On Sentan Island, Prois Sukakki is explaining to Furuichi that ASP suits are like bodies without souls, so the pilots fill that role. Furuichi is currently being evaluated for becoming an ASP suit pilot – a Mainsoul – and Prois advises that the most important thing for this is the state of his mind. Haru is also there to be evaluated, and Prois tells Kakisu later that both Haru and Furuichi are classmates of the son of Takehara Ryuuzou. Kakisu seems not to pay attention and comments instead on how he dislikes Prois’s new hairstyle, and as he stares at the chained Xam’d that’s down a large pit, he notes that it reminds him of his dead mother. Meanwhile, the Zanbani crew notices some smoke rising in the distance as they’re flying along, so Ishu sends Nakiami to go investigate. Ishu wants Akiyuki to go as well, but Nakiami doesn’t want him along and leaves without him. In light of this, Akushiba literally pushes Akiyuki off the ship and watches as he barely manages to land on Nakiami’s Beat Kayak. The two quickly find that the smoke is coming from a battleground where there are several dead Humanform weapons, but there is one still alive which has only been half turned to stone. Nakiami decides to land the Beat Kayak and leaps onto the creature, but shortly after she manages to liquefy a part of its back, it knocks her away and gets her legs caught in the stone.
Akiyuki feels that he has to save Nakiami, and as he tries to approach the Humanform weapon, it lashes out at him and cuts off the bandage around his right arm. This results in Akiyuki’s arm turning into its Xam’d form, and he uses it to strike back at the creature, freeing Nakiami. Then, despite Nakiami trying to tell him not to kill it, he finishes off the Humanform weapon. In the aftermath, Nakiami explains that if Akiyuki hadn’t interfered, then she would have dismantled it, and she thinks that he forgot himself due to his arm. When Akiyuki protests, she points out how he had promised Tenshin that he’d live with others, and she comments on how it’s convenient for him to exclude Humanform weapons. Later that night, Akushiba explains to Akiyuki that the Humanform weapons are living things turned into what they are by the Northern Government trying to cultivate its own Hiruko. Nakiami had been trying to save the one from earlier without regard for the danger to herself. Back on Sentan Island, Haru reveals to Furuichi that she’s trying to join the military so that she can get off the island and find out what happened to Akiyuki. Furuichi tries to tell her something, but he chickens out and instead offers to treat her to a choco-coronet if she passes the exam.
Haru had actually received the letter from Akiyuki in which he had revealed that he can’t come back right away, but he nevertheless vowed to return. In response, she mails off her own batch of letters back to him and then goes to see his parents to show them the letter as proof that he’s still alive. After Haru leaves, Akiyuki’s father Ryuuzou starts to tell Akiyuki’s mother Fusa about the Battle of Barador. Even though Fusa doesn’t want to hear about it, Ryuuzou reveals that he was a doctor for the Northern Government who had unknowingly helped them turn wounded soldiers into Humanform weapons. He feels that it must be divine punishment that his son was attacked by one. The following day, Haru is getting ready for her test in a real ASP suit, but before the test group can set out, an alarm goes off on the military base because the large Xam’d that had been kept underground is now shedding the layer of stone that had been covering it and is reviving. Kakisu tries to stop it from getting to the surface by locking down it’s only path of escape, but the creature reaches and destroys the final barrier wall. Shards from the explosion disable all but two of the ASP suits – one of which is Haru’s – and their instructor decides to order live ammunition equipped on them.
I noted last week that I preferred the Sentan Island part of the story to any other, and this episode certainly didn’t change my mind. It reinforced the fact that all the stuff centered around Haru and Ryuuzou is more interesting to me than what’s going on with Akiyuki, though I did like the fact that Akiyuki finally got to use his Xam’d power again. Haru in particular has a lot going on – from the immediate threat of the pregnant-looking Xam’d to Furuichi’s feelings for her vs. her own feelings for Akiyuki to perhaps even having to fight Akiyuki in the near future – and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how she’s turning out to have a lot bigger role than originally expected. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go with her character, though the preview seems to imply that next week will be focused on mainly Akiyuki.
The other thing that struck me as noteworthy about this episode was the background music – it was a lot stronger than usual. I especially enjoyed that one piece that was playing when the stone on the giant Xam’d was first starting to fall off. This series doesn’t have as great a soundtrack as some others (heavyweight Macross Frontier comes to mind), but it’s certainly not bad. I should note that the animation quality is of course good as well, but I don’t talk about that much since I’ve come to expect it from a BONES production.
And finally, on a random note, I think Prois should leave her hair down. She looks a lot better/younger that way.