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Episode 1: James' Misfortune

 

Review by Dustin Corallo

April 1, 2005

 

Summary

The year is 2172 AD, and the raw minerals freighter Ender makes an approach to Mars’ Deimos space station. The Ender’s captain, James Links, is awakened from a nap when a docking cable attaches to his ship, obviously drunk. After docking, James floats over to the stations’ operation deck to receive his paycheck. The teller comments on James’ drunken state, to which James replies that he’s hauling cargo like he’s supposed to, so there’s no reason to complain. The teller warns him that he’ll lose his license one day, then hands him a pay card. However, James is distracted by a beautiful redhead floating by, and doesn’t reply until the teller taps him on the head with the card. James offers the teller to join him for a drink, but the teller simply informs him that he has mail, and then suggests he does something father-like with his pay. Later, James continues to float down Deimos, when he’s latched onto by a broker named Raiah. Raiah tells him that he has a good job, but James pulls him into a choke hold and starts bantering the broker over a cargo run to Jupiter. Raiah replies that he got money off of it, but James says after he delivered the cargo his clients ran off with the rest of the pay, and then raises his fist. Raiah informs him that there’s a penalty for hitting a person born on Mars, due to Martians being physically weaker than people born on Earth. James lets Raiah go, and the broker continues about the next job, saying that the clients requested James’ services. James wonders about this while Raiah shows him the cargo: a pink box. A camera eye mounted on the side of the box ‘blinks’ and looks James over as Raiah explains that the box is to be delivered to Earth. At first, James replies it’s not a mistake to leave things to him, but since it’s one of Raiah’s jobs, he refuses. James then leaves Raiah to look for another transport, while he checks on his mail. The first piece is a video message from his daughter, Noel Links, who informs him to stop sending mail to her unless it’s important. She then tells him not to buy her a birthday present. The second piece is a notification that the mail James sent to his son, Leon Links, was rejected. Meanwhile, a black car drives down Deimos Station, where a man named Sir Yan is reporting about the search for Isis to an unseen figure. While Isis has not been found, it has not left Deimos yet, and Yan assures that he will find it. The figure replies that BAHRAM has begun to take action, so there isn’t much time left. After the call ends, the chauffeur (a regular Yan) receives a message that the transporter has been found, to which Sir Yan orders the chauffeur to pick him up. Meanwhile, James is having a drink at the bar with the redhead he saw earlier, telling her about his days in the military. The woman is clearly not impressed, and leaves to other business. The bartender comments that she was about the age of James’ daughter, and reprimands him for it. He then suggests that James return to Earth and have his children take care of him, but James ignores the bartender’s advice. Then a woman by the name of Melinda Gargoyle enters the bar and calls James out, grabbing onto him just as James tries to escape. James continues to shrug Melinda off, but the more he tries, the more she latches. Murphy’s law ensures as a mafia leader by the name of Bashiriko Basilisk enters the bar accompanied by a group of thugs, commenting on how rude it is for James to go after his woman. Later in a back alleyway, James is kicked into a pile of garbage by Basilisk, who taunts him for chasing after young women at his age. James shoots back by telling Basilisk he doesn’t know what kind of a woman Melinda is, but Basilisk continues taunting. Eventually, James gets annoyed, and throws off his jacket, revealing his well built body, then reminds Basilisk that Martians are physically weaker than Earthlings. Basilisk simply has one of the thugs take off his own jacket, and then rips open his business suit to reveal his own muscles. Melinda then warns that Basilisk is a weight-lifter and has toned his body to equal that of an Earthling’s. James attempts to fight him anyway, but Basilisk simply eludes the following attacks, and continues to bash James around. Upon the final strike, a picture of James’ family slips out of his pocket and lands on the ground, where Basilisk steps on it. James tells him to stop, and Basilisk apologizes, saying that he needs to cherish his family, before kicking James onto the ground and leaving with Melinda in toll. Conveniently, in accordance to Mars’ Environment Conservation Act, Deimos begins thirty minutes of irrigation, and James is still lying in the alleyway when it begins.

Later, James walks down a shopping area and sees a family walking out of a pet store. This reminds of James his own family years ago, when his wife Rachel was alive and his children were young and happy. Thus, James decides to buy Noel a birthday present: a kitten. James then meets up with Raiah at a strip club and agrees to take the job, but Raiah informs him it was already taken, when his cell phone rings. The caller informs Raiah of the transporter’s demise at the hands of Sir Yan, so Raiah gives James the job, without telling him about the murder of course. Back at the spaceport, the pink container is loaded onto the Ender, and James asks Raiah about the contents. However, Raiah himself doesn’t know, and James warns him if anything happens on the run to Earth, he wouldn’t let Raiah go. Raiah then notices the kitten James bought earlier, as well as a bag of family-help books in James’ other arm. As the Ender begins to launch, a BAHRAM squad of Phantoma LEVs make their way to the port, but the Ender takes off before they can get to it. As the Ender makes its way to Earth, James starts reading one of his family-help books, but soon gets bored with it, and picks up a book called How to be a Daddy. Immediately, James is taken by the words of the book’s author, Isaac Barrett. As he continues to read through the book, the kitten plays with the empty beer cans which begin to fill the Ender’s lounge. Eventually, both James and the kitten fall asleep, and James dreams about his last days with Rachel, before he heads to Earth to join his children while Rachel pursues her work on Mars. James awakens to find that the Ender’s gravity compressor has failed, and that everything not tied to the ship is in free float. As he looks into outer space, he hears a lullaby coming from the cargo hold, to which the singer’s voice sounds like Rachel’s. With the kitten secured in his jacket, he goes into the hold, but finds that the source of the lullaby is the pink container. A voice from the container asks who it is, and James thinks its Rachel’s voice. The source identifies James Links, and introduces herself as Dolores, then proclaims James to be her uncle. The container opens to reveal a pink mech, which formally bows and introduces herself again as Dolores. James wonders if someone is running the frame, but Dolores opens her cockpit to reveal nothing inside. James then questions why Dolores referred to him as her uncle, to which the frame replies its destiny. James continues asking questions about Dolores’ programmer, but she doesn’t know and flaps her ear fins. A rumbling interrupts them, as a UN patrol ship latches onto the Ender and sends three inspectors aboard. Dolores hides back in her pink container, and James confronts the inspectors. Things go smoothly at first, but as one of the inspectors checks the pink container’s shipping log, he finds that all the haulers before James have been murdered. The leader demands James to open the cargo, but one of the inspectors produces an assault rifle and kills the other two. The man turns out to be one of the Yans. He attempts to kill James to, but James manages to hide behind a crate. James then pulls out a beer bottle and calls the attacker out. As he trades words with the Yan, James shakes the beer bottle up to build pressure. The Yan fires, but Dolores reaches out with her hand and defend James, who then launches the beer bottle off like a rocket. The bottle slams into the Yan and knocks him out temporarily, allowing James to reach Dolores and compliment her on her timing. Despite being an orbital frame, Dolores rubs her hand and complains that the shots hurt her. Without James noticing, the Yan slips out of the Ender into deep space, and hijacks the Phantoma escorting the patrol ship, after killing the pilot. The Phantoma shoots a hole into the Ender’s cargo bay and attempts to reach Dolores. James orders Dolores to open her cockpit, but she complains about letting a man pilot her. The Phantoma enters the bay and attempts to overpower Dolores, while James into the cockpit. However, he finds that it’s nothing like a LEV’s, as there are no manual controls. Not that it matters, as Dolores is much more powerful than the Phantoma, and easily tosses it aside. Just as the Phantoma recovers, James orders Dolores to close the cockpit module, which she does. She then proceeds to tackle the Phantoma and break through the Ender’s hull into deep space. The Phantoma grabs Dolores head, which hurts her and makes her fly irregularly, much to James’ dismay. As the two frames fly over the moon, Dolores’ strength soon becomes too much for the Phantoma to handle. The Yan ejects as the LEV crashes into the Moon. James recovers from the fight and asks Dolores what she is and what’s going on. Dolores gripes that James smells like alcohol, and to answer his question, she reintroduces herself as the Orbital Frame Dolores.

 

Commentary

 

And thus ends the first episode of Dolores, i. Even after just one episode, I can tell this series is aimed for adults rather than children like Mobile Suit Gundam and Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Aside from originally being broadcast at 2:30 AM on TV Tokyo, there are many changes from the average mecha series. Instead of a depressed teenager or a crack shot ace as the main character, we have James Links, a grizzled transporter who has serious family issues to deal with. As well, instead of a combat frame like Jehuty or Anubis for the theme mecha, we have the very feminine and human-like Dolores. Not only is Dolores voiced by Houko Kuwashima, better known for her roles as Yurika Misumaru in Martian Successor Nadesico, Kirika Yumura in Noir and Flay Allster/Natarle Badgiruel/Stellar Loussier in the Gundam SEED franchise, but she’s pink and has the personality of a teenage girl, despite being a mecha. And third, instead of opening to a grand-scale war setting that most series do, the first episode flows around a more outlaw-ish setting like you’d find in Cowboy Bebop or Outlaw Star, with James just transporting goods between Earth and Mars when he comes across Dolores. Still, we do have our slice of conspiracy. What is Isis, and what does it have to do with Dolores? It’s obvious that the elder Sir Yan is working for BAHRAM, but whose the person he was talking to before? Why were all the transporters before James that tried hauling Dolores murdered? And what’s with the Agent Smith-like regular Yans? Are they some form of assassin clone series that BAHRAM employs or do they just conveniently look alike? While there isn’t as much action as one would expect, I think Dolores, i is off to a good start, and it hopefully it will only get better.

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Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3.5 out of 5 stars
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ZOE Dolores, i Episode 1 ZOE Dolores, i Episode 1

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