「ヤツらが岐阜にやって来た」 (Yatsu-ra ga Gifu ni Yattekita)
“They Came to Gifu”
I feel sorry for Flight Leader Kakiyasu (Kugimiya Rie). She suffers much. Her colleagues are creeps. Her subordinates are idiots. In a department that has to tame literal dragons she seems she’s in charge of… everything? She definitely gets the blame when things go south, but she gets no credit when there aren’t any disasters. I mean, they’re shoving humans into the stomaches of giant lizards, transforming them into supersonic aircraft, and controlling them from the inside by massaging their organs. That’s incredible. Any day everybody gets through that with all their limbs attached should be a celebration. Unfortunately for Kakiyasu, all of her D-Pilots are eccentrics completely unsuited for military service. It’s the fault of her show’s genre, really. Eccentricity is the spice of slice-of-life. Characters drive the story, so they all need their own quirks, but that runs counter to military induction which aim to stamp out all individuality for the purposes of creating an organised fighting force. Soldiers aren’t required to be interesting people, but that wouldn’t make for good television.
So when the rest of the cast was finally filled this episode and the final three D-Pilots and their OTFs introduced, you could be sure they’d be a bunch of oddballs too. Yep, just walking masses of complexes. But while Jimmy (Arai Satomi) and Morris (Nazuka Kaori) are cut from the same cloth as Hisone and Sexy Jaguar i.e. certified goofs with no military discipline whatsoever, in contrast we have Penguin (Kawase Maki), who is dead serious. Well, mostly. And we can already tell why she’s a poor fit force a slice-of-life; she’s not exactly the life of the party. If the entire cast was focused and driven like Penguin we’d have all work and no play. But her singular presence in Hisone to Masotan makes for an interesting contrast that breeds drama.
Penguin’s personality isn’t really her fault. She’s also a victim of her genre. She really wants to be taken seriously but she’s stuck in a show that thus far has not been very serious at all. She doesn’t want to be in any anime with dragons in it. She wants Hisone to Masotan to be a hardcore, no-nonsense, jet-fighters-all-the-time military drama. But Penguin’s stuck as a D-Pilot. And from that we see the subtext: all the D-Pilots are invariably women, and they all get no respect. In the testosterone-laden airbase we’ve seen that there is definitely something of a glass ceiling. There are no ‘real’ female pilots. Only D-Pilots. To quote directly from the episode, the women are expected to work twice as hard to be on the same level as the men, and Penguin lives by that. She demands the utmost of herself and everybody around her so that she can be worthy of the same level of respect. But it’s not so simple. It’d definitely be easier for her if she was a conventional pilot and her OTF was instead an actual F-2. A machine wouldn’t be so fickle, and much more fitting for a soldier. But just as Penguin couldn’t suppress her independent streak that made her disobey direct orders, so too will her OTF never really be an F-2. It’s a bloody dragon. If we don’t want to objectify women, let’s not objectify the dragons either.