Here are some notes and observations of the two most recent episodes. We’re cutting right to the chase, so I can fit in some jogging before I gotta subject myself to Re:Zero. Sorry if anyone was expecting a composed essay or something.
— The Black Relic repairing its own damage by absorbing nearby metals would be a neat idea for some horror-themed anime, I think. Imagine a mecha slowly consuming its rider over the course of a series. Maybe there’s already a show like this out there, and I just haven’t seen it.
— The UN higher-ups agree that they shouldn’t return their one ace-in-the-hole, and I wouldn’t object to that either. Still, a comment from previous weeks is right: our alien “invaders” haven’t really attacked anyone yet.
— Yukina didn’t really run away from home nor did she ever really intend to, I guess. She’s just hiding out at her best friend’s house. Going to school would’ve been uncomfortable. I’m sure her classmates are already whispering behind her back. Staying at home wouldn’t have helped much. She’s afraid both Ken and her mother would pressure her to pilot the Black Relic, and I’m sure her uncle would try to convince her to at least go to school.
— It turns out Akagi and Kaya are just fine. It’s just taking them over a day to return home, because their bike stopped working. Sure, I can buy that, and I can even imagine that their phones malfunctioned as well, but why did neither of them even think to call home from a payphone to tell their families that they’re okay? They don’t even go home first or anything. Akagi decides that the two of them should go to their school first. Huh. Troubles at home, then? Horrible parents perhaps?
— I like the scene where Ken reads the answers to a question he had posted on the internet. To distinguish ourselves from the past, you can certainly point to so many modern inventions, but few are more amazing than just the mere idea of the internet itself. I mean, think about it. Millions of people from around the world are able to communicate with each other instantaneously. That must be mind-boggling to someone from the past. I’m amazed Ken hasn’t freaked out at the concept alone. Or maybe the story just hasn’t even considered this. If Kuromukuro has dropped the ball anywhere, it’s that the story hasn’t really taken full advantage of the fact that Ken is a visitor from centuries ago.
— I thought they had gyozas the previous night. Why is Ken only now marveling at what he’s eating?
— Akagi and Kaya are now being interrogated by both their homeroom teacher and (I think) Akagi’s father. The old man vents his frustrations by socking his own son in the face. Um… I guess that must be why he didn’t want to go home first. I also can’t help but notice that Kaya’s family isn’t here.
— For some reason, Akagi seems to think Yukina’s disappearance is partly due to him. What a silly guy. Plus, this isn’t really turning out to be much of a love triangle. We’ve barely seen Akagi and Yukina interact all that much, and the guy hasn’t shown us any reason why we should root for him over Ken. His presence currently amounts to a distraction. To be fair, he’s got plenty of time to come into his own, I guess. After all, this series will continue long into the summer. It’s just at the moment, I have no reason to care one way or the other about Akagi.
— Then Miss Frigid chimes in and suggests that they can just force Yukina to pilot the Black Relic against her will. Hm, two months in, and Sophie’s still a jerk.
— I’m bothered by this guy’s tie. It is way, way too short, so he looks ridiculous. And oh yeah, Hiromi is desperate to find her missing daughter. Ho-hum.
— We see Yukina return home, tidy up Ken’s room, then notice something in one of her father’s old notebook. She then apparently misleads her uncle before disappearing off on an adventure of her own. I’m just wondering why her uncle didn’t immediately phone his sister to tell her that Yukina is no longer missing.
— This seems to be one of the few times the animation has slipped up.
— Man, Yukina looks like a five-year-old in that outfit. Anyways, she’s attempting to retrace her father’s footsteps. This takes her, Ken and even the Akagi-Kayo duo into the nearby forested area. There, Ken sees the remains of the Washiba Clan, and succumbs to survivor’s guilt. Just nearby, one of those unmanned robots threatens to attack Yukina. Well, again, the villains — if they can even be called villains — have yet to attack anyone. Most likely, the Cactus would’ve just tried to kidnap her the same way her younger sister was almost abducted.
— Luckily for the girl, she is saved by… someone. Looks like that shadowy figure in that old photograph. This individual appears to have her father’s watch? And he’s accompanied by some arm-less robot.
— In any case, our friends in space are tired of waiting, so they send another party down to Japan in order to personally retrieve the Black Relic. Again, no direct attacks. Someone’s going to have to step up and be a villain at some point.
— Yukina wakes up to find herself in a cavern filled with old electronics. The small area is bathed in purple light, and apparently protected by a barrier of some sort. She then notices a bloodied notebook to the side with her father’s name on it. She turns to a random page, and of course, she finds just the right passage: “Maybe people will stop calling Yukina a liar after this.” Ain’t that grand? The girl naturally starts to tear up, but still… this guy’s logic, though. Personally, I’d rather stay in my daughter’s life than disappear for some undetermined length of time just to prove to her classmates that she isn’t a liar. Priorities, dude, priorities.
— Anyways, her mysterious benefactor reappears, and tells the girl to forget everything she learned just now. This is all we see of the guy.
— Eventually, Ken spots the shadowy figure in the forest as well, but predictably enough, the latter quickly disappears from sight.
— I still can’t believe that the defending forces would still try and take down the invaders with traditional weaponry. It was worth a shot at the start of the series, but shouldn’t they have learned by now that this is neither an effective nor an efficient use of their time?
— Akagi and Kaya discover the unconscious Yukina first. She eventually wakes up, so Akagi gets all cringeworthy on us. Yeesh. The best part? Kaya’s streaming this whole incident to the entire world. Lover boy then suggests to the girl that they run off together… how romantic.
— Eventually, Ken crashes the party, as well as the rest of the UN. Ken tells Yukina she doesn’t have to pilot the Black Relic if she doesn’t want to, but let’s be honest: without the girl, Ken’s useless too. The Black Relic won’t operate without both of them, and at best, Ken would have to pilot one of those weaker UN mechas.
— Not surprisingly, Yukina offers to accompany him in battle. After all, she’s not a fool. She’s got a strong sense of duty. She knows that she has to do the right thing. At the same time, Yukina’s still a high school student, so the pressure got to her. Nothing wrong with that.
— People who are complaining that Yukina’s weak or whiny are just being silly. Those same people wouldn’t last very long in a war, and to be fair, neither would I. But I’m also not mocking Yukina for her lack of gung-ho shounen pluck.
— Anyways, Yukina just wants someone to ask her nicely to fight. Better swallow your pride, samurai boy.
— Pfft, she’s starting to sound like my exes now. In any case, Ken and Yukina bicker a little, but it’s one of those moments that show us how much more chemistry she has with samurai boy than biker boy. Despite witnessing this, however, Akagi still aims to win Yukina’s heart, but like I’ve said before, he’s gonna have to show more than just determination. Nothing lamer than determination. You don’t even know the girl all that well.
— So someone’s gonna free the poor horse and return it home, right?
— Oh good, now they have generic mecha pilot outfits.
— I typically hate launch sequences, but I’ll give this one a slight pass just because it has a little banter. But please, no more launch sequences.
— The system conveniently breaks down after sending Ken and Yukina into battle. This is just a contrived way to force our heroes to fight by themselves for the time being. Meh.
— What’s Longarm’s gimmick? It’s a tri-wielding cheeser. Not only that, the baddies surround the Black Relic for a group hug. Aw, they just miss the big fella! And again, our heroes engage the enemy in combat, but they didn’t even try to communicate with the other side or anything.
— In reality, this is just to keep our heroes in one place in order for the mothership to tractor beam them up into space. But thankfully, Hiromi quickly theorizes that regular weapons should now work.
— Somehow, Akagi and Kaya weren’t detained by those UN forces we had seen earlier, so the latter gets to continue streaming these battles.
— Amazingly enough, other people haven’t caught on and tried to do the same. Even if major media outlets have been officially warned not to cover these battles directly, you’d think the attractive lure of instant notoriety would have spawn a bunch of amateur copycats by now.
— This kid is an idiot.
— Thanks to the missiles, Ken and Yukina are freed from the tractor beam, and finally, their allies make it to the fight. It proceeds to play out much like the previous conflict. The others distract the smaller robots, leaving Ken and Yukina to battle the big boss.
— Yukina is starting to feel what the Black Relic is feeling, especially when the latter is damaged in battle. Well, mechas displaying sentience is nothing new…
— Using her knowledge, however, she gives them an advantage by having Ken lure the Longarm towards a weakened rock wall. The large enemy mecha loses its footing, allowing Ken to land the decisive blow.
Yeah, geology rules!
— The episode ends with the enemy pilot surrendering. This time, there’s no fancy explosion. This guy’s forehead, though…
I still enjoy Kuromukuro, especially for its relative simplicity. I’m sure those conspirators in space will eventually reveal some grand, complex scheme that our heroes have to stop at all costs, but for now, the story isn’t overburdened with stupid nonsense like designer children.