|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Kakumeiki Valvrave 2
(All episodes watched):|
Before watching episode one of this second season, I rewatched the final episode of the first one, and got an all-too-rare 'thrill moment'--an instant in which you realize that the stuff you are watching really is superb and has you totally engrossed and excited. I noticed that I had a grin on my face as I watched. Whoever wrote Valvrave put a lot of storytelling skill into it. Most shows wouldn't bother to mention the headaches that are involved in negotiating with other countries. Things have quieted down since the desperate battle in episode 12, but the story picks up right where it left off and no changes presented themselves--that's good news, since it would be hard for any change to be an improvement in a show as fun as this, IMO. the sizeable cast of well-developed, likeable characters carries the intriguing story onwards in an entertaining manner. The mixed bag of different personalities who have only their status as Valvrave pilots in common is neat. I can't wait to see where Haruto's love life will go next, but that has to wait as he and L-Elf (my favorite character of the show) try to figure out what the story behind Haruto's vampire-like behavior is. All sorts of things about this show which could have been ridiculous cheap imitations of touches from other popular genres actually work here, because some serious care is taken to intermesh them with the main story. The one thing that still annoys me are those four bishonen guys serving with the Dorssians!
During episode two (actually, episode 14) it struck me that the array of characters is expanding, in the sense that people who have played relatively minor roles up until now are being given personalities of their own; like the reclusive Akira and the girl who is assigned to watch over her. Even the bishonen Dorssians and getting a little attention; flashbacks to their days as comrades of L-Elf finally began to expand their personalities as well. While L-Elf was too quick to pull the trigger in episode three, episode four gave me another feeling that I see something in Valvrave which I don't see much of elsewhere: a sense of tragedy, of people I know and care about being in danger and occasionally buying the farm even if a number of them are 'immortal'. Just as Superman can be killed by Kryptonite, even a Valvrave pilot can be killed, if his/her Valvrave goes into '666' mode. They can lose a good deal even if they don't physically get a scratch, too. The significance of the 'Princess'(?) of Dorssia begins to become clear as a 'Royalist' faction within the Empire is mentioned. So, a number of characters that have been around since season one are getting expanded now; better late than never.
Rather than fighting off repeated Dorssian attacks on Module 77, the team decides to go to the heart of the problem by overthrowing the Dorssian government itself. It turns out that L-Elf has ties to the Dorssian Princess who is now little more than a figurehead. It's a little difficult to believe that such a goal is really attainable, but whenever L-Elf is involved anything is possible. When the situation leaves everyone else in a quandary, he typically declares "I have a plan".
As a result of what happens on Earth, we finally learn something about the origins of both the Valvraves and the Magius. It could have been better and it could have been worse; I feel I'm getting mixed signals of both the quality that was typical of Valvrave in the past and more mundane stuff that could be found anywhere. What happened was pretty implausible, and I hardly got the same sort of thrill which I remember from end-of-arc episodes like at the end of season one. Maybe the show is better at keeping us in suspense than at revealing the secrets that we've been dying to learn. Still, I cared about the characters and couldn't believe that the series as a whole would end without a thrilling, cathartic conclusion.
I really didn't know what to expect as the series neared a conclusion (I presumed). Things seemed a little hokey, a little difficult to believe, at this point. The end result could be anything from brilliant to thoroughly disappointing. When even L-Elf seems to have snapped, who knows what might happen next? The characters are framed for crimes they did not commit, everyone rallies against them, and I wonder how they could possibly get themselves out of trouble. One improvement the show could have made would have been to make the story flow more smoothly, and perhaps reapportion where in the plot precious airtime is spent. The bloodshed got pretty intense in episode nine, which was startling considering how few residents of Module 77 had bought it so far--at one point in season one, a single girl getting killed was played as a horrific event, now lives seemed cheap.
Things got back on track in episode ten, as L-Elf and Haruto make sense of what's going on and take a vow to overthrow the Magius once and for all. It reinvigorates both them and the plot of the show itself. They rally from a state of seeming hopelessness and decide that there are things to do which are too important for them to just give up. This is clearly a turning point in the plot, but is there enough time left in another two or three episodes to wrap things up? Or will there need to be a third season?
It turns out that L-Elf, Haruto, and the other Valvrave pilots strike swiftly at the enemies' jugular in episode 11, and things rapidly move towards a climax of the story as a whole. We get a thrilling, cathartic conclusion after all—another 'thrill moment'. A series of crucial battles are waged simultaneously and we dance back and forth between them. The special capabilities—and risks—experienced by a Valvrave pilot comes to play in the climax, just as they should. One fairly predictable thing that happens is that when several of the enemy get a lot of development over the course of the series, it's because they will either face off against the heroes in the climax, or defect and join them. I didn't exactly get the last (or next-to-last) scene, but I appreciate the tragic element in the conclusion, rather than the all too common one where everything works out just fine and all of the heroes come away more-or-less OK. The last conversation between L-Elf and Haruto was especially moving, as Elf says something that we have subconsciously been hoping for for a long time. One disconcerting element was the suggestion that maybe the humans aren't the 'good guys' after all—when a comment like that is made, it needs to be expanded on and explained, rather than shrugged off. The wedding joke at the end (two characters get married) was good. As a whole, the climax could have been a little smoother and better, but it was not bad at all. The storyline had some problems, but the 'coolness' was abundant. Perhaps the series as a whole could be summarized like that: good plot with minor problems, plenty of cool action, and well developed, likeable characters. This was a mecha series which took the trouble to concentrate on the pilots rather than the mobile suits. I wish there had been a third season.
Last updated Sunday, January 05 2014. Created Wednesday, October 16 2013.