November 2nd, 2013.
Ok, watched the episode several hours ago while on family vacation, time to write what I thought of it now.
1) L-Elf just shooting people, no time for questions, but here is the whole mentality, including why he shot Marie in order to kill her – “Better kill than be killed.” – and you know what message it goes along well with, from Code Geass, a show that in general comes to mind in some ways as one watches Valvrave? “Only those who are willing to die are allowed to kill others.” Or – if you’re willing to kill others, you should be prepared others might try to kill you.
2) So, the whole Marie business came out of nowhere and was pretty weird, right? Well, this is what it had built up to, the point she made, her emotional moment. It was probably worth it, though giving her even 5-10 more minutes in season 1 and giving us some more clues would’ve been nice, including so we wouldn’t feel like the authors came up with it only after season 1 ended ;-)
3) I actually like the cost – this is why these episodes had been here – “Ok, so we gave up our humanity, and we can’t die, and we heal from everything!” – doesn’t seem like such a bum deal, right? Sure, Haruto has it rough, but if they don’t pilot the Valvraves, then no one cares at all, right? Well, wrong.
This episode had been about increasing the costs, and that’s also how it’s tied to my Code Geass writeup – “How much are you willing to give up to achieve what you desire?” – when people have “paid” and now are just coasting along? That’s not very “interesting” – I put it in square-quotes because exploring the ramifications is very interesting, but sometimes it’s just easier to explore the ramifications for a tiny bit before introducing something new you have to pay for, which is what this show and Code Geass went for.
Power without paying for isn’t that interesting, unless it makes a thematic point of its own, this is why this is such a common theme. A Mai-HiME inspired RPG I wrote for a small contest (If anyone is really interested, they can message me) also has some drawings on the concept, though more subtle, as that is also the undercurrent going through Mai-HiME – to get power, you have to put your emotions on the line, and keep putting more and more as you keep going.
4) Related to the above, the fight was directed very well – each and every strike has a cost, it cuts in both ways, both at her enemies and at Marie. Also, since the fight was so pretty, it makes sense this episode had about 30% still shots, but still shots can be used to a good effect as one is thinking and reminiscing, and well, the fight was very shiny, and the music direction was top-notch once more.
Overall? One of the better episodes of the season, very well done, and also seems we’re going to have quite a few things to do with the Dorssians royalists, which makes sense with how much L-Elf’s past is tied to royalty, and A-Drei’s too.