"Super Robot Wars OG: Divine Wars 7 & 8": Last Blitz of the Divine Crusaders
Following on from the last volume’s “official” conclusion of the Divine War, Super Robot Wars Volumes 7 and 8 continue with the re-emerging overall threat of the alien Aerogators, as well as finally dealing with a few stragglers from the Divine Crusaders, who are still stubbornly intent on controlling the Earth. Spoilers follow.
Volume 7 kicks off with “Ryune and the Valsione”, which in the midst of a little downtime for the cast and the emergence of a giant alien fortress, introduces yet another new character into the mix: Bian Zoldark’s daughter, Ryune, and her custom Valsione personal trooper complete with a ‘cute’ face. This episode more than any other typifies the strengths and weaknesses of the series, in that it carefully introduces the Aerogator’s giant White Star fortress, even as the ostensible main point of the episode, the introduction of Ryune, is done with astonishingly quickness. Despite an early introduction suggesting otherwise, she fights with and joins up with our heroes in the space of only a couple of minutes, even though, just a few episodes before the heroes had killed her father. Again, as with most characters in the show, Ryune is entertaining, but she too soon gets lost in the mix.
“Enter the Hellstar” finds the Aerogator assault on Earth beginning, and the series shows off the excellent standard of CG mecha animation I’ve come to expect by now. There’s not much to this episode other than some huge battles, although an interesting, if somewhat predictable, pattern to the Aerogators’ attacks is seen, as they begin to clearly abduct as many military pilots as they can find.
Volume 7′s final episode, “Twilight of the DC”, finally addresses some of the fates of the more undesirable members of the DC who escaped their final battle with the Federation. Coming as a surprise even to the SRX team and the others (since the Earth is simultaneously still being attacked by the Aerogators), the DC’s last stand again allows for some great CG work as we see both enemy and allied robots fight to their limit. However, the most satisfying aspect of this episode is the culmination of Ryusei’s rivalry with braggart Tenzan, who really cuts loose against his hated rival.
Volume 8 finds little rest for the crews of the Hagwane and Hiryu Kwai, as the Aerogators destroy the Earth Federation’s headquarters in Geneva with a single shot, and so in “Misgivings”, a plan is formulated by the SRX commander, Ingram Plissken, to finally activate all the SRX machines and have them merge together. In the meantime, Ryusei’s friend Kushua also comes to Ingram’s attention as a someone with ‘special’ natural abilities and is swiftly promoted to pilot status.
This was all comparatively a calm before the storm, however, as “The Muzzle of Betrayal” finds the Aerogators launching another massive assault on the Earth, this time with humanoid robots rather than the insectoid machines seen in the early episodes. It’s not revealed in this volume exactly who’s piloting them, but the answer seems pretty obvious. In any case, even though we are treated to yet another series of fights, as the episode’s title suggests there is indeed a massive betrayal in this episode, as one of the characters who’s been in the show from episode 1 reveals that they have secretly been an Aerogator all the time, and have been feeding information to them. Given the character in question, it was always clear that they had some secrets to hide, but this development really did come as quite a surprise. Accordingly, the fairly realistic ramifications of this are that several people, including the SRX team, are put under precautionary arrest.
The final episode on Volume 8, “The Day of Parting”, finds the SRW team having been sent ahead to target the Aerogator White Star base, as Ryusei and the rest of the SRX team brood in their prison cells. Yet more revelations come in this episode, such as the true fate of the SRX team’s relatives, as well as the truth behind Ryusei and the others’ special ability to use the T-Link pilot system. While not exactly revelations of a devastating nature (especially compared to that in the previous episode), these answers are welcome, and help reaffirm Ryusei’s choice to be a pilot because he genuinely wants to be one, rather than because of any natural ability. This comes at just the right moment too, as the SRX team are suddenly given the go-ahead (thanks to a little mutiny) to join their comrades in space to attack the Aerogator fortress.
Going into the final stretch of episodes, the show concentrates on the main characters of the series, making it painfully clear that the rest of the series’ cast are simply too numerous to have any meaningful impact. Nevertheless, all the characters are fairly distinct and memorable, so their inclusion doesn’t particularly detract from the show, and it helps to have more than a handful of reactions to the large-scale devastation seen in these episodes. With the Divine Crusaders finally completely out of the picture, the re-introduction of the Aerogators, complete with their giant fortress, certainly raises the stakes for our characters, and it’ll be interesting to see just how this plays out, especially with the self-confessed Aerogator spy in the Federation’s ranks.
DVD quality is no different than on previous volumes, with crystal-clear anamorphic picture and sound. Those name-swaps in the subtitles seen on the rest of the series so far are still there, but seem to have been toned down a little by this point. The cast of characters and mecha continue to increases with each passing episode, so the included booklets are increasingly welcome.
Action and adventure are what Super Robot Wars are all about, and once again these two volumes deliver both in outstanding fashion. With the series finally building up to a truly giant threat to the human race, the stage is set for what will hopefully be a satisfying conclusion in the final volume of the show. In the meantime, these six episodes of preamble for the final battle once again are recommended viewing; just make sure you don’t throw away those booklets!