Episode 02, "G-Self, Start Up!"
Synopsis: Bellri and his classmates return to Earth, where Aida and the G-Self have been taken captive by the Capital Army. Raraiya has been assigned to the Academy until she can regain her memories and Bellri reunites with his mother, Operations Director Wilmit Zenam, who greets Col. Cumpa Rusita and foreign dignitaries at a celebration being held. The celebration is attacked by enemy mobile suits, and Bellri rushes to find Aida, sure they're here to retrieve her. After meeting with Aida at the prison tower, she and Bellri, with others, make their way to the G-Self. Bellri and Aida climb into the cockpit as Aida's mentor, Cahill, finds them. Bellri engages Cahill's Grimoire MS, and when the enemy hesitates while spotting Aida, fires into his cockpit. Aida is devastated that Bellri has taken Cahill's life.
Things slow down a little for this second episode, but there's still a lot of elements that go largely unexplained, and it's a bit dense, though it's never quite confusing, and instead really made me interested in the setting. It doesn't take too long before the action revs up again, but they don't throw in so much a viewer can't handle it. Tomino's still laying down the groundwork and unlike the first episode we're given a little more slack with terminology. Sure, the academy setting has been done before, but I can't imagine we'll be here very long, because Bellri just graduated to a kill count.
I really love the rising action of the episode. First everybody's introducing, speculating, conversing, pretty casually, as if the incident in the first episode was an isolated incident not likely to happen again. Then we get the attack from the enemy mobile suits and the viewer is taken on a little fetch quest with Bellri and his gang on those long-legged mini mechs to find Aida at the tower. Then we get Bellri looking for Aida in the tower, then we get the search for the G-Self, and so on, very linear, but all the while there's this adventurous atmosphere, rather than some dire massacre. Tomino hasn't started killing off characters in droves yet and so far, while the threat is fairly real, it isn't overbearing. For all we know, Cahill and the other pirates are just looking for a pay out. They're definitely using deadly weapons, but until Bellri makes that first kill, everything is pretty lighthearted. Well, maybe not lighthearted, but certainly not the LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR mode Tomino excels at.
I'm interested in the character everybody calls "Holiness". Is he the Pope? I remember seeing him leading some kind of prayer of the first episode. He pulls a lot of respect in the Capital Army and Academy, even though Head Cheerleader Girl gives him a polite teasing about peeking too intently at Raraiya (which he is fine with). When I see a respected religious authority, maybe it's just the cynic in me, but I automatically assume this guy's part of some bullcrap state faith used to control the masses, or something of the sort. I also don't trust that colonel guy, either. Right now the pirates are the antagonists, but I know my Gundam, damn it. By episode 10, we'll be sympathetic towards those guys and waving our fists at the Capital Army. Maybe. Who knows what Modern Tomino will do, though?
Speaking of sympathy, Bellri does his best to comfort Aida over the death of her mentor, but he obviously isn't as devastated as she is. It's good to see that he's realistic about this, not crying to the heavens that he had to take a life in a fight to death. He's not cold, he's upset that Aida's upset over it, but there's nothing he can do.This probably owes something to his training with the Capital Guard.
Anyway, great episode, looking forward to more.
4 out of 5