If seeing junior high kids die after piloting the giant mecha Zearth has been enough drama to sustain this series over eight volumes, then showing us how their sole elementary school pilot accepts her fate should be even more dramatic. Right? That’s only partly true here. As we found out at the end of the last volume, little Kana Ushiro is also signed a contract and is Zearth’s next pilot. Before she dies, she wants her brother Jun to be reunited with his mother whose identity is (unsurprisingly) revealed here. Now there are moments when this approach works, such as when we see her father crumple to the ground with the realization that his only daughter is going to die, the last few moments she spends with him, and when she completely loses her cool in battle for reasons that mark the volume’s dramatic high point. Even so, the series’ core concept of having kids die after they pilot the mech in battle is dramatic enough and to have an even younger kid put through the same wringer feels a bit shameless to me.
More of an issue is that a lot of what Kana does in this volume is out of familial love for her brother Jun, who has been portrayed as thoroughly (bordering on aggressively) unlikeable since the very start. I get that the actions of his sister are meant to get us to sympathize with him and motivate his expected act of self-sacrifice towards the end here. Does it work? Not really. Jun has been portrayed as such a self-centered little jerk that it’s hard to believe that he’d do what he does here. It would seem more likely that the events of this volume would drive him further into his shell than bring him out of it at last. Even if that particular plot doesn’t quite work, the end of the volume gives me hope that things will pick up. If only for the reason that it looks like Koyemshi has come face-to-face with the one thing in this scenario he can’t control and may finally know fear.