「白き魔星へ」 (Shiroki Masei he)
“To the White Devil Star”
After two episodes where the quality took a noticeable dip, episode twenty-four returns on a strong note and comes with a surprisingly late second opening sequence too. A lot of it was recycled footage, but there was a handful of new scenes to go along with JAM Project’s “Shooting Star Lovers”. What threw me off was how the new opening theme lacked the adrenaline-pumping excitement as MAXON, even though it sounds a lot better after the 30-second intro. Regardless, it’s a welcome change with only three episodes to go, especially when all I was expecting was a slightly updated sequence with Alt Eisen Riese added in.
The real treat was the episode itself, where the easygoing feast at the beginning made it apparent that the animation wasn’t going to be a half-hearted effort this time around. Seolla flashing her animal-print panties to Arado was one example, but there was actually consistency all across the board, be it normal-looking character faces or goofy ones care of Katina and Russel. It wasn’t perfect, but the animation was back at the level that I’m more than happy with. It also served as a nice lead-in to the decisive battle against the Inspectors, starting a quick pan of Aguija’s Silverwind and Excellen’s upgraded Rein Weiss Ritter, the latter of which is probably the best shot we’ll see of that Personal Trooper in this adaptation.
From that point on it was nothing but SRW goodness with character themes busting out left and right, including Masaki’s original “Neppuu! Shippuu! Cybuster” theme as he dealt the finishing Akashic Buster blow on Aguija. (I’ve loved that theme ever since SRW3.) Along the same lines, I was pretty psyched about Ryouto throwing the Exbein’s Fang Slasher and taking a piece off of Mekibos’ Graterkin with it, since it’s the bread and butter attack for the Huckebein (in the Alpha games at least). Interestingly enough, Mekibos even reminded us about the Huckebein and how it’s supposed to have a Black Hole Engine, which was cool for those familiar with the games but also a slight kick in the face since I didn’t get to see the Gundam-lookalike Personal Trooper I was hoping to.
While Kyousuke got to show Sikalog that Alt Eisen Riese isn’t the same as before, I can’t shake the feeling that three of the five Inspectors were dealt with so quickly. It sort of made me question why this series was subtitled after them to begin with. If anyone should be alluded to in the title, it’s probably “Mr. Black Hole Cluster” in his Granzon — the Masou Kishin robot that I always want to join up in the games but never does. Vigaji as a villain? My money’s on the crazy human scientist who’s enjoying the fruits of his labour a bit too much. “Shuu!!!
With two episodes remaining, I’m actually curious as to how they’ll wrap things up. Echidna’s sacrifice should lead us to the conclusion of the Axel/Beowulf rivalry that the series premiered with in a parallel universe. As such, more Alt versus Soulgain is undoubtedly in store, but there are still Mekibos and Wendolo to deal with on the Inspectors side, Alfimi on the Einst side, and now Shuu on arguably nobody’s side. It’s probably going to be one hell of a finish, and if this episode is any indication of things to come, they might just get it all done in a single episode and have time for an epilogue. Unlikely, but one can hope.