I figured Hiro was using some protection……from the plot, I mean.
So yeah, pretty predictable episode here. Our ragtag team of newbies had to step in during the battle and Hiro managed to survive piloting Strelizia a third time just in time to land the final blow on the Klaxosaur of the Week. One thing that did surprise me was that Squad 26 survived the whole thing. With how skilled they are and how they treated Squad 13 like dead weight, killing them off seemed like the natural course to take. Oh well, that’s really just a nitpick in the grand scheme of things.
At first, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the Klaxosaur of the Week though I have to admit that it became a pretty intimidating beast once it started transforming. As goofy as it was seeing Strelizia get pummeled by a living battering ram ought to be, it still managed to come across as brutal. Add on Hiro’s struggle to stay alive and I have to admit that this was pretty intense episode, even if it did stray on the predictable side of things.
I swear Ichigo is going to die in this show, not by a klaxosaur but rather from a heart attack caused by Hiro’s near death experiences. This girl is so clearly in love with him and I was actually getting irritated that she backed out from confessing those feelings. And don’t get me wrong, Hiro does have great chemistry with Zero Two but I’m starting to dislike that it’s at the cost of screwing Ichigo over in this story. That said, I do wonder if part of Ichigo’s arc is letting go of her feelings towards Hiro. Gorou is clearly aware that it hinders her ability as both a pilot and a leader and while she deserves to be thankful for Hiro’s survival, she does need to address this flaw of hers at some point.
Perhaps the most striking scene for me was how Hiro wakes up to see Zero Two enraged and struggling to fight the klaxosaur solo. There’s been a lot of talk about how Zero Two is really powerful and I’d argue that part of Hiro’s near embrace of death was his preconception that his partner would find someone else. This scene proved to be a big eye opener for Hiro. Not only does he sees a vulnerable side of Zero Two, he also realizes his utility towards her. With Hiro seemingly gone, Zero Two loses all sense of humanity, fighting in vain like a stubborn and rabid animal. Hiro then realizes that he’s not just a compatible partner for Zero Two but also someone who has been able to appeal to her humanity in a way her previous partners did not. The change in Zero Two’s eye color highlights the effect Hiro has on her; switching from a wildly drawn red iris to her usual blue pupils after her “darling” comforts and calms her down.
I think it’s also noteworthy that when Hiro is knocked out, Strelizia reverts back to its animal form from the first episode. That comes across to me as a supporting detail about how Hiro helps bring the more human side of his partner. And the weird wings at the end (seriously, what were they?) harkens to Hiro’s analogy from the first episode about being free like a flying bird. Perhaps it symbolizes his desire to free Zero Two from the societal restraints placed on her.
It’s quite the eye opener to find out that Hiro can control his tumor when push comes to shove. This boy sure is an enigma, huh? I feel like for every new thing we learn about him, there’s another question to ask. I am curious as to how exactly this ability works. Is this something he can do willingly or is it fueled by his increasing affection towards Zero Two? Either way, this surely can’t be a one and done deal. Even Hiro is unsure if that means piloting a fourth time will be completely okay for him. Then again, we’ve only learned this much about Hiro’s mysterious powers by having him take the risk so sooner or later, he’s going to have to pilot the damn robot again.
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