「王の柱」 (Ō no Hashira)
“The King’s Pillar”
Despite what the preview showed last week, I was half-expecting this episode to end up in Zero Time again, with Sugata in the pilot seat being the only difference. Going into the episode with those mixed feelings, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised that that was not the case. Instead, we were given some nice action scenes outside of Zero Time, something we haven’t seen since the little scuffle between Takuto and George in episode 1. I found this to be a nice change of pace which helped to further emphasize the fact that the students are not at all as they seem during school hours while also expanding on a couple of pivotal plot points. I certainly wasn’t expecting Taiga and Jaiga to be kickass battle maids in disguise, which should be a normal reaction considering Taiga was caught fairly easily by Keito in episode 4. Watching the two maids battle in cheetah-style ninja clothing was hilarious and awesome at the same time, and needless to say I will never look at them the same way again.
On a more important note, it didn’t occur to me until now that First Phase abilities could be used to physically attack and weren’t just supplementary skills (inb4 slowpoke.jpg). Likewise, Watanabe’s hypothesis that First Phase abilities stem beyond conventional “superpowers” and can be shown in the form of sudden social success, as she believes is the case with her First Phase. When she said that, I immediately thought it was some kind of foreshadowing or connection to Takuto’s First Phase ability, which hasn’t been revealed yet. His sudden popularity at the Academy after swimming across the ocean, and the fact he was even able to survive doing so, could be due to his First Phase’s ability. In my opinion, his First Phase has something to do with luck, which would explain his natural abilities in combat, his popularity at school, and why he’s able to get out of some impossible situations relatively unscathed *points at last episode’s ero-victory*. Coincidently, Takuto also briefly pondered the nature of his First Phase this episode while discussing Sugata’s past with Wako.
Speaking of that, the star of this episode was definitely Sugata, who was finally given some character fleshing after being in the background for the past 5 episodes, for the most part. As was mentioned in an earlier interview with the director of Star Driver, Sugata possess the strongest Cybody on the planet as the heir to the Shindou Clan, and as such possesses a great burden to go along with it. Having found out that he possesses such great responsibility, and is restricted from leaving the island as a result of it, on his birthday, he has developed a deep resentment for the day of his birth and would rather mourn than celebrate over it. For a character that has been rather stale up until this point, Sugata suddenly got a boost in depth in my eyes after this episode, and his lack of any notable personality traits seems justifiable now. That said, this series has surprised me again with its willingness to take out characters with no remorse this early into the series, and it’ll be interesting to see where we go from here. From the looks of things, the gang will try to wake Sugata up somehow next episode, but Takuto’s monologue at the end of this episode leads me to believe that Sugata will be asleep longer than until the end of next episode. While the latter would be an unfortunate turn of events as far as story goes, I can’t help but hope for it to be the case for the sake of making the series even more interesting than it already is. I wouldn’t mind if Sugata was miraculously awakened from his coma next episode, but I would still be a bit disappointed if that’s the route the series decides to take. Seeing as how Sugata has been played up to be a big character in the series from promotional images and such, there would be something daring and cool about having him taken out this early and be a spiritual motivator for Takuto and Wako as the series progresses, much in the same vein as Kamina, with less impact on the actual viewers of course.
And of course I can’t end it without talking about our newest Kiraboshi member, Yano Mami (Saito Chiwa), who gave us the great action scenes this episode. Her First Phase ability was the first to be demonstrated as an offensive type, and after seeing the results, I can’t wait to see more First Phase abilities that are used for attacking. Hopefully, this new development will broaden the potential battle sequences and make the trips into Zero Time more spread out than they have been. Not only does it help to diversify the combat, but it keeps things more interesting in the sense of seeing actual people fight rather than giant robots every episode. If Bones can strike a nice balance between human fights in the real world and robot brawls in Zero Time, then I’ll be a happy camper as far as battles go. Having battles outside of Zero Time also increases the chances of having actual damage done to the characters, rather than losing in a fight protected by a cockpit. While I don’t expect any characters to die, as the director has already confirmed that there will be very little if any deaths in the series, it would be interesting if the writers switched things up a bit by having characters fall into comas from over usage of their First Phase abilities, as was with the case with Sugata and to a lesser extent Mami.