This episode to this reviewer presents the very best that Dai-Guard has to offer. It has all the elements that could have put the series in a league all its own, instead of being just an "OK time waster". We open up on Public Relations Division 2, who have suffered a betrayal by their tacticial advisor Shirota. Our heroes are also facing their own problems; Aoyama's mom is being hospitalized, Ibuki is having stepdad issues, and Akagi has a cold. He's the only one who shows up to work, and is the first to bear witness to the Army's own robot, Kokubogar. Eventually a challenge is issued between the two robots, which leads to following day. Akagi is still ill, and Aoyama and Ibuki are still mulling over their issues. Adding to Akagi's problems, it turns out Kokubogar is piloted by his old teacher Iizuka. The challenge begins, and our heroes perform horribly; it gets so bad that it nearly gets them killed, leaving Kokubogar to save the day and Akagi hospitalized. Akagi has always been seen as short-sighted and unsafe to work with. These accusations could've really held weight here, by having him go into the challenge angry and irrational over Shirota's betrayal. The resulting failure could've hit home hard, causing him to re-examine they way he does things and to be more considerate of his teammates. Instead, him being sick was out of his control, and nothing was his fault. This leaves his teammates to sulk and blame themselves over their own failures. And this a shame, because the idea behind this episode is fantastic. It's the first time things are taken seriously, with the pressures of normal life against the responsibilities of piloting a giant robot adding up, even ending with a tough lesson. Unfortunately, the refusal to have it's idealistic hero be at ACTUAL fault keeps this from being "A Lesson In Defeat" for our trio to being a "What The Hell, Hero?!" situation for two of them.
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