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Episode 2: Hard Chase

 

Review by Chris Guanche

April 15, 2008

 

Summary

 

As Alto opens fire on the red Vajra mecha, Ozma enters the city and notices that Gilliam isn't piloting the Messiah. Alto rushes forward while he fires at the mecha, forcing it to fall back a bit. Ozma wonders who's piloting the Messiah, and he's shocked when he spots Ranka on the ground near the battle. Alto runs out of ammo, and the Vajra mecha attacks and knocks him down. Ranka then has a memory of a Vajra mecha destroying a spaceship. Ozma attacks the Vajra and asks Alto where Gilliam is, but Alto in turn asks what these monsters are. Ozma pushes the Vajra mecha away and fires a volley of missiles at it, but it doesn't destroy it. Michael arrives in his Messiah, and Ozma tells Alto to escape with Ranka. Alto picks up Ranka with the Messiah's arm and begins to move away, but his path is blocked by a yellow Vajra mecha. Alto then heads in the other direction and jumps to another street to avoid the enemy fire. Michael snipes at the Vajra mecha, and Alto flies up against a building before taking to the sky. The yellow Vajra mecha blasts a hole in the hull and hits the Messiah's arm. As Ranka is sucked closer to the breach, Alto struggles to reach her. His amount of thrust isn't enough to reach her, so he jumps out of the cockpit and grabs her. Alto flies back inside as the hull breach is closed, and Michael snipes the yellow mecha. Ranka cries in Alto's arms, and he reassures her that it'll be ok. When the red mecha stops moving for a moment, Ozma rushes in and stabs it with his knife. In space, Luca observes the Vajra with his recon Messiah and reports to Ozma that they're retreating. Michael tells Ozma that Alto is landing and asks if he's going as well, but Ozma answers that Ranka can't know about his job. On a hillside overlooking the city, Alto is surprised that Ranka's eardrums weren't shattered, so she explains that she's a quarter Zentradi. Alto says she's tougher than she looks, and she thanks him for saving her again. He recalls how Gilliam was killed and says he's not the one she should thank. He then speeds off without giving her his name and heads back to the city. At the sight of the destruction, Alto vomits on the ground. Howard tells Leon Mishima that they'll have to rely more on Birla than before. Leon then gives Howard a casualty report, as well as plans to counter information leaks. In space, another Vajra mecha hides on the underside of the Island 3 colony ship. The next day, Nanase goes to school and overhears people talking about Alto showing up at Sheryl's concert.

 

During class, Cathy and two armed soldiers arrive and take Alto away. At a medical facility, Ranka tells Ozma that she didn't need an exam because she feels fine, and he tells her it's a precaution. He then teases her about getting poked with a needle, and she reminds him about searching for the Messiah pilot, who she described as a male princess. She doesn't know if he was with NUNS or SMS, but she wants Ozma to find him. As she leaves, Ozma thinks to himself that he wants to find him too. Just then, Cathy arrives with Alto in tow. Elsewhere, Sheryl ignores Grace's recital of her schedule as she desperately digs through her luggage. She asks about the video from yesterday, but Grace tells her it hasn't arrived yet. Alto asks why he's having blood drawn, and Cathy explains it's standard procedure since he came in contact with an alien, which Ozma overhears while eavesdropping outside. Cathy then recites Alto's personal history, including his background as a kabuki performer. Cathy then tells Alto that flying a Valkyrie was too much, so the military is planning an indictment. Alto tries to explain that there was nothing else he could do at the time, so Cathy offers him an alternative: joining the military. Ozma then walks in and sarcastically comments that the military must have personnel problems if it's recruiting rookies like Alto. Cathy angrily tells Ozma that this has nothing to do with him since he quit the military, but he counters that it does since Alto busted up a Messiah belonging to SMS. Ozma then takes Alto with him on a rough car ride through the city. Alto asks Ozma why a military subcontractor has the Messiah, since it should still be under test trials. Ozma asks him what it was like piloting the Messiah and explains that they're doing tests for the manufacturer. As Sheryl dresses, she speaks with Cathy over the phone and explains that she needs to find Alto. At the SMS base, Alto is impressed that civilians have such advanced equipment. Alto asks Ozma why he brought him to the base, and he realizes that he's standing next to Gilliam's Messiah. At the hotel, Grace notices that Sheryl is gone and sees a message that she left on the mirror written with lipstick. Sheryl looks for the SMS headquarters on the streets, and she hears Ranka singing "Sagitarrius" as she runs by. In space, the Vajra mecha emerge from hiding under Island 3. Several SMS employees surround Alto, and Ozma explains that survivors are supposed to tell them what happened to those who die in battle. A battle alert comes in, and Ozma tells Luca and Michael that Skull Squadron will be fighting in memory of Gilliam. Alto asks Ozma to let him pilot a Valkyrie, so Ozma punches him in the face and orders staff to take Alto away. Sheryl, in disguise, talks about herself with Ranka. Ranka explains that she likes Sheryl's confidence and wants to be like her, even though it's not possible. Sheryl and Ranka arrive at a park with a space view and watch several Messiahs take off. Sheryl notices Ranka's expression and asks if she knows a pilot, so Ranka answers that Ozma used to be a pilot and has a desk job now. Ranka begins to sing "Diamond Crevasse," and when Sheryl begins to sing as well, Ranka realizes who she is. Alto walks up to them, and Sheryl is happy to have found him. Just then, the red Vajra mecha closes in outside.

 

Commentary

 

The series continues here with some fast-paced action. Not surprisingly, with Alto being a total rookie, he doesn't manage to do much real damage to the Vajra mecha. However, he does manage to rescue Ranka, in a scene that very much mirrors one from the original series, where Minmay is knocked away from the Valkyrie in midair and Hikaru rescues her. There's also a Macross 7 homage here, as attentive viewers will hear Fire Bomber's "Charging Love Heart" playing on the radio in Ozma's car. There are some interesting revelations here, starting with Ranka's Zentradi background. It's clear that the Vajra are somehow in tune with her, as their attacks appear near her and coincide with her singing. She also has a flashback of a Vajra destroying a spaceship, and coupled with Howard's knowledge of them, it's clear they aren't a totally unknown enemy. Alto has a run in with SMS, and I kind of wonder how he seemingly didn't know that Michael and Luca were pilots. I also wonder why Sheryl is so determined to find Alto, especially after she was an ice queen to him in the first episode. However, her scene with Ranka shows that she does have a nicer side to her. Lots of questions are raised here that definitely entice the viewer to watch more.

 

Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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