|SZS might not be the most exciting part of my week, but hey, the great soundtrack and the (usually) well-choreographed fight scenes keep me coming back! Apologies for the lateness!|
The events of last week are put on the back burner as we’re once again thrown into a battle with some random Noise in a random place. (surprise, surprise!) Tsubasa easily handles the problem, chopping through the Noise like butter, but Hibiki struggles to maintain the same level of expertise. In fact, the majority of the she’s simply running away from the Noise’s attacks without any counter strikes. Back at HQ Genjurou comes to the realization that Tsubasa and Hibiki simply can’t work together.
In their dorm room, Miku tries to support the hopelessly tired Hibiki who is trying to write an essay. Miku is clearly worried, but getting through to the hard-headed Hibiki must be a challenge. In her sleep Hibiki has a flashback to the ending of last episode when Tsubasa decided to fight Hibiki. Tsubasa makes her intentions of not working with Hibiki clear, and even accuses Hibiki of trying to take Kanade’s place. Before Tsubasa can land a Heaven’s Wrath ability (the huge sword one), Genjurou intervenes and uses some strange power causing Tsubasa’s ability to fail. Tsubasa, now reverted to her usual form, begins crying. In an attempt to comfort her, Hibiki says she’ll try her best to “replace Kanade”. (Those … wouldn’t be the words I would choose.) In a very emotional scene, Tsubasa slaps Hibiki.
I’ve been waiting for this moment since Kanade died.
While in her dojo-like room Tsubasa has another flashback to the moments before Kanade’s death. Tsubasa then goes on to blame herself. Back at the dorm room, Miku wonders what Hibiki has been up to, but is still left in the dark. She reminds Hibiki that they have to go see the shooting stars together. Hibiki let’s Miku know that most likely things won’t get much better than they are now.
Hibiki arrives at HQ where Ryoko, Tsubasa, and Genjurou are waiting. We learn a little more about the Noise (if you hadn’t guessed already) they’re emotionless and only target humans. They’re basically a threat from an unknown location. However, Ryoko comes to believe that the recent attacks aren’t all that random because Hibiki’s music academy is the general location of the recent string of attacks. This is most likely because they’re after Durandal, a set of relics in the Abyss underneath HQ.
She’s actually a brilliant scientist … probably.
We also learn that the US is after Durandal because of a peace treaty and they cannot activate Durandal using Tsubasa’s voice without permission. Apparently there have even been attempts to hack into HQ, and because of it they can’t pinpoint America as the criminal behind it. Tsubasa’s manager interupts and leads away Tsubasa to talk about her latest album.
After eating lunch with their friends, who you might remember from last episode, Hibiki and Miku decide to head out and watch the stars. However, when Miku arrives with her bags Hibiki is gone. She gets a phone call from Hibiki, who apologized for having something to take care of.
Hibiki heads down a subway station where she fights off some Noise until coming across a new variation, one that shoots bombs that explode or form new Noise. (It’s oddly cute actually …) Hibiki, who is now fuming with emotion from having to break her promise to Miku, activates her berserk mode unknowingly. (YESYESYES) She tears apart the Noise without discrimination as if the whole thing was a game. The pink one that throws bombs escapes, but is dispatched by Tsubasa.
Hibiki confronts Tsubasa letting her know that she also has things she wants to protect, but their conversation is interrupted by a strange and villainous voice. A woman appears wearing armor from the Nehushtan relic (the weird glowing one from episode 1), and the episode ends! (ergh.)
An enemy who’s not Noise? Finally.
I feel like I might sound a bit redundant now, but this episode felt very similar to last episode. More hopelessly confident Hibiki, more Tsubasa angst, more boring drivel from that seductive scientist, and more Hibiki/Miku relationship building … that is, up until the last couple minutes. Seriously, I feel like I could have skipped most of this episode (except for the last end bit and some middle bits) and still know (almost) exactly as much as I did before. I mean, I like dialogue, but it mostly felt like a mess of exposition without much feeling behind it.
Before I get into what I didn’t like … let’s focus on the positives. Okay. The biggest improvement this episode for me was bringing back the berserk Hibiki we came to love in the first episode, despite only having seconds of exposure. It adds a much needed layer to Hibiki, you know, the side of her that’s not constantly upbeat. Sure, tying emotions to power has been done to death, but at least we’re getting to see a new side to her. (And woah, she was pretty intense when it happened.) The soundtrack was as outstanding as always, and this episode we also got a new introduction, another attuned. Apart from looking awesome, I’m really hoping we’ll get an established villain out of her. I also complained last week about the lack of variety in the Noise, but we actually got some a new form … even if it looked about as evil as a newborn kitten.
Okayokayokay, now I totally understand the feelings of Tsubasa over the death of Kanade (as well as her feelings towards Hibiki), but here’s the thing … I honestly don’t care as much as the show probably wants me to. That’s the thing with killing off a character in the first freaking episode, how the heck am I supposed to feel any emotional connection to the death when all I saw was a short conversation and a dance routine before it actually happened. When a character dies, I want to be able to bawl my eyes out (like, Notebook style bawling), but without that connection and the development behind the characters, I just … don’t feel like I want to feel. It also makes Tsubasa’s actions all the more irritating because all we’ve really seen is that she and Kanade were good friends. (Is that reason enough? I suppose, but not when it’s one of the driving forces of a main character.) I really did like Kanade though despite what little time she had, I kind of wish she would have lived.
On the production side of things, what the heck was going on this episode. The scene where Tsubasa and her manager are walking together had to be one of the most awkward scenes I’ve ever witnessed. At first it looked like they tried to put a little effort into animating it, but then it turned into the two of them bouncing up and down and they just gave up on her hair altogether. I’m probably being a little critical, but I also noticed that things in certain scenes were disappearing, and sometimes the character models felt a little … off.
… but hey, we still have awesome music. ;D