You know, Gundam AGE is a lot like (bear with me, here) playing golf.
If you play the occasional round of golf like I do, and you aren’t very good like I’m not, chances are you’ll have experienced the feeling of playing so badly you feel like you’re ready to give up the game for good – only to hit a great shot. Insidiously, that makes you think that there’s no reason you couldn’t do that more often – especially as that great shot often comes on the last hole – and you’re back on the course again, full of hope. There have certainly been times over its long run where AGE has exasperated me to the point of tossing the clubs into the hazard, but then it comes up with a really solid episode like this one that makes me feel as if there’s real hope for the future of the show.
Was it perfect? No, not by a long shot – but it was damn good. For starters, Sunrise really did an outstanding job with the art, animation and battle choreography here. AGE has always looked fine, but it was really beautiful this week – both in terms of backgrounds and character expressions. It was also an episode that had a lot of internal drama, playing off Zaeheart and Aseumu against each other like old times in the battle against SID. A lot of unnecessary chaff was brushed aside and the narrative was sharper than the usual for this show. We were starting to see this last week, too – the framing for the final conflict is starting to come together in a coherent manner, and that’s a good sign.
In a sense, this was a continuation of the work of episode 44, moving the chess pieces into place for the endgame. Kio has pretty much despaired of Flit ever changing his viewpoint, and his role remains the most uncertain – we know what he wants to do but have no idea (neither does he) how he plans to do it. Flit is so blinded by his lust for revenge that he passes up the opportunity to try and claim the EXA-DB for himself – though Asemu and the pirates recognize what’s happening in an asteroid belt where a battle is taking place, and leave the Diva to play their part. A glimpse into the past reveals that Asemu has a history with SID, so this is personal for him. It was good to see Asemu make a decision here without worrying about his father, to whom he really owes nothing at this point – Kio was the only one he told, in fact. His decision to destroy the EXA-DB rather than let it fall into either Flit or Ezelcant’s hands is consistent with his professed ideals in a way his actions often haven’t been, and that’s a positive for his character.
As for Zaeheart, he seems to have drunk the Kool-aid to the last drop and boarded Ezelcant’s crazy train to Eden. But at least he was downright GAR by his standards this week, using the Gundam Legilis to fight SID basically to a draw, despite the fact that it has a cloaking device. Admittedly it’s through Asemu’s intervention that he’s able to destroy (well…) SID, when his old rival manages to attack a couple of grabbling lines to SID to reveal its position. The EXA itself is hidden inside an asteroid, and as Zaeheart is finishing his battle with SID Asemu has given orders to his crew to blow it up. Zaehart is pissed at losing his prize, but takes some consolation in having mastered the power of Gundam – or so he thinks – in the process of defeating SID.
Asemu and Zaeheart’s fates are obviously linked in a profound way, so it seems inevitable that each will be linked to the other’s role in the story’s conclusion. While Zaeheart is gung-ho about Project Eden for the moment, the path for Asemu and Kio is obscure. Does Asemu simply return to the fleet and take part in the attack on La Gramis as if he were a Federation foot soldier, in spite of his professed opposition to Flit’s goals? Given that Flit is now actively in charge again his goals and those of the Federation are effectively one and the same, so it’s impossible for Asemu to pretend to be neutral if he’s helping the Federation directly. As for Kio, the question is what method he’ll choose to try and knock some sense as he sees it into the leaders of both sides, something that for the moment seems to be a hopeless task. And not to be forgotten is the fact that the EXA-DB isn’t space dust after all, and has SID 2.0 looking after it, which will surely make a complicated situation even more so.