This shot was so necessary. Apple licking is the key to world domination, after all.
|Wow, that was a surprisingly good final episode for [email protected]. Boldness can make up for major faults, and this episode was pretty darn bold. Even if it was also pretty darn filled with faults.|
To start, finally we got some reveals about Jou’s character and intentions. That redeemed her somewhat. Yeah, the character assassination she suffered the previous episode wasn’t all rolled back, but at least she was also shown as the clever evil world conquering bitch she was supposed to be. The entire sequence of Tama being kidnapped by water before getting her heart ripped out by Jou was quite wonderful, even if a little hammy. So that’s what her invitation to bring everyone to the island was all about. Sasami’s own twist that she was inside Tama the whole time was also great, explaining why Kana Asumi had returned to voicing her in some scenes in the previous episode.
Kagami had her moments too, in her battle against Tamamo-no-Mae. It a shame that the actual combat portion was so short, but at least it was well animated and directed, like the vast majority of the action scenes involving her in this show. I also enjoyed how she got the one up on Tamamo-no-Mae, playing possum before taking over her body and destroying it before returning back to her own body. And then using her magic eye beams to turn everything back to normal, Daicon IV style. Maybe the actual climax of Squall using a giant sword beam attack to destroy Jou’s Kuzuryuu was disappointing, but at least the lead up to it was good.
Call back to episode 2, I guess, but I don’t really get the connection other than that both big bads were dragons…
Now, the way it ended… I don’t know. Given the type of show this is, I don’t know what I expected. It’s obvious that this is not the end of the story – the light novel has 10 volumes, and the show likely covered half of them at most. I like that it kept coming back to “let’s not try so hard,” but that’s not a terribly satisfying message. Jou, Kagami, and Kamiomi are still significant loose threads. Jou is clearly a Sasami foil, having been forced to take on an overwhelming burden at a young age. But what exactly is her back story? And how will she and Sasami explore what it means not to try hard? Kagami’s true nature as the fire spirit and former compatriot of Tamaml-no-Mae was introduced in this episode but barely expanded on. Then again, none of the Yagami sisters really need that much character development as they mainly act as deus ex machina. Kamiomi is more troublesome, because they hinted at something bigger from him for half the show without ever making good on it. It sounds like even Tsurugi, who knows enough to call him “big brother,” isn’t fully clued in. Is he that Squall lookalike or related to him somehow? There’s being coy and there’s being stupidly opaque, and the show is definitely the latter in this case.
So yeah, not a great ending, even if the lead up to it was weird enough to be awesome. Basically the mirror image of Vividred Operation‘s final episode. It was better than I had expected, but it couldn’t undo the damage of the previous episode. Some of the information about Jou and her side needed to be revealed earlier than in the final episode.
Just want to point out that Jou’s hair is awesome.
One of the most infuriating things about being an anime fan is having to deal with shows that take good, inventive, creative ideas, and then proceed to use them merely as vehicles for telling the exact same story we’ve seen a million times before. For every From the New World or Psycho-Pass, there’s a Campione! or Vividred Operation. [email protected] wasn’t one of those shows… most of the time. When it embraced its off the wall interpretation of Shintoism, it was a very entertaining show to watch. We were treated to the universe turning into chocolate, an idol and her fans transforming into a grown man and his cultists before aliens attacked them all, a parasite relying on time travel to kill its host, a girl turning into a living, breathing remotely controlled avatar, among other things.
But then the character drama had to ruin everything. At least 2 episodes were nigh unwatchable due to some of the most head-desk inducing melodrama I’ve ever seen. Most of the story arcs weren’t quite that bad, but neither were they interesting enough to justify anything beyond marveling at what neat fantasy concept would be explored this time. Perhaps contrary to expectations, it did have a story every step of the way, but the storytelling was clumsy. It kept hitting on the point of, Let’s stop trying hard, but it wasn’t able to convey the message in a clear, convincing, clever, or consistent way. In the end, [email protected] is just another one of Shaft/Shinbo‘s many unambitious shows that were good for a few laughs and spectacles but will be forgotten in a few years.