When the enemy pilot removed his horned helmet, it was like watching Kylo Ren reveal his face to the audience all over again: “That’s what’s underneath?” And don’t get me wrong, ’cause I actually like Kylo Ren once I could afford the time to look at his character as a whole, but I won’t lie. When he pulled his helmet off, and I saw Adam Driver’s lopsided face staring back at me, I was like, “That’s Darth Vader’s successor? C’mon, man… Vader didn’t die for this.” Anyway, enough about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That can be a topic for another day, another time, another blog. And yes, this Hedo fella is obivously nowhere near as important as Kylo Ren. There is no doubt in this, since our enemy invader hastily proceeds to self-destruct his fallen mecha and thus kill himself in the process. But if I could just talk about the reveal itself, I mean, it kinda took the wind out of the anime’s sails a bit. Up to this point, Kuromukuro’s sixth episode had been pretty decent, so seeing this green-haired dude gave me one of those “wut?” reactions.
As expected, the action continues to be Kuromukuro’s high mark as I was pretty entertained by the fight between the two mechas. Certainly, I had some quibbles with a few things here and there, but I’ll get to those in a bit. Point is, we were on a high. The animation is great as usual, the battle choreography is solid, the music is on point, and ooh, something’s coming out of the Yellow Crab! We’re finally going to learn a thing or two about the enemy! Aaaaand… it’s some normal-looking human with green hair. Okay, okay, before anyone takes me too seriously here, I’m just joking around a bit. A tiny bit. The fact that our enemy is a plain-looking human doesn’t really matter all that much in the long run. I only bring it up, because it was a funny moment in the episode. Thanks to Kayo’s livestreaming of the event, the world is watching. The whole world is waiting with bated breath to see our “uchuujin.” Then it just turns out to be some dude in a rather uninspired outfit.
On a more serious note, the execution of the following scenes seems a bit rushed. Hedo demands to know why the wielder of “Glongur” has betrayed “Efidolg,” and has thus sided with the enemy. But before anyone can even respond — before Hedo is even in any danger of being captured — he causes his fallen mecha to self-destruct. Our heroes couldn’t respond, because like us, they likely have no clue what Hedo is talking about. Still, I would’ve liked to have seen some sort of attempt on our heroes part to perhaps surround Hedo, and in doing so, try and bring him in for questioning. Then his “seppuku” would’ve made some sense. Rather, he appears to ask a rhetorical question since he doesn’t even stick around for the answer, then he kills himself all too quickly. Why even reveal yourself, then? Why even ask the question at all? Why bother? He bothers, because the anime wants to name-drop a few cryptic terms in order to advance the story. I totally get the meta storytelling reason for why this all went down. Again, I just think the execution could’ve been better.
All in all, however, if this is all I have to complain about, then Kuromukuro is still sitting pretty. Most of this week’s episode kept me engaged, and I’m interested in seeing how the story will go here.
— I’m not sure why the sky is a dark red from the story’s perspective. Maybe it’s due to the fire in the distance. Still, it makes for a visually impactful backdrop. Ken may see the enemy as demons, but we don’t. The enemy mechas are just, well, enemy mechas. Up until this week’s ending, I didn’t even know if they had pilots. Clearly, the headless ones still don’t, but the point is that I don’t see any of them as demons. Thanks to the red sky, however, it does kinda make it seem as though everything’s gotten a bit hellish, so I like what it lends to the narrative.
— The parts of the episode that did bore me? Yeah, I’m not terribly interested in seeing the rest of the squad ready themselves for battle. I get why we have to see these scenes, but Kuromukuro doesn’t do anything special with them. They’re exactly the same as what you’d get in any other mecha anime, so I couldn’t help but see these moments as filler to pad out the episode.
— The control room scenes are even worse. I think the episode cuts to this static shot twice, and it’s just amusing how lazy it is. The angle is straight on and from a distance, so it’s as boring as possible. As a result of the distance that the shot is framed, the characters are tiny and lacking any detail whatsoever. There’s so much wasted space. The green bushes, the gap in the foreground, the two plain and rectangular structures in the upper corners…
— Ken says it’s up to Yukina to understand the scrolls that appear before her, but I’m not sure if she ever resolved that issue by the end of the episode. Oh well, she’s still a student thrown into an insane situation, so this isn’t a big deal. I’m just curious what the scrolls are even trying to say.
— Yukina’s mom suddenly chimes in and informs us that “the big geoframe’s combat strategy centers around nullifying its opponent’s recovery system.” What a clunky way to convey that information to the audience. P.A. Works couldn’t come up with an elegant visual solution; they didn’t know how to communicate the same information to us without just flat-out saying it. This is one of the episode’s few issues.
— At one point, the Yellow Crab punctures Kuromukuro with its katana. Seeing as how researchers can barely move the damn mecha and can’t seem to operate the machine whatsoever, I wonder how any of the damage sustained here will be repaired in later episodes. It’s not the most exciting topic, but it’s a necessary one if we’re going to continually see moments like this.
— I think it’s kinda sad that Yukina reacts so positively to Sophie’s arrival, since we know how much disdain the latter seems to have for our heroine. Speaking of Sophie, I don’t have much to say about the rest of the squad. I just feel that the action there is less compelling than the duel between Kuromukuro and the Yellow Crab. Maybe it’s because the headless mechas just feel less human, so it’s hard for me to really care what happens with them. Also, I’m over the Sophie-Sebastian dynamic already. I think it’s cringeworthy, especially since we always create these blonde, foreign characters then proceed to treat them like royalty.
— We need to teach Japan how to build better fences.
— I wonder why the Yellow Crab darkens as it “dies.” I also want to know what the world’s reaction is going to be. They must see this as a potential threat to the entire planet. So far, we’ve concentrated mostly on Yukina and Ken, but the story’s gonna have to pull back at some point. How are governments reacting? Are people going to start freaking out? Will there be hippies self-righteously calling for communication with the alien invaders?