Rating: 4.5 (of 5)
As a big fan of the novels, this episode surprised me a bit. Its title suggested that it would include a certain scene featuring Lena which forms the first epilogue of the first novel, but the “Thank You” turns out to be in reference to something else. What we get instead is a low-key, reflective episode that is almost entirely anime-original.
That the series would add in some anime-original content at this point is not a big surprise. The novels do not provide much detail about this stage of the 86’s journey, and there’s plenty for the characters to reflect on as they move forward through war-ruined land. Not sure I expect a whole episode of this, which makes me wonder if the production is planning to end the first cour on a cliffhanger (not what I would consider ideal, but it’s feasible), but after seeing what was done with this episode, I don’t have a problem with it. That Lena does not appear at all is a little disappointing, but this bunch is a solid enough group of personalities as is to carry the episode on their own, and flashbacks show little snippets of several other now-dead characters, especially Kaie.
That does mean that there are fewer little details to ruminate on here, as nearly all the racism elements have been left in the past. This is the most complete freedom any of the 86s have had, especially for Shin; the voices of the Legion are still in the background, but he no longer has the weight of his brother hanging on him. Yes, they are in enemy territory, so they must still worry about their supply situation and about keeping hidden from Legion patrols (as one night scene in a pillbox chillingly emphasizes), but they are also free to explore, make their own decisions, and operate on their own timetable. This leads to an entirely different Shin, one who can laugh and follow along with jokes, though one comment Raiden makes about whether Shin has “anything left” raises the episode’s main philosophical question: at what point does “complete freedom” cross over into “completely directionless”?
The somber scene at the zoo, where the 86s see the remains of all the animals left behind when their human keepers either retreated or were killed off, provides the main source of symbolism for the episode, and the wrecked Legion which Shin silences serves as a reminder that, even now, they cannot completely leave everything behind. Again, this is all anime-original, but it fits so seamlessly that an anime-only viewer probably couldn’t tell. The same is true with the flashback from Fido’s perspective, a framing device that I feel serves the series very well. In fact, that montage is the main reason why I am still giving this episode such a high rating. It hits all the right notes with every scene it shows, whether it is a scene that we have seen before from different angles, a continuation of an earlier scenes, or new entirely content. And that feeds directly into the ominous final shot.
Once again, the decisions made by the adaptation team are excellent ones. I look forward to seeing how next episode’s first cour finale will be handled.
OTHER SERIES I’M FOLLOWING:
Fruits Basket the Final ep 9 – As much as I dislike the previous episode, this one worked for me. Tohru really needs someone like Kyo to look out for her, as she seems to lack a self-preservation instinct. Even though she ends up hospitalized, she shows that, in the end, not even a desperate Akito can beat her on the emotional front. And of course we can’t forget the key moment that everyone had been anticipating for ages: love’s first kiss. This was a powerful and effective episode despite the cheap gimmick, and easily the best the series has delivered this season.
Higehiro ep 10 – I cannot entirely disagree with criticisms leveled in other venues that a lot of this episode felt redundant. Even so, the sweet final scene sold the whole episode for me. I also have not found its artistic effort to be as much of a distraction, though I will admit it’s nothing special.
The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent episode 10 – So the Saint’s power is connected to love, eh? No big surprise there. But now that Sei has realized that, how will she handle it?
Vivy -Flourite Eye’s Song episode 12 – Not sure what to make of this series at this point, although the revelation that the main boss was actively counteracting all of the changes that Vivy and Matsumoto were doing explains a lot. Everything is setting up for a “the song will save the world” kind of conclusion, which I suppose is fitting since the series has always been an idol show. But how gracefully will the series be able to manage it?
Zombie Land Saga Revenge episode 10 – Um, okay, those were some very big revelations to be throwing out at this point in the series. However, a curse being at the root of everything does explain a lot here as well.