「学園崩壊」 (Gakuen hōkai)
Steps in the right direction.
Though cosmetically, Active Raid’s episode 2 doesn’t stray too far from the action-packed spectacle of its predecessor, it still takes steps towards establishing an overarching plot, as well as developing some of its leads.
I didn’t really give it enough credit last week (probably because I was distracted by some of the questionable CG), but Active Raid looks flat out gorgeous. It manages to be bright and cheery with its color palette and character designs without being gaudy or obnoxious—an admirable feat, given the ostentatious color explosions which describe Sentai (Active Raid’s clear inspiration). And as usual, the soundtrack is absolutely on point.
The action this week took a backseat to some imperative character development. Emphasis on some. We got glimpses into the boss’s life back home, and some greater exposure to Kazari’s naiveté in real-life situations. We find out that the boss is a hard-working woman, immensely proud of her younger sister, greatly dutiful to her unit, higher-ups, and occupation as a police officer.
In contrast is Kazari, whose inexperience leads to a far too idealistic perception of her job, and disgust over the recklessness of her peers. By the episode’s end, though, she comes to understand the impracticality of her ideals, as well as the struggles of her superior, who gently admonishes her. They see eye to eye, at least, that justice takes all priority. It’s a nice little moment between the two.
While yes, these are all just brief elements of development, it’s an improvement nonetheless—I’m happy to see that the show will at least make some effort to flesh out its cast, and not just blast the viewer with monster-of-the-week shenanigans. Even though the action is fun, it doesn’t carry the emotional weight which great anime action does, especially with villains so arbitrary and undeveloped. As episodes continue, hopefully this will change.
I also appreciate how male leads last week were practically nowhere to be seen, as our protagonist finally took center stage in this week’s conflict. As a casual fan of Sentai, I can’t help but feel a little giddy whenever the transformation sequences start up, as new suits are revealed. Though Active Raid’s CG and suit designs keep it back from delivering the same explosive stylishness as Sentai, it still engenders the same effect.
Active Raid’s second installment does good on setting up a larger story. This is especially apparent with more scenes relegated to the (I’m assuming) big bad of the series. Though we still know close to nothing about him, we got a slight feel of his malevolent intentions, and general aura of pretension. He seems promising, but as of now he seems like he’s got little to do with anything going on right now. However, it’s good to see that the series means to establish an overarching narrative—whether it does to effectively has yet to be seen, but I appreciate that the intention is there. Also I’m picking up some bad vibes from the school president. Jus’ sayin’.
Overall, the entire episode is going down the right path. Though it maybe get a little too caught up with action, is sparse on character arcs and development, and is in general a bit disorganized, Active Raid at least establishes its strong objective to build a greater story, greater characters, and greater show (even if its relayed a bit confusedly). There’s potential for a strong show here, Active Raid has just got to show us what it’s got.
ED: 「透明な夜空」 (Toumei na Yozora) by (Yuuka Aisaka)