Revelations about the pasts of the main characters further tangle the already complicated plot of this supernatural mecha adventure. While Kazukiyo Gowa plots a right-wing coup with the sinister Nishida and his allies, Yushiro Gowa and Miharu continue their flight to Kyoto, following the "path of the kai." At a ruined shrine, they share a vision of a revolt against the Emperor in Heian Japan (794-1185). They both participate in the struggle, piloting Kugai, huge mobile suits with faces based on Noh masks, although it's not clear whether they're the same Yushiro and Miharu or earlier incarnations. One of the key players in the Heian conflict is an androgynous figure in a wimplelike robe who influences the decisions of the Empress and can actually summon Gasaraki; the viewer can learn his name (Einyo) by studying the "episode production sheets" included in the extra features, but not who he is. Back in the present, when 14-year-old Misuzu Gowa asks what's become of her brother Yushiro, Noh master Sorachi tells her, "He died eight years ago--and was replaced." Oddly, she inquires, "Why?" rather than the more pertinent, "How?" or "With what?" The mecha battles and multiple graphic styles will delight fans of the series, but the endless plot twists will confirm its detractors' complaints. Unrated; suitable for ages 12 and up for violence, occasional profanity, and grotesque imagery. --Charles Solomon
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