After the intense battle that lead to the conclusion of the previous episode, Echo and Mu find themselves catching a ride on a mysterious flying ship in the sky. Naturally after the illusions that are caused in the previous episode Mu tells Echo to go home primarily because she’s come to the realization that she does care for him and doesn’t want anything bad to happen to him. But they never really address that conversation between the two of them again, as they both separate off to have a conversation with some of the ship’s residents, the kidnapper and the shut in.
This was a pretty good episode in terms of world building, but in terms of pacing and introducing characters I felt it was really flat. I’m glad that ourselves and Mu finally got to learn about the war from many years ago, and about the traitor, Jimi. When we first met Bilin Valentine, I thought she was going to be the strong knight type character, you know… the type that never back downs on her values. And, it was briefly referenced when she said that she would lay down her life for her kingdom to completely eradicate the Earless, but I felt that it didn’t really mean a whole lot when she bet Mu and said that she wasn’t trustworthy and didn’t want to let her out of her grasp and then… at the end of the episode it was like “wow! okay be free in the world and get information for me”. It was too quick a turnaround if you ask me. I mean, this is a shorter series so I really can’t be too mad because it feels like they are trying to jam in a lot of content in characters into a short run time.
I liked the relationship that Kevin and Echo built upon meeting each other. It was genuinely just two people who made a connection over something and enjoyed talking to another human about it. Part of me was kind of hoping that Kevin could turn into a mentor for Echo, potentially teaching him skills to create a more impressive mech for Mu to pilot. I also really liked the conversation around why he retired from being a partner pilot to Bilin. There’s something respectable about knowing when it’s time to step back, and I liked that he acknowledged that he left out of fear. Although, I must admit, you could interpret his fear in at least two different ways. I definitely took it as “I’m scared of Bilin’s dedication to her cause, especially considering she’d die for her cause”, but I can definitely understand the interpretation of “I’m scared of facing my demise to the fearless”. What did sit wrong with me though, was that it was mentioned that Kevin had been a shut in for four years and he suddenly comes out because he hears someone talking about tech? That just feels really weird. Especially given that that information was told to us by Bilin, because he really didn’t seem like a shut in, but rather just an unkempt, scruffy guy. Personally, I might have understood it better, if his shut-in nature was introduced first, with the attempt to bring him back out, and then having him emerge later due to something Echo said. I think that would have been a little bit more impactful.
Unfortunately, the sparring at the end of the episode also sat weird with me. I get that they were going for the connection of the two pairs finally realizing that they want to be partners again. However, I don’t think the anime gave enough time for the feelings to fully settle. We barely get any interaction between Bilin and Kevin, so them pairing back up is more of a “Oh, I guess that’s neat” moment, rather than a “Wow, it’s been four years, I missed you partner.” In a similar, vain Echo and Mu coming back together was not as emotional for me as I think they were intending. I mean, Mu cried, and I genuinely could not figure out why. I guess it was heartwarming to see that Echo and her still wanted to be partners, but they never really had a chance to explore why they would have stopped being partners in the first place.
All in all, I’m glad that we got some world building and some interesting characters introduced in this episode, I just really wish it was implemented a little bit better. Aside from Kevin and Echo’s connection, the other interactions & connections just felt like they were just missing the mark. Perhaps just a few more lines of dialogue could have solved these issues. But at the very least, Echo and Mu have found a deeper connection with each other and now have a goal to collect information from other Players for Bilin. On a completely different note, I think we might be getting a new ending for each episode. This was a good ending, but personally I think I liked the one for episode 2 better. Last week the transitions in the ending were just really good that it was engaging to watch while listening to the ending. This time around, it was a pretty catchy ending, but maybe not as memorable as the last.