With the first two sets having introduced us to the main characters, the series is now free to explore the main storyline in more detail. This often boils down to Minamoto worrying about the grim vision of the future he was shown by psychic dolphin Ikyuugo at the end of the the second DVD collection. Although there are just as many episodic hijinks as ever, the knowledge of what might come to pass if Ikyuugo's prediction is correct gives the story a much darker feel.
I said that everyone had been introduced, but that's not quite true; these episodes also mark the debut of one more major character: Tsubomi Fujiko. Tsubomi is the impulsive founder of the organisation The Children and Minamoto work for - and she happens to have a complicated history with their enemy, Hyoubu Kyousuke. Tsubomi is also voluptuous and self-confident; at once a powerful esper and a dreadful tease. Whenever she joins in, she provides B.A.B.E.L. with a much-needed offensive edge in battle.
Although my reviews are always strongly biased towards the older characters, The Children themselves haven't been forgotten. As well as learning more about one another and making new friends, they've received some upgrades to their powers as they gradually discover how to use them in new ways. Minamoto helps guide them with advice and the occasional technological enhancement.
|Aoi is still my favourite|
The reason that The Children need to keep improving their combat skills is mainly thanks to recurring villain Hyoubu Kyousuke. His pro-esper P.A.N.D.R.A. organisation has begun its campaign in earnest, recruiting all kinds of disaffected espers and causing trouble for Minamoto and his young charges. One of the strengths of the series is that the esper villains are highly sympathetic; if it wasn't for their brutal sense of justice they'd be on the same side as the heroes most of the same time, especially because P.A.N.D.R.A. members are implicitly forbidden from harming the three main characters. Several episodes involve Hyoubu giving The Children advice or concluding that Minamoto isn't a bad guardian for his beloved Queen after all.
|A rare shot of Hyoubu wearing western clothing...|
|...and back in his usual gakuran uniform|
|The Children look very cute when they're all grown up|
With this DVD set the series moves away from the emotional world-building and heads towards a darker story arc. Given that there's only one batch of episodes left to watch before my time with the Zettai Karen Children anime is over, I'll be continuing with the 34 volumes of Shiina Takashi's manga as soon as I'm done. It's been a while since a series has captured my imagination so well; this western release deserves to be receiving far more attention than it has had so far!