「正しき資質」 (Tadashi ki Shishitsu)
“The Right Stuff”
This week, Project Prominence starts revving into gear… bringing with it some pretty awesome shots of the new Type-94 Shiranui (known as the XFJ-01a Shiranui Second Phase). Sadly though, Bridges struggles continue this episode for the most part, as he tries to adapt to the drastically different Japanese TSF design. And well with all this frustration, combined with the continued disagreements with Yui over the quality of the TSF and his piloting in general… it’s no wonder things eventually escalate to the point where there just ain’t any other way to settle the score except via the old-fashioned way: fisticuffs. Except, you know, with TSF’s. Surprisingly enough though, it’s actually Yui that initiates the confrontation. I had always pictured it being a kind of officially sponsored sparring match of some sort or Bridges being the one to initiate, but alas… can’t get everything right. At least though, it does fit quite nicely with her personality and the way she’s been doing things.
Anyway, what can I say? The amount of CGI and budget that went into these final few minutes must’ve been quite something, because it was one pretty darn nice battle. And seeing Yui easily dispatch all of the members of Argos other than Bridges in one hit, just shows how she definitely had the skills to back up her talk from the previous episodes. Yui ultimately is “defeated” by Bridges… but defeated is a bit of a stretch though, considering how Yui definitely held back and was also missing her alternate sword. Regardless, if there’s one thing that the battle showed, it’s that I was right in predicting that all her goading and “being bitchy” were just things done intentionally to bring Bridges’ true potential out. Granted, it’s questionable the methods she used to do so… but one can also argue that, considering his personality, the way Yui went about it was also probably the best and most effective way. Either way, I think the thing we can all agree on is, both of them definitely have their own share of the blame. And I think Vincent’s quotes really hits it on the nail as to why: “You guys are both the same. You’re both not willing to back down. You’re both not honest to yourself.” Hopefully though, this battle will become the catalyst that eventually leads them to work together properly. The preview seems to hint at this and well, it’ll be nice to see how they all work together.
Moving on, if there’s another thing the battle really emphasized, was how great this series can be. I mean, the battle at the end just wraps together all the developments up until this point in such a marvelous way, that you can’t help but admire at least a little, how everything works out. I mean, not only does this battle give us the resolution of major plot point involving Yui and Bridges and their inability to work with one another, as well as Bridges struggles as a test pilot… it’s also the culmination of a lot of character development.
What do I mean? Well, from this episode, we can firmly conclude that Bridges is someone who we see is clearly skewered toward the ideologies of the Americans in the Muv-Luv universe. We see that it’s something that results from a want to ignore and erase his Japanese origins. And we see the frustrations that build up as a result—frustrations that get compounded by the fact he’s unable to pilot the new Shiranui properly, even though he’s an elite American Eishi. We see how he’s stubborn, how he doesn’t give in even though he knows better (e.g. like when he knows that what Yui’s trying to do is the right thing). And we see how he’s just downright not honest with himself (e.g. blaming his struggles on the machine, rather than himself). And well, from the fact we’re able to garner so much about Bridges at this point, just shows how his battle and this episode in general, also culminates a lot of the character development from the past few episodes. Not to mention, it also shows how the creators have done a good job in giving us some solid character development in the first place… to the point where we can literally see the many layers to Bridges’ character.
Moving on, the battle is also amazing in that it does one more thing… something that’s arguably even more important than the aspects mentioned above. That is: help give us insight into the state of affairs in the Muv-Luv world. The whole bit about the different philosophies between American and Japanese TSF’s… the struggles Bridges has in the simulations (even before he got into the test type)… they’re things that give us an amazing amount of information, because it’s clear that the main reason for those different philosophies, as well as the struggles of Bridges, are because the Americans have yet to have much actual combat against the BETA. And it’s no surprise, considering how the map from a few episodes ago showed them to be pretty much untouched by the BETA. But because of this, even the best American Eishi might not be on par with others with less piloting skills and/or less capable TSF’s, purely because of the lack of experience. Furthermore, it’s possible to assume also that the differences between the American and Japanese TSF philosophies result from that lack of BETA encroachment as well. And you can assume this because it makes a lot of logical sense when you think that the Japanese are currently always under threat by the BETA. As such, the fact they’ve had more combat experience with the BETA, makes it so they’ve made TSF designs that are more suitable for fighting the BETA (at least for their country’s terrain), TSF designs that emphasize maneuverability. Combine this with the fact that they’d probably also thus need to make due with what they have, also answers why they’ve realized and adopted the philosophy emphasizing the pilot realizing the full potential of the machine they have.
Shifting over to the Americans though, it reasons that because they don’t know much about fighting with the BETA, as well as the fact they have more time and resources available as a result… it makes it so that they’d do the obvious thing: focus on power and specs, because that’s all the information they really have at their disposal. Have an unknown enemy? Build the most powerful design possible. Got new tech? Let’s improve the specs of what we have now. Etc. Granted, I may be a bit off in my reasoning/assumptions, but I feel as though there’s much, much more to be garnered between the highlighted differences, rather than it just being some satire of Americans.
In any case, I could also spend all day pointing to Yui’s development and the whole Japanese view… but it’s starting to get a bit wordy at this point, so I’ll roll over the remaining points:
Either way, all in all, a really spectacular episode. Really, I could go into thousands, upon thousands of words writing about the many points this episode touched upon, but alas, I’ll keep those things for another time. I reckon there’ll definitely be other times to talk about em’ later, considering it’s a two-cour (surprise!). I’ll leave you below with the obligatory full lengths, some nice extras, and also an important note I’d like you to read regarding spoilers.