Looks like Tokyo ESP is falling into a routine. In one episode the bad guys beat up the good guys. In the next, the good guys beat up the bad. Episode 5 falls into the former category, where we’re introduced to another dull villain with a good super power. He calls himself “The Professor,” and his speeches are as bad as the name he gave himself. When waiting for the good guys to arrive he does things like play pianos in the jungle–both illusions, but they show his crappy sense of style. What he wants is for everyone to kneel before him, of course, but right now he wants an esper zone for the city. To that effect he has a tanker floating just off of Tokyo Tower and when the good guys arrive to figure out what’s going on, they’re more or less taken care of. However, I don’t think the villains expected Azuma to rip his hand free from the sword in an effort to escape, proving that the good guys are better at taking pain than the bad guys. We’re also supposed to ponder the Minami/Azuma relationship and their convoluted background, but she could just dive off that tanker for all I care. They’re not handling that part of the story very well.
Sword Art Online 2 5 has the inevitable and unwanted “You’re a guy?!?!” scene early on. I suppose it’s good to get it out of the way, just so there’s no further misunderstanding between Kirito and Sinon. I wish, however, that they didn’t have to put it in a dressing room, with an overly long bit where Sinon stands there, shocked, in her underwear. I suppose the show couldn’t resist, but they stretch it too far. I wished for a moment that it was another series, like Love Hina, and Sinon would kick his ass the way Naru regularly did to Keitaro. But afterwards the episode gets much better, when Kirito gets his first round opponent, and the first actual battle he’s had in GGO.
It’s better because we see what Kirito does best: fight and strategize. We see him at an apparent disadvantage, trying to figure out what to do and using his experience to decide, and his skills to carry out his plan. It moves the plot forward too, as Death Gun (god I hate that name, I hate even typing it) takes notice and confronts Kirito after the match. Kirito realizes then what he’s dealing with, and he goes into a serious funk. This sequence also goes on too long. We didn’t need to see ALL of those people from the SAO game in a flashback. And you would have thought by now that Kirito had come to terms with the killing (in self defense) he did back then.
But in episode 6, Sinon, his new enemy, settles him down, somewhat. Kirito’s behavior in the next round is nearly suicidal, like he doesn’t realize he’s playing in a game, and then he just snaps. It’s a powerful moment, though I can’t place my finger on why. Was he blowing off steam, or had he come to a conclusion? But we’ve had a lot of Kirito’s problems so far and it’s a relief to kick back and watch Sinon in a match, winning easily, and listening to her thoughts for a change. But I didn’t know what to make of it when the two meet up in the finals. Kirito doesn’t try to dodge a thing, which is fine because Sinon is so flustered that she can’t shoot straight, but still, did he not dodge because he didn’t care, or because he knew she couldn’t hit him? At the end, after the duel within the battle, we get a good scene where Kirito realizes he’s acted rather badly to Sinon in a number of ways, and Sinon realizes that she’s not the only one around here who’s actually killed. So they bond while remaining enemies. So what happens next? Will Kirito go back to the real world and report that he’s got a lead on death gun? Well, probably. After all, he’s not really driven by revenge, or a need to prove himself. Maybe Sinon should kill Death Gun. That would be an interesting twist.
I’m getting amused by the alien weapons in Aldnoah.Zero. First, they’re weird-looking. Take a gander at that mecha the woman is piloting, especially the fist-missiles. I kept wanting to say “Robot Punch!” They look absolutely ridiculous. Since I’m assuming the Aldnoah tech they’re using doesn’t have to be in that shape to work, and no two we’ve seen have had the same weapons, the fact that her mecha looks like a fat, golden octopus on legs with fists at the end is her personal style choice. Which means it’s impossible to take her seriously as a fighter or a human, or even a martian. Also, once you get over the shock, and their destructiveness, they’re actually kind of easy to get around. Inaho doesn’t have to think very hard about what to do about them: force them off their course by firing explosives at them.
Which brings up a point that Marito makes: these glorious warrior-nobles are just as inexperienced in actual warfare as the humans are. If the humans can continue to think through the problems they can still hold their own. Marito clearly had this idea when he got in that one mecha before the flashbacks got too much for him again; Inaho isn’t the only bright mind around. Meanwhile the Martians are too busy puffing out their chests and acting contemptuous to notice. This is a lot of fun to watch; ragtag underdogs beating back a smug, cocky enemy is appealing. Good thing, too, because I’m still not crazy about most of the characters. I wonder if the show cares. Just so we hate the bad guys.