What They Say:
Daiya Tsuwabuki is a boy in junior high who is known as the town liar. He claims that five years ago, he was saved by a large mechanical dragon when he and his father were attacked at sea by mechanical beasts.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This second cour of episodes begins by following up on the events built up in the first and that have reached a dramatic pitch. With Noza’s defeat Vestaanu is now placed in command of the entire Darius Army, an army which receives an upgrade as the battles have lead to the development of the new and more powerful Hyper Steel Beasts. The Darius Army aren’t the only ones receiving an upgrade though as thanks to the Vice-captain the Daiku-Maryu also gains a powerful new method of entering the fray.
As the battles heat up Daiya will continue to search for clues as to the whereabouts of his father though he isn’t the only one searching for something. While Vestaanu has been given command of the Darius Army she learns that the mysterious droid commander Proist is up to something behind her back and her investigation leads her into a perilous situation where her only hope for survival may be in the form of an unexpected and possible unwelcome ally, though unwelcome allies may be problem for the Daiku-Maryu as well.
As the Gaiking and Daiku-Maryu are starting to have problems with the strength of the enemies encountered Captain Garius will take a chance on fate when he decides to approach a notorious gambler and currently exiled member of the crew, Dick Alcain. While the move will help bring firepower to the field it will also bring sparks to the crew as Dick’s exploits on board from a year ago haven’t been forgiven or forgotten and he still isn’t a great team player. With Dick’s return and with him the powerful Killjaguar mech he pilots the chances of success seem to grow, though a lack of team work combined with a new enemy super weapon may spell the end of Gaiking anyway.
Meanwhile as the Daiku-Maryu crew is struggling to deal with their returned member the Darius Army’s command structure is in a bit of chaos as well as it looks like Proist has been keeping a number of secrets from the other generals besides just the anti-Gaiking weapon. What revelation will happen with Proist that will shake the Darius Army to its core and focus it on a new, more dangerous path for the Daiku-Maryu while also spelling danger along with revelations for the other four generals? Given the stress they are under will the Daiku-Maryu’s crew find that their worst enemies are themselves when the pressures mount or will that title be reserved for the leader of the Darius Army when a forbidden weapon of hellish proportion rises from its grave?
The second cour of Gaiking starts off with a bang as the first left it positioned in a really strong place to do some unique and dramatic story telling. With the Daiku-Maryu under almost constant assault these episodes take a look at some of the members of the crew and how they bond as well as alliances formed even if temporarily. They also show that the Darius Army is even less the united front in its command structure than the previous episodes indicated and leave room for a rather showy and attention grabbing character to take center stage in their ranks.
A member of the Darius Army as it is shown to have been playing a long con game and at least one other member will suffer greatly as he discovers his life isn’t what it was assumed to be. Watching the events unfold Gaiking does a very good job of laying out the conflict between loyalty and what happens when a soldier starts to look closely at their own side and finds that they may have to examine their assumptions and beliefs. On the Daiku-Maryu though this group of fighters united by a common enemy will have to discover if they truly can trust the person next to them to watch their back or if insecurities and mistrust will doom any hope they have of standing united.
A hero is often said to be defined by his enemies. In the first 13 episodes the enemies occasionally showed a spark of life but for the most part were relatively in line with the four general template that are rather standard to Japanese stories of this type. With the current episodes however much about the generals is thrown into a new light which helps raise the interest in them, even if a number of the giant robot battles stay rather close to form. With this expansion of the enemies the writers are free to spend some time developing characters so that Daiya’s character isn’t shouldering the whole burden of trying to carry the human side of the stories all by himself.
This attempt does come off as a little spotty in places as once the events start to roll and the drama heats up it is hard to realize that a break from that pace maybe necessary as that level of tension can’t be maintained indefinitely as some of the levity just feels like it belongs earlier in the show. A few of these comedy moments probably don’t register as well for me as I am older than the intended target audience but for me they just feel like a penny on the tracks derailing the train of events that the writers had finally gotten moving in a direction that seemed innovative and fresh.
With this second set of episodes Gaiking: The Legend of Daiku-Maryu takes a remarkable step forward from the first set in terms of establishing a narrative of its own that allows it to move past many other series that also belong in the giant robot category. While it doesn’t abandon all its humor and themes aimed at the younger audience it does make a dramatic leap with a number of revelations made and situations turning even more perilous and builds nicely to the third and concluding set of stories.
Simulcast By: Hulu, Crunchyroll
Toshiba 15.4” Notebook