THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 155 – Drifting EMBRACE

Delta Ep.14

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 14: Drifting EMBRACE

ICONIC SCENE: WALKÜRE!!

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 3, 2016

1. Well, I gotta admit, I’m a little apprehensive about this part. See, I haven’t rewatched the second half of Delta in full until now. When I watched it as it was airing, I enjoyed it, but I also couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that not enough was actually, y’know, HAPPENING. I’m not sure how I’ll feel this time.

It’s no secret that even a lot of viewers who enjoyed (hell, LOVED) the first half of Delta really didn’t like the second half. You see a lot of people blaming “rushed scripting” because the series was expanded from the original concept of thirteen episodes plus a movie to twenty-six episodes, but as I’ve said before, that doesn’t mean what everyone says it means, nor did it happen as late as everyone says. But still, the fact remains that the second cour of Delta has much less in the way of action, and more in the way of people standing around talking. Does it “work” better watched over a shorter span rather than week by week? I don’t know yet.

The last time I was feeling a little bit of trepidation in the Great Macross Rewatch was when I started Seven, wondering if having to write about each episode would kill the show for me. As it turned out, despite some longueurs, it didn’t, and if anything I ended up liking Seven MORE than I had previously. Will the same thing happen here? Only time will tell…

2. Right off the bat, though, we get a new mystery (or a development of an old one) as Mikumo has a very odd dream in which she’s singing what seems to be a Windermerean song in front of a Protoculture temple.

Then we get the opening, which I find to be astonishingly clever. It’s the old theme, “If I Love Only Once,” but it’s the version Freyja sang last episode, and instead of the normal opening titles, it’s pretty much a recap of the previous episode. It’s a technique for addressing “The Story So Far…” that I’ve never seen before.

3. The main issue here is that the City ship (named here as “Island Jackpot,” which is a pretty strange name) is having power troubles. The Elysion could provide enough power for both ships (which reminds me of the modular system that enabled the main cannon to fire on the original SDF-1 Macross if it transformed), but Island Jackpot’s docking system has been damaged.

They’ve also got refugees to deal with, just like in the original Macross, but it’s dealt with a little more realistically here, as everyone is waiting in makeshift camps, rather than in a cozily rebuilt town.

By the way, I really like the effect of the power outages, as the fake sky in the City’s dome flickers in and out of existence.

4. There’s a section about politics that doesn’t really get expanded on, where it turns out that Xaos had been hired by the Brîsingr Golbular Cluster Coalition, but the Coalition itself is falling apart thanks to WIndermere’s conquest. Technically, Xaos is still on the payroll, but they might never get paid. And in their current reduced state, they couldn’t return and liberate Ragna even if they were ordered to.

5. Luckily, some time has been bought for our heroes, since the Knights have to return to Windermere for both the funeral for King Grammier, and the coronation of King Heinz.

Oh, and Keith is alive, but in a coma. Serves him right.

In the next scene, Hayate says that Island Jackpot hasn’t flown in thirty years, which, based on the basic Macross timeline, makes more sense than the “fifty years” that they had said previously. In 2037, New Macross Class ships existed. In 2017, they didn’t.

6. Er… didn’t they actually show two mercats mating…? Yes, yes they did…

And we find out a little about Hayate’s dad. He was in the military and where he was at any time was apparently a secret.

Also, after many months of speculation among the fans about whether Hayate’s pendant is Fold Quartz, he just comes out here and says it is. No biggie.

After that, there seems to be a deliberate callback to the first episode, with Hayate repeating his speech that he went lots of places and did lots of things, but nothing seemed to click. Then he quotes Freyja’s line that “You have to go somewhere you really wanna be.”

7. The gravity for one of the blocks fails, just like in Do You Remember Love, and for a moment, this LOOKS like it’s going to turn into the traditional Macross “trapped in a blocked-off area of the ship,” but Delta is the first Macross TV series not to have one of those. Instead, Freyja gets out quickly, and Hayate and Mirage are in a good place to reconnect a broken cable that’s necessary to regain full power.

And then, just as the civilians begin to panic, Walküre puts on a command rooftop performance, singing “Neo-Stream” (and, as I said about the song before, JUNNA (as Mikumo)’s English is impeccable. Is she really only a junior high school student…?).

Now, nearly every episode of Delta has a song at some point, but this one seems the most shoehorned-in so far. And it’s worth noting that the first Walküre album, “Walküre Attack,” was released later this week, so you could think of this as an extra push to advertise it. That said, it’s a lovely sequence, done mostly in the dark, with the girls lit from lights underneath them, which gives the artists a lot of interesting shadows to work with.

8. And while we’re talking about gratuitous scenes, there’s also Hayate and Mirage (still in Zero-G Friendzone) stripping off the jackets and throwing them to give themselves some kind of forward momentum. It all ends up being a little “Three’s Company,” as Hayate and Mirage are exerting themselves and grunting and moaning a lot and basically sounding like they’re having sex, as Freyja listens in, able to hear them but not see them, with a horrified expression.

9. Anyway, it all works, and the Elysion’s crotch docks with Island Jackpot, solving the power problem.

Plus the gravity comes back on, as well as the lights, letting everyone see Mirage and Hayate, half-naked, hanging on to each other. Mirage is mortified, of course.

And Xaos finds new clients who hire them to take the Globular Cluster back from Windermere.

Oh, and when the Elysion moves in to dock, I think this may be the only time in the show where we see Arad’s Siegfried in battroid mode.

10. Now, look… we all know how TV anime production works, and so after the action-packed previous episode, I was expecting something without as many animation-intensive (and cost-intensive) scenes for an episode or two. Every TV anime show is this way. And indeed, there aren’t many Valkyrie shots here, and no aerial combat at all. That said, it’s a fine episode, with plenty of cool scenes.

This was also the episode that aired mere hours before I finally met Shoji Kawamori himself (in L.A.) at the Satelight Animation booth at Anime Expo, which was definitely THE highlight of the con for me (second was meeting Yoshitaka Amano, one booth over. It was a good con for meeting the people who made me fascinated by anime). We didn’t talk long. I thanked him for his work, told him that I was really enjoying Delta, and that I was looking forward to his upcoming series, The Next. I received an autographed copy of the program for his recent museum exhibit, “The Henkei.” I felt a little presumptuous asking for a photo, but I’m glad I did. Unfortunately, thanks to being exhausted from working the booth all weekend, I look terrible here…

Delta Ep.14a

Oh, and the new ending theme, “Destruction of Innocence,” is meant (both instrumentally and lyrically) to be a sorta response to “Forbidden Borderline.” Personally, I think it may be the best song in the whole series.

OP: “If I Love Only Once” (Ep. 13 Freyja Version)

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: VF-1EX (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Destruction of Innocence.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 4

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 154 – Passionate DIVING

Delta Ep.13.png

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 13: Passionate DIVING

ICONIC SCENE: Maybe the best Valk launch since the OP of the first series…

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 26, 2016

1. We pick up exactly where we left off last time, and one thing is notable here: there’s no OP. As I mentioned at the end of the Frontier TV series, sometimes that would happen with some of the more spectacular episodes of Space Battleship Yamato (and Space Battleship Yamato 2). I always think of it as a signal that we’re going to get an episode jam-packed with lots of cool stuff. And so it is here.

Now, King Grammier really has outwitted Captain Johnson here, since the Macross Elysion has to recharge its fold drive for a while, but the Elysion does score a hit on the Sigur Berrentzs, just as it’s entering fold space. Which ya gotta admit, is something we’ve never seen before.

2. So the fighters fold back, followed soon by the Aether (lucky the Elysion’s “arms” have their own fold drives, isn’t it?), and Delta Flight have a very short amount of time in which to defeat the Windermereans before the NUNS blows up the nuke.

The NUNS asshole, by the way, gets almost cartoonishly nasty here, seeming to be a little gleeful that the Ragnan civilians are still evacuating the area, and that some are likely to get caught in the blast. More evidence for what the novelization comes out and states: that the government officials on earth really don’t think of the other species in the galaxy as being intelligent lifeforms at all.

3. Oh hey, it’s “Forbidden Borderline”! We haven’t heard that in ages! (The version here, by the way, is the “Album Version,” featuring Freyja, that would be released a few weeks later on the first Walküre album.) And the girls have new outfits, too!

(Funnily enough, right before I saw this episode the first time, I was looking at a forum (Animesuki, if I recall correctly), and one of the first posts about the episode started off “HOLY SHIT!!” I stopped reading there, not wanting to spoil myself, but figuring that I was going to be in for a roller coaster ride when I watched it. Which it certainly was. Later, I went back to read the rest of the post and all it said was, more or less, “HOLY SHIT!!” Walküre has new costumes! And they’re much more revealing!” Nothing about the plot at all…)

4. Then the warhead goes off, with the goal of destroying both the Protoculture ruins and the Sigur Berrentzs. It does neither, but it does destroy Hayate’s VF-31J.

The resulting tsunami also knocks Chuck’s sister Marianne off of the Rag-Nyan-Nyan houseboat, which is a thread that remains loose until the final episode. Not that Chuck really seems to care, except intermittently.

Among MY friends, at least, there was considerable debate about whether she could survive or not… since she’s a mer-person, we could at least agree that she wouldn’t drown, although the force of the wave could definitely kill her.

5. The Protoculture ruins get replaced by a structure that folds in in their place. And it’s something that the Sigur Berrentzs can dock with. This never really gets explained, except for, well, the Protoculture could already do basically ANYTHING, right? It seems that the Windermereans were expecting something like to happen, though, and indeed, it’ll happen on all the other planets as well.

Also, King Grammier invokes the name “Rudanjaar Rom Mayan,” which we’ll hear a lot more later on. Whether this has any connection to Macross Zero’s Mayan Island also never gets confirmed, but I think we can assume that it does. At least, I’m imagining that every planet “uplifted” by the Protoculture has its own Mayan Island, with its own Bird-Human left as a failsafe in case the inhabitants are too bellicose.

6. After the eyecatch, Heinz starts singing and the Sigur Berrentzs undergoes a type of transformation above the Protoculture structure. It ends up looking quite a lot like Macross Zero’s Bird-Human, which I guess is only natural. Y’know, for being one of the less well-regarded installments of Macross (and, in Japan, probably the least popular), a lot of Frontier and Delta are built upon its story foundations (and heck, even Macross the First references it in a few different ways).

7. In a beautiful, beautiful scene, Hayate gets into Messer’s VF-31F (although he’s still not wearing a helmet… I thought his old VF-31J was special that way…?) and takes off, as “Walküre Attack” starts playing. Everything here is perfect, from the look of the fighter and the Aether’s deck to the camera angles, to the actual animation. Hidetaka Tenjin at work, folks. The man is brilliant.

What doesn’t get mentioned but should be obvious here is that Delta Flight is going into combat without their ace. Messer was 37% of their effectiveness: they’re crippled here. Just fending off the Aerial Knights might be too much for them, let alone defeating them.

Now, naturally, the main character getting his dead mentor’s fighter (with a skull emblem on it) as a mid-series upgrade evokes the original series pretty strongly, where Hikaru of course got Focker’s VF-1S. The symbolism there was clear: Hikaru was taking over Focker’s leadership role, and it was a passing of the torch. Here, it’s a little less obvious, since Hayate doesn’t automatically become the ace of the team or the leader or anything, really. You’d almost think there’s no change, really. But then…

Hey, remember back in Mission 08 when Hayate had the chance to kill Bogue and didn’t take it, firing at the Draken’s leg instead? Well, here, he doesn’t hesitate at all, and shoots directly at Keith’s cockpit. He doesn’t end up killing Keith, but it’s not for lack of intent. Messer’s death has changed something in Hayate, and he’s not playing around anymore.

(One unfortunate side-effect of that is that the “Immelmann Dance” will virtually never appear again in the show. He’s too serious a pilot for that now. I’ll miss it.)

8. Bogue lunges forward and fires a huge blast at Walküre, which for once actually does break the glass (or glass-like substance) that surrounds their stage (and wounds Mikumo). Then the SIgur Berrentzs fires its cannons to finish them, only to be blocked by the timely arrival of the Macross Elysion. The Elysion is AWESOME in this episode, from protecting Walküre to rising from the ocean and firing one of its cannons. Not only does it look great in itself, but watch all the shots of water sluicing off of it as it emerges from the water. Again, one of the things I like most about Delta is the way the staff will often go above and beyond what they need to do to make a scene look good. Not ALL the time, of course, since this is a TV show with crushing deadlines, but often enough that you can see their love for Macross.

9. Freyja, for her part, goes into the “berzerker mode” (I guess) that we haven’t seen since Mission 01, with her rune going crazy, she starts singing the OP song, and then actually LEAPS OFF THE DECK of the Aether in order to get closer to Hayate.

Her song not only reaches him, but also catches Keith and Heinz off-guard, which probably is what enables Hayate to get that killshot in.

And then she gets caught by Mirage. As Gwyn Campbell of the Speaker PODCast says, you could almost call this “Mirage Catches Everyone – The Episode.”

In the end, it’s not enough. Hayate downs Keith, the Sigur Berrentz is damaged, and King Grammier dies, but still, Xaos has to retreat with a city-ship full of refugees, and Windermere’s plan to control all the Protoculture ruins has been fulfilled. Quite a cliffhanger…

Oh, and when Roid takes over from the dead king (and there’s a crucial piece missing here that will be addressed later), he changes glasses AGAIN. What’s up with that?

10. Macross has never, ever skimped when it comes to the ending of a cour (unless you count the fact that Episode 13 of the original series, “Blue Wind,” looks absolutely godawful), and so it is here. None of the show’s mysteries get explained (or even addressed all that much), but Hayate and Freyja have definitely come into their own and have earned the respect of their colleagues.

But of course the emphasis here is on the action, and it delivers in spades. From the reaction weapon’s explosion, to the dogfights, to the Elysion arriving in the nick of time, this episode is taut and exciting from start to finish, and (to me, at least) stands as one of best battle episodes of any Macross series.

Also, unusually for Delta, there seem to be Frontier-style homages thrown in, as it variously evokes the Dimension Eater destroying Gallia IV (from Frontier), Minmay falling and being caught (from the original series), and the Macross getting its booms destroyed by an enemy beam (from Do You Remember Love).

All in all, it’s a satisfying finale to the satisfying first half of Delta. Can the second half hold up? We’ll see…

OP: None.

ED: Eternity (an instrumental, not a Walküre song.)

EYECATCH: The Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None, although “Forbidden Borderline” is, as I’ve said, a different version, and “If I Love Only Once” has a different vocal take from Minori Suzuki.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 4

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 153 – KING OF THE WIND

Delta Ep.12

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 12: KING OF THE WIND

ICONIC SCENE: Macross Elysion, hasshin!

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 19, 2016

1. So right after the Messer Trilogy, we get the two-part finale for the first cour. Watching it week-by-week a year ago, I recall some people complaining that this episode was too slow and the next was too frenetic, but if you watch them together, the pacing and build-up are expertly done.

The opening scene here is a tour de force, as we pick up where we left off with the Sigur Berrentzs about to take care of the NUNS forces around Al Shahal. The ship itself is exceedingly powerful… it doesn’t just have a barrier, for example, it actually creates a dimensional fault around itself for protection. Coupled with Heinz’s Song of the Wind, which causes the crews of the various defense ships AND the inhabitants of the planet to Vár-out, and Al Shahal falls quickly. In under fifteen minutes.

2. Xaos is definitely preparing for the big battle, as forces are gathering on Ragna. As we see the pilots all greeting each other, there’s one particularly attractive green-haired woman who gets focused on a couple of times, and I think the going theory last year was that she would probably end up being Messer’s replacement, but nope. We never see her again.

3. Xaos’s plan is good: launch as soon as possible and attack the Windermereans while they’re still at Al Shahal. Pity it doesn’t work out…

4. Mirage gets a promotion to Delta 2. I’m guessing that Chuck is not really in the running, since he’s got reconnaissance, and also I think Arad knows that being in command of Delta Flight would mean more to Mirage.

Unfortunately, they never change the numbers on the planes, which makes things slightly confusing later on.

5. I may not get another chance later, so let me say that I really like King Grammier’s character design. He really does look like he’s in his thirties, yet he also looks old. I think the “Grayscale” does most of the aging work, but I salute character designer Chisato Mita (who for some reason always has “CAPCOM” after her name) for managing to tackle what must have seemed an impossible task: “Make the guy look old but also thirty-five.”

6. I do wonder… Roid is adamant about not overexerting Heinz (which would shorten his life). Now, he’s got his own reasons for this which we’ll get to later, but… if Heinz dies, who takes the throne? Keith, even though he’s the King’s bastard son? Some relative we haven’t met? I suppose we could assume at this point that Keith is coveting the throne for himself, but that turns out absolutely not to be the case.

7. And then we meet the show’s standard NUNS asshole higher-up, Major Lauri Marin, and yes, he’s a total jerk. Just like the brass in every other Macross series. He delivers the plan that the Protoculture ruins on Ragna are to be destroyed, even though (as we learned before) they’re connected to the core of the planet and no one knows what blowing them up would do.

8. We get the history between Captain Johnson and King Grammier, and also learn that Johnson seems to have a knack for being on the losing side of any conflict. Grammier, however, seems to have a lot of respect for him, echoing Keith’s regard for Messer.

9. And then, finally, we see the Macross Elysion take off and transform. And it’s glorious. One of my favorite bits is the shot of the gravity control system, which is very obviously patterned after the gravity control system on the good ol’ SDF-1.

They fold to Al Shahal, and it looks like the big battle is about to start… and they arrive to find that the Sigur Berrentzs is beginning a fold to Ragna.

Oops.

10. Every Macross TV series, before a really action-packed fight (usually at the end of a cour) has a “girding one’s loins for the battle ahead” episode, and this is no different. The rationale is easy to see: as I’ve said before, the big-battle sequences take a lot of time to animate well, so a calmer episode before it not only builds tension, but gives the animators more time to work on the important stuff. That said, this one doesn’t seem half-assed to me at all. From the writing angle, the characters trying to sum up their feelings before what could possibly be their last mission feels urgent and real (I especially love Reina’s rare outpouring of emotion for the planet she has come to think of as her home), and art-wise, there are also many great scenes. Anything with the Sigur Berrentzs stands out, but I also love the Ragnan houseboats gathering together as everyone tries to evacuate the city.

In Japan, after this episode, the whole series so-far was re-run online in preparation for the end of the first cour. Among western fans, an odd rumor sprung up that the series would take a break after Episode 13 and return in six months or a year or so. That seemed odd to me at the time because no official sources said anything like that, but watching this now, I can see how people could get that impression: the show really feels like it’s building towards a grand finale (and that would help spawn OTHER false rumors later, which I’ve talked about before… and probably will again). So yeah… after the first couple of minutes, there’s no action in this episode, and there isn’t even any singing. But we sure end on a hell of a cliffhanger.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: The Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None. In fact, for the first time ever, Walküre don’t sing at all here.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 3

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 152 – Jellyfish REMINISCENCE

Delta Ep.11.png

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 11: Jellyfish REMINISCENCE

ICONIC SCENE: PROTOCULTURE!!

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 12, 2016

1. And here we are at the final part of what I think of as “the Messer trilogy,” although by this point it’s obvious that it’s more about Kaname than about Messer. We start off with a short snippet of Messer’s funeral, but it’s everyone else’s reactions at the post-funeral gathering that are more important.

After the opening credits, however, we get into the mental connection between Heinz and Mikumo and Freyja from last episode.

I remember a couple of people wondering about the resolution of the battle from last episode, but it seems to me that that was already basically over. Once Heinz gets KO’d early the in fight, it’s done, except for Keith taking on Messer.

If you’re into the Kaname/Arad relationship, I think their conversation early in this episode is important. He asks her if she needs a break, and she looks… surprised? Taken aback? before smiling and saying she’s okay. And when she asks Arad if he’s okay and he says he is, she gives him a covert look that seems pretty worried.

2. And it turns out that Keith had managed to shoot Messer directly through the heart (even though the beam he fired seemed a lot larger than that). Hayate doesn’t take this well, and we’ll see later how he’s changed because of this.

However, I’m sure Hayate sees contempt in Keith’s precise shot, and that simply isn’t true. Keith shows profound respect for Messer, even getting on Bogue’s case about it.

3. Following that, we learn that the Sigur Berrentzs is able to be activated, and that King Grammier doesn’t necessarily trust Roid all that much… And of course, he shouldn’t, but he doesn’t follow up on it at all. Up to this point, Roid has seemed loyal, but he’ll get shadier and shadier as the show goes on.

4. I find the part where Arad says that their first priority is to find a replacement for Messer in Delta Flight a little odd, because of course that never happens. And there’s the fact that Messer accounted for a whopping 37% of Delta Flight’s effectiveness. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to view Hayate, Mirage, Chuck, and Arad as lovable losers, like the Bad News Bears or something, or if Messer really was absolutely top-tier and everyone else is really good, but just not quite at THAT level.

5. And wow, Walküre training is tough, dragging tires through the mud and rain. The Jamming Birds were shown to have a lot of physical training, but there it was just jogging. This is real boot camp stuff.

6. Windermere’s plan here is finally made explicit. The stuff about the Song of the Wind resonating with the Protoculture ruins is a little baffling, but all we really need to know is that is Windermere takes control of all the ruins, then the entire Brísingr Cluster will be open to their mind-control attacks. And currently, only Al Shahal and Ranga remain free. It still seems small potatoes compared to their declaration of war on the entire galaxy, but that’s for later. From a storytelling perspective, the show is treading a thin line: if the Windermere threat seems too small, then the story lacks tension. If it’s too large, then there needs to be a reason why the NUNS don’t just come along and bomb the shit out of Windermere (similarly, in the first series, there was the excuse that the Zentradi wanted to capture the Macross, not destroy it, or else the show wouldn’t have lasted past Episode 1). That said, there’s no indication that an attack on Windermere would work, considering the dimensional barrier surrounding the planet. But still, at this point, it’s something that the brass seem to figure is a local skirmish, not worth getting involved in. By the time they come around, it’ll be mostly too late.

7. And then we see it: the Sigur Berrentzs. It’s an impressive ship, built at least 500,000 years before by the Protoculture, and, as such, probably the most powerful weapon currently existing. One of the cool things about it, from the production side, it that it was designed by Kazutaka Miyatake, one of the original Studio Nue members, and designer of pretty much all the mecha from Macross (and Plus, and Seven) that aren’t the Valkyries, including the Zentradi ships, which is probably most important here. He’s mostly retired now, although he did design the Bird-Human in Macross Zero (and the Dragons in Cross Ange, and general design in the upcoming anime “Knight’s & Magic”). Anyway, it’s a great throwback, being reminiscent of the Zentradi designs (and the Bird-Human) while not looking QUITE like them.

8. With the big threat revealed in the first half of the episode, the second half is devoted to the traditional Ragnan send-off for Messer. Among the traditions is a little boat that looks like Messer’s VF-31F, to be floated off to sea. Unfortunately, there’s a design flourish on the cockpit that has a red dot pretty much exactly where Keith hit the real thing. The characters are much too polite to point this out, thankfully.

9. The service is mellow and reflective, as befits a memorial. My favorite little touch here is Beth Muscat (the hard-drinking bridge bunny) showing inordinate interest when Chuck notes the twenty-year-old banana sake.

(And er… I know there’s banana liqueur, although I’ve never tried it, but… can you actually make banana WINE…? I dunno… doesn’t sound great to me…)

My second-favorite little touch is the acoustic “Remember 16” that Huck and Zuck play. Another song that maddeningly is not on any of the Delta CDs (yet…?).

My third-favorite little touch is how sharp Captain Johnson looks in his white suit and in his fedora. Two things that keeping coming up in Delta fashion: fedoras and girls wearing ties.

And although we get the expected “Oh, Messer seemed like a real jerk, but he was a nice guy underneath the gruffness” type stuff, the REAL revelation comes when everyone is wading into the ocean singing “Giraffe Blues” and Kaname runs to join them, asserting that there are people who love her songs.

I mentioned a couple of episodes ago how understated the scene where Kaname reveals that she was never popular as a solo singer and that Mikumo is Walküre’s “ace,” and the sense of resignation that she puts into that scene may obscure how important the issue is to her. She had given up, and was okay with it. But not REALLY okay, as we see here. No, there’s still a lot of turmoil under the surface for her, and thanks to Messer, she finally has the courage to face it and really give her all to Walküre as a singer as well as a manager… although this won’t become REALLY important until the end of the series.

And then, in the post-credits scene (although, strangely, the blu-ray version doesn’t have any credits, unlike the TV broadcast), the Sigur Berrentzs attacks Al Shahal, and things don’t look good.

10. We spend a lot more time with the Windermereans in this episode than we have previously, which is necessary since they’re about to launch their big attack. Pretty much all the plot here involves them, whereas the scenes with Xaos are more focused on character. The reveal of the Sigur Berrentzs is pretty amazing, and I like the juggling of different tones in going from that to the quiet memorial for Messer. There’s virtually no action in this episode, but that’s okay… we’re building towards the end of the first cour, which will make up for that.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “Giraffe Blues”

EYECATCH: Hayate’s VF-31J

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: Um… does “Remember 16” count…? If not, then none.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 3