In 2016, 1st Lt. Rei Myajima of the Japan Self-Defense Forces reports to the Siachen Glacier for an exchange mission with the Indian Army’s Ladakh Scouts. Capt. Wangchuck of the Indian Army’s Special Mountain Warfare Brigade welcomes Rei and asks why he’s come so far to see them. Rei explains that India is the only country using armed Exoframes as regular frontline forces, so his orders are to observe the situation and report back. Wangchuck notes that Japan signed the Sankt Gallen Arrangement and asks if the SDF can even use Exoframes. Rei responds that he’s just here to report and has no idea how his report will be interpreted by the military. Wangchuck shows Rei the Meghdoot, an armed Exoframe equipped with skis for mountain combat. Rei has never seen an Exoframe before, so Wangchuck explains that it’s controlled via a saddle that reads the pilot’s consciousness and then moves on its own. Wangchuck notes that while the saddle controls movement, a pilot has to handle communications and weapons on their own because those are human-made additions. Rei thinks it would be useful to reverse engineer this system, but Wangchuck explains that so far no engineers have figured it out because the technology is beyond their imagination. He adds that the Exoframe’s foundation isn’t technological and is probably a modified creature from the homeworld of the Peddlers. Although it’s controlled by consciousness, humans can’t even define that consciousness and can only liken it to telepathy. Wangchuck says that all they do is strap on a heated seat, armor and weapons, but even that is helpful for their extreme environment. The Meghdoots deploy to the mountainside, and Wangchuck explains to Rei that although they’re preparing for war against Pakistan, the biggest threat at the moment is the mountain and its hazards. Rei asks why India decided to use Exoframes, and Wangchuck answers that India doesn’t care about Sankt Gallen bans, especially since Pakistan was the first country to militarize Exoframes. That information isn’t public, and Wangchuck adds that the Pakistanis want to use Exoframes to sneak attack India by traveling through the pass in the Saltoro Mountains. Wangchuck demonstrates the wide range of Exoframe movements and performs a Rajini dance, but he stops when Pakistani Gibraltar Exoframes cross the ceasefire line. Rei skis down the mountainside to engage the Pakistanis, but Wangchuck doesn’t think he can fight them down there. Wangchuck’s men join Rei, forcing their commander to reluctantly follow. Rei uses his skis to dodge wire-guided missiles fired by a Gibraltar and disables it by returning fire with his rifle. Wangchuck orders Rei to stop, but Rei answers that he doesn’t know how. He maintains pursuit and dodges machine gun fire while also returning fire. He jumps into the air and takes fire while knocking over a Gibraltar. The battle sets off an avalanche that engulfs both Exoframes. After the snow clears, Rei goes on foot with a pistol to investigate the Gibraltar and finds it empty. The unit features a painted emblem of a skull with two red marks. Later, Wangchuck tells one of his subordinates that even if this was the first Exoframe battle by two regular armies, it won’t be recorded as such in history because Pakistan is denying involvement. He also mentions that Rei wasn’t from the SDF and that the stretches he did earlier are called RAJIo-taiso-dai-NI, which he learned in Japan and any Japanese person would know, but Rei didn’t. The subordinate asks what it means, and Wangchuck tells him to forget about it if he wants to live a long life.
This episode moves forward to 2016 and shows that long-time rivals India and Pakistan are militarizing Exoframes, despite the Sankt Gallen Agreement. Rei is presented as a JSDF observer, but Wangchuck later deduces that he’s not from Japan. Snow combat isn’t often seen in mecha series, so it’s always a welcomed sight. Despite the extraterrestrial origin of the Exoframes, OBSOLETE feels more realistic than many mecha shows by setting its story in the present and using real life conflicts like the rivalry between India and Pakistan as a backdrop. The skull emblem on an Exoframe pops up again and is definitely a recurring motif in this series that will continue to appear. It’s also interesting to see the difference a few years make in Exoframe militarization – the Indian units seen here look far more primitive and rudimentary compared to the American ones seen seven years later in the first episode.