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Linebarrels Of Iron Episode 9: Black Chamber

December 5, 2008

“Don’t worry. Hisataka Katou would never do anything that might betray your original ideals.”

Masaki Sugawara, Linebarrels OF Iron Episode 9: Black Chamber

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“NOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM.”

So we start off the entire episode with a shot of what seems to be the ocean floor, and what is clearly Glain-Neider doing more of its microwaving. As the Katou submarine collects the Glain-Neider from deep water, Yuriannu, right beside Katou, asks for the reason to go around the globe setting up those monstrous black balls; Katou, true to his otherworldly fashion, tells her to use her imagination.

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“Is that… the new model of toy from pR0n.org(y)?”

While the two continue their pseudo-flirting, Masaki, who has just climbed out of the Neider and is heading to the sub’s control room to report all to Katou, is cornered by Dmitirv, Sawatari and Sobi, all whom demand an explanation for all the balls being set up, albeit less-threateningly than this paragraph would have you believe. Masaki tells the trio that only Katou can and will inform them of the entire plan, and when Sawatari accuses Masaki of working in cahoots with Katou in a seperate plan, Masaki gives a sneer, and reassures them that Katou isn’t the type to betray his men.In the control room, Yuriannu is still pondering over this entire business of black balls, and Katou, displaying a map of all the spheres’ location, tells her to think about it.

After the pitched OP, Jiro, some dude acting as a field operative to JUDA in anti-Katou matters, is seen scouring the location of a Black Sphere, all the while wondering as to what would one be doing in the midst of a New Guinean forest.

Back at JUDA HQ, Jiro hands in a figurative empty report in front of everyone assembled in the President’s office, and when Shizuna questions his abilities, he (shamelessly?)takes it for a compliment.

As Rachel gets down to explaining what JUDA does know about the spheres at the moment, Kouichi notices that Yamashita isn’t as focused as he used to be. Rachel continues with her science hoo-haa, stating that there might be more that they haven’t found yet, and even with all the research institutes working on it, all they know is that the spheres are enclosing something, and when they do, that thing becomes closed off to the outside world. Untouchable. Can’t be seen.

As Ishigami keeps the conversation going, Reiji displays a new plan; instead of waiting for Katou to make his move before they rush to the aid of some other country again, this time, they’ll be taking the fight to one of their ARMA-manufacturing bases. Yamashita is visibly disturbed by this new plan, but simply doesn’t say anything.

At the JUDA dorm baths, Kouichi exclaims that he’s a tad disappointed that it’s just some Katou outpost they’ll be crushing. As both Izuna and Kouichi walk into the bathtub area, Izuna is visibly happy, stating that this is the first time since Shizuna and he and joined JUDA that they’re actually taking the fight to the enemy.

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“Hey, so Izuna does have muscles after all…”

The serious tone is broken, however, as Kouichi steps into the bath; he heats up in mere seconds, and his following panicked pleas for Izuna to douse him with cold water reaches even the adjacent girls’ bath with Shizuna and Emi inside(though they were but one wall away to begin with).

Kouichi berates Reiji, who shifts the blame back to Kouichi by telling him that he should have checked the temperature first. It doesn’t seem to be one of Kouichi’s whiny moments however, as Izuna sticks his hand in and is promptly forced to pull it out immediately with a shout, and admits that this time, it moght just have been Reiji being off his rocker instead of Kouichi.

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“All hail the bath gods! Bless the soap! Bless the water! Bless the scenic bathroom wallpaper!”

Reiji terms this as training; people tend to let down their guards during a bath, and even with Kouichi arguing that people are supposed to relax in a bath, Reiji stands up, revealing a big scar on his chest, and says that as a Machina pilot, they have to be ready at all times. Kouichi, still steaming mad, remarks that this has nothing to do with bathing.

Before the the two can turn the heat up a notch, Ishigami steps in, still fully clothed, and completely freezes the previous conversation by asking if Kouichi has had a crush on Emi for a long time. Izuna gives a “I’m done here” look, and Reiji simply gets out of the bath to clean his hair, while Kouichi, acutely aware of the girls’ bath opposite the wall, tries to sound nonchalant.

As Kouichi tries to deny his degree of passion to which Ishigami was implying, the president simply uses Kouichi’s past doubt (Emi is from another world, ZOMG!) to get around, and waving a brown envelope in front of him, which Ishigami claims to be filled with Emi’s secrets; all this while, the girls opposite can only listen on helplessly.

Cut to Yamashita, who’s just bought a drink after a nice run. Still antagonizing about Mr. Moritsugu since last episode, I see.

While Miu walks in just in time to see that Emi is forced to listen to all of Ishigami’s well-defined description of “Emi’s secrets”, he whips out an X-ray piece and dangles it in front of Kouichi, who is infinitely surprised to see naught but Emi’s skeleton. What follows is nothing short of brilliant wordplay on Ishigami’s part, though Izuna and Kouichi aren’t impressed. Shizuna on the opposite of the wall, however has had enough and displays her skill with a well-thrown tub over the wall.

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“I…I see it! I can see it! The trajectory of that dangerous pail… I can finally see it! *pling!*”

Ishigami senses the danger with his red Newtype-flash and dodges it with a nice side -flip; God however has eyes, and Ishigami’s fate was sealed the moment his side-flip ended with his foot on a bar of soap, causing him to slip across the room and plunge face-first into the still-scalding hot water. As a final reminder of the water, the bar of soap lands on Reiji’s head, eliciting an angry vein on Reiji’s face. Shizuna celebrates her victory as Miu relaxes in the tub, peace written all over her face.

We see Yamashita again, saying that he should have noticed. Noticed WHAT?

Cut to the mission time, where it seems Emi has joined them this time on the mission control section, what with Ishigami bandaged and unable to talk. Emi reassures Yui that she’ll do the best she can, and they cut communications.

Back at Kouichi’s school, Risako is very obviously not happy that both Kouichi and Emi are missing from class on the same day. She runs through reason after reason in her mind and finally does it aloud, much to her shame and the amusement of the class. Domyoji, whoever, seems only mildy fazed.

In JUDA’s dropship… thingy, Reiji goes over the plan (Operation Montagna Peligrosa) one more time, with Rachel explaining that this time it’s a joint operation with the South American forces against the Katou base and their local guerrilla allies. Kouichi says that Linebarrel’ s beam weapon (Executor) could take care of that easily, but Emi says that such an action is unacceptable on a mission to capture and seize. As Reiji walks out of the room to prepare, Yamashita is still worried, but unable to voice it out, with Kouichi catching sight of everything.

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“I keep telling you, woman, I’m not that strong under the covers, so stop beating me up while doing it already!”

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“He looks like Rock Lee… maybe minus the Rock and add in a ‘stock’.”

Back at JUDA HQ, Yui wonders aloud if only having Miu on defense duty is okay. Ishigami couldn’t care less and is more concerned with Yui taking off the bandages all over him so that he can drink from the cup beside him. Yui, mistaking his meaning behind his his muffled mutters, says that she has also asked for the protection of the government’s defense force, led by Shinobu Igarashi. (remember the squad leader from Episode 1?)

Half the world away, the South Americans begin the assault by first bombarding the base’s outer walls with RPGs and rockets, then air-dropping government ARMAs on the entire base. While the JUDA team is getting ready to deploy, Kouichi opens a private comm line to Yamashita to get to know his mental condition. Yamashita tires to shrug it off, but ultimately get’s surprised by Kouichi’s new attitude. Just before Linebarrel is slated to drop, Reiji asks if Kouichi now knows who Charlie was. Before Kouichi can answer, Reiji cuts the comm link and Vardant is deployed, followed by a flailing Linebarrel with a flailing Kouichi in the cockpit, as Emi and Rachel watch on, the “He’s an idiot” look on their faces.

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“If only I could fire them like a pair of machineguns!”

Both the Katou and South American forces are evenly matched, until the Machina start dropping down on the sectors they’re in charge of, as per Reiji’s orders. Hind-Kind and Yamashita are deployed near an exit, and Yamashita fires off two shells from the Hind’s powerful cannons to silence all possible resistance before deploying the Reflector Cores, information-gathering drones located on its hand.

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“RAPE THE DAM!”

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“This is what happens if you steal my chocolate. No one steals my chocolate.”

Deceive takes control of a nearby dam to cut off the base’s electrical supply and to protect the S.A. forces downstream, while Vardant hits dirt just outside the base’s front yard and proceeds to decimate the enemy forces there. Linebarrel lands a bit further off from Vardant’s position and begins to lure the enemy defenses in that direction.

Deceive stops the incoming  Katou ARMAs dead in their tracks with Nerve Crack (Shizuna discovering her twin brother’s latent sadism) and some creativity with it (Shizuna’s wisecracks are really bad), Emi and Rachel watch over the entire proceedings from up in the air, Yamashita demonstrates the power of the Hind’s Bullet Arms(super elastic artificial fiber allows the arms to stretch quickly and hand sections launched with great force), and Kouichi in the Linebarrel is… well, being Kouichi in the Linebarrel.

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“ZA WARUDO!”

I would have said the same for the Vardant, but apart from normal forces, it’s now facing ARMAs with active camo technology. While this has Yamashita the Reiji-worshiper panicking, Mr. Moritsugu himself isn’t fettered at all, and declines Rachel and Emi calling over someone to help; he waits for the ARMAs to make a mistake, reveling their location, before dicing one of them. Just before he can get the other, however, the Hind comes flying by and smacks into it, once again showing the power rag-doll physics have over machines running on artificial muscle.

Yamashita, now really pissed, ignores everyone trying to get him to calm down and proceeds to lay the hurt on the entire area. While Yamashita as a Factor certainly has talent, the ranged-type Hind is simply no match for the agile ARMAs at close-range, and Yamashita nearly bites the dust if the Vardant didn’t step in. While Yamashita is deeply grateful, Reiji proceeds to anchor the damaged Hind to the ground with one of its swords, saying that the Hind can still be used as a gun battery if it can’t move, and completely spoiling the “moment of gratitude”.

Reiji then proceeds to hand mission command over to Emi, and with her guidance, Deceive manages to get its sensory tentacles (I couldn’t find a better alternative, whoops) through a pipeline and into the main computer room, whereby it proceeds to hack into all the computers there while Vardant guards its back. Rachel is near ecstatic with the mere thought that she would have access to all of the Katou’s secrets.

Emi orders the Linebarrel to do what it does best, and within a few seconds, Kouichi has the entire base ready to surrender.

Yamashita can only watch on helplessly.

Back at the school, the reminding members of the Hayase Corps agree to meet up; Makoto, however, has to run early, leaving only two left to continue.

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“Reiji… I thought you loved me… yet you… you… you stabbed the Hind-Kind! It’s going to cost… all my allowance… to repair it… no more sweets… no more movie tapes… no more 1TB HD…”

As the S.A. army rounds up the survivors of the base, Kouichi asks the Endo twins about problem that seems to be affecting Rachel at the moment; it seems that the Katou keep their information somewhere else, so Rachel sort of went depressed at the empty files.

While the three were discussing about Emi’s spectacular tactical performance during the battle, they stumble upon Reiji asking for a reason for Yamashita’s poor performance this time, and Yamashita telling him that he was concerned. Reiji coldly brushes it aside by telling Yamashita that he doesn’t need protection and almost walks away if Kouichi hadn’t came over to confront him. Things would have gotten ugly there and then had Emi not came into the room, causing Kouichi to drop the matter.

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“That’s right, I designed this baby. It even has Devotion Aura to extend the lives of the grunts you’ll be pushing around for the next twenty episodes!”

Somewhere, we see two familiar people; one of them is Mr. Kiriyama from back at the UN meeting, while the second person is Makoto Domyoji, dressed in a pilot suit, and in front of him…

…the HFX-19 Jinrai.

*************************

Well, this episode has some of the best animation to date, and I’m not talking about the CG mech fights only. It seems that the quality has finally taken a turn for the better; little details like Izuna blowing his own fringe up, the way they talk… these are pretty good examples.

The bad thing, therefore, is the purpose. I couldn’t see the purpose of making Yamashita look bad instead of Kouichi, since plotwise, Yamashita seems to be the most stable of all the Factors save Miu. Also, what kind of role did the storywriters saddle Makoto with, making him a pilot just like that? Whenever I watch that particular scene, I keep getting reminded of EVA Unit 04 from Evangelion, and it’s not just the lighting. The entire thing stinks of the Linebarrel having to smash the Jinrai up, and it’s not that far off as well, seeing as how Kiriyama Heavy Industries is like a competitor against JUDA in the arms race right from the get-go.

Well, sit tight for next week! SANTA BOOBIES!

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