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Aquarion #3 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Thursday, 04 March 2010 00:00
AquarionThe third volume of Aquarion sees normal service resumed, with a few episodes that are cheesy even by the show's high-dairy-content standards. That's not a complaint, just a comment, though, as things really pick up towards the end. But first, after Sylvia deals with the backwash from sharing some rather intimate moments with Apollo (no, not that sort of intimate), Pierre has to deal with his own feelings - in this case, of love spurned...

14 - Shining Shadows
Silvia's been seeing Apollo's dream - of Baron's capture and subsequent death, and the pain he feels at it, seen from Apollo's own viewpoint, and more besides. It's like she's been given a download of Apollo's life memories, but she's not sure what to do with them or whether she even wants them - especially when she realises that Apollo's likely to have received some of her own memories in exchange. Seems it's a side effect of her and Apollo touching the feather - but why? Meanwhile, the Shadow Angels launch another attack - and this time, their attacker is making use of stealth technology and can't be seen...

Trip to the counsellorWatching helplessly

15 - Aquarion's First Love
Pierre receives a letter from his little sister, which includes the unwelcome news that his brother is getting married - unwelcome as the lucky girl, Esperanza, is someone Pierre very much loved himself (and not in the way he seems to love everyone who can legitimately wear a skirt). End result: deep depression, as the normally cheery and energetic Pierre turns into something of a grump. Not to mention what it's doing to his combat performance. Not a good time, then, for a harvester to appear above San José - Pierre's home city. With his mental state unstable, the mission is left to Jun, Sylvia and Apollo, but when they can't destroy the attackers, Pierre soon becomes the only option they have left...

Pierre, in bad form...Back to normal

16 - Black Mirror
When Tsugumi and Jun develop what look like bite marks on their necks, there's a certain amount of panic - they were watching a vampire movie when the marks were spotted, after all. Shortly afterwards, both Tsugumi and Jun are suddenly taken ill, with blood tests showing them to be anaemic - could it possibly be that they really have been bitten by a vampire? Everyone knows the legend of vampires, but that's all they're meant to be - legends. But suspicion soon falls on Deava Base's most reclusive resident: Rena...

Rena or not?Co-piloting?

17 - Merge to Eat
When Tsugumi finds out that being overweight can cause problems when Aquarion unites - potentially fatal problems, at that - it's the spur for her to hit the diet routines, along with Reika (whose own weight has been creeping upwards lately). And blow up every bathroom scale in sight. They're soon joined by Silvia, but the girls are about to find out that sticking to a diet is easier said than done. Seeing their dreams, Shadow Angel Futaba decides to grant their subconscious wish for all this tempting food to disappear, leaving the base on the brink of starvation. With their resupply convoys also destroyed by the Shadow Angels, things are soon looking grim for Deava Base...

Snack timeWhere's the food!?

18 - Cosplay of the Soul
After one too many arguments, the Commander issues an unusual order: become your partner for a day, on the principle that you need to become a person before you can really understand them. For cosplay fan Jun it's almost a dream come true, as now he gets to play dressup with all the Aquarion pilots - and the rest of the gang seem to get into the mood as well. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the compliments are flying - at least for a while. But playing dressup wasn't quite what the Commander had in mind - he was looking for each pilot to delve a little deeper into the personality of the person they were playing, and as bad luck would have it, Reika's the first person to make that sort of connection, with Silvia. Meanwhile, Sirius feels the need to take on Apollo on his own ground - hunting in the forest that surrounds the base...

Cosplay dayAquarion powerup!

19 - Mischief Without Malice
When a giant tower appears, Reika, Apollo and Silvia are sent in the Vectors to investigate. When they get close to the tower, though, something begins to interfere with their bond with Aquarion. An attempt is made to exchange Sirius with Reika, but both pilots seem to disappear and all contact with Aquarion is lost. The pilots are still alive - but wherever they are, the world seems noticeably different. The tower still dominates the scene, but the closer they get to it the stranger things become...

Low-budget dayWho are you again?

20 - Sound of an Angel's Feather
Futaba's got a feather and he's going to use it. Last episode's plot may have failed, but where there's a will there's usually a way and he hasn't given up on tormenting the humans just yet. For Apollo, he doesn't even really need to do anything - after his encounter with Chibiko on the tower, he's back into his depression over the fate of Baron and his other friends. There's little time for such thoughts, though, when another attack by Mythical Beasts sees Apollo, Sirius and Sylvia called out for duty again. Realising they're dealing with the actions of a kid, they wonder how best to deal with him, as killing him seems a little extreme. Fortunately, Deava's new Shadow Angel capture system has just been completed and is ready for its first test - but Apollo, still smarting over his friends, would like to take a less harmless approach...

Union failureExperimental subject

One interesting episode early in the set is episode 16, where the show's focus finally gets around to Rena. In the background of pretty much every episode of Aquarion, Rena usually just sits quietly and floats around in her futuristic wheelchair, with barely any part to play in events - to the point where you sometimes wonder why she's even there. In this episode, we finally find out, and it has something to do with your neck. She's sensitive to sunlight, drinks blood... If it acts like a vampire, it must be a vampire, and so it's not much of a surprise when Rena does turn out to be one of the bloodthirsty ones - but a friendly one, and one with a few very useful tricks up her sleeve, as she shows that, when the need arises, she can be the catalyst who saves the day. There's a different side of her shown here that makes her a more interesting character than the distant, wheelchair-bound girl we normally see, and it's good to finally see that she does serve a useful purpose.

Where Rena impresses, though, Commander Fudo continues to just annoy, with his cryptic one-liners and daft motivational speeches really just getting to me. He's a character who really doesn't seem to serve a useful, but there is the feeling that more will be made of him as the series heads towards its climax. In the meantime, though, he seems to be getting ever more over-the-top and ever more annoying, in tandem with his ever-clueless sidekick, Jerome.

Another notable episode is episode 19, which is a strange beast, to say the least. It introduces Futaba, the last child of the Shadow Angels who is set to play a brief but significant role - but it's one of those episodes where the animation quality is so low that you have to wonder if the budget ran out. Bizarrely, it's also the only episode of the series to feature a swimsuit scene, so instead of the lovingly-detailed costumes and curves you normally get when such things appear, you get a bunch of horribly off-model characters who you can barely recognise. I feel cheated, even though this seems to have been a deliberate decision to fit with the rather surreal story that the episode serves up, courtesy of Futaba's idea of a little prank. The problem is that it's a little too surreal for its own good, and I really couldn't get into it. Futaba soon gets his comeuppance for his mischievous nature, too, as the final episode of the disc sees him captured - and event which will be the trigger that sees the series build to its climax. But that's for the next volume.

Along the way, there are some great comedy interludes, with dieting and scarily-accurate cosplay both getting a look-in - and usual for Aquarion, they're little things used to teach the crews a lesson that will later prove valuable. The fun is in the chaos those lesson cause along the way, though, and episodes 17 & 18 are the best of the bunch in terms of raising a smile.

This volume of Aquarion is firmly back to The Formula, which is a bit of a disappointment now that we know how good it can be when it gets into its stride, but there's still plenty of enjoyment to be had out of the episodes here, and Futaba's appearance is worth paying attention to. I can't deny that I'm really just waiting for the next volume, though, and seeing what happens when the two sides finally go head-to-head. Still one of my favourite recent shows, despite its flaws, and well worth watching.

Rating - ****

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