On her day off, Asami runs into Funasaka, who annoys her into attending an event with him. It turns out to be an exhibition starring Japan’s giant robots, Drew and Morgan. The robots, once the peak of technological achievement, suffered from fuel ineffiency. After the factories which built them were damaged by quicksand, the government confiscated the robots and turned them into museum attractions.
Funasaka reminisces about his childhood dream of becoming a robot pilot. Meanwhile, the bitter former pilot of Morgan, with assistance by Logos, successfully steals the robot. Kuroki and Sena are confident that their high-tech Willwears can take out the slow Morgan, but the pilot uses Logos-supplied technology to put them to sleep.
Funasaka finds Dr. Kasumigaseki, the developer of the robots, living in a nursing home and begs him to fix the long-immobile Drew. Drew’s entire crew shows up as well, and they repair the robot. Funasaka pilots Drew, but quickly starts losing to Morgan. Luckily, Morgan runs out of fuel and Kuroki and Sena are able to apprehend the rogue pilot. Unfortunately, they learned that Dr. Kasumigaseki has died, though they celebrate that he was able to work with his beloved robots one last time.
None of the problems that I’ve been having with Active Raid have diminished. Logos still play a minor role and have next to no development, the government’s sinister actions and overall crappy condition of the world (massive quicksand damage is mentioned in this episode) are only hinted at, and the episodic conflicts have little to differentiate them from one another. Taken as part of a larger, so far disappointing, whole, this episode is little more than average.
Taken on its own, however, this is probably Active Raid’s strongest episode yet. It put the spotlight on Funasaka, who has remained a relatively minor presence so far, and revealed him to be an extremely interesting character – far more so than Sena or Kuroki, at least in my opinion. Best of all, however, was the show’s take on the anime classic of the giant robot. Instead of cutting-edge technology piloted by children or young adults (usually with more bravery than sense) they are antique, inefficient relics piloted by the old men those kids grew up to be. It was a fascinating look at the genre, and I absolutely loved it. Though the episode was a little dull and exposition-heavy at the beginning (especially the long shot of Funasaka and Asami riding the elevator while he explains the history of robots to her) the battle at the end was absolutely perfect, as Funasaka won not through epic finishing moves but simply through remembering how long it took for a robot to run out of fuel. The perp-of-the-week was also a lot more fleshed out than usual, getting a personality and a backstory and serving as an interesting foil for Funasaka.
I did, however, have two new complaints for this episode. One, the crowd of ‘robot otaku’ who came to see Morgan and Drew’s exhibition were entirely male. Really, Japan? I know the stereotype of the otaku=male is a time-honored tradition, but it would have been cool to see a few older women among the crowd too. Two, supposed “main character” Asami has been playing an increasingly minor role as the show goes on. Her last major role was in Episode 3, and she seems to now serve solely as the “newbie who needs to be exposition-ed at” and occasional provider of deadpan comments. As next episode seems to focus on another minor squad member, Haruka, it remains to be seen if the Asami problem will be fixed.
Had this episode been part of a different show, I might have given it full marks. Unfortunately, despite its triumph, it -is- another contribution to Active Raid’s glacial plot, so I can only give it this many Dios:
Squad member Haruka is spending her day off train-watching when she is called in to handle a rogue Willwear user attacking the governor’s office. The perpetrator is Komari, a member of the opposing gubernatorial candidate’s staff. Aided by Logos, he hopes to attack and harm the current governor. Haruka is outraged when she sees that Kobari is using train tracks to travel through the city, and quickly comes up with a plan.
However, the governor rejects her plan. He declares his intent to resolve the situation peacefully using a new “harmless criminal suppression rocket.” Unit 8 counters by pointing out that his plan violates aviation laws, while theirs does not. We finally get to see Haruka’s Willwear as she suits up to take charge of the mission. Aided by Kyoukai, Haruka sends electrical charge through the rails themselves to disable the enemy Willwear’s shield. She then talks him down by…monologuing about her love of trains and promising to help Kobari’s ill daughter.
Displeased by the man’s weakness, Logos hacker Dog remotely explodes the Willwear, killing Kobari. The candidate Kobari worked for commits suicide, and the episode ends on a somber note with the Unit 8 members feeling lost and sad.
It’s ironic that these two episodes ended up in a double review, as in many ways Episode 7 felt like a clone of Episode 6. Minor member of Unit 8 takes the spotlight, uses their unique passion/hobby to defeat criminal-of-the-week. (Episode 5 was a bit like that as well with Madoka’s gambling, but did focus more on the team as a whole than these two.) The only real difference was Episode 6’s triumphant end versus Episode 7’s tragic one, which made for a nice contrast. This was the first episode where Unit 8 really failed to resolve the situation, and it clearly hits them hard – especially Haruka. I hope this isn’t glossed over in future episodes, because that would seem pretty cheap.
This episode also gave us something I’d been hoping for from Active Raid for a while – the closest look so far at the less-than-stellar government of this world. We get a lot of focus on the governor, who outright admits to being an incompetent, believes a giant missile can really be a “harmless anti-criminal rocket” and tries to take control of the situation from Unit 8 just to make himself look better. With the opposing candidate dead, it seems that this governor will be a recurring thorn in Unit 8’s side. While Mythos only had a single line, it was a rather significant line giving more development to the Logos plotline as well – another hacker (presumably the one with the snake icon) had given Komari the Willwear without Mythos’s permission, clearly indicating strife within the organization.
Less positive was the other “new” thing we got in this episode – our first look at Haruka’s Willwear, Oscar III. I’ll just say it now – it features the most ridiculous design of any Willwear so far. Unlike Asami’s, it has an unneccessarily “feminine” design, with a prominent bust and curvy hips – as well as what looks like pink rabbit ears. Yeah. Not the most intimidating-looking “police vehicle”.
Overall, while their structures were very similar, I felt that Episode 6’s self-contained story was stronger while Episode 7 contributed more to the overall plot. Trains just aren’t as interesting as Active Raid’s take on robots, and Haruka’s monologue about them to Komari – backed by overly sad-sounding music – just came off as melodramatic. So, not as many Dios as Episode 6, but a solid score overall: