You think I actually remember anything about Buddy Complex anymore? Hell no. I just know some dude got sent to the future, he connected with Dio a whole bunch, then he saved his girl from her yandere admirer. Well, when you put it that way, I’m starting to think I remember too much about the show. But wait a minute… I thought this anime was going to get a second season and not just two dinky “final chapters.” What happened there? Maybe the show just didn’t do well enough to warrant another season. Honestly, this wouldn’t surprise me. The original series was mediocre at best. Or maybe I just got the wrong info to begin with, and there was never going to be a second season. In any case, the start of our first “final chapter” picks up exactly where the season finale had left off. So if you really think about it, Sunrise should’ve planned this out better. These last two “final chapters” should’ve been the final two episodes of the original series, and to make it work, two of the crappier episodes should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. ‘Cause honestly, Buddy Complex had a lot of filler-ish nonsense, e.g. the episode where a camera crew came aboard the Cygnus to film a propaganda piece. But who knows? Maybe the story can finish up with a bang.
As a reminder, Buddy Complex is really about Aoba and Hina, but Dio somehow dominates much of the conversation for a good chunk of the anime. Hina was, up until now, trapped in a time loop. She would go back in time in order to protect Aoba from a jealous Bizon. To accomplish this, she would have to send both herself and Aoba forward in time, but unfortunately, they’d always be separated from each other not just in location but in time as well. Hina would revert back into a child in a wartorn country, and not only that, she’d lose all her memories too. Here, she gets adopted by a Zogilian officer, becomes an object of Bizon’s creepy crush, then grows up to become a Zogilian soldier herself. At that point, she’d run into Aoba again, suddenly have her doubts about her identity and Zogilia, which would anger Bizon. In order to protect Bizon, she would have to send… yeah, it’s convoluted. It’s not even complicated. It’s just convoluted, but this sort of thing comes with the territory. If you’re going to do an anime about time-traveling, this is actually the least you could expect. Usually, time-traveling movies get even more ridiculous than this (see: Primer).
To be honest, the premise wasn’t even that bad. It was not super original or anything, but it was alright for a mecha anime, y’know? You could certainly spin a decent time-traveling love story out of this. Unfortunately, the execution left much to be desired. After the first episode, Buddy Complex lost sight of the love story and focused entirely too much attention on the whole Coupling gimmick. For about half the series, every episode was thus an explanation on how Coupling worked. The narrative would also devote precious time to unveiling yet another super power as a result of said Coupling. Aoba did run into Hina from time to time, but their relationship would not actually begin until more than half the series had already come and gone. There was thus little time left to develop their anything between them. It ended up feeling as though Hina had a change-of-heart overnight when this sort of thing should have been a slow churn, so to speak. A lot of this was also due to the need to develop Dio’s character, and while it was amusing to joke about him and Aoba being the OTP of the show, he ended up becoming quite extraneous to the whole time-traveling plot. So honestly, I don’t even know why his character was even necessary. Maybe the final chapters can shed some light on this.
Anyway, enough talk about the original series. Let’s get into the first final chapter…
— So will Hina be a defector or a prisoner of war? I like how this can be determined with just a single conversation with Kuramitsu. She basically says she only knows she wants to be with Aoba. That works well enough for Kuramitsu, who then replies that he’ll submit the paperwork to have her stay on the ship as an auxiliary Coupler. That was easy.
— This bottomless cleavage shot seems kind of tasteless, especially when you’re asking the girl whether or not she can shoot her former comrades.
— Remember Bizon, the yandere dude? Remember how he went through that wormhole at the end of the original series? Well, in this timeline, he also exists as some wheelchair-bound, old guy, and he’s not Bizon anymore. He’s Evgeni Kedar! ‘Cause y’see, he got sent back to the past, so he proceeded to stay there until now, blah blah blah.
And somehow, he has built up enough pull over time to stage a coup d’etat of the great Zogilian Republic. Never underestimate what a yandere guy will do to get his girl. Aoba might impress Hina with his charms, his boyish good looks, and his open-minded “connections” with Dio, but Bizon is playing the long game. What girl wouldn’t fall head over heels for a decrepit old man who has held a torch for her after all these goddamn years. That’s love, buddy. That’s love.
— The coup d’etat got the shaft, though. With a second season, this particular plot thread could’ve been developed into something more. Like seriously, I can see how it might be easy to stage a coup d’etat for some small, third-world nation that hardly anyone cares about, but Zogilia’s one of the two big powers on the entire planet. Buuuut we only get two final chapters, so the best we can do is a news announcement: “Oh by the way, there has been a coup d’etat…” Then again, maybe it’s a good thing Sunrise didn’t waste its efforts on making a second season of Buddy Complex. It all depends on how good, uh, Cross Ange turns out to be.
— Even Alfried isn’t happy with the sudden change in leadership, which just goes to show you how rushed everything is.
— Aoba tries to give Hina some words of comfort, but she just flat out says, “Besides, you’re a failure of a soldier, right?” Geez, girl, you didn’t have to put it so bluntly. Still, she trusts him so, uh, that’s neat? Dio interrupts this touching moment, however, to tell Aoba that they are headed to… space? Really? What’s up in space?
— It turns out there’s a Zogilian satellite up in outer space. It’s called the Gorgon, and it’s equipped with a NECTAR cannon “four to five times the size of the one in Alaska.” See, I was led to believe that the cannon in Alaska was some top secret, prototype weapon that Zogilia had barely used. So it was sort of an achievement for our heroes to take it down at the end of the original series. All of a sudden, however, there’s an even bigger cannon… and it’s in space!
Well, this is the final chapter, so obviously, we need something to top the cannon in Alaska. Also, the weapon isn’t exactly complete… or so we’re told. Even so, however, this cannon’s appearance comes so sudden that it feels jarring. I guess we just have to make due, but it doesn’t make the story seem any less haphazard.
— Needless to say, you know what the heroes have to do: go up there and wreck that goddamn Gorgon! But can the Cygnus and the Coupling mechas even operate in space? Apparently, they can… just attach boosters to them! It’s just that easy, you guys. Again, it feels like we’re rushing things hard to make the final chapters work.
— It also feels a bit strange to introduce a new character at this stage of the game, but here’s Ensign Watase. He’s just one of the extra pilots for this mission, but the story feels the need to highlight his existence, so he must be important somehow… Still, the first episode is already half over, and I assume the second episode will be the same length. So there isn’t really much time left to do anything, much less squeeze in a new face. Maybe the only purpose to his character is to remind us that Aoba’s good at piloting mechas.
— Then out of nowhere, the anime jumps ahead by several weeks. Not only is everyone in spacesuits, the Cygnus is now equipped with two ugly boosters. They really are an eyesore. And now, the ship has shimmering, uh, energy wings?
— Zogilian forces immediately intercept the good guys, so we jump headfirst into a battle. I gotta say, however, that the animation has looked pretty nice so far. Even the space battle itself doesn’t look too shabby. It’s just too bad the original series couldn’t keep this level up.
— Alfried: “I do not agree with this, but if they claim it is my duty as a soldier, then I will obey.” Buddy, do you realize how dumb this sounds?
— Our heroes are told that they have even less time than ever to Couple because they are in space, so they’ll have to get the job done quick. But as soon as our heroes show up to the fight, Alfried and his troops retreat. It turns out it was just a trap to draw the Coupling mechas away from the Cygnus. As soon as Aoba and Dio are committed to their end of the fight, enemy mechas reveal themselves. Y’see, they had been disguising themselves as space debris.
— Ah, classic Aoba and Dio butting heads over what to do. Aoba wants to go back and save the Cygnus, and stiff-ass Dio wants to stay the course.
— All of a sudden, the Gorgon activates and fires a blast so powerful, it wipes out significant portions of both fleets. Bizon is so hellbent on his quest for revenge that he is willing to kill his own people to get the job done. He says this is just war, but I don’t buy it. We all know he’s obsessed with Aoba and Hina.
— Once again, Hina shows up out of nowhere to save Aoba’s ass. At what point did she jump into her mecha? Or was she always part of the mission and the anime just deliberately kept this from us?
— Elsehwere, Alfried sits there in complete shock. He can’t believe the military would turn on its own kind. Welp, I guess we’re headed for an ending where he teams up with our heroes to take out Bizon… I guess the writers liked him too much to have him stay a villain.
— Kuramitsu feels that they have no choice but to try and take down the Gorgon with the little firepower that they have left. When our heroes try to Couple, however, they find that they can’t do so. This ugly thing that you see above then shows up. Yeah, it’s none other than Bizon, and he’s apparently interfering with the Coupling system with his fancy new mecha. And with that, the episode ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.
How do I feel about how the final chapter unfolding? Eh. It feels as rushed as I thought it would be. We do end up with some cool scenes in space, but nothing else about the episode is remarkable. It’s basically just one bit exposition until the big space battle. Plus, nothing got developed. Hina tells Aoba she trusts him completely, and that’s the extent of the character development for the entire episode. Even Dio feels like he’s hardly there.
The biggest problem with the final chapter, however, is that it feels obligatory. It feels like a chore. It feels like Sunrise doesn’t really want to do a second season, but they just can’t just leave the story hanging. So fine, they’ll just wrap this shit up with a two-episode sequel. As a result, there doesn’t seem to be any joy or passion here. Let’s just feed the audience some exposition to justify sending these fuckers up into space, have some pretty explosions, then be done with it. Buddy Complex does have about twenty minutes left to make something out of the sequel, but I don’t see it happening. Oh well, the next final chapter comes out tomorrow, so it’s not like we’ll even have to wait very long to see how everything unfolds.