To be straight with you, I don’t really care much for the back story of Yuuya or anyone else in this show. I’m not engaged by any of this at all. I’m not sure I completely follow the root cause of his hangups, but in appreciating adult characters I prefer suffering that’s caused by regret, and not by oppression/victimization; especially in my lead characters.
This isn’t as damning as it sounds however, because Yuuya as a character has something much better going for him as far as I’m concerned: He’s not a very good pilot. He’s overrated.
This is great.
This isn’t your hot upstart kid with loads of talent that gets cut down to size a bit by the elder team members and such. This is an adult with a battle record, with demonstrated ability, being revealed as an unrefined. This is a neat trick, if still a cheap one. I’m almost certain he’ll get the knack of piloting the Japanese TSF, but the set up of this initial failure is really well done. It capitalized on the deaths of all those moeblobs from two episodes ago.
SEE, THEIR DEATHS ARE MORE MEANINGFUL THAN ANY STUPID BACK STORY “CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT” HORSESHIT.
Their deaths serve as a setup for characterization that matters. Yuuya matters more than them, and now we know how exactly acute his failure was, in the context of what is a meaningless battle, a training exercise wherein there was no real risk of his death. In the face of all this over-the-top melodrama there is this subtlety, and it’s well-executed and perhaps brilliant, even.
THE SHOW DIDN’T HAVE TO MANUFACTURE DRAMA IN THIS EPISODE’S BATTLE BECAUSE IT USED CHEKOV’S DEAD MOEBLOBS A TIMESKIP AGO.
Just think about it. In the hands of a lesser show, someone in the team would have an accident and Yuuya would fail to save her because he couldn’t control his TSF well enough. Then he’d blame the machine and all sorts of whining, rage, and crying ensue. Not in this episode, and perhaps not on this show.
Yui got to tell him he was a talentless hack to his face. This was delicious stuff. You certainly don’t see the hero pilot get told off like this, ever. This is why I think very highly of this episode as an exercise of characterization. It’s quite subtle and you may miss the deftness beneath all the other, usual or mundane melodrama.