「独りとヒトリ」 (Hitori to Hitori)
“Alone and Lonesome”
The name of the game in episode one, and while it’s a lot to take in, it’s done fairly well, mostly by showing it and not explaining. No reason is given for the Plantations, nor the attacking klaxosaur, and explanations are not yet necessary. Ditto to smaller elements, with my favorite being the holograms or “Papa” (ugh creepy) and the others, a great way to show—something. That they’re a long ways off, or too old to move, or are worried for their lives, or don’t trust others to protect them. It’s an intriguing element, and I like it.
In fact, only two pieces of exposition were done badly: the meaning of the word “parasite,” which really needed to be explained immediately because I kept wondering if they were talking about all humans, a subset of humans, a certain occupation, or maybe the kid actually thought a pile of clothes were an organic creature (I wouldn’t put it past Trigger); and whose fault it was that main character Code:016 “Hiro” (Uemura Yuuto) and former partner Code:703 “Naomi” (Koshimizu Ami) failed their sync test. I’m 85% sure it was Hiro’s fault from how everybody was acting, but the dialogue during the sync test plus the fact that they were letting him stay if he wanted made it ambiguous. Still, the rest was done well, and for a sci-fi show chocked full of so many concepts, that ain’t bad.
Speaking of Naomi, this series has some issues with women so far. Naomi was flagrantly stuffed in a fridge (trope!) so that Hiro could get his heroic resolve, and her “sacrifice” was blunted by how she didn’t mean to save Hiro from being on the transport that was crushed, she was basically only forcing him to spend one more transport’s worth of loading time thinking about whether he should really leave, which ain’t nothing, but it means she didn’t even get a heroic sacrifice. She just died, a victim to the end. I was also hoping that Code:002 “Zero Two” (Tomatsu Haruka) would be more fun, but she mostly came across as a dangerous female sort of fetish object—though since she isn’t dead, she has room to recover. Honestly I put that one down mostly to the weird pacing during the lake scene, in that it had the same pacing as the rest of the episode, all mysterious/alien/languid, which works better for a sci-fi melodrama (and I do not mean melodrama in a negative sense; I love me some good melodrama, and c’mon, so do you) than it does for ecchi hinjinks. Which probably just means the ecchi hijinks should have been axed or severely shortened, because the pacing was pretty nice throughout the rest.
Oh, and also on women, there was that time Dr. Franxx (Horiuchi Kenyuu) groped Nana’s (Inoue Marina) butt, and it was a punchline. Maybe that was meant to further convey the less than ideal society that these children pilots find themselves in, but I doubt it.
Speaking of the pilots, I’m looking forward to getting to know the other pilots more. I love me a big cast, and care has obviously been put into making each of them unique characters, which just don’t know what makes most of ’em tick yet. That ain’t a complaint, the writers were wise to thinly characterize them here, in favor of focusing on Zero Two and Hiro. I’m just excited to know them more.
Which is partially because Hiro isn’t ringing my bell so far. I started out optimistic—I actually liked the parable of the Jian they used in the opening, because it showed the difference between Zero Two (she thinks the Jian’s way of life is beautiful) and Hiro (he thinks they’re pitiful), even if it was a touch pretentious—but then he was sputtering and grabbing pantsu by accident and unable to make up his mind, and I understand it all, he just doesn’t have enough personality to connect with me so far. I don’t dislike him, though, if his interactions with Zero Two elicit changes (for the more interesting) in him, no water under the bridge. They had a lot to get through in this episode. I’m just more on board with Zero Two, even if she is more subdued than she seemed in the trailers, because “Pilot with monster blood who accidentally kills all her partners” has got some legs as far as character concepts go. Though I could really do without them calling the pilots “pistils” and “stamens”. It feels icky.
Other than that, the visuals were of course fantastic, no surprise, even if some of Trigger’s visual tics are becoming too predictable, see: stars, sparkling or otherwise. This was a decent first episode, I’m not sold yet but it’s got promise. I’m hoping it begins to ramp up now that the stage is set, so we can find out what this story is really about. Because the girl with monster blood and the boy who isn’t afraid of her horns—which are the parts of their dynamic I found most intriguing, and my favorite part of Hiro by far—are only part of the cast, and I want to learn about the rest, as well as what’s going on in this blasted world.
- A small detail that was really nice: the guns actually did something to the klaxosaur. Don’t you hate it when the soldiers in an anime shoot the big monster, even though they know that only the special mechas / magical girls / singing super sentai idols can defeat them? It snaps me out of immersions, but that didn’t happen here. They tripped the beast. Good! It’s not much, but at least they had good reason to be firing. Details like that matter.
- Another small detail, of a different kind. Little touches like that bring the world alive.
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