STAR DRIVER: Kagayaki no Takuto – 14
「アインゴットの眼」 (Aingotto no Me)
It’s the midpoint of the series and with it come new opening and ending sequences featuring songs by 9nine and SCANDAL. That’s not all though, as the plot moves forward with the highly sought after third phase in sight, and some on screen confirmation on who the fourth and final maiden is. Much like the bus scene back in episode eight foreshadowed, the end of this latest episode has all signs pointing to Keito (Ivrogne) as the east maiden. Somewhat similarly expected was Marino’s lie about there being no west maiden, after Ayingott was revived and its eyes were used to search for the identify of the remaining two. While not specifically shown in her visions, the Kiraboshi meeting at the very end suggested that Marino saw Keito as well. If that’s the case, the question now is why she and Head are keeping that fact a secret instead of having her release her seal and reaching the third phase right away. Evidently, there’s some sort of a conspiracy going on between the Vanishing Age and Bouganville leaders, which is the sort of plot device I was hoping for to re-spark my interest in the series. It’s been pretty apparent that each of the divisions have their own motives for bringing the Cybodies out of Zero Time and are only really working together out of personal interest, so I’ve hoping to see some indication that their precarious relationship can breakdown any minute. To me, this served as the first sign of that, more so than Marino’s inside job to try and protect Mizuno.
The twist just prior to that revelation is that Marino may not actually exist, and is possibly some existence conjured up by Mizuno’s powers, like her visions of her sister’s solitude past seemed to suggest. Going on that assumption, this would mean that Mizuno knows much more about what’s going on than she’s let on, which would also explain a lot of things such as how she knows always knows what flavor of ice cream Marino bought and how she likes Takuto too. It’s possible that their level of understanding’s been masked under a guise of being twin connection all this time. It’s a clever way of going about it since most viewers (myself included) have probably chalked those things off as a close sibling relationship, given how unassuming it’s been in the overall scheme of things. Is it possible that all of it was subtle foreshadowing towards this moment, or at the very least, something for us to look back upon and feel a bit flabbergasted? I’m starting to think so, in which case Star Driver would be a prime example of one series that purposely misleads the viewer into thinking lowly of it (e.g. with the Cybody battle of the week), only to blow them away with plot twist that brings everything together in some meaningful way. As someone who was intrigued by the director and writer behind this original series back in the Fall 2010 Preview, I’m on the side of the fence that still feels this series will end up being a lot better than its first half indicates. The series did have a pamphlet outlining the premise, characters, and Cybodies in great detail prior to premiering, so I’m inclined to give the planning that went into it the benefit of the doubt. (A translated version of the pamphlet can be found here.)
Anyway, I like the direction this particular episode took by showcasing Ayingott as some sort of evil Cybody that even caught the Kiraboshi members by surprise. As a series that the director and writer’s said will have no casualties, I’ve already opened up to the possibility that the ultimate antagonist will be the Cybodies themselves and not the high school students trying to harness their powers. The new opening and ending sequences already show Takuto battling against what looks like an evil Tauburn, plus an enormous Cybody that I can only imagine to be Samekh at this point. On the character side of things, it doesn’t looks like we’ve seen the last of Sakana-chan, a.k.a. Fish Girl, whom I had a hard believing wouldn’t make a return at some point. Meanwhile, the romance department gains some steam through the next play the “Night Flight” drama club will be putting on with the promise of a kissing scene between Takuto and Mizuno. It’s easy to lose sight of the high school portion of the series with the Cybodies garnering much of the attention, so it’s nice to see that aspect make some strides as well. While all that’s going on, I’m admittedly curious what Sugata will make of Head disappearing during Zero Time. Anyway, things look like they’re finally getting interesting, and I don’t just mean in the Cybody recovering process where the Star Driver has to endure having their body ravaged to test their libido, regardless of how kinky that is.