Atom The Beginning
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 2 of
Atom The Beginning ?
If you ever doubted that Ojou-sama Hair was a bad guy, this episode seems to put all those doubts to rest. Atom the Beginning's main action is two-fold this week: Hiroshi and Umataro are presenting their work at the graduate school's research update conference, while Ojou-sama Hair has sent her own robot to attack Lab 7. Whether or not she knew they'd be out isn't clear, but when she spies Hiroshi's little sister Ran hanging around the lab, she's awfully quick to make her the robot's target with a nasty little smile on her lips. Anyone who decides to attack a kid in a school uniform (who looks younger than her teen-age) has to be a villain in my book.
Luckily for Ran, the guys have left A106 behind, even though it's pretty clear that taking him with would have helped their presentation. As Hiroshi waxes eloquent about what it means to have a “heart,” A106 (or Six, as they call him for short) is busy proving his thesis. Despite the fact that he had to be reminded who Hiroshi was earlier in the day, Six immediately recognizes that Ran is the enemy's target and jumps in to save her life. He does mention her by name, which feels a little off given that he didn't know who one of his own creators was, but what's more important is his desire to protect her from harm. Six isn't just focused on taking out the enemy; his main goal is to stop the other robot from hurting a person. If that's not proof of the truth that Hiroshi's sadly failing to impress his university with, I don't know what is.
Ran is shaping up to be a decently interesting character, although she's still a little more static than her older companions. We have a much clearer picture of her brother's good-natured, anxious personality and Motoko's evolving viewpoint, as well as Umataro's passionate (yet off-putting) manner. Since Ran is the narrator, the series may simply be taking more time to flesh her out; what's become clear now is that she really needs to learn when she ought to ignore social niceties – her insistence on taking her shoes off when she enters Lab 7 nearly gets her killed. (Less of an issue but somewhat humorous to note is that after falling down a pile of rubble and landing hard on the ground, her first priority is to close her legs and sit like a lady rather than to check for pursuers.) This could simply be a sign that she's still very young, because otherwise it feels like a really strange detail for her to get hung up on when she's about to be killed by a psycho robot.
We also get an important glimpse of one professor who appears to be on Lab 7's side, a pickle-nosed fellow who's the sole person to take Umataro and Hiroshi's presentation seriously. He's also the most Tezuka-esque character to show up thus far, although I cannot for the life of me remember if I've seen him specifically elsewhere. If nothing else, his character design seems to indicate that he's going to be a major player somehow, if only in ensuring that Lab 7 is able to stay open. Since Umataro and Hiroshi missed all of the action – and don't seem inclined to listen to what Ran has to say about it – this may be even more important going forward, unless they're able to pull concrete proof from Six's memory when they restart him next episode.
Atom the Beginning is still getting its feet on the ground, but with two weeks of spectacular battles (last week's was admittedly more visually interesting, but both are exciting) and increasing proof that Six is more than what his creators hoped for, the series is definitely off to a promising start. I just hope it doesn't take too long to reveal who its villains goals – and that Ran learns a little common sense to go with her impressive smarts.
Atom The Beginning is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.
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