Top Shows Addendum

So I wrote my Top 30 Shows of All Time list, and that was great and super convenient for a while, until I came to a startling revelation – there are more than thirty good shows, and even worse than that, people keep making new ones. Clearly there’s no way I could have predicted this turn of events, but I’m doing my best to take it in stride. And in the spirit of promoting More Good Things, I’ve decided to create this Additional Top Shows supplement.

I don’t really want to cut off shows when they fall out of the thirty – I’d rather recommend more good stuff than less, and the number was initially envisioned more as a quality marker than a hard, arbitrary line. And so instead of having shows disappear and be gone forever, shows that drop out of the thirty, or that just barely don’t make it, will instead find their home here in the Top Shows Addendum. I hope you enjoy this jumbled list of Slightly Less Top But Still Pretty Great Shows!

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Top Twelve Anime of 2013

And so 2013 comes to an end. This has been a big year for me in blogging, what with it being my first year in blogging, and so a lot of these shows hold a possibly unreasonable place in my heart. Nah, I don’t think that’s actually true. I think we’ve just had a great year, and that blogging really has done what I always wanted it to – force me to apply a more critical eye to my media, which, contrary to popular belief, has actually made me appreciate my favorites even more.

And there sure were plenty of favorites! As I said, this has been an excellent year in anime, with tons of genres, styles, and themes represented by stylish, confident productions. If this is your first time checking the blog, let me introduce myself by saying I’m a horribly biased shithead who wouldn’t know a good action show or comedy if it comically murdered me. I like people, and I like ideas, and my list reflects that (if you’re looking for Attack on Titan or Maou-sama, you can find my reviews of those here and here). I like to think I’m pretty good at telling good writing or direction from bad, but everyone has different things that appeal to them, and so you can consider the numbering here a mushy compromise between favorite and best, though the list overall encompasses both. I’m not gonna give you synopses here – if you’re interested, each title links to that show’s description, but that’s not what you’re not paying me for. These comments will cover why I loved these shows. I was aiming for a top ten, but when compiling the list, the shows that immediately bubbled to mind ended up numbering twelve, and instead of arbitrarily cutting two off I’ve decided to honor them all. Also, I’m only counting shows that ended in 2013 here, so no Kill la Kill or other half-finished two-parters. So here it is: my top twelve anime series of 2013!

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Wrong Every Time: Gen Urobuchi and the Human Spirit

Management: Spoilers ahead for Madoka, Gargantia, Psycho-Pass, and Fate/Zero.

It’s not a complicated question. You hold the gun, target in the sights, finger on the trigger. An innocent, no question. But the stakes could not be more clear: one or one hundred. Either you kill this one person, ending their life and putting their blood on your hands, or you do nothing, and one hundred die through your inaction. Is it morally permissible to fire? Is it morally permissible not to? You could ask them first, I suppose – are they willing to die for the sake of one hundred strangers? That would certainly be noble of them, and possibly clear your conscious. But what if they say no? What if the stakes are one thousand strangers? One hundred thousand? One hundred billion?

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Suisei no Gargantia – Review

Suisei no Gargantia is a strange little show. It covers all of Urobuchi’s pet themes at once, while also shifting wildly in tone and pacing throughout. It combines a number of seemingly incompatible genres, including Ghibli-esque adventure, slice of life, sci-fi drama, action, and even some moments approaching psychological horror. It clearly displays some of the most supportable accusations generally leveled at Urobuchi – that his characters lack nuance or depth, and that his stories work primarily in support of ideas and have little power as narratives in and of themselves. Gargantia by itself is a pretty cogent argument for why Urobuchi is such a polarizing writer.

But the thing about polarizing writers is that for all the people they turn off, there are also plenty of people who really like what they do. Like, for example, me.

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Suisei no Gargantia – Episode 13

This show is making these writeups pretty tough. Not because it’s difficult to suss out the various levels of this show – I think a second viewing would help elaborate the arcs of the different thematic points (the fear of entering society, the definition of humanity and the individual, the purpose of society, the roots of human conflict), but I also think I’m doing okay at noting a good number of them as they pass by.

No, this show is tough because I really like it and a lot of critics really don’t. I think it’s full of interesting ideas, I think the tricks it pulls with pacing and tone are very compelling, and I love the overall world it creates. The usual Urobuchi complaint is certainly in full effect here – that the characters and narrative work in service of the themes, and are thus somewhat weaker and more archetypal for it. But I don’t really have a problem with that; Ledo’s the only fully-articulated character, but not every show has to be about characters, and making this story’s cast and specifics more critical and distinct would make its ideas less universal. I also think it’s built to a pretty compelling finale here, and that the Kugel-being-dead reveal is a pretty effective way to complete Urobuchi’s diagnosis of the Alliance’s all-in society. I’m hoping Gargantia’s Stairway to Heaven doesn’t simplify everything, but I’m also excited to see another episode directly written by Urobuchi. Bring on the new Eden.

Episode 13

1:38 – “I am their support system. That is to say, I am the presence called God.” I guess it helps when the lines Urobuchi draws in the sand are the same ones I’d be prone to draw

2:27 – “One who abandons thought and decision-making deviates from the definition of ‘human’.” Yeah, this show is super-unfocused and lacking in clear themes [RES ignored duplicate image][1]

Sorry, I’ll stop throwing stones. It’s aggravating, though

3:11 – Striker’s getting a little Mwahaha here, but I actually really like how Chamber is the one articulating the nature of humanity, not Ledo

3:53 – “In this foreign environment, you have continuously made the correct decisions and maintained your humanity. As a result, I have not been corrupted.” This is an interesting line depending on how you’re interpreting the purpose of the robots. I’ll have to think about it

4:06 – “Let’s take it down.” “I am in full agreement.” #1 Bromance Spring 2013.

5:15 – “When we left Gargantia’s protection, we chose our own course. We can’t back down now.” Nice that they complicate the assuming adulthood idea a little, but still have Pinion himself back them up, who has already been interpreted through this lens earlier (when he was having doubts and the mechanic girl told him they all supported him)

6:20 – Pinion’s sticking to the path he’s chosen. His hero’s death was pretty heavily foreshadowed last episode, but it’s nice he gets a last moment with his crew

9:00 – And Chamber reaches full power by merging his will entirely with Ledo’s. Society is about the bonds we choose – it is not weakness to rely on each other, but it must be a willful, independent, human choice

10:47 – Hah! Their secret weapon is the bottom segment of the space elevator? Awesome

15:18 – “Goddamnit, quit it with the hero’s death monologue and let me save you!” Cute

19:02 – “A noncombatant is not allowed in the cockpit.” CHAMBER NO YOU ARE BEST BRO

21:17 – It makes sense thematically that the system which had coddled him had to die for him to enter society.That doesn’t make me feel any better

And Done

Whew! Man, that ended way more optimistically than I’d expected. I’d figured the Stairway to Heaven would cause some terrible repercussions, or at the very least that Pinion would die, but this show is fundamentally very optimistic, and all of its themes regard seeking our better nature and taking risks, so I guess punishing the characters for their attempts to fulfill their destiny or help each other would work directly against that. This last episode made the robots seem more or less entirely sentient, which I’m fine with – though I thought Striker’s elaboration of her society was pretty ham-handed and didn’t really make the most of the “optimal societies all work efficiently towards a central goal” and “happiness is narrowing your viewpoint till there is only one correct path and following it” stuff, which I found much more compelling. Overall, the show is clearly Urobuchi as fuck – it demonstrates a tremendous cynicism towards the influence of larger systems, and a tremendous faith in the power of individual agency and ambition, as well as individual, willfully chosen connections. I think it was Chamber’s speech about how the Hideauze’s evolution didn’t change the nature of their conflict that made me like him as a “character,” but he was awesome here, and I guess I’m just a sucker for these ideas and this world, cause his last stand really got to me even though it wasn’t fundamentally different from many similar speeches and battles. I am extremely satisfied.

Suisei no Gargantia – Episode 12

Welp, I’m late, but in my defense your face is stupid. Two episodes to go. Gargantia in the crosshairs. All themes primed to explode.

Let’s talk about that for a second. I assume this and the next episode will probably settle these ideas a bit, but right now, this show is fucking crazy-rich in interpretations. My own focus has been on how Gargantia, Ledo, and the Galactic Alliance explore the purpose of society and how society relates to individual identity. I think that’s a pretty sweet interpretation! But you could also make a strong case for the Alliance system representing the classic and now-decaying Japanese ideal of entering a corporation upon leaving education, rising in an utterly linear fashion within that organization, and being protected by it until the day you die. Or you could talk about the specific historical philosophies our sides are representing – Kugel’s pseudo-Randian theocracy, Gargantia’s lightly capitalist collectivism. Or you could hone in on the theme of entering society, focusing on the way Ridget and Pinion have dealt with their emerging responsibilities, as well as what Chamber and the cockpit might represent. Or you could talk about the show’s layered views on human nature and the inevitability of conflict. Or its much more straightforward but still solidly articulated views on the military-industrial complex. Or the 1984-esque perspective control, focusing on Ledo’s early inability to translate the purpose of Gargantian society and Kugel’s recent redefining of happiness.

So yeah. By all means, take your pick. The show is a rich goddamn tapestry, and even if many of these ideas are relatively straightforward in their expression, that expression is still generally well-articulated, and the summation of all these ideas is a vivid, compelling, and multifaceted world. This show’s a gem. I hope it finishes strong.

Episode 12

0:51 – Pinion’s like a kid in a candy shop. Which I guess is a part of what he represents – humanity’s hasty bravado and careless glee in creating newer and deadlier weapons

1:57 – In order to plea on Gargantia’s behalf, Ledo leaves Chamber, preferring to represent himself in person

2:46 – You know we’re in the shit when there’s no time for the OP

6:31 – Aw maaan, is Kugel gonna murder a bunch of senior citizens because they’re a drain on society? Well, I guess they’re really hammering in what a saint Ayn Rand was. Utterly rational societies, everyone!

8:29 – Jeez, nicely done. Hammering the point home or not, that wave of bodies falling is a chilling image. As is the rain washing away Pinion’s temporary allegiance. And there we have it – Ledo chooses the way he wanted to contribute to Gargantian society over the most efficient role chosen for him by the Alliance

8:54 – I also like that Pinion’s hair has been let fall loose now that he’s given up on the titles and bravado. When I watch this show for a second time, I’ll probably be on the lookout for more efficient visual cues like that or the symbolic colors

10:20 – “Combat policy formulation is in your hands, Ensign.” Awww yeah, fucking fist pump. It’s really hard for me to not treat Chamber like an actual character – he really does seem to have a genuine connection with Ledo. But hey, that fits perfectly in line with his role as teacher/parent in the Japanese society metaphor, and that could be the right one, so who knows?

10:35 – Ledo joins the rebellion in the space of one smirk from Pinion. Pretty efficient storytelling!

13:40 – “He’s gonna turn against an old friend to protect us, and we’re just going to leave him?!” Not if the “entering society shouldn’t be frightening, we’re all there for each other” camp has anything to say about it!

18:24 – I didn’t want to pause during this holy shit viva la revolucion finale but my damn roommate interrupted me so I might as well say I think the sound design here is fucking dynamite. And also all of the other things that are currently happening

21:27 – Oh man, Striker was indeed on autopilot. A society so rational it governs itself!

And Done

Man, that whole “squids have rejected their humanity, and thus are no longer human” argument is looking pretty threadbare when the alternative is a corpse in a machine. But anyway, fuck yes that episode was awesome. The first half of two straight episodes of dramatic and thematic dominoes tumbling down. Pinion’s turn was surprisingly satisfying, Chamber’s defection to Ledo’s orders was confusingly heartwarming, and the finale was pretty goddamn epic. Great music, it bounced well between the various smaller conflicts, there were some really nice visual touches like their cannons parting the sea of mist – the plot and themes are still being respected, but this was also just a sweet freaking episode in all the best pure-entertainment ways. Nailing it, Gargantia.

Suisei no Gargantia – Episode 11

Oh boy Gargantia. We’re really in the shit now, aren’t we? All the dominoes set up, three episodes remaining, and at least half a dozen narrative, character, and thematic conflicts to be resolved. Ending this gracefully will take some doing, but I actually wouldn’t have it any other way – I think the different issues we’re juggling here are going to bounce off each other quite nicely. Let’s kill some squids.

Episode 11

0:40 – That’s right Amy. You don’t need no goddamn man in your life!

1:29 – Kugel’s looking ragged. Extremely likely he spent the six months Ledo was at the bottom of the ocean developing his cult

3:13 – Look at how happy Ledo is! Thank god for the Galactic Alliance – things were so much simpler back then!

4:53 – Episode title: Supreme ruler of terror. Feeling healed yet?

5:28 – “Welcome, envoy of the sky, clad in blah blah we’re a crazy cult.” Well that wasn’t hard to guess

5:56 – Nice visual there – their entire world is a pyramid with Kugel at the top. Anyone care to take a guess at their societal structure?

8:59 – “Pinion of the Sea of Mist.” Oh god fucking damnit. Pinion’s continued relevance to the plot is pretty aggravating – he’s basically chaos itself, and doesn’t do anything to help contrast the various viewpoints of this show against each other

10:10 – And the lobster? Well, I hope they’re going somewhere with this…

10:59 – This actually seems okay. I was fine with Pinion’s character until he went plot-crazy last episode and made a series of terrible and unnecessary decisions. We seem to be back to blunt but pragmatic Pinion now, who’s a solid character

12:02 – “Former humans, you mean.” Very nice that the higher-ups knew, and it wasn’t a big crazy secret that would change everything. Because as Chamber outlined last episode, it wasn’t and it doesn’t

13:15 – Okay, let’s plot out this philosophy a bit

“The weak and the strong support each other through rationality and each have their own ways to contribute and build a society.”

“Happiness is the realization of a circumstance in which the individual renders service to the entire group and the cost-benefit performance of that is at the greatest efficiency. As such, happiness is commensurate with the degree of stability of command.”

Alright, it works better laid out like that. So yes, Kugel is creating a society based around giving all potential resources to the realization of a predetermined societal goal which is supposed to be commensurate with “victory” or, in this case, “happiness.” It’s based on strict hierarchical control and absolute denial of the self. It’s an extreme, but not an unreasonable or unrealistic one

16:23 – Goddamnit Pinion. Their ruse was solid, but still, nice fucking negotiations asshole

18:23 – “According to your work, you receive a fair amount of rations from society.” No safety net here!

19:51 – “He has retreated into his cockpit to become a symbol.” It’s cute that at the top of a pyramid of self-denial, the leader has literally made himself cease to exist

20:44 – “Maybe I should have never left this cockpit.” Curse this ability to examine values from multiple perspectives!

22:15 – Oh come on, zooming the camera in to Amy herself? We get it, Gargantia

And Done

Interesting episode! It consolidated the existing conflicts pretty gracefully, but was mainly interested in talking about Galactic Alliance philosophy. Which is something I’m still working on taking apart – not the philosophy itself, which is pretty straightforward and basically the realization of a military-industrial complex as moral absolute, but the different elements of our own societies that it’s digging at. It rejects currency and individual goals, but idolizes individual effort. No compromise, no safety net, and all accomplishment (and the idea of happiness itself) is tied to realization of a central principle. Honestly, there’s plenty of stuff that reminds me of – theocracies and corporate philosophies seem like the big two, with their system combining a lot of Objectivism with a lot of piety and self-denial, which seems like it’d be an uncomfortable mix, but is certainly working out for them. Either way, not my scene (if you’ve got a few minutes, listen to that one, it pretty much covers the gist of it) – not a bold stance or anything, but I’m a pretty big fan of safety nets and self-actualization, myself.

Suisei no Gargantia – Episode 10

Well, you did it, Gargantia. You slowrolled the butchering for eight fucking episodes. You really did have me going there – the show didn’t really need to go to a super-dark place to make its points about society and identity. But I guess there was no way this Flange fleet separation was going to end well, and this choice is certainly suitably horrific.

What happens now? Ledo and Chamber seem to have a difference of opinion regarding the justice of their mission. Is Ledo’s highest-ranking-officer trick not gonna cut it now that Chamber knows the nature of this sensitive information? They’re obviously playing up the similarities between the Alliance and Hideauze as much as possible – though the Hideauze look more like animals, from the very first episode it seemed clear that the Alliance was meant to represent humanity as a single hivelike organism, with all individual actions filtering down from a central goal. Are the Hideauze any different? Is Gargantia itself the only example of a communal but still individualist society?

Fuck if I know. Let’s find out.

Episode 10

1:17 – The blood on his hands is a metaphor for the blood on his hands.

1:43 – Doesn’t everyone just love this jaunty OP?

5:50 – “Tell everyone we got the treasure! That’ll scare ’em!” Okay, Pinion, this is just dumb as fuck. There has to be a limit to his bravado – his choice to wipe out the nest was both calculated and based on his brother’s death, but this just the action of a lunatic, and reeks of plot necessity

8:55 – “I annihilated the hideauze! I FEAR NOTHING!” You are one damaged kid, Ledo. I really wish the episode would just focus on him, his breakdown is much more interesting than the damn fleet politics

10:23 – “Did Ledo really wipe out the whalesquids?” “Yes. It was a stupid thing to do.” Why? Why, from what they know of the situation, would it be a stupid thing to do? Clearly we know why – but we have a lot more information than them. Is it just respect for animals in general that motivates these guys? Because I have to say, if there were a nest of some generic wild animals standing between the fleet and hundreds of years of human science, culture, and technology, that really wouldn’t be a difficult choice for me. Sorry!

11:47 – “They’re out of ammo! Keep firing!” Reaaally not liking this crazy turn from Pinion. He’s changing from “pragmatic, egotistical, vindictive” to just “straight-up villainous,” and that’s never good for a story

13:05 – “We’ll be invincible!” So Pinion’s basically standing in for the dangerous blind ambition of humanity here? Man, that’s a whole other idea unrelated to the societal stuff, the identity stuff, or the arbitrary human conflict stuff from last episode. If they can actually pull these strands together…

13:26 – Between Flange and the pirate captain, we’ve also now had two leaders in a row swiftly lose their authority in the face of huge personal gain for their subordinates. That actually does contrast nicely against Gargantia’s ideal of humane co-prosperity

15:30 – “Or the first time I got inside Chamber… this Machine Caliber?” Love that little self-correction. Way more subtle of a distinction than the Pinion stuff

16:00 – “It’s a beam weapon similar to my own.” So have Ledo and Chamber basically just created the one superpower capable of actually fighting them on the planet? That might be the last necessary puzzle piece to see the ending  – one easy narrative route it could go from here would be having Ledo flee from the Flange group when asked to raid another nest, and ultimately have to confront them again on the side of Gargantia

16:28 – “Would it work if we harnessed the lightbugs?” Oh boy. If that’s also relevant, the theoretical end to the conflict would be mankind’s weapons of absurd overkill making their own environment unsustainable. Can’t imaginethat ever happening…

18:45 – Good. Chamber’s actually bothering to articulate the very relevant counterargument here – “yeah, sure, they’re humans too. So what? They’re still trying to exterminate us”

21:35 – I’m gonna need to watch through that whole Chamber speech a couple more times, but it’s kinda funny how much of the discussions last week’s episode prompted he’s now just directly articulating

And Done

What the fuck? How the fuck did Kugel get here – is there another gate? That would be… hm.

Man. The first half of that episode was pretty slow, and involved too much cackling villainy from Pinion, but the second half made up for it in spades, going directly into both Ledo’s personal doubts and the philosophical questions framing them. There was plenty to unpack in that last speech of Chamber’s – his points about intellect and civilization were reasonable, but it went all over the place… “beings who seek only happiness and self-gratification don’t require a higher intellect,” for instance. Could he be including the culture of Gargantia there? And talking about “the pride of the human race,” or how the Hideauze are actually a higher life form, or how Ledo will understand after he accumulates more experiences – his ultimate point seems to be the pragmatic “in a war between such linked but diametrically opposed forces, there can only be utter victory or utter extinction, and thus we must fight,” but he certainly took a roundabout route to arrive at it.

Either way, the show keeps introducing new ideas, but last week’s ideas were handled beautifully this time, so I’m very hopefully the introduction of Kugel will be a positive one as well. I got pretty much all the Ledo development I could have asked for, and Chamber proving himself to be quite the unexpected philosopher was just icing on the cake. Bring on the next episode!

Fundamental Biases and Art Evaluation

Management: This one was a really excellent question, and this topic is definitely something that critics need to be more willing to engage with and admit toHopefully this little confession won’t invalidate all my future criticism or anything.

You’ve previously talked about the distinction between personal enjoyment and artistic evaluation, and how what you like isn’t necessarily the most artistically impressive anime. Could you talk a bit about any fundamental biases you’ve noticed in your own anime appreciation/evaluation?

Oh, I’ve got a ton, in both the positive and negative directions.

On the positive side, I’ll definitely slant towards introspective and character-focused works over narrative or theme-based ones, though obviously this can change based on my perception of how well they accomplish what they try to do (Madoka’s all narrative and theme, and I absolutely love it). It generally goes Character->Theme->Narrative for me. I’m also a sucker for great or even decently well-articulated romance, and can follow one well-written and intriguing character through a generally mediocre show. I think pretty much the only things Ano Natsu had going for it were okay dialogue and decent chemistry between the main romantic pair, and that was all I needed to finish it. I also highly value snappy dialogue, and interesting narrative or pacing tricks and experiments (like the mini-arcs Gargantia builds out of various thematic points). I also really like imperfect shows that reveal a very distinctive creative vision, or, at the opposite end, shows that reveal a great mastery of storytelling craft fundamentals.

On the negative end, I could not care much less about setting and worldbuilding – they’re close to irrelevant to the way I evaluate art, and while I prefer a nice background world to a generic one, either way it’s window dressing for me. A character whose personality seems designed to make the audience happy, or moderate general fanservice, will rapidly sink a show for me. Leaden dialogue will sink a show even if the visual design is great and the story fairly well plotted. Narrative or dramatic cheating will often sink a show, particularly if that show wants you to invest in the reality of its world. Visual design in general is secondary to what I like about anime – again, if it’s got it, great, but it’s not what I’m there for and it won’t save a show. Sound design is also gravy – I’m in shows for characters, themes, and storytelling, and while everything outside of the writing can do great things to supplement or raise up those elements, they will pretty much always be supplementary, not central to my appreciation. Some shows do rise above this – KyoAni, the Monogatari franchise, and recently Brain’s Base have done a great deal of their character-building and storytelling through visual cues. This I really appreciate, and would like to see more of.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but everyone has a million of them, and it’s a really interesting topic.

Suisei no Gargantia – Episode 9

Last week’s episode was great, and time is now running out – if this show wants to make any thoughtful and unrushed points, it’s going to have to make extremely good use of the Flange-Gargantia separation. Considering the slow pacing of the show so far, I’m very interested in seeing how we’ll reach a satisfying conclusion in the episodes we have left. Let’s get to it.

Episode 9

0:34 – Well, I guess that answers that question. No wasting time here – directly from the separation to the moment of truth. I like this – last week already gave us all of Amy’s and Ledo’s reservations, we don’t need to repeat that. It’s time to see the consequences of their choices

1:04 – The glow of the whalesquids makes it seem very likely that the theory of them being critical to the glowing waters is correct, especially since this show actually is pretty careful about what that turquoise blue represents thematically

5:45 – Well, that explains that – both Pinion’s personal feelings towards the whalesquid, and his conviction that disturbing their territory is valuable. Seriously, if I didn’t have the meta genre awareness to know these sorts of decisions always turn out badly in media (arguments based on visual thematics don’t really translate well to the real world… “obviously attacking the whalesquids is a bad idea, their glow is the same color as Amy’s eyes!”), I’d be completely on board with Ledo, Pinion, and Flange – their decisions are completely reasonable

8:54 – “Look at all those lightbugs! That spray of water was glowing!” Chances of whalesquid being critical to current earth ecosystem has risen to 78%

9:32 – Oh jeez, what kind of horrific industrial plant will this be? Are we gonna find out how humans created whalesquids, or how they destroyed the original earth? Or will this just be a big explosive deathtrap waiting to happen

11:37 – I actually like Pinion well enough as a character, but I kind of wish they’d seeded this brother stuff a little more consistently throughout. I know the main focus here is more the battle of ideals between Gargantia and Ledo, but I think they could have complicated that a bit more with Pinion’s personal grudge without devaluing his general argument – for instance, if that flashback had come earlier in pieces, people probably would have had less complaints about Pinion’s mission being based too much on conjecture. I get the feeling this is another consequence of the show having multiple writers – it’s difficult to micromanage the distribution of narrative strains like that when you’re not writing the whole story yourself

13:43 – Classified Information. Beautiful. So yeah, that likely confirms a vast chunk of the hypothesized connections – humanity’s own culpability in the state of the earth and creation of the hideauze, a set of information that would only make for less dedicated soldiers, resulting in it being conveniently classified.

17:10 – HOLY SHIT

18:48 – HOLY SHIT

And Done

Ahahahaha. Oh man, slice of life indeed.

So I guess the “humanity created the hideauze” hypothesis was, uh, correct. In a fashion. And it certainly makes sense why the Alliance would classify that information! Also, Ledo basically just single-handedly committed genocide. Are these evolvers actually sentient? The last one seemed to be, but the others didn’t really try to communicate in any way – are they basically saying the original evolvers have shifted to being more primal organisms, or has the show just withheld any hints of sentience for the sake of this reveal?

At the moment, I can’t fully sort out how I feel about this turn. I didn’t really want the show to demonize the Alliance, and I still think Ledo’s actions are reasonable from the position of the life he’s lead, but I feel like literally humanizing the hideauze is too easy of an answer. One thing that is very interesting to me is that Ledo felt absolutely no remorse about murdering all those obviously human pirates earlier on, but is completely devastated by this development – I think we can either chalk that up to character development or to his loss of faith in the great guiding light of the Alliance, or both.

Hm… yeah, overall, I think this works. There’s really no way anyone involved in Flange’s crew could have predicted they be wrong in this way – their actions are all still reasonable, and this basically just makes the larger space conflict one more in a series of conflicts where central powers dehumanize an Other to make for more committed soldiers. The other themes are still intact. We’re good to go.

With that cleared up… holy shit! Ledo just murdered like a thousand post-humans! And learned his life mission has been to murder thousands more! I think the show was basically completely neutral on the idea of the evolvers in the first place, which is awesome – I hate it when shows just pull out “meddling with nature is bad, fuck science,” and here it was obviously not the research itself, but humanity’s own gut reactions to things they don’t understand, as well as just the general fear of the times, that caused the current horrific conflicts in space. That’s awesome. The flashback itself told its story very well, and that scene where Ledo was absentmindedly incinerating the larva was chilling in its own right. And yes, of course, we finally got to that dark, cynical center at the core of every Urobuchi truffle – I honestly wasn’t sure if this show was going to go there, but, well, it went there. I also think we’ve resolved the separation in about as clean a way as possible – at this point, Ledo is clearly through. No possible outcome here could have been more devastating than this – I don’t know how he’ll recover. I am desperately hoping his reunion with Amy comes next episode, because it seems pretty obvious he’s not gonna get over this one alone.

Goddamn you guys. Goddamn.