Pretending that Howard Glass was killed in the Vajra attack, Leon takes control of the military and orders the launch of the Battle Frontier. Alto, Ranka, and Luca meanwhile make their way to Island 3 with the help of some cover fire from Kuran, and Luca takes them to the research lab where a weapon called the Little Girl is being stored. Luca explains that this is an LAI-developed Fold bomb that’ll wipe out everything in a 50 kilometer radius, but in order for it to work, they need to gather all the Vajra inside the colony ship in one place. When Alto realizes that this plan will require Ranka, he gets angry, however Luca remains calm and declares that he’s decided to protect. Luca frames this all as a struggle for survival between them and the Vajra, but what ultimately settles this is Ranka’s own decision to sing. With this plan now in place, Alto can only reassure Ranka that they’ll be able to escape afterward and that she’ll be able to sing without worries. After Alto takes off in his Valkyrie, Brera shows up and suggests that Ranka doesn’t have to sing if she doesn’t want to. Letting her cry into his arms for a moment, he then tells her that her song is her heart, and that’s something that is hers alone.
Despite this, Ranka remains resolved to sing. She knows that her song won’t reach the one person she wants it to reach, but she’s still doing it because this is the hope for him. Aimo succeeds in attracting all of the Vajra to Island 3, so the fleet jettisons that particular section and detonates the Fold bomb once Ranka gets off safely. All of the Vajra are thus killed, and Ranka once again feels a pain in her stomach. In the aftermath, cleanup begins, and Leon gives a speech and leads a prayer for all the people who died. He tells Ranka that Ozma is missing, but despite her sad feelings, he still asks her to sing. Ranka surprises everyone by refusing to do so, and she then runs off into the nearby woods where she’s met by a familiar creature. Later that night, Alto gets a phone call from Ranka and rushes out to meet her on the hill overlooking the city. He tries to find out why she stopped singing, but Ranka instead asks him to teach her how to fold paper airplanes. While they’re doing this, she asks him about the desire to fly in the sky, so Alto starts by telling her about how his mother had a weak body. His mother could only look up at the sky and had wanted to see a real one. Alto describes the real sky as blue, never-ending, and free, and although he thinks of it as a fairy tale since he was born on this ship, Ranka calls it wonderful.
After Alto helps her finish her paper airplane, Ranka lets it fly and thinks about how everyone wants to live freely. She decides to make a request to Alto about doing something with her, however at this moment, Ai-kun appears and brings the paper airplane back to Ranka. Alto sees Ai-kun as a grown Vajra now – the same type that killed Mikhail – so he pulls out his gun, but Ranka tries to stop him because Ai-kun hasn’t done anything wrong. Alto is unconvinced because he believes that the sky will be a battlefield as long as there are Vajra, and they must kill the Vajra in order to survive. He fires the gun, but Brera rushes onto the scene right as he’s doing so and knocks the gun out of his hand. Brera proceeds to hold Alto at bay while he asks Ranka to tell him her wish because he intends to fulfill it instead of Alto. This is enough for Ranka to admit that she’s recently remembering her past little by little, and she’s decided to return Ai-kun to where his friends are. Brera grants this request by summoning his Valkyrie, and he and Ranka board it. Before she leaves, Ranka tells Alto that she had wanted to go with him so that they could be together, but she now can only say goodbye and confess that she loved him. Alto is left behind watching Brera’s Valkyrie fly off into space, and he yells Ranka’s name out in frustration.
ED: 「蒼のエーテル」 (Ao no Ether) by 中島愛 (Nakajima Megumi)
Watch the ED!: Mirror, Streaming
A pretty good ballad song for the ED this week to go along with the goodbye, especially since they played it all the way through.
Well despite the fact that she got right into the thick of things, Kuran didn’t die after all this episode. That’s mostly a good thing if you like her character, but I worry that she’ll be neglected as the story now enters the final arc. At best, I could imagine her using her experience to help Alto make up his mind about Ranka; at worst, we don’t see her again until the next battle or the end of the series. There’s just not much they can do with her character without Mikhail around.
Speaking of Ranka, clues from past episodes had pointed to how she would eventually go to the Vajra, and Ai-kun’s return finally triggered her to do so. The suddenness of the decision makes it feels like she’s running away from things more than anything else, though I’m sure the end result – she’ll probably meet the Vajra and we’ll find out more about why Grace refers to her as the Little Queen – will be the same regardless of what her current motivations are. Since she managed to confess to Alto before she left – in what was incidentally a very nice goodbye sequence with a good song – I want to say this makes AltoXRanka more likely, but I can still see AltoXSheryl happening or even AltoXNobody (I would go as far as to say that Alto doesn’t deserve either of the girls unless he matures further). It wouldn’t surprise me if Alto swings back towards Sheryl next week since the next episode is titled Northern Cross and looks to focus a least partially on her.