「訓練 a preparation」 (Kunren)
In the back of my mind, I knew better than to trust a pretty face and already suspected that Gai might be using Inori to get Shuu to join them, but I’m still kind of disappointed with the cold shoulder that Inori’s giving Shuu all of a sudden. The only thing worse than a tease is a tease with a manipulative ulterior motive, regardless of whether she’s simply following orders or not. There’s always the possibility that this is all an act too — a clever plan to use Shuu’s anger to remove his inhibitions and make him useful to Funeral Parlor, and to pair him up with the other person with an unrequited love, Ayase. I wouldn’t put the former past Gai after he’s proven to be extremely calculating in his plans — plus when Shuu even had a lingering suspicion — though the latter should probably only be perceived as a little bit of service for viewers to ship away with (for now anyway).
Regardless of the intent, Ayase fans will surely be happy with the attention she was given this week, as I for one loved the beat-down she gave Shuu for foolishly taking pity on her because she’s in a wheelchair. After all, the only thing better than an attractive girl in a skin-tight Evangelion plug suit is an attractive girl in a skin-tight plug suit who can kick ass (…voiced by Hanazawa Kana no less). Ayase clearly wins in the personality department as well, as her tsundere tendencies easily trump Inori’s emotionless Ayanami Rei-like demeanor. While Shuu will likely fall for Inori since he’s had a crush on her from the very beginning, the inclusion of Ayase and the encouragement she provides put an interesting wedge in that obvious pairing. Given everything that’s happened, I don’t blame Shuu for being jealous of Gai, especially after misunderstanding that he sleeps with her. I would actually be more disappointed in his character if his innocent feelings turned out to be so fleeting that he would suddenly set his eyes on Ayase, who has probably touched the transmitter in more ways than she ever will with him. Inori hasn’t exactly been devoid of emotions either, so until we get a better idea of the thoughts running through her head, it’s far too early to tell what she thinks of Shuu.
Overshadowed by all the focus on Inori and Ayase was the formal introduction to Funeral Parlor and some of their other key members, Tsukishima Argo (Katsu Anri), Oogumo (Takaguchi Kousuke), Kyou (Fujitou Chika), and Shibungi (Koyasu Takehito), the first of whom looks like he’ll be more of a mentor to Shuu than a Void Weapon source like he was here. Kenji was also reintroduced and seems aware that Shuu is carrying a GHQ transmitter, judging from his accusation that their new member is only pretending to be an ally. What’s interesting is that Ayase’s in the dark about it, even when Kenji clearly implied that Gai isn’t. I gather she’s not the only one though, as the other members looked like they were genuinely impressed by Shuu’s Void Genome when he was faced against seemingly insurmountable odds in a mock battle against Ayase’s Steiner. Again, I wouldn’t put it past Gai that he anticipated a potential betrayal from Shuu and still decided to leave the transmitter with him in order to shape Shuu into the determined resistance fighter he wants him to be. The question is, whether Gai anticipated that GHQ would strike first with their Leucocyte orbital satellite weapon before they could steal it. Odds are yes, since the preview confirms that he survived (not like there was any doubt about that).
In addition to hinting at more of Shuu’s past, we finally had some for Gai as well about his current condition and how Inori reminds him of a certain woman, whom I presume was killed by GHQ. The most telling tidbit comes from the credits, which list the two voices heard in Shuu’s flashback as childhood Shuu (Tsuda Minami) and childhood Gai (Watanabe Akeno). This more or less confirms that they knew one another when they were younger and also suggests that Gai may have purposely entrusted the Void Genome to Shuu.
ED: 「Departures 〜あなたにおくるアイの歌〜」 (Departures ~Anata ni Okuru Ai no Uta~) by EGOIST
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