March 10th, 2014.
“Do or Die!” Dumb Speeches.
Last episode was the storm and the fury. The drama we’ve been building up to, the backstory’s culmination, it had been reached, and it actually felt substantial. But still, it’s not resolved. We need to see where they go with it, we need to see how the characters own up to their feelings, change their outlook, and move forward or fail to, in a dramatically significant way.
All this without mentioning the mystery of the world still looms large. Considering the light-novel series and the movie (The Pilot and the Princess), I wonder if this series isn’t aimed to give us but one snapshot of the world, with other series or the books filling it out.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) The Past, Again:
1) Hm. Showing us their past, again with flashbacks. Unlike Karl and Claire, Ignacio has flames playing in the background, it makes it somewhat busier and detracts from the very muted music and tones, IMO. Maybe the goal is to stress how flames burn within him, rather than sadness.
2) Ignacio is Karl’s half-brother, and perhaps he would run the risk of being killed as well if his identity had been discovered. Karl, Claire, and Ignacio, for all three their mother had been the important figure, the one who tried to shield them, the one who was helpless. Ignacio probably felt resentment towards his father, his father’s legal wife, and their child. But it’s not Karl’s fault that Ignacio and his mother got dealt this crappy hand, and I think he knows it, just as Karl knows it’s not truly Nina Viento who took down his old life – these people are but symbols to their past, to their loss.
3) It’s all about Karl. Everyone thinks of Karl, who didn’t even whine once last flight. He realizes he’s being self-centered. He’s centered on his pain, he’s centered in his pain, shut from the world, and from everyone else.
2) Cliched Speeches:
1) They knew they’d have fights within 6 months, they knew that training takes 3 years, what did they expect? Then again, no one said the teachers were privy to all information. Still, this is the same brand of military decision and morality we’ve had in Attack on Titan – people make grand stands and decry commands that put their friends at risk. It might make for nice moments in fiction, but it feels unreal, and you need good actors to make it truly believable. In films, these moments are what the whole film builds to. It feels as if anime is doing this far too often to retain its emotional effect.
Also, teacher, you truly seem clueless. This whole mission is a suicide mission, and who’s to say you’re not all going to be killed regardless? Lose the fight and you might all get bombarded. Lose the fight and be allowed to turn back? Your compatriots might shoot you down, because they send you off to die.
2) What is it with this show, with all the boys willing to die and sacrifice themselves for the girls? Also, characters who had 1-2 lines all show long talking to one another have a hard time eliciting emotional response. At least Chiharu and Mitty had several scenes just to build it all up.
3) The cliched “Hero’s departure.” – “I will prove that I am stronger. I’ll prove that I can protect you. So believe in me, and wait.” You know, it might have worked somewhat better if she hadn’t been your piloting partner and also a capable fighter. Why isn’t she going to fly with you to protect you? The cliché here is actually that you know she’s right, that this is a suicide mission, so why are you taking it? If you thought you could make it out alive, there’d be no reason for Benji not to fly with Sharon.
I dunno, which cliché is better, the one where you leave someone behind to protect them, which is made even more clichéd since everyone knows you’re going for your death, or the one where the left-behind character makes a surprise appearance or refuses to be left behind? Personally, I’d rather get the latter. I’d rather characters do things rather than try to create drama by relying on tired lines :3
4) “I’m going to die anyway, so I’d rather die somewhere I’d get to see you die as well.” – Ignacio with the “super-cool lines™.” :)
5) “I don’t know if I have courage.” and “I don’t know how to apologize,” both lead to “So I’ll fly out, so I’ll act!” – Actions speak louder than words, and the true act of courage is to charge straight ahead. Very shounen, and quite unfitting for a somber drama.
Post Episode Thoughts:
Next episode is titled “Love Song”, and that’s the show’s name, and it’s the penultimate episode. It’s probably going to be about Claire coming to terms with her guilt and powers. Either she’d be unable to save Karl and her guilt will only crush her completely, or she’d manage to use her powers, at which point we might have two options again: Either she’ll consider herself redeemed, or Karl and Claire will blame her once more for her destructive powers.
When this show began I said it’s a mixture of a RomCom, drama, and a buddy school-fight show (ala Buddy Complex). We seem to be deep in the military school / “buddy show” portion right now. In a proper drama show, the fights only serve to prove a point, and create a suitable layer for the drama to follow. We sort of have that, with “Screw orders, save yourselves!” and “I will sacrifice myself for you, but you should wait for me, Sharon.” It’s swing and a miss, honestly. The characters and deliveries hadn’t been built up properly for this, and again, these are lines that I’d expect and even cheer from an action shounen show, but not from a show that bills itself on drama.
Also, most of the real drama in this show is delivered quite well via the quiet flashback scenes, rather than what occurs in the present. It doesn’t serve as a build-up, but as the main dish.