Episode five was about as straightforward as you are going to get – it was the beginning of the Flying Circus summer tournament, and focused on various players and matches. Not a lot really happened in terms of character development and interaction, as one might expect – rather we got to see the characters in action and learn more both about the how to’s of playing the game and some of the strategy employed in different types of match ups. Oh yes – sorry for the delay in getting this post out; had a bout of sickness and extra busy time at work this week! Next week will hopefully be quicker….

Ao no Kanata - 05 - 01Ao no Kanata - 05 - 02Ao no Kanata - 05 - 03Ao no Kanata - 05 - 04

As expected, attending the Summer tournament are some of the starters from Takafuji that we have already met – Rika (Mashiro’s mentor), Reika (the ojou-sama style vice-captain of the team) and Kazunari (the captain). Another character we have not yet met before this episode also appears – a childhood friend of Mashiro named Okoze Arika. She goes to a school named Shitou Suisan (which apparently has an “older sister-younger sister” system similar to that spelled out in the famous Maria-sama ga Miteru novels – Arika’s “Onee-sama” is her “second” in the game), also reputed to be a good school for their Flying Circus club. But perhaps the most important characters that make their (re)appearance are Inui Saki (the emotionless girl who caught Asuka’s phone at the end of the last episode) and her second, Irina Avalon, who also seems to be a cultured, cool-headed ojou-sama sort.

Ao no Kanata - 05 - 05Ao no Kanata - 05 - 06Ao no Kanata - 05 - 07Ao no Kanata - 05 - 08

Of the matches themselves, while they were nicely animated and pretty engaging on the whole, there is not much to say. Mashiro had the misfortune of being paired up against Reika in an official game, and while she was able to make a much better showing this time around (partly because of the surprise change of fighter style to speeder style) Reika does happen to have practiced against her team mate Rika plenty of times, and knows her general style. Reika herself is an all-rounder, and once she went into “fighter” mode Mashiro was in a steadily losing battle. Just the opposite situation happened with Rika – she found herself matched up against Misaki, who was guided to a similar general strategy by Masaya and stifled her speeder style by some cagey fighting.

Ao no Kanata - 05 - 09Ao no Kanata - 05 - 10Ao no Kanata - 05 - 11Ao no Kanata - 05 - 12

The other two matches shown were quite different. The first was the Kunahama Flying Circus club captain Shion matched up against the mysterious Saki. Shion is a speeder style player, but … umm … lets just say that Saki thoroughly and utterly decimated and left him in the dust. It turns out that both Saki and her second (Irina) participated in Flying Circus matches in England (which also turns out to be the birthplace of the game, curiously) and Irina herself is the daughter of a famous grav-shoe maker. Saki is a speeder style and is inhumanly fast – possibly one of the fastest players in the world! Shion was glad to participate and all, and did score a point, but Saki out-sped and out-scored him 22-1. Yeah. Total annihilation. -_- Askua herself would up being matched against Mashiro’s childhood friend Arika (also a speeder style player), and barely defeated her, but once again learned super quickly mid-match and pulled off some spectacular physical feats as well – par for the course for her for the viewers! ^^

Ao no Kanata - 05 - 13Ao no Kanata - 05 - 14Ao no Kanata - 05 - 15Ao no Kanata - 05 - 16

Before closing up the post I should add that this episode both the OP and the ED really grew on me – but they grew on me in the sense of a very tasteful combination of visuals and audio. As I guessed last week, both of them are beginning to function in a similar way as the OP and ED from Nagi no Asukura. And no surprise there – it turns out they both did OP or ED for that series. It is not just that though – the visuals of the OP are especially downright lovely. Back to the episode itself, though, it looks like next week will be more of the Summer Tournament, but with the various players going on to their next match things should be heating up – for example, we know that Misaki will get another try at a match against Kazunari, although we also know that this time he will likely be playing “for keeps” and not holding back. It will be interesting to see who Asuka gets matched up against – possibly either Reika or Saki, although we have seen other characters show up in the OP who have not yet shown up. Looking forward to next week!

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Currently the “oji-san” of the staff members age wise (in his mid 40’s) yet the most recent addition, he is also a Japanophile from his teen years while not quite an “otaku” who lives in the United States. Came to actively following anime late in life (in 2008), but in general loves the traditional arts, history and culture of Japan as a whole, both ancient and modern.

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