruhteo who was Asseylum’s guardian, and who went upon the warpath to avenge her is going to have to put his money where his mouth is, he’ll be torn between duty to his compatriots, duty to his princess, and duty to his code of honour – and that’s where his real conflict lies – the code that demands not waging a false war and showing Asseylum is alive, or the code where his honour will be besmirched for having engaged in this war, when the instigators had been his own compatriots?
2) Interesting, we see the weight as the mechs walk and are picked up, and then nearly crush the poor student. Then the inverse of “weight”, as they try to make light of the topic. No, it’s not really funny, but Inaho, Inko, and Calm did appear to treat it all as somewhat of a game last episode, and it seems to be somewhat of a theme, so we’ll have to see if they do more with it.
Of course, them being kids, how weighty the mechas are, compared to how fragile their bodies, also reinforces the seriousness of the situation. “BAM, BAM, BAM” – not even rockets, just walking around in wartime.
3) So, meaningful glances all around. Our three heroes back with friends. Asseylum seeing humanity as people she can work with, the “daughter-rat” staring at her thoughtfully, perhaps thinking of killing her, or whether it was wrong to try and kill this selfless princess – though I doubt any of the Orbital Knights truly bore her any ill will, and finally – poor Slaine still standing there, seeing the results of the justice he had carried out.
2) Back Amongst The Living, Carrying The Ghosts of The Dead:
1) Oh yes, the other noble, which Trillram worked with, promised us a rain of death, didn’t he?
“We made it out just in time.” – Yes, we knew this was incoming, but if they wanted us to truly feel the tension of the “Just in time”, they should’ve given us more reminders of it being prepared, and how imminent it is. Otherwise, it’s just a thing that happened, “And everyone made their way out scant minutes before the meteor bombardment struck.”
2) Homecoming. The changing of the guards is done, with the incapacitated adult passing the reins to her younger brother. Hope, in the presence of the Lieutenant without him objecting, just acting “gruff”, and people rejoicing that they can reunite, even if they will never be able to go back. The childhood is gone, and even though they are but kids, it’ll be up to them to progress.
3) Well, this sucks, “Take out enemy communications!” Now other side can’t surrender, or show that this all has been one big misunderstanding. Of course, when you want honour and cover-up, this might all be part of the plan.
4) “Exoskeleton therapy”? If her arm broken, she can still do stuff with it, but she’s still moving a broken arm. Come to think of it, why not have the exoskeleton move like a robotic hand, without her? Lack of fine control and fingers? Hm.
3) Community Built on Shared Lies that Keep Us Apart:
1) This was a nice and clever little moment. See people air their anguish, their sadness and anger next to you, and then blame the group you’re part of. You sit silently, in fear, and hurt, because things won’t turn out well for you if they were to find out you’re part of “the other group”, and because you might feel some guilt. Right? That’s one of the horrors of living in a world full of schisms. And then we have the same deal with Inaho and Rayet – he says the party she belongs to is the enemy (and if not her, then certainly her just-deceased father), and she feels the same sort of thing inside.
“Martians are all the enemy”, for betraying her father and her? Is she putting up a mask? She’s a martian, and well, so is Princess Asseylum. It can also be seen as “Trust no one”, and that her sense of guilty contains the seeds of self-hatred.
Also, we’re reinforcing Inaho as being able to remain “calm and rational” even in these trying times.
2) Slaine lies. The meteor bombardment that was supposed to cover the conspiracy ended up covering one of the conspirators being killed. Sadly, it also means the conspiracy might breathe on. I can understand Slaine though, as he doesn’t know who to trust, at this point. And yet, his “justice” and “honor” now have him lying. He’s learning firsthand just how grey morality is.
Cruhteo thinks of his honor, his territory being targeted by another, but at least it’s closer to what’s actually going on..
3) “Better to run away than stand and fight.” – “Exactly the opinion I’d expect from someone who survived the war 15 years ago.” – Meaning, only the people with such opinions got to live on, because they escaped? One could see such an outlook as both a commendation, that it’s true, and life must be protected, or as a chastisement, that he’s a coward, and it might have been better to die.
Of course, it might also mean that 15 years ago they were helpless, so it makes sense this is the message, but now, now they have hope. Of course, this hope is the one he thinks is false, but it could be due to the previous beating. He says humanity is living a lie, but it might be that he’s the one living said lie. Guess we’ll see.
4) “And… Action!”:
1) Considering the speed at which the sword was swung side-to-side, it couldn’t have stopped all the projectiles. And if his armour was enough to withstand it, why did he bother at all? Dunno.
2) Again with the “weight”. The enemy kataphrakt makes its way to the ship, pounding as it goes, a sense of impending doom – a foreboding. An implacable and unstoppable enemy. That is horror.
3) “Stay inside, princess!” – From her aide, that’s not necessarily sensible. If the Orbital Knight makes contact with the ship, the princess will die regardless. If he’s not an assassin, she might survive, at least.
Inaho to the rescue! Again with the short-distance communication system. Let’s see what he can do. Also, that short-distance comm system is only useful because his friends came to aid him. That means he wascounting on them to do so, or it’d have been a meaningless gesture.
4) The katana-lightbeam stopping the bullets makes little sense, as he’s not swinging it nearly fast enough to catch them all O.o
5) “Would you like to know why you can’t get a date?” – “I thought you were supposed to arrive fashionably late, Ma’am.” – Yeah, this is supposed to be badass and cool, but spare me.
6) Also, Inaho might be likened to Lelouch, but Lelouch could never contain his smug attitude, his joy over a plan well-done, over outthinking his opponent. Inaho has a plan, and he carries it. If it worked, good, and if not, time to rethink. No expression. Can’t be as invested in a character who’s not invested.
7) “You’re not worth my time!” – The bully’s line after being chased off. “It was my plan to withdraw all along!”
ED – They’ve actually changed the ED! Cold machines and monitors. Synthesizer lines. Much more energetic. So, the third three episodes had been our peaceful respite? Oh my.
Post Episode Thoughts:
This was a nice episode. Certainly in terms of explosions and the direction feeling “meaty”. I liked both the way the kataphrakts felt impactful and menacing, showing the fragile lie of the non-serious atmosphere of the kids’ behaviour, which was then reinforced as they hung about in the back of the transport ship. Yes, once they’ve taken action and then won they were all smiles again, but these had been the fragile smiles of those who must act, because to sit and wait patiently feels them with even more dread.
I don’t feel we know much more of the characters, but they’re certainly repeating their nature so we’ll see it – Lieutenant Marito feels some guilt over having survived the past war, and is fighting against his past, and for the (hopeless) hope of the future. Inaho is shown once more to be The Man with the Plan™ but also the “cold fish”. The Princess once more shown to be willing to sacrifice herself for her duty.
The only real “growth” came from Slaine, who is understanding the world he lives in, and the need for duplicity and lies.
Themes? Still with the hope for hope, and that it’s one messed-up world.