Girly Air Force
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Girly Air Force ?
I mentioned last week that adhering to the pacing of events from the source novels had seemingly resulted in the sequence of events feeling a little screwy in Girly Air Force. That's exemplified at the beginning of this episode, as the big pivotal fight against the Xi base, which has seen two episodes of build-up and concerned no less than the continued existence of Japan itself, climaxes and wraps up in just the first four minutes of this episode. Sure, Satelight's wild CGI dogfighting looks great, and it's at least interesting they didn't drag it out longer. But it still feels like it's over too quickly, with little added conflict or drama beyond a surprise last-minute assist, making it feel like they just ran out of time at the end of the last episode. Then we cut to the world's shortest beach episode as Phantom talks about how Kei has finally impressed her, and that teamwork between Anima and humans really might be the path forward to victory! It's all very basic resolution stuff, thankfully with little in the way of the awkward platitudes from last episode. No, the real plot of this episode focuses on a much more down-to-earth romcom conflict. What do you do when you're feuding with your childhood friend because you don't realize she's in love with you?
If you've forgotten about Minghua, that's probably because the show seemed to have as well, relegating her to momentary appearances so Kei could blow her off for his top-secret plane-smooching job. It's fine, since that's all you really need to know about her, as their relationship has become strained by Kei's increased distance and it all comes to a head this week. This is exemplified by a blown-off movie-date misunderstanding (which Kei is totally in the wrong on), which we learn about via flashback as Kei is shocked to discover a dead-ringhua for Minghua on a trip to the Okinawa base.
So about this week's new character with the surprise assist; I've been wrong about this show several times before and it looks like this is another example. Last episode I criticized the seemingly-awkward introduction of the experimental Viper Zero anima because I was under the impression it was some late-game next-arc element they were calling out too early. But no, it turns out this was immediate foreshadowing for the Viper Zero to come in this episode. She's mysterious, she wears frilly dresses, she talks by typing on her phone like Celty from Durarara, and she looks exactly like Minghua! I did briefly entertain the possibility that the show was throwing a huge curveball to imply that Minghua had secretly been Viper Zero this whole time somehow, because I obviously can't predict where this series is going, but no worries, the truth is infinitely sillier.
Kei's interactions with Viper Zero (while he's still under the impression that she's his childhood friend) actually wound up being some of my favorite things Girly Air Force has done so far. The impossibly-dense harem protagonist is another of those well-worn tropes the show has been all too happy to employ, so having a character whose role is to bluntly spell out to this doofus that a girl wants to jump his bones made this whole thing a nice lighthearted interlude. It's just funny to have this mystery character imparting a stock anime boy with surprisingly realistic relationship advice: just ask her out to another movie. It might also be that after all these other plane-girls who define their ‘usefulness’ to humanity by how good they are at blowing up bad guys, it's nice to have one who also seemingly wants to assist humans as an eccentric life coach.
Oh and speaking of eccentricities, the reason Viper Zero looks like Minghua? She's a shapeshifter operating on the principles of perception-based reality, who takes the form of whoever her observer happens to be thinking about the most. No they don't explain at all how the JSDF managed to build something like that by accident out of spare Xi parts. I love it.
Jokes aside, I really did appreciate Girly Air Force's approach this week. It accurately imitated the cartoonishly contrived harem hijinks and simple approach to relationship drama that I enjoyed about the titles of yesteryear it draws those elements from. Yeah the pacing's all over the place and it does end on the point of Kei and Minghua agreeing to admit they were both wrong (no way, Kei was 100% being a wad), but that's the sort of thing I expect. At least this week, Girly Air Force was able to just relax and have fun with itself, so I was too.
Girly Air Force is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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