Girly Air Force
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Girly Air Force ?
Girly Air Force still seems to be in the pre-flight checklist phase before it takes off to make its final approach for the season. For all the wonky pacing this adaptation has been saddled with, I appreciated how it affords the characters' military operations a realistic amount of preparation. And this episode does feature more in-depth analysis of the plan our team is putting into motion, though the sheer amount of details they impart make it almost certain that a whole lot of things are going to go wrong when the time comes. The interesting part comes from the layers of potential upsets and how the characters have caught onto some of them already. Plot-wise, this is definitely the most complex the show has felt so far.
That's not to say that the series is done killing time, however. There's another dream sequence between Kei and Gripen that's pretty much a repeat of the one from last time, complete with that internet dial-up tone garbling the important parts of Gripen's exposition. There are some allusions to the revelations from the RISK game last episode that I don't want to speculate on too hard, but along with some bits Rhino drops later in the episode, this make me think the show might be going for a harder anti-conflict angle than I previously gave it credit for. It's all going to tie into some final twist on the Xi and by extension the Anima, so we're still stuck waiting around for that. The direction is still way above the rest of the series though, including a really-nicely composed bit where Gripen walks away from Kei with the distance staggering between them as she talks. I wish the team had brought as much of their A-game with the rest of the show has they do here.
That's what rings true for the rest of the episode, as the characters have a series of conversations to get their emotional ducks in a row before the final conflict. Kei's the focal point for most of them, and the interactions are in-character if you've found yourself endeared to this crew over the course of this series. That's most apparent in Phantom kicking things off by attempting to throw Kei in front of a truck, relating to her pragmatic morality on avoiding losses in an operation she feels is doomed to fail, but the reason she feels that way makes things more interesting this time. It's been obvious that William Shankle was a shifty character with some ulterior motives beyond just beating the Xi, and of course it seems like an easy angle for a series so beholden to the JSDF to cast the American military as antagonists gunning for a fighting-force advantage. It all rounds back to Kei's motivations in the end though, asking the question of whether running in to get revenge on the Xi for killing his mom and destroying his homeland is worth walking into a deadly setup.
This spins out into the interactions Kei has with Minghua and Gripen later in the episode, where the seemingly-simple point is that Kei has to realize his life matters and he shouldn't throw it away simply for settling a conflict. It's a common enough theme in anime, but in this case it felt like a step up from Girly Air Force's previous focus, where fighting and proving themselves ‘useful’ was the best thing the Anima could do for their company. It's a swerve the show had lulled me into not expecting, but it's much appreciated. Willy Shanks's alleged plan for retaking Shanghai is all based on algorithms and acceptable losses, and our sympathetic characters seem set to reject that when the time comes.
Despite all the information being imparted through infodump conversations, this episode really flew by, pacing-wise. It's interspersed with some fun elements too, like a party thrown by the Americans and some brief room-sharing gags from Kei and Gripen, though that one felt more like a rehash of their dorm-room scene from episode 5. It was almost like the story needed any kind of levity before launching into the more sincere discussion of the pair's deepening bonds over valuing their own lives. As signified by the blank dialogue spaces and distance between the two in the dream sequence, the writing does convince me of how their relationship will be the big overcoming factor in the upcoming conflict. This episode did its job in terms of getting pieces set up for the final bout, with no big stumbles or annoyances along the way. And it helps that I find myself actually liking the thematic direction the series seems to be headed in now.
Girly Air Force is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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