After watching this episode, I can’t help but agree with some folks that it’s a shame the first two episodes couldn’t air together somehow. Considering that the two episodes premiered together at the Muv-Luv panel at Anime Expo last week, I can’t help but think the creators intended for the pair to air together. That commenters pointed out that this is anime original content — maybe to provide some sort of context for those new to this somewhat intimidating franchise? — makes me feel a bit stronger about that opinion. I imagine the producers tried to have the episodes air together, too, but just couldn’t swing it. I’m not really privy to that sort of information, though, so that’s just idle speculation.
In the previous post, I mentioned briefly that we were spending time with characters that we knew only in the most basic of ways, but after thinking a bit more, spending more time with all these characters wouldn’t have made the events of this episode hit any harder. Getting to know the world itself is more the point. The lighthearted fun and good natured friendship is the shell the girls form to keep the horrifying reality further out of their minds, even as they train to enter that reality. It’s a space that dwindles by the day; they fight to protect what they have, but they can’t because they’re woefully inexperienced and outgunned. It’s a pretty fucked up world.
This episode does an OK job of establishing this world as a screwed up place where everything Good and Nice is being torn up and chomped to bits by crazed aliens, which is why I’m mostly fine that there’s relatively little attempt to give us every character’s biography, thoughts, feelings, measurements, etc. We all know they’re dying. They know they’re dying; that is, until that one moment of triumph where delusions of victory briefly set in, whereupon the girls get lasers to the face for their troubles. I would find it infinitely amusing if the aliens could somehow sense the most ironic moment to kill each human and took great pleasure in hitting people at just the right time to cripple morale the most.
Speaking of the aliens, I find myself fond of their designs. I like how different each distinctive class of alien looks, and how utterly, well, alien each of them is. It’s not fun fighting a bunch of aliens that don’t look utterly monstrous, right? I know I’d be afraid to have a horde of these freaks ripping my mech apart bit by bit until they got to the delicious, juicy human nugget in the center. The part of the episode where the BETA tear up Yamashiro’s mecha have a nice afternoon snack is probably the most affecting part of the episode for me. That shit is creepy. She just wanted to be Yui’s rival, but now aliens are using her intestines as dental floss. What a terrible way to go.
Unfortunately, the black censorship blobs of doom mar the episode for those of us who didn’t go to the Anime Expo premiere. There’s at least much less of it than expected, mostly because all the most gory, horrible stuff is saved for when it actually matters the most. Everything else is mostly blood splatter. There’s lots of mecha action and stuff getting cut up and blown up and whatnot for those of us who enjoy that crazy, violent action, but I do like there is some thought about impact when it comes to the shots of monsters slurping up organs.