Since the previous episode (9.5) was almost solely a recap, I’m skipping my thoughts on it and moving onto “Illegal Move”, where Fam becomes infinitely more interesting with Vincent’s commanding presence, Turan’s official alliance with Anatoray-Disith, Alvis’s return as the operator for Anatoray’s Exile, and Princess Liliana’s union with Luscinia. And even though I expected the majority of these, the episode still surprised me with Princes Liliana’s claim of an alliance with Luscinia and the following annexation of Turan. Fam does an almost complete change of tone with the most serious clinch we’ve seen yet.
The opening scene at Grand Lake where Vincent and Princess Millia officially bring their nations together set me on edge since it resembles Turan’s earlier attempt to come to peace with the Ades Federation. As that attempt ended in Turan’s demise, it was hard to not expect any immediate complications this time around. There are new players, including an older Alvis. Her introduction lacked the sparkle that I had hoped for since it consisted of Dio bringing our three girl protagonists for an exchange of names and smiles. Her role at them moment was to solely inform the audience of the inherited connections to the Exiles. Maybe her first scene doesn’t bother people new to the franchise, but I would have expected something a little more thoughtful for us older fans.
I also was saddened about Alvis’ change of seiyuu since I had become fond of her voice in the original LE. Regardless, I hope Hanazawa Kana is able to bring her talent into play and give us a memorable performance. Guardian Enzo of Lost in America makes a good point by noting that “…using KanaHana hints at the kind of otaku pandering that has infiltrated the series in many ways.” We were warned from the very first episode with the opening’s revealing shots of our female characters, then the later scene where Fam almost kills herself sleepwalking off the ship while wearing next to nothing. I would like to think that Alvis will be developed more as a character with intellectual worth than as a nod to the original, or as some type of “otaku pandering.” Her introduction gave us very little to go on for what to expect from her, but I look forward to seeing what kind of role she will fill. I’m especially curious to see which close friend of hers has died. Lavie? Claus?
Perhaps the most moving scene of this pivotal episode is the return of Princess Liliana. Up until then, the certainty of her death has been largely unknown. It’s no surprise that her survival comes as a surprise to Millia, as well as to the people of Turan. Unfortunately, Princess Lilliana is escorted by Luscinia, and the two do not hesitate in resuming control of the newly-formed Turan and proclaiming it united with the Ades Federation via annexation. Liliana’s change of attitude is shocking, and I can’t help but suspect some type of Guild brainwashing like what was used on Dio in LE. If that is the case, then her condition is reversible given time. I’m even more wary of this possibility given the mixed signals she sends–first her lack of care for Millia’s life, then her seeming satisfaction with seeing her little sister escape unharmed. However, unlike brainwashed Dio, Liliana’s eyes appear unclouded and her decisions seem like those made by a lucid mind.
Fam has surprised me in the past with its ability to raise the tension and make me truly worry about whether or not our protagonists can get of various situations, but this is the most worrisome one yet. With the Silvius completely surrounded not only by Luscinia and Lilliana’s ships, but also by Fam’s own captured AF battleships now loyal to the older princess, I don’t see our ragtag crew escaping. The infiltration of the Silvius headed by Alauda and disabling of the engines makes a retreat looks even more impossible. I have no doubt that Fam, Gisey, and Millia will be rescued from their AF vanship pursuers by the nearby Glacies patrol, but I don’t hold such firm hopes for the Silvius. I’d actually be more interested in seeing them lose and temporarily captured. This anime has been up and down for me, but “Illegal Move” is a definite up in the direction that I desire for the show.