This one was awful.
I can’t even say, like, “the last time I thought an episode was unequivocally awful was a while ago” because it wasn’t. The one where Amata and Kagura yell at each other was awful, and the one about Zessica turning stupid was also terrible. (I’d like to add 14 and 15, but even though they were the fulcrum for the show’s fall, they were still all right on their own merits and flaws.)
Nor can I say “I don’t even care” because apparently I have a lot of things to say to this show right now. I think I don’t care about the show itself, but it makes me mad that I don’t care about it.
There was one good thing about this episode, and even it was marred by some utter bullshit.
Let’s take it from the top.
Amata and Kagura
So apparently on top of everything else there’s some shit about how they represent Vega and Altair. I thought Vega and Altair were lovers, or Apollo and Silvia, or something. Also, if they come together, uh, bad shit happens? (More about this below.)
By the way, Amata made another Pod Amata quick-change. You can tell because he’s super mad at Kagura about his parents, but as soon as Kagura says “smelly wench” he forgets all about them, and they start trying to kill each other for a girl that isn’t even there and generally rehashing episode 22. Kagura is his own pod version, but I think there was a non-pod Kagura way back in the first episode, before he smelled Mikono. (Mikono ruins everyone. It’s incredible.)
Amata, Kagura, and Mikono
I’m not going to write another five paragraphs about how Mikono is nothing but a trophy for the dogs to fight over. But I would like to point out that she doesn’t even need to be conscious for half the episode. And when she does wake up, she’s immediately put into a box. (More about this below.)
And I’m sorry, Amata likes Mikono not because he’s Pollon but because she’s a nice girl full of empathy and kindness and caring? Did these people watch the same first ten episodes I did? The ones where Mikono curled up in a corner, snubbed Zessica’s literal extended hand of friendship and dropped guilt on Amata at every turn?
She still doesn’t deserve a screenshot.
(By the way, being consistent and graceful with the “can’t speak up” angle with Mikono might have made her work, but pre-Pod Yunoha already did that much better.)
Andy and Mix
Fuck. I want to be happy for these two, but like I said last week, this got dragged out way too long and even this scene seems like it’s just going through the motions to finish the subplot the way everyone knew it would end. I can barely even get mad that Andy was denied his Union yet again. On the other hand, they’re probably going back to the boys’ dorm to kill each other all night long. Also, there’s only one Aquarion available, Amata needs it, and these two would have stolen the show from him.
Maybe this is how Shrade-not-carers used to feel. I dunno. I was one of the ones who thought Shrade’s plot was on a slow landing course and actually building up for something. Andy’s ending was telegraphed from almost two months away and never had any buildup or tension.
Anyway, I’m still relatively okay with this, if only because Andy alone of all the Pod Lovers (Amata, Zessica, Yunoha) has broken out of his pod and managed to be in love without losing all his personality. Mix, sadly, doesn’t count because at this point she’s not even a pod person, just the light at the end of Andy’s tunnel, as Mikono is to Amata (eugh). Which is yet another shame, because the original Mix and Andy dynamic was great precisely because it incorporated their personalities and how they’d naturally complement.
(The saddest thing is that on the anime cliche romance scale, this is actually a step down from “opposites attract” and “plucky guy woos angry girl”.)
Mikage and Zessica
I’m a tiny bit mad that Zessica effectively doesn’t exist for the second episode in a row. Now, I’ve been a little inconsistent, here and also with myself, on how I feel about Zessica’s character, uh, “arc.” I mean, I liked early Ace Zessica, and in the grave episode she got quietly switched out for Pod Zessica, and ever since I’ve been simultaneously lamenting Zessica’s change and her treatment.
Anyway, what I realized is: I’m kind of fond of Pod Zessica too. Sure, she’s a boring pod character, and dares wear Ace Zessica’s design and voice, but hey, she’s legitimately pitiful and doesn’t deserve all the show has thrown at her. I would say Pod Amata doesn’t either, what with losing his parents and all, but we’ve seen that Pod Amata doesn’t give a shit about his parents.
I still want Ace Zessica back, and Hero Amata, and Shy Yunoha, and Bro Andy, and goddamn this show’s writing.
Mikage and Aquarion
(fyi: “Below” starts here.)
Anyway, yes, this badass machine was the one good thing in this episode, but it’s also a symbol of what might be the worst thing about this episode. No, not the pod people drama. It may be manufactured and cheesy, but it still exists on its own terms and I can handle that, grudgingly. (I can’t believe this episode has actually made me wish for the pod drama.)
No, the terrible thing is that Mikage just swoops out of nowhere halfway through the episode, completely nullifies the pod drama with his omnipotent plot powers, removes Zessica, Mikono, and Kagura from play, and sets himself up as a final boss for Amata to go up against to finish his journey.
This is actually the tip of an issue iceberg that is Mikage’s total detachment from anything else that’s happening. There’s a bunch of love drama going on, for better or for worse, that is completely detached from Mikage’s plan. All the characters run around having soap opera events, and meanwhile Mikage just sort of sits and chuckles to himself about the Wings of the Sun and the infinite power of zero and how the puzzle will soon be complete, occasionally waving his finger to push the storyline a bit.
Seriously, go look. We just sat through episodes and episodes of is he the reincarnation, is he not the reincarnation, are they in love, are they not, will they kiss, what did the kiss do, who will she choose, etc. etc. etc. etc. and then Mikage and Zen step in and go whoops no go fight the demon robot and save the world.
A maybe related issue is that there’s no real opposition to, well, anything, other than sheer inertia. Nothing specific is keeping the main triangle alive other than storyboarding. Nothing specific was keeping Mix from regaining her memories and falling back into Andy’s arms other than pacing. And no one is opposing Mikage, not only because they physically can’t because he’s magic, but also because no one knows or cares until he jumps out from behind the curtain and says he wants to destroy the world. (Izumo’s, however, was a good conflict, which got tragically trashed.)
So now Amata is going to fight the demon robot, declare his love for Mikono the Macguffin, and probably this is going to somehow solve everything. He may get combined with Kagura, making episodes and episodes of blather about love and fate vs. free will and living in the present an enormous joke. With a bit of luck, someone is going to get sacrificed.
(Study question: would it be better or worse if, instead of what I just said, Fudo zipped in and fixed everything somehow?)
If I’m wrong about this, no one will be happier than me. But it still won’t erase the trainwreck that has been going on since episode 15.
Oh yeah, and Fudo might be Apollonius, but seriously, I don’t give a shit at this point. There’s a lot to be written about reincarnation drama and how it affects writing, but I’ve written way too many words about this already.
This was a really long, really jumbled post. Sorry. After the show ends, I might try and organize my thoughts into a reflection on the show as a whole.