It seems like I’ve forgotten about our aloof and perverted mad scientist. Well here’s her character arc! And it brings back someone who took a breather since his last appearance too.
Back at the chairman’s office, Suginami Ikaruga is brought in for her opinion on their latest case. It seems a cell of a dark elf, the Lost Matrix, was taken by a spy from within the Alchemist Corporation. The chairman indicates that the corporation intends to use it to make weapons. Ikaruga scoffs at the notion, noting that no one has successfully tried to revive a legendary creature, especially since there are no more cells to be researched.
The chairman agrees, noting that the Lost Matrix itself was lost four years ago. He also notes that due to Ikaruga’s surname, Suginami, she was one of the genetically modified genius researchers that Alchemist had created and was working for them, and asks if she has anything else to tell him. She brushes him off, telling him she had already told him everything already and leaves.
The Inquisition lead advocates to lock her up, noting she clearly knows something is up, though the Academy chairman leaves her be, noting of the three options presented (trade, blackmail, or war) can be the same as the others. Outside, Ikaruga pulls out her phone, and contacts someone.
Elsewhere, the academy students look at a rankings board, and it seems several platoons have been disbanded (or killed, as we’ve seen in the series), with the Small Fry Platoon managing to hold on even with the lowest amounts of points. Usagi and Mari fight over responsibilities in the platoon (and bust sizes). Ouka and Takeru mull over their abyssal scores before Ikaruga comes in, and spouts a dramatic line. She also claims while the other girls may have gone head over heels for him and his pronunciations of comradeship, but she won’t be fooled that easily. Much to the embarrassment of the other girls. Noting that they should be focused on points, she notes if she should hack the database again for dangerous missions.
Back at the platoon room, they talk about dangerous missions, and the three girls (Mari, Ouka, and Usagi) argue about the validity of certain underground sewer cryptids. Takeru and Ikaruga note that they’ve not changed at all, with Ikaruga teasing Takeru’s choice of words. With that, she states she’s taking a leave of absence from school, and bids them farewell. This strikes Takeru, remembering from when he first met the weird girl, and then noting that it was the first time he’s heard her say goodbye. Usagi also notes that she’s been acting weird through the whole day as well.
In another location, a tall building surrounded by slums, Haunted reappears, seemingly teasing Suginami Ikaruga (but isn’t, is actually Suginami Isuka), who tosses it back at him and he loses interest. Asking if all Suginamis are that aloof, she states their only reason for living is to research things. Asking why she only wants to resurrect dark elves, and asking if it’s part of some deep seethed hatred, she denies this. Asking her why she betrayed Alchemist, she states Alchemist is merely a corporation. Her asking him to kill the scientists was a practical matter.
And this is where Haunted gets tetchy. He asks if she has any regard for human life. The other Suginami asks why he’s angry, to which he responds that Haunted loves to kill humans. He demands that she feel some emotion when killing. The emotionless killing of her fellow scientists disgusts him, though she calmly reminds him that she didn’t kill them. He did, having him state that wizards and scientists really do mix like oil and water. They have a need for each other, and she would keep her promise. Before anything else can be said, she suffers a sudden wave of pain only to tell Haunted she’s fine. She says someone has leaked information about the stolen Lost Matrix, and could be trusted, since it came from the thief herself, her sister, Suginami Ikaruga.
The scene cuts to the aforementioned 35th Test Platoon member, who disappears before her comrades eyes via the way of a covered manhole. While the underground section is like a labyrinth. While Mari knows the way around it, they have no way to find her until Lapis shows up. Underground, the two sisters have a talk, with Ikaruga stating her intentions. She wants in on the resurrection, and Isuka wants the Lost Matrix. Isuka notes that if Ikaruga gets in her way again, she won’t be merciful. At that point, two armed mercenaries find Ikaruga to escort her up.
Back topside, the rest of the 35th Test Platoon run from mobsters. While Lapis had led them to then right location, it seems there was a mafia trade going on. Apart from the three girls bickering, Takeru asks if Lapis knows where Ikaruga is, and she directs them to her location (Takeru helping a fallen Mari along the way), where they encounter her passed out at the foot of the mercenaries. Disabling them, a third one opens fire and scatters the group.
When she comes to, she explains that they can’t deal with ‘them’, only for Takeru’s comms to go flat as combat mechs attack. He manages to shelter Ikaruga from the attack, but is hit himself. Asking if there are hiding places, he tells her to run while he goes to look for the others. Seeing that he’s injured, she goes to take him to her safe house, telling him to stop pissing her off more than he has already when Takeru insists to go look for the others.
Ikaruga contacts her sister, talking about how her plans went haywire. Asking if this was a trap, Isuka doesn’t believe her that they aren’t and are just a test platoon. She gives her sister some advice, telling her to hire better mercenaries the next time, and if any platoon members are killed, she can kiss the Lost Matrix goodbye.
Back at the Academy, the chairman is on the phone with the Alchemist Corporation’s head. She states that a rogue research division is the problem, and that the corporation never authorized elf research. To placate the annoyed chairman, she promises to supply him with 150 of their newest dragoons for free. He notes that they don’t need any help in destroying the facility, and he gets her blessing, noting for them to destroy it thoroughly. She ends the call with a note that Alchemist looks forward to working them again. At this point, the chairman rallies the witch hunters and knights for war.
Back at the rogue research facility, the girls were stripped down and were apparently probed (according to Usagi’s lamentations of being unfit for marriage). Ouka asks Mari, who was an information broker before going over to the Academy, what is Alchemist doing. Mari states that she’s heard of Alchemist trying to revive elves. Finding it unrealistic, Mari states that it was a rumor and a pipe dream. Isuka then comes in tossing that out the window, and introduces herself as Ikaruga’s sister. Looking to see if they really are Ikaruga’s friends, they blurt out that they are, and she challenges them to see if they really knew her, noting that she is a weapon like her, who is only driven by her relentless inquiry.
This leads to her telling the girls who she is, and it details the younger years of both Ikaruga and Isuka. Both were small geniuses who excelled in the usual mad science fare of swapping brains and making deadly mind controlling gas. Being artificially born, while they understood the biological role of a ‘mother’, it is Ikaruga that yearns for a mom. It seems Ikaruga had found a fairy tale book (apparently from a child who was kidnapped and used as a test subject), teaching her early morality much to the annoyance of her sister.
Ikaruga resurrects a wood elf (with no mana), which upsets her sister. Having conducted a failed experiment, Ikaruga would be disposed of and liquidated (quite literally it turns out), though Ikaruga seems to have bonded with the newborn wood elf, who called her mama. Making up her mind, the younger Ikaruga leaves, but without Isuka claiming that they both need each other, being each other’s other half. All Isuka wants is to continue doing their research there with her. At this point, alarms ring out, as a voice over the PA announces that the Lost Matrix has been stolen from the facility.
Realizing what Ikaruga has done, Isuka bids her farewell. Stopping at the wood elf’s cell, it is gone, with Ikaruga realizing her baby had been terminated. At the sound of approaching boots reaches her, she escapes the facility, and come back to a scene in her safe house, an injured Takeru by her side, having listened to her the entire time.
She had come to the academy to keep the Lost Matrix away from Alchemist, noting they wouldn’t dare attack an Inquisition compound. She notes that now he knows that she’s a Suginami through and through. Ikaruga says she doesn’t know if what she’s doing is right or wrong. Takeru asks her why she leave and go to the border by herself; when she realized they were planning to resurrect dark elves, why’d she tried to cut a deal with them. He wants to know what she wants to do. Asking Takeru what he’ll do if she tells him, Takeru states that he’ll help her, or stop her, depending on her actions.
Ikaruga sighs, noting that he resembled her from before, and that by being with Takeru, it calms her. At this point, she asks him if he understood where she was going with this, and mounts them. An increasingly flustered Takeru, immobilized by his wounds, asks the now stripping Ikaruga what she is doing, to which she responds that this might be goodbye, and wants to experience sex, much to his awkward surprise.
That has got to be one of the longest write-ups I did in recent memory. And only because there was quite a bit of action here. And it has been awhile since I had a good laugh. Not since reading the reviews for the Haribo Sugar-Free Candy 5lb bag on Amazon. That ending, with the cut to the ED was perfectly timed to illicit some very hearty guffaws from me.
That said, of all the backstories of the girls, I found Suginami’s to be the more heart wrenching. Usagi’s brave front in light of her past was good, but Ikaruga’s childhood, if one can call it that, was sad. A few of the experiments the two Suginamis did turned my stomach, although it seems that was the norm for them. Ikaruga finding the fairy tale book from the liquefied test subject though and the injection of what we would consider normal morality was the wringer to Isuka.
I don’t think I could say Ikaruga is a broken bird, but one who discovered she was free. She wanted out of Alchemist Corporation, knowing the fates of the Suginamis who had failed. That detached and aloof emotion she showed looking at the pool of liquidated ex-Suginamis. The wood elf baby uttering the words ‘mama’ and naming it after the character in the fairy tale shattered that.
Now, going to Alchemist Corporation, the vagueness of when that facility went rogue is merely legal plausible deniability. The fact Isuka had Haunted kill the researchers could mean Alchemist can say she was the one doing the rogue experiments, and hiding maybe the fact they were trying to revive ancient and horrible legendary creatures for nearly four years.
The fact the chairman, who seems to be the head of the Inquisition rather than just in charge of the school can decide at will when to cut deals and to just burn things down without bothering to pin the crime. We saw a bit of this with Mari’s false arrest, acting as a honey trap for Haunted. The fact he can jump to the head of an inquisition witch hunt at whim shows that in this world, the peace that Takeru and his friends are studying and fighting for (and dying, it seems high schoolers are deputized anyways) is one of those uneasy peace.
It reminds me of the setting from Black Bullet, while people can look inwards and ignore the threats from outside until it comes in and destroys the false peace. The Chairman makes pinning down what kind of government this world is under hard to pin down. The fact the tech is soft-ish science fiction with magic in the universe also makes it seem both present day and futuristic. It can’t be as devastated of a world as Black Bullet is, but much like Black Bullet, it seems the heads of the Inquisition (and the Academy) alongside those scientists/pseudo-scientist-wizards who survived the old war is now in charge of a world that probably resembles that of Heavy Object. Not completely carved out geographically or by ethnicity, but by ideals.
What makes me curious is the ‘border’, does this mean that the city that the Academy is set in a sprawling metropolis that has somehow become something like Midgar in Final Fantasy 7? I’m intrigued at the setting, and would like to know more. I understand that the show is focused on Takeru and the girls, but I wanna go ahead and read the manga (and it to my reading like Gate) and probably hunt down the Light Novels. Might be able to quench my desire to know more.