「絆と約束」 (Kizuna to Yakusoku)
“Bonds and Promises”
With more mention of The School and the kids who want to be reunited with one another, the appearance of Shadow-Mirror’s leader, Vindel Mauser (Umezu Hideyuki), alongside his top researcher and head of the W-Numbers, Lemon Browning (Mizutani Yuuko), finally gave us faces to some of the antagonists in this series. The underground cryogenic hibernation facility, Earth Cradle, created by the Divine Crusaders as a means to preserve mankind in case they lost the war against the Aerogaters (in Divine Wars), comes back into the picture as well. Sophia Nate, the head of this “Project Ark” is revealed to be in stasis herself, while Egret Feff runs the show and meets up with the person who brought together and currently leads the Neo Divine Crusaders, Van Vat Tran. At this time, there wasn’t much of an introduction to what’s going on in the secret facility, though it should strike a chord to those familiar with the games.
The idea of “Machinery Children” and the “W-Numbers” mentioned by Lemon will come into play later on, so all one really has to take away from those scenes are that a bit of story foundation has been set for now. What should click right away is the mention of Beowulf from episode one, who is Kyousuke Nanbu in this dimension. Vindel also brought up how they’re looking for Helios, i.e. Helios Olympus, who is an interesting character in the Super Robot Wars franchise because he may be the only one who’s the exact same person across all the games. In other words, he’s a dimensional traveler as well, who showed up in Divine Wars and is also known as Gilliam Yeager (Tanaka Hideyuki). For those with a keen eye, it’s worth noting that Lemon doesn’t have a seiyuu listed for her in the credits, because Yuuko also happens to play Excellen. With all the mention of alternate dimensions and whatnot, I’ll leave it to the anime-only viewers to deduce what that means.
There sure were a lot of subtle plot developments going on this episode, but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to get down to the more pressing matters at hand. In addition to Aya’s “father”, Kenzou Kobayashi, taking an interest in a piece of the White Death Cross mentioned last time, Latune’s mention of The School’s treatment of their students as test subjects and how she was saved by her step parents, Giado Venerdi and Garnet Sunday, paved way to her eventual encounter with Seolla again. From that point on, it was nothing but mecha action goodness, as the Earth Federation went after Neo DC to try to retrieve the Wild Falken they had stolen. This also marked the first time the SRX Team’s R-1 and R-2 personal troopers were seen in action this sequel, as well as the transformable Wild Raubtier that Latune used to get the upper hand on Seolla. The end result was Arado sacrificing himself to protect Seolla, who wasn’t even aware that she was the one he wanted to protect.
Before Arado’s supposed death could have any sort of a real impact, the return of the heavily modified Grungust, Thrudgelmir, pretty much stole the show with a cliffhanger of it attacking the Shirogane. Quite frankly, Lee Linjun hasn’t been portrayed as the most charismatic captain, so I can’t say I care too much about his well-being as much as I do the ATX Team’s battleship itself. Conversely, I was more interested to see who was piloting the Thrudgelmir this time around. As luck would have it, the pilot was revealed to be Wodan Ymir (Ono Kenichi). Viewers of Divine Wars will probably notice he bears a strong resemblance to Sänger Zonvolt and has the same seiyuu as well, which naturally isn’t just a mere coincidence. I’d imagine more on that will be made apparent in the upcoming episodes, as will talk about Lemon’s W-Numbers in general.
Overall, I like the fast-paced progression that this series is going on and how it touches upon various aspects of the story from a bunch of different perspectives (much like the SRW games); however, it’s becoming more and more clear in my mind that this series isn’t exactly newcomer-friendly. Diving right into this sequel probably isn’t a good idea since the writers aren’t sparing any expense on plot exposition to ease viewers in. Instead, it seems to me like they’re going on the assumption that anyone watching this has seen Divine Wars, which is probably a fair one to make given that this is a sequel. As I mentioned before, I never did get around to watching all of Divine Wars, but have been supplementing that with what I know from the games. Without that, I can’t imagine the average viewer coming into this series seeing it as much more than some typical robot anime thus far, though I do praise the ones that are trying their best to follow along. It’s a lot to digest at once. Hang in there!