Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen – 16
After a battle-centric episode last week, it feels like we’ve hit a bit of an intermission in the series where the characters do a lot of talking and there are a lot of close-up shots of their faces. The episode was also extended with the omission of the opening sequence, but at this stage in the series I’m honestly wondering if that’s because XEBEC still doesn’t have the new opening ready yet. In any case, the episode did touch upon the much alluded to “NR Syndrome”, which fellow reader belatkuro came up with what I thought was an excellent theory in last week’s comments—”Nanjou Reika Syndrome”. As it turns out, belatkuro was on the right track. We learned that Argevollen (and Sturm Alpha) was developed using the same technology that killed Tokimune’s sister. The difference is, “NR” apparently stands for “Neural (W)Riteover” in reference to how one loses their unconscious self-restraint and eventually themselves. (Crunchyroll actually translates “NR” as “Neural Rideover”, but the more I listen to Jamie the more it sounds like “Writeover” and the more it looks like it’s another case of bad English by Japanese writers so I’m going to go with that for now.)
Peculiarly enough, while Samonji had known about Argevollen’s connection to the experiment that claimed Reika’s life, he only orders Tokimune to stop piloting the white Trail Krieger. It didn’t seem to occur to him to order his maintenance crew to not repair Argevollen and simply scrap it instead so that it doesn’t fall into enemy hands, despite Suzushiro’s suggestion to just destroy it. Given how nothing seems to get by Samonji unnoticed within his unit, I’m inclined to believe that he knew what was happening and quietly consented to it. Perhaps he realizes that they need Argevollen against Sturm Alpha and wants to let Tokimune make the risky decision of whether or not to get back into the pilot seat, so if the rest of the crew believe that Argevollen will be needed when push comes to shove, he’ll let go along with their decision. That’s just my hunch for now, but the next episode should confirm or deny that.
On Ingelmia’s side of things, they’ve made it “painfully” clear that Richthofen is also suffering from the effects of NR Syndrome and will likely self-destruct if Liz doesn’t step in to save him. Assuming that she does, I can see the upcoming battle being a prelude to Samonji/Suzushiro and Holmes/Garp questioning their respective superiors’ orders enough to finally take action. The antagonists of the series have more or less been made out to be the individuals with either a personal or monetary interest in the war and the challenge in dealing with them is that they stem from within on either side. The protagonists on the other hand are simply the soldiers following orders, so I have my reservations about whether they will actually be able to do anything given the chain of command. If they’re to succeed, I’d imagine it would entail the war ending in a truce and Cayenne, Zarl, and Tsang Taos (my best stab at translating his name from Katakana) can no longer keep pulling the strings from the background. That’s the only real possible conclusion I can see to the series at this point, so I’m curious to see what happens from here.