Nice Coupling 「ナイスカップリング」
Oh dear… mecha shows can sometimes bring out the fujoshi in viewers when 2 main characters go through war and develop friendship, camaraderie, mutual loyalty etc. the ingredients are just there to spawn numerous fanfictions on the Internet. Rarely does a show so blatantly thrust you with said ingredients – Nice Coupling? First Proposal? Connect with Dio? Oh dear Buddy Complex oh dear.
As we ended in episode 01, the show goes straight to battle at sea between the Dio, Conrad and Jarl on one hand defending a research laboratory conducted on a battleship, and Bizon, Tarjim (pay attention to Shimazaki Nobunaga or you’ll miss him – he’s like this generation’s Namikawa Daisuke) and Lasha (Tamura Mutsumi) who are bent on finding out what’s on the ship, specifically any new mecha machines the enemy is working on. Plot-wise it’s simple enough. Aoba has travelled 70 years into the future, a time when Japan is part of the Confederate Treaty of Liberty Alliance (looks to be mainly made up of democratic societies). For the last 2 years, they have been at war with the Great Zogilia (playing to trope, is made up on communistic countries). The fighting mainly happens between both sides’ young pilots (again, mostly male) in mecha suits. And why they are fighting will probably serve as the background to which the complex romantic liaisons will arise throughout the series.
Episode 02 lets on that Dio’s Bradyon has lost his previous partner Marcus and now, Aoba is piloting the Luxon, which without surprise has a high match compatibility with Dio in spite of both not knowing the other. Talk about moving on quickly Dio! Aoba isn’t really piloting Luxon because he doesn’t actually know how to. In a pinch, our Commander Kuramitsu Gengo (Hayami Sho) orders the emergency coupling between them with the hope that Aoba will at least get out of danger because what coupling seems to do is allow a sharing of knowledge and skills between the pilots, which Dio can thus share with Aoba. With Dio’s “First Proposal” forcing Aoba to shout out “Connect with Dio”, the coupling becomes a success and both mecha’s powers are maximised to new never before seen levels.
When the Zogilia group retreats, a very confused Aoba is arrested by none other than Dio, who has no knowledge of Hina (their matchmaker), further confusing Aoba, so much so he semi-pouts that she lied about Dio since, ‘he wasn’t waiting at all’ for him like she said back in the time worm hole. So where is Hina and just who is she? We know she’s not on the majority-female deck (isn’t it always? Gundam SEED, Destiny, 00, Kakumeiki). And then we get to the last scene with Zogilia’s line-up of pilots, zooming in on one in particular who looks like Hina. No wonder Bizon was so pissed. Episode 03 will likely expand on the Hina storyline and I’m looking forward to seeing how overt the BL undertones get next week because honestly, it’s so cheesy I just have to see how Sunrise is gonna carry it through.
With regards to everything else – not to put a damper on the mecha design but… the powered-up version of Luxon and Bradyon look like flies… the art and effects seem to herald from the Gundam SEED era and from the looks of what we’ve seen in episode 02, that style is here to stay. It might be a budget issue or just that Sunrise is lazy or it could genuinely be going for old-school mecha charm here. Kudos to Uchiyama Kouki this week for his no-nonesense Dio and welcome back Hayami Sho! I miss your suave man-in-charge voice~