It’s time to take to the skies! After a long hiatus, I guess it is time for me to go do my versus variety thingy before I lose touch. Hahaha… Yeah, damn lazy excuse is that I have no anime to compare until a couple of flight and aviation themed animes started airing in the same season. The winter of 2019 season, that is. Hmmm… Suspicious… Just like how Antz and A Bug’s Life were released very close to each other. Anyway, this gives rise to an excuse, erm, I mean reason, oh wait no, motivation for me to do another versus blog. And so today we are going to see what makes Girly Air Force (GAF) different but yet so similar with Kouya Kotobuki No Hikoutai (Kotobuki).

World setting:
GAF: Current modern Earth. Japan particularly.
Kotobuki: Another parallel world. Town in focus is mainly Rahama.

The sea:
GAF: Since most of the setting takes place over the oceans, I guess it is water, water everywhere…
Kotobuki: A dry desert wasteland world where the oceans somehow dried up a long time ago and are being reduced to just fairytales in storybooks.

Type of planes:
GAF: Futuristic jet planes.
Kotobuki: Single engine propeller planes.

The heroine squad:
GAF: Independent Mixed Test Unit (IMTU).
Kotobuki: The Kotobuki Flight Corps. Duh…

Team members:
GAF: Kei Narutani (team leader, somewhat), JAS39 Gripen, F-15J-ANM Eagle, RF-4EJ-ANM Phantom II and somewhat Viper Zero.
Kotobuki: Reona (team captain), Zara, Kate, Emma, Kylie and Chika.

The boss:
Technically the crew’s employer.
GAF: Haruka Yashirodoori.
Kotobuki: Madame Loulou.

Other allies:
GAF: Anima and military from other nations like America and Russia.
Kotobuki: Other flight squadrons like Camilla of Shouto Vigilante and Adolfo Yamada of Nazarene Air Force.

The main enemy:
GAF: An unknown entity known as Xi.
Kotobuki: Air pirates.

Thought you were a good guy but turns out you’re a baddie…:
GAF: F/A-18E-ANM Rhino.
Kotobuki: Isao.

Wild card? And not team player to boot?:
GAF: Viper.
Kotobuki: Naomi.

Technical person:
GAF: Yashirodoori.
Kotobuki: Natsuo.

Loser at love:
It’s so one-sided…
: Song Minghua.
Kotobuki: Adolfo.

The child-like brat:
They also like to brag…
: Eagle.
Kotobuki: Chika.

Emotionless girl:
GAF: Gripen.
Kotobuki: Kate.

B*tch girl:
GAF: Phantom.
Kotobuki: Councillor Julia.

Sexy girl?:
GAF: Gripen. Sort of. No qualms undressing before Kei.
Kotobuki: Zara. Ex-dancer with exotic moves that could hypnotize any horny guys watching.

Dead elder person:
GAF: Kei’s mom. Killed in a raid by Xi during an air show.
Kotobuki: Kylie’s mentor, Sab. Went missing and greatly hinted was shot down by Isao.

The dynamic relationship:
GAF: Kei and Gripen. Some crap about the latter’s brainwaves stabilizing and synchronizing with the former, increasing her efficiency and focus, blah, blah, blah…
Kotobuki: Kylie and Chika. The often quarrel and their petty banter is such an amusement to watch.

GAF: Kei is in fact a better pilot than Gripen. So while he mans the control, this gives more room for Gripen to focus on radar and weapon systems.
Kotobuki: Sab’s age old advice, “You don’t fly a plane. It flies itself”.

Harem potential:
GAF: Yes. Cheap and sleazy as it is.
Kotobuki: No. Thank goodness no lesbo hints too. Phew. Oh wait. Reona and Zara, Julia for Loulou…

Heavy bomber planes:
GAF: Xi has a type of craft that not only serves as heavy bombers but act as an aircraft carrier to carry other smaller Xi crafts.
Kotobuki: Heavy bomber planes try to attack and disrupt a meeting in Areshima. Also later, Isao sends several heavy bomber planes to attack Rahama after accusing them of hogging a portal.

Tactical retreat:
Sometimes you don’t succeed at first, it is best to regroup and rethink the strategy…
GAF: The first charge to attack an island where Xi is building their forward operating base. Because of too many enemies and not enough ammo (also, Phantom being a b*tch not being cooperative), a retreat is necessary.
Kotobuki: The first charge to attack Ikesuka has Loulou ordering a retreat. Do you want to take a gamble and lose more of your men to 200 plus enemy planes?

GAF: Electronic Perceptory Counter Measures AKA EPCM blurs your vision when you get too close to Xi. Also, Phantom has this ability to feed false info to others.
Kotobuki: Elite Industries try to sell fake paintings to the town of Rahama in exchange for an old Raiden plane in their possession.

Taken hostage:
GAF: Kei was kidnapped by the military after they think he is some sort of spy. Only freed because his presence somewhat activated Gripen.
Kotobuki: A group of pirates hijack Hagoromo and demand Isao’s resignation as the mayor of Ikesuka and the disbandment of the Brotherhood. Otherwise they’ll blow up the blimp. Freed after Johnny’s insane gunslinger skills!

Suicide move:
GAF: At the start of the series, Kei risking his life to save a crashed Gripen at sea when no other refugees would sanely think or do the same thing.
Kotobuki: At the end of the series, Saneatsu rides his Hagoromo blimp to blast and seal close the portal. Luckily it’s not just a blind kamikaze mission as he escaped via mini plane in the final moments.

Another dimension:
GAF: Unphysical Layer. Kei and Gripen almost got trapped forever in Rhino’s spell.
Kotobuki: Strange portals randomly opening up over the airspace, believed to lead to the other world known as Yufang.

Final charge:
GAF: A joint effort by the Japanese and Americans to retake the Asian continent by counterattacking and overwhelming the Xi with unmanned Brawler clones.
Kotobuki: A joint effort by Rahama and Porokka to attack Ikesuka and prevent Isao and his Brotherhood from controlling the portal.

Dogfight and aviation action style:
GAF: Fast and furious! Loud in your face! Fast missiles everywhere! Boom! Boom! BOOM!!!
Kotobuki: First person view makes every flight experience exhilarating and thrilling!

Music style:
GAF: Heavy and loud techno music. Might go crazy after prolong exposure.
Kotobuki: Typical military marching-like fanfare that complements the aerial action.

Animation style:
GAF: Mostly 2D except for some dogfight scenes.
Kotobuki: Mostly, if not entirely in CGI.

Studio house:
GAF: Satelite.
Kotobuki: WAO World and Gemba.

GAF: Light novel.
Kotobuki: Original anime.

It is without a doubt that Kouya Kotobuki No Hikoutai is superior to Girly Air Force in so many ways (rather, in all aspects) that it is a no brainer to do this. But it has to be done so as to continuously sing and shower praises for the former. I also hope they get a sequel. So it goes to show that sometimes old is gold. Rather, sometimes all that futuristic high technology doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good show. It all boils down to execution and the former nailed and pulled it off flawlessly (well, almost) with its simplicity. While Kouya Kotobuki No Hikoutai is flying high into the sunset, Girl Air Force on the other hand is sent flying away, took a nose dive, then crash and burn. Barbie 01, bail out, BAIL OUT! Kotobuki… Still soaring to greater heights.

Girly Air Force

June 2, 2019

With a name like that, surely many would have had the first impressions of Girly Air Force to be something like Strike Witches. You know, lots of cute girls in cute military outfits with cute accessories and weapons… Yeah… Too bad. Sounds more like click bait. I still can’t see why they came up with his unsuitable name. Like as though they already got the story and everything written down but couldn’t find the right name for the series. With the deadline approaching, hence they just slap whatever that comes to mind. Hmmm… What does this show mainly have? A few hot girls flying modern fighter jets shooting down the enemies. Uhm… Oh… Aha! The unit is all girls so that means it has got to be girly, no? And since they are fighting from the air force, hence Girly Air Force to the fore! Heh… Don’t worry, I made that BS up. But it is about a few hot girls flying modern fighter jets shooting down the enemy. But with a guy in the middle. Ah…

Episode 1
A couple of military terrorist planes known as Xi (pronounced as Zai) attack a civilian evacuation ship that Kei Narutani and Song Minghua are on. You think a bunch of ordinary jet fighters can take down this alien technology fighters? Don’t worry, here comes this red Japanese fighter, JAS39 Gripen. It matches its speed and agility to take down one before the other flees. Gripen then crashes. Normally no civilian in their right mind would dive into the ocean just to save the pilot. But Kei did. When Gripen’s hatch opens, the girl wakes up and kisses him before falling back to slumber. WTF?! Kei and Minghua are now living their refugee life in Japan. Yeah, Japan is so peaceful from Xi. Minghua is not happy that she finds a JASDF booklet in Kei’s room. He plans to join them and become a pilot. Partly they have free tuition and dormitory and you get paid, but his main objective is to avenge his mom who was killed by Xi. They start arguing with Minghua being pretty pessimistic about his chances since he is inferior to her in every way so how could he even think of becoming a pilot? Later as Kei does some errands, he spots the red Gripen being transported before him. This guy tries to chase it with his bicycle?! Thank Google Maps for locating a nearby military base! As he tries to get close to it, Minghua finds him. She was worried about him doing stupid things and tailed him. Another argument ensues. He calling her like his nagging mom and Minghua opposing it all because she has no one but him here so what if something happens to him when he is drafted? All this commotion has some thugs kidnapping them! Kei is then interrogated (they think he is a spy) and threatened to be killed when Gripen activates. That’s when the show is over. Haruka Yashirodoori who is a technical research officer under the Ministry of Defence and is tasked to find ways to combat Xi. So why is he telling a civilian kid all this military secrets? Like how the Xi uses HiMAT (Highly Manoeuvrable Aircraft Technology that has the planes turn and accelerate at impossible rates) and EPCM (Electronic Perceptory Counter Measures that has your vision blur when you get too close to them). Hence Gripen as an experimental craft is fitted with technologies to counter that and piloted by an autonomous piloting device known as Anima. His job is to tune these Daughters to fight Xi. However they are unstable. They know Kei was trying to rescue Gripen them and notice it stabilized when he is nearby. Like just now. Yashirodoori wants Kei to make sure Gripen can fly properly. It’s for the sake of mankind’s future!

Episode 2
Kei and Minghua are reunited and set free. With their heads cooled, they apologize to each other. Kei convinces Minghua that the military has gave him a part time job at the base. Next day as he arrives, he is greeted by Gripen. Because she has never interacted with anyone outside, he can observe her awkwardness. Also, she seems to be attracting a lot of stares from other JASDF pilots. Gripen shows him around the base as well as an old bunker she uses as her ‘secret hideout’. This job ends when Gripen is called for her usual check-up. Back home, Minghua tells him her refugee review application has been passed so she will be away tomorrow. She even teases him not to bring a girl home. Not if the girl comes to him! Yeah, that’s what Gripen did since Yashirodoori told her to. As they talk, Gripen also mentions how she is defective because during tests, she cannot seem to perform well. She can feel something is missing but doesn’t know what it is and hopes he could help teach her since Kei’s mom was a pilot and she let her young son fly a lot with her back then so technically he has got over a hundred of hours of flight time. It gets a bit heavy when he mentions she is gone (she was shot down by Xi during a stunt show). They try to stay positive and for the rest of the day, he brings her out. Like as though they’re on a date. With the news media talking about the possible negotiations with Xi, Gripen vows to protect mankind no matter what since she is a weapon made to do so. Date continues till the end of the day when Gripen suddenly collapses. Yashirodoori and his men then cart her away as he explains to Kei. Yeah, they were watching them all day. It seems Gripen only stays awake for 3 hours before ‘sleeping’. But today, she sailed uncharted waters by staying awake for 10 hours straight. Can we say Kei is the factor? Yashirodoori would like to develop a hypothesis for this but time is not on his side. Next week, Gripen will take a test flight. If she fails, she will be scrapped. Yes, it is costly to maintain one and if one fails, move on to another. If he claims Gripen saved him then otherwise he wouldn’t be here, he should stop complaining and help them.

Episode 3
Gripen uses a test simulator and fails. She complains it is not like the real deal. After explaining the NFI thingy that connects the plane to your sensory organs (like how you use your brain to control your limbs), Kei decides to give it a try. Heck, he is better than Gripen! Oh sh*t! He even thinks with a few more practice he can fly the real thing! Well, don’t let it get to you, girl. For the next few days, we see her in training as well as ‘dating’ Kei. Yashirodoori then shows Kei the EGG readings of Gripen. When her brainwaves start to destabilize, only Kei manages to stabilize it. Not only that, it matches exactly Kei’s brainwaves. It seems his proximity to her helps the stabilizing but they need to figure out how to increase the interval because he can’t be up there piloting with her all the time. Kei receives news that a city in China has been flattened by Xi. More woes when the pilots mock Gripen a monster that should be locked up. Kei goes to her defence but he learns the shocking truth. It seems Anima are made out of Xi parts that were shot down! With Kei in shock, Gripen runs away. Flashback shows the stunt show Kei’s mom was in being attacked by Xi. So the one who shot down mom was Gripen?! Thank goodness just a nightmare. Hopefully. So Kei is planning to skip her test flight day? Until he sees a muffler and letter from Gripen. I wonder how he got them. The letter states her gratefulness and her apologies for not telling the truth. She wanted to but when she learnt he hated Xi so much, she just couldn’t. So this letter is enough to make Kei ride all the way to go to her test flight? At least this wasn’t setup by the military and was Gripen’s true feelings. The test flight begins. Everything goes well until a real Xi shows up. Yashirodoori wants Gripen to abandon mission since she is only carrying training equipment. However she remains stubborn in wanting to take it down on her own. Because of that, her EGG pattern destabilizes and she loses consciousness. Looks like Kei’s screaming voice isn’t going to wake her up. Before Gripen is shot down, here comes F-15J-ANM Eagle taking down the bogey.

Episode 4
When Kei is hanging out with Minghua, suddenly Eagle comes to hide with them. Dumb SPs went looking the wrong direction. Apparently Eagle didn’t want to be put on a leash so she ran away. At least just outside the base to see what normal life is. So now you can expect a cat fight between Minghua and Eagle over Kei. Not. Eagle has a mentality of a kid so Minghua is ‘safe’ in that sense. Eagle then tells Kei that Gripen will be scrapped after the higher ups decide to shut down her project. This makes Kei dart back to the base. Yeah, military base must have very slacking check points. He finds Gripen at her secret hideout. She has resigned to her fate to be scrapped but Kei tells her not to give up as she has worked so hard. Cue for the alarm because Xi is spotted. Yashirodoori calls for Gripen’s help. Inside the control room, they see numerous Xi fighters advancing and the normal military jets of course can’t do much. Eagle is up there to stall them but it’s not enough. So Yashirodoori’s plan is to turn Gripen into a suicide fighter and take down all the Xi? Kei is disappointed in this but Yashirodoori points out another option: Take Gripen and run and hide. Just then, the base is hit by the Xi. Luckily it is bad shot otherwise everything would have been turned into rubble. Eagle is ordered to return and protect the base but she has her hands full with several bogeys. Gripen decides to fly even if it puts her life at risk. Don’t worry. Kei will fly with her to keep her conscious. It’s not like they’re going to listen if Yashirodoori refuses, right? With the base in tatters, they use the normal highway as the runway. Kei is suit up as Gripen begins taxing and take flight just enough time before Xi blows up the highway. With Gripen having trouble maintaining her conscious, Kei temporarily takes control. Remember, he has better flight skill than her! He even did some crazy move to destroy a Xi fighter! That must really have woken Gripen up. So she takes control of her plane and gets into the grove to shoot down Xi at crazy speeds. Let’s hope Kei’s body can keep up with the G-forces. Not sure if they break any sound barrier or Kei losing his mind because now he sees the world that Gripen supposedly sees. With them flying together, they take down the Xi horde before Kei passes out. Kei’s body takes some damage although he is overall stable. Yashirodoori deduces what Kei saw as impossible as human brains cannot be linked to NFI or have shared senses with Anima and Daughters. Scientifically, the only explanation is that he is hallucinating.

Episode 5
Gripen sulks after losing to Eagle in a test flight and the latter continues to brag she is better. Kei sees Yashirodoori as he is explained Gripen is carrying extra baggage and had to be careful. For now Kei’s solution is to train his body more but even so, there is a limit of how many G’s he can take. Gripen continues to lose to Eagle even in physical training. So to get over this, she take Kei to her room to ‘show him a good time’? WTF? Don’t worry, there are cameras around so no doing sneaky stuffs. He sees a Chinese private pilot licence exam book. Then he sees more than he bargained for because she got out of the shower naked. Gotta go. After leaving the base, he sees a girl being harassed by a thug. So he helps her out by pretending to be her acquaintance. He didn’t think of it much as he gives her directions to the airbase that she is asking. Next day, Kei is introduced to a new Anima. Yup, it’s that girl from yesterday, RF-4EJ-ANM Phantom II. The Anima and Kei gather before Yashirodoori as he explains the new announcement of turning this base into an independent unit called Independent Mixed Test Unit (IMTU). In view of the recent attack, the higher ups have approved for all Anima to be stationed here to improve their fighting chance against Xi as well as it is easier to maintain all of them in one place. Putting all eggs in 1 basket? It goes without saying all of them don’t get along and if they’re raring for a fight, Yashirodoori agrees to give them that in a test flight and test their capabilities. In the skies, despite Gripen and Eagle teaming up against Phantom, they easily lost. On the ground with Phantom rubbing it in to Eagle who is just moments away from crying (oh, she lost it already), Gripen realizes that Phantom had been cheating by feeding false info. This is why she could suddenly disappear and reappear in the radar screen. Although Phantom argues it doesn’t matter what you do in a war to win, Kei is not pleased because you don’t feed false data to your allies.

Episode 6
Kei complains to Yashirodoori about Phantom’s attitude so he is told that she has the highest priority to save humanity. Not humans. Humanity. Later Kei talks to Gripen about this. Gripen understands because if she goes down, humanity is as good as gone. Then a little bit of history like Russians were the first to research on Anima followed by Americans. Kei has to bail out on yet another hangout with Minghua for an emergency debriefing. An island near their defence line has been spotted to have Xi building their forward operating base. If they are successful, Japan is doomed. While it makes sense to bomb the hell out of them, however Phantom points out they are not bombers. That is why Japanese and American military will supply tons of explosive. Due to EPCM, this is where the Anima come in. It is suggested that Phantom leads to provide targeting support while the rest are escorts. Phantom disagrees with this plan as she doesn’t want to let weaklings escort her and die for nothing. But she will reconsider it if she is given freedom to decide. As they take off, Kei personally talks to Phantom about her goal. She believes if this mission fails, it is better to sacrifice whole of Japan which is just a small percentage to the world’s population because she cannot allow herself to die here and needs to get stronger to defeat Xi. She explains when she was born, she was forced to undergo countless simulations trillions of times worth a century! That’s some extreme conditioning. Bogeys in sight. Gripen and Eagle engage the enemy but there are too many and ammo is running low. Plus, Phantom is not cooperative. They give her an opening but she’s not responding. Actually, she is trying to maintain their air superiority and looking out for them for enemies coming in at blind spots. Eagle takes a hit and it gets worse when the base launches cluster bombs. Kei orders a retreat. Back on base, the usual bickering. Phantom insists they will have the necessary power to take down the base (even if it means requesting military aid) or else they abandon Japan altogether. This has Kei provoking Phantom being a weakling because she chooses her battlefield and can’t win unless she ‘cheats’. He claims this mission was nothing compared to the Xi attacking the base. Why is he putting all he said in Gripen’s mouth? He then challenges her that if they win, she must change her attitude and listen to them. Otherwise, Phantom will have Kei be her partner.

Episode 7
Yashirodoori won’t normally approve this mock battle but they need to get Phantom to participate in their next raid, so okay. But their planes need maintenance so a simulation will just do fine. Now Kei has to talk to Gripen but she is depressed thinking he doesn’t want her anymore. With a little sweet talk that he won’t give up on her, that was sure easy. Kei calls Minghua that he won’t be back. Bad timing with Eagle coming to hug him. So is he busy flirting? Call you back. Actually Eagle heard from Yashirodoori that the mock battle with Phantom is also to help avenge her. She felt happy and wanted to give him a hug. As the mock battle begins, as usual Phantom messes with the data. Gripen is overloaded and cannot process them all until she passes out. So with Kei taking over, suddenly he knows where to find Phantom and shoots her down. I guess Phantom has to be a good girl and listen to him now. Kei explains how their cockpit was manually fitted with 2 different versions. When Phantom overloaded Gripen’s Anima data, Kei switched to his version to receive data from the craft itself. Hence turning in an ordinary manned fighter made it easy for him to spot her. Phantom agrees to tomorrow’s raid but wants him to be the one piloting. She reasons that Gripen lacks capability to handle piloting and other few instrumental stuffs simultaneously. With him piloting, at least Gripen can focus on radar and weapon systems. As for tackling HiMAT, the key is altitude and speed to minimise loss of kinetic energy. That night, Gripen shows Kei another Anima of this base, Viper Zero. It has the best upgrades but since its mission is to protect the base, that’s why it never participates in other missions. Next dawn, the raid continues. Our trio are heading towards Xi’s base when they hear reports of other nations’ fleets backing them up have been destroyed. Phantom lies to Eagle to go shoot down the baddies and support the fleet since Yashirodoori says she’s the best. Can’t argue with that. Kei and Gripen are left with the task to protect Phantom. Multiples bogeys in sight.

Episode 8
Cluster bombs hinder their progress and even take out their own Xi comrades. All of a sudden, Viper flies in to bomb the heck out of those cluster bombs?! With the coast clear, Phantom is now able to lock on and relay message to all the artillery support as they fire all they’ve got at the base. With the remaining Xi retreating, mission accomplished. Kei and the Anima get their well-deserved res at the beach. Phantom hints that Kei might be the key in winning this war and perhaps could think about joining forces with her. She can show him things that Gripen can’t. Kei is back home and already with an argument with Minghua (about some movie they’re supposed to see). Nice timing for an emergency call from base to take him away. Somehow they screw up parts for Gripen so it is easier to bring him here than to bring Gripen back? During the break, Kei is surprised to see Minghua here but in a frilly dress. He tries to explain himself but she ignores him and leave. He finds it baffling and perhaps because they are arguing that she doesn’t want to talk to him and only communicates via text messages. Heck, she is even suggesting how to improve his relationship and hinting she likes him? So confusing. When he gets distracted and then looks back, she is gone. So Kei calls Minghua and it adds to the confusion that she starts yelling at him and that she is still at home. When Kei sees Yashirodoori, he is told that Minghua lookalike is actually Viper. Her core is very unstable and who she resembles depends on who is looking at her. Even if you take her pictures, every person will see her differently as she takes on the form based on the emotions of the one who looks at her. So the only explanation why she looks like Minghua is because he likes her, right? Time to debunk that as he only looks to Minghua as his sister. Yeah right. Kei returns home. Minghua mad. Time for apologies. Of course she can’t stay mad at him forever. Better still, he bought tickets to the movie. Everything solved? Until he starts ranting how she would look weird in frilly dresses and isn’t the feminine type. This time it’s really his fault for flaring up the argument again. I thought at this point he should have learnt to keep his mouth shut. If he can keep his job a secret, why not this?

Episode 9
Kei has this weird dream of Gripen. He is told not to cross over this Unphysical Layer as his existence will cease to exist. Also something about Gripen falling into the sea because that’s where she could get her memories back. Kei has lots of questions for her but you know, interference. What was it she said about Xi giving hope? Anyway, it looks like a nice day for Kei to finally spend some time with Minghua. Not! Because Yashirodoori takes him away for a very important last minute mission. Damn, Minghua abandoned again. Taken to another airbase, they meet their American counterpart, Dr William Shankle who is in America’s defence R&D and his Anima, F/A-18E-ANM Rhino. Their mission is to retake Shanghai and counterattack Xi across the Asian continent. Of course the Americans doesn’t think of just using Anima to deal with Xi. Introducing an unmanned fighter, FQ-150A Brawler. After analysing billions of EPCM patterns, they have developed a software and loaded it onto 12 of them. He is confident they can shoot down Xi. With Shankle and Yashirodoori arguing, the rest go get lunch. Kei asks Gripen about Brawler. However she cannot feel anything for it and its response is too slow. Rhino gives her opinion as Americans aren’t spending on making more Anima, they are now panicking with the recent failures. Hence teaming up with Japan who has more Anima and perhaps double that if they collaborate with Russia. However she hints that they aren’t looking for an enemy outside but an enemy inside too. Because they also look like humans, will they also experience the same thing and fight each other? Shankle has Kei play some Xi turn based simulator game. No matter what Kei does, Xi rules the world and humanity perishes. Until Gripen tries hers, Shankle becomes interested because despite Xi conquering the world, humanity still lives albeit in very remote places. He wants to know how she did that (intuition, she claims) and becomes pushy in wanting to analyse her routines and memory area. Yashirodoori puts a stop to this and takes them back. Shankle warns humanity needs data but is warned back he doesn’t understand Anima. Yashirodoori elaborates to Kei on what he means. It is impossible to analyse a living creature’s brain. Same goes for Xi. Shankle is a software engineer and hence he thinks he can unravel the mysteries if he finds their source code. Xi and Anima re totally different from each other.

Episode 10
In the weird dream again, Kei asks Gripen’s logic of moving the humans in the game. Something about Xi’s main goal is not elimination of humanity. Damn interference. Then she leaves him with a riddle. It will be soon that Kei must make a choice. Hence her job is to ensure he survives until all the pieces are in place. Kei is in a dilemma to tell Minghua about his Shanghai job. He knows she will be upset but if he doesn’t go now, he will not avenge his mom and will regret it. While jogging, somebody tries to shove him in the path of a truck! Thank goodness the truck misses. Kei tackles the perpetrator. Phantom? Actually she just wanted to hurt him (so this beats poisoning his dinner?) and wanted him to stay out of the Shanghai mission. If he does, Gripen will also follow. She believes this mission will fail and is intended to fail from the start. You see, the Americans plan to use those Brawlers to get combat data and also sacrifice Japanese’s Anima because they are jealous they have more than them. Damn power balance thingy. Kei goes back to talk to Minghua. Ignored at first but he sure does get her attention when he starts saying how important he is to her. I guess it wasn’t enough so here is a slap as thanks. Eventually she knows it’s coming and just accepts he’ll be away. It’s not like he is going to listen to her, right? So it’s best to trust him that he will finish the job and return home. Kei and his Anima harem see Shankle who briefs them first before the American military. The Brawlers will go first and the Anima last. Their mission is to significantly reduce the number of Xi because base on the algorithms, they will retreat once their numbers reach a certain level. Theoretically. Phantom asks if the Americans plan to win. Shankle can only speak on his own behalf. He wants to know more about Xi and their deepest secrets. Rhino then takes them to a place where the Americans throw them a welcome party. I guess you got to have fun before the final battle. Later Gripen talks to Kei and knows he is willing to sacrifice his life. She isn’t here to tell what is wrong or right. Just want to make him feel he wants to come home alive after completing the mission successfully and safely. Now there’s no reason why Kei should die meaninglessly, right?

Episode 11
The big operation begins and what is possibly the biggest dogfight ever. The Brawlers are dispatched too late but managed to find an opening for Kei and his Anima. They are then confronted by heavy bombers. They aren’t your typical heavy bombers. Because Xi heavy bombers are like aircraft carriers, carrying many smaller Xi crafts! Another round of dogfight but this time the EPCM takes a toll on the girls and the Xi could even manipulate the surrounding EPCM patterns to take control over the Brawlers. The mission is failure and retreat is the only option but with the relentless pounding from Xi, damn it must be their lucky day to finally break through. However they are low on fuel and the nearest airport to dock is Shanghai. It’s a ghost town with nobody around but oddly the electronics and other mechanisms are still functioning normally. Did everyone get spirited away? Since it is misty, Kei has this weird feeling remembering a certain dream. Since there is no fuel around, I guess they take their time to eat and rest. Since Gripen is drowsy, Rhino has got a room for them to stay. Rhino tells Kei why she likes the darkness because the boundaries disappear. When she was first born, somebody took her camping and she was overwhelmed by the stars in the sky. She felt floating in it and was part of the universe. Next morning, Kei wakes up and sees Rhino left a note that she went to look for fuel. Kei hears strange noises and checks it out. No jump scare. Just Rhino in a hoodie…

Episode 12
Rhino takes him to her Daughter as she talks about staying here forever. The more she talks, the more suspicious Kei feels. Is she really Rhino? He wants to leave but Rhino pulls a gun on him. Oddly, Kei manages to unscrew the fuel pump and throw it to her as distraction before running away. So he is faster than Rhino pulling the trigger? Anyway, Kei realizes the entire place is slowly turning into glass. He goes back to get Gripen. She is lost in some hypnotic dream and only snaps out because, you guessed it, Kei’s voice. They make a run back to Gripen’s Daughter. Damn, Rhino so kind to give them time to even take flight? As they engage in aerial dogfight, Rhino tries to convince them to just give in to the quiet, peaceful darkness. Gripen falls under her spell but of course once again, no surprises, Kei’s voice reminds her of her dream to fly with him. Sorry, Rhino. You’re all alone. Our pair wins the dogfight and sadly Rhino gets blasted out of the sky. Although this brings them back to reality, more Xi bogeys on their tail. Don’t worry. Eagle and Phantom are here to assist. Even Viper coming in for some more explosive action till the remaining Xi retreat. Kei learns that they went missing for 3 hours. The Brawlers went out of control and the mission was cancelled. They refuelled and went to look for them. In the aftermath as Kei recuperates in hospital, he talks to Yashirodoori about Anima. One tried to kill him but another tried to save him. Yashirodoori reveals he looked at Rhino’s source codes. USAF put a heavy limit on her character and treated her as a tool (f*cking Americans). There is no way of telling her true character now. Even if she acted differently before Kei, it could have been what she was programmed to do. When all those bonds were removed, she lost sight of herself. Luckily the Japanese Anima have their safeties. Just remember in any case, treat your Anima like humans. Treat them kindly. Yashirodoori gives him some hope because he and Gripen showed that there is a bond between a human and Anima. Kei later talks to Gripen and wonders if everything that happened to them were coincidences. However she doesn’t believe in fate and this has Kei to believe it is their own will and choices that brought them here. Kei has lots of questions than answers. Humanity gained nothing and they still know nothing about Xi or Anima. But if Xi isn’t taken care of, there is no future for humanity. For now, Anima and Daughters are enough to make that happen.

Top Gun: The Prince And The Pilotress
I can’t say that I am impressed with everything. I can’t say that I am impressed that this season ended either because with so many unanswered questions, it just gets more confusing and hence that unsatisfied feeling that it could have been much better. You mean like Kei ending up in some harem hijinks with his Anima harem? Damn, that would be worst! So what was eventually this whole season about? We didn’t get to know anything about the enemy more or their goals and in fact we just realize how weird everything is. Whatever. Kei and Gripen get to be together, right? I guess that is enough for now.

Unfortunately the whole story feels like a mess. Not only it does feel incomplete but it feels like it is also here, there and everywhere. From the general picture, it looks like it is about Kei trying to further his relationship with the Japanese Anima so that they could fight better against the Xi. But I see hardly anything going in this direction despite Kei spending a lot of time with Gripen. And we still don’t know anything! I guess one of the biggest gripes is that we don’t really know what the enemy is. We are not sure if they are humans or some alien civilization but logic and the so called hints that dictate here, they are mostly the latter. If that is the case, they must think it really justifies the series’ plot because well, mankind doesn’t know much about the Xi except for their truly ferocious aircrafts. Imagine how disappointed we will be at this point when some truths of the Xi are revealed. Even right of now they teased us about Anima being salvaged parts of Xi and that weird dream that Kei has with Gripen that makes her sound so philosophical or nonsensical depending on how much you understand what is going on (no prizes to guess which side I’m on). All this are just big question marks that were never really left answered.

Therefore having such ‘cool’ dogfights between such futuristic jet fighters seem to be the series’ only selling point but even so, they are not that interesting. Sure, they are entertaining to say the least (that’s me being generous) but it overall comes off as being in-your-face loud. You know, everything is taking at such a high speed, the chase, the attacks, the dodging, the explosions, like as though they are trying to spam all that and instil some sort of exhilaration within us. You know, when you’re watching a racing event like Formula One? Don’t you just feel the excitement when those fast cars zoom by? Thus it is the same thing here. The action sequences are so fast and furious like as though it is like me watching my nephews take up their jet model toys and getting this chaotic with both these toys in their hands. Really. It makes me think if those action sequences were inspired by Michael Bay or something. And Anima being made from Xi… Is this their logic of fighting fire with fire?

As far as the characters go, they are really disappointing and as generic and cliché as they can get. Yeah, they’re trying to make it some sort of harem, fighter jets version but failed. Kei seems to be the lucky guy selected out of millions of possible people because he was the only one who had the heart to save Gripen who saved the whole lot of refugees then. Sure, thanks. But if I were him, I would rather be a coward and stick hiding in my safety zone until I reach Japan. True, this kid wants revenge on his mom and so this chance of saving Gripen feels like a flimsy reason why he gets to join the military since he is the only special one who can ‘move’ Gripen and possibly other Anima. Damn, you mean the military didn’t do this screening for other potential candidates even after Kei’s proximity to the Anima proves something even though it is not conclusive evidence? At least try something. Aren’t you researching ways to fight Xi? No wonder Kei gets to monopolize his pseudo harem. And sure, his mom was a pilot and that naturally makes him a better pilot than Gripen too, right? Whatever. Another excuse for him to be paired with Gripen more often as she isn’t that stable to begin with.

Kei’s Anima harem can be easily pigeonholed. Gripen the retard, Eagle the bratty child and Phantom the arrogant b*tch. That’s all you need to know about them. Really. And then they put in this wild card, Viper who amounts to nothing more than plot convenience or red herring. There was a reason why they can’t use her for every mission (something to do with her being the last line of defence) and when that one mission she literally flies in as a surprise attack and bombs the hell out of the enemy, that was more BS and crap than anything else in this series! I mean, like WTF?! It’s like, we introduce this not so important character, tease you a little, make her go into action for a while to leave you dumbfounded and then bring her back into the shadows again. And it feels like they are lazy to design her character and gave that excuse she takes whatever form your memories think of her as. Yeah, real ‘unique’ you guys. Sadly for Rhino, I thought she would defect from America to Japan but she had to die to be truly free. It gives us the wrong impression that Americans are heartless bastards. And Japanese are the kinder ones. Because, Japan. So in order to preserve their so called balance, now the Americans have no more Anima (assuming Rhino was their only one). Yeah, served them right. And with the Brawlers failing their role, back to the drawing board.

I feel pity for side character Minghua. Her literal role becomes a running joke because as soon as she thinks she has got free time to spend with Kei, suddenly a mission pops up for him and he must go. Mission and future of humanity more important than this fleeting romance. Wow. Minghua is the most patient girl ever. Kei, you better be thankful that there is a human girl willing to be there and understand your situation without question! So few frustrating moments from her is understandable. She’s a woman, you know ;p. Too bad Kei only looks to her as his sister, though. Yashirodoori as your nerdy and under the weather chain smoking scientist to explain all your crap about Xi and his Anima, it makes everything sound so technical. In other words, BS. I guess he can spout all those seeing he has been in this research for so long that his long sour face justifies it all. Damn they really use hard terms like EPCM and EGG pattern that dumb and ordinary users like me don’t seem to connect. Whatever is happening, sure, just quote those terms and we’ll accept it just to get through the episode.

I have not seen the anime Evangelion but somehow watching this series makes me draw a few comparisons even though they sound so ridiculous. I mean you have main character kid who can only pilot a certain machine (because you don’t see other military dudes doing the same), he’s got a mini harem, they fight a certain alien race out to harm humanity, a nerdy scientist to back up all the sci-fi technical crap, and instead of depression we got some mild revenge as the theme for our young hero here. Oh yeah. So original…

I believe it is for characterization because when you have very colourful and colour coded jet fighters, it just feels so odd. Because in real life if such fighter jets were this colourful and bright, the enemy would already spot them easily and shoot them down. So you can’t really miss it when you see the red jet fighter. It’s Gripen! Yellow, it’s Eagle! Green, it’s Phantom! Blue, it’s Rhino! Purple, it’s Viper! Go, Go, Power Daughters! Now I wonder who will be the black or white colour coded jet… Other than that, the art and animation are just average. CGI used during the dogfight sequences don’t look jarring because everything is so fast. After all, with Xi alien technology, the craft has to look so futuristic and alien-like and that is only possible when you do bad CGI. Yeah… This series is animated by Satelite who did Nanbaka, Log Horizon, Mouretsu Pirates and Sousei No Aquarion.

Voice acting nothing special in particular. I thought Rhino sounded so familiar and then only I found out and it hit me, Ryouko Shiraishi. Damn, I thought this kansai-ben seiyuu had long retired. Maybe making a temporary return to kill time, huh? And Kenjiro Tsuda being Kenjiro Tsuda as Shankle. The other casts are Ryota Ohsaka as Kei (Climb in Overlord), Yuuka Morishima as Gripen (Otome in Wake Up Girls! Shin Shou), Hitomi Ohwada as Eagle (Ayano in Hanebado), Shiori Izawa as Phantom (Yui in Uchi No Maid Ga Uzasugiru), Lynn as Minghua (Maya in Sabagebu) and Kenji Nomura as Yashirodoori (Ushiyama in Golden Kamuy).

Many of the music in this series are really heavy on the techno side. Especially the action sequences that could be dubstep worthy. Seriously. Sometimes I feel that prolonged hearing of these pieces would make you lose your mind because they are really, uhm, how should I put it? Piercing… Even the opening theme, Break The Blue by Run Girls Run is so heavy on the techno effects that it could be our EPCM when exposed for long periods of time. I suppose all is not lost since the ending theme, Colourful Wing by the trio behind Gripen, Eagle and Phantom sounds more like generic anime pop. Though, the ending animation credits can be a trippy hell because WTF, girls flying through some colourful trippy space. Colourful fish! Colourful leaves! Rainbow! Lights! Lights everywhere! WTF is this LSD trip???!!! Also to note when the series tries to get funny, especially moments of Kei having trouble with his girls, they play this really awkward comical tune. Sounds so cartoonish. Sounds one kind. Are we supposed to laugh here? I don’t know if some snake charmer’s flute got hammered broken and thus this weird sound effect.

Overall, if you want a better aircraft anime in the same season, I definitely recommend you go watch Kouya No Kotobuki Hikoutai. That one is definitely superior in many aspects. I guarantee you that despite their propeller powered planes that lack any sort of technology, that series flies higher and grounds this one totally. Confusing storyline and bad characters didn’t help this series at all and certainly the loud and explosive air battles are just the air version of the Fast and Furious franchise. No, seriously. Too bad with such a girly name in its title, they can’t make this the ultimate manly anime for men. You know, hot chicks and hot fighter jets all in one? Garrr!!! Sadly this series didn’t manage to fly off into the sunset but crashed and burnt. Don’t worry, the pilots ejected safely so we can have another sequel or other sh*tty series of the similar genre the next time. Barbie 01, do not take off again, please!

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