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Episode 14: Is Narashino Burning?

 

Review by Arshad Adel Abdul-Aal

August 13, 2010

 

Summary

 

Shinji’s father Shintaro Kazama notices that the Type 96’s model kit has a weak right arm joint, just like the real thing. He looks at photo of him and a young Shinji. Chidori fantasizes about going to the beach and being kissed by Sousuke, but remembers that she’s at the Narashino Army Training Ground Festival for the summer vacation. She angrily yells to Kyoko that they should have been at the beach but Kyoko and Mizuki tell her that she didn’t have to come. Shintaro gives a speech to his team and informs them about their challengers who are called the Nerima Red Dragons. A man in an arm slave mascot costume gets ridiculed by kids and Sousuke asks why the Narashino military is weak. Shinji replies that it’s because they have good equipment but not the skills to use them. Shintaro walks up to them and introduces himself to Sousuke, noting that this is the first time Shinji brought a friend to the festival. The girls take snacks from an apron-wearing Type 96 and are approached by Akagi Ryunosuke, a pilot belonging to the Red Dragon team. Mizuki swoons over him but he ignores her and tries to hit on Chidori, who says she’s not interested and storms off. A man comes to tell Akagi it is time. He leaves, and Mizuki swears revenge. The festival arm slave games start with a tug of war, which the Red Dragons easily win. Next is a relay race where the Red Dragons starts using underhanded tactics. This annoys Sousuke and disheartens Shinji further. Just as Narashino is about to lose a ping pong match, Sousuke appears in the apron-wearing Type 96 and uses its spatula to smash the ball back. He chides the Red Dragons for using dirty tricks in a friendly game, and Akagi demands to know who he is. Sousuke appears wearing the mascot costume and accepts Akagi’s challenge. Chidori knocks him off the Type 96 with her fan and demands to know what he’s doing. Sousuke tells her he wants to teach the Red Dragons about fair play and Chidori yells in frustration. Mizuki who hasn’t figured out it was Sousuke under the costume tries to hit on him and gets dragged away by Chidori. The judges declare the ping pong match a draw due to outside interference. Shintaro appears and, not knowing it’s Sousuke either, wants to ask a favor.

 

Shintaro gets on his hands and knees and begs the costumed Sousuke, thinking he’s a Narashino soldier, to lead the team. Shinji yells at his father to admit that it’s because of his weak skills that he was reduced to being a secretary and resorted to this. He says that he became an arm slave fanatic so he can find out about how hard it is to pilot one. He wanted to be proud to say that his father is an arm slave pilot, but now he just hates him. Sousuke slaps Shinji and reminds him that without reinforcements front line soldiers can’t perform to their full potential and his father is the kind of person who leads the reinforcements. Akagi approaches Chidori and asks if she had a fight with her boyfriend. Chidori denies it and Akagi asks her to join him in defeating Sousuke, who he acknowledges as a skilled pilot. Chidori accepts after he assures her of their victory. The final event is a game where groups of 4 arm slaves each, one riding on the shoulders of three others, must pop the balloon on the opponent’s head. Sousuke is riding with one of the soldiers while Shinji rides with his father. The soldier tells Sousuke that Shintaro will take the blame if they lose, but Sousuke tells him that inexperienced pilots can do amazing things sometimes. Chidori complains about the stench in Akagi’s cockpit and he tells her not to worry about it. The soldier tells Sousuke that Shinji and his father used to be close until Shinji found out about his poor piloting skills which strained their relationship. Sousuke says that trust and teamwork are forged on the battlefield. The match starts and Shinji inserts a disc which contains a special operating system for controlling arm slaves. Akagi tells Chidori to wildly throw punches, which she gladly does but Shinji manages to block her attack. She tries to punch again but another group rams them and Akagi deduces that it must be Sousuke. The soldier notes that the Red Dragon’s commander group has an erratic punching pattern and Sousuke orders two groups to protect the Kazamas. Akagi uses the Red Stream attack where he uses two groups as a running ramp and lunges towards Sousuke, who’s barely able to dodge it. The soldier says that they lost every year because of that attack. Chidori’s having fun despite Akagi’s constant attempts to grope her. The defense groups tell the Kazamas to fall back, but Shintaro won’t leave them behind, which surprises Shinji. One by one the Narashino groups get their balloons popped. Shintaro admits to Shinji that he is weak but he will not retreat and asks Shinji to fight with him, to which Shinji accepts. Narashino mounts a counterattack and evens the odds with the Red Dragons. Akagi decides to take out the command group with the Red Stream attack and Sousuke can’t dodge in time. Shintaro remembers the Type 96’s weak right arm and tells Shinji to aim for it. Shinji breaks off Akagi’s arm and Sousuke takes the chance to pop his balloon, winning the match. The soldiers thank Sousuke and Shinji reconciles with his father. On the train ride home, Shinji says that he now realizes how important his father’s job is and thanks Sousuke for helping them win. Sousuke refuses to take credit and Chidori bemoans not spending the summer at the beach.

 

Commentary

 

Here we got some insight on Shinji’s character and his relationship with his father, as well seeing some sporting events performed by arm slaves. The latter would have been more fun to watch if they had fleshed out the matches a bit. But as it is it’s mostly a character development episode with several nods to Gundam like the ‘three times faster’ meme and the always thinly veiled Jet Stream attack. And speaking of the former, ugh. At the risk of sounding clichéd, I found Chidori to be three times more annoying than usual this episode. When Sousuke isn’t following her, she’s following HIM and then spends all day whining about it. Was there really a point to her joining the opposing team just to take out her frustration? I don’t see why her character has to be such an obnoxious tsundere to contrast Sousuke.

 

Overall Rating

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3 out of 5 stars
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Full Metal Panic Episode 14 Full Metal Panic Episode 14

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Buy the collection (eps 1-24) on Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon

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