In 2050, the Neo UN’s Hawaii base is under attack by Festum. An elite Fafner unit lead by Dustin that also includes Jonathan, Billy, Ai, and Keith arrive and fight back. Dustin tries to contact allied forces, but he’s told the Festum have broken their encryptions and can hear everything. Base commander General Narain Wiseman-Bose is told to evacuate the base, but he refuses. The base is the largest transport base in the region and if it falls millions will starve to death. Narain notes that the Festum had never bothered them before and wonders if they’ve learned how humans preserve themselves. Among the civilians awaiting evacuation there is a young girl, Emery, holding a shoe with a Festum crystal in it. Dustin is attacked by assimilated Fafners and Ai’s Fafner loses a wing. The assimilated Fafners turn into Diablo type Festum and fire a shot that infects a pilot named Rob. Rob begins attacking his allies and Ai is forced to shoot him. Dustin remotely activates the Fenrir of the infected units and blows them up. A giant, monstrous Festum appears, distracting Jonathan and allowing a Diablo type to infect him. Narain is informed that HQ is going to bomb the island and he tries to order them to stop. A Sphinx type attacks the civilians but stops when Emery asks it to. On the bomber a crewman named Walter tries to stop the bombing but he’s detained. The captain ignores Narain’s order and launches the bombs. Jonathan is able to fight off the assimilation just as the bombs land. Emery is protected from the blast by the Sphinx type. Narain heads out to look for survivors and finds Emery. The Fafner pilots lament their loss as the giant Festum, though heavily wounded, walks off. Narain returns with Emery.
A year later on Tatsumiya Island, life is peaceful. Sakura Kaname is working as a school coach and scolds one of her students, Mimika Mikagami, for not taking things seriously. Kenji Kondo, now the school nurse, takes care of Sakura’s students when they exhaust themselves. Mimika is still energetic and Sakura says she reminds her of the old Kazuki. Rina Nishio watches her grandma’s store and complains about wanting to work for Alvis. Her grandmother, Ikumi, tells her she shouldn’t focus just on fighting. Sui Kaburagi, the current student council president, arrives and tries to ask Rina out, but she’s too dense to pick up on that. Canon Hazama does some maintenance on the Fafner Mark Sechs and her mother, Yoko, compliments her on how far she’s come. Yoko suggests they go get something to eat and secretly wonders if they really need to rebuild the Mark Sechs. Tamotsu Kodate is surprised Canon wanted to be an engineer and he thinks he might retire to work on his manga. Kazuki Makabe and Akira Nishio prepare for lunch at their restaurant when Reo Mikado arrives with a cake delivery. Soushi Minashiro also arrives, saying he finished his research early. He asks where Maya Toomi and Kyosuke Mizoguchi are and is told they’re out flying. Maya and Kyosuke do some exercises in their fighter jets. Yumiko Toomi notes how her daughter Miwa is always talking to her imaginary friend, but her mother Chizuru assures her it’s just because there are no kids Miwa’s age around. Miwa talks to her imaginary friend and calls her Emery. Unsatisfied with curry that Akira made, Soushi decides to make his own with extreme levels of precision. The guys handle the lunchtime customers and Kenji makes sure to remind Kazuki of his next check up before he leaves. As they walk home Sakura says Kenji should do what he enjoys more instead of worrying about other people, but he says doing stuff with her is what he enjoys. When alone, Soushi talks to Kazuki about how everyone has chosen their paths. Kazuki is fine with working as a cook but Soushi says he could use his Fafner piloting experience to become an instructor. Kazuki notes that even after leaving the Fafner there’s still a small scale assimilation phenomenon but Soushi assures him that he’ll find a cure. Kazuki says if he had at least three years left he could resolve himself. Later, Soushi and Seri Tatekami meet up to visit the island’s core. They discuss Seri taking courses so she can take care of the core, and how the war is still going on outside the island. The core, who Seri calls Tsubaki, suddenly starts glowing and Kyosuke detects an incoming Neo UN transport. On the transport are Narain and Emery. Emery senses a Festum following them and Alvis confirms it. Alvis commander Fumihiko Makabe considers doing nothing since the Festum is just chasing the plane and hasn’t discovered the island yet, but he gets a call from Chizuru. Chizuru says that Miwa wants them to save the plane. Akira, Seri, Rina, and Hiroto Douma take an underground train with Sui, Reo, and Mimika. Sui wonders if they’ll have to launch but Reo reminds him they haven’t even done connection tests yet. Mimika says she wants to make a helmet like Hiroto’s and Hiroto gives her the Gobain helmet. Akira asks Hiroto if that was okay, but Hiroto says he needs to hand it down while he can. The island removes its camouflage and Maya tells the transport she’ll lead them in. Narain says he wants his hope to meet their hope.
Fafner returns once again and the opener is pretty strong. The battle at the beginning really set the mood for how desperate the situation is, with the Neo UN going so far as to bomb an important base to deal with the Festum. The Neo UN has never really gotten a flattering portrayal but General Narain shows he’s a decent guy who prioritizes civilian lives. We then jump to Tatsumiya and in contrast to the UN’s situation it’s as peaceful as ever. One of my complaints about Heaven and Earth was that the characters didn’t seem to age, but that’s not true here. Not only do they look older but they’re also moving on with their lives and choosing careers outside of piloting Fafners. We get caught up on what they’ve been doing and at the same time meet the next generation of Fafner pilots. Admittedly there might be a bit too many characters to try and keep track of, though. With the arrival of Narain and Emery, Tatsumiya once again enters the Festum war. Peace is such a transient thing.