「鋼の咆哮」 (Hagane no Houkou)
“Howl of Steel”
It’s been some time since Operation Plantagenet was mentioned, going all the way back to episode eleven, but the joint operation between the Earth Federation Army and Neo DC to retake North America from the Inspectors finally got underway. It was pretty odd seeing them team up, especially with how friendly Bullet and Kusuha were with Yuuki and Carla; however, it was nostalgic at the same time, since they’re four of the possible eight main protagonists who debuted in Super Robot Wars Alpha.
Whether intentional or not, the temporary alliance to liberate the globe from the Inspectors also helped simplify things, much like the revelation that Shadow-Mirror has joined up with them to realize their ideals. All of a sudden, we went from five different factions on four different sides down to three different sides — EFA/Neo DC, Inspectors/Shadow-Mirror, Einst. Interestingly enough, the biggest blow comes to the good guys in the exchange, with Van Vat Tran going out in a kamikaze attack and Daitetsu heavily wounded from Shadow-Mirror’s surprise attack. Not exactly an ideal start, considering this is mankind’s united defense force and the best it has to offer.
From a broader perspective, it was refreshing to see our heroes driven back for a change with the sudden arrival of the Einst, who have quickly established themselves as the ultimate antagonists of the series. That is, if seeing Irm form a temporary truce with Mekibos was any indication of the overwhelming forces that had shown up. The rational side of me wonders if that was truly necessary, seeing as Mekibos single-handedly brought everyone to their knees with his attack just prior. In terms of overall progression, showing the Einst eclipse the Inspectors’ military power and saving Kyousuke did set the tone for the rest of the series though. After all, if there’s one thing that SRW does well, it’s constantly throwing more factions into the mix so that our heroes can never feel like they’re on top of things. Nothing is resolved immediately and the problems keeping piling up. In this sequel alone, we’ve already seen the conflict with Neo DC escalate to Shadow-Mirror, then Inspectors, and now Einst.
Amidst all the concurrent problems, Axel’s rivalry with Kyousuke looks like it may have already been resolved, after he realized that the “Beowulf” of this world doesn’t possess demonic-like mech-regenerating powers. It was his attack on Kyousuke that prompted the Einst to arrive as well, which led to Excellen getting captured when she dove in head first to save him. Of all the characters, Kyousuke and Excellen are probably considered the main ones in the OG timeline, so the dismal state they and the rest of the Earth Federation Army were left in sets the stage nicely for a bounce back. I say there’s a little creepy blue-haired girl who needs a spanking to set her straight. Unfortunately, that means going through her Persönlichkeit, which is easier said than done. Overpowered aliens are overpowered.
Considering what happened this episode, this flashback ending sequence with Misato Aki’s “Last Journey” song made it seem like Excellen will never see Kyousuke again. It’s a nice song, but boy does it come off depressing.