The first instalment of Break Blade was a solid but decidedly unspectacular affair, with a nice concept (in terms of the way its mecha are powered at least) blended into what otherwise looked like pretty standard giant robot anime fare.
Predictably, the first half of this second episode delves a little more into the politics of the conflict which has developed across its world, leaving Cruzon at the mercy of far more powerful military forces than it can possibly muster, with the danger only intensified by other lands working together to effectively sell it down the river to grab a share of the quartz which is so plentiful in the country.
However, it's pretty clear that any politics are only really secondary to the real focus of the series, that being the tangled web of relations between protagonist Ryugart, former friend turned enemy Zess and Cruzon royalty Hodr and Sigyn. The biggest bouncing of these characters off one another comes courtesy of a stand-off between Ryugart and Zess in the form of an attempt to negotiate by the former with the latter - this serves to reveal that Zess is clearly none too happy with the current course of military action being undertaken, but he sees himself with little choice but to follow orders given his lack of sway with the higher powers of Athens. With no chance of negotiation and Cruzon's token belligerently incompetent general jumping the gun, the two end up coming to blows via their respective Golems before Ryugart retreats, running off into the desert into a position which only causes more problems in the long run...
Before we know it, Ryugart ends up involved in a scrap with another of Zess' troops, Lee, which turns out to be a deadly one... not for Ryugart himself but for the soldier that comes to rescue him (with a name and rank like Private Dan, it was pretty clear that he was not long for this world - they might as well have given him a red shirt) and eventually Lee herself - a death which looks set to reverberate harshly into future instalments of the show. Witnessing these deaths at first hand and feeling responsible for them both (which he is, truth be told), Ryugart decides that he's had enough and looks all set to leave before a sudden and inevitable change of heart come the end of the episode.
After a pretty mediocre opener that didn't deliver much on its promise, this second instalment of Break Blade (and in particular the second half of this episode) was a pretty big improvement - the action felt slicker, we're now a little more attuned to what Ryugart's strange Under Golem is capable of without giving too much away, and most importantly the plot itself is now in a far stronger position after the events of this outing with tension, a lust for vengeance and the like bubbling up everywhere. Although the story itself still feels pretty generic by mecha anime standards, complete with reluctant pilot who looks all set to walk out on his role before a last minute change of heart, that isn't enough to stop this being a pretty entertaining affair at times. It's the third episode which will most likely make or break the series however - all of the pieces are in place, and it's now up to the show to deliver by making the most of them.