Okay, that’s it. You can pretty much consider me a fan of this series. This series isn’t among my favourites this spring season, but the past episodes have brought it pretty damn close. It really took some time and hiccups to get going, but after last week, I’m completely hooked to this series. It follows the classic “first half episodic second half continuous” format, and now that we’ve gotten to the continuous format I’m really enjoying this series up to the point at which I don’t really care about the Engrish (which actually was reasonably good with the native English people, and actually pretty bad with the Japanese and Chinese, like it actually should be).
However, at this point I was also very fond of Sora no Oto, but that was mostly because I was expecting a strong climax to come any minute, though it never really did, making a lot of its build-up pointless. Night Raid is different, though. While I can’t see into the future, I somehow feel like the creators know very well how to pace this show and what to build up for. The first six episodes were really meant to establish the characters and the setting: the episodic stories were also just meant for that, and to introduce the villains. Episode seven then dropped the bomb, and started off the real story of this show. It’s all signs that the creators spent a lot of time thinking about the series’ structure. At this point, I’m confident enough to say that if this show manages to indeed pull of that ending, I’ll call it superior to its Anime no Chikara predecessor.
Anyway, about this episode. It’s here where the series goes back to its roots as historical fiction. The previous episode did a wonderful job of establishing the historical roots behind the series, but this episode also made sure to remind us that we’re dealing with fiction when it goes back to the government-spanning plan of the villains. He really seems to be going for the intimidation element, detonating things that look like atom-bombs in front of a bunch of big-wigs. There’s no way that that could have happened in real life, however it does add an interesting twist to the whole story.
Criticism can sometimes be a weird thing. I just know that if it wasn’t for the previous episodes, I would have gone on about how the characters here weren’t careful enough like real spies, or indeed how overblown the villain is. This isn’t just a matter of development, but overall the series has really made up for these flaws for me. I think that it was the elegant build-up that did it for me, along with its risky but well fleshed out setting and the subtle bonds between the characters who take themselves and each other seriously. I really was expecting some cheesy back-story about Aoi’s girlfriend. But heck, the ending of this episode was a very powerful cliff-hanger when the two of them recognized each other.
Rating: ** (Excellent)