「そしてマリノの初恋」 (Soshite Marino no Hatsukoi)
“And Marino’s First Love”
When it comes to a baseball episode, leave it up to the “springtime of youth idiot” Tsunashi Takuto to draw wary eyes from all the Kiraboshi Juuji Dan members with his dazzling play style. From Mizuno staring in awe to Marino getting back at Takuto for her sister’s sake, what started as a lighthearted affair turned into a heated jealous one once Takumi (i.e. Sword Star) found himself attracted to very acting leader that he agreed to toss aside once Vanishing Age is done with her. The only thing that topped his self-made rivalry with Takuto this episode were the “funnels” Tauburn busted out in Zero Time. It’s just too bad Takuto didn’t shout out, “Ike! <something>!” to complete the Gundam vibe they gave off. Anyway, the use of Tauburn’s new ability does make be wonder if it’ll be as overpowered as its Gundam counterpart, in which case it would take the already lopsided battles and make them even more so. At the moment I suspect that they aren’t, seeing as Star Sword’s variation was only a first phase ability. Whatever the case, its introduction only reaffirmed that the Kiraboshi members really need to upgrade their Cybodies to the third phase to make these battles more interesting.
Luckily, while the battles have been rather stagnant, the character developments haven’t. The recent addition of the You sisters has allowed the series to change gears since Sakana’s departure, and this most recent episode goes a step further by featuring Mizuno’s “Innocent Blue” song to fill in for her “Monochrome” one. As the maiden that the brigade is searching for now, Mizuno stirred things up almost immediately by falling for Takuto, which I enjoy watching simply for the spillover effect on Wako. Marino on the other hand has quickly become the character I have my eye on the most, since she’s working on the inside to prevent the her sister’s true identity from getting out. Naturally, that paves way for what I foresee as an eventual betrayal on her part — something that seems a lot more probable after learning that Marino likes Takuto too. Considering her interactions with him during the baseball game (including Takuto face-planting into her chest), that doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, but I still loved that look of disbelief in her eyes when Mizuno’s implication of it sunk in.
From a character standpoint, the prospect of seeing a tough girl like Marino falling in love piques my interest a fair bit (particularly with Hirohashi Ryou voicing her), but from an overall plot one, I’m admittedly not too fond of how this is quickly developing into a harem for Takuto. The reason being, Sugata’s shown that he’d accept a relationship between Wako and Takuto, so the thought of having Mizuno and Marino thrown into the mix sort of devalues his altruistic stance. It’s bad enough that he’s been sidelined as a support character who gets pulled into Zero Time only to watch Takuto handle everything on his own, when he’s the one with the almighty King Cybody Samekh yet not allowed to use its powers. As such, I can’t help but feel that Sugata’s getting the short end of the stick on various fronts, so I’m eagerly waiting for the moment he gets put in the spotlight for a change. To that end, the childhood friendship that he and Wako have with Keito might provide such an opportunity in the future, considering that “Ivrogne’s” true intentions aren’t all that clear.
In the meantime, the additional backstory showing how Mizuno and Marino’s mother Fujino (Hidaka Noriko) left them behind in search of their (supposedly) deadbeat father reemphasized to me that there’s little to no chance that Marino would side with the brigade over her sister. Their sisterly bond is simply too strong, which is likely due to the fact that Mizuno looked out for Marino when they were younger. With that in mind and Vanishing Age’s plans to get rid of her once they use her Cybody to locate the western maiden, I think it’s only a matter of time before Manticore jumps ship and joins Takuto and the others. After all, Takuto is the only other person who truly believes in Mizuno’s protective incantations and has become a common interest like ice cream flavors too. Those have got to count for something.
Blogging Note: Over the past couple of months, it’s become more and more apparent that Suzuku isn’t able to keep up with his shows, so I’ll be covering STAR DRIVER and To Aru no Majutsu no Index II from now on. I consider them fairly “big” titles so I’d like to see them covered in a more timely manner. I may or may not continue with MM, considering that adding two more shows already puts me at twelve. Luckily, Hakuouki Hekketsuroku just ended.