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Episode 18: Echoes of Self, Echoes of Water

 

Review by Scott Richardson

June 2, 2007

 

Summary

 

Ruri awakes from a reoccurring dream of water splashing on a pond. In her spare time, she's been reading about the history of humanity--which is mostly composed of wars. The entire crew is beginning to wonder if this war will ever end. Changing the subject, she asks Omoikane about her memories, to which Omoikane replies that she has asked that question 1,257 times since she came onboard the Nadesico. The answer is always that Ruri, an unidentified orphan, was adopted by a pair of Nergal computer researchers. They trained her from that age to become a crew member of the Nadesico, and were awarded a large sum of money for the successful completion of that project. What Ruri really wants to know about is the time before that, which she cannot remember, but Omoikane has no data on anything earlier than seven years ago. In her dreams, an infant Ruri sees two shadowy visages who claim to be her parents, followed by a man who claims to be Archimedes, her first teacher. Upon learning the word pi from Archimedes, her 'parents' shower her rather robotically in compliments, which delight her anyway. As time went on, Ruri was taught many things, from Japanese vocabulary (including the word for 'fool') to physics. Her parent's compliments thrill her less and less. She hears splashing water again before waking up. Megumi contacts her asking her to come to the bridge--apparently, they have visitors. The visitors turn out to be from a nation called 'Peaceland'--a totally neutral country which was originally a theme park/casino. After it became independent, it made a fortune in the entertainment industry, and their private bank became popular among people with money to hide. Because of this, Nergal is always very polite when Peaceland comes calling. For some reason, this time they specifically asked for Ruri to be there. When the Peaceland Representative arrives, he informs them he has come to retrieve Princess Ruri. It seems that the royal family of Peaceland had tried for years to have a child and eventually sought a more modern method of conception. Unfortunately, the overseas fertility clinic they were using was destroyed by terrorists in an unrelated attack. The fertilized egg which would become Ruri somehow survived and grew up without them knowing until now. And though her parents have had other children in the meantime, they absolutely accept her as a true princess of Peaceland. Somewhat perturbed, Ruri retires to her room and asks Omoikane for references on princesses. Later, Ruri leaves for Peaceland accompanied by Akito and his Aestivalis. It seems that Nergal was not willing to let the princess travel without an escort and Ruri specifically asked for Akito. When they arrive in the rather gaudy nation of Peaceland, they get a royal reception, and Ruri is introduced to her biological parents and her five younger brothers, all of whom seem very warm and happy to see her. Apparently still not quite satisfied, Ruri makes a request for some time. 

 

Ruri drags Akito around the theme park-like Peaceland, making him carry various souvenirs for her crewmates on the Nadesico. They stop to eat, and are served 'Peaceland originals'--pizza and pasta. Ruri notes that pizza and pasta came from Italy, and that everything in this country seems to be borrowed from somewhere else. The cook, annoyed by her comment, suggests that she try it before bashing it. She does, and informs him that it tastes awful. Her speech on exactly how awful it is, as well her opinions about the cook, gets Akito into a fight with the cook, in which Akito fares badly. Ruri manages to knock the cook out with a pizza pan, but the cook's four beefy underlings come after her for it, leading Akito to receive quite a beating in her defense. Later Ruri apologizes to the bruised and battered, but otherwise unhurt, Akito, but he tells her that protecting the princess is a knight's job, even if he did do it rather badly. The next day, with a little help from her biological father, Ruri's hunt for the adoptive parents of her early memories lead her and Akito to Scandinavia and a decrepit and abandoned building called La Homaro Instituto. Inside, Ruri begins to recognize things and runs toward where she remembers her room being. Gathering up her courage, she enters the room, finding it faded and mostly empty, but still very familiar. Akito finds an old man who used to work there who tells them the story. Years ago, a batch of fertilized eggs from a bombed fertility clinic arrived at this research facility. Most were dead, but the researchers felt that those that had survived had a right to live, even if that meant becoming genetic manipulation test subjects. Though such research has long been banned, they believed that genetic manipulation was humanity's only hope of conquering the stars. So from a young age, they trained their children to learn only what needed to be learned and never to waste time on unimportant details of life. The old man congratulates her for being a testament to their purpose; despite her young age, she (for all intents and purposes) controls the Nadesico--certainly she is a superior human. The old man hands her a Peaceland bank card, telling her that when she was purchased by Nergal, he deposited the money into a savings account for her. All Ruri really wants to know, however, is what became of the parents she remembers. In response, the old man pushes a button, which powers on a screen behind her. Ruri hears her parents familiar compliments, and turns around to see shadowy visages of a man and a woman on the screen, complimenting her just the way she remembers. Obviously tremendously disappointed, Ruri thanks the man for letting her live--but for everything else, she slaps him. She gives him back the bank card and sits down in her old chair, depressed. Suddenly, she hears the splashing of water from her dreams echoing through the circulation system. She bolts out of the chair and follows the sound outside of the facility, discovering a river with a school of salmon splashing around. Seemingly satisfied by this, Ruri opts to return to the Nadesico and her compliment of fools. 

 

Commentary

 

It's nice to see Ruri getting the chance to be more than just a mascot character. Despite her constant unemotional facade (or perhaps because of), she wished to rediscover her lost childhood. Despite the bad shock of what her 'parents' were, she still managed to find a piece of her childhood to treasure. Although Ruri's story is pretty well done, I can't help but feel that the Peaceland stuff was just a bit too random and over-the-top for this episode. It seems like it was mostly for comic relief, but it never really got beyond mildly amusing. Her biological origins wind up mattering very little, her family is the Nadesico and its crew.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Nadesico Episode 18 Nadesico Episode 18

 

Buy the collection (eps 1-26, OVA, movie) on DVD from Amazon

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