ICONIC SCENE: “Oh, darn… you saw through my disguise?”
STORY DATE: 2059
BROADCAST DATE: August 14, 2008
1. Things are moving apace… Ranka is beginning to get her memories back, and Ai-kun is growing up…
And because Frontier thinks they’ve escaped the Vajra, a new holiday (“Aimo A Memorial Day,” according to the signs) is announced. I must say they got these floats for the parade together awfully quickly, especially since resources are supposed to be so tight (they, uh, explain that the fold ended up being shorter than planned, so the tight resources are a little looser, but still… this seems extravagant. Although it’s great for viewers with a pause button, combing through the crowd scenes for odd costumes). And, um, Ranka’s supposed to be riding with the president, but she’s flaked out on him to look for Ai-kun. I guess I can understand, but yeah… bad show, Ranka.
I suppose you could assume that, subliminally, at least, she realizes that she’s being used for nefarious ends and wants out (Brera’s later assertion that she no longer looks happy when she sings might indicate that), and that might be accurate. Sheryl’s the type of girl who will announce (loudly) how she feels at any given time. Ranka (and this isn’t an endorsement or a complaint, just a description) is more subtle in her feelings. She won’t outright SAY when she’s happy or unhappy, one just has to be observant towards her. Which, clearly, no one in charge has been.
2. And Alto comes back home, but only because Sheryl is there. Hell, he won’t even knock on the door, and tries to sneak around the back. Yasuburo is of course waiting for him in the backyard with a smile on his face. I note that Yasuburo is Megumi Nakajima’s favorite “guy” in the show (apparently she likes guys who are not necessarily straightforward, and might be hiding dark secrets).
3. Oh, and hey! Ozma and Cathy are on a date! Eating at the same hot dog place that Sheryl and Alto did back in Episode 5 (so I guess food rationing isn’t as serious as expected…? Weren’t all commercial establishments meant to be shut down?). Honestly, the main triangle of Alto, Sheryl, and Ranka doesn’t really grab me too tightly, but I’m really happy to see Ozma and Cathy get back together. And yes, it’s mostly a cover for them to trade info while under government surveillance, but only mostly. And the voice-acting (and the accompanying animation) in this scene is hysterical.
4. It seems as though both Michel and Yasuburo are really trying to push Alto towards Sheryl. Michel is definitely keeping an eye on him (and later SERIOUSLY gets on his case, telling Alto to AT LEAST make up his mind), and at the Saotome household, Sheryl tries on Alto’s mother’s kimono… which I’m sure she wouldn’t have touched without Yasuburo suggesting it in the first place.
5. Sheryl’s putting up a front of confidence and yet she seems genuinely defeated here, saying she’s giving up singing and that everything she’s said before about bending fate to her will was just a load of crap. If last episode was her de profundis, this episode almost seems worse. She’s given up. Completely.
Of course, it won’t last. She starts to get back to her old self as Yasuburo gives her a pep talk in the guise of talking about Alto (Yasuburo really is way more insightful and supportive than he lets on, isn’t he? Maybe Megumi is on to something…).
6. Meanwhile, Leon and Grace seem to be planning for a Vajra outbreak at Ranka’s concert venue (i.e. Mihoshi High), which seems almost TOO evil. Assassinating President Glass? Sure, I can see it. Expecting a Vajra outbreak in the most crowded area of the ship? That’s pretty darn nasty.
And a smaller Dimension Eater (cleverly named the “Mini Dimension Eater”) has been created as the new superweapon against the Vajra.
7. Many people (mostly Sheryl fans) have pointed out that Brera seems to make a better match for Ranka than Alto does. I’d… kind of agree with that, except that Brera has absolutely no sense of humor. Still, he seems to have an endless fount of patience where Ranka is concerned, so that would stand him in good stead. And there’s always, um, the incest problem.
Ranka, for her part, seems to come to the conclusion that she THOUGHT she wanted to express herself to the world, but truly only cares about Alto. I’d argue that this is a false choice, really, because for the last few episodes, she hasn’t been expressing HERSELF, she’s been expressing Grace and Leon’s wishes. I mean, it was never HER idea to turn “Aimo” into a fascist anthem. I’d further argue that she wanted to express herself through singing even before she met Alto, so again, look to her FEELINGS, not her WORDS to see the true Ranka.
8. Alto seems pretty clueless here as well, since he’s dedicating his skywriting performance to Sheryl… his skywriting performance that consists of drawing an arrow through a heart above the name “RANKA.” It doesn’t seem to occur to him that that’s kinda sending mixed messages… And indeed, both Sheryl and Ranka seem to draw the wrong conclusion.
9. And it really looks like Alto has decided, since as Ranka gets to the roof, he and Sheryl are hugging pretty tightly (fingers crossed, fingers crossed… DAMMIT! (see next episode for details)).
Oh, and the Vajra on Frontier start hatching during the debut of Ranka’s new (very “Penny Lane”-sounding) song, “The Sound of You” (which always reminds me of rubber ducks now… I’ll explain later).
10. Weirdness about what Alto was trying to accomplish by dedicating his Ranka love note to Sheryl notwithstanding, this is a very good episode, with plenty of nice little touches (and new ending credits! Solely for this episode!). Although honestly, it feels like the love triangle plotline is finished. It’s pretty clear that, for what it’s worth (not much, in my opinion, but that’s also for later), Alto has chosen Sheryl. If Ranka wants to snatch him away at this point, she has her work cut out for her. And have to be much more direct, since Alto doesn’t seem very good at reading others’ feelings, unless accompanied by plain talk.
(And, I’ll point out, many, MANY of the Japanese girls I’ve met prefer Ranka to Sheryl. Whereas most of the Japanese guys I’ve met prefer Sheryl. I think that’s all centered on Sheryl being more outspoken and direct. With her, as I said, she’ll tell you exactly what she wants. Ranka, on the other hand, won’t. And you have to intuit it. Most guys aren’t great at intuiting what women want, hence the preference for Sheryl. As far as I can tell, at least. And of course, Sheryl’s TOTALLY STACKED.)
NUMBER OF TIMES RANKA SAYS “ALTO-KUN” THIS EPISODE: 4
AND TOTAL: 68
EYECATCH: Bobby’s “Ninjiin Loves you yeah!”
NEXT EPISODE: “Song of Lament, ring throughout the galaxy!”