Hina is properly introduced as part of the Zogilia army as we see her “reunion” with Aoba as well as Dio in this episode during air battle no less. How she got to be on the enemy side doesn’t matter as much as how she eventually came to become presumably, friends with the enemy. The story itself finally starts moving along as none other than Hanazawa Kana’s Nasu Mayuka gives us more contextual information.It’s an energy battle. When is it ever not – anime reflects the real world after all. During the first half of the 21st century, a revolutionary energy source known as “nectoribium” was discovered. The Zogilians who were experts in excavation, amassed much territory and with it, the nectoribium that probably helped build a powerful and strong army with it. A group of countries banded together forming the Confederate Treaty of Liberty Alliance to meet against the Zogilians’ strong forces and developed a new type of combat system with this objective in mind – the Coupling system.
Unfortunately, not much about the mechanics of the Coupling system is explained – is it cerebral? Genetic? Hopefully later episodes will explain how 2 complete strangers – Dio and Aoba, make such a good couple (ship them if you must). The system itself was flawed and adverse reactions of test candidates meant the whole project was halted until 2 years ago when it was secretly resumed. Perhaps that is what the secret research on board the alliance ship is all about – according to Mayuka, Aoba’s Luxon is a prototype constantly being improved. But with this system being highly classified information and Aoba being technically a civilian in a military operation, it’s no wonder there are trust issues between not just Aoba and Dio but with the rest of the team too. Separately, it does seem a coupling is so rare though and that would explain why everyone’s so happy that the coupling between Aoba and Dio is a success!
Alas peacetime never lasts long in mecha. After showing off the Alliance’s Coupled valiancers in the last episode, the Zogilia squad has made its move first this time, bringing with them their own new toys, with the aim of capturing the new coupling system valiancer mechas. Having to face Alfried Gallant (Morikawa Toshiyuki-sama), star of the Zogilia army bearing new Nectoribium weapons – Nectar Cannon, Nectar Rifle, is really unfortunate indeed. Captain Conrad (Sugita Tomokazu) leads his squad out and amazingly, leaves Dio to deal with lieutenant commander Gallant. Is Dio THAT capable? How? Why? Hopefully we’ll find out in later episodes.
Aoba is of course sent out to help Conrad et. al. and it finally dawns on Aoba that he’s in a real war, even as he’s still trying to sort out the whole time-traveling issue and wondering where Hina’s disappeared to in the time jump. But he need not worry much longer as very quickly, Dio is engaged in close combat with Hina, Gallant’s best disciple in the Zogilia army.
Going offence on Gallant and defence from Hina, Dio and Aoba have to couple in order to power up. The Coupling system lets both of them share bio-information such that Aoba becomes acquainted with the knowledge of driving the valiancer and can fight off Hina despite being a rookie. It also allows the valiancer to exceed its conventional limits by increasing speed and power. Which explains why when Aoba (stupidly) forced a decoupling, the adverse effects strongly affects Dio, who will very likely be bitching taking it up with Aoba in the next episode. But why did Aoba force a decoupling in the first place, jeopardising the whole squad? Because as he destroyed Hina’s cockpit door, he saw her and wanted to rescue/capture her. And therein is enough reason for the Alliance to treat Aoba as a Zogilia ally/spy.
On a bigger plot level, I’m hoping for a proper explanation as to why the Coupling System was resumed and how does coupling work such that Dio and Aoba suffer no adverse effects to it? The story should get thicker but for now, I’m just reeling (read: kya-ing) from the fact that it’s Morikawa Toshiyuki vs Hayami Sho here J Pat on the back for Uchiyama Kouki who’s back in form from his Soul Eater days – he sounded a bit like Kamiya Hiroshi in those battle scenes. I just realised he’s also the MC in an actual Gundam franchise (Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn) so I might start watching that just to compare if his protagonist voice sounds the same…