「DAY 2 – 激動の月曜日II」 (Gekido no Getsuyobi II)
“DAY 2 – Monday’s Turmoil 2”
Before I get into the episode impressions proper, I really want to talk about what the death of Wakui Keita (Saito Fuko) means for this show. Now, you’ll have to forgive me if I’m sounding a bit too much like I’m coming from perspective of someone having played the games, and thus end up not showing too much objectivity here. The question of which direction director Kishi intended to bring DeSu2A has been hanging on my mind since production on this show was announced. To say as much as I can without spoiling, there were so many different paths DeSu2’s branching story could’ve taken, and equally so of the many distinct ways this adaption could’ve turned out based on Kishi’s direction. And I confess here that I feared this would turn into another P4A, where the storyline itself became at odds with nature of its adaption. So thank you Kishi-san. Thank you Bridge. Thank you for going with was quite possibly the most unexpected -from you- and enthralling path in this story with Keita’s death, while -thus far- making it appear as coherent a story as any other anime. Thank you for veering off the straight path of DeSu2A’s story to potentially play up its more interesting elements, while still largely keeping to the core narrative and the setting that the anime has wonderfully built up over the last two episodes. (And arguments about faithfulness in 3, 2, 1…) To you players of the game, whatever your reaction was to the previous two episodes, it really is hard to argue with the direction Kishi chose to bring DeSu2A in with this upheaval of an episode. Keita’s death here, for better or for worse, has now thrown a wrench into the works of DeSu2A’s supposed narrative, and with many points of the story now up in the air, we’re all in for a compelling, unpredictable watch, gamers and anime-only watchers alike.
Lest I forget you anime-only viewers, this was a pretty decent episode in its own right, an exciting, frantic one that’s been an arguable step up from the previous two. The episode starts off with the group of Hibiki, Daichi and Io arriving at JP’s Osaka to begin their search for Kanno Fumi (Yamaguchi Rikako) the headquarter come under attack by an unknown cracker. It really is hard for me to drop the Evangelion comparisions here when the system hacking scenes of JP’s HQ just strikes a little too closely to Nerv HQ in emergency mode. But lest I discount Bridge’s efforts, DeSu2A hacking scenes were equally frantic, exciting and visually entertaining in their own right. Forgive me Bridge, for saying your production quality was merely serviceable. You’ve really done some pretty spectacular work with those CGI hacking animations, enough to almost make me overlook the average quality of your traditional animation. And the musical score’s really coming into its own.
With the priority now shifted to finding the cracker, the gang also receives a death clip predicting Keita’s death at the Osaka Festival Gate, and Hibiki determines that the cracker is located as the same spot. Yeah, I agree, it’s a fair bit of jumping with the logic even if it is implied that Yamato (or by extension, the white-haired boy) planned this, and is perhaps more a result of the pace than anything, since the show immediately rushes to find Keita under attack at the location. I love the use of the fall at this point as a fake-out; with the death clip seemingly “averted”, it made his unexpected death at the end pack a far greater punch. Less shocking was the fact that Fumi was the cracker attacking JP’s HQ, but the more interesting bit was that she was brainwashed by an intelligent demon, Botis, (the first of which we’ve seen, and mightily powerful too) who seems to be aiding the Septentriones by bringing the city barrier down.
To be fair, the pacing here feels almost as frantic as the episode itself; the show immediately assumes you’ve managed to connect the dots about how the JP’s barrier mentioned last episode has been the very thing holding the Septentriones back, and that the barrier is tied to the JP’s headquarter computer system, ALMADEL. Not to mention, the frantic scene transitions between JP’s Tokyo and JP’s Osaka (the main JP’s bureau) doesn’t quite help ease a viewer in.
Character dynamics also showed signs of improvement with the introduction of Kujou Hinako (Koshimizu Ami doing Osaka-ben!) and Keita, but in general still hasn’t developed enough for me to really get behind anyone’s characterization, asides from Hibiki’s. He’s certainly an interesting protagonist to follow, showing in equal parts intelligence and competence, but I fear somewhat we’re treading familiar ground with his Kira Yamato-esque resolution to protect his companions with his incredible powers. I’m glad to see Io deciding to shape up after her spell of despair in the previous episode, and her promptness in this fight with the demons was a welcome change –even if she did immediately get shoved into another damsel in distress situation- but we’ve still yet to really crack into the subtleties of her character. It’s the same thing with Daichi, whom Kishi’s seen fit to force into the typical comic relief role, and has become a necessary suspension of belief in a show that wants its viewers to buy into its heavy, apocalyptical atmosphere. (Though I admit, his useless demons got a chuckle out of me.) And poor Keita. We never really got to know you, you tsundere shota boxer, but your death did serve as the “shit just got real” plot device the show wanted.
Still, how about that cliffhanger and preview!? With the barrier of Osaka now brought down by the brainwashed Fumi, the 2nd Septentrione, Merak, makes its incredibly grand appearance. And by grand, I mean downright epic. Crazy huge invaders, tanks, explosions and massive destruction ahoy! Sure looks like some other mecha series, doesn’t it? Like I previously asserted, the Septentriones are a huge part of what’s probably going to make or break this show, and if they can even capture a fraction of the glory that was the Angels’ astoundingly epic battles in Eva, oh boy, we’re in for something amazing in next week’s episode.
-Keita’s been removed from the ED! Will we see another one go?
-Reminder to the gamers to please keep your story and character speculations in spoiler tags with proper spoiler warnings, especially in the wake of this game-changing episode.