Double-digits at last! Yes, I’m still behind… way, way behind. This week we’ll be getting fully caught up, however! (Really!) Bringing this project back up to speed, however, may entail posting one or two moderately terse recaps but at least I’ve thrown some screenies into the mix to keep things entertaining.
We pick up a bit before where we left off, with everyone wondering where Arika and Erstin have gone. Nagi seems to have a pretty good idea, and sends Sergei off to assist in the search. His little motorboat arrives just in time to see Arika’s fall from the cliff edge. The cyborg from Aswald spots him and summons a Slave (how convenient is it that it’s an aquatic type?) to get rid of this intruder who might, after all, rescue that inconvenient witness. Sergei, for some reason, thinks that weilding a speargun will make for a fair fight. The Slave destroys the boat and… well, that’s all we get for a little while.
The other hike participants are informed of things and retrieved to base camp. Nina is horrified, of course, to learn that Sergei went missing after joining in the search. Her hike partner, Tomoe, hides an evil smirk when she hears that Arika’s gone missing. This lends some credence to the “Tomoe is responsible for the bracelet sabotage” theory, at least. Even if it wasn’t her hands (she’s used others to do her dirty work before) it was likely done on her instructions.
Mashiro tries to order the assembled Otome to search for Arika and is teased for actually caring about the girl. Our young queen is still in denial, of course. Nina, for her part, becomes quite frantic to search for her “father” all on her own, if need be. Shizuru ends up slapping the girl’s face to bring her back to reality. She’s definitely the “tough love” type. Eventually, with Nagi’s smirking assistance, the full search party is rallied. There’s not much more to say about the progression of this plot thread other than to illustrate who’s throwing in with which faction at the moment.
Sergei walks out of the ocean cradling Arika in his arms. He’s sporting a gash on his upper left arm, but we’re left wondering how he prevailed and if he actually destroyed the Slave. (It wouldn’t just shrug its fins and let him go after a couple of go-arounds, would it? And if he did destroy the Slave, why didn’t its owner greenspark? Not to mention, how could he possibly have won?) Arika’s unconscious and they’re both quite chilled, but luckily there’s a beach hut nearby where they can hole up and get warm. For the sake of survival, Sergei resorts to the good old “body heat” treatment, stripping off both of their wet clothes and cuddling up. When Arika awakes, of course, she gets the wrong idea immediately. Sergei assures her that nothing happened, but there’s now a whole new level of awkwardness between them.
Midori and her Aswald friends, meanwhile, are spelunking and scavenging to the best of their ability. They’re looking for one particular piece of Old Earth technology, and indeed they find it. Their interactions here are clearly intended to show us that the four cyborgs have distinct (and a bit comedic) personalities, thus painting them as less evil than we might otherwise be led to believe of them.
Sergei and Arika are heading back to camp on foot. They scale a cliff and chat about various and sundry. At one point Sergei insists that Arika call him by his personal instead of family name; Arika takes it the wrong way, of course, but Sergei assures her that she’s about ten years too young for their relationship to be that kind of thing. (And fandom breathes a collective sigh of relief that maybe the writers won’t be taking their relationship in a somewhat disturbing direction. Whew.)
As they’re walking along, however, Sergei spots the Aswald group… and John Smith spots them. Smith deliberately draws attention to Sergei and Arika, though it’s difficult to speculate as to why. My best guess is that he knows how Sergei feels about Nagi’s dealings with Smith’s faction and is hoping Aswald will simply make quick work of a political rival. Time will tell, I suppose. At any rate, Nina and Shizuru show up in time to save the lost lambs from certain slaughter. Nina is startled to hear Arika speak to Sergei on a very familiar basis, however…
During the fight that ensues (complete with Haruka serving solely as comic relief, the poor gal) we learn a few things. Midori and Aswald think that Guarderobe and the Otome are foolishly preserving a dying world that should be destroyed. Aswald technology relies on short-duration use of nanotechnology, but the upside is not requiring a contract to release one’s powers… a fact thrown into stark relief by Haruka’s bumbling attempt to engage in combat before Yukino has granted permission. Maybe Haruka served a useful purpose in this episode after all, eh?
We’re treated to one more utterly implausible event: John Smith takes advantage of the fracas to shoot the prized microchip that Aswald went to all of this trouble for, without damaging it, grab it and flee from four Aswald pursuers… successfully. What mad skills does that wackjob have, anyway? Between this and Sergei’s presumed victory over the fishy Slave, the tenth episode of Mai Otome is the least plausible yet. Ah well.
Midori (after summoning her trademark wheeled mecha, Gakutenou! fanboys rejoice!) and Shizuru exchange words and blows. When asked, “Why do you fight,” Shizuru replies that it’s for her most important person. Hmm, shades of Mai HiME here, no? And we know who that person is. Midori’s time, and thus luck, runs out before very long, so she flees into the skies. One person on the sidelines who sees this actually recognizes what she sees; Youko the nurse and Midori the Aswald have some history, it turns out. (Not that this is much of a surprise to HiME fans, eh?)
Once the dust settles we’re treated to Arika’s voice reading the contents of a letter to her benefactor. She has to re-take the hike challenge, but her confidence and determination are renewed. As for Nagi and Sergei… Nagi makes it clear that he knows Sergei’s keeping things from him (and we’re left to wonder how successful Sergei’s been at hiding exactly what those things are) and issues a warning: “Don’t betray me.”