Itou Shizuka‘s a witch! So it turns out that “500 overs” isn’t in reference to a huge increase in Erica’s kill count, but her one-to-one win-loss ratio against a fellow Karlsland witch back in her Air Force days, Hanna-Justina Marseille. She’s not just any witch though, as Hanna is just as much of a celebrity as she is one of Karlsland’s aces. She also happens to be nicknamed the Star of Africa for her active service in that region as a “Storm Witch.” The only real knock on her character is her overwhelming sense of pride and need to show off by winning in absolutely everything, which Gertrud isn’t the least bit fond of. Surprisingly, this didn’t play out as a rivalry of sorts between her and Hanna like it was made out to be. Instead, Erica ended up taking on that role by reluctantly wedging herself in between and becoming Hanna’s partner in an infiltrate operation against a dome-shaped Neuroi they plan to approach via the water. All of this for the sake of some posterity to help promote the war effort against the Neuroi.
At that point, I figured it was a sure-fire deal that there would be some sort of a conflict between Gertrud and Hanna with Erica caught in the middle. All the makings of a jealous plot device were here, so I was pretty amazed when Gertrud acted all captain-like and didn’t get bent out of shape over Hanna waltzing and taking over her role. It could be that I’m too used to seeing this pattern in anime, but it sure felt like the writers were intentionally leading me into thinking that’s where things were headed. It kind of makes me wonder if they were planning to do so and simply changed their minds. Whatever the case, Gertrud took the high road and was even willing to ask Hanna for her autograph to give to her sister Chris, so this episode quickly became a showcase of Hanna’s character and her self-made rivalry against Erica — something the latter didn’t have the least bit interest in until Gertrud was snubbed further with the whole autograph thing. Quite frankly, I didn’t mind having an episode centered around a witch who almost rivals Shirley in terms of curvaceousness and has Shizuka’s voice behind her though. In fact, even with all the focus Hanna got this week, I’m a bit disappointed that this may be all we’ll see of her. At least her relatively brief inclusion did warrant a Shizuka sung version of “Over Sky.”
On the plus side, it was pretty cool seeing Hanna and Erica make a competition out of taking out the Neuroi from the inside while everyone else just waited patiently outside. It was all about kill tallies at that point, making the actual Neuroi and its floating orbs that they were laying waste to incredibly unimportant. Their duel with live ammunition right after proved to be a pretty nice spectacle of its own; however, I’m just as disappointed as Hanna that it ended as a draw as well. What’s with this draw business where the two contenders quietly seeing eye to eye after exchanging fire? I wanted to see a winner! Talk about a misleading episode title. Nobody was “over 500” here. 😛 In the grander scheme of things, the preview makes it clear that we’re in the final stretch of the series by hinting at the upcoming final battle. Mio looks like she’ll be one of the focuses hereon in, seeing as her magical powers are continuing to fade even with Reppumaru.