Covering what I deemed the most hazing-filled and risque part of the story in the first four volumes of the manga, this episode surprisingly didn’t come off that poorly in taste. I was actually anticipating it to be much worse than it was, even though I still feel that if this is the episode that’s most likely to turn off many viewers. If you can look beyond the obvious fan-service, then it might be somewhat reassuring to know that this is about as “bad” as it gets, and that things are set to pick up in a much more agreeable way hereon in.
Naturally, this is in reference to the antics of third-year Kannazuki Miyabi (Kuwatani Natsuko), who’s a very vain and condescending senior that enjoys making playthings of first-year Limiters. For all intents and purposes, she’s pretty much a bitch and someone that we’re all supposed to hate shortly after she’s introduced. Unlike Ganessa who has a grudge against Satellizer for ranking purposes, Miyabi’s character has far less redeeming qualities and primarily serves as a catalyst to awaken Kazuya’s latent abilities and emphasize the military rank-like distinctions between grades. The extent of the aforementioned hazing is merely Miyabi and her three Limiters picking a fight and then subsequently fondling Satellizer’s breasts and taking embarrassing pictures of her while she’s under the paralysis effects of Freezing. In contrast to the manga, the anime didn’t dwell on those scenes for very long, hence why I didn’t feel it was as bad as it could’ve been. In fact, the way it was adapted made it seem like it was simply included for canonical sake, and I felt it was done relatively well given the questionable subject matter. It’s also worth noting that the anime toned down the violence, as Satellizer did drive her Nova Blood volt weapon through Miyabi’s chest in the manga.
Anyway, what I got a really good taste of this time around that I didn’t in the first two episodes was the action in the series. I mentioned back in the Winter 2011 Preview it has a very shounen-like feel, and one of the reasons for that is some of the Pandoras’ abilities like the Accelerating Turn, a.k.a. Accel Turn, shown this week. It’s the first of many “high-level” abilities that will be introduced and basically allows a Pandora to move at blazing speeds faster than the eye can see, giving off a very Dragon Ball Z feel when it’s used to get behind an opponent. That feeling is compounded when Satellizer counters with an Accel Turn of her own — an ability that only third years should have — and returns the favor to Miyabi. Then there are the enormous shock waves when Pandoras clash, as well as going “Super Saiyajin” when they use Pandora Mode, the latter of which has been changed in the anime to have hair and eye color changes to match. The sense of speed in the battles is what I attribute most of the shounen-esque vibe to, which is a compliment to Freezing since those type of series tend to depict action really well.
In terms of progression, the anime has been more or less faithful ever since the anime-only premiere that provided a bit more backstory for the series. On top of briefly highlighting Satellizer’s love for hamburgers, Kazuya’s shown some toughness by unleashing an extremely powerful Freezing field without being “baptized” and having the help of a Pandora’s Ereinbar Set — a unique ability of his due to his natural affinity to Stigmata like his sister. Incidentally, this was supposed to be his moment to shine when he single-handedly neutralized the Freezing area of Miyabi’s Limiters and paralyzed everyone, but it’s a bit more difficult to do so when he’s been portrayed as such a forceful yet incompetent character thus far in the anime. My impression of him had positive precedence coming in, so I naturally don’t perceive him as weak of a character as anime-only viewers probably do. Whatever the case, he did establish his forwardness with Satellizer and made himself out as the only one who sees her for who she truly is, paving the way for him to eventually become her Limiter. There was also more foreshadowing of Satellizer’s traumatic past and why she can’t stand being touched, as well as some setup for the additional attention she’s drawn for defeating a third-year Pandora in battle.
To that end, we have third-year Attia Simmons (Ueda Kana) sending Ingrid Bernstein (Koshimizu Ami) to teach Satellizer a lesson on seniority, the latter of whom has shown us actual Nova battle experience and another high-level multi-image skill, Tempest Turn. The difference with Ingrid is that there’s a lot more depth to her character than Miyabi. She’s actually one of the reasons why the manga got me hooked so easily, being the first character to feature a detailed backstory that gives us a better understanding of where her strong beliefs stem from. It also makes it harder to see her as a bad person, much like most shounen series tend to do with enemies. It’s definitely something watching a little longer for if you’re still on the fence about this series, as these first three episodes still haven’t shown everything that it has to offer.
After hearing the voice Koshimizu Ami used for Ingrid, it’s a very different tone than the one she could have used for Satellizer if she were cast in the starring role. I mentioned in the comments back in episode one that I could’ve pictured Ami playing Satellizer since her character reminds me of Nia in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls, but I’m looking forward to how she plays Ingrid in the upcoming episode after hearing a bit of her here. There should be a lot of emotions and the acting will go a long way bringing them out.