Egao no Daika Episode 3: On the other side

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Stella surveys the situation

I’m still a bit skeptical, but I think that the switch to the Grandiga side of the conflict has been a lot more interesting than what we saw of Soleil in the first two episodes. Stella’s character doesn’t fully make sense yet, but she seems to have a lot more potential as a character than the more childish Yuuki.

The soldiers infiltrate Soleil

I do like that we get to see Soleil from the perspective of the Grandiga soldiers. I’m a bit curious about the dark underbelly of Soleil, though. What we see in this episode is the natural response of the Grandiga soldiers to the “lavish” nature of the other side, but we’ve already seen that there is some deception involved with that appearance.

Stella and Owens investigate the warehouse

I suppose we do get to see a bit of it with the orphans in this episode, but I’m not sure what to take away. Based on the context, it sounded like this warehouse of food was abandoned because of the introduction of the food-producing chrars plant. So, it seems to point more towards the kind of wasteful nature you’d expect from a prospering country.

Stella comforts an orphan

Stella seems like a similar mystery to me. It’s too early in the series to get a good sense of who she is, so I’m not sure if I’m supposed to believe her conversation with Lana. She seems to care deeply, but we see later in the episode that she doesn’t seem to have any concerns outside of the mission.

Owens gets ordered to destroy the plant

I do like how the episode looks at the disconnect between the superiors and the soldiers in the field. The fact that Owens is willing to jeopardize the mission to save the orphans seems like it should be related to the conversation at the beginning of the episode. He probably disobeyed orders to pursue what he thought was right, landing him with Stella’s squad.

The soldiers infiltrate the plant

This infiltration scene was somewhat painful to watch. Given how open this building is, it’s shocking that Stella doesn’t get spotted. This scene, in particular, makes little sense, because you would think that these two soldiers wouldn’t need to advance to see enemies patrolling.

Stella threatens the kids to help

Stella’s smile does have an interesting contrast to Yuuki’s smile. Now that we know that it isn’t related to Grandiga overall, I suppose these two are meant to be compared. With Yuuki, we see a more fragile smile that needs to be protected by others. I’m still curious to see how it changes whenever we find out what happened to Joshua. That being said, Stella’s smile is much more persistent, and we get the sense so far that she uses it to weather the toughest situations.

Egao no Daika Episode 2: Harsh reality of the battlefield

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Joshua's dad spars with his friend

Phew, this is a tough one. Much of my opinion of this episode is colored by the final scenes, which I really disliked, but I’ll get to that in a bit. That being said, I still think that show has a few things going for it that make me feel a bit hopeful. Based on that, I think my only choice is to keep going and see how it goes, right?

The kingdom survives the military operation

This week’s episode sets up the two warring regions some more. Honestly, it’s nothing special, since it’s just the typical battle of technology versus pure numbers. Yuuki presides over the kingdom, with its vast advancements in chrars, while the Empire just has a lot of soldiers.

Soldiers attempt to sabotage the new units

I think that this betrayal subplot had some potential, but it might have come a little too early for this series. Without too much setup, it ended up just leading to the excommunication of a character we didn’t know. It’s too bad, since he ends up being somewhat right at the end. It could have been an interesting way to illuminate the political situation.

The empire fights back

I personally liked seeing the military parts of the episode. The tactics tended to make sense, and the show didn’t shove them in your face. For example, the kingdom fights the empire in a ravine, which makes sense when they have the disadvantage in numbers. The empire soldiers are forced into a choke point.

The machines start failing

Was it supposed to be clear why the new machines kept failing in the fight? I guess the demonstration earlier in the episode proved that they weren’t fully functional, but I thought that was just supposed to be the flight capability.

Joshua lies in a hospital bed

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. I know I said last week that the show seemed to be suggesting that Joshua would die, but I still think that the way this episode ended was incredibly frustrating. It’s almost a no-win situation at this point. Joshua’s death was way too sudden, and it doesn’t make sense for him to die off-screen. However, I feel like I would dislike a fake-out death even more. I suppose it could be salvaged if it’s revealed that his death is part of something bigger, but it’s hard to say at this point.

The empire troops talk

I’m also a little sad that we didn’t get to see more of the empire side in this episode. If it’s true that they’re forced to smile to survive, that might actually make a lot of sense. As we saw in this episode, the empire has the numbers advantage, but they’re poor in resources. As a result, they would have much more casualties on the battlefield, which is an interesting dichotomy when paired with the idea of having to smile all of the time.

Egao no Daika First Impressions (1): Literally protecting that smile

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Joshua acts cool

Well, I’m happy to see that this series went for the dystopia-like setup I was hoping to see. It looks like the story revolves around two nations at war, a typical “empire vs. kingdom” setup. We’re only introduced to the kingdom in the first episode, ruled by the young princess Yuuki. Yuuki largely leads a peaceful life as the ruler, but there seems to be more to it. The first episode overall was pretty interesting, but I did have some issues with how the exposition for the world was handled.

Yuuki sticks the landing

The episode kind of gave me a bad first impression for the weirdest reasons. I know it’s nitpicking, but it was weird to see repeated angles of the same scene, such as when Yuuki is first introduced and when she stumbles on the way to the podium. I thought it was jarring and interrupted the flow of the scene, but maybe that’s just me. Also, I get that Yuuki is supposed to know little about the outside world, but I find it odd that the opening emphasizes her age.

Apparently, there's a new type of chrars

The episode also had the annoying flood of technobabble that you’d expect from a sci-fi show with a unique setting. While that itself isn’t a huge deal, I wasn’t a fan of how the information was finally relayed. We get some spiel about how chrars are some kind of special ore that is significant…for some reason. Additionally, the scene itself is two military officers talking, people who really should know this information already.

The children are happy...probably

With that out of the way, I do think that the series had its strong points. For example, I do like the mystery that is being built around Yuuki, a hidden truth that is being kept from her. When I first saw this scene, I remember thinking that the kids in the city had a dead look in their eyes for some reason. If you think about it in the context of lying to keep Yuuki happy, I think it’s more interesting, since the citizens could all be brainwashed or artificial.

Yuuki is pressed about her knowledge of the country

This scene also could have a dual meaning in the light of the overall ruse. At face value, it’s a subordinate checking the capabilities of her ruler. However, it could also be a sincere question, to make sure that the princess is still in the dark.

The mock battle happens in Tokyo

Given that the opening of the episode speaks of “distant planets”, where exactly are we? Calling out Tokyo by name suggests that this is really just Earth, but it’s hard to say. Perhaps, it’s just meant to be a metaphorical distance. Either way, I’m hoping this “simulation” was actually real, since the soldiers seemed to react so strongly when Yuuki started blowing up the environment.

Time to check out what's happening with the Empire

Based on the opening animation and the synopsis, it seems like we’re still missing half of the setup for this series. That aside, I definitely thought that the scene with the stuffed animal heavily suggested that Joshua was going to die.

Spring 2018 Grab Bag Week 8: Juushinki Pandora

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Once again, I’m back with something completely different. I lost track of this series at the beginning of the season because it’s a Netflix show, but I recently caught up with it. Honestly, I felt a bit like I was morally obligated to watch this series. It focuses on a futuristic world in which animals have rapidly evolved to the point of being major threats to humanity. The main character develops a Hyperdrive to combat these animals, called BRAI, in a giant mech suit. So, we have sci-fi, post-apocalyptic setting, and mecha…how could I resist?

To be fair, the show isn’t too bad. It’s watchable to the point where I’m not dreading the next episode. However, the series does feel a bit like it’s not doing anything new. The “energy source gone wrong” aspect reminds me of Dimension W. And the fact that the main characters are using mechs to defend the shining bastion of humanity is pretty much the concept of Darling in the Franxx.

Still, I don’t actually mind the portrayal of Leon as the “mad scientist” in this series. He’s not a raving lunatic, but he has the passion to develop technology for the benefit of mankind. I think that aspect is portrayed decently, even if the demonization of “fanatical” scientists feels a bit overblown.

I also think that the mech fights in this series look quite good. If you can get past the excessive CGI (which doesn’t really bother me), there’s a lot going on in the fights themselves. And I generally felt like I could follow the fights quite well (looking at you, Grancrest).

I do feel like the Hyperdrive is awkwardly placed. I understand that it’s meant to be humanity’s last hope, but the fact that it’s tied to deeply with the human element feels like a cheap plot element. In fact, the entire series seems to split humanity from the animals as though humans are somehow special. It can be frustrating to watch. Why exactly didn’t the quantum reactor affect human evolution? It seems to suggest that humanity is considered to be some kind of “pinnacle of evolution”.