“This world must face destruction. It is your heart and your heart alone which transforms the Alone.”
Akane tries to get to know the enigmatic Kuroki Rei better, who rejects all her advances and would prefer to keep herself to herself. After she is chastised by a mysterious black bird over her mission to destroy the Manifestation Engine, Rei tries to scale the Engine and destroy it herself without the help of the Alone, and ends up falling in the ocean and washed away by its currents onto a beach, where she is found the next day by Akane, who takes her home to nurse her back to health.
I was very amused at the episode starting with a blatant Akane ass-shot, not that it wasn’t appreciated of course. The rest of the episode wasn’t so…intellectually shallow though, and many revelations were made. As speculated they focused mainly around Kuroki Rei, the mysterious girl with previously unknown intentions that’s been going around powering up all the Alones, making them much harder for Akane and her friends to defeat. Initially Rei did come off as a very hostile person, acting completely anti-social, and unwilling to talk to anyone outside of class, much less Akane herself – the person Rei knows she’s making life harder for by powering up each Alone she fights. She’s coldly rejected both Akane’s attempts to talk and her invitation to join their group for the extra-curricular summer camp, which didn’t market her out as a very likeable person.
But even so, I’m getting the impression that she’s not a bad person at all – she didn’t give it a second thought and saved a random little boy as she passed by a street, who would have gotten crushed under a steel bar otherwise. Her expression while bird watching is completely different to the persona she puts on when interacting with others, and by then I was under the impression that she’s just a girl who drew the short straw in life. Rei’s entire apartment being pretty much empty apart from one bird (Piisuke) was ominous enough, and the appearance of an otherworldly, clearly evil black bird didn’t help the situation at all. You could infer a lot about Rei’s circumstances through what that bird said – it’s safe to say it’s not from Earth, and is an agent of the Alone in some way, managing to coerce Rei under her control by offering her something that she’s willing to do anything to get – the lives of her parents, who died in the meltdown of the Manifestation Engine that also resulted in the death of Akane’s father. Both Akane and Rei have experienced similar losses from that meltdown, but here’s where the two do completely separate things – while Akane’s trying to live her life on the bright side, Rei can’t seem to let her loss go, and is clinging to all the memories she has of her parents, including the front door key to her old house. True, Rei’s gone through a lot more than Akane, but surely the destruction of the Manifestation Engine can’t be a rational price to pay for what might not even be a promise that bird will keep. And with the bird torturing and pressuring Rei to carry out her mission, I feel sorry for her more than anything.
It probably wasn’t a good idea for her to try and scale the side of the Engine, and somehow destroy it from there. Putting aside the questionable means she must have used to get the machine guns and bombs she did, there’s no way there wouldn’t be ample security all around the Engine, which is literally supporting the energy supply of the entire world. Clearly she’s not confident in the seven more chances she has to power up the Alones and destroy the world through the Engine, hinted at by the seven feathers left remaining on her neck. Anyway, with regards to Akane she’s safely now in the “reluctant friend” category – she’s buckled pretty far against the might of Akane’s overflowing friendship, letting Akane call her Rei-chan and take care of her while she was recovering. Even when presented the opportunity to power up an Alone, she’s already struggling with the difference between her morals and Akane’s take on not harming anyone else for the sake of her parents, and I can see future episodes centering around Akane trying to convert Rei to her cause in a Nanoha x Fate styled manner. I’m sure she’ll come round eventually though – it’s a rule of thumb that cute girls don’t stay antagonists for too long.