Curriculum 03 (Self Awareness)
Wonderful summary written by Dawn!
This episode opens a short time after the last three, maybe a few hours. The battle from earlier is still going on, and Rioroute suddenly screams as Agui Keimeia goes flying; Luhma Klein hurries to retrieve the damaged unit...
On GOA, an official is finally giving a group of five boys, including our three, a speech congratulating them on their acceptance into GOA. Zero yawns through most of it, and gets in trouble for his disrespect. After the ceremony, the boys get their room assignments -- and Zero winds up stuck in a triple with Clay and Hiead. This arrangement is fine for about two minutes before Hiead kicks Zero, and Zero remembers how much he hates him. But Clay refuses to allow him to kill Hiead, explaining to him the GOA regulations about fighting. Zero (who has the attention span of an immature gnat and has been totally distracted this easily) chafes at the strict rules, but Clay reminds him that in return, they're given an amazing freedom -- the freedom to pilot.
Elsewhere, Agui Keimeia is getting towed back to GIS by the other Pilots. Rioroute reports that he's okay, but barely: the Victim hit his Ingrid before he could disengage the zeta skin, so he was wounded by the damage to her body; worse yet, the wound is right on top of his automic. Gareas mocks him for being stupid, spurring the injured man into a furious frenzy. While they squabble with each other, Rio hurting himself more and Garu laughing at him, Teela also seems to be in pain, although she hasn't actually been hit...
The five new Candidates have changed from formal dress into basic uniform, and they begin to undertake tests to determine their abilities and skills. During the testing, Zero gets his introduction to Yamagi Kushida when the shorter boy is the only one who can keep up with him. Afterwards the boys head to the medical facility for an automic scan. Zero freaks out, thinking that they're trying to drown him -- the procedure for the scan involves putting the Candidate in a tank and then filling the tank with a liquid called "ZL". But once he submits to the procedure, Dr. Rill and the nurses realize that he has no automics: he has a perfect body, making him a "Zenoah".
Agui Keimeia gets pulled into GIS maintenance, but as she gets settled into place, her systems take an abrupt surge for the worse, and Rioroute loses consciousness. When he comes to again he's been removed from the bloody cockpit, and is on a stretcher being led by Gareas and Ernest to the emergency room, with his Repairer Phil Phleira running beside him. She reports that his life shouldn't be in danger and, satisfied, attempts to leave. He grabs her with his good arm and asks, playful in spite of his obvious pain, if she's going to leave him without an escort. Phil gets embarrassed and brushes him off, claiming that Agui is in much worse condition and needs her help right away. Rio flips out as she leaves, insisting that he needs care and attention too, and she shouldn't forget that she promised him food--!
Phil begins crying in relief the moment she's out of sight. She was terrified that he wouldn't come back alive, but he did, so now she has to make Agui stronger so that she won't fail him again. It's the only thing she can do to help him, because she can't stop him from going out to fight. The Repairer Candidates, unlike Phil, are positively eager to get into trouble with their partners. They gather around Kizna, telling her that the boys are getting their physical checks, and they want to go peek... Kizna reminds them that rather than gush over their Candidates, they ought to be taking care of the Pro-Ings for their Candidates, which is -- after all -- what they're there for. The other girls agree and return to their stations.
Yamagi is bragging about his new automic to Clay and Roose Sawamura (a pudgy Candidate who always tags along with Yamagi), who seem to be in awe of GOA's high tech facility and expert medical attention. Zero doesn't even know what an automic is, and when Clay insists that he has one too because every human has them, Zero maintains that he doesn't have any, he's never even heard of them before. Clay attempts to explain to him, but Zero notices Hiead leaving the area and freaks out, assuming that Hiead is trying to do something that'll get him advanced. He chases after Hiead, and Clay chases after him, trying to finish his explanation.
They finally reach the dining hall, and all five settle down with their food after an... incident with the chef. Zero finds the taste of it disgusting, but forces himself to inhale it when he notices that Hiead eats without complaint. He notices all of a sudden that everyone is staring at him (including Erts, on a balcony above, smiling to himself) and comes to the sudden realization that this place isn't like his home colony. Everyone here is his enemy, not just Hiead -- they're all fighting amongst themselves, a hundred boys seeking to claim five positions. Everything they do is monitored and regulated to identify the best of the best.
Shortly thereafter, Zero and Clay sneak into a restricted area to watch the older Candidates at their Pro-Ing practice. Clay asks him about his experience inside Eeva Leena, and Zero responds that he doesn't remember much. Clay ponders this situation, thinking that the zeta skin should've rejected someone who wasn't the real Pilot -- meaning that Zero must've adapted instinctively to fit the expectations of the zeta skin. Meaning that Zero's adaptation abilities are unrivaled... and adaptability is a key element of becoming a Pilot. Zero says suddenly that the only thing he really remembers is that when he moved, it moved as well. Hiead, who has been lurking around a corner listening to their conversation, reacts with something suspiciously like jealousy to this comment, before Yamagi and Roose rush into the corridor to warn Zero and Clay that they're going to be in a lot of trouble and they're late to a lesson.
Azuma spends a while yelling at Zero, who yells right back; Zero insists that it's not his fault that they snuck in to watch the training, because they should've been getting practical training already. Azuma yells that it doesn't matter what they should be doing, because what they did do was illegal; Zero retorts that that is why Clay had to hack them in-- Clay quickly shuts him up, meekly trying to undo the damage, but fails miserably. Azuma punishes them both. But they're about to get rewarded anyway -- practical training begins now.