December 31, 2012
"Eve, is that you?"
Before the credits, there's a brief recap of the end of the previous episode, where things might have gotten a little supernatural. Kai saw a girl through the camera of his PokeCom (Pocket Computer), and then after it rebooted, he got a strange email from "Sister Centipede" containing nothing but gibberish. At school he overhears two girls talking about doing a "Test of Courage" at the supposedly haunted Space Hill Park, which was where he was that night. The girls mentioned they heard it from "That Karate Club girl", and thus another loop in the story is closed. A quick e-mail after the OP, and Kai has arranged to meet Juuna Daitoku, the incredibly shy Karate Club girl, up on the hill. This annoys Aki because she's expecting to meet at the clubhouse with the local paper to give an interview about their second place finish at the RoboOne competition. She wanted him there.
"They say that if you see her, you get the blue screen of DEATH!"
At the park, They discuss their similar experiences, although Kai's really got her topped. They discuss possible sources of interference, like this Russian shortwave station, "the Buzzer" that has been broadcasting this buzzer going on and off for 30 years. (True!) and they wonder if the nearby launch complex is broadcasting something similar that is causing the computers to lock up, since it is in the line of sight to the hill. That doesn't explain the ghostly girl though, so they wander around in search of the supernatural. And Kai cruelly startles her pointing at a mannequin head in the window that scares the bejebers out of her. In part he explains he did it because she was creeping him out by describing the legendary girl looking exactly like the girl he had seen. She pulls up a location of another sighting in a cave where she lives. He agrees to go, but ask if they can drop by the club's hangar on the way. She's not too thrilled with the idea. Apparently she's scared of, or hates robots, so they skip it.
"It went Bee-boo-beep!" "You do that well, now do a Telebit Trailblazer."
"I'm scared of Mannequins too!"
At the Hangar, Aki is blowing it with the reporters, going on about the Gunvarrel project, instead of RoboOne. Subaru swings by with his Robot in hand, and the reporters instantly recognize it, but wonder why it's here. Aki nearly spills the beans, I guess the concept of a secret identity escapes her.
At the beach (I thought it was a cave?) Kai and Juuna don't find the digital ghost, although they do discover a dead whale on the beach, and she remarks that there have been a lot of them lately. They begin to discuss a lot of weird ecological phenomena around the world, a hot winter in Russia, snow in California, and some of the Nazca Lines were washed away by rain. Junna accidentally pokes him in a soft spot, by saying it's weird, like the S.S. Anemone incident, which I guess she doesn't know he was a victim of. At the end of their outing, he asks her about Karate, and she says that their season is over, so she's pretty much done with that. He then invites her to join the Robotics club, which she's not too thrilled with, but while she doesn't like robots, she wouldn't mind becoming better friends with Aki (hmmm?).
"You know, there's this trick I saw on the Internet with a case of dynamite...."
Kai drops by Aki's to find out what's going on at her end. The interview was a bust. Meeting with the candy guy about sponsorship was also a bust. She asks about what he was doing with Juuna, surious if she also managed to beat him at Kill-Ballad to get him to go with her, but he mentions that he asked her to go along. She embarrassedly says Hey, she doesn't mind if he dates Juuna, but it's unusual because he never really hangs around with anyone. (Does anyone think she really means that?)
"Do you think I'm too into robots?"
"Subaru was no help at all."
"Wait, you were with a girl? And you asked her? Where's the real Kai?"
She just has a lot of really great expressions in this show.
That night, Kai returns to the hilltop to kill some time playing the game, and clearly to see if it will happen again. Just when he's about to give up, his PokeCom starts receiving again. He starts searching the grounds, using the PokeCom in Augmented Reality mode. Sneaking into an abandoned building, he makes contact, first spotting a password protected geotag, and then the ghost, who offers him the password. She's possibly an AI, rather than a ghost - would that be a ghost in the machine? She tells him to tap her on the screen, which allows him to talk to "Sister Centipede", and her voice and manner change. She mechanically states "Airi is a communications interface running on the Iru-O servers. Sister Centipede is a fully automated information gathering engine." It's nice to get some straight answers for once. Then, it gets a bit weird. Apparently he's been chosen as some kind of contact simply because he's been around the park so much, since he was a kid (when he was close to Airi's age setting) and they've been trying, 29 times in the last 8 years, to get through to him. Hell, Aki's known him even longer, and she can't get through to him either. Kai has NO real curiosity, no romance in his heart. His question? "How do I make you go away?" He pokes at the geotag, and Sister Centipede just coughs up the password for him. Now THAT'S security! It gives him full access to the Iru-O secret files. In particular, an "In case of my death" file written ten years earlier attached to the tag.
"Just use the magic window..."
"... and see your mystery date."
"Funny, Centipede on my computer looks nothing like this."
The file reveals that this guy knows that NASA has been hiding, since 2000, the discovery of Magnetic Monopoles at the south pole of the Sun. It leaked, but they make the leak of the truth look like a fake. He knows that this is a sign that the sun will explode, and has a schedule of upcoming massive solar flares. (This will probably ruin future RoboOne competitions).
Kai calls up Juuna, who confirms there are a lot of conspiracy theories about NASA and Solar Flares. She speculates that there must be a report #2 file to go with the #1 he read. And the dates he gave for the flares were accurate, she says. The aurora that's been oddly in the sky over Southern Japan has been there since the 2012 flare. And the crash that ruined the shop owner's legs was in '15. This comes to mind since he's making the call from the bench outside the mini-mart, and when she comes out to close the shutters, he mentions what he found to her. The name "Kimijima Kou" poleaxes her. She's on the verge of tears - something unusually for someone as hardened as she is - and wants to know where he heard that name.
Back at the evil Exoskeleton Corporation, Aki's sister gives her report on Kai to the CEO. She knows about his accident. And the episode leaves it hanging on that ominous note.
"You'd think evil corporations could afford a little light."
"And that's my report, but I'm sure Google has collected far more information on him."
December 26, 2012
I'm not going to say this is some neglected gem or masterpiece, but it is a little fun.
Meet Flonne, another DFC. She's an Angel Trainee, sent from Celestia two years ago to assassinate the Demon Overlord. She's not exactly good at the job, having been wandering around for two years without finding the Overlord's castle. But no problem, it's been revealed that two years ago the Overlord choked to death on a dumpling ("of the damned"). She does run across a crypt/garbage dump with a coffin in it with the Overlord's Crest on it, and unleashes Holy Hell on it to open it. Okay, her magical bow, dynamite, throwing axes, a steamroller and a missile launcher.... So you can tell what kind of series it's going to be from here.
Her efforts are enough to awaken this guy, Laharl, who is the overlord's son, and who was apparently poisoned and dumped in the crypt by forces unknown until halfway through the series. Flonne is a little conflicted, because she doesn't really approve of assassination, but she was told to do it and had to follow orders. Laharl doesn't really respect this, and tries to blast her, but his powers are severely weakened. She's rather upset by the fact that Laharl is unmoved when they find out about the death of his father (from a conveniently wind-blown newspaper) but he explains that Demons don't know love, and thus they also don't know sadness.
When Jennifer goes to comfort the "Children" they've just saved from the demons, we discover that Laharl's kryptonite is major cleavage, and we're talking original Green K. The Robot scans him, discovers that he's been poisoned, and Flonne heals him. The Humans are amazed to discover that they've saved an Angel, and upset to discover they've also saved the next Demon Overlord. They draw on him, and he's about to blast them, when a glimpse of Jennifer bouncing knocks him back, ill. Flonne shields him, and he buries his face in her (lack of) chest, and springs back. With his power restored, he blows the humans, and the rest of the crypt, into the sky like Team Rocket. This becomes a recurring theme.
One of the guardians isn't so dead, and a fully powered Laharl flattens him, and interrogates him trying to get to the bottom of his poisoning, but the creature ends up dead without talking. Flonne abhors his violent ways, and makes it her new mission to either assassinate him, or teach him Love (no, not THAT way, it's a kid's show). Unfortunately the pendant that allows her to survive in the underworld got stuck to the Robot somehow, and she collapses before she can make good on her threat.
Just as they're about to start fighting, Etna arrives and watches from a distance. When Flonne falls, she reintroduces herself (Laharl knows her from the castle). Etna expresses surprise that Laharl doesn't just blow away his helpless opponent, and wonders at him showing kindness. Laharl nearly blasts her for the accusation, and insists it's actually because he wants her to die a slow death. "Oh, I get it! That's my prince!" she says, and they leave to go find the Overlord's Palace.
Etna is now one of Laharl's Vassals, but she has some Vassals of her own. The "Prinnies" are the souls of sinners in these odd stuffed penguin bodies who have to work in the netherworld to earn a chance at rebirth. Generally stupid, they're a whiny bunch, but usually productive.
Through a chain of events too long to go through here, Flonne gets back the pendant, and ends up attached to the crew.
They go on a number of short adventures on the way back to the castle, taking on other pretenders to the throne, and find out who poisoned Laharl. Periodically they run into Gordon, who is determined to fight the demon prince, but is so simple-minded that Lararl actually uses him and his ship as a shortcut to get them to the castle.
Then, after half the series, an actual plot breaks out. Gordon has unwittingly been a pawn of the humans, and in their travels, Thursday has been planting beacons that will help open up a gateway to the netherworld big enough to bring in a million-ship-strong space fleet from Earth Earth wants to invade and wipe out the demons because they're demons, and because Earth needs more room for the population.
The Earth forces, in turn, have been pawns of the second in command of the Angels. But Laharl is powerful enough to turn it all around, and after conquering everything... he abdicates and dumps it all on Etna, who at one point aspired to the throne, and now learns to be careful what she wishes for.
Technically, the files were encoded in an odd 3:2 aspect ratio, so I had to correct the screen shots, although after looking at them enough, I became unsure what was right.
In any case, I tossed a bunch more shots of Etna below the fold.
December 02, 2012
The Island where our heroes live, Tanegashima, happens to be the home of the Japanese space program. (Yes, they have one). And this episode starts with a scene on May 21st, 2010, where a young Aki and Kai are with Aki's older sister in a crowd waiting to watch a launch.
At the end of the last episode, Aki proposed that they go to the JAXA (The Japanese Space Agency) for help. And it is revealed in this episode why she thinks of this. We come back from the OP with her making a presentation asking for facilities, assistance, and money from JAXA to help them build their robot. The director listens, but first "Your Father has to go to the bathroom." Yeah, her dad's the president of the base. He insists he's just a middle manager, but Aki will have none of it. Practically chasing him around the conference table trying to get him to give in. He even begs Kai to intervene. She's just about got him on the ropes when a call from her mother, who is far less of a dreamer than any of them gives him a chance to escape.
After school at the Hangar, it turns out they don't have access to the Robo-One prize money either. Kai gets a mysterious message while playing his game and leaves. But the location given turns out the be another building in the "Abandoned" complex. He arrives, but nobody is there, until their club adviser shows up in a mini-pickup, loaded with boxes. And from the top of those boxes emerges Frau Koujirou. Mitche, the adviser, reveals that her real name is Furugoori Kona. "What's Frau Koujirou? Your pen name?" Mitchie bitches about the principal making him help a student move in, which arouses Kai's curiosity. Kona says that she bought the entire place. In typical fashion, Kai gets ready to bail. "If you want me to help, defeat me in Kill Ballad." But as he turns to walk away, she grabs his hand, saying that he owes her, after all, she gave him the control code. So, thus it is revealed that she is the author of his favorite game.
As a character, I'm a little curious to see more, as she has a bit of a stutter, but also this twisted smile she makes. The credits seem to indicate she has a bit of a sultry side too.
Back in the hangar, Subaru is telling Aki all the things they should change about the robot, like removing the cockpit and making it remote control, and removing all the armor that makes it look like Gunvarrel. She refuses, citing the goals and history of the club which she won't abandon, and Subaru leaves.
Things get worse. Kai calls just then, bitching that he just found out this candy he eats all the time is made by a company owned by Mitchie's uncle. He hates that he's been giving that family his money. They should be giving some of that money back to the club, he says. This is a trick. Kai has been to the convenience store and taken Mizuka's challenge to eat this nasty passion-fruit dumpling she keeps on hand in exchange for information. (The first time was in Episode 2, where he eats it to find out about "Doc's" granddaughter, a classmate of theirs in the Karate Club. They wanted to use her to try to get a discount on the robot parts, but it didn't pan out.)
Kai shows up at the no-longer abandoned office building with some groceries for Kona. She thanks him, but apparently her manner of speaking confuses him. It's because she's saying TXT-speak out loud ("Thx", "TX", and "Facedesk" in Japanese are a revelation.). She gets even crazier from there, muttering about security, and how "They" shouldn't get at her "BL Folder", and refusing Kai's suggestion that a regular house would be better. And finally how the abandoned look is more Moe, and how he should get out, or bring her back a half-naked guy. "Time to fap," she says (I can't be 100% sure about this translation). Kai wonders about her parents, but all she says is that her dad is in Tokyo, and mom.... she doesn't say.
There is a brief interlude at Subaru's home. His dad, watching baseball, mentions that he heard about a robot tournament last week, but Subaru swears he had nothing to do with it, and that he's through with robots. He was a champion in Jr. High. The implication hanging heavy in the air is that dad must have a real hate-on for the whole robot thing. Mom being absent could be related?
Aki goes with Mitchie to the candy company to ask about sponsorship. It does not go well. The man is a vulgar creep (he trained his parrots to say "Hooters").
At the hangar, Subaru asks Kai if he'll team up with him to go the the first Robo-One world cup in Las Vegas next month. He refuses. Oddly, it's Subaru who issues the challenge to settle it with a Kill-Ballad match. Apparently after 22 wins, Subaru finally beat him, and so we next see him packing up the club's robot for practice.
In front of the hangar, they square off with their robots, and after explaining how M45 works, he asks Kai how it is he avoided the unavoidable attack. Kai doesn't want to talk about it, but says that it wasn't a gaming trick.
We get a flashback, which he narrates, how four months after they watched the rocket launch, on 9/11/10, some event on the ferry SS Anemone caused everyone aboard to faint. This included his class, on their way back from a school trip to Kagoshima. He and Aki were the only ones permanently affected. He calls it "Elephant-Mouse Syndrome" where their time perception is skewed. Aki's seizures result in her experiencing five minutes as if it were a second, and apparently Kai's is the reverse. This explains his incredible reaction times.
While sitting on a hillside in the twilight, about to play his game, he suddenly gets reception issues, and barely catches a glimpse of the lavender-haired girl. Then, as his game tries to reconnect, a voice comes through asking "Can you hear me?"
I had to go back to the first episode to check on a few things, and I noticed a few other things. The girl with the long brown hair (Aki's sister, Misa), the one watching them compete appears on a commercial for the Exoskeleton company. She's the one who provided the robotic leg braces to the girl in the convenience store (Irei Mizuka), who was injured in a crash 15 years earlier and has had the legs for 4.
I had forgotten about a scene at the end, because it didn't seem to fit with the conventional, plausible nature of the show. A girl with long lavender hair and a glowing ring on her forehead is standing there, holding a feather, apparently dictating a report, but all we hear of it is her reciting the date and time (June 13th, 2019 19:09) and that nothing has changed.
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