Score: A+

I’ve seen some amazing first episodes, but this one is quite special. There are rare times when shows need a double episode to hit the ground running properly. But this one effectively started with a full-blown movie to start things off! Effectively 4 episodes worth of content in just episode 1. You can tell how special the people behind this show feel it is. In some ways it reminds me of the absolute love put into the productions of Kaguya-sama. Which makes sense considering it’s from the creator of Kaguya-sama! Everything has been done to let this show shine and it really does just that. The summary made the show sound good, but the actual episode was so far beyond it.

My goodness, this episode was beautiful and haunting!

Holy smokes Ai’s death hit like a truck. I didn’t spot any mentions of it before the episode, or the show came out and just went into it blind. Which I’m incredibly glad for. This kind of thing would still hit hard regardless, but not knowing it was coming made it even more memorable. Even right before the stalker showed up, I honestly expected it to be a surprise visit from Aqua and Ruby’s father. In a sense it was…but not really. Just a tragic moment where it took a second for the reality of that guy having stabbed Ai to really land. It makes sense for a dramatic moment that sets up the rest of the show. But I did not think she was going to die. As the episode went on, I thought part of the appeal would be seeing Ai balance being a mother and star.

What a traumatic moment for both. Maybe the universe was playing a practical joke or something. In some ways it just works. Is it better or worse for Ai’s children to be reincarnated people that know their past lives? That they can tackle her death with a larger life experience? Or was it crueler than letting innocent kids face that? I don’t know. Poor Ruby. That girl lived a harsh life in a hospital, was finding her happiness with her new mother, and then lost her. Of course, it was brutal for Aqua as well. Although it’s hard to feel that when his mind goes into such dark places.

Absolutely haunting!

Man, for a former doctor Aqua sure considers murder quite often! Maybe a side effect of being murdered himself. It’s impressive that in an hour and a half he considered murdering 3 separate people! He didn’t get there for the first two, but his life’s mission right now is getting the third one! This guy is dark for sure. But I kind of get it. He’s got an unusual mental space to be living in. He was a huge fan of Ai in part due to a patient of his that left a big mark on his life. Then he was reincarnated as her child and got to see this girl up close for quite some time. She became exceedingly special to him and then she was murdered.

Part of his despair and rage is probably directed at himself for being unable to save her. The person that killed “him” killed someone he cared about and all he could do was be there in her final moments. Focusing all that rage on the person truly responsible is an outlet for him. The mind of an adult and that child’s body creating a somewhat frightening combination.

It’s great that Ruby overcame her trauma

I honestly love the dynamic between Aqua and Ruby. And I think part of Aqua’s salvation will be from Ruby. The reveal of her being his former patient Sarina must be saved for something big. It was made obvious but wasn’t revealed in the opening “episode” like I was thinking it would be. It must be saved for something big. There must be a moment coming when Aqua is going to go fully off the rails and that saves him. A reminder that he was a doctor and that his past with Sarina meant something. Not sure where their sibling relationship will go. But the reveal of what connection they used to have must lead to something big.

Just a beautiful moment here

There’s so much to unpack with this episode. Just Ruby’s arc alone was solid. This poor girl was such a big fan, died, and got this wonderful second chance. The whole dancing practice alone could have been a highlight for a normal-sized episode. There’s a great interaction between past and present with Ruby. Her mind is influenced by her memories of having a body that couldn’t do what she wanted to do. So, she was always preparing to fall and thus couldn’t maintain her balance. It was almost like a sports player having a mental hangup. What a heavy fear for someone who in that moment was physically only a few years old.

It just made things all the sweeter when Ai was able to support her. The door for Ruby becoming the idol of her dreams has been opened. Even Ai’s death didn’t extinguish that fire. Heck, in a different show the whole focus of the show could be about Ruby chasing that dream. Being able to be the idol she always wanted to be thanks to the idol that gave her that dream in the first place. It’s just a cool concept that I hope isn’t lost amidst the revenge story that Aqua is telling.

Back when he was only angry at his mother being disrespected!

Before Ai’s death I wondered what Aqua would do with his life. What would steer him going forward? Would he just choose to walk the path of a doctor again? Or would he take advantage of the path Ai helped create and become an actor? It seemed like the latter was a solid possibility. It alone looked interesting since maybe it’d be fun for him to see if he could pull that off. Of course, he is clearly going to take that route now. Though the reason is quite a bit darker. He knows his father is connected to the entertainment industry. All he wants is to rise high enough that he can cross paths with him…and kill him.

Obviously understandable that he’d be full of anger. But it’s a tragic shame that he hasn’t yet realized what he’d be doing. Ai loved her children. He’d be staining her good will and love with blood and death. Aqua of course has his own will and feelings. But I don’t think he’s yet truly accepted Ai as his mother in this life. It seems likely that thinking about her and what he’d be doing will only land down the road.

We got moments like this alongside a dramatic death scene!

The crazy thing is that this episode was extremely fun for much of it. The tragedy mixed into it of course with the doctor’s death, Sarina’s death, and Ai’s death. But there was a lot of brightness. Ai’s powerful desire to have her kids really touched the doctor’s heart early on. And there was a lot of fun to be had with Ruby absolutely taking advantage of Ai pampering her whenever possible. The rivalry between breast-feeding or drinking from the bottle was kind of amusing too. It’s easy to get swept up by the tragedy of Ai’s death, but the fun was there throughout.

Ai was an amazing girl

And Ai herself was a star that shined bright throughout. She truly was a professional to the extreme. The backstory for her really landed. She was a girl that never felt loved growing up, took up the role of an idol with the understanding that she’d be lying to everyone, but she did it with the hope and dream of it being real. Honestly, it’s emotional just thinking about that right after watching the episode. She lived so hard and gave everything she had.

In the end Ai got what she truly wanted. The chance to overcome the fear of telling her children she loved them came and she landed it. That she got to die knowing that her love was real meant so much. She never got to find out the truth about her kids, but that just made it even better. There was no distraction. Instead, she was the mother who loved her kids, was happy they were safe, and accomplished so much in life. Even if that relationship ended her, having those kids gave her such fulfillment.

The entertainment industry has many sides to it

I do want to also talk about the dark side of entertainment. Some shows do tackle that, but this one really dives into it! It covers some tough topics like how being a major star doesn’t necessarily lead to grand wealth. Ai was absolutely a star, but for a long time she wasn’t making all that much. The financial was interesting, but also just how two-faced everyone is. It just makes you think about that working environment. Staff muttering complaints/criticisms, idols who don’t necessarily care about the audience all that much, and even the fans who are utterly selfish in how they “love” idols. There are obviously bright spots. And I’m sure there is legitimate love for entertainment in there. But episode doesn’t shy away from the harsher side.

I’m sure she’ll play a nice role in future events

I could go on forever about this. But safe to say this was a fantastic first episode and easily the best of the season for me so far. It just dropped a spectacular episode. The only thing I wonder is how the show will play out from here. Aqua’s motivation to hunt down his biological father and kill him is heavy. How well will it balance things? There is Ruby’s arc, the past lives for the main duo, the actress Kana also looks to be a major player going forward. Will this show manage to carry on strong from a truly fantastic first episode? I sure hope so!

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An older member at 25, yet a new addition to Anime Evo. Recently graduating University and in the difficult point between school and a true career. Anime being a salvation and blogging a good way to put all those hours of writing essays to some use. Enjoys talking about series, yet not taking on so many that the quality dips. A Canadian who enjoys his anime and hearing what others think about the series he enjoys watching.

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