For the first review in the series, please click here. Apologies for this being so late. Unforeseen consequences. So, when last we saw our intrepid
idiots heroes, they were facing down the unfriendly end of an enemy Object, with the Baby Magnum destroyed and many of their comrades altogether too toasty in the surrounding snow. The beginning of Episode 2 shows us how that comes to be...
Honestly, I had been expecting the combat between the two Objects to continue for longer. Whilst there is more to it than just the above, we are nonetheless brought to the point Episode 1 left us in before the OP rolls. That said, methods of stretching the fight out would likely involve more attention being paid to how Elites fight their Objects, and the show already gets enough audience commentary about its technical expositions. We do get our first mention of another of the global power blocs: the Faith Organisation (wonder what their schtick is) and the enemy Object has been nicknamed by ‘our’ side, the “Water Strider”.
During the fight with the Baby Magnum, one shot from the Water Strider hits the base, thus where all the bodies we’ve already seen came from. At this point, that could still be considered incidental. Clean Wars they may be, but being on the battlefield is still risky. Subsequent to the Baby Magnum being destroyed conclusively however, the surrender signal, a digital “White Flag”, is transmitted by Froleytia. At this point, hostilities should cease as any ability for the vanquished to resist is lost.
Yeah bollocks. The signal is completely ignored, with the Water Strider further bombarding the base facilities, targeting any structures involved with the direct maintenance of the Baby Magnum. This provides the personnel of the base, including Quenser and Heivia (No I’m not going to be using the ‘official’ spellings), some reprieve (aside from the ones near such structures) but it’s obviously merely a matter of time before the remaining soldiers become the next targets. They can’t run fast enough to escape, they can’t hide, and nothing they have can fight it. The anime does a good job making their fear, the fear of powerlessly facing your own abject annihilation, obvious. However, before the massacre is complete, the Water Strider withdraws.
As it turns out, Milinda is broadcasting a distress signal, and the Water Strider likely picked it up and has gone to hunt her down. Whilst she is certainly a priority target, without some of the background information the anime has yet to impart, it might come across as odd to reposition the Object from its ongoing attack on the base to prioritise her. At the risk of providing spoilers that may arise in future episodes (though it’d be a little late): the reason Elites are so important is because they are engineered and adapted for their specific Object. Their neurology is specifically “tuned” for the design architecture (software as well as structure); only the pilot of a specific Object can pilot it, and they can only pilot that specific Object (or one designed on the same principles). Without Milinda, even should the base manage to repair the Baby Magnum, there’s no-one who could use it. This also adds extra gravitas to her attitude in the first episode, where she talks about 1st Gen. Objects being outperformed by specialist designs of the 2nd Gen. She isn’t just talking about a machine, she’s talking about herself as well. The Baby Magnum is becoming obsolete, and she along with it. She cannot simply learn to operate something else.
Anyway, whilst I believe the anime is at fault for dropping that aspect of the setting, let’s move on. As Quenser states his deduction of the Waters Strider’s reason for departing, Froyletia screeches up in a 4x4 and calls out to our two
heroes idiots, telling them of a plan to evacuate across a bridge the enemy Object cannot pursue across and thereby manage to escape it before it returns to complete the massacre. When Quenser objects, mentioning Milinda’s SOS, Froyletia angrily grabs him and points out the young Object pilot is doing it intentionally, sacrificing herself to allow everyone else to get away. A teenage girl, or the full complement of the base. One, or several hundred. Keeping in mind that the enemy is something which cannot be withstood. Milinda is a lost cause, and the choice is accept her death or join her. Sometimes, the world just isn’t a nice place to be.
Even so, Quenser simply cannot accept that fact, displaying what some may consider moral fortitude, and others willful immaturity. As Heivia points out, pissing and wailing without the power to actually do anything is simply childish. No-one wants to leave Milinda, the taste of abandoning the girl who fought to protect you in order to save yourself is foul, but what other course of action is there when the only alternative is to die as well and in doing so make that girl’s sacrifice worthless? Yet, even so, Quenser finds that he cannot abandon the girl who stood between the ‘normal’ people and the overpowering existences that are Objects, demands Heivia’s rifle and sets out to do what he can. He acknowledges that he’s going to die even as he’s refusing to accept it (though he points out that it’s unlikely Milinda alone would be able to buy enough time for everyone to get away, so it’s more a matter of choosing how he’ll die anyway. You can decide for yourself how convincing an excuse that is even as he says it), and his fear is made brilliantly apparent by the shaking of his hands making it difficult for him to reinsert the magazine back into the weapon after he checks the rounds. It’s somewhat admirable to see a person take head on a chance of survival so small as to be negligible, because they wouldn’t be able to live with themselves anyway if they didn’t.
This respect might be quickly lost however, as Quenser is shown to have charged off into the snow and gotten himself lost. Skills. Remembering that the rifle features a directional microphone (remember, future), he picks up some chatter from some enemy soldiers and heads off in the appropriate direction, to come across Milinda having been captured by a squad of men discussing what they’re going to do with her. It’s at this point that he realises saving her is going to involve killing these men, an action that rationally speaking makes perfect sense; they’re the enemy, it’s a battlefield, but in reality is quite different. The idea of intentionally killing another person is actually something most humans have a deep-seated psychological aversion to, even when it’s counter-productive. (It should be noted that Quenser also displays pretty good weapon discipline, he must have had basic familiarisation somewhere). His issues with targeting the men significantly diminish as he continues to overhear them talking; their discussions regarding their intended treatment of Milinda (14 year old girl) are... well, let’s just say the “Faith Organisation” seems to lean towards some traditional aspects of organised religion over others...
His hesitation gone, Quenser opens fire on the men around Milinda... doing reasonably well for an amateur (though keep in mind he is using guided smart rounds...) though his ass does have to be saved first by Milinda herself, then suddenly by Heivia, who ended up getting guilt-tripped by Quenser’s speech earlier.
As the three confer about their situation, Milinda has some trouble understanding why the two would have come for her, not least because she had been considering all the other people in the base powerless and, frankly, useless; needing her to protect them. Though she regards herself as horrible for having such thoughts, out two
idiots heroes point that, basically, she’s not wrong. But right now, she doesn’t need to do it alone. They are then interrupted by the unmistakable sound of the Water Strider approaching them, prompting Heivia to have them run for a cave he knows is nearby (Hey Quenser, looking over the area geography is a plan, yeah?) Asking Quenser for the explosives that are part of a Combat Engineer’s loadout, Heivia collapses the entrance to the cave after they run inside to prevent the Object firing into the tunnel and killing them regardless; the blast throwing them to the cave floor and causing Milinda to land chest-first on Quenser’s face...
This, again, did not occur in the LN. They just fell over. The addition of the unnecessary fanservice is quite odd to me, I don’t get why it’s there. There’s enough in the source material, with better context, to establish Heivia and Quenser as snarking perverts without more needing to be awkwardly crammed in in ways which only detract from their characters.
Heivia only gets more annoyed with Quenser’s luck as the series continues.
Then we have a sudden scene-transition to them outside of the cave, our trio supposedly having found an exit (I found this the most jarring element of the entire episode. Anything which makes a viewer go “Wait, what?” is bad pacing, I feel), and it’s time to decide what they do now. Currently, Milinda is rescued from immediate danger and they are not in contact with the enemy. They could go to ground and continue trying to avoid notice... but that would make the retreating base personnel the next priority target, and giving them time to escape is the whole point of the three being out here. But deliberately getting the enemy’s attention would have them killed by the Object.
The following discussion slips in yet more exposition, though generally the amount in the episode is far less than the previous one. That said, hmm, a casual mention of the fact all Objects have a self-destruct device. I’m sure that won’t be at all relevant... After the discussing of various unworkable ideas (and seeing Milinda become adorably defensive regarding her loss), Quenser voices the only course of action left. The only chance they have for everyone to survive, however minimal, is to try and do the unthinkable: destroy an Object without one of their own. Though, this might just be me, but the phrasing he uses suggests for a while that he’s thinking of ‘jacking the enemy Object for their own use, something which would be known to be impossible if the fact that only its dedicated pilot (meaning not Milinda) can operate it had been established. As I say, maybe that’s just my mistaken take on things. We then get an ED which appears to be static shots from Milinda’s childhood, but without any particular context to make that relevant. [shrug]
All in all, I felt the episode was a bit rushed. Not fatally, but it makes me cautious going forward. The lack of useful details about the setting, even if it would mean yet more exposition, and the gratuitous perversion are both strikes against the series but not, yet, enough to condemn it. If the trend continues though, it’s going to become harder to view favourably. Also, minor nitpick, but how come the infographic above says “Affiliation: Unknown” We do know. We know because they tell us in the episode, before that graphic is shown. Wut?
Heavy Object can be viewed on Funimation.