And so the misery is over.
Episode 9 is probably the saddest episode to date. With the start of the Spearhead Squadron’s final mission comes a depressing realization: that none of them will come out alive. This becomes clearer as they face an entire Legion army alone.
Nevertheless, our brave heroes will not back down, even when Shin orders the orders to hide while he goes in alone. It is at this moment that we finally see how deep Shin’s friendship runs with his members, to the point that he will sacrifice himself, as well as have some private time with his Legion-controlled brother, Shourei.
Fortunately, the feeling is mutual for the rest of the team, and thus begins a desperate battle for survival. The fight scenes, while brief, are engaging and heart-pumping. There’s high tension in the scenes themselves, especially because if the squadron fails, not only will Shin fail to keep his promise, but also because the Legion will decimate the Republic.
But despite the squadron’s skills, the Legion is just too many. And so it is here that Lena shines once more, finally defying every rule in the Republic to save what remains of her comrade. And she’s not alone either; having been confronted by Lena to reveal that Shin is her childhood friend, Annette comes to help Lena by upgrading the Para-RAID to allow vision, despite the risk of blindness, and save Shin.
The interesting part about their confrontation is the viciousness and cruel attitude that Lena has displayed. It shows just how much the kind Handler One has changed throughout the series as an effect of the Republic’s treatment of the Eighty-Six, though Annette also played a major impact in Lena’s attitude toward her.
Lena’s arrival finally evens the odds, and Shin manages to engage his brother in a duel to the death. And for the first time, we see a nearly crazy Shin fighting against impossible odds. Shourei proves to be a brutal and efficient fighter, and the haunting part about this is the fact that his mind is still pretty much sane, though warped by a combination of his love for Shin, his guilt over killing him once, and his desire to kill him again and assimilate him into the Legion.
Thus, his demise against Shin’s hands is all the more sad and bittersweet. Shourei finally apologizes to Shin, and though it is short, those simple three words contain all of Shourei’s regrets and love for his little brother.
In the end, Shourei’s death brings us two things that we’ve never seen from Shin before: the Undertaker shedding tears of grief, and a genuine and peaceful smile to celebrate the fulfillment of his vow to put his brother to rest.
With that comes a depressing farewell between Lena and the Spearhead Squadron. It is truly heart wrenching to see Lena running in the streets to chase them, only to fall down in grief when Shin bids goodbye before exiting the maximum range of the Para-RAID. The ending frame only emphasizes the fact that this may be indeed the last time we’ll see the squadron alive.
Overall, episode 9 is bittersweet and depressing. The fight scenes are good, but it is the emotional impact of the various scenes and the characterizations that make this an engaging episode.
Episode score: 9/10.