Kyoukai Senki: Kyokkou no Souki Ep 1 & 2 Review

Here we go! After the first tv series kinda flunked in every way, Bandai has pulled out the trick under their sleeves whenever they wanted to save a franchise: get Obari to make it. And so we got Kyokkou no Souki (aka UltraSteel Orge-gear, yeah that’s what they call it). The series is an ONA broadcast on Bandai Spirit channel fortnightly on Thursday. So far we’ve had 2 episodes and due to the format and runtime of it, we’ll do a review for each 2 episodes released.

Kyokkou no Souki takes place in an alternate timeline with basically the same setting as the tv series. Japan is screwed over by foreign powerblocs and there are various Resistances trying to liberate the country. The organization in this ONA is called Hinukan, and our main protagonist is Chinen – an actual soldier with piloting experience in contrast to the “oblivious teenage boy who was living peacefully” type in the main series. Due to each episodes essentially having about 8 minutes of content (yes the entire ep including OP and ED is ~10 minutes), there is no time to setup a newbie with fighting motivation and stakes etc… And with 6 episodes, they essentially have to speedrun through those parts and just go all-in guns blazing.

We started off with some pretty standards world-building and character introduction. We got to see the North America forces kicking asses like usual. However, this team – the Grady Squad – is unlike the other cowards who only rely on remote controlled AMAIMs to fight. These guys actually sit in the cockpit just like the MAILeS pilots in the tv series. That’s actually a good change because we know how good the opponent team is this time. With the tv series, we know Brad’s team is good because they pilot the mechs themselves, so manned AMAIM is a testament of skill and confidence in this series. And the Grady team certainly has it. Their models are similar to the Brady Fox from the tv series.

Then we get to the Hinukan Resistance team, and the highlight character is Chinen and Mai Narumi. Chinen is our protag and from what the leader of the Resistance team said, he seems to be one heck of a pilot. Mai Narumi is basically just genderbent ara-ara Mikazuki Augus in Kyoukai Senki. She’s the gentle onee-san type who cares about others as well as very determined to accomplish the Resistance’s goal. She’s also featured prominently in the OP and we know this is an Obari show, so let’s hope she didn’t meet the same fate as that girl in the tv series.

Chinen so far hasn’t shown us ANY piloting skills in 2 episodes, aside from literally one moment at the end of ep 2. I think Obari is taking a bit of time to build up the hype for his debut in a proper ace mech like the Gouyou Custom. He’s currently piloting the Gouyou Custom unit 2 – which is definitely a mass-produced-ish type of AMAIM. The design is very militaristic and it has no notable features just yet. From his flashback, we know that Chinen lost a dear comrade in a past battle, and it still haunt him to this day. While others rely and praise Chinen, I think deep down Chinen is afraid that he won’t be able to live up to everyone’s expectation, but he couldn’t just abandon the fight altogether. It shows when he try to evacuate the people and save just a crate of grenades, he both wanted to do something but also too reckless to think clearly.

And then we get the veteran badass of the show: Jin Misawa and his Optimus Prime carrier. Jin is basically a one-man-one-AI badass that can take on an entire squad of experienced AMAIM pilot. Even Major Grady recognized that Jin is a formidable opponent and call him the Orge. So he’s basically well-known around the battlefield. Jin is also very straightforward and relentless in his behaviour. If he senses something wrong, he immediately act on it. He has a no-nonsense attitude and is prepared to dispose of useless allies that might threaten the Hinukan’s goal. His piloting skill doesn’t need to be discussed, dude’s a Doomguy in the Protogouyou – which is an amazing design by the way. It reminds me of the Byakuchi but much more badass and detailed. Jin is a hard-ass and badass but no doubt he will guide Chinen through his internal struggle and find his confidence again.

And we cannot miss his goddess – the ILeS Lamda (whose design strangely resembles the SIM cursor) and his carrier. Lamda – rather than guiding him through the fight and perform all the intricate piloting steps – actually assists him and watches his rear like a dedicated support unit. This makes them feel like equal partner and the way Jin talk to Lamda also hint that he treats Lamda as more than just an AI. In the OP, we see a woman alongside him – maybe it was his wife’s personality in Lamda and she might be the reason he’s doing all of this fighting. Now for the carrier tiself, it is pretty badass. It has all the heavy hitting artillery and support utilities that the Gouyou doesn’t need to carry. As mentioned, it reminds me of Optimus Prime support carrier that can assist him in battle. The Proto Gouyou and the Carrier fight so incredibly in-sync which goes to show the close dynamic between Jin and Lamda.

The animation of the series is pretty good. It’s not as fluid as the tv series but there are many great key frames with maximum Obarism! Because the fight scenes also aren’t as long and the episodes are quite short, the hype and enjoyment hasn’t reached a high note yet, but we’ll look forward to more in the future. The Proto Gouyou is a very cool mech and Obari really did a lot of “torso slimming” and “torso stretching” for it, along with a lot of eye flares for some badass cut. Hopefully Chinen will be able to pull off something this awesome in the future.

At the moment, Kyokkou no Souki has shown a lot of potential, much more than the tv series, with its more serious tone and just straight-up no cheesy approach to war. This is a series much like Gundam about losses and pain in war, with many lives forfeited and a difficult struggle for survival. The short episode length and low episode count will no doubt be detrimental to the series, but we’ll take what we can get to salvage the franchise.

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