So, the finale of the first-cour is upon us, and the second-cour was double-confirmed to begin airing in January 2015. The director or author of this show promised us this episode will end in a massive cliffhanger, but really, was such a promise necessary? Considering about 70% of the episodes ended in a cliffhanger or a twist (episodes 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, and the rest ended on “Cool!” moments), it was sort of given that the finale of the first half would end on one as well.
So, we’re having a face-off, between humanity’s greatest hope (Inaho in the orange corner!) against the tragic and ironic Martian Rebel Leader (Count Saazbaum in the red corner!), and everyone else is just trying to survive. This is a fight for humanity, and for the survival of mankind, and justice.
Slaine keeps running around, always late to help people. So, if we want the episode to end on a suitably ironic and “ZOMG!” moment, we probably need something like Asseylum shooting Slaine, or better yet, Slaine shooting Asseylum, while he tries to shoot Inaho, or just join Saazbaum in order to backstab him in the second half. Let’s see how it goes. Write-up incoming.
Thoughts and Notes:
Edit: Here’s a webm of the combination. It’s friggin’ 62 seconds long. Pomf.se is down, will reupload there later.
1) Foolish Earthlings:
1) “The Deucalion? Why is it here?!” – The nightmare of those on the advance forces, who risk their lives in order to keep everyone back safe – to find out the rear had been made a front of its own. But if you think about it, that’s sort of a recurring theme in this show thus far, about how they’ve had to keep fighting on board the refugee-filled ship, about how their civilian homes had been destroyed immediately after they managed to escape. All of Earth is a front.
2) “Princess Asseylum confirmed alive!” – Yes, yesss, keep shouting over your communication system how the Princess is alive, so the opponents with their superior technology could hear it. I’m beginning to suspect a mini-twist is that this is Rayet using Asseylum’s “Appearance-switching” gizmo as a decoy, and that the real Princess is elsewhere. I hope they do that, the alternative is pretty stupid.
3) Inko with her tearful determination, Inaho with his poker-face. Well, he didn’t reply at the “Kaizuka the younger brother”, so there’s that, I guess.
And Calm, still with his “Kick their asses!” Hollywood character attitude.
2) Why Wars are Fought – A Rational Analysis:
1) “Wars are a form of negotiation between countries, and erupt even when there is no hatred. They end when the nations’ objectives are met.” – Inaho’s right here, but Count Saazbaum actually has the other side of this conversation covered, especially since Inaho’s little talk makes less sense when you speak of “Pride and ideologies”. Religion was a good example.
What do I mean? As Saazbaum said, even if the objectives are sensible and don’t involve hatred, hatred is then stirred up, emotions are manipulated, in order to convince the population to go to war, and that war is a good decision. You paint the other side as “less”, less than us, less than human, to justify the war.
The original reasoning might not have had hatred, but by the time the war erupts, it’s often there, and certainly by the time the hostilities end. How are your objectives regarding “pride” or “ideology” met? And finally, how do you separate the side from its leader? The Martians want Earth’s resources, Saazbaum seems to want recompense for a dead lover, meaning revenge. That’s too close to hatred to separate it, in terms of outcomes.
2) Ha! Actually using Inaho’s rationality for something in this series in a good way! “Hatred and anger are ways to tilt the war favour” (meaning demagoguery), “I don’t care for these emotions, so I wouldn’t hate anyone just for belonging to the other side.” That was actually a pretty neat use of the established character.
3) Ah-ha! Saazbaum shows them he can hear their comm systems! You’d think he’d shoot first, and gloat later. That was such a James Bond villains moment. Also, it shows you he actively hated the Terrans. Is it because he was manipulated by the Vers family? Is it because he’s jealous of them? It doesn’t really matter, even if it’s not 100% sensible. People, Inaho aside, aren’t 100% rational, and what matters is Saazbaum hates them, and that’ll dictate his goals and behaviour.
3) Everybody’s Fightin’!:
1) The Orange trainer Kataphrakt, against Saazbaum! In Inaho we trust…. I guess he’s the OP MC. I wish Saazbaum just ignores him and walks past, but declaring his name, tapping into the communication system before attacking? Alongside freeing Slaine, it’s clear he works by a certain code of honour, so will fight Inaho off before moving past him. Honour demands!
And Inaho knows it, “I don’t need to win, just buy you time.” You can have multiple goals. His goal is to get the castle shut down, not defeat Saazbaum, though that’d be nice.
2) Oh, Rayet is still fighting at the bowels of the Earth, guess she’s not there instead of Asseylum, and that’s the real Princess. But back to that point, will Rayet and Slaine join the party? They must. Inaho fighting Saazbaum was accompanied by pretty hopping music, I must say.
3) HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! We keep speaking of twists and cliffhangers in this series, but this is something I didn’t see coming, at all. Saazbaum does the Combination! Combining with his underlings’ mechs in order to forma giant-ass mech. Am I watching the same show I’ve been watching for 12 weeks now, or did I suddenly load another file mid-episode? :D
And he’s combining all the powers Inaho defeated before, on their own – a plasma blade, the dimensional barrier… it’s how you construct a video game – you first face a new technology used by a boss, and then it appears by the grunts, or a boss mixes and matches all the strengths of all the other enemies.
It’s the return of the flying fist! I guess it does have one narrative use as well, it reminds us of all the enemies that Inaho defeated up to this point. It’s also a sign of the Martians’ “You’re not fighting alone!” as Saazbaum carries his defeated allies’ will and honour on his back, against the one that took them down.
4) Split Loyalties. Wartime “Honour”:
1) Poor Slaine, threatened by a Terran, saved by Martians, how will his honour handle it? This is warfare, and everyone’s just trying to make it out alive.
That soldier is using the same logic as Inaho when he talked to Rayet, “I’m saving the one who aimed a gun at my enemies.” – Sides aren’t decided by birth, but based on who you’re fighting, eh? Hatred based on race is merely foolish. That’s the show’s message here.
And now that voice of reason is killed, by a Terran, by war. What’s a poor boy like Slaine to do? All he wants is to reunite with Asseylum.
2) And that’s the other use of using powers Inaho encountered before. Previously, all that technical chatter about how things worked often came too late, that it appeared to come after Inaho had already defeated his enemies, without proper foreshadowing or build-up, right? Well, that’s still true about those past instances,but it at least means that the logic behind what we see now was actually explained to us before this scene – the interaction of the fists’ thrusters with the shield, for instance. I guess hurray to small victories of storytelling like this one.
3) Why did Inaho fight Saazbaum, in melee? It doesn’t appear to make sense, right? Well, as he said, you need the war to stop by having the other side’s objections be met, so he’s letting Saazbaum vent. And if part of the fight is due to feeling and thinking that as Martians they are superior to Terrans, then he must disabuse him of that ideology, which means step down to his enemy, and still beat him. Still, not entirely sensible, another Hollywood moment.
But Saazbaum at least is aware of the tension I raised before, his fight is with the Vers family, so why does he fight the Terrans? He hates the Vers family for ingraining hatred in him so deep that he can’t think of himself apart from it, that he must define himself by such a negative emotion, that he was made less-than-human in order to consider others so. But when all is said and done, he still hates the Terrans, because that’s what was done to him. It’s not their fault their life was so much easier than his, but it still was, and he’s still jealous. Sometimes it’s as simple as that, without need for “rationality”.
…and then he says he’ll break the cycle of Hatred by defeating all those who hate. Guess he wants to destroy all those with grievances towards the last fight to start a new joint Earth? Now that’s just random as a final sentence…
5) Everybody’s Dyin’!:
1) “I can’t see very well, I have blood in my eyes.” – All the symbolism of that sentence. Rage and bloodshed blinding us to the truth.
3) That was a very nice scene, technically. No music for the first part of it, then muted music later, just Inaho crawling towards Asseylum. And then they showed us his memories of her, his interactions with her, with a sad smile on his face. Did they try to sell us right here that he “loved” her? Come on, that so doesn’t work for this character. And even though this scene was so very well constructed, it left me entirely cold – you don’t expect us to get invested in Inaho’s “feelings”, right?
Also, Asseylum survived episode 1, and last episode. Something tells me she’ll keep on surviving.
4) “The castle had fallen. The battle ended with victory for the United Earth Forces.” But why? Saazbaum fell, and yes, the castle has no more energy, but what of all the remaining Kataphrakts? It’s not like Earth really has anything to deal with them.
Post Episode / Series Thoughts:
Erm, this was certainly an episode. I didn’t have too many hopes for this finale, in part because the episodes leading up to now had been too heavy on padded fight scenes, cool Hollywood moments, and trying way too hard to have “Cool Twists™” to actually work on the story and characters, which episodes 8-9 made big work on. I didn’t expect much, but I hoped for the best.
So, did this episode surprise me? Oh yes it did, but not in a good way. That combination came out of nowhere, and felt so out of touch with the more serious atmosphere the series tried to project. But then again, it fit perfectly into last episode’s atmosphere (“The Little Jeep that Could”, Hollywood action to the max). Though the combination at least took all of the series’ previously padded and not entirely well-explained fights and put them to good use, giving us a fight we could understand, and that was made sensible in advance. Saazbaum too made sense, except for his “I’ll break the circle of hatred” combined with his following behaviour.
There were a lot of jambled messages in this episode that could’ve easily taken more time – what is the payoff to Slaine’s little chat with the soldier on sides? Is it about who you happen to be aligned with, or fighting for what you believe in?
Is Asseylum dead? I doubt it. We didn’t see her head being shot, and we saw Slaine fly off with her, probably, as Yuki narrated her body not being recovered. Is Inaho dead? Well, his head was shot, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still alive. Either they open the first episode of next season with him being alive, or perhaps he’d make a “”shocking”” entry at some point, either as the episode ends, or around episode 3.
I know many people won’t like what I’m about to say, but I hope Inaho actually stays dead. First, because I feel he kept dragging this show down, and the show and other characters would get considerably more time and agency with him gone, and their choices will matter more. And that’s the other bit of it – if you want us to believe the stakes in this series are real, then the dead have to stay dead. If actions and losses can simply be undone, what sort of message are you sending, and how do you expect us to get invested in the series?
And honestly, Inaho crawling towards Asseylum’s “corpse” to me is the perfect summation of the series. A superbly well-crafted sequence, and one where I wanted to feel the “feels”, but just one that felt hollow and empty because the characters didn’t ring true, and Inaho’s so-called feelings aren’t ones we can get invested in, so having your “emotional final” rest on his shoulders is just a bad call.
I’m going to watch at least the first episode of the next season, just because I’m really intrigued by how it’d go. I sometimes said this series made me long back for Valvrave, especially for its first half, because it was just fun. Well, this episode certainly was “fun” and “crazy” as people often say Valvrave was, but it felt so out of place. Ultimately, a disappointing season, and a very disappointing finale. I guess I should be thankful it literally made me laugh when the combination happened.
I guess the more serious side of the combination is Inaho defeating the combined arms (literally) of the Martians. And then dying to another Terran.