This review brought to you by: flying holographic sharks

 

Episode 8

A mysterious, silent Willwear user begins showing up at various times to help the squad. Unlike the hapless Unit 8, the cool vigilante Willwear soon gains mass popularity as well as a nickname: the Ulti-Maid. Kuroki suggests that they get their mind off the incident with a drinking party, where he, Sena, Asami and Haruka run into Miho, Sena’s acquaintance from the USDF – who actually turns out to be his ex-girlfriend.

Luckily for Sena, they are called away from the awkward dinner to subdue out-of-control construction machinery. Once again, the Ulti-maid appears – this time, openly identifying herself as Miho. Rin learns that the USDF wants to become the only part of the government able to use Willwears, robbing the police and Unit 8 of the ability. Meanwhile, Miho and Sena have a vicious fight as she calls him “the only stain on her perfect life” and storms out on him.

Their fight continues as they are both assigned to a bomb case. Miho becomes obsessed with hearing Sena apologize to her for all of his perceived slights. Despite their argument, they work well together and defuse the bomb. However, Ulti-maid is remotely taken over by an outside source and attacks Sena. The USDF intervenes, subdues Miho and drags her away as she calls out to Sena. Later, Sena watches as Miho publicly denies any connection between Ulti-maid and the USDF.

Ulti-maid may be the most badass Willwear yet

Well, the first thing I have to say about this episode is…

PLOT.

Plot. PLOT. PLOT!

We finally get a -big- glimpse into Active Raid’s overarching plot in this episode. Specifically, that Logos is not Unit 8’s only enemy – the USDF is also actively working against them, with the goal of removing their access to Willwears (which would make them completely incapable of doing their jobs). I also found it quite interesting to note that no Logos member was actively shown controlling Miho’s Willwear – it could have been them, sure, but my guess at this point would be it was another trick by the USDF to discredit Unit 8 – or even to weaken their fighting power, as Sena’s Willwear seems to have been damaged in the attack.

We also got lots of other small hints into larger things going on: Kyoukai needing to consult with Sena about something, and Hinata (Rin’s sister) learning that her school friend wants to get in touch with high-ranking government authorities for some reason. (I’m still really suspicious of that guy. He gets too much focus for someone who’s just a school chum of a tertiary characters.) And the next episode preview shows Logos members actually DOING things. Hooray!

Don’t ship them don’t ship them don’t….too late.

Before I get into the other big theme of this episode, I want to talk about several other little things I liked about it. First, we finally got to see Funasaka’s Willwear. I like that the semi-clothed “putting on the Willwear” sequences are equal-opportunity, regardless of the age or gender of the character. I hope we get to see Rin’s (hinted at in the opening sequence) soon as well. Second, we got some nice bonding/out of work interaction between Sena, Kuroki, Haruka and Asami. Though they still bicker, Sena and Kuroki are really getting along well these days, and it’s refreshing to see after the first couple episodes of constant fighting. Lastly, Haruka and Kuroki being denied Willwear clearance due to blood alcohol content was a neat little touch – I like the moments that show that Unit 8 actually is very strict and rule-abiding, despite their horrible reputation. It’s also a nice nod to actual Japanese laws (you can’t drive in Japan if you’ve had even a single drink).

Now, as for the episode’s other main theme – Miho and Sena’s relationship. Surprisingly, I didn’t mind it as much as I thought, despite not being a huge fan of romance in general. I think it’s actually handled very maturely. Neither person is shown to be without blame or flaws, and the relationship’s falling apart is clearly shown to be a result of both of their mistakes. It’s refreshing to see both a girl and a guy allowed to be a frankly awful partner – Sena with his perfectionism and Miho with her intense fixation on making Sena apologize. They were both allowed to be in the wrong, and I loved that. My only issue was that the unfinished “I…I…” at each other when they were dragged away at the end of the episode was pretty cliched and more than a little melodramatic.

Still, though, a strong episode and a thoroughly enjoyable watch. I think it’s safe to say that Active Raid’s episode quality really is increasing. Out of 5 Dios:

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I love how much depth Miho has despite her brief appearances

Episode 9

Logos hacker Dog goes against Mythos’s plan by using a Willwear to rob a bank, distracting the patrons with…holographic fish and sharks, as the Willwear he uses was originally designed for fishing purposes. Irritated, Mythos has Dog assassinated, but Dog uses an ice-powered bomb to survive.

Elsewhere, Rin and her friend, government employee Inagi, discover a file that supposedly contains evidence of the governor’s corrupt dealings. A now rogue Dog shows up at Inagi’s office building, demanding to know the truth about the governor working with Logos to discredit his political opponents. The governor promises to tell him if he can get the file back from Inagi. He escapes with the file, but is chased down by Kuroki, who fails to catch him.

Dog abandons his mission to go on a date with a girl he meets, allowing Unit 8 to determine his location. Rin suits up in her Willwear, using its superior speed to retrieve the file and subdue Dog. However, Dog accidentally detonates his last ice bomb, putting himself into a coma. With Dog’s capture, the government is forced to publicly acknowledge the existence of Logos. Inagi reveals to Rin his plan to run for governor, while Mythos’s ally Bird reveals “herself” to be Hinata’s friend, high school student council president Tomoki Hachijo.

Oscar V is pretty cute

MORE PLOT! Yes, it seems Active Raid’s plot has kicked into high gear over the past two episodes, as we’ve gone from episodic criminals-of-the-week to Logos getting directly involved in things. Between Logos, the governor, and the USDF, it really seems like Unit 8 has enemies on all sides. And the reveal of Generic Student Council President actually being the hacker Bird raises the question of just who – if anyone – our heroes can trust.

Needless to say, I loved this episode. Hotheaded Dog is much more interesting to me than the still rather generic (and problematic, with his still unnamed and unexplained young girl sidekick) Mythos, and as he had already been around for a few episodes, made a much better villain than any of the episodic criminals. His fish-themed Willwear was a perfect match for his ridiculous personality, and I absolutely loved him stopping in the middle of an important mission to go on a date with a random girl. (She was such a great one-shot character as well, with her deadpan attitude and nonchalant reaction to being rescued by Kuroki).

It was also great to see Rin’s Willwear, which distinguished itself from the other Oscar units with its high speedh. It was a lot less unnecessarily feminized than Haruka’s unit, which was also refreshing to see. Now we’ve seen all of the Willwear units shown in the opening, though I do hold some hope that we might get to see Madoka or Kyoukai suit up someday! (Kyoukai especially, given his already present love for Willwear). We did get some hints of a love triangle between Kuroki, Rin and Inagi, which made me yawn because Inagi seems to be taking Student Council’s place as “generic positive male” after Student Council’s villainous reveal. However, it was minor enough in this episode to not be an issue.

Not all of Active Raid’s problems have entirely vanished in these two strong episodes. Asami is still extraordinarily bland, and now probably has the least development, as she – along with Kyoukai – is one of the only members not to have gotten a focal episode. Mythos is also still a pretty terrible character, but post-reveal Bird and especially Dog make up for it for now. At least we haven’t had any more creepy incest-subtext scenes with Mythos, which does make him more bearable. And I do hope Dog doesn’t stay in his coma forever, because he’s the most interesting member of Logos by far.

These two episodes exceeded my expectations for this series, so I’m feeling generous. Full marks on this one from me!

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Dog how on -earth- does your hair work

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