Making a Decision 「決断の時」
For a 12-episode anime, the pacing is spot-on in this episode as main character Aoba is made to decide if he will fight for the Alliance by joining the army. He does of course join the Alliance although I wonder if things are going a little too easily well in Buddy Complex.Remain a Civilian or Join the Military
Dio is royally (not an exaggeration – read below) pissed. Big time. As is expected, he’s mad at Aoba for putting them all in danger – forced decoupling as well as reaching out to the enemy by very stupidly opening his cockpit, endangering Captain Conrad Lee who intersects the Nectar Rifle from directly hitting Aoba and the prototype (i.e. very precious) Luxon valiancer. But Aoba is a civilian after all, albeit a time-travelling one. So he can’t be expected to understand the gravity of his actions especially in the midst of a war. Having suffered massive damage from the Nectar Cannon, the Cygnus alliance ship heads to the Narashino base for repairs (interestingly, Log Horizon’s episode this week also had a battleship leave from Narashino port). Aoba’s from pre-war Narashino and so in this episode, explores the present day Narashino seeking out his home, his family and any semblance of time from 70 years ago. War has changed the city and even his old school was forced shut a few years ago. With nothing left, Aoba figures he has nothing to lose and so decides his best option is to join the army. Thankfully he does though because otherwise he’d have been shot by the Alliance in order to protect the highly confidential Coupling system project. Wow Alliance. Wow. Guess that’s how the military works…
Aoba the Saviour (trope!)
It seems like an easy decision Aoba made in deciding to join the Alliance formally but it actually isn’t. Aoba sees the consequence of his actions when an injured Lee is carried out of his mecha, leaving Aoba to question if he should return to pilot Luxon when all he does so far is get people hurt. Dio needs Aoba to couple and power up. Without Aoba, the whole crew might’ve perished in the Nectar cannon already and as some of our characters point out, it’s thanks to Aoba getting out there that they live to see another day. It’s thanks to him that Dio has enhanced fighting capabilities, in spite of his illogical actions. Lee’s gone as far as to call Aoba their saviour. I’m not going to argue the obvious storyline anymore because with just 12 episodes, there’s no safer way to play this anime out than through the saviour-route (trope) all the other Gundam franchises have proven work spectacularly. Aoba is officially here to rescue the day – he has the dark tragic factor since he’s established he has nothing to lose, only he can work Luxon thanks to the Coupling system only he and Dio seem to be compatible with and he has a girl to rescue.
Hina vs Mayuka?
All along it’s easy to suspect that Aoba and Hina are the show’s couple, potentially with Bizon or Dio forming the love triangle. Along then comes Mayuka or as Aoba informally calls her Mayuka-chan, in spite of her status as an army officer. She’s volunteered to observe and keep an eye on Aoba as they explore Narashino and from her blushes, it’s more than expected that she’s got a thing for the main character. I’m doubtful she gets a chance over the next 8 episodes though what with Hina still an enemy and the greater mystery of the Coupling system that needs to be fleshed out.
We learn that forced decoupling is extremely dangerous as it can cause permanent brain damage. So the fact that Dio and Aoba are fine in spite of it, begs the question of just what relationship do they have with one another? For Coupling to be successful both pilots must merge their consciousness which means having absolute trust and acceptance of each other; emotions cannot get in the way. With Dio pissed off at Aoba (I don’t blame him, Aoba IS the ex-civilian with the shady past and attempted to contact the enemy), their emphater (what?) levels could not stabilise when needed this time around as the Zogilians attacked a Weinberg family aircraft in a bid to capture them as political hostage.
Up to now, we know Dio as the ace pilot with strict adherence to military rules. As it turns out, Dio is a Weinberg, one of the Alliance’s most influential families. So why is the Weinberg young master fighting in the army? And why do all anime trope on the bad Father-Son relationship all the time???
With a little speech by Aoba about knowing what it’s like to lose one’s family because he’s discovered his own is gone and probably never to be seen again, Aoba and Dio make up (after a couple’s tiff) and suddenly, all is right in their emphater-sphere-thing. That was just too easy Sunrise. Too easy. And how can Aoba NOT be emotional giving that speech? Even if he didn’t have the time to be emotional because they’re in mid-engagement with the enemy, I’d have expected Sunrise to give him just 5s of emotional time so it adds impact to the drama of things. He’s a high schooler too for goodness’ sake! And he’s easily killed the enemy WITH NO QUALMS?!?!?
With 8 episodes to go and Hina now incarcerated because an enemy Alliance pilot knew her name, it’s probably safe to say Buddy Complex won’t end well. If it were a 2-cour anime then maybe there’s leeway for each character’s background to be properly meted out and cleverly woven into the plot. Nonetheless, I’m sticking around because Morikawa-sama’s Lieutenant Colonel Alfried is just too cool to not swoon, Sakupyon’s teenage angsty voice is a welcome relief from his recent works and Hayami Sho’s in charge.