Soukou no Strain – 01
It was simply on a whim that I downloaded Soukou no Strain. I was about to sleep, but since I don’t turn off my laptop I decided it would be better for me to download some new episodes, and decided to watch S-Strain simply because it had too little information on the Internet â€“ at least for me. I didn’t expect the first episode to be anything as good as what I have just seen: I was in a stupor having slept for only four hours (it is imperative that one makes the most out of the last days of his vacation), but having viewed the first episode I’m very awake. It was akin to having a dog bite me in the ass (yes, and I’ve been bitten by a dog [rabid, no less] before) â€“ it’s just that jarring.
It all starts with a parting between a sister and a brother. The brother’s Ralph Werec, a distinguished fighter in the Union (one of the two warring factions), and the sister’s Sara Werec. Before they part Ralph promises to come back, and Sara promises to come to her brother as soon as she could. She tries to keep this promise of hers by distinguishing herself in some sort of military academy: she’s the one who often has the most enemy kills; she’s the one known to be a great student, even being compared to her brother and complimented that great skills are in the Werec bloodline. On the exercise shown she was the best student. Of course, she has friends, and one of them is infatuated with her. Her other friends quip, though, that she’s too busy aspiring to be with her brother that she doesn’t notice Cedric’s emotions (the guy who’s interested in her).
She often wanders off (as is suggested in the episode) to the top of a tower in her academy to reminisce the past she had with her brother as well as to strengthen her resolve to reach towards him. Cedric knows this idiosyncrasy of her character, and goes up there. They dance, and it is suggested that they do so often. Cedric, however, still doesn’t profess his true feelings towards her: he just dances with her. That is, of course, until explosions painted the night sky with an unsavory hue of fire red. They then quickly scramble to their
mobile suits Strains to battle the enemy. The attack was so surprising and so quick, however, that even the military officers running the school were caught unaware until significant damage and destruction has already been done by the unmanned Tumors. Her two other friends are already in their battle stations, prepared for combat while she and Cedric quickly scramble to put on their suits and get to battle (which they do). Although they did well against the unmanned force, there was a higher form of Strain approaching them at breakneck speed. One of her friends thought it was an ally, but Cedric suspected something else. They were attacked by this higher Strain, and they were all but decimated. Sara wasn’t killed because her Strain didn’t explode in midair, whereas her other friends’ did.
She then tracked the Strain to an old military lab. Whispers of angst already start to come from her, but she continues to track the Strain pilot. The Strain pilot obtained a loli (no joke, really) from a sealed container, and this loli was cute. As he proceeds to his Strain, however, Sara stops him by shooting nearby him. It is only when he turns around that she discovers that it is her brother, Ralph.
She tries to call to him when she discovers that it is her brother, but her brother just flies away. And as if that wasn’t enough, she got attacked by her brother and had her Strain (now borrowed from a newly-deceased instructor) broken into pieces. Luck again cushions her fall towards perdition: the capsule she was in does not explode. After coming out of the cockpit, however, she cries bloodcurdling peals of almost madness.
I don’t really do episode summaries anymore since I promised to finish Ergo Proxy, but look what I did. (I’m really sorry, Ergo Proxy fans. I just totally lost the will to blog as series as lacking as that.) I love the angst in S-Strain, though. It is visceral and really goes deep to the core of one’s psyche (in my opinion, anyway). I admire the nihilism that the producers of this series show: they were unhesitant to get rid of what seemed to be another main character and two supporting characters that early in the series. Of course, I admire them for that wonderful plot-twist â€“ the one you loved the most has become, in a spark, public (and maybe personal) enemy no. 1. What was better was that they did it well enough that it really surprised you. The voices of the seiyuu were quite impressive also: those bloodcurdling peals akin to banshee screams by Sara was among the best renditions of a horrific cocktail of sadness, desolation and madness. I appreciate this show for being tongue-in-cheek. Code Geass has done that, but it only started in ep3. This started as early as its first episode; what’s more, I haven’t seen many chicks dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and psychological aberrations much this season, so I totally welcome this. Although I do like harem anime, anime like these serve as effective counterbalances.
(I guess I spoke too early about Code Geass being the best recent mecha anime. Sorry. :V)