Again and again, it’s been clear to me that mecha is anime/manga’s equivalent to superheroes in comics. Mecha’s the standard: the genre that gets deconstructed, reconstructed and taken on from every conceivable angle. And it’s also bit up a whole host of conceits that you just have to accept because they’re just institutions. For superheroes, it’s things like their shakily-maintained secret identities or the practicality of their tights or the notion of dozens upon dozens of superheroic brawls happening on the little island of Manhattan without them constantly spilling over into each other.
So what’s mecha’s most noticeable conceit? The notion that these complicated, walking WMDs would be entrusted to the piloting skills of little kids. Certainly, such circumstances pop up in almost all adventure fiction, but it’s harder not to notice in a show like this, when they make such a point about a super-serious, adult organization like Generation Bleu (or is that just one team’s name?) having to basically babysit their junior pilots. With a little more perspective, I can see how EVA was so revolutionary for grabbing this particular bull by the horns - - because it's almost morbidly amusing to wonder how the one girl goes from enjoying a gi-normous banana split to engage in high stakes aerial combat.
I know they have some explanation here about the mechs only working for people under a certain age but, c'mon, we all know that’s just an amusing rationalization.
Regarding the episode itself, this actually made up for the pacing by having some really strong and entertaining “character work.” At least, it’s more fun than what we’ve been seeing so far. However, I’m a little disappointed to see Ao reverting to some Renton’s levels of confidence now that he’s at this facility. Maybe he’s still afraid of girls, maybe his tough guy façade is breaking down or whatever… but, all the same, he’s still more fun when he’s a smartass.