Episode 16: Vulnerable Mind

Once again, an episode in the second season has a great opening. Liz is greeted once again by
Luca, but her dreams tell her that Takeshi is on her mind. The other team members are
taking notice, too. It really makes one wonder at this point if she fears Takeshi or if
something else is there. Takeshi is still in the frame of mind that nothing is wrong with him,
and the problems lie with everyone else. It doesn’t become so obvious until the team meeting
begins for the race against Team White Snow.
Andrei begins with pointing out the problem, in which Takeshi is already showing signs of
disbelief. The disbelief resides in him, but he cannot see that yet. That’s why things get moody
with him as Andrei reveals a plan to beat White Snow that involves Takeshi not being on the
offensive. Andrei makes a very good point when he says that it’s not about Takeshi. Takeshi
doesn’t take that well, as he still thinks that he is being punished for some reason.
The series takes another step in showcasing the amazing directing style with all of the
occurrences of Liz and Amy. Amy notices the look on Liz’s face as Takeshi walks out. She
really cares about him, but maybe in a more aggressive way than most others. This is all
foreshadowing, of course. And that concept leads to us seeing Team White Snow ‘starting the
next phase of the plan’.
It’s no coincidence that as Amy sits down for some research online that Judy and Max greet
her. It’s funny that Amy is researching, not about the race, but about Liz. It also shows her
care for Liz. That’s why the conversation that follows with Judy and Max from Team White
Snow is so important to the character development of all three of them. Judy only talks about
Liz, and brings up the fact that Liz’s orphanage was demolished. Amy looks a little
apprehensive, but at the same time worried about the truth behind her apprehension. Judy was
expecting the response, and hoping for it. If she can bring down Team Satomi in any way, it
will only help them win.
The psychological aspect is another case for the great directing. Many other shows would
simply hit the race track without any development, and leave all the ‘conflict’ there. But the
fact is that this is how real life goes. What happens on the track has a direct connection with
the emotions of the pilots. And if Team White Snow can pierce the happy thoughts, the race
will go smoother for them. The character development lies in the fact that Max doesn’t quite
get it, even though she does. Max is quiet about throughout the conversation because she
doesn’t quite know how to react to what her teammate is doing. Judy knows exactly what she
is doing, and it is pretty rotten.
Liz makes a ‘peace offering’ by buying Takeshi a hot dog. This also shows that Liz cares; even
something as simple as buying someone a small gift demonstrates that they mean something
to you, or that there is meaning in the conflict between them. Amy is also concerned, as she
discovers what is wrong with her teammates. And as the scene changes to the button mashing
required for formations, we find Amy is struggling with the concept. Her concern is what is
blocking her from performing better, as she admits when she says that she has a lot on her
That thought is preceded by Liz yelling at Takeshi for being inconsiderate of Amy’s feelings;
not even expressing his true thoughts to her face. Amy is standing right behind them and
hears the whole thing. She is shocked by Liz sticking up for her, but Liz deserves some credit
for yelling at Takeshi with some meaning behind it. Takeshi is feeling a little indifferent about
it, only thinking of Fantine at night.
We know something is up as right before the commercial break, we see the computer screen
in the mech room turn on by itself and a diamond-shaped eye leaf through the data. If one
hasn’t figured it out by now, it should be known that Team White Snow is up to no good. But
until Team Satomi discovers that, they are in a confident mood. Both Liz and Amy look at
each other as they are carried to the garage before the race, without noticing each other. Then
Liz approaches Amy and talks to her about how the team is going to cover for her.
Amy is confident in herself, which shows how headstrong she is. Liz reveals to Amy how they
are all stronger when they can depend on each other, and Liz even remarks she wishes
Takeshi could realize it. Liz gets very close to Amy to reveal this, not out of ‘affection’ like
some may want to believe, but out of persuasion. One should realize that there is a
psychological aspect to that. Talking to someone with tender words right in your face would
make you think about what they are saying, right? That was the point behind this scene.
As the race begins, everything looks good. But Takeshi is still in that mood. Once again, Liz
pulls a stunning mood by getting up close. She grabs Takeshi’s mech to get his attention. She
still believes in him, and that gives Takeshi confidence. Now everything is good…or is it? As
the formation goes under way, Andrei and everyone are convinced they will squash Zanak
(forward). But the ‘perfection’ wasn’t meant to last long, as he dodges it. Takeshi is now
feeling down again, which may lead to his downfall.
As the race continues, we are introduced to a new part of the course. Team White Snow uses
these sets of walls to perform advanced maneuvers. Zanak pulls ahead as he bounces off the
walls and Judy swings her arm to hurt Takeshi. It gives Team White Snow the edge they need
to gain the lead. Takeshi is still not giving up, but we are left at that for next week.
This episode is also a showcase for the awesome technical aspects of the show. As we hear the
race move along, we can perceive many things from the surround sound aspect that really
brings the show alive. It’s worth reiterating the fact that this show didn’t have to have 5.1
audio; in fact practically no shows have it. Not only does this show have it, but it also sounds
better than 90% of movies I hear. That is topped by the well-detailed animation. Thinking
about everything before the race, there’s so much going on here, and once again, this episode
excels at that.
Why is that important? It shows that those who will care about these kinds of things will find
substance in that. But that is merely a front for the deeper aspects of this show. The fact that
the episode exceeds in all areas is worth commending. The outcome is unknown, but we can
anticipate a lot from the next episode because of the set up. When I say set up, I mean in all
areas. We have incredible character development to go by, and the plot will keep one’s
attention. Can Takeshi overcome a great opponent? This episode leaves it open for you to
decide what that is-Team White Snow or himself.
Judy talks with Amy about
a possible problem with
Team Satomi practices
their new formation
patterns with Andrei.
Team White Snow is very
confident in their first
race against Team Satomi.
Additional Pictures
USA original air date: June 3rd, 2006
Japan original air date: February 8th, 2006
Original Japanese Title:
Vulnerable Mind

Takeshi, Liz and Amy have a lot of work to become the League
Champion, and Team White Snow may be the opponent that shows
them that they need some work. The team members can't seem to
get along and Takeshi and Liz have got to get along to pull off a win
here. Can Team Satomi form a master plan to beat Team White
Snow, an unfamiliar team to them? This episode introduces Team
White Snow's mechs and even more of IGPX City and Team
Satomi's facility. It also introduces the training the team does.
OVERALL SCORE: 9 out of 10
Toonami Version Differences

-A short line was cut when Amy is talking to Luca at
the outdoor cafe.

-A small amount of footage was cut to reduce pauses.
Additional Information