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Anime / Figure 17 Tsubasa & Hikaru

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Tsubasa, Hikaru, and Hokkaido

"Do you like yourself right now?"

Figure 17 Tsubasa & Hikaru is about a shy, introverted little girl named Tsubasa, taken out to the Hokkaido countryside by her father as he pursues his dream of becoming a baker. When, one night, she stumbles upon a crashed spacecraft — and then the pilot in a losing fight against its monstrous cargo - she herself is very nearly killed, saved only by a random accident involving the ship's emergency "Figure", a kind of biomechanical battle suit. Due to said accident, however, when the suit separates from her again it cannot return to storage, and instead copies Tsubasa's form. Tsubasa suddenly finds herself with a twin sister.

Figure 17 is an unusual anime, not least in that it seems impossible to fit into a genre. It combines elements of Slice of Life, with Magical Girl, Sci-Fi, Drama... Also, the creators chose to use thirteen 45-minutes episodes, originally aired once a month, rather than the more standard twenty-six 25-minute episodes once a week. This leads to much gentler pacing, the anime taking time to very deliberately explore its characters, not to mention animation quality one would normally expect to find only in an OVA.

While there are significant action elements, particularly in the battles against the Maguar, the story is really about Tsubasa and Hikaru's life together, and the gift of their new relationship as sisters. A great deal of time is spent emphasising the characters' fragility, especially as children — something which adds a serious element of tension to anything dangerous, with the at times followed up implication that, being as these, again, are children, ill will very likely come of their having to participate in combat. Attention is often placed heavily on the child's perspective, too.

Beware of spoilers! Many of them relate to the last fourth of the series, particularly the Grand Finale.


  • Adaptive Ability: Arguably the greatest problem in dealing with the Maguar is the fact that each one adapts countermeasures against the method used to kill the previous one making the next one in sequence all that much harder to kill. As a result, virtually every battle is both brutal and costly and forces the protagonists to come up with more methods of dispatching the beasts.
  • Adults Are Useless: Partially subverted. DD's carelessness transporting the Maguar gems got the Earth into this situation, and he has trouble fighting the Maguar at first. Later on in the series he joins up with Oldeena and they become a competent support team to Tsubasa/Hikaru, even going so far as to take down a Maguar without needing their help at all.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: In rural Hokkaido, in this case.
  • Anyone Can Die: The Maguar are very dangerous, and all those fighting them come close to being killed by the creatures. Indeed, one of the two protagonists dies in the end as a result of engaging one, and one of their school friends dies in the middle of the series, though not as a result of fighting Maguar.
  • Artificial Human: Hikaru is a malfunctioning "Figure", a form of biomechanical combat armour. In her case, she was an emergency unit that was smashed while the first Maguar was trying to kill Tsubasa, who was pressed against the wall underneath its case, and whose contents proceeded to spill over her and spontaneously activate. With no capsule to return to, however, the Figure instead cloned its user to make a form for itself, resulting in Hikaru, Tsubasa's artificial twin sister.
  • Astral Finale: Unusual for a show that's so down to Earth, but the main conflict is an alien threat. Downplayed in that the mothership is the site for the final battle and not outer space itself.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Tsubasa once raised her voice in episode 11 to stop some classmates from fighting over an ice hockey game during recess. The result: everyone, including Tsubasa, enters a state of Stunned Silence! Of course, Hikaru backs her up and breaks the Beat with this line:
  • Big Bad: The Mother Maguar becomes this on the later half of the show.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As the end of the anime approaches, the biggest question in the closing few episodes is whether or not Hikaru will survive. Being as the little energy remaining to her failing body was being spent to keep her alive, in the hope she might be taken back by DD and Oldina for preservation, the entirety of her role in the final battle is gruelling to watch. If Hikaru would have survived, she still would have had to leave Tsubasa behind. But at least she would have lived.
  • But Now I Must Go: Played Straight, Justified, and Subverted during the Grand Finale:
    • Straight: Tsubasa. The reason why is that her father is planning to open a bakery in Tokyo.
    • Justified: DD and Oldina obviously enough.
    • Subverted: Hikaru because she died before she can technically leave.
  • Call to Agriculture: Tsubasa's father. Well, it's a countryside bakery, but it's close enough.
  • Character Development: Tsubasa BIG TIME. She starts out the series very shy and quiet (even to her own father!) but as the series progresses, she becomes more confident in talking to others. By the last episode, she's able to convince her dad that the reason behind the mismatched gloves is because of her "friend" Hikaru.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Maguar's primary means of defending themselves.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Hikaru. In the second episode, she bit a Maguar's tentacle to set herself free and wasn't even scared when she got captured.
  • Delicate and Sickly: He's never shown to be ill, but Shou Aizawa's father remarks this about him during his funeral in episode 10.
    "He was such a happy child; you'd never would have guessed how sick he really was."
  • Disappears into Light: This happens to Hikaru after the Astral Finale.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The Sixth Maguar is pretty much this, since supposedly is the last enemy the twins have to defeat and it gives them quite a lenghty and complicated fight, improved as it is with the combat data of all the previous one. However, by the time they manage to beat him the series is far from finished.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: It happens to Shou Aizawa offscreen towards the end of episode 9. Much of the next episode is spent mourning his loss and is portrayed in a very realistic fashion, Meaningful Funeral and all.
  • Empathic Weapon: "Figures". Technically armour, but they enable combat on a level far beyond their user's normal limits when used. All Figures are implied to be sentient, on some level, however true personality and life seems only to be achieved in Hikaru's case after the spillage > cloning incident. Most Figures are, however, capable of making a conscious self-sacrifice in order to rescue their user from a lethal blow, destroying themselves in the process.
  • Ending Memorial Service: In the last episode, Tsubasa does this in front of Shou Aizawa's grave before she leaves Hokkaido to move back into Tokyo.
  • Eye Scream: Several Maguar die this way.
  • Fish out of Water: DD, especially in the second episode, has a rather hilarious case of this, not helped by the fact that he has to rely on two children.
  • Fusion Dance: Using a Figure functions rather like this, and given Hikaru is a Figure, but requires Tsubasa to take such a form, the two of them are quite a literal case.
  • Genre-Busting: Slice of Life, Magical Girl, Sci-fi, Horror (dude gets impaled in the second episode, framed alongside such stories like performing a school play written by one of the children). Contains a lot of drama that would alienate children of the protagonist's age yet still deals, very realistically (despite the aliens) with issues a child could struggle with.
  • Grand Finale: A surprisingly epic one, in which the two lead characters fight the mother Maguar in space.
  • Heroic BSoD: Tsubasa in episode 10 after Shou Aizawa dies. Subverted with Hikaru who gets over it quickly and on her own.
  • Heroic RRoD: This is how Hikaru dies in the Grand Finale.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: DD's Figure early in the anime does this to save its user, and later, Hikaru attempts to do the same for Tsubasa, but Tsubasa somehow repairs and forces them to continue fighting. This might, however, be the reason Hikaru's power started fading away, leading to her final heroic sacrifice at the end...
  • Holding Hands: Tsubasa and Hikaru all the time. It's not only how they transform into a Figure but it's also how Hikaru literally steers the other into experiencing life to the fullest. The ending sequence is also of these two doing this as the seasons change.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode's title is a question about what it means to find and have True Companions as well as Tsubasa's innermost feelings. Episode 3 is the only exception whose title is "Be Courageous". The page quote is episode 1's title.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Sort of. Tsubasa and Hikaru love each other to bits; in their minds, Hikaru's especially, they're the best thing that ever happened to each other. Neither even seems bothered by their ability to become Figure 17 - but both of them, especially Tsubasa, just want the whole god-awful job of hunting down Maguar to be over with, and are hit increasingly hard by each abortive declaration that it's over.
  • Intrepid Reporter: A reporter stumbles across a meadow killed by a Maguar's poison, and investigates further, taking a sample left in the monster's wake to a scientist friend for analysis and generally chasing the story throughout the plot.
  • Kill Sat: Oldina's starship, parked in orbit and being itself a mothership / factory vessel compared to DD's little transport shuttle, has a Wave-Motion Gun, which is used to relatively little effect as a Space-to-Surface weapon. It's also the site of the final battle.
  • Laser Blade: The Karion Blade, which they use to pierce the Maguars hard outer shell. It comes with the downside of spending a lot of energy, to the point that it must be recharged mid battle, and overall being extremely short as a weapon.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: DD and Oldina have the ability to wipe out everybody's memories of certain events.
  • Latex Space Suit: Figures seem almost to be made of this, somehow.
  • Lensman Arms Race: A good deal of the plot focuses on DD and Oldina's attempts to design weapons to defeat the Maguar, who adapt constantly based on past experience.
  • Magical Girl:
    • While not really a Magical Girl anime, the transformation to Figure 17 by the twins is certainly reminiscent of the Magical Girl genre, as are some of the plot elements. Her combat style, however, is generally rather different from the typical Magical Girl, largely involving turning one's limbs into spikes and trying to shove them through the nearest enemy. Any other combat ability is given by technology, such as energy cannons or knives. Combat is also rather more brutal and cringe-inducing than the classic Magical Girl scuffle.
    • During the school play, we get to see Tsubasa in the role of a Dark Magical Girl, too.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Shou Aizawa's funeral in episode 10 is treated with the utmost respect and dignity. Further invoked when the teacher asked her class to write letters to him so that they can all heal. Indeed, these letters were then sent to his parents which apparently shocked them because he had Hidden Depths that they never knew of.
  • Meaningful Name: Tsubasa means "wings" which refers to her opening up as a person so she can experience the world around her. Hikaru means "light" which refers to her showing the way for Tsubasa's Character Development as well as her energetic, cheerful, and optimistic outlook.
  • Monster of the Week: Maguar play this role early on in the anime, however after episode seven or so, things start to lose their pattern, with some episodes spent without a single sign of a Maguar and others dedicated to particularly important fights. All of them, however, are part of the larger continuity.
  • Monster Progenitor: The Mother Maguar. Every Maguar from the sixth and up until her its her offspring. And she has MANY more.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The Maguar, especially the earlier ones.
  • Muggle Foster Parents: Tsubasa's father becomes this to Hikaru after DD modifies his memories to make him believe that he had twin daughters all along and that Hikaru was simply living elsewhere with an aunt.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: It's very hard to figure out just who Figure 17's target audience was supposed to be...
  • Powered Armor: The Figures, including Hikaru, are a kind of sentient powered armor.
  • Power of Trust: Necessary for Tsubasa and Hikaru to have a chance of winning against a Maguar since they are technically Sharing a Body as Figure 17.
  • Puni Plush: Somewhat present in the general art style, but only to a very limited extent; enough that characters still look their actual age.
  • Real-Place Background: Most of the series takes place around the towns of Biei and Bibaushi in the Hokkaido prefecture.
  • Rousing Speech: Doubles as Quit Your Whining. This is how Hikaru breaks Tsubasa's Heroic BSoD in episode 10.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: DD and Oldina, possibly bordering on Human Aliens. DD is only noticeable as a non-human due to his eye and hair colour, and his funky eyebrows. Oldina could pass as human pretty much without any disguise. Although their language is more than a little inhuman, prior to DD making use of a Universal Translator. It doesn't really sound as if a human could make those noises.
  • School Play: A particularly enjoyable example, not just due to ( thanks to the 45 minutes an episode format ) the viewers being able to watch what was a pretty enjoyable, original play by Tsubasa and Hikaru's class, but also due to the role the performance plays in the overall plot. Hikaru wants desperately to be allowed to stay on Earth to make this one last memory with Tsubasa before DD and Oldina take her back to their home civilisation, and during one scene, where one of the twin princesses (the play was written by Shou, specifically for the two of them to be the lead characters ) pleads with her sister to remember her, after her memory is wiped with magic, Hikaru breaks down crying, knowing they will soon have to remove all memories of DD, Oldina, the Maguar and herself from everyone they've come into contact with - including Tsubasa.
  • Second Episode Morning: Tsubasa wakes up in bed after her first encounter with DD and the Maguar, thinking at first that it was all just a dream. Obviously, it wasn't.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Hikaru and Tsubasa technically aren't twins, but they sure as hell act like it!
  • Snow Means Death: The only two deaths happened during the winter: The first is Shou Aizawa in episode 9, and the second is Hikaru Shiina in the Grand Finale.
  • Squee: Any positive interactions between Tsubasa and Hikaru, or indeed between them and their father, or Hikaru's discovering she has all of Tsubasa's feelings and memories for her family. A prominent example being the two of them singing out vowels, as they'd been taught in a recent lesson, whilst in the bath together. Not to mention the pictures preceding and ending the mid-episode breaks, and an awesomely sweet moment when Hikaru sees the photograph of Tsubasa's dead mother, describing it as the 'First time I've ever felt so warm'.
  • Stealth in Space: Oldina's ship remains undetected in Earth orbit, despite at one point firing a gigantic laser cannon at a Maguar (see below). Very likely it was using the same technologies as DD used to render his smaller starship undetectable in the first episode, and surround it with a "you don't want to look here" field. So also DD's ship, too.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Hikaru and Tsubasa respectively, again. Downplayed in that Hikaru is a somewhat tomboyish relative to Tsubasa, wearing more masculine clothes in the opening and being better at sports, but taken on her own she's still quite feminine. The main contrast here is that the Artificial Human Hikaru is outgoing and extraverted and helps to bring out the shy, introverted Tsubasa.
  • Transformation Sequence: Tsubasa and Hikaru's transformations, albeit relatively brief ( and more and more abridged as the series goes on ). Also generally averts the oddity of enemies just standing and watching the process: the twins always transform somewhere out of harm's way, before entering a dangerous situation, and 'proper' Figures seem to be able to activate fast enough to respond to danger immediately.
  • 12-Episode Anime: One of the unusual things about Figure 17 was the decision by the creators to create thirteen, 45 minute-long episodes to be aired once a month. This allowed much gentler pacing and far, far deeper character development than usual, not to mention animation and art of a standard not usually seen outside OVAs.
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: Tsubasa and Hikaru briefly do this during the ending credits along with their usual Holding Hands.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Many Recurring Characters say this to Tsubasa; however, Hikaru is the most blatant example.

Alternative Title(s): Figure 17