Before I get to Norio’s betrayal, I’ll just mention two quick thoughts. First, there isn’t anything new for me to say about the latest Gauna. I like the action scenes overall, but the same criticisms from before carry over. The number one problem for me is still the fact that the ridiculous amount of debris surrounding the Gauna is distracting. Second, I still don’t see how putting the events out of order adds to my enjoyment or understanding of the story. After all, the sudden announcement of Shizuka’s death at the end of last week’s episode didn’t really shock in me in a “Wow, I can’t believe that happened” sort of way. It surprised me more in a “You put all that work into developing her character just to kill her offscreen” way. Now that I get to see the actual battle, there’s less tension because I already know she’s going to die. There’s also less tension because I know our hero will screw up (technically, he didn’t but everyone believes he did). Granted, I don’t know how she dies nor how Nagate screws up until I watch this week’s episode, but I still think the impact of the tragedy itself is lessened because I already know the outcome. Putting the events out of order doesn’t end up being clever or anything; it just seems pointless.
Anyway, I guess Norio fucking up the mission just to make Nagate look bad is supposed to be the big twist. After all, this is like the bomb squad leader telling one of his squad members to cut the wrong wire simply because he hates the guy. Yeah, you sure showed him. Now everyone hates him! And now you’re probably dead too. So yeah, Norio’s sick in the head. We kind of always knew he was bitter about Nagate’s success, but to put everyone — including his own home — at risk is, well, that’s some moustache-twirling level of villainy. To be honest, I don’t know how much I like this development. Yeah, yeah, Norio is ridiculously evil, and it seems a bit much. But the main thing I’m apprehensive about is that Nagate’s reputation is still spotless to the audience. Let’s be honest, what we, the viewers, think of the main character is ultimately what counts. We know he didn’t fuck up. We know Norio had set him up to fail. But still, what this tells me is that the only way Nagate can ever screw up is when someone else makes him screw up. He’s still perfect. I guess I’m always looking for flawed heroes. I just think they’re more interesting. I’m not looking for antiheroes necessarily, nor do I want a Byronic hero. I just wish one of these anime would actually have the balls to tell a story in which the hero actually fucks up so that he can grow from it. But there’s no real lesson to learn here other than to never trust any silver-haired asshole.
One more thing bothers me about our latest tragedy: is there no such thing as a black box in the future? Is there no sort of investigative body to determine what had truly gone wrong during the mission? If you don’t know what a black box is, in aviation, there’s this device that records as much information as possible during any flight. This would likely include the communications between the various pilots. Why is this necessary? Well, plane crashes are relatively rare compared to other vehicular accidents, but it’s almost always tragic when a plane crashes. As a result, you want to know exactly why the plane had crashed to hopefully prevent such a thing from happening again. Alright, Nagate’s “plane” didn’t crash in our anime. Nevertheless, he supposedly fucked up majorly. In fact, he fucked up uncharacteristically. Even if you don’t grant this, however, some investigative body would still want to determine just exactly what had happened during that crucial moment in the mission. Why did Nagate detonate his charges too early? Did he fuck up or did the Gardes malfunction? The investigators would then take a look at the black box–… lo and behold! The recording of the communications here shows that Norio had given our hero the wrong orders! Sure, Norio had opened up a private channel to Nagate’s Gardes, but so what? It’s private to the other pilots, but it wouldn’t be private to a black box. But ah well, we wouldn’t have the entirety of Sidonia hating on Nagate if something so convenient as a black box actually existed in this universe.
Izana and Lala do their best to support our now melancholic protagonist, but there isn’t much you can do when people throw rocks at the guy and call him a war criminal. Despite almost everyone now turning on Nagate, however, Kobayashi is unphased by public opinion: “The people are a nonissue.” You’ll find out later that many are threatening to depart from Sidonia as a result of the recent conflicts with the Gauna, but Kobayashi still doesn’t care. As far as she’s concerned, they can all leave if they want. After all, she’s on a mission to exterminate the Gauna, and nothing will get in her way. Not only that, she insists that our hero will remain a pilot. It’s one thing to believe in the guy. It’s another thing to make him sortie when he obviously isn’t in the mindset to do so. What exactly is Kobayashi trying to accomplish here? Is this some sort of trial by fire that will harden Nagate’s heart and forge him into Sidonia’s ultimate warrior? It would be incredibly fucked up if it turns out Nagate is still hooked up to some simulation, and none of the recent events are real. Now, I don’t think this is actually the case, but it’s fun to think about.
Elsewhere, the protests against Sidonia’s leadership continues, but it strikes me as an incredibly dumb protest: “The Gauna will leave us alone if we disarm!” Really? How on Earth would you know that? In fact, you don’t have an Earth anymore for a very specific reason. But seriously though, this protest is so ridiculous, I almost feel as though the story’s doing itself a disservice. After all, the anti-military demonstrations aren’t this stupid by accident. The writer is portraying them in a very certain way that makes it easy for the audience to dismiss the protesters as whackjobs. Sure, there are anti-military people in Sidonia, but they have no idea what they’re talking about! Not only does this make for a weaker story since the protesters are portrayed with such little nuance, but it also reinforces a rather dangerous mindset in that war dissenters are all just weirdo hippies with no grasp on reality. Considering how military protests are still seen in Japan these days, what you see here has to certainly raise an eyebrow.
A bunch of information comes to us in a flurry. Ichiro will now become a pilot, and Yuhata will replace him as the new executive officer. I already knew she had an interest in military strategy from a previous episode, but I didn’t know she was that qualified already. Then again, it doesn’t seem as though there are very many people in Sidonia — a fact which has yet to be explained — so I suppose there weren’t any qualified individuals to compete with the girl for the position. Still, she herself didn’t really want the job. She wanted to follow in her late brother’s footsteps and become a pilot. Nevertheless, her becoming the executive officer is Kobayashi’s orders, and Kobayashi is turning out to be quite the undying dictator of Sidonia. This makes me curious, though. What sort of power that Kobayashi wield anyway? It seems as though no one can really keep her in check, but why? What is she capable of if you dare to cross her path?
Anyway, we also learn that the previous Gauna had retreated to a gas planet. Yuhata warns Kobayashi that the planet may contain even more Gauna within it. For Kobayashi, however, it doesn’t matter as she issues an order to just blow the planet up. Granted, our story is set a thousand years into the future, but the amount of firepower you would need to destroy a planet — much less a gas planet — is pretty damn huge. Furthermore, how does Sidonia replenish its arsenal? Recycling dead people is one thing. Replacing warheads that can blow up an entire planet is another. Plus, that warhead has to be made of some super special stuff. First, it has to avoid burning up as it passes through the planet’s atmosphere at such high speeds, which is also aided by the planet’s gravitational pull. I mean, it’s not like we’re attaching a parachute to the damn thing. Not only that, the pressure and temperature near a gas planet’s core are insane. Maybe one to two million bars and around a few thousand kelvins? But hey, like I’ve said, it’s 1000 years into the future. Maybe Lockheed Martin will made a breakthrough by then.
But yeah, they can blow up the gas planet, but only the Kabizashi spears can damage a Gauna. As a result, pilots must now sortie once again to deal with the Gaunas that have been forced out of hiding. Those pilots include Nagate as well. Despite Izana’s protestations, however, the guy is determined to get the job done. It’s a bit odd though that Izana doesn’t once doubt our hero one bit. He never really explained it to her that Norio had betrayed him, did he? Is she not naturally curious that Nagate may have fucked up? Oh well, I guess she’s too in love with the guy to see him in a negative light. Oh well, our characters have bigger fishes to fry. Namely, the trio of Gaunas that has emerged from the gas planet resemble Shizuka’s Gardes in appearance. If Nagate had suffered from PTSD episodes before, how will he cope now?