STAR DRIVER: Kagayaki no Takuto – 08
「いつだって流星のように」 (Itsudatte Nagareboshi no yō ni)
“Always Like a Shooting Star”
I certainly didn’t expect Takuto and Sugata’s confrontation to turn out like this, and truthfully, I have mixed feelings about it. As I mentioned last week, I thought that the plot was setting itself up to be a Naruto-clone, and expressed my worries about how the series would turn out if it took such a route. As such, I was relieved by this week’s developments in the sense that the story avoided an over-used plot device and kept itself open for further revelations in the future. However, I have my reservations about things turning out so rosy between Takuto and Sugata, which came off as feeling like the writers were too timid to take that step and make the plot and established character dynamics do a complete 180. I was looking forward to seeing how the writers would handle the story after Sugata abonded Takuto and Wako, and i it could make the so far formulaic plot structure more interesting. Still, this story’s tendancy to do the complete opposite of what I’m expecting is its charm in a way, even if it is the series’ double-edged sword as well.
With Sugata staying on Takuto’s side for now, this leaves some unanswered questions that I don’t want glazed over. First of all, how did Sugata awaken last episode? It would have been simple enough to just pass it off as something Kiraboshi related, but with Sugata’s willingness to stay with Takuto and Wako, that seems less likely. It was stated that, without exception, anyone who used the King’s Pillar would fall into a deep sleep. I can’t imagine it was because of willpower alone, as I don’t see why any of the other Shindou family heirs wouldn’t be able to muster up enough to awaken themselves from their sleep either, especially since it seems like Sugata’s will in particular is not that strong due to his conflicting feelings of being confined to live on the island his entire life. Of course, that brings me to my next question concerning Sugata, how did he break free of Scarlet Kiss’ First Phase ability? It appears that, yet again, it was his willpower that allowed him to break free, but that’s just too cheap of a way to pass off overcoming something that, again, was supposed to be impossible to overcome. We could just ignore these details and label them as plot armor, but I’d rather have an actual concrete reason as to why Sugata was able to accomplish what generations before him were not and why he was able to break free of mind control when several others before him weren’t. Willpower just doesn’t cut it for me, and even though Star Driver is very Shounen-esque, last I checked, it wasn’t actually a Shounen.
Putting the plot holes aside for now, I must say that this week’s fight was probably the best thus far. As always, the animation and art were on point, but the movements of the robots this episode are what impressed me the most; I’ve never seen giant robots move so fluidly before. I felt like I was watching a fight from Naruto or One Piece rather than a giant robot fight. That said, the emotional value of the fight still didn’t reach me, for the same reasons I mentioned last week. Put simply, the series has not focused on Takuto and Sugata’s relationship enough to actually care what happens between them, and even though having a brofight was nice, it didn’t offer much in the way of actually feeling like they were bros. Still, I found it honorable that Sugata was testing Takuto rather than betraying him, seeing if he really had the strength to protect Wako. Of course, this brings up the question of why was Sugata testing Takuto in the first place? It could be that Sugata simply wanted reassurance in the idea that Takuto would be able to protect Wako in case he’s ever unable to be by her side. However, from my perspective, it was for “when” he leaves her side, rather than “in case” he does, otherwise I don’t see why he would be so serious while fighting against Takuto. This would suggest that there will be another plot twist and Sugata’s return to Takuto’s side will be brief, and this entire episode was a red-herring for when it happens. Should that occur, it would definitely be a better way of having Sugata leave Takuto and Wako than what was set-up last episode, as the emotional value would be quite high from riding off of the uplifting turn of events this episode.
Of course, this week wasn’t entirely about Sugata, as we got a quick glimpse of a new character, who gives off the vibes of being important to the plot, and there was some tangible development for fish girl. Even though I found it silly that Head kicked fish girl out simply because of the supposed ending to her story, it gives us even more to ponder over as a result. Number one is, of course, when will fish girl appear again and what’s the true ending to her story, as she says the “Adventure of Life Continues” at the end of this episode. I also found it interesting that Keito, Wako, fish girl, and the new girl were all put into the same bus, at the same time, with no other people around. It didn’t feel like a mere coincidence to me, especially considering that Wako and fish girl are maidens and it’s been stated that there are four maidens on the island. Considering this, I’m pressed to believe that Keito and the new girl are the other two maidens, which makes perfect sense in hindsight, as Keito has always had a particular amount of screentime out of all the other Kiraboshi heads, while having nothing actually revealed about her personal life like Watanabe. Wako, Keito, and the new girl’s collective good wishes to fish girl also seemed like a symbolic way of the other shrine maidens wishing their fellow maiden, who has escaped the confines of the island, good fortune on her journey. Putting all that plot crap aside though, the most important question is, of course, what will we do without our weekly fish song and bed time story!?