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Mission E Post-Viewing Notes

Wrapped up the final episode of Mission E, and I’ve got to say, that was aggravating. If ever a series needed 13 episodes instead of 12 it was this one; the last episode omitted both the opening and ending credits, and still cut it down to the absolute bare minimum. Honestly, the series should’ve either cut several less-vital episodes out of the middle or gone into a full second season; the only legitimate reason I can think of for a finale that rushed is that they’d planned on stretching the plot out over two seasons but only got one funded.

There are sub-plots and loose ends left lying all over the place, including some hints at substantial backstory with one of the villains that don’t even appear until the final episode. Even the main plot feels like it got shoved into conclusion mode way before it was ready. Oh, it tried to give an in-story reason—the main villain’s backers decided to get uppity and forced him to play his hand early—but the series just didn’t feel anywhere near ready to wrap up.

Or rather, it didn’t wrap up. Even if you accept the rather abrupt, massively unsatisfying, and left-wide-open main plot, it does nothing to conclude such major things as what happens to Milis or anything resembling a satisfying progression of Chinami and Kotaro’s too-shy-to-get-anything-going-without-being-forced relationship (though you have to love Chinami’s flat-out order in the next-to-last episode in an attempt). Don’t even get me started on the fact that we never even get to meet Sonomi’s husband and kids, Yuma (the shrine maiden) not getting anywhere near enough screen time and her significant other showing up for all of five seconds in the last episode, or the whole Brimberg background hinted at earlier going nowhere at all. I’m also rather disappointed that after Code E had such a prominent role for Chinami’s family that Maori’s family is a complete afterthought. If she’d been a little older that would have been forgivable, but she’s not, and initially it made motions about doing something in the same area that it never delivered on. Heck, they didn’t even pay lip-service to the fact that they’ve got a minor playing secret agent without letting her parents in on any details whatsoever.

That last one is particularly bad since they established Oz as pretty much the worst secret organization ever. Worst as in they’re just plain too nice—they invite their captive enemy to the Christmas party and have picnics with the lackeys. Having them go out of their way to give report cards or something to Maori’s parents would have been fun and funny, instead of having Oz come across as being far sketchier than there was any indication they were. Ignoring their poor parental consent policies, however, that was one of the things that was fun about the series—Oz and the heroes are terrible superspies, and the bad guys aren’t afraid to point it out. But, they’re ok with that—that’s what you get when people like Chinami and Kotaro try to go badass, and that’s how they run things.

I also liked that the evil organization is neither all that evil, nor all that secret—they’re just a big corporation with some mildly unacceptable science experiments going on to try and get a competitive edge. Turns out they really don’t want to take over the world, or even do anything too illegal—they just happened to hire a mad scientist rather more malicious than the board intended. I found it particularly amusing when one of those sinister conversations between shadowy corporate backers pulling strings behind the scenes takes place, and you realize that they’re actually trying to stop the mad scientist from doing anything too bad. Ends up they’re greedy and shadowy, not evil. Again, amusing for the relative low-key-ness of it (Mission E retains some of Code E’s mellow groove, just in an entirely different way).

Other strong points are some decent character development with initially-dead-to-the-world Type E Maori coming out of her shell, unexpected romance, and entirely expected if completely incompetent attempted romance with Chinami and Kotaro. One of the best scenes in the whole show—practically worth the price of admission—is about halfway through when Chinami gets asked about her plans for the evening—nudge, nudge, wink, wink—and smiles blankly for far too long before realization slowly creeps across her face, and then she nearly boils herself to death in the bath she’s sitting in thanks to her inadvertent Type-E microwave effect.

Speaking of which, while the Type Es in this series have much better control of their abilities than Chinami did in high school, the show still does a great job of dropping hints as to mental state by the side effects of them. Everything from an excited Chinami sparking a code red panic on the loading dock as the minions frantically try to get the expensive hardware away from her to a great little bit that goes by so quickly you might miss it—a gunshot startles Maori, causing the lights in the room to flash for an instant.

It’s not that the series couldn’t have told its story in 12 episodes, it’s that it seemed to be going out of its way to introduce sub-plots and drop hints about backstory for many of the secondary characters, which it proceeded to follow up on exactly none of. Still, as bizarre a follow-up to Code-E as it was, and for all it blew at the end, it’s still a lot of fun, and I did enjoy it. I just really, really wish they would make a sequel. Maybe a prequel that fits between Code-E and Mission-E, for that matter.

Aside: I’ve finished my fansub of the final episode, which I’m a bit surprised to note took approximately as long as I expected—about an hour and 45 minutes to do the timing, about four and a half hours translation and on-the-fly touchup (I just translate directly onto the subtitles to save time), and another 30 minutes tidying up. I’ll probably spend another hour tweaking, but that’s not too bad. Had Akemi actually watched the rest of the series it might have gone a little bit faster, as would it have if I wasn’t rusty working with the software I was using.

If somebody wants to help distribute it drop a note.

Code-E to Mission-E Transition: What?!

So I just crossed the boundary between Code-E and its sequel, Mission-E, and I have to say:  What the hell?! No, seriously, WHAT THE HELL?!

I can honestly say I have never seen any direct sequel that has a more drastic mood and thematic change than these two series. I can’t even think of anything that comes close. The Empire Strikes Back and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor are practically twins in comparison. This is one of those situations in which, when you describe it, statements like “That was incongruous!” should include the common adjectival modifier beginning with F, which I have chosen not to use on this website. It’s not just warranted, it’s practically required.

See, Code-E is an unusual little story about a nervous girl trying to work out how to deal with a superpower—being a walking EMP weapon whenever you get excited—whose main effect is making life difficult in the modern world. It technically qualifies as high-school slice-of-life comedy/drama, with a touch of low-key romance. In practice, its defining feature is low key. As in, that series has less excitement than anything this side of Someday’s Dreamers. The episodes have a leisurely pace, the comedy is pleasant and mild-mannered, the drama is incredibly mellow, the romance is even more subtle, and there is absolutely no action at all until the last five minutes of the final episode.

Mission-E is essentially Read or Die with more electromagnetic fields, less paper-based magic. As in, people with crazy superpowers ninja-jumping across rooftops, wicked martial arts knife fights, driving a classic Cobra Mustang through roadblocks, secret organizations, glowy super-suits, and basically a whole bunch of wicked superspy action. In the first episode. Meaning that the mood and onscreen action is the polar opposite of anything in Code-E. Heck, it has more action in the first five minutes than the entire 12 episodes of its prequel.

It’s not that either of these things is bad; quite the contrary, Code-E was enjoyable and Mission-E looks all kinds of interesting. And it’s not that the transition doesn’t make sense within the story—Code-E kept hinting that there were spies (though all we saw were comic relief) and evil organizations at work trying to harness the power of the gifted Type-E people, so it’s no particular stretch to assume five years later (that’s how much time has elapsed), once they got out of school and into the real world, the characters would start to use their assorted talents (both superhuman and not) to do good in the world and take the fight to the bad people. It’s not even that I have a problem with one segueing into the other.

It’s just that calling the change of pace extreme is an understatement. I feel like there is an entire transition series between the two that somebody forgot to make. Maybe two of them. I fail to see how somebody goes to a production company and tells them “I want to make an incredibly low-key high-school slice-of-life series that’s set-up for a raging superpowered action-thriller-comedy.” Who funds that?!

Aside from being completely broken, mentally, by the utter and complete theme reversal, I am enjoying it, and I like the idea of getting attached to some kids in a relatively normal environment then get to see the super-spies they grow up to be (it’s also, come to think of it, pretty unusual to have a series about kids and a sequel about the same people as adults in which the former kids don’t transition to a support role, a la Allison and Lillia or Record of Lodoss War). In fact, it gives you a much better hook into them as adults, and less need to spend time on things like building romance (we’ve already seen that stage, so it’s ok to just start out in a stable, committed relationship, with children in at least one case).

I just feel like I had spent enough time with the characters that I kind of wanted to see some of that transition, rather than having it do a several-year jump just when things were starting to get exciting. Still, very interested in seeing where this is going.

Also, Code-E had a massively incongruent intro theme—exactly the flavor of hyperactive jazz that opened Read or Die, except the accompanying visuals are as everyday and non-active as the rest of the series, and it has nothing to do with the feel of anything else. It would fit perfectly with the sequel, though, and though Mission-E gets a new theme, it’s similar and this time works.

Incidentally, as of this writing all of Code-E and all but the last episode of Mission-E has been fansubbed, but neither are licensed. If that’s still the state of affairs when I get to ep 11, I’m going to have to fansub the last episode so my anime-buddies who don’t speak Japanese can enjoy it, too. If anybody knows how to go about distributing such a thing once it’s finished, drop me an email or leave a comment so I can share. Either that or somebody get around to licensing this thing already!

(Non-sequitur aside: In general description, there are several parallels between Code-E and Code Geass. Both have the word “Code” in the title, both take place in a near-future world in what would geographically be Japan, both star a high school student with a subtle superhuman ability in a world with very few other people with superhuman abilities, and both eventually work toward their protagonists being heroes trying to change the world. It would be difficult to come up with two series that have that many particulars in common that are more diametrically opposite than Code-E and Code Geass. Also, if you took Lelouch and created his exact opposite, you would not get Suzaku, you would actually get Chinami.)